The 2023 NFL playoffs have concluded, and the matchups for Super Bowl Sunday have officially been set!
With the first Wild Card games concluding about 3 weeks ago, and the Divisional Round concluding 2 weeks ago, both the American Football Conference and National Football Conference championship games have ended, and we now know the Super Bowl finalists.
The Wild Card round consisted of 12 teams, half from the AFC, and the other half from the NFC, competing against each other for a spot in the divisional round. These 6 games all happened between January 7-9.
The Divisional Round games consisted of the winners from the Wild Card round facing up against each other, these 4 games taking place between January 21st through the 22nd.
The Conference Games on January 29 consisted of the 4 winners from the Divisional Round against each other for a spot in the big game.
The Wild Card Round
The first Wild Card game featured the Seattle Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately for many, the game ended with the 49ers blowing them out, sending the Seahawks to their off-season.
The second Wild Card game included the Jacksonville Jaguars heading up against the favored Los Angeles Chargers. The game ended with the Jaguars defeating and upsetting the Chargers fans in a crazy 31-point comeback for a spot in the divisional round.
The third of the 6 Wild Card games took place in Buffalo, New York, as the Buffalo Bills were highly favored to win the game against the third-string quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. Although the Bills did take the win against the Dolphins to earn themselves a spot in the divisional round, they only won by 3 points in a very close game.
The fourth game of the Wild Card series included the New York Giants against the closely favored Minnesota Vikings. The game was close, ultimately leading to an upset by the New York Giants, solidifying Daniel Jones as the New York Giants’ franchise quarterback.
The fifth game consisted of the Baltimore Ravens facing off against the defending AFC Champions, the Cincinnati Bengals. Although the Bengals were highly favored to win, especially considering the Baltimore Ravens didn’t have their dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, the game was relatively close, finishing at 17-24; The Bengals solidified their place in the upcoming Divisional Round.
The last and most anticipated game of the Wild Card Series included Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, matching up against Tom “The G.O.A.T” Brady, in Tampa Bay, Florida. Although Tom Brady’s record against the Cowboys was a consecutive 7-0 before this Wild Card Round, Dak Prescott led the Dallas Cowboys to a huge win in the best game of his 2022-2023 season. His final stats were 25/33 completed passes, 305 passing yards, and 4 touchdowns.
The Divisional Round
The first Divisional Round took place in Kansas City as Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars faced Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Early in the game, Patrick Mahomes suffered an ankle injury, causing the veteran backup quarterback Chad Henne to take over. Chad Henne led the Chiefs to a 98 yard drive, keeping them in the game. Although the week prior Trevor Lawrence was able to bounce back from a 27 point deficit and unfortunately for many, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost the game 20-27.
The following Divisional Round matchup was between the New York Giants and the highly favored Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants had previously upset the Minnesota Vikings in a close and highly anticipated game, so they had the momentum. On the other hand, the Philadelphia Eagles hadn’t played a football game in more than a week. Nonetheless, expected by many, the first seed Philadelphia Eagles blew out the New York Giants in a not-so-close game.
The third game in the Divisional Round consisted of the Buffalo Bills up against the defending AFC champions, the Cincinnati Bengals. Although the Bills had home field advantage in Buffalo, the Bengals defense held the Bills to their lowest scoring game, ultimately causing the New York team, and fans alike, to leave the stadium unsatisfied.
The final Divisional Matchup and most anticipated game of the whole playoff bracket was the Dallas Cowboys facing the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers had the most stacked roster in the NFL, without a quarterback, while the Cowboys had momentum, especially considering their quarterback just had the best game of his season, and arguably of his career. When kickoff ensued, the stands were roaring. The game was close throughout, until the 49ers handed the ball off to Christian McCaffrey who scored the game winning touchdown, making the score 16-9, 49ers. The Dallas Cowboys tried hard to come back from the 10 point deficit, scoring another field goal, but they ended up losing 12-19, as San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould scored the last 3 points of the game.
The AFC and NFC Championships
Two weekends ago, the AFC and NFC championships began. The defending AFC champions, the Cincinnati Bengals, were set to face the Kansas City Chiefs. While the #1 seed Philadelphia Eagles were set to play against the San Francisco 49ers.
While many fans wanted to see the 49ers win and upset the Eagles, the team fell short and got blown out by the Eagles as their 3rd and 4th string quarterbacks both got injured. The final score was 31-7, Philadelphia Eagles.
Regardless of how one sided the NFC championship game was, the AFC side of things was different. The Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes showed out in Arrowhead “Burrowhead” Stadium against the at-home Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow. The game was a continuous shootout between the two best quarterbacks in the league, ultimately ending in a field goal victory for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Super Bowl
With these two victories sealed, this Super Bowl stands as the first showoff between two African-American quarterbacks; Patrick Mahomes, and Jalen Hurts. The big game will take place in State Farm Stadium on the 12th of February.