Once again, football fans were served last weekend with thrilling playoff clashes.
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The semi-finals of association gave right to spectacular moments and made it possible to know what wood the four teams still in contention are warming up. Here are five takeaways from last weekend’s four duels.
The state of health of Patrick Mahomes
The Kansas City Chiefs quarterback suffered a sprained ankle late in the first quarter of their team’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He came back to action in the second half, but was limping. That didn’t stop him from throwing an important touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling in the fourth quarter, though.
After the game, Mahomes said he will play in the American Conference Finals, which will pit the Chiefs against the Cincinnati Bengals. It will be very interesting to see how the star pivot fare if he is unable to make spectacular plays when he slips out of his pocket.
The Bengals offensive line
The players tasked with protecting quarterback Joe Burrow at the Bengals caused a lot of ink to flow ahead of last Sunday’s win over the Bills in Buffalo. Indeed, Cincinnati was missing three starters on the offensive line for this duel. Never mind, the unit did a great job and only allowed one quarter sack.
The offensive line also shrugged off harsh winter conditions. The Bengals offense amassed an impressive 172 yards on rushing plays.
The Eagles are scary
The Philadelphia Eagles were in their first playoff game, having enjoyed a bye week in the first round of the postseason. Pennsylvania’s roster was ruthless for the New York Giants, outscoring them 38-7. The Eagles have talent at virtually every position and are in tune with head coach Nick’s game plan. Siriani. Also, quarterback Jalen Hurts has been excellent, despite a shoulder injury that is not 100% recovered. The pivot threw two touchdown passes, in addition to registering a middle finger with his legs.
A golden defense
In the other National Conference semifinal, the San Francisco 49ers won a defensive duel 19-12 against the Dallas Cowboys. The Californian club is perhaps the only team that can compete with the powerful attack of the Eagles. The Niners’ defense ranked second in the NFL in most stats against the run. That could play offensive tricks on the Philadelphia team, which hasn’t really had to play catch-up football since hostilities began in 2022.
Another disappointment for the Cowboys
For the umpteenth time, the Cowboys came up short, much to the dismay of their many fans. Days after their elimination, questions about head coach Mike McCarthy are already surfacing. The decision of the “Boys” to clear the ball in the fourth quarter, when they trailed by a possession with just over two minutes to go, is criticized from all sides. It’s also the second straight year the Cowboys have lost a one-night stand to the 49ers, after some questionable late game picks. It now remains to be seen whether the patience of owner and general manager Jerry Jones has reached its limit in McCarthy’s case.