Week 17 of the NFL is the grand finale. With the season ending this weekend, the final playoff positions are set.
(1)Denver 34 Oakland 14 – In a game that was never close, Denver locked down the top seed in the AFC by routing the Raiders. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning set 2 NFL records: He finished the season with 55 passing touchdowns, which broke the 50 record set by Tom Brady and threw for 5,477 yards, which beats the record of 5,476 set by Drew Brees in 2011. Manning finished the game going 25-28 for 266 yards and 4 touchdowns while Terrelle Pryor went 21-38 for 207 yards with 2 touchdowns. Demaryius Thomas continues to be the hot man for Manning by hauling all 6 passes thrown his way for 113 yards and 2 touchdowns. Denver will host the worst seed of the teams who advance to the divisional round. Oakland gets to watch at home.
(2)New England 34 Buffalo 20 – Despite horrible weather, the New England Patriots are seeing bright skies as they defeated Buffalo and will keep the 2nd seed. Buffalo was able to keep the game close until the end. With the weather being very wet, the game was dictated by the runners more so than the throwers. The Patriots were led by Tom Brady. Brady finished 14-24 for 122 yards with a touchdown and interception. LeGarrette Blount ran 24 times for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns. For Buffalo, Thad Lewis went 16-29 for 247 yards with a touchdown while CJ Spiller ran 19 times for 105 yards. New England will play the best seed that moves on to the divisional round while Buffalo stays home.
(3)Cincinnati 34 Baltimore 17 – Baltimore needed a win or a lot of help to make the playoffs. Obviously, a win would be much easier, but it was not meant to be as the Bengals cement their place in the playoffs as the 3rd seed. Despite falling behind 6-0, Cincinnati got their act together and controlled most of the game. Andy Dalton led the Bengals by going 21-36 for 281 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Joe Flacco finished 30-50 for 192 yards with a touchdown and 3 interceptions for the Ravens. The last interception was returned for a touchdown by Dre Kirkpatrick, which was the final score of the game. Cincinnati will open the playoffs at home again San Diego while Baltimore has been eliminated from contention.
(4)Indianpolis 30 Jacksonville 10 – In a game that was never close, Indianapolis did a good job preparing for the playoffs by dispatching the Jaguars. Andrew Luck led the Colts by going 26-37 for 282 yards and a touchdown while Chad Henne went 30-51 for 331 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It’s worth nothing that Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri just broke 2000 points in his career after going 3/3 in his field goals and 3/3 in extra points.. Indianapolis will be the 4th seed in the AFC and host Kansas City while Jacksonville will be preparing for the draft.
(6)San Diego 27 (5)Kansas City 24(OT) – Kansas City had nothing to play for, but San Diego sure did. The Chiefs sat a number of their starters, including quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and pretty much the entire defense. Kansas City still played themselves into a position to win the game. What looked like to be an easy kick to the game for Kansas City was missed and sent this game into overtime. San Diego pulled out the stops with a fake punt to keep their drive alive and win the game. Phillip Rivers went 22-33 for 229 yards with 3 touchdowns and an interception while Ryan Mathews added 144 yards on 24 carries. For the Chiefs, backup quarterback Chase Daniel went 21-30 for 200 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City is the 5th seed and will play at Indianapolis while San Diego takes the 6th seed and will play at Cincinnati.
New York Jets 20 Miami 7 – Two weeks ago, Miami was in control of their playoff destiny. All they had to do was win their last two games. Fast forward to today and there will be no playoffs for the Dolphins. Miami was hampered with 3 turnovers to shut the door on their season. For the Jets, Geno Smith went 17-27 for 190 yards and no turnovers. Ryan Tannehill finished 20-40 for 204 yards with a touchdown and 3 interceptions. It’s a disappointing ending for Miami, who made a big free agent splash this past offseason. Both the Jets and Dolphins finish 8-8 and will be watching the playoffs at home.
Pittsburgh 20 Cleveland 7 – In a must win situation for Pittsburgh, they were able to stop Cleveland when it mattered to win and stay alive in the playoff hunt at the time. The Browns looked like a team that was ready for the season to end as Cleveland tried to convert 4th down on 3 occasions and failed each time. Statistically, the two teams were even, but the failed conversions made the difference. For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger went 19-31 for 179 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions while Jason Campbell went 23-41 for 240 yards with a touchdown and an interception. With San Diego coming back and winning in overtime, the Steelers have been eliminated from playoff contention. To not be outdone, Cleveland decided to fire their coach a mere hours after the game.
(1)Seattle 27 St Louis 9 – In a physically tough game with plenty of penalties, Seattle locks up the top spot in the NFC with a win over the Rams. Seattle was led by Russell Wilson, who went 15-23 for 172 yards with a touchdown while Kellen Clemens went 21-30 for 157 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions. Clemens was pretty much the whole offense as the leading rusher for the Rams, Zac Stacy, had only 15 yards on 15 carries. While the Rams finish 7-9 and won’t have the best draft spot, they will be getting Washington’s, who had one of the worst records in the league. Seattle gets a bye and will host the worst remaining team in the divisional round.
(2)Carolina 21 Atlanta 20 – It was a close game, but Carolina made sure they have a bye week in the playoffs as they hold off Atlanta. Carolina is in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Cam Newton went 15-27 for 149 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Matt Ryan went 28-40 for 280 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Ryan was constantly getting hit as he was sacked 9 times. Carolina has the 2nd seed locked up while Atlanta’s awful season is over. With the 2nd seed, Carolina will have a by and host the best remaining team in the divisional round.
(3)Philadelphia 24 Dallas 22 – Somewhere, some fan is claiming that this Dallas loss is Tony Romo’s fault. Starting for the injured Romo, Kyle Orton put together a valiant game that fell just short and gives Philadelphia the NFC East title. In the losing effort, Orton went 30-46 for 358 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, the last of which was the nail in the coffin. With no running game to fall back on, Orton had to carry the team on his own. Jason Witten and Dez Bryant benefited as Witten caught 12 balls for 135 yards and Bryant caught 8 for 99 yards and a touchdown. Philadelphia was much more balanced. Nick Foles went 17-26 for 263 yards with 2 touchdowns while LeSean McCoy ran 27 times for 131 yards. This was a winner take all game. Philadelphia wins the NFC East and the 3rd seed in the playoffs while Dallas misses the postseason. The Eagles will host New Orleans.
(4)Green Bay 33 Chicago 28 – In a winner take all game for the NFC North, the Packers came back to win the game and the division. Playing for the first in a couple of months, Aaron Rodgers made a huge difference. Chicago climbed to as much as an 8 point lead early in the 4th quarter, but Green Bay came back and took the lead for good on a 4th down pass from Rodgers to Randall Cobb, their 2nd touchdown connection of the day. Rodgers finished 25-39 for 318 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Jordy Nelson was on fire, catching 10 passes from Rodgers for 161 yards. For Chicago, Jay Cutler went 15-24 for 226 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Matt Forte added 110 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground on 22 carries. With the win, Green Bay wins the NFC North and the 4th seed. They will be hosting San Francisco. Since Chicago lost, they are eliminated from making the postseason.
(5)San Francisco 23 Arizona 20 – It took until the final play, but San Francisco escaped with a win against a very pesky Arizona team. Arizona outgained San Francisco 482-375, but the 49ers played turnover free football to neutralize the yardage disparity. For San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick finished 21-34 for 310 yards and 2 touchdowns while Carson Palmer was 28-49 for 407 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. Surprisingly, Frank Gore was ineffective, averaging a paltry 1.1 yards per rushing attempt. Former Cardinal Anquan Boldin squared off against his former team in Glendale for the first time ever and he and former teammate Larry Fitzgerald had a great duel. Boldin had 9 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Niners while Fitzgerald had 6 catches for 113 yards for the Cards. Arizona finishes the season at 10-6, but will not be going to the playoffs. San Francisco locks up the 5th seed and will play at Green Bay.
(6)New Orleans Tampa Bay – In a game where the Saints were nearly flawless, New Orleans locked up the last playoff spot while sending Tampa Bay home for the offseason. Drew Brees led the Saints by throwing for 381 yards and 4 touchdowns on 24-31 passing. Mike Glennon led Tampa Bay by going 22-41 for 219 yards with 2 touchdowns and an interception. By locking up the 6th seed, New Orleans will play at Philadelphia.
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