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Cheese Curds, 1/23: Only heavyweights remain for NFL’s conference championships

No team seeded lower than third advanced to the NFL’s final four this year, though Mike McCarthy gave everybody a good laugh on Sunday night.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Despite the NFL’s expanded playoff field, which went to seven teams per conference in 2020, a 7th-seeded team has yet to win a game against a #2. This year, playoff seedings seem even more critical, as the four teams that have advanced to the conference championship round are a the two #1 seeds, a #2, and a #3.

The top-seeded Chiefs and Eagles advanced on Saturday, with Kansas City holding off the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Eagles demolishing the New York Giants. Then on Sunday, the 3rd-seeded Bengals dominated the #2 Bills while the San Francisco 49ers held serve in a low-scoring win over the Dallas Cowboys.

That final game of the weekend provided some hilarity for everyone who was not a Cowboys fan, however. Some poor clock management and a couple of significant mistakes by tight end Dalton Schultz on Dallas’ final drive set up the Cowboys with 75 yards to go on the final play of the game. Whatever play Mike McCarthy drew up had zero chance of succeeding, thanks to the 49ers’ excellent defense, and it sent all of the football-watching world into fits of laughter.

This makes 2023 the 27th straight season that the Cowboys have not made an NFC Championship Game appearance, last doing so in 1995 en route to a Super Bowl win that season. For McCarthy, it’s yet another playoff defeat that took place amid highly questionable time management decision-making.

Here’s a look back at the Divisional Playoffs, a look ahead to next week’s games, and a look at a few newsworthy items regarding the Green Bay Packers in the meantime.

NFL playoffs conference championships: Bengals-Chiefs, 49ers-Eagles | ESPN
Next week's conference title games are all set, with only the Bengals winning on the road this past weekend.

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy declines to elaborate on bizarre final play in loss to 49ers |
In case you missed it, the Cowboys' final last-ditch play on Sunday night was an absolute mess, featuring running back Ezekiel Elliott snapping the ball (and getting blown up) and 49ers DB Jimmie Ward deciding that he wasn't going to tolerate any of McCarthy's foolishness.

Keisean Nixon, Rich Bisaccia spur Packers' special teams rankings jump |
Green Bay moved up from 32nd to 22nd in the annual rankings, though they moved farther in DVOA (up to 17th).

Adding to interior DL position should again be priority for Packers | Packers Wire
The Packers have an intriguing group of Kenny Clark, Devonte Wyatt, and T.J. Slaton returning for 2023, but they need some more quality pieces to rotate in and out up front.

Inbox: There’s been constant evolution at the position |
Wes Hodkiewicz's mailbag addresses his Super Bowl predictions (whoops), Robert Tonyan's upcoming free agent decision, and changes in what constitutes the "ideal" quarterback.

Ranking Potential Aaron Rodgers Trade Destinations - Sports Illustrated

Pet fish commits credit card fraud on owner using a Nintendo Switch | TechSpot
The entire heist started as an experiment to see if fish could complete Pokémon Scarlet and Violet unassisted. It was well on its way until the game crashed, and the input software tracking the fish's movements exposed his credit card information to people watching the stream.