KANSAS CITY, Mo. — And then there were four. The NFL divisional round has come and gone, leaving us with the following potential Super Bowl winners: Kansas City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Cincinnati.
The Bengals were the only lower seeded team to advance this past weekend, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter and ultimately coasting to a 27-10 victory thanks to strong performances across the board - most notably on the offensive line where they managed to carve out holes for Joe Mixon, who ran for 105 yards and a touchdown.
“Joe Burrow dialed in early and often, and did what he needed to do while the offensive line found its footing,” Locked on Bengals host Jake Liscow said on the Locked on Sports Today podcast. “That was the most impressive thing to me about this game is the way the Bengals makeshift offensive line, with three backups playing, got the running game going for the first time in over a month.”
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On the other side, San Francisco scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to send Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys home early yet again, riding rookie quarterback Brock Purdy to the NFC Championship game where they will take on Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Purdy’s numbers weren’t anything to write home about - 19 completions for 214 yards and no touchdowns - but he did enough for his team to secure a victory, moving them to 7-0 in games when he is under center.
“The rookie quarterback (Purdy) was not the one turning the ball over,” Brian Peacock said on the Locked on Sports Today podcast. “I think that was the big difference in this game. The veteran (Prescott) was the one making mistakes, and (Purdy) took what the Dallas defense gave him, which was not a lot, even some times when he looked a little frenetic, was getting flushed out of the pocket, he didn’t make many mistakes. He took a couple sacks but didn’t throw the ball to the other team, didn’t fumble, and he allowed the 49ers to sort of right the ship and get down the field and kick some field goals.”
Things looked a bit dicey for the Chiefs after Patrick Mahomes went down with an apparent injury in the first quarter, leading to Chad Henne taking over and going 5 for 7 with a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. Mahomes ultimately returned and led Kansas City to a fourth quarter touchdown drive that ultimately sealed the deal and sent Jacksonville home.
The least exciting result of the weekend was between Philadelphia and New York, where the Giants mustered just seven points thanks to a less-than-ideal performance from Daniel Jones, who completed 15 passes for 135 yards and an interception. On the flip side Jalen Hurts was fantastic for the Eagles, throwing for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also finding the end zone on the ground.
The 49ers will now head to Philadelphia for the NFC Championship game on Sunday, January 29, while Cincinnati and Kansas City will kick off at Arrowhead Stadium the same day - with the winners set to meet in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 12.