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Five things we learned from the Divisional Round

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Many name the Divisional Spherical of the NFL playoffs one of the best weekend in sport, and rightly so. The fats theoretically may have been trimmed away within the Wildcard spherical permitting for 4 high quality soccer video games to be performed.

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This yr noticed the “YOU LIKE THAT” Minnesota Vikings hit their ceiling and crash out in opposition to the sturdy San Francisco 49ers, the Derrick Henry led Tennessee Titans cost via the unsuspecting Ravens like a cavalry via a wheat subject, Invoice O’Brien ‘Invoice O’Brien-ed’ a 24-Zero lead in opposition to the superpowered Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and the damaged down Seattle Seahawks couldn’t muster sufficient fireplace to flee frozen Tundra of Inexperienced Bay.

However, what did we study?

Invoice O’Brien will solely go as far as his expertise will take him

Head coaches who roleplay as normal managers hardly ever do nicely in fashionable sport. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy realised this when it price them their jobs within the NBA. However after a GM search within the offseason that went badly, the Texans have been left with Invoice O’Brien as the top coach and the GM.

Regardless of profitable the mediocre AFC South 4 occasions within the final 5 years, O’Brien has proven consistently that when the lights are on and the strain is turned up, he won’t elevate his workforce to win, however slightly grow to be a detrimental issue that Deshaun Watson, his star quarterback, should rail in opposition to with a purpose to succeed.

Since taking cost of the Texans, O’Brien’s playoff wrap sheet makes for some robust studying. 2015: 30-Zero Wildcard loss to the Chiefs, 2016: Blown out by New England after beating a Connor Prepare dinner led Raiders workforce, 2018: Wildcard loss, 2019: Divisional Spherical capitulation.

O’Brien will stay head coach of the Texans, however the leash is getting shorter and tighter by the day.

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Respect the Titans

After squeaking into the playoffs and knocking off a sub-par and ageing New England workforce in Foxborough, the Tenessee Titans have been a pleasant underdog story. Regardless of their success within the spherical earlier, few analysts gave them an opportunity going into Baltimore and upsetting MVP Lamar Jackson.

Not solely did they upset the Ravens. They crushed them.

The catalyst for this considerably stunning emergence belongs to Derrick Henry. Since getting drafted in 2016, Henry has flashed right here and there however failed to essentially make his mark in a league that’s centred round passing the ball. Many puzzled whether or not or not Henry would be capable of match into the wheel of the NFL, however this postseason run, Henry hasn’t simply determined to rule the wheel however to interrupt it.

Henry rushed for 195 yards in opposition to Baltimore, 15 extra yards than the victory in Foxborough. If Henry can maintain this stage of play via to the Tremendous Bowl and past then the Earl Campbell comparisons will likely be greater than acceptable.

The 49ers defence is again and higher than earlier than

An NFL season is a struggle of attrition. Each workforce will undergo accidents is a technique or one other and down the stretch, the defence of the San Francisco 49ers felt this closely. The 49ers have been lacking beginning SS Jaquiski Tartt, pass-rush specialist Dee Ford and versatile WILL linebacker Kwon Alexander. Tartt and Dee Ford’s absences was significantly felt in current weeks, each gamers are integral to the entrance 7 and secondary of the Niners D.

Tartt’s return patched up a leaky secondary and Ford was largely chargeable for the 6 sacks that Kirk Cousins suffered. When SF defensive coordinator Robert Saleh brings 5 guys, good luck blocking Bosa, Buckner, Armstead and Ford one-on-one.

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The benching of Akhello Witherspoon for the higher Emmanuel Mosley by Kyle Shanahan additionally confirmed the kind of cut-throat resolution making you want out of your head coach within the playoffs. Mosley ought to begin subsequent Sunday in opposition to Inexperienced Bay.

For some cause, there was an excessive amount of disrespect for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers this yr. Perhaps the 37-Eight thrashing they took by the hands of San Francisco on Sunday Evening Soccer in Week Twelve had a big half to play. However the Packers have been the quantity 2 seed popping out of the NFC and at present maintain a 14-Three document. In addition they have the best pure quarterback of all time.

Whereas Rodgers could also be getting older and a tad slower than his prime five-to-ten years in the past, he’s nonetheless Aaron Rodgers and was an MVP candidate throughout factors of the common season. With the sport on the road in opposition to Seattle, Rodgers stayed cooler than the Lambeau Subject ice and accomplished two enormous passes for first downs.

The second-half stagnation does stay a difficulty however that appears extra on LaFleur’s shoulders slightly than Rodgers’. It might be misguided to depend out Aaron Rodgers in January.

Farewell Beast Mode for the third and last time

Seattle’s loss to Inexperienced Bay signifies that we have now seen Marshawn Lynch grace the gridiron for the ultimate time. As somebody who acquired into the game in the course of the 2010s, Lynch has been an icon of the game for a lot of like me. Accolades, information, stats, it doesn’t matter. Get Lynch a gold jacket now.

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