2020 NFL Playoffs show the end of a dynasty and the birth of a new era


Christopher Hanewinckel-USA Today

New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass in Super Bowl LIII. The Patriots emerged victorious by a score of 13-3 over the opposing Los Angeles Rams. This will be first Super Bowl in four years that will not include New England.

Ethan Schlapp, Staff Writer

Wild Card Round:

When Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan celebrated his way into the endzone for a pick-six, it capped off an AFC Wild Card upset against the dominant New England Patriots that shocked the world. It was only the fourth time ever that the dynamic duo of Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick were beaten by a road team at home in the playoffs. But it was more than the individual game that NFL fans around the country were cheering for, as it seemed to mark the end of an era in a sport that had been dominated by one team for almost two decades. 

The other AFC matchup between the Texans and Bills featured an impressive comeback, with Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson leading his team out of a 13 point deficit at halftime to an overtime win by a final score of 22-19. 

In the NFC, Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins proved to the world that he has what it takes to win in the spotlight, throwing for over 200 yards and a touchdown, including a long completion to wide receiver Adam Thielen that set up a Kyle Rudolph touchdown as the Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints by a score of 26-20 in overtime. 

Not to be overshadowed was the Seahawks-Eagles game, as 40-year-old veteran Quarterback Josh McCown took the reins of the Philadelphia Eagles after starting QB Carson Wentz got knocked out of the game with an injury. But the Cinderella story was not to be, as Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson lead Seattle to a 17-8 victory.

Divisional Round:

With the rare early exit of the ever-so-present playoff New England Patriots, eyes around the league were focused upon the next generation in a sport filled with many talents. 

Would it be Baltimore Ravens’ dual-threat, MVP frontrunner quarterback Lamar Jackson, to lead his team to the elusive big game? Jackson along with star running back Mark Ingram had led the Ravens to an almost perfect season, helping the team finish 14-2, their best record since the franchise was established in 1996.

Another favorite was the Kansas City Chiefs, grounded by veteran head coach Andy Reid along with reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes in a Pro-Bowl filled, firepower offense.

These questions were quickly answered, as the Ravens were stunned by the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans, who went on to win their second playoff road game in a row by a score of 28-12, with running back Derrick Henry putting on a dominant performance that included 30 carries for 195 yards as well as a trick play jump pass touchdown to wide receiver Corey Davis. 

Junior Max Miller, an avid football fan, commented on the Titans after their two miraculous wins. 

“Mike Vrabel is out-coaching everybody.” He continued, “The fact that Derrick Henry was able to get 200 yards against that [Patriots] defense is ridiculous.”

But though Miller was impressed by Tennessee’s performance, he believes that the 49ers have what it takes to win it all. 

As for the Kansas City Chiefs, the team started out ice-cold, allowing their opposition in the Houston Texans to take an effortless 24-0 lead by the early second quarter. But though many Chiefs fans at home may have shut off their TVs in disappointment by that point, the players themselves certainly weren’t going to let down the Arrowhead Stadium home crowd. 

The crowd erupted when a stopped fake punt in the second quarter gave Kansas City the momentum shift they were looking for, allowing for the dangerous offense to get red-hot, leaving the Chiefs to score seven touchdowns and a field goal on their next eight possessions, eventually prevailing in the shootout by a score of 51-31. 

In the NFC, the clear favorite seemed to be the San Francisco 49ers, who were led by the three-headed running back machine of Raheem Mostert, Matt Breida, and Tevin Coleman. With a strong defense led by seasoned cornerback Richard Sherman and a defensive line including standout-rookie Nick Bosa, the 49ers seemed to be the team to beat in the NFC heading into the second round of the playoffs.

The NFC Divisional Round Game between the 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings was certainly not as high-scoring as the Chiefs-Texans game, but it certainly was as big a stage. Nick Bosa was impressive, totaling six tackles and two sacks, proving his worth as the frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year as the 49ers took the contest by a score of 27-10.

Like Miller, Senior August Peterson thinks that the 49ers have the best shot at the title. 

“Nick Bosa has been ridiculous and Jimmy Garoppolo has proven he’s worth the money. They just have a pretty good core, a pretty young core, with veterans like Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Sanders. Overall I just feel like they’re the most complete team,” he said.

Nick Bosa has been ridiculous and Jimmy Garoppolo has proven he’s worth the money. They just have a pretty good core, a pretty young core, with veterans like Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Sanders. Overall I just feel like they’re the most complete team”

— Augey Peterson

Conference Championship Round:

With the AFC and NFC Championships approaching quickly, teams put their celebrations behind them and instead began to focus on their next game at hand. 

The AFC Championship consisted of strong offensive performances from both the Titans and Chiefs, with a back-and-forth game that resulted in a four-point Kansas City lead at half time. But the Chiefs quickly lengthened the lead to 11. With the Titans needing a stop of some sort, Patrick Mahomes connected with Sammy Watkins on a deep pass, all but punching Kansas City’s ticket to Super Bowl LIV.

In the NFC, it was a blowout in the first half, with San Francisco taking a 27-0 lead on the Green Bay Packers. Though Green Bay tried to make it a game in the second half, the deficit was just too much to overcome, as San Francisco took the game by a score of 37-20. Running back Raheem Mostert was the star of the show, putting on one of the most impressive rushing performances in NFL Playoff history, carrying the rock 29 times for 220 yards, while totaling four touchdowns. 

Super Bowl LIV Preview:

With older teams falling to some of the most impressive stars on the planet, it will be the battle of the young guns in Super Bowl LIV. 

Kansas City’s offense is explosive, fueled by Quarterback Patrick Mahomes and deep-threat wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Not to be left out of the conversation is tight end Travis Kelce, who is having himself a monster year. The San Francisco 49ers look to stop the red hot offense with their top-five defense, led by All-Pro and Super Bowl XLVIII Champion cornerback Richard Sherman in the secondary, and Nick Bosa upfront. The matchup between the two won’t disappoint, with my prediction being a high-scoring contest that ends with the Chiefs hoisting their first Lombardi Trophy in 50 years. The Sherman-Hill battle will be one to keep an eye on and it will be interesting to see how well Kansas City’s offensive line can protect their star quarterback from Bosa. 

As the 100th NFL season comes to a close on Sunday, watching the future of the sport will be exciting to watch. And though it won’t be the New England Patriots in the big game this year, this next generation of football certainly will look to put their talents on display, in the hopes of taking home arguably the most coveted trophy in all of American sport.

Who will win the Super Bowl?

  • Kansas City Chiefs (67%, 2 Votes)
  • San Francisco 49ers (33%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 3

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