The NFL playoffs have offered fans all kinds of results so far
With the National Football League (NFL) playoffs currently at the Conference Championship stage, we’re quickly approaching Super Bowl LV, which will be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida on Feb. 7.
It didn’t take long this year to have some surprising — or, in other words, disappointing — playoff exits.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the favourite teams to win the Super Bowl entering the playoffs, faced their rivals the Cleveland Browns in the wild card round. Contrary to what many expected, the Browns delivered an almost perfect first half, even establishing a new record in NFL history with 28 points in the first quarter.
It was the Browns’ first win in Pittsburgh since 2003, and the team’s first playoff victory since 1994. Unfortunately for them, they lost 22-17 to the defending champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, in the divisional round.
An exciting divisional round matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints sent the latter of the two teams out of the Super Bowl picture. The Saints, 12-4 in the season, lost 30-20 in what was a game full of turnarounds and key plays.
Less surprisingly, the Baltimore Ravens offered a disappointing performance against the Buffalo Bills. After beating the Tennessee Titans by a touchdown in their wild card game, the Ravens scored just three points against the Bills and lost 17-3.
The conference championship matchups also offered exciting battles between teams that haven’t disappointed so far. All four teams were looking to continue on their good winning streak, but had one last challenge before punching their ticket to the Super Bowl.
The Buccaneers battled against the Green Bay Packers, who registered a better record than the Buccaneers in the regular season. Still, both teams were coming off important wins in the divisional round. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Buccaneers’ and Packers’ quarterbacks respectively, are both among the NFL’s best players of all time. They were for sure going to give their best against the other. It’s been an exciting offensive game, but the Buccaneers had the best of the Packers 31-26.
On the other side, the Bills, perhaps the most improved team this season, played the Chiefs. Those two franchises have combined for only five losses in 32 games this season. Yet, one of them had to lose. It’s finally the Chiefs’ offence that had the final say, winning 38-24.
With a second consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl final, the Chiefs could be the first team since the 2004–05 Patriots to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships. For the Buccaneers, it will be their second championship game in franchise history. The first time happened to be just before the 2004–05 Patriots, as they won Super Bowl XXXVII.
Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion