Heading into week 17 there were still a few playoff spots available, and neither conference had locks for the1 & 2 seedings that provide the all-important playoff Bye week. Let’s dig into the action.
Heading into week the Patriots, Ravens, Titans, and Chiefs had already laid claim to their respective division titles. However, with the Patriots, Ravens, and Chiefs tied at 12-3, each team had something to play for. As it turned out all four teams won their respective games, so the Patriots, Ravens, and Chiefs all finished with identical 13-3 record. The Ravens took first seed by virtue of the head to head tie-breaker, having defeated both the Patriots and the Chiefs during the regular season. The Patriots finish with the number 2 seed by virtue of their win over the Chiefs. The Titans take 4th seed.
In the wildcard, the Broncos already claimed the first of two playoff tickets in week 15, so the real action was for the final wild card spot. The potential candidates included the 8-7 Steelers, 7-8 Texans, 7-8 Jets, and the 7-8 Bengals. Interestingly, the Jets and Bengals won and the Steelers and Texans lost. This left three 8-8 teams vying for the final wildcard spot. By virtue of the three-way tie breaker, the Steelers claimed the final playoff ticket despite their loss base on their Strength of Victory rating (tie-breaker 5). Of note, had the Texans won their game, they would have claimed the last spot having the highest Strength of Victory of the four teams. The Steelers should thank the Titans for defeating the Texans in the final week of the season.
Things were even more complicated in the NFC. Heading into week 17, only the Seahawks had clinched their division. This meant that the 11-4 Cowboys / 10-5 Eagles in the East, 9-6 Packers / 8-7 Lions in the North, and the 11-4 Falcons / 10-5 Saints were each playing for their respective division crowns. Furthermore, the 10-5 49ers currently held the final wildcard spot, meaning that both the Saints and the Lions were fighting for a Division Title, or in the alternative looking at potentially sitting out the playoffs. Dallas, Philadelphia, Green Bay, Atlanta, and New Orleans won their games. San Francisco and Detroit lost theirs. One game of note was the Green Bay – Detroit game, which was effectively a win or go home game to clinch the NFC North. San Francisco’s loss to Seattle locked the Niner’s out of the playoffs and allowed the surging Saints to take the final wildcard spot. Seattle and Atlanta both claimed next week’s playoff Bye.
Wild Card Week
Now that the regular season has come to an end, we can start looking forward to playoff action. Wild Card Week kicks off the playoffs with the following contests: Steelers at Chiefs, Broncos at Titans, Saints at Cowboys, and Eagles at Packers. I’m looking forward to some great games. I’m also hoping to catch one or more of Anthony’s broadcasts on Youtube Live. You can follow the Youtube broadcasts here. There’s also archival footage of the Steelers / Ravens, Redskins / Cowboys, and Ravens at Browns games from week’s 16 and 17.
Game of the Week
San Francisco at Seattle
Seattle needed a late pick by Quandre Diggs (his third of the day) to seal the win in this exciting Week 17 contest. This was a back and forth affair where the teams combined to put up over 1,000 yards of offense. There were seven lead changes. It looked like whoever had the ball last was going to win. But after the 7th lead change, which put the Seahawks up 31-24, the Niners drove down the field and that was when Jimmy G found Quandre Diggs on the pick 6. That made it a two-score lead at 38-24. The Niners still drove the field and found the end zone on a 12-yard Raheem Mostert run to cut it to a single score again (38-30 due to a failed 2-point try). After a failed onside kick the Hawks just needed a first down or two to ice it. They hit one on the first play but Russ could not connect on 1st or 2nd down and threw a pick that game the Niners life again with 1:30 to go in the game. The drove the field but just inside the 30 Jimmy G threw his third interception of the game, once again to Quandre Diggs, and that was the game. The Seahawks will be the #1 or #2 seed while the Niners need help to make the playoffs.
Deshaun Watson and Gardner Minshew both threw 4 TDs. Jimmy Garoppolo, Carson Wentz, Derek Carr, Gardner Minshew, and Russell Wilson each threw for over 350 yards.
John Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Tajae Sharpe each had 2 TD receptions. Julio Jones led all receivers with 13 receptions for 152 yards.
Nick Chubb had 204 yards on the ground. In an interesting twist both Aaron Rogers and Lamar Jackson scored two rushing TDs a piece.
Odds and Ends
Quandre Diggs had three interceptions, including the 4th quarter pick to seal the game against the 49ers. Cameron Johnston averaged 67 yard per punt. Calais Campbell had 3 sacks.