NFL 2022: Divisional Round

We’re down to four! Some of the storylines for the week:

  • The Bengals offensive line has been hammered by injuries. But Buffalo and their offensive line didn’t exactly look dominant last week either. I’ll predict the Bills to pull it together, and for the game to feature a record number of sacks.
  • How big a hole will the Jags dig this week before they claw their way back for another improbable victory? A big one, and they won’t.
  • The big question in the NFC - how healthy is Hurts? He looked decent in conservative play and he’s had another two weeks of rest, but the Giants won’t be resting their starters this game. I still think the Eagles coast without stretching Hurts too much.
  • Will Brock Purdy ever come down to earth? Which Dallas team will show up this week - the efficient, elite team from last week, or the team that lost to the Jags and barely beat the Texans? Will the game come down to kicks?

Here are the games, all times EST.

Saturday, Jan. 21

4:30 pm: Jaguars vs. Chiefs (-8.5, 53)
8:15 pm: Giants vs. Eagles (-7.5, 48)

Sunday, Jan. 22

3:00 pm: Bengals vs. Bills (-5, 48)
6:30 pm: Cowboys vs. 49ers (-3.5, 46)

The big to-do on Chiefs Twitter is Trevor Lawrence saying that he doesn’t think the Arrowhead crowd noise is that big a deal. I think the Chiefs should invite the Guinness folks out for another measurement.

Between that comment and the snow forecast for Saturday, I think the home advantage for the Chiefs has probably added a point or two.

Here’s the actual, full quote:

“Obviously, the environment and atmosphere we’re going to play in is one of if not the best in the NFL. I can’t imagine it will be much louder than our fans were here on Saturday, honestly, but that was when we were on defense, not offense. We played there earlier in the year, but this is a little bit different. It’s a playoff game, Divisional Round, so the stakes are higher. So I expect them to be even crazier, more packed stadium.”

How DARE he!!!1!

He might not. We have a relatively small sample size for him. He’s a rookie with 10 games played, only 6 as a starter. He might just be this good. It’s not like there is anything for him to regress to in the NFL.

I looked at his college stats and they’re pretty close to his stats in the NFL. Obviously, that was against non-NFL opponents, but he was throwing to non-NFL receivers behind a non-NFL offensive line, so that sort of balances out. I think he just flew under the radar in the draft.

Gotta remember that he played in the pass-happy Big 12, where defense is optional.

But kudos to Purdy. He made the team, then took full advantage of the opportunity when it happened. And some credit needs to go to Kyle Shanahan, and to the GM who traded for McCaffrey. If they curbstomp the Cowboys, it’s fine by me.

I’d rather see the 49ers win because fuck the Cowboys. But on the other hand, it might be kind of neat if the Eagles have to go through the Giants and then the Cowboys on their way to the Superbowl. NFC East represent!

More worried about Cowboys than Niners for :eagle:. We still gotta beat Giants, and that depends on Siriani having a decent game plan.

Purdy is great. We’ll see him for a long time. One NFL contributor said his weakness is “film”, which I agree with. In his limited games, I think there’s less options for the SF offense overall, but Purdy might have to do a lot more play action than usual.

Dallas is apparently hedging their bets. They have signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to their practice squad.

Wonder if the Bills will have Hamlin show up in person to revv up the crowd as a feel-good story. Is he recovered enough yet for that?

It’s a possibility.

There has been no word yet on if Hamlin will attend Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Unclear; he’s been going to the Bills’ facilities regularly, but there isn’t any public information as to the actual status of his recovery.

There had been some reports that he was going to be at the stadium for last week’s game, which turned out to be incorrect – it’s not clear to me if there was a last-minute change of plans, or if the reports were unfounded.

Somewhere today, I read somebody speculating that Hamlin would be leading the team onto the field on Sunday.

Cannot find it now, of course.

Do the captains you send out for the coin toss have to be dressed for the game and part of your 45 (46?) man roster?

It appears that they don’t need to be on the active roster. NFL Rule 18 (the rules on team captains) states (emphasis mine):

It appears that this is the rule which allowed the Vikings to have former coach Bud Grant as an honorary captain for the coin toss in a bitterly-cold game in 2016; Grant being who he is, he wore short sleeves in -6F weather.

I’ll be very surprised if he isn’t part of the pre-game somehow in person. While we’re not getting much specific information on his condition, all signals are that he’s doing perfectly fine. The situations are different, but Chris Pronger was back on the ice in a couple days from his similar incident. Doctors usually have patients up and around within a day or two after a typical heart attack. IANAD but it feels a bit like the media is sensationalizing how “miraculous” his recovery is.

Were I a betting man (I am, lol) I’d feel pretty confident that we’ll see Hamlin full-on running out of the tunnel with the team this weekend.

actually, 49ers scoring is up with Purdy, who’s more mobile than Jimmy G

I love the idea that Purdy - Mr. Irrelevant- is actually a superstar who will be among the NFL elite for the next decade, and this is just his coming out parade.

It’s hardly clear if that’s the case, of course, but it’s fun to see the possibility playing out. Right now, he’s a stud.

(And apparently Trey Lance is hoping to move on)

Wonder if the Titans want another Malik Willis on the roster.

Everyone is justifiably excited about Purdy but it’s worth putting things into a bit of context.

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Brock Purdy stats

At a basic level, here’s a look at Garoppolo vs. Purdy’s stats in 2022:

Jimmy Garoppolo 7-3 207/308 67.2% 2,437 16 4 103.0 7.9
Brock Purdy 5-0 114/170 67.1 1,374 13 4 107.3 8.1

I think the takeaway here is that the 49ers offense is pretty good and fairly idiot proof. If you follow the gameplan and execute the throws you’re going to be successful with this roster and coaching staff. There’s a non-zero chance that Trey Lance would have been similarly effective were he healthy enough to take the snaps.

I doubt a team is going to part with enough capital to acquire Lance and the Niners best plan will likely to be to go into 2023 with 2 young QBs on their rookie deals. Garoppolo probably leaves finally and Lance needs to suck it up and be a backup. History suggests he’ll get a chance to start at some point next year due to injury.

I think Dallas and SF might be a toss up. Dallas can screw up from time to time this season, but the SF offense at home might be what they need. Rooting for SF.

For the rest, it’s EAGLES :eagle:, Jaguars and Bengals.

I have the 49ers winning fairly handily, but still give the Cowboys a puncher’s chance.

Eagles and Giants I see as more of a coin toss. Never can tell with divisional games.