HomeSportsNFL playoff analysis: 49ers' historic comeback; Ravens blow golden opportunity

NFL playoff analysis: 49ers’ historic comeback; Ravens blow golden opportunity

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Thirty-two teams were cut down to 14 for the postseason. Then to eight. Whittled to four, and now we have two left standing. The Kansas City Chiefs are back in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in six seasons. They will meet the same opponent as just four years ago — the San Francisco 49ers, who needed a historic showing (tying the largest comeback in NFC Championship Game history) on Sunday to get here, but more than earned their berth in Super Bowl LVIII

After all the dust settled from NFL Championship Weekend, here are my takeaways on all four squads.

Kansas City Chiefs — Inevitability

At this point, the Chiefs are going to win every playoff game until proven otherwise. After beating the Ravens on Sunday, the Chiefs are now 14-3 in the postseason with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback and Andy Reid as head coach. The 14 wins now include four AFC Championship trophies and two Super Bowls (I’d wager they get a third in two weeks). Their three losses were a blowout in the Super Bowl against the Buccaneers and two overtime losses. It’s a dynasty at this point, and no matter how the Chiefs look at any point of the regular season, they are destined to play in the AFC Championship Game.

I do not believe in the idea of a professional sports team “turning on the switch” in the postseason. There obviously are outliers, sometimes in the NBA, where teams either got healthy late or just half-assed a long schedule until the postseason. In the NFL, it’s nearly impossible for that to happen. Success in the sport can not happen when you decide it to happen. Doesn’t work that way. The Chiefs’ offensive performance in the postseason is making me question my beliefs. Mistakes are down. Turnovers down. Penalties down. The drops have disappeared and Mahomes has looked the best he has all season. The Chiefs should never be doubted.

Baltimore Ravens — Regret

The Chiefs have their worst offense in the Mahomes era. The Bills were banged up on defense. The Dolphins cannot win in cold weather. The Bengals were without their quarterback. The Browns the same. The Jaguars were a disappointment. The Chargers underachieved with Justin Herbert getting injured. The AFC was there for the taking this season and the Ravens will deeply regret their performance on Sunday.

Lamar Jackson will rightfully win the MVP but he did not play his best game against Kansas City. The Ravens oddly decided to not rush the football for some reason. Only six carries from their two running backs against a Chiefs defense that struggles to stop the run. The top-ranked Ravens defense struggled early but played well enough to win in the second half. But when it counted the most, they couldn’t prevent Mahomes from connecting with Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a dagger. This was the season for the Ravens, and they couldn’t get it done.

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs shut down Lamar Jackson, Ravens

San Francisco 49ers — Purdy Time

Brock Purdy… welcome to the postseason, buddy. Purdy was mostly not great against the Green Bay Packers and the first half against the Lions on Sunday. The 49ers trailed 24-7 at halftime, then scored 24 unanswered points before eventually winning 34-31. Purdy played like the MVP candidate he was in the second half. He threw a crisper ball. He used his legs to gain first downs. The offense looked like it should when firing on all cylinders. When the Niners are balanced like we saw in the second half, they are very difficult to beat. The 49ers will need this Purdy against the outstanding Chiefs defense. It’s the best defense Purdy will have seen in quite a while. They will pressure the 49ers with some designer blitzes and pressure schemes. Can Purdy handle the Chiefs defense? That will determine if the 49ers capture the Lombardi Trophy or fall short.

Detroit Lions — Second-half woes

The Lions were up 24-7 at halftime. They had doubled the 49ers in yards. The Lions were dominating the line of scrimmage, mashing the 49ers defense for huge rushing lanes. Their defense was swarming the box to stop the 49ers’ run game. Jared Goff was outstanding. 

Then the 49ers drank their secret stuff in the locker room and came out a different team. The 49ers offense looked alive. The 49ers won back the line of scrimmage. The 49ers forced a huge turnover. The Lions looked like a team that was less talented than the 49ers, hence the seven-point pregame spread. But after how they played in the first half, it was shocking to see the difference for the final 30 minutes.

Dan Campbell is the Lions head coach. He’s an aggressive coach. He’s always pushing for fourth-down attempts. Trick plays. Just always foot on the gas. That backfired on him Sunday when the Lions failed to convert on fourth downs instead of attempting a field goal in the fourth quarter. Social media will feature people speaking with their chest puffed out on whether Campbell should have been aggressive or not. I’m not one of those people. I don’t have a strong opinion on those decisions. Did it work? No. If I was rooting for the Lions, would I have been okay with two failed fourth-down attempts? Yes. Did it cost them the game? Probably… but the Lions got thoroughly outplayed and out-coached in the second half. 

Brock Purdy, 49ers survive vs. Jared Goff, Lions

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.



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