What we learned from the NFL’s Divisional Playoff Round Day 1: From Eagles resurgence to Patrick Mahomes injury

What we learned from the NFL’s Divisional Playoff Round Day 1: From Eagles resurgence to Patrick Mahomes injury

What we learned from the NFL’s Divisional Playoff Round Day 1: From Eagles resurgence to Patrick Mahomes injury

The next wave of NFL playoff football is well underway. The Divisional Round kicked off Saturday with a pair of regular season rematches, and boy, do we have a lot of ground to cover just as a result of this action. The Chiefs are back in the AFC Championship, courtesy of a 27-20 victory over the upstart Jaguars. And the Eagles will host the NFC Championship for the second time in five years after beating the Giants, 38-7.

Here are some immediate and general takeaways from the opening day of the divisional round:

Hurts and the Eagles are back

We say “back” because, frankly, it felt like they “gone” last month. Ever since Jalen Hurts, once a virtual lock to face Patrick Mahomes for this year’s MVP honors, injured his shoulder, Philly has kind of plateaued, if not regressed, on the way to the playoffs. But on Saturday night against a Giants team fresh off an impressive Minnesota upset, they were back to peak form. Hurts, for his part, seemingly had no limits, excelling early on as a passer and, perhaps most notably, on the pitch. And the defense led by Haason Reddick went after Daniel Jones and Co. all night long, inflicting on New York what Brian Daboll later called a “crashed landing”. It’s time to consider the true title contenders of the Birds again.

The Giants need more help than we thought

This year has again been a success for New York. The G-Men weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs, given the ripped roster that Brian Daboll inherited. Daniel Jones certainly registers as a different prospect than a few months ago. But unlike even Jacksonville, which took Kansas City to the wire under a first-year coach (more on that below), the Giants had virtually no fights or emergencies in Philadelphia. It’s not primarily Jones or Daboll’s fault, but rather a lineup that’s still seriously under-equipped in the best places. General manager Joe Schoen really needs to prioritize upgrades along the offensive line, on the outside and at linebacker, among other positions.

Mahomes’ ankle is a legitimate concern

The big story of the Chiefs earning a fifth consecutive appearance in the AFC title game had nothing to do with the actual victory, or the highlights leading up to it – the open ways of Isiah Pacheco, the strong Kadarius Toney involvement, some great D-line moments. As soon as star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was briefly out with an ankle injury in the second quarter, his health became paramount. The MVP candidate was visibly resistant to medical attention and fought through a notable limp to keep Kansas City ahead and seal the win.

Doug Clawson of CBS Sports also points out that Mahomes, who is used to relying on his mobility, has accounted for 41% of the league’s touchdown passes out of the pocket (15 of 36) over the past five playoffs.

He will surely do everything in his power to stay under center going forward, but that doesn’t mean it won’t affect his mobility and/or Andy Reid’s call for play, even if it doesn’t. is only to a small extent. Luckily for the chefs…

It doesn’t matter who is under center; few players produce so consistently when it matters most. The No. 87 was all over the place, working down the middle against Jacksonville to the tune of 14 catches for 98 yards and two scores. There really isn’t much else to say other than Kelce’s presence, with or without a towering No. 1 receiver drawing attention on the outside, is often enough to keep KC going on the field. . At 33, he is still at the top of his game.

The Jaguars are here to stay

It’s been apparent for some time that Jacksonville made the right call in signing former Eagles coach Doug Pederson, but this team’s playoff performance — just the Jaguars’ second playoff bid in the last 15 years – justifies the optimism that is brewing in the northeast. Florida. Coming back from 27 to beat the Chargers was miraculous confirmation that Trevor Lawrence and Co. are on the rise. But keeping the Chiefs on their toes at Arrowhead was arguably equally impressive, even with Mahomes hobbling for much of the day. Pederson called the game with his trademark aggression. Lawrence displayed veteran-level confidence. Better yet, reinforcements are expected to arrive as Calvin Ridley and others join playmakers like Travis Etienne Jr., Christian Kirk and Jamal Agnew; the last two have shown with untimely errors that they could shine in more secondary roles.

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