The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Sidelines: NFL season recap

The final four teams in the playoffs are the Chiefs, Ravens, Lions and 49ers. (Photo courtesy of The Game Day)

Yet another season of football has come to a close, but this one felt a little different. One person seemed to be the highlight of the year, and she doesn’t even play the sport.

Taylor Swift, along with her relationship with Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, was the main focus of NFL media this year. To the delight of football fans across the country, this sensation seems to have given way to great storylines surrounding the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Starting with Super Wild Card Weekend, we saw many players return to face their former teams. The Detroit Lions won their first playoff game since 1992 after defeating former quarterback Matt Stafford’s Rams. The Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Tyreek Hill was no match for the freezing temperatures in his return to Kansas City, and the Bills defeated the Steelers.

The Texans were the only thing stopping 39-year-old Joe Flacco from facing his former Ravens, but rookie sensation C.J. Stroud stomped the Browns, ending this dream. The remaining games were one-sided, as the Packers controlled the Cowboys, and the AJ Brown-less Eagles looked pitiful against the Buccaneers.

The following week was filled with more great football as the Lions continued their run, and MVP-favorite Lamar Jackson showed up against the Texans. Despite finally seeing Patrick Mahomes on the road in the playoffs, the Bills fell to the Chiefs for the third time in four years in a nail-biter that came down to a missed field goal. Finally, Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy led the 49ers on a late-game drive to beat the Packers.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs will play their sixth straight AFC Championship Game, where they will face the Baltimore Ravens. Meanwhile, in the NFC Championship, we have a matchup between the 49ers and the Lions.

Many are surprised that the Chiefs are in this game, as this season seemed like a down year. They could only muster an 11-6 record in one of the weakest divisions in football. Their offense seemed to take a hit, as they ranked 15th in scoring with a receiving core that looked to be a mere shadow of the Hill-Kelce duo of years past. The defense, on the other hand, has been the driving force behind this team. The squad has allowed the second-lowest points total, with a secondary ranked fourth in pass defense. 

There is no doubt that the Chiefs will face a great challenge against the Ravens. Baltimore has looked unstoppable this year and has only improved with each game played. On a Christmas Day matchup against the 49ers, the NFC favorites, the Ravens’ defense dismantled their top-tier offense by picking off Brock Purdy four times. The offense must also be taken seriously, though, as they are ranked in the top six in both scoring and yards.

On the NFC side, the 49ers look to be the heavy betting favorites to appear in the Super Bowl. The offense has four all-pro weapons, led by OPOY-favorite Christian McCaffrey. With Brock Purdy, the team seems able to score on virtually any given drive. However, the defense allowed more points than both the Ravens and Chiefs this seasonrivals will be looking to the 49ers’ close game against the Packers for any cracks this super team may have. 

That leaves us with the Detroit Lions. The last time they won two playoff games was in 1957, which shows just how important this game is for the fans. The Lions have shown that they are not only a young and exciting team, but also a group that can make things happen. Head coach Dan Campbell has demonstrated that he is the man in Detroit, and his rugged smack-you-in-the-nose style of football may finally topple the 49ers.

The stage is set for these two matchups on Sunday. The Ravens and Chiefs will kickoff at 3:30 p.m., with the Lions and 49ers scheduled for primetime.

The AFC championship will come down to which offense will be able to break through the opposing defense. The NFC championship will show whether a hard, team-driven Lions will be able to compete against one of the most stacked offenses in recent history.

My prediction: The Ravens and the Lions will face off in the Super Bowl. 

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