Wild Card Round
Baltimore received the first-round bye in the AFC and sat out of the Wild Card round. The Chiefs and the Dolphins faced off in one of the coldest games in NFL history at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs emerged victorious in the freezing weather, 26-7. In Houston, the Texans avenged their regular-season loss to the Browns with a massive 45-14 win. The Texans defense grabbed two interceptions from Joe Flacco.
The 49ers earned the first-round bye as the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The Eagles sputtered out toward the end of the regular season and couldn’t turn things around in time for the Wild Card round, where they fell to the Buccaneers, 32-9. The Los Angeles Rams and Detroit Lions faced off in the Stafford-Goff Bowl, as each quarterback faced their respective former teams. The Lions emerged victorious in a 24-23 win.
The Texans’ turnaround could only go so far. They went from being a three-win team in 2022 to the No. 4 seed in the AFC in 2023, which was a massive one-season shift, but they lost 34-10 to the Ravens after a scoreless second half. The Chiefs headed to Buffalo to face the Bills in the next iteration of a great AFC playoff rivalry series. Kansas City won a close game, finishing 27-24 to advance to the conference championship.
The Buccaneers took on the Lions, and while they stayed in it for most of the game, Baker Mayfield ended what could have become a score-tying drive with a late-game interception. The Lions won 31-23. The Green Bay Packers dominated the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium for most of their Divisional Round game, but the Niners staged a fourth-quarter comeback to pull off a 24-21 win.
The Ravens hosted the Chiefs at M&T Bank Stadium, and a series of offensive mishaps and turnovers ended Baltimore’s postseason run. Lamar Jackson threw an interception into the end zone and was strip-sacked, and wide receiver Zay Flowers fumbled at the one-yard line just before scoring and turned the ball back over to the Chiefs. This marks Kansas City’s fourth AFC Championship win in five seasons. Patrick Mahomes finished the day with 241 passing yards and a touchdown.
The Lions went up early and completely dominated the 49ers in the first half. The Lions kicked a field goal to end the half up 24-7 and completely fell apart in the next thirty minutes of game time. The 49ers would not be denied, and a Jahmyr Gibbs fumble deep in San Francisco territory finished off what was left of Detroit’s momentum. The second half featured missed catches, a would-be interception turned into a massive Niners gain, and a scoreless 14 game minutes. The Lions finally grabbed a touchdown with a minute left, but it was too late. The Niners won, 34-31. Brock Purdy had 267 passing yards, 48 rushing yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
Super Bowl matchup
This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 58, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.