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NFL wildcard round

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NFL wildcard round

Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon tries to avoid New Orleans Saints cornerback Ken Crawley (20) during the NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon tries to avoid New Orleans Saints cornerback Ken Crawley (20) during the NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon tries to avoid New Orleans Saints cornerback Ken Crawley (20) during the NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Minnesota Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon tries to avoid New Orleans Saints cornerback Ken Crawley (20) during the NFC divisional playoff game on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. (Brian Peterson/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

Story by TJ Wall, staff writer

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The NFL Wild Card Round was full of triumph and heartbreak which basically means that it lived up to the immense hype. Some teams lived to see another day while others will spend the rest of January on their couches. Here’s a recap of the each game that took place this past weekend:

Titans vs. Chiefs:

The Tennessee Titans pulled off a crazy upset victory versus the Kansas City Chiefs, coming back from an 18-point deficit to win 22-21.

The Titans, by all means, were the underdogs coming into this game. They were barely able to make the playoffs in the first place, so why should we have expected them to do much? However, thanks to some late-game heroics in the form of a receiving touchdown from Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota to Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota (yes, you read that correctly), the Titans were able to hang on and advance to the divisional round.

Kansas City is expected to part ways with starting quarterback Alex Smith this upcoming offseason and let their rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes II take the reins. Mahomes, in my opinion last year, was the third best quarterback in his draft class only behind Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jerod Evans. However, I believe that he has proved himself thus far and has the potential to surpass these expectations.

During his debut, Mahomes made some amazing throws while also making some rookie mistakes. The main thing that he needs to keep working on is his touch on his passes. Mahomes is known for his elite arm strength, and sometimes, that arm strength can cause him to throw some unnecessary passes which can result in interceptions. However, Mahomes looked promising in his debut versus the Denver Broncos, and he’ll definitely give Chiefs’ fans something to look forward to next season.

Falcons vs. Rams:

Despite the Atlanta Falcons’ appearance in the Super Bowl last year, they, like the Titans, came into this game with the underdog title. However, Atlanta managed to go on the road and defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 26-13. The Falcons don’t appear to be the same team that they were last year but seem to be gaining some steam. The Rams, on the other hand, seemed to have an elite, all-around team only to show their youth and inexperience on Saturday night.

During this matchup, the one thing that stuck out the most to me was how little the Rams used Todd Gurley. Gurley, an MVP candidate this season, only had 14 rushing attempts. This was a big red flag and a big factor in the Rams’ loss. Stats show that in all five of the Rams’ losses, Gurley was only allowed to run the ball 16 or less times. When the best player on your offense, and arguably even on your whole team, is limited in his touches and you decide to let your young, second-year quarterback pass the ball 45 times in the playoffs, that’s a major problem.

The Falcons, on the other hand, were more efficient in the red zone and in goal-to-go situations which ultimately got them the win. The Falcons had a 50 percent red zone efficiency and a 66 percent goal-to-go efficiency compared to the Rams’ 25 percent red zone efficiency and a zero percent goal to go efficiency.

Even though the Rams still seem to have the better overall team, the Falcons played better and managed to pull off the win which will keep their Super Bowl hopes alive for another week.

Bills vs. Jaguars:

The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Buffalo Bills with a score of 10-3. While the Jaguars were expected to win, the game wasn’t expected to be as sluggish and slow as it was.

Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles did awful. Bortles only completed slightly under half of his passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. However, Bortles did run 10 times for 88 yards. Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette didn’t do much either. Fournette ran 21 times yet got 31 less yards than Bortles.

The Buffalo Bills couldn’t even score a touchdown. Although, this is most likely due to Jacksonville’s elite defense.

Overall, this game was extremely boring to watch and there’s really not much to say about it. All I know for certain is that if the Jaguars’ offense continues to play this awfully, they will definitely lose their next game.

Panthers vs. Saints:

The New Orleans Saints defeated the Carolina Panthers with a final score of 31-26.

Basically the whole game, the Saints were up by two scores. It looked as if the Saints were going to take the win pretty easily. However, in the last several minutes of the game, the Panthers made a comeback effort. Unfortunately for Carolina, their efforts came up short.

After a failed fourth down conversion by the Saints, it all came down to the last drive of the game. The Panthers started at their own 31 yard line and had just a little under two minutes to drive down the field, get a touchdown and win the game. After a few passes and a few penalties, the Panthers had 11 seconds left with the ball on the Saints’ 21 yard line. Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton dropped back to pass in a desperate attempt to get a first down or maybe even score. However, he could not get a pass of before the Saints’ defense blitzed in, sacked Newton and won the game.

Overall, it was a really exciting game and if the Saints keep on playing this way, they will be hard to stop.

Divisional Round Predictions:

AFC:

  1. Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
  • This week, I believe that the Patriots will defeat the Titans with a final score of 31-14. I also predict that the Steelers will defeat the Jaguars 24-17.

NFC:

  1. Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings
  • Even though I don’t want to say this, I predict the Falcons will defeat the Eagles with a final score of 23-14 (my gut just says that the Falcons will win). I also predict that the Saints will defeat the Vikings with a final score of 17-16.
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TJ Wall, sports editor

TJ Wall, also known as “Wheelz,” is an editor of the sports section and is a fun-loving, witty guy who loves sports, music and keeping up with the...

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