NFL Week Eighteen Recap

NFL Week Eighteen Recap

The 2021 NFL regular season is over, and the 14 playoff teams have been seeded. One team gift wrapped their playoff berth and gave it to another team while other teams fought their way into the postseason, perhaps poised to go on a playoff run towards Super Bowl LVI. Here is a recap of every NFL Week eighteen game as the lowly teams are out and the playoffs are ready to begin!

Kansas City 28 (12-5), Denver 24 (7-10):  The Broncos did all they could on Sunday to slow down KC’s offense, but it was the Denver offense who in the end cost them the game.  While nursing a lead, RB Melvin Gordon was bulldozed in the Broncos’ backfield, coughing up the ball deep in KC territory … second later their AFC West foes had an 85-yard TD and the lead.  Denver head coach Vic Fangio kicked a FG down by seven on a fourth-and-nine play to close to within four, but never had the chance to win the game after that. Denver’s head coach was fired Sunday and KC, with the win, kept his hopes of moving to the top of the AFC Playoff bracket with the win.

The hosting Broncos are not playing for anything other than pride on Saturday afternoon when they host Kansas City while their AFC West visitors are hoping to move back into the top spot in the conference’s playoff seeding.  To do that, KC will need to win and hope that Tennessee loses on Sunday.  With motivations on an uneven level, it is no surprise that KC is a 10-point favorite heading into this game, just as there is less surprise that 5-in-6 bettors was laying the points and taking the AFC West champs to add one more win to their 2021 record.  I agree with them since I foresee KC putting this game away early.  KC -10.

Dallas 51 (12-5), Philadelphia (9-8):  The Cowboys went to Philadelphia looking to find some confidence for their offense; and with the hosting Eagles struggling to find enough secondary players due to injury and Covid, Dallas posted 37 points in the game’s first three quarters.  The win keeps Dallas in play to move up in the NFC Playoff Bracket while the loss finishes a season where Philadelphia never defeated a team with a winning record, going 0-8 in those games as they head to the postseason as a Wild-Card.

Minnesota 31 (8-9), Chicago 17 (6-11):  A 21-0 fourth quarter gave the Vikings a too-little, too-late win in this NFC North contest.  Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins tossed three TD passes in the second half after being held to three points in the first half.  Bears’ fans saw QB Andy Dalton toss on TD pass and two INTs during a lackluster performance in what should be his final game for the team.  The future of these franchises will take a big step forward or backwards this offseason and they look to build their rosters and decide who is and isn’t a part of their team in 2022 and beyond.

Detroit 37 (3-13-1), Green Bay 30 (13-3):  Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers kept himself sharp before his team has their playoff bye week while the Lions, with the win, cost themselves the top overall pick in this spring’s NFL Draft with the win.  The game meant nothing to the NFC Playoff bracket and, despite the loss, Green Bay looks like the team to beat with Lambeau Field being the place teams need to go in order to reach the Super Bowl.

Jacksonville 26 (3-14), Indianapolis 11 (9-8):  The Jaguars threw the AFC Playoffs into chaos with their shocking upset win over the Colts in this game.  Last year’s first overall pick Trevor Lawrence showed why he was the first quarterback taken by showing poise in this game, jumping out in front of the Colts, and never taking his foot off the gas pedal.  While the win didn’t cost Jacksonville the first overall pick in this year’s draft, the Jags gave hope to both the Steelers and Ravens that they could make the AFC postseason with a win. 

Pittsburgh 16 (9-7-1), Baltimore 13 (8-9) OT:  The Swan Song for one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks went to overtime in this game as Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger need an extra eight minutes to send the Ravens into the offseason with a six-game losing streak.  With the Colts losing quickly on Sunday, both these teams knew a win gave them playoff life while knowing a tie would cost them both a chance to play in the postseason.  As for Baltimore, the season started falling apart weeks ago with John Harbaugh never able to put things back together as the team slid completely out of the AFC Playoffs and down to a tie for third in the division in a bad season.

Cleveland 21 (8-9), Cincinnati 16 (10-7):  The Brows froze the Bengals in the AFC Playoff picture, with Cincinnati looking at falling to the fourth seed with a win by either Buffalo or New England, whichever wins the AFC East.  Based upon the fact that the Bengals left Joe Burrow back in Cincy it is clear they didn’t care who they played or what seed they had in the postseason next week since they already knew they had a home playoff game clinched.  As rumors that QB Baker Mayfield may ask to be traded in the final year of his rookie deal, who will be behind center for the Cleveland Browns next year will be fodder for offseason conversation … as for the division, it will be up to the Cincinnati Bengals to be at least one of the teams to carry the flag for the AFC North.

Tennessee 28 (12-5), Houston 25 (4-13):  A 21-0 second quarter gave the Titans huge lead at the half, but, to their credit, the Texans never stopped playing, forcing Ryan Tannehill to add a fourth TD pass to give Tennessee a lead they never gave up.  The win moved the Titans back into the top spot in the AFC’s Playoff Picture, returning Kansas City back to the second spot.  David Mills gave Houston fans something to look forward to next season by ending this year with 301 passing yards and three TD passes against one of the best defenses in the NFL this season.  Now, Houston can start building their draft board while Tennessee has a bye week as the NFL Playoffs begin.

Washington 22 (7-10), NY Giants 7 (4-13):  Only one of these NFC East teams showed up for this season finale, and it was the visitors from Washington, who dominated the dead-men-walking Giants from start to finish.  Head coach Ron Rivera showed why Washington (insert new name here) has a future once they find a quarterback and New York needs to clean house, starting with the sidelines and continuing with the front office, where the general manager is expected to retire rather than be fired.  Washington is the third best team in the division this year; but if they can find a quarterback this offseason, I expect them to compete for the NFC East title next season.

Tampa Bay 41 (13-4), Carolina 17 (5-12):  A 24-7 fourth quarter outburst helped Tampa Bay fans and bettors take a deep breath and relax in this game as Tom Brady ended his day with 326 passing yards and three TDs.  The Sam Darnold-led Panthers stayed close to the reigning Super Bowl champs through three quarters, with the former Jets adding his second TD pass in the fourth quarter; but Carolina’s talent shortfall showing when the Buccaneers decided to turn it on. 

Buffalo 27 (11-6), NY Jets 10 (4-13):  There was no backing into the postseason for the Bills in this game as the AFC East champs used a 14-0 fourth quarter to break open a three-point game and secure the division title.  Buffalo QB Josh Allen battled 20+ MPH winds to throw for 239 yards and two TDs against the last place Jets and added 63 rushing yards against New York’s defense.  With Cincinnati losing, the Bills are the third seed in the AFC and will host the winner of the Chargers/Raiders game.

Miami 33 (9-8), New England 24 (10-7):  A pick-six of Patriots QB Mac Jones gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and on the game’s final play of the day, Jones fumbled, providing another six points for Miami.  In between these two teams fought to a virtual draw with two turnovers making the difference and allowing Miami to spoil the hopes of New England winning the AFC East as the Dolphins try to build on one of the craziest seasons in NFL history.  The lost means the Patriots are a Wild-Card team after the Jets fell to the Bills in Buffalo.  The Patriots end the season as the AFC’s fifth seed and earned a trip to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. 

New Orleans 30 (9-8), Atlanta 20 (7-10):  Once again, when facing a team with a slightly above average level of talent, the Falcons folded like a cheap suit.  Without franchise owner Arthur Blank, who missed his first game since purchases the Falcons, the Saints, with two quarterbacks, ran rough shot over Atlanta on their home field, leaving little doubt which of these NFC South teams is better.  I doubt having Jameis Winston would have improved the Saints record much this season, but even if he helped New Orleans win one or two more games, this team could have contended for the division title this season.  I wonder who will be behind center for the team next season?  As for the Atlanta Falcons, the talent cupboard is almost bare, and going 7-10 in a year with few quality QBs in the draft means this team will have more time to build a roster … they will just need to do it from the middle of this year’s NFL Draft.

San Francisco 27 (10-7), LA Rams 24 (12-5):  The vaunted Rams defense coughed up a 17-0 lead in this game as they watched the 49ers break the ice with a late first half FG and two third quarter TDs to tie the game.  After the teams swapped TDs to send the game to overtime, it was the ‘Niners who put a FG on the board in overtime, which was enough to win and secure a playoff spot and the NFC’s sixth seed.  San Francisco will travel to Tampa Bay for Wild-Card weekend.

Seattle 38 (7-10), Arizona 30 (11-6):  The good news is it appears the Cardinals will enter the NFC Playoffs with their offense playing well; the bad news is that they will only be a Wild-Card team as the end of their season wasn’t quite as good as the start.  That as word that Pete Carroll might be out as Seattle’s head coach and the Seahawks rallied with 14 fourth quarter points to defeat the Cardinals in the desert.  Russell Wilson tossed three TDs passes in what could have been his last game as Seahawks’ QB if he requests a trade again and the franchise is looking to blow things up and rebuild this offseason.  Arizona now has a date with Cowboys in a rematch of a game the Cardinals won just two weeks ago.

Las Vegas 35 (10-7), LA Chargers 32 (9-8):  With social media speculating that these two AFC West rivals would play for a tie, allowing both teams to reach the playoffs, the Chargers scored the game’s last 15 points, including a game-tying touchdown with 0:00 on the clock to send the contest to overtime. Both teams then went on to kick overtime FGs to add to the drama in Pittsburgh since a tie would keep the Steelers out of the postseason.  With just two seconds on the clock, the Silver and Black made the Black and Gold happy with a game-winning FG, sending the Chargers home and Las Vegas and Pittsburgh to the 2021 NFL Playoffs. 

 

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