With just four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs, only one of them does not have a former Illini on their roster.
Nick Allegretti (Kansas City), Kerby Joseph (Detroit), and Del’Shawn Phillips (Baltimore) are all representing the University of Illinois entering this year’s AFC and NFC Championship Games.
Let’s take a look at how each of them have fared in the playoffs so far.
Starting with Kerby Joseph, who is the only true starter of the three players. In the Wild Card game against the Los Angeles Rams, he had two solo tackles, two combined tackles, and one pass defended while playing 37 defensive snaps and six special teams snaps in Detroit’s 24-23 win.
Despite the win, Joseph has been the subject of much criticism as of late. A low hit the safety made during that game tore the ACL and MCL of Rams tight end Tyler Higbee.
This resulted in Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford calling Joseph a “dirty” player. Despite the injuries caused, Joseph was not fined for the hit.
This was the second time in under a month that a low hit from Joseph caused a serious injury to a tight end. In Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, Joseph’s hit caused a torn ACL and MCL for Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Despite the controversy surrounding Joseph, he helped Detroit secure its first playoff win since 1991. It was also the Lions’ first home postseason game since 1993.
In Sunday’s Divisional Round game, Joseph had two solo tackles, two combined tackles, and one pass defended while playing 43 defensive snaps and seven special teams snaps in Detroit’s 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
During the Wild Card round against the Miami Dolphins, Allegretti only saw one offensive snap and six snaps on special teams in a 26-7 Chiefs win.
However, the fifth-year guard saw increased time in the Divisional Round against the Buffalo Bills as Chiefs All-Pro guard Joe Thuney suffered an injury. He played 13 offensive snaps and five special teams snaps in Kansas City’s 27-24 win.
Allegretti even earned a 80.0 PFF offensive grade, which was the third-best among Kansas City offensive linemen against Buffalo.
In the Ravens’ sole playoff game in the Divisional Round, Phillips was inactive for the 34-10 win over the Houston Texans. Phillips injured his shoulder in Baltimore’s regular-season finale versus the Steelers.
The conference title games will be held on Sunday, Jan. 28, with the Kansas City Chiefs at the Baltimore Ravens at 2 p.m. CT on CBS in the AFC Championship Game and the Detroit Lions at the San Francisco 49ers at 5:30 p.m. CT on FOX in the NFC Championship Game.
Due to the fact that the Chiefs (Allegretti) and the Ravens (Phillips) will be playing each other, we are guaranteed at least one former Illinois player in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11.