Battle Crimson Weblog Energy Rankings: Championship Weekend

Welcome to Championship weekend! After a divisional spherical that had just a few extra one-sided affairs than anticipated, we’re left with what’s definitely the very best 4 groups of the 2022 season: the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, and San Francisco 49ers. Moreover Philadelphia’s two losses in Week 16 and Week 17 when quarterback Jalen Hurts was injured, none of those groups have misplaced a recreation in a really very long time. Kansas Metropolis’s final loss was in opposition to their championship opponent Bengals in Week 13, Cincinnati’s final loss was to the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, San Francisco hasn’t misplaced since Week 7 versus Kansas Metropolis, and Philadelphia hasn’t misplaced with Hurts enjoying since Week 10 in opposition to Washington.

All of those groups have both a prime 10 offense or protection, and for all groups besides the Chiefs, they’ve each. Even San Francisco’s Seventh-round rookie quarterback Brock Purdy has been principally improbable since being named the starter, his worst recreation coming final week in opposition to Dallas, the place he was lifted to victory by a protection greater than ready to win a Super Bowl.

Patrick Mahomes’ high-ankle sprain harm he suffered in Kansas Metropolis’s victory over the Jaguars places their Tremendous Bowl probabilities in critical threat. However happily for him, Kansas Metropolis’s Seventh-round rookie, working again Isiah Pacheco, confirmed up within the second half and received the sport with some essential large runs. Kansas Metropolis received’t be fairly as lethal within the Championship recreation, however their speeding assault and protection seems poised to shoulder the burden getting into their matchup in opposition to their new playoff rival: the peaking Cincinnati Bengals.

Cincinnati is coming off arguably their most spectacular win of the season, a 27-10 defaming of the Buffalo Bills (there goes my Tremendous Bowl decide). Buffalo, to the astonishment of their followers and spectators throughout the nation, gave up some early touchdowns and by no means recovered. Josh Allen sprinted across the snowy panorama, summoned playoff Gabriel Davis, and threw in desperation to Stefon Diggs, however all moments of hope have been rapidly drowned by a strong Bengals protection. There’s loads of causes to consider Cincinnati can be returning to the Tremendous Bowl, however with both San Francisco or Philadelphia ready for them within the large recreation, Joe Burrow will virtually definitely be put to the check.

Talking of Philadelphia, they definitely made that recreation in opposition to the Giants positive look simple! Jalen Hurts’ restoration from a shoulder harm suffered in Week 15 versus the Chicago Bears has clouded the Tremendous Bowl goals of the Eagles, however his efficiency a spicy New York crew within the divisional spherical places a number of hypothesis to relaxation. He’s mentioned himself that he’s “…felt better,” however his lingering harm didn’t cease him from being a serious aspect to his crew getting a giant, early lead.

Early passes to Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert arrange landing passes to each by the tip of the first quarter, and a landing run of his personal to finish the half ensured Hurts might cruise into the championship recreation. However, New York isn’t the solely NFC East crew that got here up quick final weekend; Dallas did, too!

San Francisco placed on a defensive clinic versus the Cowboys to finish the divisional spherical, forcing 2 interceptions within the first half, and retaining Dak Prescott below a 70 passer ranking. It was good timing, as effectively, since Brock Purdy had his first recreation he began with a passer ranking below 90. It was additionally his first recreation and not using a landing cross, and his worst adjusted yards per try (7.38) since his first recreation versus Miami. It was nonetheless statistically a superb recreation, however it was his first the place he wasn’t making highlight-reel performs. For San Francisco, this recreation was received with discipline targets and factors off of turnovers. Subsequent week, their protection might want to simply as suffocating so as to beat the Eagles.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Cincinnati Bengals v Buffalo Bills

Photograph by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Photos

Right here’s my private rankings getting into the AFC and NFC Championship video games this weekend:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles – Now with Hurts enjoying at full pace once more, that is the very best crew in soccer. I don’t understand how you cease a backfield pretty much as good as Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders/Boston Scott/Kenneth Gainwell and offensive line full-to-bursting with pro-bowlers and Corridor of Famers, however two extra groups are going to should strive. They’re going to attain, and if Jalen Hurts could make just a few extra lovely passes to Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown, they’re going to attain lots.

Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and Dre Greenlaw could make Hurts’ life tough if they will scheme up just a few pressures and maintain him within the pocket, however that’ll require a improbable recreation from the whole San Francisco defensive position. Though, with gamers like George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey, it’s not unattainable for the 49ers to drive up the rating, as effectively. Nonetheless, with Brock Purdy coming off a nasty recreation and getting ready to face a good harder protection, Philly’s probabilities of retaining the 49ers’ offense below management are fairly excessive.

2. Cincinnati Bengals – The divisional spherical matchup between Cincinnati and Buffalo was the sport I used to be personally anticipating essentially the most, as each got here into the sport as both Tremendous Bowl winners or contenders. Each had crushed Kansas Metropolis this season, will probably do it once more due to Patrick Mahomes’ harm, and each have MVP-caliber quarterbacks that may take over a recreation at a moments discover. Nonetheless, Cincinnati proved me fallacious! On this matchup, just one quarterback really dominated the sport from begin to end, and it wasn’t Josh Allen, it was Joe Burrow.

After quite a few accidents to their offensive line, Cincinnati miraculously didn’t miss a beat in opposition to the Payments protection, and Joe Burrow cooked them time and again with lengthy, suffocating drives. Much more spectacular, Lou Anarumo’s protection held Josh Allen and the Payments to 10 factors (!!!) in the whole recreation, a very unfathomable whole simply weeks in the past.

Cincinnati seems to should have complemented their three-headed offensive monster of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd with one other three-headed monster on the defensive position with Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, and Joseph Ossai. On prime of that, Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt have continued their improbable play into the postseason for a second straight 12 months, and tight finish Hayden Hurst and large receiver Trenton Irwin have develop into very important third-down targets for Burrow. If Cincinnati retains enjoying like this, rolling over Kansas Metropolis once more shouldn’t be a lot of a problem.

3. San Francisco 49ers – The unhealthy Brock Purdy recreation lastly arrived, however it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient for the 49ers to lose. Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, and the oft-targeted Deommodore Lenoir saved Dak Prescott sloppy and ineffective for the overwhelming majority of the sport, and fully eradicated the speeding assault after Tony Pollard’s harm. Towards a crew pretty much as good because the Eagles and a quarterback pretty much as good as Jalen Hurts, nevertheless, can be a tall process for San Francisco. Brock Purdy can be going through a good higher protection and scarier pass-rush, and can virtually definitely want to attain greater than 19 to safe victory in opposition to Jalen Hurts.

Warner, Greenlaw, Jimmie Ward, and former Texan Tashaun Gipson may have the problem of diagnosing the entire bootlegs and RPOs Philadelphia likes to run with Hurts, and the receiving trio of Devonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and Dallas Goedert may have way more to deal with than CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Shultz. Philadelphia’s primary weak point at linebacker will give Purdy loads of probabilities to throw it as much as George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, however will that be sufficient? All of it will depend on how usually he can get the ball of their arms both in house or with blockers in entrance.

4. Kansas Metropolis Chiefs – After defeating Jacksonville with the assistance of their rookie, Seventh spherical working again Isiah Pacheco, Kansas Metropolis can be internet hosting its fifth straight AFC Championship Recreation. This would be the fifth championship video games in 5 years as a starter for Patrick Mahomes, however it’ll be the primary time he’s enjoying with a high-ankle sprain. After that harm, Mahomes and the Chiefs offense have been clearly much less environment friendly and explosive as they’re usually, which might spell catastrophe in opposition to a improbable Bengals protection.

Thankfully for the Chiefs, they’ve drafted effectively on offense and protection the previous few years, getting loads of manufacturing from Pacheco, Creed Humphrey, Nick Bolton, and L’Jarius Sneed. All 4 of those gamers must play nice on Sunday, for the reason that Bengals will probably attempt to get the rating up early to allow them to kill the Chiefs with Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. With these gamers, a low-scoring or low-yardage recreation may be received, however even with this harm, something is feasible with Patrick Mahomes.

5. Buffalo Payments – What a catastrophe of a recreation to finish a season of future for the Buffalo Payments. After final 12 months’s heartbreak at Kansas Metropolis, 2022 felt just like the 12 months of inevitable success for the Buffalo Payments. A loaded roster, a brand new pass-rusher that straight addressed their pass-rush points in Von Miller, depth behind him, and a MVP-caliber quarterback ought to have been the substances to getting over the hump, however Cincinnati had different plans.

Cincinnati’s makeshift offensive line managed the road of scrimmage for the whole recreation, and quarterback Joe Burrow made Buffalo pay for it dearly. Equally, Cincinnati’s protection made Josh Allen’s love for the deep ball his worst enemy, and no quantity of working the ball was going to assist in opposition to a defensive position this good. Buffalo ends the season surprisingly early and with extra questions than solutions, however the draft looms as one other alternative to develop into an entire roster.

Accidents to Von Miller and Micah Hyde uncovered Buffalo’s want for nonetheless one other cross rusher and security, each of which they will goal within the draft. In my view nevertheless, this loss offers Buffalo an important alternative to begin copying off the Bengals by filling their beginning lineup with nice receivers. Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis are each improbable, however a 3rd, x-factor receiver would give Josh Allen an important goal no matter the place he seems.

6. Dallas Cowboys – It wasn’t a shocking end for the Cowboys, who got here up quick on offense in opposition to the improbable 49ers’ protection, however it was an equally disappointing one for Dak Prescott followers hoping to get extra consistency out of their quarterback. Mike McCarthy’s offense calls for lots out of the passer, and Dak Prescott has proven the power to function below this intense strain, however not often sufficient to cease turnovers from haunting his in any other case highlight-filled season.

On this recreation specifically, all of the blame shouldn’t be completely positioned on Prescott’s shoulders as a result of nice protection from San Francisco and poor play from Michael Gallup, however two interceptions (and practically a 3rd) can be what lingers within the minds of many Cowboys followers. Nonetheless, much like Buffalo, Dallas doesn’t have many positions in want of a brand new participant or draftee, however as an alternative can use this draft to diagnose precisely what they want so as to shut out these playoff video games.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – These glitter kitties ended up giving the Chiefs a run for his or her cash, however as it’s with each different crew within the NFL, Travis Kelce proved to be simply an excessive amount of to deal with. Though a dropped interception from Foyesade Oluokun might have been the missed large play, a poorly timed tripping penalty and Trevor Lawrence sack kicked the Jaguars out of discipline purpose vary originally of the 2nd quarter. These three factors would have made a giant distinction within the fourth quarter, the place the Jaguars discovered themselves down 10 and getting away from their speeding assault.

The Chiefs, after Mahomes’ ankle harm, leaned into speeding the ball with rookie Isiah Pacheco, which paid dividends within the second half. Coming into the offseason, Jacksonville may be glad that they received’t want free company or the draft to develop into a contender, however will should be energetic in each so as to survive getting again beneath the cap for 2023. Evan Engram and Jawaan Taylor will probably each be given extra long-term offers, however gamers like Marvin Jones or Shaquill Griffin could also be changed with draftees or veteran free brokers.

8. New York Giants – A lot for the Danny Dimes expertise. The Giants gave up practically 4 straight touchdowns within the first half with out scoring a degree. After turning the ball over twice to begin the sport, the Giants went 3-and-out 3 straight instances, ending the primary half with a complete of simply 64 yards on offense. The protection didn’t fare a lot better, giving up 268 yards on the bottom on solely 44 carries (6.1 common). The Giants had constructed an identification across the fast cross, extreme working with Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones, and the scramble drill. Towards the Eagles, that recreation plan was disrupted so rapidly by Philadelphia’s overpowered defensive position that the sport was virtually over after the primary few possessions.

Now, getting into the low season with considerably extra optimism than they’re used to, the Giants may have the problem of making an attempt to resolve who to maintain out of the 21 gamers getting into unrestricted free company in March. Of those 21 gamers, 14 are starters, and a few notable names embrace Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, Richie James, Jon Feliciano, and Julian Love. This low season, as a result of quantity of change and transition inevitable, can be seen as an inflection level Giants historical past. It’s anybody’s guess if Daboll, Schoen and Co. will resolve to run it again with largely the identical crew in hopes of a greater turnout in January subsequent 12 months, or if that is the low season we see the home that Dave Gettleman constructed get nuked away in favor of one other rebuild. They’ve already signaled their curiosity in re-signing Jones, however they’ll want loads extra than simply him to return.

Personally, I count on to see the Giants provide new contracts to Barkley, Jones, Love, and some others to maintain the core of this crew collectively, however will inevitably should let a number of these items go since there’s so many that can get related affords elsewhere. Their picks within the 2023 NFL Draft will probably be used to positive up their receiving corps after shedding some in free company, however I wouldn’t be shocked in the event that they get impressed by the Eagles crew they simply misplaced to and resolve to take a quarterback within the second or third spherical because the eventual alternative for Jones.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers

Photograph by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Photos

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