Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2022 Super Wild Card Weekend
Welcome to my Monday Morning Quarterback post for Super Wild Card Weekend. Although there wasn't much "super" about it. Most of the games were blowouts and seven out of eight favorites won. And the one favorite that lost, well we all saw that coming didn't we. Dammit.
Oh well. Lets move on to the games. Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Also a bit pissed off. Feel free to agree or disagree with anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.
Bengals 26 Raiders 19
Super Wild Card weekend kicked off in one of the most unlikely places: Cincinnati. The Bengals surprised everyone by not only making the playoffs, but getting a home game via winning the AFC North. It was sort of an up and down season for the Bengals, they lost to the Jets but defeated the Chiefs.
The Raiders had to overcome a lot of adversity to make the playoffs, most of it off of the field. However interim head coach Rich Bisaccia rallied his troops. The Raiders playoff hopes looked dim when they fell to 6-7, but Las Vegas came back to win their final four games of the regular season to grab a wild card and the #5 seed in the AFC.
The Raiders defense stumbled out of the gate, letting the Bengals score on their first four possessions. Their only saving grace was holding Cincinnati to field goals in two of those drives.
The Bengals second TD has been called “controversial” by most pundits. Not me. Joe Burrow was near the sideline when he threw a TD pass to Tyler Boyd. While the ball was in the air a whistle blew. Apparently a referee thought Burrow stepped out of bounds before he threw the pass, although it was very clear he didn’t. The refs got together and ruled Burrow didn’t step out and the TD was good. Now technically the play is dead once the whistle blows. The Raiders certainly argued that point. However the ref who blew the whistle was wrong. I’m glad the play stood because it was a legitimate TD pass.
Las Vegas was down 20-6 late in the second quarter and looked to be in danger of being blown out. However with less than two minutes left in the first half Derek Carr sparked the offense with a 25 yard quarterback scramble and finished off the drive with a TD pass to Zay Jones. Despite being outplayed most of the first half, the Raiders only trailed 20-13 at the break.
The Bengals received the opening kick of the second half and ended the drive with another field goal to increase their lead to 23-13. The rest of the period was filled with punts and the score remained the same entering the 4th quarter.
The 4th quarter became a field goal fest. The Raiders kicked one, the Bengals kicked one and then the Raiders kicked another. Cincinnati got the ball back with 3 and half minutes left on the clock holding a 26-19 lead. A few first downs could have iced the game, but the Bengals went three and out. Cincy did get the clock down to the two minute warning, but the Raiders would get a chance to tie the game.
Of course to tie the game Las Vegas would have to get in the end zone and not settle for a field goal, which had been an issue all afternoon. Derek Carr hit some strong passes and led the Raiders deep into Cincy territory. With 30 seconds left, Las Vegas had a first and goal at the 9-yard line. Plenty of time to score. But three straight incompletions left the Raiders facing a 4th and goal. With one last play to save their season, Carr threw an interception on the 2-yard line. One knee by the Bengals and the game was over.
Young quarterbacks generally struggle in their playoff debut, however Joe Burrow (24/34, 244 yards, 2 TDs) was up to the challenge. The Bengals were mocked when they selected wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (9 receptions, 116 yards, 3 rushes, 23 yards) in the first round instead of an offensive lineman. Cincinnati certainly has had the last laugh. Chase has electrified their offense.
Joe Mixon (17 rushes, 48 yards) found little room to run the ball. Cincinnati’s defense gave up some yards, but didn’t break as they forced the Raiders to kick multiple field goals. Congratulations to the Bengals, who won their first playoff game since 1990. They snapped the league’s longest playoff win drought, which is now held by the Detroit Lions who haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. The Bengals will head to Nashville next week to play the #1 seed Tennessee Titans.
The Raiders had to fight hard to make the postseason and they ran out of gas in their first game. Derek Carr (29/54, 310 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble) simply couldn’t make enough plays. Josh Jacobs (13 rushes, 83 yards) was solid on the ground and you have to wonder why he didn’t get more carries. Entering the offseason Las Vegas will have to decide what to do with their head coach position. Rich Bisaccia certainly did a good job with the interim position and deserves a shot at the job without the interim tag.
Bills 47 Patriots 17
The Buffalo Bills remained the new beast of the AFC East by winning their second straight division title. Their defense gave up the fewest points in the league and the offense scored the third most points. When quarterback Josh Allen is on, the Bills usually look unbeatable.
After struggling in their first season without Tom Brady, the Patriots regrouped to get back into the playoffs. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones gave them a steady hand to guide the offense and per usual Bill Belichick made the most with his defense. The Patriots grabbed a wild card with the #6 seed. It was the first time Belichick made the playoffs with New England without winning the division.
Well Josh Allen was on and the Bills looked unbeatable. This game was a joke. It was one of the most thorough ass kickings I can ever remember seeing in the playoffs. Buffalo scored a TD the first seven times they had the ball. On the eighth possession they took a knee to kill the clock. No doubt they could have scored again if they wanted to.
The Patriots defense was simply destroyed. The Bills averaged 8.9 per plays for the game and that included three kneel downs at the end. Buffalo had 300 yards of total offense by halftime. The Bills only faced six 3rd downs in those first seven possessions and they converted all of them. It was ridiculous. The only flaws for Buffalo came on a couple of extra point attempts. One was blocked, another one was missed.
Josh Allen (21/25, 308 yards, 5 TDs) looked like he was playing against a high school team. And not a good one at that. When Allen (6 rushes, 66 yards) tucked the ball in he gained chunks of yardage as well. Allen got everybody involved by connecting with 9 different receivers. Nobody was covered by the Patriots.
Devin Singletary (16 rushes, 81 yards, 2 TDs) provided support on the ground. The defense only gave up three points in the first half. The Patriots got their TDs in garbage time when Buffalo was busy watching the clock run out. It was total domination of their hated rivals. The Bills will head to Kansas City next week to face the #2 seed Chiefs
The Patriots would have been better off forfeiting this game. It would have been less embarrassing. Buffalo put them in a deep hole early and New England’s offense doesn’t have the firepower to compete in a shootout. Mac Jones (24/38, 232 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) wasn’t ready for prime time. He had a good rookie season, but there is plenty of room left for improvement. The Patriots will need to re-tool once again in the offseason if they want to be a contender next season.
Buccaneers 31 Eagles 15
It was no surprise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the playoffs again after returning pretty much the entire squad that won last year’s Super Bowl. Tom Brady once again proved he is an ageless wonder by leading the NFL in passing yards and TD passes. Unlike last year when they qualified as a wild card, the Bucs won the NFC South easily and the #2 seed in the conference.
The Eagles had to be the most shocking team to make the playoffs. They started the season 3-6 before winning six of their final eight games. They were aided for sure with a soft schedule, none of their wins came against a team that finished with a winning record.
Don’t be fooled by the final score. Tampa Bay defeated the Eagles with ease. The Buccaneers led 31-0 after three quarters and then just stood around in the final quarter waiting for the game to be over. The Eagles scored a couple of garbage time TDs after the Bucs stopped caring.
The Buccaneers took control of the game early by scoring two 1st quarter TDs while Philadelphia only gained 15 total yards on offense in the period. Tampa’s offense slowed down in the 2nd quarter as they only added a field goal, but the Eagles couldn’t take advantage. Their two drives made into Tampa territory, but one ended with a turnover on downs and the other with an interception. The Buccaneers led 17-0 at halftime.
Tampa used mistakes by the Eagles to put this game away for good in the 3rd quarter. First Philly muffed a punt and the Bucs recovered at midfield. Tom Brady cashed in the turnover by hitting Rob Gronkowski with a TD pass. After the Eagles got the ball back, Jalen Hurts threw an interception that was returned to the Eagles 36-yard line. Brady put the final nail in the coffin with one play as he hit Mike Evans with a 36 yard TD pass.
Tom Brady (29/37, 271 yards, 2 TDs) got sacked four times, but when the Eagles couldn’t reach him he did his usual damage. Mike Evans (9 receptions, 117 yards, 1 TD) was his top target. Ke’Shawn Vaughn (17 rushes, 53 yards, 1 TD) and Giovani Bernard (13 rushes, 44 yards, 1 TD) handled the running duties with the absence of Leonard Fournette.
The defense shut out the Eagles for three quarters until they took their foot off the gas in the 4th. They sacked Hurts twice and forced two turnovers. The Buccaneers will host the Rams next week and that will be much stiffer competition.
The Eagles play their best when they go run heavy. It didn’t work in Tampa as the ground game got off to a slow start and later had to be abandoned as they fell behind by multiple scores. That put the ball in the hands of quarterback Jalen Hurts (23/43, 258 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) and the results were not good. Philly led the league with an average of nearly 160 rushing yards per game, but were held to 95 yards on the ground. They gained over half of their total yards in garbage time. Heading into the offseason the Eagles will have to figure out if Hurts is the future at quarterback.
49ers 23 Cowboys 17
The Dallas Cowboys put a forgettable 2020 behind them to once again claim the NFC East division crown. The Cowboys led the NFL in total yardage and points scored. Yet the biggest surprise this season was a much improved defense that led the league in takeaways. Micah Parsons and Travon Diggs fueled the defense’s resurgence, both are candidates for defensive player of the year.
The San Francisco 49ers were once again bit hard by the injury bug. They started the season 2-6 and things looked bleak. However they started to get healthy and Deebo Samuel began tearing up the competition. San Francisco won eight of their last nine games to grab a wild card spot in the NFC.
I had written in last week’s post that this matchup had me worried and unfortunately for Dallas my worst nightmares came true. San Francisco received the opening kickoff and marched straight down the field for a TD. The Cowboys lost 13 yards with their first possession. Good Grief!
After the first drive, the 49ers were able to move the ball but their drives stalled in Dallas territory and they had to settle for field goals. The Cowboys continuously shot themselves in the foot on offense with a litany of holding and false start penalties. Dallas put one good string of plays together in the 2nd quarter and Dak Prescott capped of the drive with a 20 yard TD pass to Amari Cooper. At halftime the 49ers led 16-7.
The 3rd quarter started off with a couple of punts before Dallas made a mistake that ultimately cost them the game. After losing big yardage on a sack, Prescott threw an interception that gave the Niners the ball on the Cowboys 26-yard line. Deebo Samuel streaked to the endzone for a TD and San Francisco increased their lead to 23-7. Defense ruled the rest of the quarter and the score held going into the final period.
In the 4th quarter the Cowboys finally made their move. They started the period with a field goal and then intercepted a Jimmy Garoppolo pass to gain possession on the 49ers 28-yard line. Dak Prescott ran the ball in for a TD and with 8 minutes left in the game the Cowboys trailed 23-17.
After forcing the Niners to punt, Dallas moved the ball to midfield with a long pass to Dalton Schultz. However the drive died there and Dallas turned the ball over on downs. San Francisco could have finished Dallas off with a few first downs, but once again they had to punt.
The Cowboys got one last chance, but the odds were long. With only 32 seconds left in the game, they had the ball on their own 20-yard line with no time-outs and needing a TD to win. Prescott connected on a couple of passes to move the ball to the Niners 41-yard line with 14 seconds left. Then this happened:
Dak’s quarterback sneak sure caught the 49ers by surprise, probably because it was such a dumb play call. How did they expect to get another play off after running that far down the field? The crazy thing is it almost worked. If Dak would have handed the ball to a referee instead of his center they might have been able to spike the ball and get one crack at the end zone. Still running the ball with that little time left on the clock wasn’t smart.
Some Cowboys fans tried to pelt the refs with garbage as they left the field, apparently the only person who got hit was Demarcus Lawrence. The refs did not blow this game for the Cowboys, they mainly beat themselves. They were penalized 14 times and I hate to say it but all 14 flags were justified. The Cowboys were the most penalized team in the league this season and that lack of discipline cost them this game.
I was worried about the Dallas defense heading into this game, but they didn’t play bad. After giving up a TD on the Niners first drive, they held them to field goals the rest of the first half. The only score they gave up in the second half was the short field TD after Prescott’s interception.
The offense on the other hand was awful. Dak Prescott (23/43, 254 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD) wasn’t accurate and the line did little to help him as he was sacked five times. His turnover set up the Niners game-winning TD. Take away Dak’s scrambles and the Cowboys only gained 50 yards rushing the ball. Another disappointing one and done for the Cowboys in the playoffs.
Jimmy Garoppolo (16/25, 172 yards, 1 INT) sure didn’t set the world on fire. The Niners offense was driven by Eli Mitchell (27 rushes, 96 yards, 1 TD) and Deebo Samuel (10 rushes, 72 yards, 1 TD). The defense got pressure on Prescott all day without blitzing, they sacked him 5 times. Congrats to the 49ers, who will head to Green Bay next week to face the #1 seed Packers.
Chiefs 42 Steelers 21
The defending AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs got off to a rough 3-4 start this season. After that they remembered who they were supposed to be and finished the season on a 9-1 tear. The offense looked lost at certain points, but they finished the regular season humming.
The Steelers needed a number of things to go their way in Week 18 to even be able to sneak into the playoffs. The offense, led by an ailing Ben Roethlisberger, was anemic most of the year, but the defense was excellent. T.J. Watt tied the single season sack record of 22 ½.
This game started off as a defensive battle. The 1st quarter featured seven punts and one turnover with no scoring. So maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised the first score of the game was made by the Steelers defense. T.J. Watt recovered a fumble and ran the ball 26 yards for a TD. With 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter the Steelers led 7-0. It was the last time they would hold the lead all night.
Giving up that score snapped the Chiefs offense out of their funk. Patrick Mahomes began to catch fire and the Chiefs scored a TD with their final three possession of the half. At the break the Chiefs led 21-7.
The Chiefs stayed hot after the break. They received the opening kickoff to the 3rd quarter and Mahomes led them on a 4th consecutive TD drive. After the Steelers took the ball, Najee Harris fumbled the ball and the Chiefs recovered on the Steelers 29-yard line. Mahomes then hit Tyreek Hill with a long TD pass. In roughly 15 minutes of game time, the Steelers went from leading 7-0 to trailing 35-7. Kansas City exploded all over them and this game was done.
The Steelers offense showed some life in garbage time, but it was way too late. The Chiefs tacked on another TD with a pass from tight end Travis Kelce and won handily 42-21.
Talk about a slow start, the Chiefs offense started the game off with three punts and two turnovers. Then Patrick Mahomes came alive and the Chiefs scored TDs on their next six straight possessions. Mahomes (30/39, 404 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT) diced up the Steelers secondary. Travis Kelce (5 receptions, 108 yards, 1 TD, 1 TD pass) also had a big game. Jerick McKinnon (12 rushes, 61 yards) led a ground attack that gained 106 yards. The Chiefs will host the Buffalo Bills next week.
The Steelers offense was dreadful all season and they had no hope that they could keep up with the Chiefs. Ben Roethlisberger (29/44, 215 yards, 2 TDs) needed 44 pass attempts to gain only 215 yards. The ground attack was throttled, gaining only 56 yards on 20 carries. The Steelers head into the offseason needing to do something they haven’t had to do in a long time: find a new starting quarterback.
Rams 34 Cardinals 11
After a one and done playoff showing last season, the Rams moved all in this year. They traded for Matthews Stafford in the offseason while signing Von Miller and Odell Beckham during the season. This team has mortgaged its future to win now and got off to a good start by winning the NFC West.
After barely missing the playoffs last year, the Cardinals came out of the gate like a team determined to make a Super Bowl run by winning their first seven games. However things went downhill from there as Arizona went 4-6 after their torrid start.
This game was competitive for about five minutes before the Rams took control for good. After punting with their first possession, the Rams scored a TD the next two times they touched the ball. Then in the 2nd quarter Kyler Murray threw a pick six and the Rams lead increased to 21-0. Los Angeles took that lead into the break as the Cardinals could only gain 40 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Rams received the opening kickoff for the second half and immediately went on the move again. A forty yard pass from Odell Beckham to Cam Akers set the Rams up in the red zone and Matthews Stafford found Cooper Kupp in the end zone two plays later to give Los Angeles a 28-0 lead.
The Cardinals finally found some life on offense with their next possession and eclipsed their first half yards with one drive that ended with a James Conner TD run. Arizona converted a two point play to make the score 28-8, but time was not on their side. Entering the 4th quarter the Rams employed a run heavy attack to move the ball and bleed the clock. They tacked on two field goals while the Cards still continued to struggle on offense. The Cardinals would only score three points in the final quarter and the Rams won easily 34-11.
Matthew Stafford (13/17, 202 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD) didn’t need to throw a lot of passes to put points on the board. Los Angeles took advantage of their lead by going run heavy to shorten the game. The running back committee gained 140 yards and a TD on 38 carries. The defense was devastating, stopping the Cardinals on all nine of their 3rd down opportunities. They sacked Kyler Murray twice and also picked him off twice. Congrats to Matthews Stafford, who after 185 career starts got his first playoff win. The Rams will head to Tamp Bay to play the #2 seed Buccaneers next week.
This game was just an outright disaster for the Cardinals. The offense couldn’t get anything going and the defense was run over. The Rams could have scored more points if they weren’t interested in running the clock out. Kyler Murray’s (19/34, 137 yards, 2 INTs) playoff debut could have hardly been worse. The running attack gave him little support, only gaining 61 yards on 18 carries. After such a promising start to the year, it’s going to be a long offseason for Arizona.
I didn't have time to make a prediction post last week so of course I was 6-0. You'll have to take my word on that, but I think the majority of people went 6-0. The only "upset" was the Niners beating the Cowboys, but most everybody saw that coming. Even me. Dallas has turned me into quite the pessimist.
We should get better games next weekend because all the matchups are really interesting. I think the Rams will upset the Bucs and the Bills will upset the Chiefs. I see the Packers and Titans winning at home. I could be wrong about all four games and it wouldn't shock me.
Thanks for reading and feel free to make a comment below. Don't be afraid to predict some games either.