The biggest threat to Dallas winning Monday night came from its own sideline.
The Cowboys routed Tampa Bay 31-14, but that score is deceiving. The Cowboys didn’t win by scoring four touchdowns and a Brett Maher field goal. They scored five touchdowns and Maher made only one of five extra-point attempts.
Despite Maher’s worst effort, Dallas will travel to San Francisco in the Divisional Round next Sunday.
The two marquee franchises have several memorable postseason games between them, Sunday’s game will be a rematch of last year’s wild-card game that ended when Dallas QB Dak Prescott scrambled up the middle for 17 yards with no timeouts and 14 seconds remaining. San Francisco won 23-17.
This will be the ninth playoff meeting all-time between the organizations. Dallas leads the series 5-3.
Prescott was outstanding against Tampa Bay, removing all doubt that his Week 18 underperformance against Washington would have any lingering effects in the postseason.
Prescott was 25-of-33 for 305 yards and four touchdowns and added seven carries for 25 yards and one rushing touchdown.
The Cowboys victory means three of the final four in the NFC come from the same division.
The other NFC divisional round game features the Giants traveling to the Eagles in primetime this Saturday.
In the AFC, Jacksonville looks to continue its remarkable postseason run against Kansas City.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce should feast against a Jags defense that ranks last in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value over Average metric against players at his position.
Jacksonville’s defense is 37.7% worse than a league-average defense would be against tight ends. Kelce finished 2022 with 110 receptions, 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The other AFC semifinal is a showdown between Joe Burrow and Cincinnati versus Josh Allen and Buffalo.
Wins by the Bills and Chiefs would set up a neutral-site AFC Championship Game in Atlanta.
Buffalo would host the AFC title game if Jacksonville wins at Kansas City. The Chiefs need a Bengals win over the Bills to host the conference championship game.
The only way Cincinnati would host the AFC Championship would be if Jacksonville also pulls off the divisional round upset.
The stage is set for an exciting divisional round. Our fingers are crossed that Monday night was the last dud of the season.