Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
|Steve Van Buren|
Monday, January 23, 2023
He played from 2004-15 and during that span no one in the NFL had more sacks or QB hits and that includes DeMarcus Ware. During his peak years from 2005-13 (which eliminates his rookie year and his wind-down years) he also had the most sacks and QB hits.
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Credit: NFC/NFC Game Pass
Cincinnati and Joe Burrow are coming to town.
The Bengals beat the odds Sunday by also beating … no, by burying … Buffalo to reach the AFC championship game for the second straight season vs. top-seeded Kansas City. That’s good for Cincinnati; not so good for Mahomes or the Chiefs.
The reason: Simple. Burrow and the Bengals are 3-0 vs. Mahomes.
Plus, they won all three in the same calendar year when the Chiefs’ quarterback wasn’t playing on one leg … and that’s more than unusual. It’s downright extraordinary. It makes Burrow the only quarterback to face Mahomes multiple times and not lose. It also makes him one of only two quarterbacks to win three games vs. the presumptive league MVP.
The other is Tom Brady (3-3).
I think you get the idea. This is no ordinary Joe we’re talking about. It’s Mahomes’ kryptonite, and more on that later.
First, the central question in front of everyone is: How damaged is Mahomes? Answer: No one really knows how much of St. Patrick we get now. High-ankle sprains are serious, normally sidelining injured players several weeks. Nevertheless, Mahomes insists he’ll play next Sunday.
That should come as no surprise. But how comprised will he be? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, there are no mysteries about Burrow and the Bengals. They just dominated a Bills’ team that also beat Mahomes & Co. this season, and they did it from start to finish – outscoring, outplaying and outcoaching their overwhelmed opponent.
That wasn’t supposed to happen, not only because Buffalo hadn’t lost a home playoff game with Josh Allen at quarterback (4-0), but because the Bills seemed driven by the Jamar Hamlin story. But it did, and it did because the Bengals had the better quarterback, the better offensive line, the better defensive line and the better game plan.
In short, the better team.
“If this was a boxing match,” former quarterback and CBS analyst Phil Simms said, “we’re not going to the scorecard. This was a knockout.
Oddsmakers make the Chiefs a 1-point favorite next Sunday, and that doesn’t make sense. Mahomes is hurt. Burrow is not. History isn’t with the Chiefs. It’s with the Bengals. Plus, Kansas City’s not the hottest team in the AFC. Cincinnati is. The Bengals won their last 10 and are 14-2 over their last 16 starts.
Oh, and one more thing: Cincinnati also won its last three road playoff games. One was at Arrowhead.
“Anyone who doubts this team needs to have his head examined,” said Bengals’ offensive line coach Frank Pollard.
I’d pay attention. This marks the fourth time in franchise history the Bengals advanced to the AFC championship game. They won the previous three.
SUNDAY SCHOOL: FIVE THINGS WE LEARNED THIS WEEKEND
1. Jalen Hurts is more than OK. He went into last weekend saying he was “less than 100 percent” with an injured right shoulder. OK, well … tell that to the New York Giants. Hurts sliced, diced and spliced what was supposed to be a decent defense, throwing for two TDs and running for a third in a game that was over by the half. Bottom lin: He looked like the MVP candidate that he is. “To have him out there,” said coach Nick Sirianni, “it’s like having … I know I shouldn’t even go there … but is like having Michael Jordan out there.” He’s right. He shouldn’t go there. Jordan won six league titles. Hurts hasn’t been to one … yet.
2. Playoff seeds held. Three of the top four seeded teams (Kansas City, San Francisco and Philadephia) advanced to conference championship games, with Cincinnati the only outlier. But full disclosure: The Bengals were the AFC’s third seed and were last year’s champion. Now, good luck to top-ranked Kansas City and Philadelphia … because history tells us they’re going to need it. Only two of the last eight No. 1 seeds advanced to the Super Bowl (Kansas City in 2020 and San Francisco in 2019).
3. Don’t sleep on Chad Henne. Jacksonville did, and you saw what happened. He led the Chiefs on a 98-yard TD drive, the longest in franchise playoff history. With Mahomes hurt, there’s a chance … maybe even a likelihood … we see his backup again. All I know is the last two times Henne made playoff appearances, he saved a victory two years ago vs. Cleveland and helped win Saturday’s game vs. the Jags.
4. In a passing game, running still matters. The NFL is supposed to be all about the quarterbacks, and it usually is. But not so much in the playoffs. An effective running game still makes a difference … and this weekend’s winners were the proof. Philadelphia shredded the Giants for 268 yards. Cincinnati had 172. Kansas City dissected Jacksonville for 144, while San Francisco put up 113 on Dallas -- including 86 in the second half. The four averaged 4.97 yards per carry, with only one more TD passing (6) than rushing (5).
5. Cincinnati’s offensive line is deeper than advertised. The Bengals were supposed to be crippled up front by the loss of three starters. They weren’t. In fact, they dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage from beginning to end. But the surprise was how well Burrow was protected by his subs. A year ago, the Bengals’ offensive line was a major headache, with Burrow sacked 70 times (including the playoffs). On Sunday, he was sacked only once and hit three times. Time for Frank Pollack, Cincinnati’s offensive line coach, to take a bow.
THIRD AND 20
1. According to reports, the NFL is considering neutral sites for future conference championship games. Please tell me they’re wrong. As former Packers’ exec Andrew Brandt pointed out on Twitter, “it sounds preposterous and a money grab by owners.” Check. Not only is it a poke at hometown fans; it’s a competitive disadvantage for higher seeds. There should be a reward for finishing with the best regular-season records, and home-field advantage is that reward. That makes sense. This idea does not. However …this is the same league that ships games overseas each year, another blow to competitive advantage and hometown support. So don’t say you weren’t warned.
2. Key number for San Francisco rookie quarterback Brock Purdy: Zero. He’s had no turnovers in the playoffs and none in his past three starts. But now comes the hard part. “There’s no tougher place to play than playing in Philadelphia,” said Hall-of-Fame quarterback and FOX analyst Terry Bradshaw. He’s right.
3. As shaky as Brett Maher was, the kicker wasn’t the story for Dallas. The quarterback was. For the sixth time this season, including the fourth time in the last seven games, Dak Prescott threw multiple interceptions. He had two, including one at the San Francisco 12 that not only short-circuited a sure Dallas scoring drive but led to a Robbie Gould field goal.
4. Tell me again why Joe Burrow couldn’t start for Urban Meyer at Ohio State.
5. Don’t let people tell you there’s no place for defense in today’s NFL. The NFC’s top two defenses this season were San Francisco and Philadelphia.
6. When the NFL went to replay as an officiating tool it was never meant to overrule something like that Ja’Marr Chase “touchdown” catch. In most universes where they play football, that’s a score. Replay was supposed to correct egregious calls, not dissect minutiae. So do it.
7. George Kittle or Travis Kelce?
8. Now you know why coaches emphasize ball security. The weekend’s four winners committed one turnover (San Francisco). Their opponents had six.
9. Look at it this way, Cowboys’ fans: You now have time to join owner Jerry Jones on Terry Bradshaw’s Getaway Vacation.
10. I’m beginning to get the feeling that Lamar Jackson will push Aaron Rodgers for Best Actor in an Offseason Drama.
11. Coming soon to FOX’s “Alert: Missing Persons Unit:” The entire Buffalo Bills defense.
12. Quote of the day goes to Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow. Asked what he thought of last week’s sale of tickets for a Buffalo-Kansas City neutral site, he said: “Better send those refunds.”
13. How come we don’t hear more about Lou Anarumo? He’s Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, and he just put the kibosh on Josh Allen. Of course, that begs the question: If the Bengals can hit Allen eight times, what happens when they attack Patrick Mahomes on one leg?
14. You gotta feel for Tony Pollard. That might be the last time we see him in a Cowboys’ uniform.
15. What’s the deal with Kansas City’s Chris Jones? One of the game’s fiercest pass rushers, he still doesn’t have a sack in 13 playoff games. You can look it up.
16. Stefon Diggs left the locker room in a huff, and I don’t blame him. He had one second-half catch for 8 yards Sunday and only four receptions and no scores for the afternoon. That makes it no TDs in Diggs’ last five playoff games. Stefon. Diggs. Hard to believe.
17. Just wondering: Is “Knock at the Cabin” a movie about the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s incoming Class of 2023?
18. Now more than ever, Minnesota’s playoff loss to the Giants looks worse.
19. The NFL’s definition of delay of game should be canned. This isn’t exactly rocket science, fellas. If the clock strikes zero, it’s a penalty. Pretty simple.
20. Saquon Barkley says he can’t “envision” Saturday’s game as his last with the Giants. Maybe that’s because the Giants can’t either.
SUNDAY’S GOLD JACKET STATS
n Robbie Gould hasn’t missed a field-goal attempt in the playoffs. Ever. He’s 29 for 29.
n Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor is 5-1 in the playoffs.
n The 49ers haven’t lost a game since Christian McCaffrey took over as a starter. They’re 12-0. According to ESPN, three of the previous four teams to enter conference championship games on winning streaks of 12 or more won the game.
n This is the fifth straight year that Kansas City hosts a conference playoff game, the longest streak in NFL history.
n Mike McCarthy is 0-4 vs. the 49ers in his playoff history.
SUNDAY’S GOLD JACKET QUOTES
n “No excuses. They beat us. They ‘out-physicaled’ us.” – Buffalo coach Sean McDermott.
n “Our goal is to win a Super Bowl or world championship, and we didn’t accomplish that. So everything that happened in the season is kind of null and void in our minds, and it sucks.” – Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen.
n “Joe started 9-for-9 in his sleep. What more could you ask for?” – Cincinnati’s Ted Karras on Joe Burrow.
n “Go win it.” – Buffalo cornerback Tre’Davious White to Burrow after the game.
n “We’re sick. Just sick.” – Dallas owner Jerry Jones.
n “Playoff football is never easy, but we’re moving on.” – San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy.
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Last year we lost Hall of Fame head coach and broadcaster John Madden and among the many iconic things he did in his incredible career was picking his annual All-Madden teams. It was anticipated by many every season as it always unveiled surprises and funny commentary accompanied by excellent NFL Films footage.
As an homage to those classic All-Madden teams, we are picking a 2022 version narrated in his voice and chose guys we think he might have picked were we lucky enough to still have him around.
As my other safety, I am going with the Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu of the Saints. I love the way he plays football. He can play like a ball hawk type safety, he can play slot, linebacker, whatever you want, he can do it.
We're versatile, we're smart, we're tough and ornery. We got a Cheetah and a Honey Badger plus a Condor. We have an opera singer and a "we look good guy". We've got throwbacks and keepers. We have it all.