The NFL regular season is all but finished, with only the Wild Card spots left to be determined……..well, also seeding, general rankings, home field advantage and if Mike Tomlin will whoop Terrry Bradhsaw’s country-ass when he sees him this summer.
The biggest news from the weekend:
- Buffalo said goodbye to the Rex Ryan Experiment, ending a reign of mediocre football sauteed in a Ryan Brothers whiskey sauce that even Patrick Hammer would be proud of. (Now that’s what you call a sub-reference)
- The Oakland Raiders woke up from the best dream any of them have had in 14 years, when Derek Carr broke in half. There goes any Super Bowl hopes and dreams for 2016-17, Matt Mcgloin is NOT the guy, sorry to say.
- The Playoff C.F. is C.F.-ed A.F. (so many teenager-abbreviations):
1. New England Patriots (13-2). The New York Jets weren’t even a speed bump on the Patriots’ road to the AFC playoffs. If they win or if the Raiders lose in Week 17, the Patriots will secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC field. The worst they can do is end up at No. 2.
2. Oakland Raiders (12-3). Oakland clinched its spot in Week 15. If the Raiders win at Denver or the Chiefs lose at San Diego in Week 17, the Raiders will be AFC West champions. Of course, the bigger issue right now for Oakland is that it is going to have to play its postseason games with Matt McGloin or Connor Cook at quarterback.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5). A brilliant Ben Roethlisberger comeback against the Ravens on Sunday night clinched the Steelers’ second division title in three years and eliminated Baltimore. Pittsburgh will host a playoff game on Jan. 7 or 8.
4. Houston Texans (9-6). When Cincinnati place-kicker Randy Bullock‘s attempt for a winning field goal sailed wide right on Saturday night, it made Houston champion of the AFC South for the second year in a row. The Texans’ Week 17 game in Nashville now has no relevance.
5. Kansas City Chiefs (11-4). The Chiefs can still claim the AFC West, but they need to beat San Diego in Week 17 and hope the Raiders lose in Denver.
6. Miami Dolphins (10-5). After a 1-4 start, the Dolphins have won nine of their past 10 games. And Miami clinched a playoff spot with Denver’s loss to Kansas City on Sunday night.
Surging: Miami’s regular-season finale on Sunday is at home against the Patriots. That meeting offers the Dolphins a chance to show themselves — and the Patriots — that they can play with New England. In Week 2 at Foxborough — before Miami’s offensive line came together and Jay Ajayi emerged — Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett and the Patriots built a 31-3 lead on the Dolphins and held on to win 31-24.
Slipping: Houston’s AFC South rivals had rough outings on Sunday. The Tennessee Titans lost their quarterback, lost a game to the 3-12 Jacksonville Jaguars and lost a potential playoff spot. The Indianapolis Colts were defeated in Oakland and eliminated from postseason contention even before Houston played. The Texans took care of their own business in an ugly game on Saturday night, but they already had received some help in the form of disappointing performances from the two teams behind them.
Worth noting: The Steelers are a perennial playoff team, but it hasn’t been easy. This is only the second time they’ve won their division since 2010. Their 2014 team was a division champion as well.
1. Dallas Cowboys (13-2). Dallas has everything wrapped up that can be wrapped up — a division title, a bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. When the Cowboys get back from Philadelphia on Sunday night, they won’t have to leave Texas again all season. (Super Bowl LI is in Houston.) The only question for the Cowboys is what to do about resting and/or protecting their players or keeping them fresh for January games.
2. Atlanta Falcons (10-5). With their win and the Buccaneers’ loss, the Falcons have clinched the NFC South. And thanks to Seattle’s loss, Atlanta has a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed in the conference and a first-round bye with a Week 17 home victory over the Saints.
3. Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1). They came all the way back and somehow still lost a home game to the Arizona Cardinals because of a missed extra point. Seattle is the NFC West champion, but it might have cost itself a chance at a first-round bye. As of now, the Seahawks would have to play three games (with at least one on the road) just to reach the Super Bowl.
4. Green Bay Packers (9-6). Green Bay is technically the NFC North leader at the moment. The Packers are tied with the Lions for first place but beat them head-to-head. The teams face off again in Week 17 at Detroit, and the winner will be division champ. The loser can still get in but would need help. Specifically, if the Packers lose, they would still be a wild-card team if Washington and the Buccaneers both lose. The Packers also could sneak in as a wild card if Washington loses and Green Bay clinches the strength-of-victory tiebreaker over Tampa. To do that, the Packers need any one of the following four teams to lose in Week 17: San Francisco, Tennessee, Indianapolis or Dallas. But the main point here is: win and the Packers are in as a division champ.
5. New York Giants (10-5). The Giants didn’t get it done on Thursday against the Eagles, but the Saints helped them out by beating the Buccaneers, which allowed the Giants to clinch a spot in the NFC field. The Giants are locked into the No. 5 seed no matter what. They cannot improve or weaken their seeding, and they will open the playoffs at the home field of whichever team finishes in the No. 4 spot.
6. Detroit Lions (9-6). This is the most fragile seeding in the whole picture. Having lost Monday night in Dallas, Detroit still has a chance to finish as NFC North champ and will do so if it beats Green Bay on Sunday night. If Detroit loses Sunday, the Lions would need a Washington loss to get them in as a wild card.
Surging: Washington might have cost itself a playoff berth with its home loss in Week 15 to the Carolina Panthers, but it rebounded nicely Saturday and still is in the race. If Washington beats the Giants on Sunday — assuming the Detroit-Green Bay tilt doesn’t end in a tie — Washington will get in as a wild-card team.
Slipping: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t eliminated, but a ton has to happen for them to get in. They need to win. They need Washington to tie. They need Green Bay to lose. And they need all four of the following teams to win their Week 17 games: San Francisco, Tennessee, Indianapolis and Dallas. Sounds like next year for Tampa.
Worth noting: The Minnesota Vikings (7-8) started the season 5-0 but were eliminated from playoff contention with Saturday’s loss in Green Bay. They traded their first-round pick to the Eagles for quarterback Sam Bradford after Teddy Bridgewater got hurt, and now they face an early and uncertain offseason.
- The Cleveland Browns won a game, now they have to live up to expectations……hahahahahahah, wait, no. A winning streak to end the season at 2-14 is the NFL equivalent of the “Tallest Midget” syndrome.