The final regular-season week has set the final playoff pictures and separated the contenders from the pretenders. Cleveland beats the Steelers to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2002. Lamar Jackson and Mike Evans both set NFL records this week, read on for more takeaways.
Week 17 Byes: NONE
Pittsburgh Steelers(12-4) AT Cleveland Browns(11-5)
Mason played well
Browns still have flaws heading into the playoffs
The Browns beat the Steelers 24-22 despite a late charge by Pittsburgh.
Mason Rudolph has been heavily criticized by the Pittsburgh fanbase, but it should all stop now. Yes, Mason did make mistakes, an interception, and not feeling the pressure coming at him. But he did throw for 315 yards and two touchdowns, including the potential game-tying one. The refs missed blatant pass interferences' on the Browns defenders and Mason was not helped there, but towards the end of the game he started to roll out and make throws, his long ball looked good. Mason Rudolph lacked confidence last year, it seemed like he had all the confidence in this one.
Next Game: VS Cleveland Sun, 1/10/21 4:15 pm (Final Record: 12-4; 1st in AFC North)
The Cleveland Browns are in the postseason for the first time since 2002, and Browns fans should be nervous. Cleveland does not use Nick Chubb as much as they should, Pittsburgh couldn't stop him in the early game and there wouldn't have been a close game if he was kept in. Cleveland's offense got cold for most of the second half and they failed to make certain adjustments once again. Cleveland cannot play as they did against a practice squad team in the playoffs.
Next Game: AT Pittsburgh Sun, 1/10/21 4:15 pm (Final Record: 11-5; 3rd in AFC North)
Miami Dolphins(10-6) AT Buffalo Bills(13-3)
Miami has its work cut out for them
Buffalo is a pass-happy team
The Bills bulldozed the Dolphins 56-26 to make sure they won the 2nd seed.
Tua Tagovailoa is not the quarterback Dolphins fans thought he would be so far, he didn't throw an interception for his first six starts. He has unraveled in the past month, throwing five interceptions, four touchdowns, and 600 yards. It could be that Tua just wasn't ready for his NFL career to begin or it could be the lack of an offense around him, either or Miami has good draft selections. The Dolphins staff will have their hands full preparing Tua for next season.
Final record: 10-6 (2nd in AFC East)
Buffalo has made it clear that they are a passing team, but even with a backup QB in, they still rack up passing yards. Josh Allen threw three touchdowns and 224 yards, backup Matt Barkley threw for 164 yards and a touchdown. A deadly passing attack will be a big advantage in the playoffs because they can pass on most of the AFC teams. Buffalo has the second seed in the AFC bracket and will face the Colts next weekend.
Next Game: VS Colts Sat, 1/9/21 9:05 am (Final Record: 13-3; 1st in AFC East)
Baltimore Ravens(11-5) AT Cincinnati Bengals(4-11-1)
Lamar can only throw deep balls down the middle
Cincinnati now can focus on the future
Baltimore cruised to the fifth seed in the AFC bracket with a 38-3 win.
Lamar Jackson hit Miles Boykin on a 43-yard touchdown and hit Hollywood Brown on an 18-yard touchdown, both down the middle. Lamar's touchdowns seem to consist of short and outside or deep and down the middle of the field. Lamar has problems throwing and with an incomplete offense, it makes it just that much harder. Baltimore needs to get a receiver that can catch any kind of ball and run any kind of route, a true number one.
Next Game: AT Titans Sun, 1/10/21 9:05 am (Final Record: 11-5; 2nd in AFC North)
With the season finally over, the team's front office and coaches can direct their full attention to resigning players and preparing for the draft in April. Cincinnati has a lot of promise for the future because of the players coming back from injury and a high draft pick. If Cincy wants to be a contender next year, their free agency will have to be very busy.
Final Record: 4-11-1 (4th in AFC North)
Minnesota Vikings(7-9) AT Detriot Lions(5-11)
Justin Jefferson will be the number one next year
Detriot uncertain on Matthew Stafford's future
Minnesota ends the season with a 37-35 thriller over Detroit.
Justin Jefferson has yet again racked up a 100+ yard game. Justin caught nine passes for 133 yards and ended the season with exactly 1400 yards and seven touchdowns. Justin Jefferson proved he is ready to take on a more featured role like Adam Thielen was last year and how Stefon Diggs has been throughout his career with the purple&gold.
Final Record: 7-9 (3rd in NFC North)
Trade rumors infer that Matthew Stafford will be headed out of Detriot, a top landing spot is to Indianapolis. But the Lions haven't confirmed any of these rumors and aren't showing intent to shoo the former Georgia quarterback out of the door. If traded, this would be a blessing for both sides, but mainly for Stafford. Detriot currently holds the seventh overall pick and could draft a QB if one that is worth taking is there.
Final Record: 5-11 (4th in NFC North)
New York Jets(2-14) AT New England Patriots(7-9)
A new quarterback will go a long way
Cam Newton will not return
New England finishes the season with a 28-14 win.
No other positional pick besides a quarterback would be acceptable for the Jets, the recent vacancy in the head coaching department also confirms that. When new coaches come in, they usually want to draft their own quarterback unless the player is working for the team. Sam Darnold could remain a backup in New York but there is doubt that he would accept that fate, a trade is what is expected. A new QB and a new head coach with some salvageable parts of this team is good news, we will see what happens in April.
Final Record: 2-14 (4th in AFC East)
Cam Newton is expected not to be resigned by the Patriots, and that is that. After a season of mostly downs, Newton's only consistent production was his running abilities, he had a lot of poor passing games. New England is likely to trade or sign a quarterback out of free agency if a draftable QB is not there in the first round.
Final Record: 7-9 (3rd in AFC East)
Dallas Cowboys(6-10) AT New York Giants(6-10)
Dallas defense needs some work
New York needs a number one
The Giants fall short of a division title but still did all they could with a 23-19 win.
The Dallas defense looks good on paper, a few Pro Bowlers, promising rookies, and glue players, but when it's out there it doesn't perform. Dallas is in the bottom half of the defensive rankings for nearly every category, a good pass rusher or a great coverage player in the secondary could help, also a dump of a contract like Demarcus Lawrence could be used to get a high second-round pick or a future first. The Cowboys have the tenth overall selection in this year's draft, many good defensive options there.
Final Record: 6-10 (3rd in NFC East)
The Giants playoff fates rested on a victory for the Eagles, it wasn't going to happen. New York has two receivers who act as number one but thrive as a number two or three, meaning there needs to be a top explosive target in New York if that makes sense. Devonta Smith comes to mind, he can go deep down the field but can also run routes with speed and could last till the Giants pick at 11th overall. An edge rusher or corner is also in play here but a true playmaking wide receiver has the best chance of being there at eleven.
Final Record: 6-10 (2nd in NFC East)
Atlanta Falcons(4-12) AT Tampa Bay Buccaneers(11-5)
Atlanta needs a lot of upgrades
Antonio Brown will be a playoff key yet again
Tampa Bay punches a ticket to the playoffs with a 44-27 win.
Many members of the Falcons have their future in jeopardy, Matt Ryan may not be a starter for long or at all next year, Julio Jones has trade rumors swirling him, and Todd Gurley played poorly this year. The defense showed games of promise against the Raiders and Chiefs, but it's more offensive upgrades this team needs. A Julio Jones replacement or a QB would be the most predicted selection, but if the Oregon tackle is there then he might be a great pick-up.
Final Record: 4-12 (4th in NFC South)
Antonio Brown has been a big reason for the Steelers' past playoff success and high point total. He came up big for Brady and the Buccs when Mike Evans left the game due to a hyperextended knee, Brown tallied 11 catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns and his best game of this year. Tampa Bay plays the winner of the NFC East, it should be a fair game for Brown and company.
AT Washington Sat, 1/9/21 4:15 pm (Final Record: 11-5; 2nd in NFC South)
New Orleans Saints(12-4) AT Carolina Panthers(5-11)
New Orleans needs Micheal Thomas back
Robby Anderson wasn't used much this season
The Saint end up with the two seed in the NFC playoff bracket after a 33-7 win.
Without Alvin Kamara for Wild Card weekend so far, Micheal Thomas is a big get-back for a Saints team who struggles to find a primary target without Thomas or Alvin. Whoever the Saints' QB has been, they have found different targets due to the absence of Micheal Thomas, but without Kamara, this will be an issue, hence the need for Thomas back in the building.
Next Game: VS Bears Sun, 1/10/21 12:40 pm (Final Record: 12-4; 1st in NFC South)
Robby Anderson was a big offseason pickup for the Panthers, but he only touched 100 yards three times and they were in three of the first five games. Anderson finished the 2020-2021 season with 95 catches for 1096 yards and three touchdowns. He averaged 68.5 yards per game and 5.9 catches per game. Robby had multiple dry games and he didn't catch a lot of passes, four drops and a fumble do not amount to the number of passes he was missed on.
Final Record: 5-11 (3rd in NFC South)
Tennessee Titans(11-5) AT Houston Texans(4-12)
Tennessee needs secondary help
Having no first-round pick is extremely unfavorable
Tenessee won the AFC South 41-38 on a doinked kick as time expired.
Malcolm Butler has the most overrated career in NFL history and is proving to be a weak link in the secondary along with fellow cornerback Adoree' Jackson. Jackson only played four games in 2020 and he surrendered seven completions on eight targets, two touchdowns, and 61 yards. Butler gave up 773 yards and four touchdowns on 115 targets while allowing 73 completions. The Tennessee CB situation should be addressed and it might be worth noting that Butler is 30 years of age.
Next Game: VS Ravens Sun, 1/10/21 9:05 am (Final Record: 11-5; 1st in AFC South)
After a gutsy performance by the Houston Texans, it showed they weren't going to give up, but when your leading receiver is a player who has a history with concussions and isn't the most diverse, maybe you should have. Houston desperately needs many positions, like an offensive lineman, a receiver to replace DeAndre Hopkins, or a running back. But first, they need a new head coach and general manager, so it safe to say that the 2021 season won't start too great.
Final Record: 4-12 (3rd in AFC South)
Jacksonville Jaguars(1-15) AT Indianapolis Colts(11-5)
Jaguars have an interesting and hectic offseason ahead
The Colts are Taylor-made
The Colts ride a horse into the playoffs by a score of 28-14.
Jacksonville has fired head coach Doug Marrone, they also have three quarterbacks that have been playing and the first overall pick in this years draft, very interesting indeed. Urban Myer is a top choice for the Jags head coaching job, he has been in retirement for a few years. Jacksonville also needs to decide how they will navigate free agency. This team will be one to watch throughout the entirety of the offseason.
Final Record: 1-15 (4th in the AFC South)
I know I've used Jonathan Taylor a lot as a takeaway, but how could I not, he has been killing it in the late season. Taylor rushed for 250 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Jonathan Taylor has slated himself for the starting role next year and will need to remain on his game for next week's Wild Card matchup against the second seed. Taylor is vital for the Colts' success throughout the upcoming years.
Next Game: AT Buffalo Sat, 1/9/21 9:05 am (Final Record: 11-5; 2nd in AFC South)
Los Angeles Chargers(7-9) AT Kansas City Chiefs(14-2)
Time to build around Herbert
This loss means nothing for KC
Justin Herbert breaks almost every single rookie record in a 38-21 route over a division rival.
Justin Herbert is the greatest rookie quarterback of all-time, now it's time to assemble him a team. He already has a pretty great start, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Justin Jackson, Austin Ekeler, and Hunter Henry is a great offense, but is it enough? Los Angeles lost many close games last year, was it because of their defense or just the offense wasn't making plays? All that needs to be said right now is that the Chargers need a new head coach and a new mind in that offense, someone that will coach to the talent of Herbert.
Final Record: 7-9 (3rd in AFC West)
Since the Cheifs already wrapped up the first-round bye there was no need for them to start their star players. Some fans might be upset but the regular and knowable fans know this game meant nothing but overall standings. Kansas City remains favorites to win the Super Bowl and favorites to win anything else that is winnable.
Next Week: BYE (Final Record: 14-2; 1st in AFC West)
Las Vegas Raiders(8-8) AT Denver Broncos(5-11)
Raiders need linebacker or lineman
Denver should be looking at lineman
Las Vegas beats Denver in the final seconds 32-31.
The Raiders began their offseason on Monday, the draft prep is underway. Las Vegas has two big needs, LB and OL, they mainly need a lineman. When they usually draft a lineman in the first round it usually doesn't work out, but this year's class is kind of deep. An offensive tackle would be ideal, but an interior lineman wouldn't be bad, better lanes for Josh Jacobs.
Final Record: 8-8 (2nd AFC West)
Like the Raiders, Denver needs a lineman, maybe two or three. They are one of the most penalized lines in the league, plus it would be nice to get some road graders in there. Denver tried to run the ball but not very often is there a lane there, the backs have to put extra work in and squeeze through. Drew Lock was sacked 19 times, he played 13 games. It makes sense if you watch the actual line play.
Final record: 5-11 (4th in AFC West)
Arizona Cardinals(8-8) AT Los Angeles Rams(10-6)
Time to replace Larry Fitzgerald
A team without Goff is not a good one
In what was likely Larry legend's last game, the Rams crushed Arizona's playoff hopes with an 18-7 victory.
Larry Fitzgerald is considering retirement, and when a player takes a long time to decide, it usually ends up in him stepping away from the game. This will be a major loss for the Cardinals on and off the field, a secure presence and a reliable player leaving any organization will take a toll on any QB. Larry had a HOF career and should be a first ballot, but either in free agency or through the draft, a receiver should be picked up.
Final Record: 8-8 (3rd in NFC West)
The Rams might be without quarterback Jared Goff for their Wild Card game against the Seahawks, not ideal. Without Goff, the Rams scored 18 points and turned the ball over twice, one turnover resulted in a safety. Jared is a comfort to players and a smart player, he has experience in the playoffs and can handle the pressure. L.A has already beat Seattle this year, the two division rivals will go at it on Saturday.
Next Game: AT Seattle Sat, 1/9/21 12:40 pm (Final Record: 10-6; 2nd in NFC West)
Seattle Seahawks(12-4) AT San Fransisco 49ers(6-10)
Seattle has a variety of rushers
Getting a quarterback in any way is helpful
Seattle battles till the end with a week 17 26-23 final.
With Rashaad Penny coming back and Alex Collins making his way back to an NFL team, the Seahawks quickly gave themselves many forms of running. Russell Wilson can run and obviously, there is Chris Carson, no back should really get overly tired, Seattle is still missing Travis Homer and Deejay Dallas. Different types of backs will be useful against a tough Rams defense.
Next Game: VS Rams Sat, 1/9/21 12:40 pm (Final Record: 12-4; 1t in NFC West)
It's time for a new era in San Fransisco and it would be nice if that era could begin with a quarterback via draft or trade. With the 49ers holding the 12th overall pick, they could draft Trey Lance or possibly even Zach Wilson. Jimmy G can't seem to stay healthy and is getting older, and C.J. Bethard or Nick Mullens is not the future. There needs to be a QB with a higher ceiling and level of talent in the locker room.
Final Record: 6-10 (4th in NFC West)
Greeny Bay Packers(13-3) AT Chicago Bears(8-8)
Packers will struggle without David Bakhtiari
Chicago should bank on the run game and Mooney
Green Bay completes the sweep of Chicago by a 35-16 final.
With an ACL tear, Green Bay's Pro Bowl left tackle will not be apart of the team during their playoff run. The Packers will still have a good line but missing a player like Bakhtiari will show, the pass protection will surely decrease. Against the Bears, there was a total of 79 rushing yards on 19 attempts, Aaron Jones had 42 yards. If the Packers play pretty much any team that is in their playoff bracket, it will be hard for the Packers left side to keep up.
Next Week: BYE (Final Record: 13-3; 1st in NFC North)
The Bears are matched up against an alright pass defense and a pretty good defensive line, and they don't have many explosive players. The Saints will focus on Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney but Mooney is known for catching the long ball, Montgomery will be a big part of the offense through the air and on the ground, he will be utilized.
Next Game: AT Saints Sun, 1/10/21 12:40 pm (Final Record: 8-8; 2nd in NFC North)
Washington Football Team(7-9) AT Philadelphia Eagles(4-11-1)
Alex Smith balances this team
Philly is a mess
Washington becomes the first team with a losing record to win a division since the 2010 Seahawks; beats Eagles 20-14 on the final Sunday night game of the season.
Alex Smith has been the savior of the Football Team, since being named the starter in week 9, he has gone 5-2. Smith brings this offense all together and makes the most of it with what little they have, players have also stepped up. This upcoming playoff game will tell where Washington stands and what they need upgrades on.
Next Game: AT Tampa Bay Sat, 1/9/21 4:15 pm (Final Record: 7-9; 1st in NFC East)
Doug Pederson made a call on Sunday night that outraged not only the team but the entire NFL community, benching Jalen Hurts. Jalen was unhappy about his benching and running back Miles Sanders said, 'nobody liked the decision' to bench Hurts: 'All I know is that a lot of people on the team was confused'. That basically sums up the year for the Eagles. No expected major changes coming to the Eagles beside them moving on from Carson Wentz.
Final Record: 4-11-1 (4th in NFC East)