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Championship Weekend – Winners and Losers

Only one game to go after a great day of Championship football.

…And just like that, the NFL’s Championship Weekend is in the books and Super Bowl 58 is set! For the 49ers and Chiefs, the season will continue for another two weeks, while for Baltimore and Detroit, the campaign has officially ended. With only one game left on the NFL calendar this season, this week’s edition of Winners and Losers will be our last of the year. All four teams that played on Sunday had great seasons, but unfortunately, not everyone was at their best when it mattered most. Firstly, however, we’ll start with the winners of the week.  

WINNERS of Championship Weekend

Steve Spagnuolo

For the first time in the Patrick Mahomes era, Kansas City’s strength is on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the talented core of players they’ve built over the last few seasons, but a lot of the credit also has to go to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Everyone on Kansas City’s defence has clearly bought in to his approach, and the team’s three playoff wins show just that. In their games against Miami, Buffalo and Baltimore, the Chiefs allowed just 41 points. That number would be good for three random consecutive games in the regular season, let alone in the playoffs against three of the best offences in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce obviously deserve some shine as well, but make no mistake, Kansas City is back in the big game because of Spagnuolo’s defence. 

Brock Purdy

The leaguewide narrative around Brock Purdy hasn’t always been the most positive one, but he sure got the job done in the biggest game of his career on Sunday. After a tough first half from everyone wearing the red and gold, Purdy led San Francisco’s offence to 27 second-half points and the largest comeback win in NFC Championship history. The play that got everything started may have been a bit of a fluke, but Purdy took that momentum and ran with it, literally and figuratively. The 49ers’ QB made some crucial plays with his legs during the comeback and went for 48 yards in the second half alone. He was just as good through the air, going 13/16 for 174 yards and a touchdown in the second half. Say what you will about the talent around him, but Purdy stepped up when it mattered most. 

LOSERS of Championship Weekend

Lamar Jackson

Like a lot of people, we really thought that this was going to be the year Lamar Jackson and the Ravens put everything together in the playoffs. The team was great in the divisional game against Houston, and despite a matchup with the Chiefs on Championship Weekend, most people around the league were optimistic about Baltimore’s chances. Unfortunately, the Lamar Jackson haters were the winners on Sunday, as the Ravens’ QB ended another season with an underwhelming playoff performance. Sure, Todd Monken’s play-calling certainly deserves to be called into question. Of course, Jackson couldn’t do much about the backbreaker of a fumble at the goal line from Zay Flowers. However, at some point, Jackson needs to take one of these games over and get the job done.  

His fourth quarter interception into triple coverage basically sealed the deal for the Ravens, and although he’s had a ton of regular season success and is very deserving of his two MVP awards, the questions surrounding his ability to win in the biggest moments remain. He’s a ton of fun to watch, but at this point, the concerns are valid. From 5:09 in the first quarter to 2:38 in the fourth, Baltimore’s dominant offence scored ZERO points. 

Dan Campbell

Unfortunately, here’s another guy that we’ve loved to watch succeed all season. Dan Campbell has been notoriously aggressive with his play-calling ever since he took the job as Detroit’s head coach, but it may have cost the Lions the chance at a Super Bowl berth on Sunday. Campbell elected to go for fourth down in field goal range twice in the second half, turning the ball over both times. Of course, it’s easier to say what the right move was in hindsight, but the refusals to try to go up three scores or try to tie the game late in the fourth were a little baffling.  

It’s true that Detroit doesn’t have the best kicker and that the team (outside of Josh Reynolds) executed the first attempt very well, but these are the decisions that fans will be questioning for a while. Campbell has been a terrific coach for the Lions and the city of Detroit, and it’ll be interesting to see if his philosophies change if the Lions ever make it back to Championship Weekend. 


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