The first day of the divisional round of the 2016 NFL playoffs is a wrap. The Patriots-Chiefs game did not have all that much drama. The Packers and Cardinals was a little all over the place, but we got some fourth quarter intrigue to close it out in somewhat interesting fashion.
The Patriots "only" won by a touchdown, but the 27-20 final score was never really that close. New England got on the board early thanks to a Rob Gronkowski touchdown. Kansas City responded with a field goal. The Patriots added another touchdown in the second quarter, and the Chiefs responded with a field goal. That felt like the name of the game for the Chiefs. They just could not convert opportunities, as Alex Smith struggled on deep balls, and ended up averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. The ineffective Chiefs performance was capped by a miserable final touchdown drive that took way too long.
The Patriots advance to their fifth straight AFC Championship Game, and the 10th during the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era. They will face the winner of Sunday's matchup between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Broncos win, New England will travel to Mile High. If the Steelers win, the Patriots will host the conference championship game.
The Cardinals held off the Packers in a game that got wild in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals took an early touchdown lead, but would not score again until late in the third quarter. Green Bay managed two field goals and a touchdown to take the lead. The Cardinals bounced back in the fourth quarter to take a 20-13 lead, and then things got wild. Aaron Rodgers converted a 4th and 20, and then threw a 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown to force overtime. On the first play of overtime, Carson Palmer threw across his body to a wide open Larry Fitzgerald near the opposite sideline, and Fitzgerald turned it into 75 yards. The Cardinals finished it off with a shovel pass touchdown.
Arizona advances to the NFC Championship Game, where they will face the winner of Sunday's matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. If the Panthers win, the title game is in Charlotte. If the Seahawks win, the title game is in Arizona.