What we learned from the 2023 NFL playoffs, Day 2: Cowboys fold again, Bengals dangerous

The subsequent wave of the NFL playoffs has swept us. The divisional spherical kicked off Saturday with a pair of normal season video games – the heads edging on Jaguar With the troubled Patrick Mahomes, and the Eagles scroll on giants to brush their collection in 2022. On Sunday, the AFC and NFC championship video games have been determined because of the weekend’s slate ultimate matches, with Bengals Steerage Invoicesand the 49ers edging on Cowboys.

Listed below are some fast, huge takeaways from day two of the Divisional Spherical:

The 49ers want their protection to carry them

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San Francisco bought the job carried out to safe a visit to the NFC title sport, however not primarily as a result of Kyle Shanahan’s offense was firing on all cylinders. George Keitel actually excelled, simply as Travis Kelsey did for the Chiefs on Saturday. And Brock Purdy not less than did not flip the ball round. However the rookie quarterback was extra distracting than ordinary, pocketed within the face of cross rush, and arguably a greater unit awaited in Philadelphia. Shanahan’s situational decision-making additionally left quite a bit to be desired, as he performed it protected on a number of events. All that mentioned, stingy “D” DeMeco Ryans actually looks as if the catalyst who’s on the highway for an opportunity on the Tremendous Bowl. He would have the entrance seven to dunk Jalen Hurts and get a “W.”

Prescott, McCarthy will not be constructed for the large stage

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Mike McCarthy owns a Tremendous Bowl ring from his time in Inexperienced Bay, and it’ll by no means be stripped away. However as head coach of Dallas, he has now overseen two consecutive 12-to-5 groups that did not advance previous the divisional spherical. Not solely that, however after having one sport in opposition to San Francisco in 2021, he grew to become extra conservative on the important thing factors on Sunday, choosing a late discipline aim reasonably than making an attempt fourth down whereas trailing by seven, and kicking the ball huge. with minutes remaining. His design for the ultimate play was additionally thematically humorous, asking Ezekiel Elliott to function Duck Prescott’s solely blocker as an alternative of ordering the normal Hail Mary. Prescott, in the meantime, could possibly be extra outrageous, throwing a few ugly catches, practically taking the protection on the ultimate drive and usually wanting on the mark. Seven years later, it is now 2-4 in playoff video games.

The Bengals, not the Payments, are the Chiefs’ greatest menace

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Who Dey Nation has in all probability informed you this earlier than, however Sunday’s sport confirmed it: Joe Burrow is the largest factor standing in Patrick Mahomes’ manner within the AFC. That is true not solely as a result of Burrow is 3-0 by killer numbers in his profession in opposition to Kansas Metropolis, however as a result of in three seasons, he is already surpassed Payments star Josh Allen on the large stage, bettering his playoff document to 5-1 and securing a second look within the title sport. Asian for a number of years. Allen is the closest factor to Mahomes by way of off-script playmaking, however Burrow’s imaginative and prescient, together with Sensei’s deep receiver staff and bodily protection, prevails. With Mahomes banged in KCChiefs cannot relaxation straightforward.

Buffalo wants assist in the again finish, on the again finish

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The Payments should stay within the major spherical dialog so long as Josh Allen is at heart. However the MVP candidate nonetheless places loads of balls in hurt’s manner whereas drawing on his pure skills. Greater than that, it was evident in Sunday’s heavy loss to the Bengals that Buffalo requires renewed weapons and/or technique on the bottom and within the secondary. Allen had no assist in the working sport in opposition to Cincy, Devin Singletary and James Prepare dinner have been no-factors, and gamers like Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer have been hit deep earlier than strolling out with accidents. After two years of flirting with the Tremendous Bowl present, maybe it is time for a deeper expertise shake-up.

Sean McDermott remains to be wanting

There is not any doubt the coach helped flip Buffalo right into a perennial contender: They’ve gone from 47 to 18, with 4 consecutive playoff appearances, since 2019. However even with the rise of Josh Allen and loads of funding in protection, his Payments have now fallen brief. in progress. Divisional spherical playoffs in 5 of McDermott’s six seasons on the helm. It did not assist that Buffalo was fully outplayed and handed at dwelling in Sunday’s loss, when the Payments have been unusually conservative on a number of fourth-downer choices and bought a bit creativity from coordinators Ken Dorsey and Leslie Frazier.

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