After a crazy NFL season, week 17 determined the fates of many teams, players and coaches for both 2015 and 2016. So here are 10 things that we now know, in no particular order, since the regular season is over:
Playoffs are set
Now that the Vikings defeated the Packers on Sunday night, the final playoff seedings have been set.
In the AFC the Broncos secured the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the Playoffs while the Pats secured the #2 spot, meaning that they both receive first round byes. The wild card games will feature the #5 Chiefs, who are on a 10 game winning streak, at the #4 Texans and an AFC North battle when the #6 Steelers travel Ohio to face the #3 Bengals.
The NFC sees the #1 seed Panthers and the #2 seed Cardinals receive first round byes, with the former earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The wild card games will feature the #6 Seahawks traveling to Minnesota to play the #3 Vikings while the #5 Packers visit the Nation’s capitol to play the #4 Redskins.
Same old Jets
Coach Todd Bowles brought a new culture and attitude to Team Green and things looked promising after a week 16 win over the Patriots. All they needed to do was beat the Bills in Buffalo and they were off to the playoffs. But then Fitzpatrick came back down to earth, threw 3 picks, and the Jets lost 22-17, ending a good season for the Jets and extending the season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Terrible Towel lives for another week
After the Steelers beat the Browns 28-12, they had to wait to see if the Bills could stop the Jets on Team Green’s final drive. They only had to wait a few short minutes as Fitzpatrick threw his third pick to end the game, which means Steeler Nation could rejoice and get ready for their first round opponent, who would end up being the Bengals. The offense was unstoppable and the defense looked much better than last week, but the only question mark is at the running back spot, where super-sub DeAngelo Williams left the game early on with an ankle injury. His status for next week is unknown but the way the Steelers have been looking lately, most feel that this is the team other should fear playing.
The Vikings conquer
One of the best feelings in sports is when you finally conquer your nemesis; think Jordan vs. Pistons and you’ll understand. For the Vikings, their Detroit Pistons were the Green Bay Packers. Well this evening they finally vanquished their long time foe, beating the Packers 20-13 and taking the NFC North crown. With Adrian Peterson looking like his old self, Teddy Bridgewater maturing and the defense doing their best “Purple People Eaters” imitation, the Vikes are rolling into the Playoffs on a high note.
The Browns are still the Browns
The Johnny Manziel experiment in Cleveland has failed. What a surprise….not. Smarter NFL fans could feel this was a mistake from jump, and after two years, these instincts were proven correct. Manziel was allegedly in Vegas, missed the week 17 game and now is rumored to want to play in Dallas. Add all of this to a team that finished 3-13, didn’t get the #1 pick and now needs a new coach and GM and all you can say is “it’s the Browns.”
Seahawks deliver a message
The Seahawks absolutely demolished the hometown Arizona Cardinals, 36-6. Granted head coach Bruce Arians realized there wasn’t much to play for after the Panthers clinched home field advantage, but the Seahawks dominated the game from start to finish, sending a message to the rest of the NFL that the should-be back-to-back Super Bowl Champs were back and not playing around.
Patriots are banged up
The Patriots were already banged up, with injuries to Julian Edelman and to what seems like the entire offensive line, the Patriots now have to worry about their star QB who was injured on a hit by Ndamukong Suh in yesterday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Washington is in
Who would have thought that the Redskins would have won the NFC East or make the playoffs after the RGIII-Cousins debate to start the season. Even fans from the Nation’s Capitol are shocked, but happy (of course). Cousins has found a groove that most didn’t expect, and his arm has lead the team into a first round match-up against the Packers. Now the team’s single season passing record leader gets a chance to showcase his skills against last year’s League MVP, Aaron Rodgers, and provide more evidence that he deserves the trademark he applied for on the phrase “You Like That!”
Black Monday arrived a day early
A few NFL teams didn’t wait until “Black Monday” to make personnel changes. The 49ers fired first year head coach Jim Tomsula, the Browns fired both head coach Pettine and GM Ray Farmer and today Coach Tom Coughlin announced that he and the Giants are parting ways after 12 years. The Eagles had already fired Chip Kelly last week, so that means four coaching positions are currently open. But other coaches are on the hot seat or under scrutiny, including the Lions’ Jim Caldwell, the Colts’ Chuck Pagano, Dan Campbell of the Dolphins, the Titans’ Mike Mularkey and the Saints’ Sean Peyton.
We now know the top 20 picks in the NFL draft, with the first five picks going to the Titans, Browns, Chargers, Cowboys and Jaguars. The Browns have hinted at drafting a QB but we’ll see what happens.