It wasn’t purported to be like this – particularly this season. The Buffalo Payments have been a beloved staff. Everybody’s second staff. The group that was purported to do it finally broke by way of the glass ceiling of disappointment and but right here we’re once more with one other playoff loss and one other elimination earlier than the AFC Championship, and this time it wasn’t by the hands of the Chiefs.
There’s one thing that simply does not really feel proper about saying goodbye to the Payments. This is not a knock for Cincinnati, however particularly after the entire Damar Hamlin scenario, it felt just like the stage was set for a generation-defining season the place Buffalo lastly broke by way of and defied its lengthy historical past of letting followers down at its worst shortly.
I do not assume it is time to begin writing an indictment in opposition to the Sean McDermott period, however there is no such thing as a doubt that one thing is mistaken and this staff must determine it out. It is one factor to lose to Cincinnati, an unquestionably gifted staff – to lose fullyprobably Buffalo in snow and doing so whereas the Bengalis have been with out three beginning offensive linemen.
If you wish to search for one thing guilty, it is the very same difficulty we talked about again in September: Buffalo did not have a working recreation. How this staff did not see the issue is past me, nevertheless it actually turned its head within the playoffs when Josh Allen needed to be the largest risk on the sector – whereas Devin Singletary and James Cook dinner drove the ball a complete of 11 occasions for 37 yards.
Finally, this shall be a narrative, not simply concerning the 2022 payments, however concerning the NFL as an entire. We’re seeing offenses recede from the all-pass dominance of the previous few years. For the previous 10 years, we have seen a constant sample within the league the place offense units the tone, protection catches up – and the primary groups to adapt win, after which we repeat the method. Buffalo’s huge drawback was that he concentrated a lot vitality on defensive overload that he didn’t fill a significant gap in offense. The strangest factor is that it was so simply seen as a risk.
If you’re a staff this effectively, given each likelihood the playoffs shall be routed by way of your chilly north stadium – there’s most likely an opportunity it’s best to have a cross-country recreation that sucks. It is nearly soccer 101: When the climate is dangerous, you run with the ball. Nevertheless, the Payments solely led the ball 19 occasions, together with Josh Allen – in comparison with the Bengals who had the ball 34 occasions. It was a whole mistake. Buffalo turned an empty, one-dimensional band, and the Bengalis took benefit of this in an enormous method. They compelled Allen to be the entire rattling present, took Stefon Diggs as an choice – and because of this, the entire band fell aside.
The saving grace in case you’re a Payments fan is that there is nonetheless a lot to construct on. This staff shall be a part of the dialog for a very long time – nevertheless it’s a chilly consolation this morning as a season ends that guarantees extra.
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
Was the priority about pre-sale tickets for the AFC Championship in Atlanta justified? No.
Did this staff handle to harness the ability of “us in opposition to the world”? Completely.
The Bengals turnaround this season has been merely outstanding. This is a corporation that has gone from trying just like the victims of the largest Tremendous Bowl hangover in latest reminiscence, and is now one recreation away from making a comeback.
Every little thing factors to Cincinnati now. Offensively, we knew the staff’s expertise, nevertheless it was the protection that critically strengthened in Buffalo and confirmed a fortitude that I actually did not know existed. Turning off Invoice’s passing recreation was no straightforward activity, however the Bengalis stepped up their play in each space to set the tone.
Patrick Mahomes shall be a wild card going into the AFC Championship, however even 100% the Bengalis confirmed they’d the expertise and benefit to win another and return to the Tremendous Bowl.
Loser: Daniel Jones
It was simply unhappy. Jones’ breakthrough was mentioned all week, then he went to Philadelphia and drank in his pants on nationwide tv.
Okay, it is spicy – but when the shoe suits. Jones confirmed all his dangerous tendencies in a very powerful recreation of the season, and that was largely attributable to Philly’s protection being uncovered. This season, he was roughly a one-reading quarterback who thrived when groups overcomplicated defenses and gave him the primary studying. The Eagles have been capable of activate his No. 1 receiver for many falls, and with out that choice he crumbled to mud.
It is a unusual time for the Giants. Will they beat Daniel Jones? Sure – however there’s a ceiling. He won’t ever grow to be a prime quarterback so are you comfy with having a good however by no means an awesome one? It will decide what the staff does with the place shifting ahead and there’s a very actual likelihood that settling down will not be adequate for Brian Daboll that means that is the final time we see Jones play the Giants .
Loser: Dak Prescott
Woof, it was a foul weekend for the NFC East quarterbacks, not Jalen Hurts.
Actually, I believe among the photographs after the Cowboys loss about Dak have been too harsh. “Commerce Dak” was trending on Twitter for a lot of the night, which did not clarify the truth that this band had no actual second receiver other than CeeDee Lamb. They guess on Michael Gallup, which did not repay – and lack of weapons is what obtained this staff down in opposition to the 49ers.
Nonetheless, it will not take Prescott out of the hearth because the quarterback of the NFL’s most seen staff. It is going to be a protracted offseason.
Sure, you all misplaced to the Chiefs – however this season is probably the most encouraging constructing block this staff has ever had.
Duval does not want my approval, however the ambiance surrounding Jacksonville proper now makes it really feel like a staff able to finally take the following step and set up itself as a drive within the AFC for years to return.