Posted in Ravens Thoughts

NFL Playoffs: 5 things we learned from Wild Card Round

By Chris Schisler

The NFL playoffs are underway and one round is in the books. What did we learn? How has the race for the Super Bowl started to take shape, and what do we know about some of the teams who didn’t do so hot this past weekend? Here are some answers, five lessons from the NFL Wild Card round.

1. The NFL playoff expansion hurts the quality of football:

There’s no way around the fact that the number two seed in both the AFC and NFC had a cakewalk of a game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had it the easiest. They got a Philadelphia Eagles team that looked completely unprepared for the moment. The Buccaneers won 31-15 and the Eagles scored all 15 of their points in the fourth quarter. That may have been the worst playoff game I’ve ever seen. It was awful. The Kansas City Chiefs looked like they had a challenge. Then they turned on the jets and the Steelers were in trouble. Kansas City won 42-21.

The seventh seed led to two very pointless games. The Buffalo Bills also dominated the New England Patriots 47-17. The Los Angeles Rams made the new Monday night wild card game boring with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The playoffs are already where the contenders start to separate from the pack. Wild card blowouts aren’t actually that much of a rarity. Six teams per conference were enough. Seven teams per conference increase the chance of pretenders playing playoff games.

2. The Chiefs and Bills have a lot of firepower

The Chiefs looked like the Super Bowl contender that everybody feared them to be. Patrick Mahomes just went 30/39 for over 500 yards with five touchdown passes. Travis Kelce added a touchdown pass for good measure, I guess. Six Chiefs caught at least four passes. It was an onslaught and it was unstoppable. When the Chiefs are in a groove they are the most deadly offense in the NFL.

Speaking of in a groove, that’s what we got from Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills scored on every offensive possession except the one where Josh Allen took a knee at the end of the game. It wasn’t just the Allen to Steffan Diggs show. It was nine different Bills catching a pass. Also, it was Allen picking up 66 yards on the ground and Devin Singletary churning out over 5.1 yards per rushing attempt. When the Bills and Chiefs are on, they are very on.

These teams are set to take on each other in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The amount of firepower these two teams have is going to make this must-see TV. It’s a good chance that the AFC representative for the Super Bowl is the winner of this battle.

3. The 49ers have a Jimmy Garappolo problem

If the San Francisco 49ers could get by without throwing the football, they probably would. While the Dallas Cowboys had no answers for Elijah Mitchell or Deebo Samuel, they didn’t let Jimmy Garappolo have a big day. Garappolo threw a costly interception that got the Cowboys back in striking distance. While he was efficient completing 16 out of 25 passes, he only mustered 172 yards. It’s almost surprising how little the 49ers ask Garappolo to do.

The 49ers have some big wins under their belt. Garappalo has been average and he’s had some games where his play reached a high level. The big question against the Green Bay Packers though, is whether or not Garappolo will keep this offense in the hunt against Aaron Rodgers and a good Packers team. This is the best Packers team since Rodgers won the Super Bowl over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s hard to have confidence in the 49ers’ quarterback and that’s a problem.

4. NFL Wild Card game proves Raiders should be looking for a new head coach:

Rich Bisaccia may be the only interim head coach to lead a team to the playoffs, but he also had more talent than most interim head coaches have. The Raiders had Derek Carr, Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs, and a heck of a pass rush. That’s not a bare cupboard to bake dessert with. The fact of the matter is that the Raiders were a borderline playoff team. They got in, but it could have easily gone the other way. A playoff appearance isn’t a ticket to keeping the job.

The Raiders made it a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They lost 26-19. but they looked completely out of sorts. The whole game was the Raiders playing catch-up and doing so in very uninspiring chunks at a time. The Raiders were penalized seven times. Most of this was undisciplined self-inflicted mistakes for the Raiders. Did Bisaccia take over for Jon Gruden and exceed expectations? He did, but how low were his expectations?

The Raiders are starting over. There’s no more Gruden. There’s no more Mayock, and keeping Bisaccia may make their fresh start a half-measure.

5. The Bengals are unfazed by the NFL postseason pressure

Give credit where credit is due. The Bengals handled the pressure of going for their first playoff win in 31 years beautifully. They embraced it and clearly saw it as an opportunity rather than something to worry about. Joe Burrow looked like he’s been in the playoffs before and it was his first trip to meaningful games in January.

Look, I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop. The defense has some issues and their inability to protect Joe Burrow in the pocket is worth bringing up. Larry Ogunjobi being out for the postseason hurts their defensive line and if Trey Hendrickson is out on Saturday it’s good news for the Tennessee Titans. Whether they’ve overachieved or not, this Bengals team is a confident one. They have a legitimate shot at going to the Super Bowl. If the shoe doesn’t drop and their carriage doesn’t turn into a pumpkin, the Bengals may be for real. The fact that beating the Raiders looked like another day at the office is a big sign for Zac Taylor’s team.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens coaching staff: 2021 exit assessment

Bring on the NFL Divisional Round. This should be fun.


I am Chris Schisler. I am the owner and lead writer here at the Nest! Football is my passion and I'm very happy to share it with the Flock!

Leave a Reply