Divisional Round: Eagles thwart Giants, Bills come up short again

The Bengals and Chiefs will meet for the second straight in the AFC Championship, with this rivalry on its way to making history.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 20 - Kansas City Chiefs, 27

As expected, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to reach the AFC Championship game for the fifth consecutive year. Although they came in as heavy favorites, the Chiefs had to work hard to overcome the up-and-coming Jaguars. After two years at the bottom the league, Doug Pederson's Jags exit this year's playoffs with a taste of success and warranted ambition for the coming seasons.

The key play of the game occurred during the first quarter. With the score tied, the strong pressure of the Jaguars' defense ended in a hit to Patrick Mahomes, who came up favoring his right leg, much to the anxiety of Chiefs fans. The quarterback did return to the field in the second half and, despite being clearly limited, managed to lead his team to victory. It remains to be seen how this injury will affect the playoff landscape moving forward.

Jacksonville's defense was not able to take advantage of the Chiefs' limited firepower, proving incapable against a Kansas City offense that showed it is more than just its MVP quarterback. Special mention must go to Travis Kelce, whose 14 receptions were the most for tight end in playoff history.

Doug Pederson's offense, despite lacking imagination at times, managed to get within three points in the final quarter, but a fumble by Jamal Agnew near the end zone and an interception by Lawrence ended any hope of a comeback for the Jaguars.

Cincinnati Bengals, 27 - Buffalo Bills, 10

The Bills, who opened the game as favorites, were unable to overcome Joe Burrow and the Bengals' potent offense. Buffalo can not help but to be disappointed after coming up short for the third consecutive year on the road to the Super Bowl. 

The Bengals didn't give the Bills a chance from the start: Cincinnati netted 168 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter, while Buffalo had just 8 yards. After that, the Bills, who had showing signs of weakness in the previous weeks, showed little fight. Although they managed a touchdown in the second quarter, Cincinnati's victory never felt to be in jeopardy.

After the break, Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor's game plan shifted to the run, and his offensive line dominated in the trenches. Running back Joe Mixon finished the game with 105 yards and a touchdown

After this victory, the Bengals will meet the Chiefs for the second consecutive year in the AFC Championship, a new chapter in a rivalry that is on its way to becoming one for the history books.

New York Giants, 7 - Philadelphia Eagles, 38

The Giants' upset win over Minnesota in the Wild Card round and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts' shoulder injury had given Giants fans hope that this may be a tightly contested game between two fierce divisional rivals. In the end, this could not have been farther from the truth. The Giants were humiliated by the Eagles, who shut down doubts and proved themselves to be serious Super Bowl contenders.

The Eagles shined in all facets of the game. The offense racked up 416 rushing yards for three touchdowns to go with 148 passing yards for two TDs. Their defense kept the Giants at bay at all times. Their secondary's coverage helped the defensive line sack Giants QB Daniel Jones five times. The only doubt that can be cast upon the Eagles is that perhaps the low level shown by the Giants may lead to overconfidence.

Be that as it may, the best and most important news for Eagles fans is how good Jalen Hurts looked after the bye week of the Wild Card round.

Dallas Cowboys, 12 - San Francisco 49ers, 19

The Divisional round ended with the most evenly matched game of the four, in which the Dallas Cowboys came up short against the San Francisco 49ers, with the Dallas defense showing clear signs of exhaustion.

The game went as expected, with the defenses dominating. Dallas' defensive line put 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy in trouble from the start. It was without a doubt the biggest challenge the rookie QB has faced since taking over as the 49ers' starter. And while it wasn't his most brilliant game, he managed the game well and didn't make rookie mistakes, something Dallas QB Dak Prescott did. Prescott was intercepted shortly after the game started and again shortly before the end of the first half, which allowed the 49ers to go into halftime ahead 9-6, even though their offense was being manhandled by the Dallas defensive line.

At the beginning of the second half, a mistake on a punt return by San Francisco allowed Dallas to tie the game with a field goal. However, it was just then that the 49ers offensive line stepped up, buying Purdy more time and allowing running backs Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell to move the chains. It would be McCaffrey who would achieve the first and only touchdown of the night for San Francisco early in the fourth quarter. The Mitchell-Purdy duo ate up the clock on a nice series of plays, forcing Dallas to get desperate to force overtime but ultimately failing to do so.

With this victory, San Francisco will play in the NFC Championship game for the second consecutive time and third in four years, where perhaps the league's best defense awaits them. Dallas falls short of the NFC Championship for the seventh consecutive time and will face an offseason where they will have low salary cap space. There will likely be much talk about Prescott's future and a possible restructuring of his contract.