Around the NFL: Arrowhead Upset, Matthew Stafford is Going to the Super Bowl, Raiders Hires, Harbaugh Sweepstakes, More

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Around the NFL: Arrowhead Upset, Matthew Stafford is Going to the Super Bowl, Raiders Hires, Harbaugh Sweepstakes, More

Chicago Bears

And here we thought that nothing could live up to the divisional round …. The NFL playoffs have not disappointed this year.

AFC Championship: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24

Before this one started, I told a friend that it would either be a blowout or the Bengals would win. It turned out to be a little bit of both, with the Chiefs scoring touchdowns on each of their first three drives to take a commanding 21-3 lead over Cincinnati.

With Cincinnati trailing by 18 points with just over five minutes to play in the first half, Joe Burrow led the Bengals on a drive that ended in a 41-yard touchdown catch and run by Samaje Perine to make it 21-10 with a minute to go in the half. But the actual momentum-changer in this game was when Cincinnati stopped the Chiefs on the goal line as the clock expired in the first half.

The game felt significantly different in the second half, with the Bengals carrying over the momentum from that stop into the third quarter. Cincinnati would tie the game with 14 seconds to play in the third quarter after Joe Burrow hooked up with Ja’Marr Chase for a touchdown and then hit Trent Williams to convert the two-point try, making it 21-21. An Evan McPherson field goal would give Cincy a 24-21 lead late in the fourth quarter. McPherson’s field goal gave him the record for field goals in a single postseason by a rookie.

Patrick Mahomes drove the Chiefs down the field and had a shot at winning it in regulation, but the Bengals stood tall and held Kansas City to a field goal to send the game into overtime. A Patrick Mahomes interception gave the Bengals the ball, and the stage was set for Cincinnati to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1988.

NFC Championship: Rams 20, 49ers 17

The NFC Championship saw a 10-point lead erased in the fourth quarter like its AFC counterpart. Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle in the end zone to give San Francisco a 17-7 lead with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, and it seemed like the 49ers were on the verge of a Super Bowl XXIII rematch.

Matthew Stafford and the Rams would score 13 unanswered points, and then the defense came up with the huge stop to seal the deal and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. Sean McVay and the Rams will play in their second Super Bowl in the last four years, but for Matthew Stafford, this one was a long time coming. Stafford completed 31-of-45 passes for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns and will play in his first Super Bowl in his 13th NFL season.

Cooper Kupp caught 11 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and Odell Beckham Jr. hauled in nine passes for 113 yards as the Rams’ passing attack was too much for the 49ers’ defense.

Harbaugh Sweepstakes

The Jim Harbaugh sweepstakes are back in full force after the Minnesota Vikings interviewed Michigan and former 49ers head coach for their head coaching vacancy.

But, it also seems that the Miami Dolphins are in play for Harbaugh.

Raiders Hire Ziegler and McDaniels

While the Vikings and the Dolphins (and the Jaguars, Saints, and Texans) are all looking for a new head coach, the Las Vegas Raiders are no longer looking for their next leadership team after hiring Dave Ziegler to be their next GM and Josh McDaniels to be the head coach.

Ziegler comes to Vegas after serving as the New England Patriots Director of Pro Personnel in 2021 and has worked with Josh McDaniels since McDaniels’ first head coaching job in Denver. McDaniels has been the offensive coordinator in New England since 2012 after serving a year in the same position with the Rams and two seasons as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. The Broncos were 11-17 under McDaniels, who was fired in before the end of year two in Denver.

Extra Points…

•   After losing their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during this hiring cycle, the Packers promoted Adam Stenavich to be the new OC in Green Bay. Stenavich was the Packer’s offensive line coach the past two seasons.

•   The New Orleans Saints have a busy week ahead of them as they continue their search for Sean Payton’s replacement:

•   The NFL playoffs have been everything we could have asked for this year. Has this been the best postseason ever?

•   Although the San Francisco 49ers fell short of their Super Bowl hopes on Sunday, it was a heck of a season for Deebo Samuel!

•   Things have come full circle for LSU teammates Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Shelvin.

•   Bengals’ rookie kicker Evan McPherson’s confidence is out of this world:

•   🤯:


•   The stage is set… it’s going to be a long two weeks.

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is the Lead NFL Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.