Saturday Divisional Round Open Discussion

San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle
San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Divisional - Each conference's top seed is in action as Tennessee (12-5) hosts (Cincinnati (11-7), then Green Bay (13-4) hosts San Francisco (11-7). Use this thread to discuss them both.


199 comments, Last at 23 Jan 2022, 12:01pm

12 Tannehill

In case you were wondering, Ryan Tannehill's cap hit next year will jump from this year's $11.1M to $38.6M. Good luck with that, Titans!

13 Neither team can block at…

Neither team can block at all. It seems like the game might come down to whose QB gets hurt first at this rate - Tannehill taking a big hit on a short run there didn't help.

15 Burrow has taken 2 big hits on dead plays


The last one was pretty egregious as it was a shot to the lower leg. No protection for the QB there, which seems incongruous compared to some roughing the quarterback calls that are made.

17 Penalties on point-after tries

The rules are dumb. If you line up for a kick, you should only get the option to enforce penalties from the 15; if you line up for a deuce, the penalty should be enforced from the 2. And you shouldn’t be allowed to change your mind.

Also, FWIW, that touchdown call—Henry in shotgun for a direct snap—should just be Tennessee’s default point-after play. 

22 I'm less of a fan of it in a…

I'm less of a fan of it in a 6-6 game.  I know it's only Q2, but I'd rather play from ahead.  If CIN scores once more than you over the remainder of the game, they'll win whether you're up by 1 or 2, and if you're matching them score-for-score for the remainder of the game, the 1-point lead is as good as a 2-point lead.  

25 Draft, free agency …

In reply to by young curmudgeon

Whatever it takes. No matter how good their receiving corps, they’re going to have a hard time making the Super Bowl if they can’t protect their statuesque quarterback.

27 The amazing thing is Cincy's…

The amazing thing is Cincy's o-line this year is massively, massively better than it was last year. That their sack rate actually ticked up a bit seems to be mostly on Burrow - he's real good, but he needs to get the ball out faster.

28 I’m not surprised it’s on Burrow in part

As FO has hammered home numerous times, sacks are more dependent on the quarterback than most people assume. I think back to Dallas’s like when Romo took over for Bledsoe: they looked like one of the worst lines on the league with Bledsoe back there and then started looking like one of the league’s best, in large part because Romo could buy time in a way that Bledsoe couldn’t. 

26 Tennessee uses timeouts to…

Tennessee uses timeouts to ensure they'll have time for a drive, but then do so little so quickly that they give it back to the Bengals with time for a drive of their own. It's always funny when that happens.

Despite the five sacks (5!!) in less than a half, Burrow's put up some yards. I do wonder if they'll regret not going for it on either of their first two FG drives. They've only managed FGs so far, and even if they get another one here, Tennessee's only one broken play from taking the lead anyway.

29 Great drive by Cincinnati to start the second half

They gave up a sixth sack, but they’re now up two scores. Tennessee is looking every bit as overrated as so many people felt they were. They still have time, but even if they dig this out, I haven’t seen anything today to suggest that they’re capable of beating the Bills or Chiefs, either of whom will be at least a 3.5-point favorite in Nashville. 

30 Another Tannehill pick

The Tennessee defense has to come up with a huge stop now after a great deflection and pick on a quick pass. They got a boost from Cincy’s #20, who got called for taunting after the play, but if Cincinnati scores a touchdown on this drive, I think this game is over. 

32 TN wastes a timeout

Don't get the 1st and settle for a FG.

Good INT by them though here.

35 Officials blow it again,

Was not an interception by Hooker...

man there has to be a reckoning on NFL Officiating or the public will turn on the league.

it looks like the fix is in

41 Was not an interception by…

Was not an interception by Hooker.  But since we must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that that statement is true, we get an interception.

Would so much rather have 5 people in 5 separate rooms in NY with no knowledge of the call on the field and have each vote, best of 5 wins.

36 I'm surprised that INT stood…

I'm surprised that INT stood, since the refs are usually so persnickety about ball_touching_ground = incomplete. I do think he probably had "possession" about a millisecond before it touched, though, so I don't think Cincy was hosed or anything.

And they waste no time capitalizing, with a great throw and catch to a well-covered AJ Brown. I was working on a hot "Titans should dump Tannehill" take but I'll go ahead and leave that one in the shop for now.

39 CIN's 3rd down plays in the…

CIN's 3rd down plays in the maroon zone are a hot mess.  If Burrows can't read the blitz and the OL can't block the pass rush, then the coaching staff needs to start calling different plays, ones that have a lower odds of giving up -10 to -15 yards than the plays they've been calling so far when they're on the edge of FG range.

EDIT: also the defensive staff needs to start assigning double coverage to AJ Brown until TEN can prove they can hurt them with passes to anyone else.

40 This game just doesn't look…

This game just doesn't look like the stats at all. Ten was averaging 7.5 yards a play before they were stopped on 4th (dropped to 7.0 after). They really don't feel like that. It's just weird.

42 They had a few big pass…

They had a few big pass plays to Brown that skew the numbers.


Edit: 33, 40, 41 yard passes to Brown, and 45 yard run by Hilliard. Take away those yards and they gain just 3.95 ypp on their other 43 plays.

51 Oh I know, but even still…

Oh I know, but even still you see one team with 7+ yards a play another with 300+ passing yards early in the 4th and a 16-16 tie is not your first thought.

The horrible 3rd down conversion rates and the 9 sacks help explain all that but it's still just weird. The game has felt mostly ugly and I didn't expect any good, let alone great, numbers.

43 Those were two amazingly…

Those were two amazingly terrible playcalls by TEN with 1 yard to gain. I wonder if Tannehill wasn't supposed to keep it on the first one? The flow of the play seemed weirdly hesitating. Giving it to Henry then was the right call, but they had him line up extra deep for some reason. Dumb. At least one of those should've been a QB sneak.

48 I hated the third-down call

But mostly because Tannehill was in shotgun. Since everyone will be defending against a draw to Henry, they’ll be in position to defend a Tannehill keeper. I think they would have been better off having Tannehill under center if they wanted to give him a keeper option and throwing from shotgun in the event Henry didn’t get the ball. 

46 And my nightmare starts

MVS AND Bak are officially out. Bosa is in.

Should've rested week 18! Ugggghh, the MVS one hurts more even though it's less surprising. 

84 Yeah no MVS against this D…

Yeah no MVS against this D sucks. They have Cobb and Turner back, but I would rather have MVS and Bakh. Also looks like they have Alexander, Mercilus, and Z. Smith on D. So while it's a net positive as a whole thanks to the bye week playing Bakh and MVS at all against DET was just dumb. 

It's possible that Bakh would have ended up leaving this game had he not played in Week 18 based on what seems to be going on from the outside, but 2 series in the playoffs would have been a better use of his snaps than 2 series in a meaningless week 18 game. Same with MVS would have rather had him for 15 snaps this game than in the meaningless DET game.

As you indicate the line should still be OK since they've been OK all year and they should still have 3 starters in preferred spots (which only happened for the first 2 series of the DET game) so that's helpful, but they are also still going to have at least 1 3rd stringer starting, but they've had that every week since week 3. Runyan started the season as the 3rd option at LG, but he may have moved ahead of Patrick by now (since they prefer Patrick at RG).

It's annoying because this is as close to the healthiest the team has been all season but some of the players they don't have are because of playing them in a meaningless game. I get that for LaFleur week 18 was no win from a public perception side (rest and if they play poorly today it's because of "rust" play and they get injured and people like us are bitching at him) but that doesn't lower the frustration as a fan.

90 I'm not surprised

But it seems everyone is ok with them being out despite clearly week 18 not helping. 

Overshadowed by everyone else returning. But it's still bad process. To even make up for it they'll have to win and cover throughout the entire postseason. 

ST allows a big return after the TD. Hopefully it stops. Good to see Kenny in there on the stop. 

50 Cincy's #1 offseason…

Cincy's #1 offseason priority should be finding a play-designer who's heard of a checkdown.

177 Yes... yes, and YES!

I kept telling my wife I didn't know if it was Burrow's lack of pocket awareness, but if they don't have a short hot route, or a receiver along the sideline so JB can sail a throw-away high over his head, somebody should be lined up against an old brick wall, blindfolded, and have Burrow rapid fire passes at his privates.

56 Henry has been a big zero today

Doesn’t even seem like a threat to bust a big run. Foreman has looked much better, and numerous Bengals have dropped Henry without assistance. 

178 Oh come on...

If Taylor had started either of Indy's last two games, they'd have won both and been in the... (checks game notes)  Uh, never mind.

Much as I was pulling for the MVP upset (and as much as resented Alexander robbing Manning of a third straight, or at his lead blockers least Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson from getting it in 2005), I think the final two games of the season proved that no matter how good, a RB is just not as important as a marginally competent QB.  He may be more valuable (however that's defined) but the QB is just too important.

And the Colts happen to have a guy who is... competent. He had one of his better years (with some dropped INT luck) and still couldn't pull them across the finish line. He's just not competent in big moments. He really won my heart playing on two busted ankles in week 3, but that may have been my high water mark for regard for Wentz. When you find yourself actually cheering for the coach to call an underthrown bomb to deliver a DPI, you are in a sad, sad place.

58 This hasn't been a well…

This hasn't been a well-played game, but I have to say, as a disinterested third party, it's a pretty entertaining one. 4 INTs but only one I'd really put on the QB, the rest are bouncing-ball luck.

68 In the end, that first…

In the end, that first Tannehill pick on the very first play ended up being the difference. They basically handed Cincy the game-winning margin right from the jump. The rest of the game was two roller-coasters to a standstill.

63 No, that run was bad

Making a 52-yard FG the odds-on favorite for your game-winning play is a bad idea. The subsequent fall-down by Burrow was even worse. The fact that McPherson hit the kick doesn’t change the fact that those calls were too conservative. 

66 What

It was a 2 yard run on 1st and 10. That's...not bad in this situation. As you can see.

70 I don’t subscribe to results—oriented thinking

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

There’s a reason it’s known as ROT. And they intentionally gave away the 2 yards on the next play, so they were happy to settle for a 52-yard attempt to win despite having plenty of time AND timeouts to move closer. That doesn’t seem smart at all, given that 52 yards is hardly automatic. 

76 That's why I said it before the play happened


His career (and season) long is 58. The run made it 50. The fall down put it back at 52 which I guess they just wanted that hash. I didn't approve that though.

No need to risk it while in McPhersons range, even if he's "just" 9/11 from 50+.  

I'm trying to give RBs jobs here! Otherwise, yes passing is dominant. 

74 I'd guess in the abstract…

I'd guess in the abstract making a real effort to advance the ball would increase Win Expectancy, but the way this game has gone, the very last thing I'd want to do is have Burrow with the ball in the backfield on the very edge of FG range. That's just asking for a sack to make it a 60-yard attempt.

82 I'm with you.  The most…

I'm with you.  The most likely choices appeared to be "run up the middle and settle for a 50-yard FG on the last play of Q4" or "try and pass and attempt a 60-yard FG on the last play of Q4".

86 Maybe they could try a rollout?

And Burrow could be told, in no uncertain terms, that he throws it to an open receiver or throws it out of bounds.

I dunno. I guess Burrow’s propensity for sacks was reason enough to eschew the pass, but I am boggled by the idea that one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, in his second year and second playoff game, can’t be trusted not to get sacked.

60 Tennessee trying hard to choke

In which case tomorrow’s game is going to be the real AFCCG, because this Bengals team will get smoked by the Bills or Chiefs. 

88 so?

it's a big step for the Bengals franchise.

First road win ever in the playoffs.

First victory on the road against an AFC division winner since 1995.

89 Oh, it was great for them!

In reply to by occams_pointed…

I think their emergence this year was one of the league’s best stories, and I think they could very well be the favorite to win the AFC North next year. I just have a hard time imagining that team going on the road, beating the Bills or Chiefs, and representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. 

62 oooooh

Zac Taylor got SAVED from absolutely WASTING a timeout on that INT. 

64 McPherson

Justin Tucker Jr.  Two 4 FG playoff games.

67 LOL, Titans

Good luck eating Tannehill’s cap hit next year. Worst #1 seed on merit. Time to own it. 

71 Would love to know if…

Would love to know if Bengals are 10+ point underdogs next week without even knowing the opponent yet

73 No

Look-ahead lines were released yesterday, IIRC. The Bills were going to be 3.5-point favorites over Tennessee and 6.5-point favorites over Cincinnati; Kansas City was set at 4 and 6, respectively. 

92 Call me crazy, but I don't…

Call me crazy, but I don't really see the Bengals as huuuge underdogs in either game. I think they actually match up reasonably well against KC (whom they beat a few weeks ago), and Allen is almost as INT-prone as Tannehill is. I'm not saying I expect them to beat either team, but I wouldn't be shocked if they did.

171 I’d be shocked if they beat the Bills

I really would. I understand that this is an “anything can happen” league, but if the Bills spank the Patriots and then put up whatever Herculean effort it’s going to take to beat the Chiefs in Lambeau, it would be absolutely astonishing for them to get the AFCCG at home and lose to a much weaker squad whose quarterback has almost no ability to escape a pass rush. (The Bills had one of the best pass-rush win rates in the league this year.). Not in Highmark in a game the hometown fans have waited a quarter of a century for (home for the AFCCG), and not against a squad making its first playoff run.

So, could the Bengals win that game? Of course! But I’d be shocked as hell. I’d be less shocked to see them beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead, but only because they just beat the Chiefs in December. 

80 It was like their whole…

It was like their whole gameplan was for Henry to get 200 yards and some long TDs. Cincy ate him up, but let AJ Brown go wild, and the Titans didn't adjust. They didn't even seem to notice.

87 Also

Going 1 for 8 on third down, with some of those seven failures being a subset of the X you suggested :)


We'll congrats are definitely in order to Aaron Schatz and co. for creating a model that correctly identified the Titans as the weakest playoff team.

101 They are 3rd in the league…

They are 3rd in the league with 2.7 points per drive. They just don't have quite as many drives as other teams. The turnovers aren't what stops them either as they are 2nd in turnovers on offensive turnovers or drive at 0.68


They get stopped because they tend to need 5 or more first downs to score and while they are very good they get stopped enough.

93 Well

Zada didn't look "rusty" despite not playing since week 1

96 Turnover because of knock on…

Turnover because of knock on effects of pressure. Rodgers checked down and the 9ers did a great job.

I said I didn't expect Green Bay to have a lot of turnovers, but I seen to recall fumbles are more likely in the cold. And now the Giants game nightmares are flashing back.

97 Aiyuk

I expect this to be overturned because he didn’t complete the catch. 

100 I seem to recall having said this yesterday

But the Packers are going to force Garoppolo into passing situations throughout the game, and they’re going to come out ahead on those downs. They’re already two for two on such downs today, with sacks on both. 

128 Safe to say

They just weren't ready to replace the soon to be UFA so soon. 

Thankfully Kenny and company are holding it down. 

103 So GB is letting their…

So GB is letting their safties end up 1-on-1 with the TE again. Don't like how that worked in BAL. They adjusted in the CLE and MIN game so that was a lot less likely so hopefully that doesn't bite them later.

104 That dropped pass was a TD…

That dropped pass was a TD if Garoppolo leads Kittle and a big gain if Kittle adjusts to the slightly off target pass.  Pretty sure SF won't see that pass coverage again so missed opp for SF, bullet dodged for GB.


We've already won the game in my book.

Although we did waste one on the play before...

0/1 tonight

107 No clue why you delay game

Ravens did this in Pittsburgh this year, you have offensive lineman flinch, that will draw defense offside, you need to hope for referee error, its not reviewable.

In Ravens game ref got call right so that did not work either, but it is a creative way to try to get 1st down on offside.

108 Gotta feel for Jimmy G so far

The throw to Kittle was a TINY bit off, but come on, your all-world TE has to catch that. His other incompletions have also been good throws. I hate his body language, though. He keeps rolling his eyes and shaking his head. I get that he’s disappointed, but a bit of clapping and a swift kick in the ass are probably what’s called for here b

118 Belichik was right

Belichik was rather criticized for letting Jimmy G go for such a low price a couple years ago, but it would appear in retrospect that JG is more of a liability than was understood at the time. He's just not very impressive.

109 That was a weird timeout

I can understand trying to save some time for your offense, but if you wait three more seconds, you’d get to see San Fran’s formation.

also, there’s Jimmy G being the worst remaining quarterback now that Tannehill is out … interception, Packers, and that’s gotta hurt. 

110 Lolllllllll, Garoppolo makes…

Lolllllllll, Garoppolo makes an amazing play to avoid the sack, then turns it into an amazingly terrible play with that dumb throw.

168 Kittle deserves some blame…

Kittle deserves some blame for that INT. He should have helped his QB by coming back to the ball instead of letting the defender drift in front him. That's the smart way to bail out a scrambling QB. There was plenty of time left to get a score.

120 Turns out getting a pro bowl…

Turns out getting a pro bowl pass rusher back on a defense that has good coverage corners makes a difference when playing against a QB who is known to have issues with pressure and tight coverage. 

That also has impacted the GB run defense more than I expected. They aren't using the MLBs or the interior lineman to stunt and help generate pressure nearly as much which allows them to key on the run better. I did not expect the run defense to get that big a boost from knowing they can get more pressure from individual edge rushers.

I have seen plenty of signs that the 9ers offense is going to keep getting better as the game goes on, and that we've already seen the best of the GB defense. I'm also not sure that GB will get more than 2 more scores so this could still end up a 2 score SF victory.

We've already seen the GB ST cost them points and we'll see it again before the game is over too.

166 I should have said tight…

I should have said tight coverage from the CBs. Even with Campbell the the LB are vulnerable in coverage and the safeties can only hold up for NFL average time in coverage. That's part of why mobile QBs give them fits because they will find that WR or TE who is covered by a safety or LB. Jimmy is known to make bad throws to WR who are well covered by CB even when not pressured.

So yeah my statement was way too broad.

That pro bowl pass rusher, as expected was not able to play the whole game and while they got value from his snaps and it may have helped Gary stay fresher, as I expected it was not as impactful in the 2nd half.

170 Yeah, there doesn't seem to…

Yeah, there doesn't seem to be any depth to the GB receiving corps, it's pretty much the running game, Adams, or cover your eyes.  With good (double) coverage on Adams, it didn't seem like any other receivers could work themselves open before the pressure got to Rodgers.

114 GB could've used another timeout

Shame. Settle for a FG after an incredible Aaron Jones play.

Oh...ST fs up again.

I'm not even mad anymore. 

116 OMG

What a first half in SF-GB. 

117 Jimmy Ward

Ward completely loses Aaron Jones, who goes for a 75-yard wheel route on third-and-3, but makes up for it by blocking Crosby’s field-goal attempt. The Jones catch aside, San Fran’s defense really settled down after giving up an opening-drive touchdown, but the Niners’ offense has looked mostly dysfunctional for most of the game. 

119 Setting up to be a classic…

Setting up to be a classic in Green Bay. Big plays on both sides, with the Packers outstanding first drive being the difference so far. Niners need to wake up and come out of the half with a TD. I feel like this one is going down to the wire.

124 Rest vs rust?

Looks like the Packers offense is rusty despite playing week 18. 

Rested 2011 team at least had 10 points with 14:54 left in the 2nd quarter. 7:02 and this team only has 7.

126 Geez Jimmy G

Two passes to the right he just floats for some random reason

129 Did they put Alexander in at…

Did they put Alexander in at Safety when Savage came out for injury? I don't have any means to pause or rewind right now

131 Wait

Davante is the only targeted WR so far for us?

Yeesh. Pay him whatever he wants