With regular season concluded and the Playoffs in sight, let’s take a quick look at Week 17 to see how we got here.
Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals fell short of their first 12 win season in franchise history on Sunday. Offensively, quarterback Ryan Lindley’s three interceptions (two in the second half) hindered any hope for a victory. Backing into the Playoffs: The Cardinals have lost 4 of their last 6 games headed into the playoffs.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons ended their disappointing season by getting blown out at home by the Panthers on Sunday. Quarterback Matt Ryan was intercepted twice ….both were returned for touchdowns. Moving on: Head coach Mike Smith was relieved of his duties on Monday so the search for a new coach begins in Atlanta.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens squeaked into the playoffs on Sunday thanks to barely getting past a terrible Browns team and receiving a late Christmas gift from Kansas City who knocked out the Chargers. A tale of Smoke and Mirrors: The Ravens won 5 of their last 7 games…all against non-playoff teams. How did the Ravens do against playoff teams this year? 2-4……Yikes!
Buffalo Bills: The Bills finished their first winning season in 10 years with a rare win over the Patriots in Foxboro. Strong Defensive Performance: In 3 of the last 4 games, the Bills held Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers to zero touchdown passes combined.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers defense came scored two defensive touchdowns on their way to blowing out the Falcons and capturing the NFC South Division Title. It’s about time: The Carolina Panthers became the first team to repeat as NFC South Division Champions since that division was formed.
Chicago Bears: Somehow, Jay Cutler didn’t turn the ball over on Sunday…but the Bears offense made up for it by not scoring any touchdowns either. A forgettable end to a forgettable season for Chicago who fired their head coach and GM on Monday.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals secured the 5th seed in AFC playoffs when Andy Dalton threw an interception late in the fourth quarter on a drive where the Bengals could have taken the lead and the win. Bad Andy: Dalton has had more touchdowns (7) than touchdowns (6) when throwing to AJ Green this season. YUCK!
Cleveland Browns: Mercifully, the Browns’ season is over. However, questions about the future at QB will be swirling around Cleveland all offseason. Hoyer is a free agent and Conner Shaw’s stats are better than Johnny Manziel’s. Someone get this franchise a Milk Bone…WOOF!
Dallas Cowboys: In a game that really didn’t mean much to the Cowboys, Dallas forced four turnovers and steamrolled the Redskins. December to Remember: The Cowboys had a rare 4-0 finish in December with Romo at quarterback.
Denver Broncos: Nothing cures a struggling offense than a home game against the Raiders. With their blowout win over Oakland on Sunday, the Broncos clinched a first round bye in the playoffs. Who is that? Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler threw his first TD pass for the Broncos on Sunday….He was the first Denver QB not named “Peyton Manning” to throw a touchdown pass in the regular season since….Dare we say it….Tim Tebow.
Detroit Lions: With the loss at Green Bay on Sunday, the Lions punched their ticket to Dallas for next week’s Wildcard Playoff game. The Raiola Effect: The league reviewed Ndamukong Suh’s leg stomp of Aaron Rodgers and, as expected, Suh will be suspended for next week’s playoff game.
Green Bay Packers: After leaving the game in the second quarter due to a leg injury, Aaron Rodgers returned in the third quarter to lead the Packers past the Lions and to Green Bay’s fourth straight NFC North title. Injury Watch: Aaron Rodgers’ mobility was severely affected by his injured calf. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the Packers in the playoffs.
Houston Texans: JJ Watt did everything possible (three sacks, a safety, force fumble) to help the Texans get by the Jaguars on Sunday but it was not enough to propel the Texans to the playoffs. MVP Watch: With his three sacks on Sunday, JJ Watt became the first NFL player to record multiple 20 sack seasons.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts bounce back from last week’s loss by dominating the hapless Tennessee Titans. Defensively, Indianapolis held Tennessee to 50 net yards passing. Goodbye to the Past: On Sunday, Andrew Luck broke Peyton Manning’s franchise single season yardage record.
Jacksonville Jaguars: With the third pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, quarterback Blake Bortles has to be wishing for some help on the offensive side of the ball.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs did their part by beating San Diego but the other playoff dominoes didn’t fall their way…Now Andy Reid has the entire offseason to eat cheeseburgers.
Miami Dolphins: An embarrassing home loss to the Jets was punctuated by Ryan Tannehill getting sacked 7 times, WR Mike Wallace quitting on his team by half time, and surrendering a perfect quarterback rating to Geno Smith (Yes. That Geno Smith). Not sure what Stephen Ross sees in Coach Joe Philbin but it seems that back to back 8-8 seasons is the most sustained success that the Dolphins have had since Ross bought the Dolphins.
Minnesota Vikings: Teddy Bridgewater threw a 44 yard go ahead touchdown to finish off the Bears on Sunday. Though the Vikings are not going to the playoffs, they went 3-2 to close out the season (and lost those two games by a combine 4 points) and have a promising future.
New England Patriots: Having secured the top AFC Playoff Seed in Week 16, the Patriots rested many key players and essentially treated the game against Buffalo as preseason game. Second Half Adjustments: The Patriots held their sixth straight opponent without a second half touchdown.
New Orleans Saints: In a meaningless game to close out the season, the Saints scored16 points in the fourth quarter to rally past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dome Field Advantage? The Saints finished the 2014 with a 3-5 record at home while going 4-4 on the road.
New York Giants: Despite putting up 505 yards of offense, poor defense, 106 yards in penalties, and terrible special teams play landed the Giants in the loss column once again.
New York Jets: The Jets closed out Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach by pummeling Ryan Tannehill and the lifeless Dolphins all afternoon long. Geno Smith even got into the act and shredded the Dolphins secondary for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Oakland Raiders: Not the way that the Raiders wanted to end the season but with Derek Carr at quarterback, the Raiders might actually have a less then bleak future.
Philadelphia Eagles: A decent showing from Mark Sanchez along with another special teams touchdown led the Eagles past the Giants on Sunday. Having lost 3 of their last 4, the Eagles can only imagine what could have been if they ended the season a little differently.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers flew past the mistake prone Bengals on Sunday night and secured the AFC North Division crown. Though the victory proved to be costly as RB Le’Veon Bell hyperextended his knee which puts his availability this weekend against the Raven in question.
St Louis Rams: After showing some life in late November, the Rams closed out their 2014 campaign by losing three games in a row.
San Diego Chargers: Win and they were in……but they lost. Ooops.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers closed out the Harbaugh era with a victory over the quarterback challenged Cardinals. Jim Harbaugh was let go almost immediately after the game ended.
Seattle Seahawks: After trailing 60 at halftime, the Seahawks took control of the game in the second have and secured the number 1 seed in the NFC playoffs in the process. Defense Defense Defense: Seattle held 5 of their last 6 opponents to 10 points or less.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In typical Lovie fashion, the Bucs almost blew getting the first pick in the 2015 Draft….Luckily, the Bucs turned it around and played solid “LovieBall” in
the 4th quarter and blew a 13 point lead. TAMPA BAY IS ON THE CLOCK!
Tennessee Titans: The Titans lost their 10th straight game and finished with their worst regular season record since 1994.
Washington Redskins: Three Robert Griffin III turnovers seemed to be the perfect ending to an imperfect season for the Redskins. Washington finished the 2014 season losing 7 of their last 8 games.
I hope all of you enjoyed this series of articles this year. With any luck, they will continue, in some form or fashion, next regular season.
P.S. Vote for CK and GO PATRIOTS!