NFL Divisional Round Perhaps The Most Dramatic Playoff Weekend Ever?

By Ian John
May 24, 2022

We are very used to drama in the NFL and this season has had more than most. However, this weekend’s divisional round of playoff games may go down as the most exciting, unpredictable, and dramatic in the history of the NFL after four very close and tense games.

In those games we saw evidence of the best and worst of all the teams competing but in the end it was the offenses and special teams that kept firing, often in the face of some of the best defenses in the NFL, that seemed to be the teams that prevailed.

However, after those games we now know the four teams, two from the AFC, two from the NFC that will contest next week’s Conference Championship games with an eye to winning a place in the Super Bowl a fortnight later.

We’re now going to take a look back at a hugely dramatic divisional playoff weekend, and then we will preview the two key Conference Championship games set to take place next weekend, together with our tips (with odds provided by bet365 Sport) on who will land the victory in each.

Let’s now take a look how the action-packed weekend unfolded, starting with the games on Saturday.

NFL Divisional Playoffs – Results

  • Cincinnati Bengals 19-16 Tennessee Titanshilarious NFL moments

It was a night to forget for Ryan Tannehill, the Titans QB, as he threw three interceptions, including one at the start of each half, but it was the third interception at the end of the game that would prove to be the key moment of this enthralling game.

The Bengals were the better of the two teams. Joe Burrow and his pass attack moved the ball well against the Titans, but they struggled to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. The Bengals led 9-6 at the half, through three field goals.

The second half saw Joe Mixon extend the Bengals lead to 16-6, but the Titans came back well, kicking a field goal to reduce the deficit and then after Amani Hooker intercepted Joe Burrow, Ryan Tannehill picked out AJ Brown for a fantastic score-levelling touchdown.

Defense began to stop the offense in the fourth, but when the Titans were driving with just a few second left on the clock, it looked like they would get a chance to kick a field goal to take the lead with just seconds remaining, or as the clock expired.

However, a Bengals interception gave them the ball back and Burrow drove his team into field goal range with just a couple of seconds to go for Evan McPherson to kick the game winner as time expired that saw the Bengals reach the AFC Championship game.

  • San Francisco 49ers 13-10 Green Bay Packers

In fierce, cold and, later in the game, snowy conditions at Lambeau Field, the NFC’s number 1 seed the Packers started well with AJ Dillon rushing for a touchdown that proved to be the only score of an attritional first half of the game, which also saw the 49ers block a field goal near the end of the half.

It’s fair to say that both teams struggled with the freezing conditions and the dearth of touchdown action continued in the third quarter when the 49ers did manage to get on the scoreboard at least with a field goal by Robbie Gould, after the 49ers Special Teams returned the kick off 45 yards.

Special teams was proving to be key for the 49ers in this game and so it proved as after Mason Crosby had put the Packers 10-3 up in the fourth quarter and with the clock ticking down, it looked like the Packers would hang on for the win.

However, the 49ers special teams had other ideas, blocking a Packers punt to return the ball for a touchdown to bring the scores level. Then it was the 49ers defense, who forced the Packers to punt what proved to be their final possession.

The 49ers drove the ball downfield reacing the Green Bay 27 yard line with just 4 seconds left on the clock. Robbie Gould stepped up and for the second time on Saturday, secured the win for the lower seeded team with a game winning field goal as time expired. Gould is now 20/20 in the post-season when it comes to field goal attempts.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-30 Los Angeles Rams

For a long time, this game didn’t appear as if it would be dramatic. The Los Angeles Rams dominated the game for two and a half quarters, opening up a 27-3 lead against the Super Bowl holders.

However, Tom Brady began to weave his magic, He put the Bucs in position to score a field goal, followed by a rushing touchdown from Leonard Fournette to make the score 27-13.

Then early in the fourth quarter, we looked to have a defining moment as Von Miller strip-sacked Tom Brady, getting the ball back for the Rams in excellent field position for the Rams to perhaps go and score.

However, on the very next play, the Rams snap flew over Matt Stafford’s head and the QB could not recover it, allowing Jason Pierre-Paul to get the ball back immediately for Tampa.

Still though Tampa couldn’t get past the Rams defense, twice turning the ball over on downs, but on both occasions, the Rams could not add to their score and it would prove crucial.

Brady then hit Mike Evans for a 55-yard touchdown to make the score 27-20 and then the Rams running back Cam Akers fumbled the ball on their next play, allowing Tampa to move into the red zone, where they faced a fourth and 1, before Leonard Fournette rushed for a game tying touchdown.

Incredibly, the Rams looked like they were caving in. However, up stepped Matt Stafford and Cooper Kupp. With just 42 seconds on the clock, Stafford was sacked for a loss of yards, almost losing the ball in the process, but then he hit Cooper Kupp for 20 yards for a first down with Kupp able to get to the sideline to stop the clock.

Better was to follow as on the very next pass, he hit Cooper Kupp once again, this time for 44 yards to move the ball to the Tampa Bay 12-yard line, and the Rams offense rushed up to spike the ball.

Matt Gay then stepped up to kick the winning field goal, as time expired for the third game in a row to ensure the Rams progress to the Conference Championship. Incredible.

  • Buffalo Bills 36-42 Kansas City Chiefs (OT)

It didn’t appear possible that the Bills and Chiefs could improve on the drama of the first three playoff games this weekend.

But they did with arguably one of the best playoff games in NFL history as two of the best gunslinging quarterbacks in the NFL went head to head, with overtime required to decide the winner.

Both teams scored on their first possession of the game and then they repeated that in the second quarter as defenses began to get more of a grip on the game.

Level at the half, the teams were trading blows like two heavyweights in the ring, with the Chiefs taking a slight lead into the fourth quarter leading 23-21. However late in the fourth quarter, the game exploded.

The Bills took the lead with under two minutes to play, the Chiefs then went back into the lead after a Tyreek Hill touchdown with just over a minute left. With 17 seconds left, the Bills scored another touchdown.

The Bills, who had been superb on offense throughout, led by three with 12 seconds remaining and from the kick off gave the ball back to the Chiefs with the home side still in their own half of the field.

Mahomes bounced back and managed to hit Travis Kelce for a key gain which gave Harrison Butker the chance to tie the game and force overtime with a 49-yard kick, which the Chiefs kicker landed superbly with just 3 seconds remaining.

The Chiefs won the toss and elected to receive and it proved to be crucial as Mahomes drove his team downfield and worked the ball to the Bills eight yard line where Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce for the game winning touchdown and an incredible end to one of the greatest NFL playoff games of all time.

Conference Championship Games Tips

AFC

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Bengals have done superbly well to get this far and they took advantage of some generous Tennessee Titans offensive slips to deservedly earn their first ever road win in the playoffs. However, the Chiefs at Arrowhead are a very different prospect and after coming through that game with the Bills, it is hard to see the hosts losing this one.

  • Tip – Bengals 24-42 Chiefs

NFC

San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Rams

The 49ers have beaten the Rams in both games this season between the two NFC West rivals and have won all of the last six, and 10 of the last 13. If there was one teams the Rams would not want to face in this game it would be the 49ers. However, with home advantage and their defense so effective against the Buccaneers, I am backing the Rams to land the narrow win here.

  • Tip – 49ers 21-24 Rams

And if the action in these games is half as good as what we saw this past weekend, then we are in for a treat.

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