NFL Divisional Playoffs grades: Baltimore Ravens ace test, Green Bay Packers not so much

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The NFL Divisional Playoffs are now a thing of the past. In the NFC, the Detroit Lions will visit the San Francisco 49ers during Championship Sunday.

Over in the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens will host the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs after they earned a dramatic win over the Buffalo Bills in Western New York.

San Francisco pulled off a late-game comeback against the upstart Green Bay Packers inside Levi’s Stadium Saturday night. The No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens blew out the Houston Texans earlier on Saturday.

Sunday’s action saw the Detroit Lions maintain home-field advantage in a hard-fought win over the game Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Here, we provide grades for all eight teams that took to the field during the NFL Divisional Playoffs this weekend.

Baltimore Ravens: A+

nfl divisional playoffs grades: baltimore ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson was absolutely brilliant for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Divisional Playoffs. The likely MVP completed 16-of-22 passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns. He added 100 yards and two scores on the ground, too.

Baltimore’s defense also came to play in this one. This unit held the Texans to 38 rushing yards and 213 total yards. Veteran cornerback Ronald Darby was darn good with Marlon Humphrey sidelined to injury. He had two passes defended and was stellar in coverage. Meanwhile, star defensive tackle Justin Madubuike put pressure on C.J. Stroud throughout the game. The end result was a 34-10 blowout win and Baltimore’s first appearance in the AFC Championship Game since all the way back in 2012.

Houston Texans: D

nfl divisional playoffs grades: houston texans
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans just were not ready for prime time Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. Stroud completed 19-of-33 passes for 175 yards without a touchdown or an interception. Houston’s rushing attack went for just 38 yards on 14 attempts.

Meanwhile, the DeMeco Ryans-led defense yielded four total touchdowns to Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson in what ended up being a blowout 34-10 loss. Sure, the Texans’ season was a success. Making it to the NFL Divisional Playoffs was a major win. However, there is a lot this organization must do moving forward to be considered legitimate conference title contenders. What we saw Saturday in Baltimore added another layer to that.

Green Bay Packers: C

nfl divisional playoffs grades: green bay packers
Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

For a while Saturday night, it sure looked like Green Bay was going to pull off a huge road upset over the top-seed 49ers. Jordan Love and the Packers found themselves up 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter after a Love touchdown pass to Tucker Kraft.

Unfortunately, the Packers then found themselves outscored 10-0 in the final quarter with Brock Purdy leading the 49ers down the field on a game-winning 69-yard touchdown drive. For his part, Love threw two second half interceptions. That included the game clincher into the hands of 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw. For a quarterback who had played stellar football down the stretch during the regular season, it was a bitter pill to swallow. That’s for sure.

San Francisco 49ers: C+

nfl divisional playoffs grades: san francisco 49ers
Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

No, the 49ers did not play a great football game Saturday night. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and his players touched on that a lot after a narrow 24-21 home win over Green Bay. The 49ers’ defense yielded 108 rushing yards to Packers running back Aaron Jones. The Pack put up 20 first downs and 330 total yards of offense.

On the other side of the ball, Brock Purdy almost threw multiple interceptions as he struggled early on. Meanwhile, Deebo Samuel exited in the first half due to a shoulder injury.

None of this mattered. Purdy did his thing in the fourth quarter, driving the 49ers down the field 69 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Christian McCaffrey went for 128 total yards and two touchdowns. It was enough for San Francisco to win in ugly fashion while earning its fourth NFC Championship Game appearance in the past five years.

Detroit Lions: A

nfl divisional playoffs grades: detroit lions

Jared Goff had it going big time for the Lions as they clinched just their second appearance in the NFC Championship Game in franchise history. The former No. 1 pick excited home fans inside Ford Field to the tune of 30-of-43 passing for 287 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Detroit’s defense also picked off Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield twice, including a game-sealing interception from linebacker Derrick Barnes.

The Lions now head to Northern California to take on the top seed San Francisco 49ers in what promises to be one heck of a game. With a win, Detroit will earn its first ever Super Bowl appearance. Talk about Dan Campbell turning this thing around in the Motor City.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: D

nfl divisional playoffs grades: tampa bay buccaneers
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Mayfield’s two interceptions wasted an otherwise great day for the impending free agent. He completed 26-of-41 passes for 349 yards with three touchdowns and those two interceptions. But we’re not going to blame Mayfield for Tampa Bay coming up just short in a 31-23 loss to the Lions.

Instead, it’s on a defense that came up small. This unit yielded 26 first downs and 391 total yards of offense. The Lions were also 3-of-4 in red-zone opportunities. Regardless of the mistakes Mayfield made, the Bucs’ defense just didn’t give them a real chance to come away with the road upset in the NFL Divisional Playoffs.

Buffalo Bills: C

nfl divisional playoffs grades: buffalo bills
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Allen went tit-for-tat with Patrick Mahomes to close out the NFL Divisional Playoffs Sunday evening. The quarterback completed 26-of-39 passes while adding 259 total yards and three total touchdowns. Unfortunately for the home team, Allen came up small when it counted the most.

Down 27-24 late in the fourth quarter, he missed two consecutive passes. One of those misses came with Allen not seeing Stefon Diggs streaking free underneath. The end result was having to attempt a 44-yard field goal that ended up sailing wide right.

This represents yet another heartbreaking loss for the Bills in the NFL Playoffs. It will also lead to some major question marks moving forward into the offseason with Buffalo in a disastrous NFL salary cap situation. Just brutal stuff.

Kansas City Chiefs: A

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was just a few short weeks ago that the defending Super Bowl champions just didn’t seem like a title contender. Struggles on offense led to some major frustration on the part of Mahomes and Co. But like we’ve seen over the past half-dozen years, the Chiefs stepped up when they needed to the most.

Travis Kelce caught two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Isiah Pacheco went for north of 110 total yards. Mahomes put up a workmanlike performance (17-of-23 passing, 215 yards, 2 TD).

Defensively, the Chiefs held Buffalo when they needed to the most late in the fourth quarter. That included star defensive tackle Chris Jones putting a ton of pressure on Allen. The end result was a narrow three-point win and a sixth consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game.

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