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NFL divisional playoff winners and losers: 49ers send message to remaining playoff teams – USA TODAY, USA Today

NFL divisional playoff winners and losers: 49ers send message to remaining playoff teams – USA TODAY, USA Today




The NFL’sdivisional playoff rounddid provide quite the excitement thatthe wild-card rounddid, but it still did reveal the final four, the participants who will play in next week’s conference championship games.

The most shocking result, without question, was the AFC’s top-seeded Baltimore Ravens stumbling at homeafter their first-round bye. So now, the Tennessee Titans will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game and the San Francisco 54 ers will host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

But before we dissect those matchups, here are the winners and losers from the divisional round.

WINNERS********************************************************************************************** ers’ healthIt says something when you hold one of the most explosive rushers in the NFL, Dalvin Cook, to just 22 yards on nine carries. It says even more when you finish the game with six sacks, and when five different defensive linemen recorded at least one of them. That’s exactly what the

**************************************************************************************** ers did in their thorough, – dispatching of the Vikings

on Saturday. And, with that performance, the Packers, Chiefs, and Titans (if San Francisco advances to Super Bowl LIV) should be concerned. The Niners have so many defensive weapons at their disposal and it all starts up front. Any member of their front four can generate pressure on opposing QBs. Kirk Cousins ​​found that out. But the constant pass rush also allows the 49 ers to be more aggressive in their coverages in the secondary. Also, now that linebacker Kwon Alexander, safety Jaquiski Tartt and defensive end Dee Ford all returned for the divisional round, the defense is complete. Again, the remaining playoff teams should take notice.

****************** OPINION**********************With smackdown of Vikings, 57 ers show they can win in any number of ways(Arthur Smith)


Tennessee’s stunning 28 – takedownof the No. 1-seeded Baltimore Ravens, Smith, the offensive coordinator of the Titans – again – called a masterful game. It helpsto have Derrick Henry as a running back. But Smith remained aggressive all game long, dialing up a steady dose of rushes outside of the tackles. That did two things. It created cutback lanes that allowed Henry to use Baltimore’s aggressive pursuit against itself, and allowed quarterback Ryan Tannehill to take shots when called upon, especially out of play-action sets. Smith called the game as if he was one step ahead of the Ravens and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale. Just look at the call that sealed the game. Facing a third-and-goal from the Ravens’ 3-yard line in the middle of the third quarter, Smith again used Baltimore’s aggressiveness against itself with a Henry jump-pass trick-play touchdown to receiver Corey Davis.Green Bay’s Aarons**************************It’s time to start acknowledging another Aaron’s value to the Packers. Sure, Aaron Rodgers is still vital. But running back Aaron Jones showed inGreen Bay’s 28 – (victory over Seattle) what many Packers fans have seen throughout the regular season: that Jones is a playmaker who can be counted on the biggest stages.

But, again, let’s not forget about the first Aaron. Rodgers still possesses an arsenal of throws that simply have no defense. Look at a crucial 3rd-and-8 with 2: left in the game as Seattle was trying to get the ball back in Russell Wilson’s hands . Despite Green Bay’s offense struggling in the second half, Rodgers delivered a dime on the biggest play of the night.



Kansas City’s wacky, wild playoff win had to be seen to be believed

PACKERS ADVANCE:Five observations as Green Bay clinches spot in NFC title game

************************** NFL NEWSLETTER: ******************************Sign up now to get football news delivered to your inbox********************** (LOSERS) **************************************Bill O’Brien The Houston Texans were dominating. They were on the road, facing the AFC’s top remaining seed, the Chiefs, up by (***************************************************************************************************************. Yet, Houston collapsed, and O’Brien bears a large part of the blamefor (the team’s) – (loss) . No sequence hurt Houston more than early in the second quarter, with the Texans marching down the field and holding a three-touchdown lead. They faced a 4th-and-1 from Kansas City’s – yard line. It looked as if Houston would go for it, but they had to call a timeout. When they came back from the break, they instead took the points and kicked the field goal. But on the following offensive possession, after the Chiefs had scored a touchdown, O’Brien opted to fake a punt (that was unsuccessful) from Houston’s own the yard line. That completely shifted momentum, and the Texans couldn’t stop the bleeding.Teams that passed on Eric Bieniemy

NFL had a woeful record for hiring minority coaches in this cycle, made even more baffling by Chiefs offensive coordinator Bieniemy’s rounding success. This was a game in which – in the first quarter alone – Kansas City had four dropped passes, a muffed punt by receiver Tyreek Hill that gave Houston the ball at Kansas City’s own 6-yard line, a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown , a completely busted coverage that led to a – yard score to receiver Kenny Stills. Those were all self-enforced errors. Then, after Houston self-imploded with its own set of turnovers and mistakes, the Chiefs shredded Houston’s man coverage and scored three touchdowns on their next eight offensive plays. In fact, the Chiefs scored five unanswered touchdowns in just more than 18 minutes of game time and six unanswered in (**********************************************************************************************************************: of game time. Though coach Andy Reid calls the Chiefs ’plays, Bieniemy helps Reid craft the offensive game plan Kansas City uses each game, is critical in sprinkling in innovative wrinkles and has player support. Sounds like the makings of a head coach. (******************************** Russell Wilson****************** This *** is not an indictment on Wilson’s play. He’s as talented and creative a quarterback as there is in the NFL. He almost single-handedly brought the Seahawks back from an – point deficit after leading Seattle in rushing ( yards on seven carries) and after completing (of) ********************************************************************************************************** (passes for yards and one score. But that’s part of the problem. Wilson cannot do it alone. Seattle’s defense played reasonably well. But it allowed the Packers to convert nine of (**************************************************************************************************. 3%) third-down attempts, including two pivotal ones in the final drive of the game that would’ve eventually given Wilson the ball back with a chance to win it. Wilson continuously elevates everyone else on offense. Games like these just show that he needs some more help.Earl Thomas, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens

Just a few days after saying that the Patriots “didnt seem interested” in tackling Titans running back Derrick Henry in the wild-card round, Thomas, the Ravens’ safety, found out the hard way just how challenging it is to bring down the 6-foot-3, 247 – pound Henry, who rattled off (carries for********************************************************************************** (yards in the game.)

Earl Thomas: “Those guys didn’t seem too interested in tackling [Henry]. I think our mindset is a little different. ”

Also Earl Thomas: (pic.twitter.com/9lrp7P3ulh) ******************– Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) (January) **************************************************************************************************************************, ************************************************************************************

(***************For Jackson, who will almost certainly be awarded the NFL MVP in a few weeks, it was a rough game, too. He wasn’t nearly as sharp as he’d been all season long. His accuracy wasn’t as reliable and often misfired on passes. Credit the Titans for bottling Jackson up, but you have to wonder if Jackson sitting out the regular-season finale and then getting the first-round bye contributed to his slow start. When the top seed of the AFC and the team with the most wins in the regular season in the NFL sputters out of the playoffs against the six seed, it can only be characterized as an utter disappointment.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @ LorenzoGReye

****** (s.) ********************************************************************************************** (******************************************************

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