NFL Week 17 Analysis
Madden Tributes Across The League With One Round To Go
The NFL paid tribute to the late John Madden to begin the week as the late coach, broadcaster, and football icon died earlier at the age of 85. I already touched on Madden in the preview, but he was a true inspiration for many people, myself included.
While the week began nicely, plenty of weirdness and excitement followed. Coming into the week, the Bengals, Titans, Colts, Rams, Chiefs, Bills, and Patriots could clinch a playoff spot with a win. Pure insanity followed with plenty of close games, and even a crazy fan ran onto the field; oh, it's just Antonio Brown!
With the week now over, here's a look at the playoff picture heading into the final week of the regular season.
Falcons: 15 (7-9), Bills: 29 (10-6)
Final Line: BUF -14.0 Jake's Pick: BUF
While the win wasn't pretty, the Buffalo Bills still clinched a playoff spot and are now one win away from clinching their second-straight AFC East title. Josh Allen ran all over the Falcons' defense and scored two TDs, but he also threw three interceptions and struggled to throw the football. Despite the loss, I think the Bills are a legit contender in the AFC and have a great shot at making the Super Bowl.
While the Falcons' playoff hopes ended on Sunday, you still have to commend Arthur Smith on progressing in his first season as head coach. Considering Atlanta had no wide receivers and Matt Ryan struggled to find protection upfront, the Falcons have seven wins and can sweep their series with the Saints. With guys like Kyle Pitts, A.J. Terrell, and Corderrelle Patterson, I feel confident the Falcons will continue to improve in years to come.
The Bills will play the New York Jets on Sunday and clinch the division with a win or a NE loss.
The Falcons will play their final game against the New Orleans Saints.
Giants: 3 (4-12) vs. Bears: 29 (6-10)
Final Line: CHI -6.5 Jake's Pick: CHI
I'm not even sure why I even previewed this game in the first place. Just listen to Mike Glennon's stats: 4 of 11, 24 yards, and two interceptions; that's pretty ugly if you ask me. He ended up getting benched, and the Bears quickly picked up the win. I won't get into too much detail in the game, but I'll say that Robert Quinn is putting up a solid case for defensive player of the year.
The Bears will play their final game against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Giants will play their final game of the season against the Washington Football Team, who will change their team name and logo on Feb. 2.
Chiefs: 31 (11-5) vs. Bengals: 34 (10-6)
Final Line: KC -3.5 Jake's Pick: KC
The legend of Joe Burrow continues to grow with every game as the Bengals beat the Chiefs on a last-second field goal to clinch the AFC North. Burrow was outstanding, finishing 30 of 39 with 446 yards and four TDs. Ja'Marr Chase caught everything thrown his way, as the rookie wideout finished with 11 catches, 266 yards, and three TDs. Over the last two weeks, Burrow has 971 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Burrow is already considered an elite QB in just his second season. If you asked me, I think he needs some postseason exposure first.
As for the Chiefs, it was yet another terrific outing for Patrick Mahomes, who is starting to find his late-season form at the right time. Mahomes finished 26 of 35 with 259 yards and two TDs. As he rushed for 88 yards and two TDs on 14 carries, Darrel Williams had a solid showing on the ground. The Chiefs can still regain the number one seed with a win if Tennessee loses to the Texans.
The Bengals can clinch the number one seed on Sunday with a win against the Browns and a loss from the Chiefs and Titans.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs play the Denver Broncos on Saturday, and with a Titans loss, they can get the number one seed with a win.
Dolphins: 3 (8-8) vs. Titans: 34 (11-5)
Final Line: TEN -3.0 Jake's Pick: MIA
Don't look now, but the Tennessee Titans are in the driver's seat as the number one seed in the AFC as they dominated the Miami Dolphins at home. Ryan Tannehill threw for two TDs, and D'Onte Foreman rushed for 132 yards and one TD, as the Titans clinched their second-straight AFC South title. It's also possible that the Titans could get their star running back, Derrek Henry, back just in time for the playoffs, and if they have Henry, the Titans could be destined for a deep playoff run.
With the loss on Sunday and Denver's loss to the Chargers, the Miami Dolphins are officially eliminated from playoff contention. The Dolphins couldn't get anything going on offense, as Tua Tagovailoa struggled mightily. Miami's defense had no answer for Tennessee's ground game, which left the door open for Tannehill's playmaking ability. Moving forward, I'm unsure as to what the Dolphins will do with HC Brian Flores and if they decide to move on from Tua.
The Titans can clinch the number one seed in the AFC with a win against the Houston Texans.
The Miami Dolphins saw their season end this week, but they can still finish the season sweep of the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Raiders: 23 (9-7), Colts: 20 (9-7)
Final Line: IND -8.5 Jake's Pick: IND
The spirit of John Madden was in the air as Vegas honored their former coach with a come-from-behind victory against the Colts to keep their playoff hopes alive. With 11:18 left in the fourth quarter, Derek Carr, who had struggled all day, connected with Hunter Renfrow on an 11-yard pass to put the Raiders up by three. The Colts responded with a field goal to tie the game. Just when you thought the game would go to overtime, Carr led the Raiders down the field to set up Daniel Carlson for the game-winning 33-yard field goal. Carr has shown resilience and toughness all season, and it could all culminate with a win next Sunday against the Chargers to clinch the postseason.
The Colts came into this game needing a win to clinch a wildcard spot. Carson Wentz, who was cleared off the Covid list hours before the game, finished 16-27 for 148 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown strike to T.Y. Hilton to put the Colts up 17-13 with 11:28 left in the third. Jonathan Taylor continues to put up MVP-caliber numbers as he rushed for 108 yards and one TD. The Colts have another shot a clinching the playoffs against the Jaguars despite the loss. It should be an easy win for the Colts, but you never know with the NFL!
The Raiders can clinch a playoff spot with a win against Justin Herbert and the Chargers on Sunday night.
The Colts may have failed to clinch a playoff spot this week, but they can still clinch next Sunday with a win against the Jaguars.
Jaguars: 10 (2-14), Patriots: 50 (10-6)
Final Line: NE -17.0 Jake's Pick: NE
To put it lightly, the New England Patriots shit-pumped the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Mac Jones may have sealed the offensive rookie of the year with his near-flawless performance. The rookie QB finished 22 of 30 with 227 yards and three TDs. Rhamondre Stevenson shows promise in the running game as he rushed for 107 yards and two TDs. With the game, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are back in the playoffs and can clinch the AFC East with a win and a Bills loss.
I'm not going to go into detail about how bad the Jags are, but let's just say that Trevor Lawrence hasn't shown any signs of improvement in his rookie season, and the Jags are still looking for that right head coach. Let's hope Shad Kahn doesn't screw things up.
The Patriots have a matchup with the Miami Dolphins. They can still clinch the division with a win and a Buffalo loss.
Buccaneers: 28 (12-4), Jets: 24 (4-12)
Final Line: TB -14.5 Jake's Pick: TB
Tom Brady proved, once more, that he is a part-owner of the New York Jets, as he led the Bucs down the field in the final minute to beat the Jets 28-24. While Tampa was victorious, the real story took place in the third quarter. With the Bucs down 24-10, star wideout Antonio Brown was fed up with HC Bruce Arians, so he decided to take his pads off, then he took off his gloves and t-shirt and threw them into the crowd. Brown then ran off the field shirtless. He proceeded to wave to fans as he jogged through the end zone and into the tunnel at MetLife Stadium. Arians said after the game that Brown would no longer be a part of the team.
If you asked me about the AB situation, I'm still trying to process it because I've seen anything quite like it. The closest thing was when Vontae Davis retired at halftime of a Bills game in 2018. However, I've never seen anyone rip their shirt off and run off the field like an idiot.
I feel bad for the Jets because the game was overshadowed by what took place with AB. However, the Jets did have a legit shot a beating Tom Brady, but a questionable QB sneak in the fourth quarter ended up costing them. Braxton Berrios has had a career year and continues to build on that success. The wideout finished with two total TDs and has been a menace in the return game. The Jets have two top-ten draft picks in the upcoming draft, so they have a chance to get some pieces for next season.
The Bucs have a matchup with the Carolina Panthers.
The Jets will play their final game against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.
Eagles: 20 (9-7), Washington: 16 (6-10)
Final Line: PHI -6.0 Jake's Pick: PHI
The Philadelphia Eagles are back in the playoffs following a 20-16 victory over the Washington Football Team. Philly continues to dominate on the running game as Boston Scott accounted for both of Philly's touchdowns. However, the real drama took place after the game. As QB Jalen Hurts was heading off the field, he had to maneuver out of the way of falling Eagles' fans after the stands in the stadium collapsed onto the field. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.
The Washington Football Team is eliminated from playoff contention following the loss on Sunday. Now, they can focus on more important matters, like changing their team name and logo and possibly fixing up their stadium.
The Eagles will look to boost their seeding against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night.
Washington will look to finish the season off the right way against the New York Football Giants.
Rams: 20 (12-4), Ravens: 19 (8-8)
Final Line: LAR -7.0 Jake's Pick: BAL
Over the years, Matthew Stafford has shown how great he is at completing come-from-behind victory. He showed his talent again when he led the Rams down the field with a minute left to set up a 7-yard TD pass from Stafford to Odell Beckham Jr. to put the Rams up by one. Stafford rebounded from his two INTs, including his lead-leading fourth pick-six, to throw the game-winning TD to keep their hopes of clinching the NFC West alive. On another note, WR Cooper continues to ball out, as he has a shot at breaking the single-season record for receiving yards (Calvin Johnson: 1,964).
With the loss, the Ravens' playoff hopes took a turn for the worst. Now that the Bengals have clinched the AFC North, the Ravens now need to beat Pittsburgh on Sunday, and they need the Colts to lose to the Jags, Miami to lose or tie with Patriots, and the Chargers to lose the Raiders. It's also been a season to forget for the Ravens as they've had to deal with countless injuries, starting from the beginning of the season when both running backs suffered season-ending injuries. It worsened as Lamar Jackson went down with an injury, and Tyler Huntley contracted Covid. The one positive has been Mark Andrews, as the tight end has 1,276 yards this season, which is currently the franchise record.
The Rams have a crucial divisional matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. They can clinch the NFC West with a win or an ARI loss.
The Ravens have a matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but even if they win, they still need a lot of help from other teams if they want to make the playoffs. The Bengals winning doesn't help their cause.
Broncos: 13 (7-9), Chargers: 34 (9-7)
Final Line: LAC -7.5 Jake's Pick: LAC
After their embarrassing loss to the Texans, the Los Angeles Chargers bounced back against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Justin Herbert threw for two touchdowns and set the franchise single-season record, while Andre Roberts helped the team by returning a 101-yard kickoff for a TD. Herbert, the AFC starter for the Pro Bowl, surpassed Phillip Rivers for most TD passes in a single season with 35. Herbert also became the fastest player to reach 800 career completions (31 games) and is the second-youngest player in league history to get to 65 TD passes. Currently, the LA Chargers hold the final wildcard spot but need a win at Las Vegas next week to clinch their first postseason berth since 2018.
With the loss on Sunday, the Broncos eliminated themselves from playoff contention and took out Cleveland and Miami. If this season has proven anything, maybe Vic Fangio isn't cut out for coaching an NFL team. After failing to make the playoffs for the third consecutive season under Fangio, perhaps it's time to move on from the former defensive coordinator and try something new.
The Chargers have a crucial matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday night, where the winner earns a wildcard spot.
The Broncos have a matchup on Saturday night against the Denver Broncos.
Texans: 7 (4-12), 49ers: 23 (9-7)
Final Line: SF -13.5 Jake's Pick: SF to win, HOU to cover
Without Jimmy Garoppolo due to injury, it was up to rookie backup Trey Lance to get the job, and he did just that. The rookie QB threw for two TDs, including a 45-yard dime to Deebo Samuel, as the Niners kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Houston Texans. SF can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a NO loss next week. I'm not sure whether or not Shanahan will start Lance or Garoppolo against the Rams, so that's something to keep an eye on in the coming days.
As for the Texans, they can still find a way to play the spoiler, but it just happened not to be this week. The Niner defense proved to be too much for Davis Mills as he threw for 163 yards with one TD and one INT. The Texans have a chance to play spoiler once more, as they take on the Titans in hopes of ruining their chances of becoming the number one seed in the AFC.
The Niners have a date with Matthew Stafford and the LA Rams. They can clinch a playoff spot with a win or a Saints loss. If they lose and the Saints win, New Orleans will clinch a playoff spot.
The Texans' final matchup is against the one-seed Tennessee Titans.
Cardinals: 25 (11-5), Cowboys: 23 (11-5)
Final Line: DAL -6.5 Jake's Pick: DAL
This game didn't have any playoff implications, as both teams have already clinched, but the Arizona Cardinals ended their three-game skid with a nice road win against the Dallas Cowboys. All it took was for Kyler Murray to return to his favorite stadium, as the QB threw two TD passes to Antoine Wesley. The play of the day came from Jonathan Ward, who made an improbable catch off the defender's helmet off of a successful fake punt. David Tyree was probably smiling when that took place!
As for the Cowboys, they were pretty much held in check all day by the Cardinal defense. Dak Prescott managed to throw for three TDs and 226 passing yards, but the running game proved to be ineffective. Ezekiel Elliot only managed 16 rushing yards, and Prescott was the team's leading rusher with just 20. Coming into this game, the Cowboys were the healthiest they've been, but they lost receiver Michael Gallup to a left knee after scoring on a 21-yard TD pass. Gallup will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.
The Cardinals will play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. With a win and a Rams' loss, they can clinch the NFC West.
The Cowboys will look to prove they are a legit Super Bowl contender with a Saturday matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vikings: 10, Packers: 37 (13-3)
Final Line: GB -12.5 Jake's Pick: GB
For the second-straight season, Aaron Rodgers made sure that he wasn't leaving Lambeau Field anytime soon, as the Packers clinched the number one seed in the NFC by routing the Vikings, 37-10. Rodgers threw touchdown passes, and A.J. Dillion ran for two more. The Packers have won 13 straight regular-season home games but lost 31-26 at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last season's NFC championship game. The Packers haven't made it to the Super Bowl since winning it in 2010, and they have lost in the conference championship game four of the last seven seasons.
The loss eliminates the Minnesota Vikings from playoff contention, as they had to start Sean Mannion at QB. Mannion struggled throughout the game but managed to throw a TD late when it was already out of reach. Not only that, but I'm almost certain Mike Zimmer will step down as the head coach. It's not that Zimmer is a lousy coach; I just think the Vikings need a change. Not only that, but it could be time to say goodbye to Kirk Cousins.
The Packers will play their final game against the Lions and likely start their backups.
The Vikings' playoff hopes are over as they look to finish their season with a win against the Chicago Bears.
Browns: 14 (7-9), Steelers: 26 (8-7-1)
Final Line: CLE -1.0 Jake's Pick: PIT
Oh, how sweet it is, as Ben Roethlisberger's final game at Heinz Field proved to be a magical one. The Steelers legend threw a TD pass, and Najee Harris stole the show with his powerful running as the Steelers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a win against the Cleveland Browns. The crowd was lively as Big Ben was overcome with emotion after the game and even after his TD pass. He indeed was a one-of-a-kind QB in his prime, leading Pittsburgh to two Super Bowls. There's no doubt in my mind that he will earn a spot in Canton in the next five years. Oh, and T.J. Watt is one sack away from breaking Michael Strahan's single-season sack record.
There's no sugarcoating it: the Cleveland Browns had a disappointing season. After making the playoffs last season for the first time in over a decade, the Browns only got worse as Baker Mayfield's play seemed to regress after he went down with a shoulder injury in the second week of the season. After the game, Mayfield said that he would be getting surgery right away and would miss Sunday's game against Cincinnati. After Mayfield's injury, he showed toughness by continuing to play through it, but he quickly became a liability as his play began to regress. In my opinion, Baker Mayfield is one of the main reasons for the Browns' failure, but a lot of the blame should fall on Kevin Stefansky for continuing to go with Mayfield when banged up.
The Steelers will look to send Big Ben off into a sunset with a win against their bitter rival: the Baltimore Ravens.
The Browns will look to finish the season on a high note against Joe Burrow and the mighty Bengals.
Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.
Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner
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