The 32 things we learned from the divisional spherical of the 2021 NFL playoffs:
1. The second spherical of this postseason greater than compensated for a largely forgettable not-so-Super wild-card weekend. In truth, has there ever been a quartet of playoff video games this good? All 4 featured discipline objectives on the final play of regulation – the ultimate one sending the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills to additional time in an instant classic won 42-36 by the two-time-defending AFC champions. The Chiefs’ landing on the primary possession of additional time will resurface questions concerning the equity of the NFL’s format given Buffalo by no means acquired to own the ball within the additional interval. (Kansas City suffered an analogous destiny simply three years in the past on the identical Arrowhead Stadium discipline, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots received the 2018 AFC championship recreation on the primary drive of OT.) But ‘dem are the foundations for now, and Kansas City capitalized in spectacular trend – capping a tsunami of scoring within the last five-plus minutes, which featured 31 mixed factors. The bar has now been set fairly excessive for championship weekend, when the Chiefs will host the Cincinnati Bengals whereas the San Francisco 49ers go to the Los Angeles Rams for the second time in three weeks.
1a. The Chiefs will change into the primary workforce ever to host 4 straight AFC championship video games.
2. The common margin of victory within the wild-card spherical: 17.2 factors. The common margin of victory within the divisional spherical: 3.Eight factors. The common margin within the divisional spherical after 4 quarters: 2.Three factors.
3. Kansas City’s win was the lone one of many weekend for house groups, which had been 5-1 within the wild-card spherical.
4. Did : You can give up 4 TD catches to 1 participant however nonetheless advance to a convention championship recreation? The Chiefs knew.
4a. Did : You can enable 9 sacks however nonetheless advance to a convention championship recreation? The Bengals knew.
4b. Did : You haven’t got to attain an offensive landing to nonetheless advance to a convention championship recreation? The 49ers knew.
4c. Did : You can lose 4 fumbles however nonetheless advance to a convention championship recreation? The Rams knew.
5. These playoffs are the primary for the reason that 2009 season that will not function both Brady or Aaron Rodgers within the championship spherical.
6. Per week after Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Bills QB Josh Allen every threw 5 landing passes in wild-card blowouts, each accounted for 4 TDs in Sunday’s showdown. This could very nicely change into the Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry of this decade.
6a. Mahomes additionally rushed for a career-best and game-high 69 yards. Allen ran for 1 fewer yard … although he is topped 69 eight occasions in his profession.
6b. Mahomes is 5-Zero in playoff contests previous to the championship spherical and has by no means misplaced a postseason contest to a quarterback not named Brady.
7. The Bills owned the league’s No. 1 scoring protection in 2021, but this was the fourth time it was burned for no less than 33 factors.
8. Last season marked the primary time a workforce (the Buccaneers) performed the Super Bowl in its personal stadium. The Rams are one win from making it occur two years in a row.
9. It is value noting, although, that the Super Bowl 56 matchup is just about set. After all, the Bengals have by no means misplaced an AFC championship recreation – advancing from each earlier appearances to lose the Super Bowl to the 49ers, who’ve emerged victorious on Super Sunday after they’ve crushed the Dallas Cowboys within the playoffs. Niners-Cincy trilogy, anybody?
10.The 49ers will play in their 17th conference championship next weekend, most of any franchise for the reason that AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
11. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan is fairly good towards his former subordinates. Saturday’s win in Green Bay improved him to 3-2 towards Packers coach Matt LaFleur, together with two playoff wins. Next, Shanahan faces Rams coach Sean McVay, who used to work for him in Washington. McVay’s workforce has dropped seven of 10 to Shanahan’s 49ers, together with the final six.
12. The NFL has been framed as a “quarterback-centric” league for fairly a number of years now. But after a weekend that noticed Rodgers and Brady, who will seemingly end 1-2 in MVP voting this season, fall by the wayside, would you slightly have one of the best passer … or one of the best workforce?
13. To wit, the 49ers have received 4 in a row – together with two playoff victories – however QB Jimmy Garoppolo has a sub-90 passer score in all of them with 5 interceptions. He has but to throw a TD cross this postseason.
14. Since becoming a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, Brady is 0-Three towards the Rams.
15. Rams QB Matthew Stafford (barely) acquired one of the best of Brady of their first postseason matchup. Stafford is 1-Three in his different playoff appearances.
16. Stafford joins Nick Foles, Eli Manning, Jake Plummer, Mark Sanchez and Ryan Tannehill as the one quarterbacks to go unbeaten towards Brady in postseason. Manning is the one one who went 2-0.
16a. Speaking of Stafford (and Bucs DL Ndamukong Suh), good to see former Detroit Lions stars have a playoff reunion.
17. Sunday was TB12’s first playoff loss against the Rams, whom he helped beat in two Super Bowls whereas with the Patriots. Despite a lackluster efficiency, Brady final defeated them in Super Bowl 53.
17a. Brady’s first playoff loss with the Bucs got here in his sixth postseason begin for Tampa Bay, which was additionally the primary when the Buccaneers did not rating 30 factors.
17b. And the person with seven Super Bowl rings now owns his first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, flagged for the infraction Sunday after complaining to referee Shawn Hochuli concerning the bloody lip he sustained from Rams OLB Von Miller.
18. Maybe the Niners consulted a crystal ball after they opted to not draft Rodgers No. 1 total in 2005. They are undefeated in postseason towards the Northern California native, Rodgers’ 0-Four playoff file towards them the worst any quarterback has towards a single workforce within the Super Bowl period (since 1966).
18a. Rodgers could personal the Chicago Bears, however perhaps Colin Kaepernick and Garoppolo ought to workforce up for a PSA to remind the three-time MVP that his NFL daddy is in Silicon Valley.
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18b. It’s been 20 years for the reason that Packers have crushed the 49ers in postseason. Rodgers’ predecessor, Hall of Famer Brett Favre, was 4-1 in playoff video games towards San Francisco – the loss occurring on WR Terrell Owens unbelievable TD catch from Steve Young within the 1998 wild-card spherical.
19. Garoppolo has an .800 profitable proportion (4-1 file) within the playoffs for the 49ers. Joe Montana’s postseason win fee with San Francisco was .737 (14-5 file).
20. The Tennessee Titans have an 0-Three file because the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
21. Rodgers has a 1-Three file when the Packers are the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
21a. Rodgers is 7-9 within the postseason for the reason that Packers went 4-Zero on their solution to profitable Super Bowl 45 on the finish of the 2010 marketing campaign. He’s 5-Four at Lambeau Field within the playoffs.
22. The Bengals’ Joe Burrow is the primary quarterback drafted No. 1 total to succeed in a championship recreation by his second season.
22a. Next, Burrow hopes to hitch Kurt Warner, Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson as second-year quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl. Pretty good firm there.
23. Burrow’s teammate, WR Ja’Marr Chase, turned the primary rookie in league historical past with a number of 100-yard receiving video games in the identical postseason.
24. Prior to Saturday, Cincinnati was 0-7 all-time in highway playoff video games.
25. A star may need been born, Buffalo WR Gabriel Davis with these aforementioned quartet of TD catches, a playoff file for one recreation. He racked up 201 yards on eight grabs.
25a. But Rams WR Cooper Kupp remains to be the person, making the backbreaking catch to beat the Bucs. In 19 video games this season, Kupp has 159 catches for 2,191 yards and 18 TDs. He additionally has a dozen 100-yard video games. Best total season by a wideout ever? Randy Moss could have the one counterargument.
25b. And let’s give a shoutout to the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill, who reminded us all he could stay essentially the most explosive receiver within the league, whether or not on offense or returning punts.
26. Sunday was the primary time this season that Tampa Bay’s first-string protection performed collectively. The Buccaneers misplaced.
27. Saturday was the primary time since Week 6 that Tennessee’s first-string offense performed collectively. The Titans misplaced.
27a. RB Derrick Henry returned, however his 62 speeding yards had been his fewest since Week 1, when he notched 58.
28. Buffalo P Matt Haack, who hadn’t needed to kick in three of the Bills’ earlier 4 video games, punted 4 occasions Sunday.
28a. Might have been extra work for Haack, however the Bills had been 4-for-Four on fourth down. Remarkable stones.
29. Speaking of stones, props to kickers Harrison Butker (Chiefs), Matt Gay (Rams), Robbie Gould (49ers) and Evan McPherson (Bengals), who all have ice water of their veins and confirmed it with large conversions this weekend. Gould, who’s by no means missed a kick in his playoff profession, may be exceptionally distinctive … however all of those groups are in good palms – or on good legs – as crunch time turns into more and more much less forgiving.
30. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce completed with 96 receiving yards Sunday, together with the game-winning 8-yard TD snatch. He fell Four yards in need of changing into the primary participant with 5 consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts in postseason.
31. High occasions in Athens, Georgia, house of school soccer’s nationwide champion University of Georgia Bulldogs. Stafford could not do what Stetson Bennett IV managed on the school stage, however the Rams gunslinger may change into the primary former Dawgs QB to win the Super Bowl. Fran Tarkenton went 0-Three on Super Sunday for the Minnesota Vikings within the 1970s.
32. We finish with the GOAT, simply in case that is the top. If Sunday was Brady’s last NFL look – and there appears to be constructing buzz that, though he is below contract for 2022, he could go for retirement slightly than a 23rd season – he gave his followers one last thrill with a near-epic comeback towards the Rams. His haters additionally loved some satisfaction that the Bucs could not end it off, their repeat bid foiled with TB12 taking the loss. Brady deflected questions about his future following the defeat, however the story of the offseason may very well be monitoring whether or not he’ll make good on his long-stated need to play till he is 45. Regardless, so many reminiscences, so many yards, so many teammates, so many rings, so many TDs. Even for those who’re not a fan, do not you wish to see this man within the area yet another yr?
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.