(Photo courtesy of WOWKTV.com) “Bills quarterback Josh Allen upset after loss to Bengals.”
In the 2022-23 NFL Divisional Round, the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys were bounced from the playoffs by the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively.
The Bills and Cowboys seemed primed for a run at the Super Bowl but fell short just like the Los Angeles Chargers did when they blew a 27-0 lead in the previous round. So, what exactly led to the downfall of these two teams? Well, sit back, relax, and buckle up because this is going to be a long one.
Buffalo Bills: Being as dominant as they possibly could be, the Bills had a great season, winning the AFC East division once again. Their season, like Cincinnati’s, was one game shorter than the rest of the league, and that was because of a tragedy that took place during a Week 17 matchup in Cincinnati when safety Damar Hamlin suffered from cardiac arrest on the field after a routine hit with just six minutes to go in the first quarter. The game was canceled, as it should have been, and thankfully, he is doing very well in his recovery.
The Bills hosted Cincinnati for the Divisional Round in snowy weather, and their defense was not able to contain the might of the Bengals’ offense. Despite their best efforts, the Bills were defeated 27-10 and were eliminated from the playoffs in a year that many people predicted they would make the Super Bowl.
Primarily, the biggest problems were on the defensive side of the ball, with quarterback Joe Burrow driving down the field with ease and breaking apart the defense in the style that the Chiefs and Patriots had achieved in the regular season. The Bills’ offense also struggled to get past the Bengals’ defense, as they were getting shut down time and time again. In a way, their offense was being swallowed up as the offensive line continually allowed pressure to get to quarterback Josh Allen.
The Bills started their offseason by firing their safeties coach Jim Salgado, and so far, that is the only change that has been made. The Bills will need to make some changes on both sides of the ball this off-season if they want any more chances of making it back to the AFC Championship Game next season.
Dallas Cowboys: Oh, Cowboys, how you continue to make yourselves look as comically incompetent as possible. Last week, it was a win against Tampa Bay in the wild-card round, where kicker Brett Maher kept missing extra-point kick after extra-point kick. This week, when they faced San Francisco, it was like you learned nothing from how that contest ended last year.
Here’s the final play: running back Ezekiel Elliott was the center snapping the ball, all the blockers were out on the right side, then quarterback Dak Prescott takes the snap, Zeke gets flattened like a pancake, forcing Prescott to overthrow his receiver who had to jump up to grab it and then was promptly and immediately tackled. Game over, season over.
Their problems do not lie on the field (except for Brett Maher, of course), but rather in their coaching. Head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore are apparently brainless after two consecutive years of being eliminated by the 49ers in hilarious fashion; last year, the Cowboys’ final play was a quarterback draw with no timeouts, unable to stop the clock after Dak went down because they made an error and believed they could spot the ball without a referee.
The plan here to fix this team is very simple: fire Mike McCarthy, promote Kellen Moore and get a competent offensive coordinator. Also, give Dak more offensive weapons and fix the defense by building it around linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs. If they can fix these issues, they may have a shot at making noise next season. Otherwise, they are the NFL’s version of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. “How about dem Cowboys?”