What we learned from NFL playoffs divisional spherical, Day 1: From Eagles’ resurgence to Patrick Mahomes’ injury

The subsequent wave of NFL playoff soccer is properly underway. The divisional spherical kicked off Saturday with a pair of regular-season rematches, and, boy, do we have loads of floor to cowl simply within the wake of that motion. The Chiefs are headed again to the AFC Championship, thanks to a 27-20 victory over the upstart Jaguars. And the Eagles will host the NFC Championship for the second time in 5 years after defeating the Giants, 38-7.

Here are some fast and big-picture takeaways from the opening day of the divisional spherical:

Hurts and the Eagles are again

We say “again” as a result of, frankly, it felt lots like they “left” during the last month. Ever since Jalen Hurts, as soon as a digital lock to go head to head with Patrick Mahomes for this yr’s MVP honors, went down with a shoulder injury, Philly sort of plateaued, if not regressed, on the best way into the postseason. But on Saturday evening towards a Giants workforce contemporary off a powerful upset of Minnesota, they seemed again to peak kind. Hurts, for one, had seemingly no limitations, excelling early as a passer and, maybe extra notably, on the bottom. And the Haason Reddick-led protection obtained after Daniel Jones and Co. all evening, handing New York what Brian Daboll later known as a “crash touchdown.” It’s time to think about the Birds true title contenders as soon as once more.

The Giants want extra assist than we thought

This yr was nonetheless a hit for New York. The G-Men weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs, contemplating the torn-down roster Brian Daboll inherited. Daniel Jones definitely registers as a distinct prospect than he did even months in the past. But in contrast to even Jacksonville, which took Kansas City to the wire beneath a first-year coach (extra on that under), the Giants had hardly any combat or urgency in Philadelphia. That’s not primarily the fault of both Jones or Daboll, however reasonably a lineup nonetheless severely undermanned at premium spots. General supervisor Joe Schoen badly wants to prioritize upgrades alongside the offensive line, out broad and at linebacker, amongst different positions.

Mahomes’ ankle is a official concern

The huge story of the Chiefs incomes a fifth straight AFC title-game look had nothing to do with the precise win, or the highlights that led to it — Isiah Pacheco’s open lanes, Kadarius Toney’s heavy involvement, some huge D-line moments. As quickly as star quarterback Patrick Mahomes briefly exited with an ankle injury within the second quarter, his well being turned paramount. The MVP candidate was visibly resistant to medical consideration and fought by way of a noticeable limp to hold Kansas City in entrance and seal the win.

CBS Sports’ Doug Clawson additionally factors out that Mahomes, who’s used to counting on his mobility, has accounted for 41% of the league’s landing passes exterior the pocket (15 of 36) within the final 5 postseasons.

He’ll certainly do all the things in his energy to stay beneath middle shifting ahead, however that does not imply it will not have an effect on his mobility and/or Andy Reid’s play-calling, even when simply to a slight diploma. Thankfully, for the Chiefs…

It does not actually matter who’s beneath middle; few gamers produce so constantly when it issues most. No. 87 was in all places, working the center towards Jacksonville to the tune of 14 catches for 98 yards and two scores. There’s actually not a lot else to be mentioned apart from: Kelce’s presence, with or with out an imposing No. 1 receiver drawing consideration on the skin, is usually sufficient to hold KC shifting up and down the sphere. At 33, he is nonetheless on the high of his recreation.

The Jaguars are right here to keep

It’s been obvious for some time that Jacksonville made the precise name by hiring ex-Eagles coach Doug Pederson, however this workforce’s efficiency within the postseason — simply the second Jaguars’ playoff bid within the final 15 years — justifies the brewing optimism in Northeast Florida. Coming again from down 27 to beat the Chargers was a miraculous affirmation that Trevor Lawrence and Co. are on the rise. But retaining the Chiefs on their toes at Arrowhead was arguably simply as spectacular, even with Mahomes limping round for a lot of the day. Pederson known as the sport together with his trademark aggressiveness. Lawrence flashed veteran-level confidence. Best of all, reinforcements ought to be coming as Calvin Ridley and others be part of play-makers like Travis Etienne Jr., Christian Kirk and Jamal Agnew; the latter two confirmed with premature miscues they could shine in additional secondary roles.

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