Dutch Lion’s 2022-’23 NFL Playoffs Preview

Dutch Lion’s 2022-’23 NFL Playoffs Preview

We’re in the midst of the 2022-23 NFL Playoffs and it’s time to preview and predict what’s gonna happen from here on out. You realize there are only seven games left in the NFL season. We’ve got four games this weekend in the Divisional Round, next week’s AFC and NFC Championship games, and then Super Bowl LVII (57) two weeks after that.

Frigid winds, frozen grass, sideline heaters that burn appendages accidentally from gettin’ just a little too close. These are the dreams of pigskin glory that we all wish could be ours. That, and the fame, and the money. And the rings! Don’t forget about the rings.

Heading into the postseason, we’re close to sticking with our preseason (actually early-season) predictions as found in Dutch Lion’s 2022 Pro Football Spectacular. However, there’s a slight change based on months of observations, as well as injuries. Also, we’ll use some rankings provided by one of our favorite sources: Football Outsiders. We use both the preseason Almanac and the current website to analyze.

AFC Divisional

#4 Jacksonville Jaguars at #1 Kansas City Chiefs – The Chiefs were lucky to attain the #1 seed and the bye based on the fact that Buffalo had an on-field heart attack which left them a half-game behind KC for the AFC’s top record. Of course, we’ll never know if Buffalo would have won the “Damar Hamlin” game at Cincinnati on Monday Night Football. What we DO know is that Buffalo beat Kansas City, at Kansas City, in Week 6 24-20. So basically what we’re saying is that the Chiefs benefitted from somebody else’s misfortune. Today, the Chiefs will take that break and run with it, all the way, to a rematch with Buffalo next week in the AFC Championship. PICK: Kansas City 34, Jacksonville 21

#3 Cincinnati Bengals at #2 Buffalo Bills – “The Damar Hamlin Game: Part Two” commences on Sunday afternoon at 2pm central time. Even though Cincy was leading Buff 7-3 when Hamlin went down, there was a lot of game left. In fact, that game was only in the first quarter. So obviously we don’t know what would have happened. In that regard, the Bengals were hosed. Let’s say Cincinnati would have beaten Buffalo. Then this game on Sunday afternoon would be back in Ohio rather than in New York. That could make a big difference. However, despite all the what-if’s brought on by the unique situation, “Dutch Lion” thinks the main key in this matchup is the fact that the Bengals have three of their starting five offensive linemen sitting on the sidelines. Joe Burrow will have a hard time waiting for his dynamic receivers to get open. Watch out for sacks by Buffalo’s front seven including Greg Rousseau, Carlos “Boogie” Basham, Ed Oliver, Shaq Lawson, and Matt Milano. PICK: Buffalo 30, Cincinnati 20

NFC Divisional

#6 New York Giants at #1 Philadelphia Eagles – Like Kansas City, Philadelphia takes the #1 seed into the NFC Playoffs. Unlike KC, Philly truly earned it by going 14-3 in the regular season. This assured them of the bye week and home-field advantage throughout the next two games. Lincoln Financial Field will be ready for their Eagles. The Giants can’t win this game, can they? Last week’s victory over the Vikings in Minnesota showed why they could possibly upset the Eagles. QB Daniel Jones used his legs once again in leading the Giants along with superstar RB Saquon Barkley catching passes out of the backfield. As for Philadelphia, watch for Eagles QB Jalen Hurts and WR A.J. Brown to have a big game together. Too much rest for the Eagles plus too many penalties for the Giants equals an Eagles victory. PICK: Philadelphia 27, New York 16

#5 Dallas Cowboys at #2 San Francisco 49ers – Oh my! Are we seriously doing this again!?! I love it. I’m a guy who has loved the Cowboys (second only to the beloved Bears) since the early ’80s. I was a big Tony Dorsett fan and fell in love with the metallic silver helmets with blue stars. Tom Landry was a god. Then in the ’90s we had these teams matchup in three consecutive years with Dallas winning two of three. All three games determined that year’s Super Bowl Champion (Dallas in ’92 and ’93 and San Francisco in ’94). Don’t forget that these squads faced each other in Dallas in last year’s Wild Card Round with SF taming the ‘Boys 23-17 before eventually falling to their California rivals, the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship (seems like forever since the Rams were eliminated in a troubling, disappointing year for Sean McVay and company – no repeat champ again). So now the 49ers under HC Kyle Shanahan are once again fighting to get back to the NFC Championship. Can they beat a Cowboys team that rolled Tampa Bay in toilet paper last week, a la Tom Brady’s last ‘homecoming’ dance? {Not sure if that comparison works but I’m going with it} Will Jerry Jones be celebrating up in the guest owner’s booth at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday night? We think he will. I saw a well-written nugget in yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times from NFL beat writer Mark Potash: “A lot of people are probably going broke waiting for the clock to strike midnight on 49ers QB Brock Purdy, who is 6-0 with a 121.4 rating, 14 TD’s, 2 INT’s.” Potash is right. Nonetheless, we love Brock and his family and his feel-good story, going from Mr. Irrelevant to Mr. Super-Relevant. According to FO, these are the two best defenses in football. We think the clock strikes midnight once the ‘Boys new Doomsday Defense corrals him. Watch out for superstar QB wrecker Micah Parsons to hog-tie Purdy and the ‘Niners offense. QB Dak Prescott gets it done in a thriller. PICK: Dallas 24, San Francisco 23

AFC Championship (Atlanta, GA: neutral site because of Damar Hamlin situation)

#2 Buffalo vs #1 Kansas City – So this is the game we’ve all been waiting for. Remember last year’s AFC Divisional hair-raiser? The Buffalo fans have a new calling card, 13 seconds. It used to be tradition for Bills fans to cower over 47, the length of Scott Norwood’s tortuous field goal miss in Super Bowl 25. Now the mantra is 13, as in 13 seconds that the world thought Buffalo had pulled off the nail-biter in Kansas City. Except that it wasn’t over yet. QB Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs down the field quickly, 44 yards in two plays to give K Harrison Butker a chance to tie the game with a 49 yarder. He made it to send the game into OT. Chiefs won the toss, drove the field, won it 42-36 on a Mahomes-to-Travis Kelce 8 yard TD pass, and incited another rule change. That’s the main reason the NFL changed the OT rules regarding format. Now teams will have a chance to answer should they give up an opening-drive TD because everyone sensed it wasn’t really fair that QB Josh Allen didn’t even have a chance to win the game in a scoring-fest shootout. If the same thing were to happen this year, at least Allen would have a chance to drive for his own touchdown and score the game-winning 2 point conversion. “Oh yeah, good idea competition committee… UGH”. By the way, how many times does the NFL get things wrong and only ‘thinks’ about fixing problems after years of fan and media attention that points out the absurdity of it all? Anyway, back to the game. We expect Buffalo to beat Kansas City, whether it be in KC, Buffalo, or in this case, Atlanta. Buffalo is the best team in the world this year. FO has the Bills ranked #1. KC is #4. Buffalo has a major motivational factor, not just the revenge of last year’s fiasco but also Damar Hamlin. Buffalo is playing for their HC Sean McDermott and DC Leslie Frazier, two almost-scapegoats after last year’s fallout, for their fallen teammate, and for the fans of Buffalo. Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, soon-to-be-fascinating RB James Cook, Dawson Knox, Jordan Poyer, and the rest get it done. PICK: Buffalo 38, Kansas City 30

NFC Championship

#5 Dallas Cowboys at #1 Philadelphia Eagles – When I think of Cowboys versus Eagles, I think of the 90s era when Dallas was on top of the world and Philadelphia fans hated Dallas more than anything. The Cowboys/Eagles rivalry had been really intense during HC Buddy Ryan’s years (1986-’90) and continued when the Cowboys had all the Jimmy Johnson/Barry Switzer swagger. In Week 15, ’95 the Cowboys were in Veterans Stadium (the worst turf in the history of sports) and tried to go for it on 4th and 1 on their own 29 yard line in a 17-17 tie ballgame. John Madden was incredulous. He couldn’t believe a team would use that philosophy. RB Emmitt Smith was stuffed for no gain and the Eagles won, but only after being stuffed right before the two minute warning play had failed but didn’t count because apparently the ref signaled a stoppage of the play milliseconds before it was snapped. To make a long story short, the Eagles took over in field goal range, took the lead, and won the game. It begged fans to wonder, did that really happen? Who’s decision was that again? It was Barry Switzer’s. Even crazier, despite the loss, the Cowboys ended up winning the Super Bowl over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX, weeks after playing and defeating these same Eagles 30-11. Nuts!

Meanwhile, let’s say we get a Cowboys/Eagles NFC Championship game next week. This would be a “rubber match”, as they say in baseball. Both teams beat each other once this season. The Eagles won 26-17 in Week 6 in Philly, while the Cowboys won the rematch in Week 16 in Dallas, 40-34. Somehow, some way, we think Dallas would beat the Eagles in Lincoln Financial Field as road warriors. There’s something about the Cowboys this year. Their defense is as good as it’s been since who knows when. Dak Prescott has weapons to work with. WR CeeDee Lamb “Chops”, RB Tony Pollard, TE Dalton Schultz, and RB Ezekiel “EZ-E” Elliott are all weapons to be used against a fierce Eagles defense (2nd in NFL Total Yardage Defense) despite one that has been a little soft against the run (16th Run D). We’re feelin’ a run by the Cowboys. PICK: Dallas 33, Philadelphia 21

Super Bowl LVII (57) – Sunday, February 12, 2023 – Glendale, AZ

Buffalo Bills vs Dallas Cowboys

This would be quite a Super Bowl rematch, bringing up memories of Jim Kelly and the K-Gun, “The Triplets” Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin, Don Beebe and Leon Lett…

Dallas destroyed Buffalo 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII (27) in 1992/’93. Then the Cowboys beat the Bills again 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII (28) in 1993/’94. Could the Bills exorcise their demons thirty years later in 2022/’23?

If this Super Bowl happens, I will be overjoyed personally because I’m a big fan of both the Bills and ‘Boys. Full disclosure is that I bought a Buffalo Bills hat last offseason and declared they would win this year’s Super Bowl. I predicted in my Spectacular and am backing it up once again today. The Bills will indeed win it all.

PICK: Buffalo 27, Dallas 20

It’s time to enjoy the games. See ya soon!

Reid “Dutch Lion”

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