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Road to the Super Bowl: A look back at the NFL playoffs

The NFL playoff season nears its finality with a mix of unexpected and expected teams entering the final stages of the bracket.
Eshmom Haque
Chiefs quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson, Lions quarterback, Jared Goff, and 49ers quarterback, Brock Purdy lead their team to the conference games. (Photo collage by Eshmom Haque)

Closing off their division games, the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, and the Detroit Lions vie for a spot in the 2024 Super Bowl hosted in Las Vegas on Feb. 11th.

In December, the Baltimore Ravens earned the AFC first seed after their 56-19 blowout win over the Miami Dolphins, ending their season with a 13-4 record. The Ravens had a strong season mainly attributed to quarterback Lamar Jackson’s consistent performance, which solidified him as the top contender for the MVP pick. Combined with a strong defense, the Ravens scored another blowout win in their divisional game against the Houston Texans. They were able to shut down the Texans’ offense in the second half and ended the game with a 34-10 score, allowing the Ravens to advance to the AFC Conference games. 

In a game that shocked football fans and analysts alike, the 2nd seed Dallas Cowboys were defeated 32-48 by the Green Bay Packers, a 7th-seed team. Down 27 in the first half, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s underwhelming performance and picks thrown disappointed fans who were expecting a steamroll after a promising regular season. However, the Packers’ playoff run was cut short by a hard-fought 21-24 game against the San Francisco 49ers, who were the NFC first seed. Even though the 49ers were favored to win the game due to its well-balanced roster and 5 players on the Associated Press’ First All-Pro team, the Packers were able to put up a good fight — losing only due to an interception and a missed field goal. 

Though initially expected to dominate this season after last year’s Super Bowl victory, the Kansas Chiefs had a disappointing regular season run. Dropping outside the top 2 seeds for the first time since 2018, the Chiefs’ offense has been considerably weaker as the team leads the league in pass dropping. However, they were still able to crush the Miami Dolphins in their wildcard game and secure their spot in the division games. In this game with record-freezing temperatures, even reaching -4 degrees Fahrenheit, the Chiefs won 26-7 by thwarting the Dolphins’ drives and offensive plays, sending the Dolphins back to Miami. Continuing on this streak, the Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in the Bills’ home stadium in a close match up. Ending in a 27-23 win for the Chiefs, the Bills missed late game field goal cost them the game and a chance for the division title. 

As another team that generated insane hype this season, the Detroit Lions’ 24-23 wildcard win over the Los Angeles Rams proved their amazing regular season wasn’t just a fluke. Over the past decades, the Lions have scarcely made the playoffs and haven’t even won a postseason game since 1991. The team’s surprising performance in the regular and playoff season has brought the franchise from a laughing stock to a serious contender for the Super Bowl. 

With unexpected teams and a potential comeback at play, the 2024 Super Bowl will be another thrilling experience to watch, as new contenders have a chance at Las Vegas.

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About the Contributor
Eshmom Haque
Eshmom Haque, Sports Editor
Outspoken writer and Gamut sports editor Eshmom Hacque is ready for his final year on the Gamut’s staff! As an experienced member of track, he is all about fitness, physical activity, and health. Inspiring stories of human physicality, achievement, and leadership are what Eshmom wants to share with the world. He is also involved in political and ethical discussions, unabashedly bestowing his hot takes on current events and critical issues in local and international government. When away from the intensity of athletics and debate, he enjoys listening to his favorite genres of music, K-Pop, R’n’B, and rap, or watching shows like Arrested Development, Suits, and Business Proposal. He is always up for new experiences– especially hair ones, since he’s gone through a perm, side part, middle part, and mullet within his time at the Gamut. Though he was halted by a sports injury for some time, Eshmom is back and ready for action, both on the field and as a sports editor this year!
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