What. A. Weekend!
One of the reasons why I love the NFL so much is that there is always drama every weekend. There’s shocks, surprises, comeback wins, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat and on this past Sunday we had pretty much everything in the race to lock down the seedings in the AFC and NFC.
At the end of one of the most dramatic Sunday’s I’ve witnessed in many years, we now know the 14 teams that will contest the playoffs, including the two teams that have earned what could be the crucial bye week and home field advantage through the playoffs in each conference.
But my goodness, fans went through the ringer to see if their team made it, or missed out.
For some, it was joy as their team managed to secure a post-season spot.
For others, it was bewilderment as a season’s work went down the drain as their favorites flunked the final week of games.
Let’s begin with a roundup of the final scores from Week 18 in the NFL.
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NFL Week 18 Results
- Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) 28-24 Denver Broncos (7-10)
- Dallas Cowboys (12-5) 51-26 Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
- Green Bay Packers (13-4) 30-37 Detroit Lions (3-13-1)
- Indianapolis Colts (9-8) 11-26 Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)
- Washington Football Team (7-10) 22-7 New York Giants (4-13)
- Chicago Bears (6-11) 17-31 Minnesota Vikings (8-9)
- Tennessee Titans (12-5) 28-25 Houston Texans (4-13)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) 16-13 Baltimore Ravens (8-9) OT
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-7) 16-21 Cleveland Browns (8-9)
- San Francisco 49ers (10-7) 27-24 Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
- Carolina Panthers (5-12) 17-41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
- Seattle Seahawks (7-10) 38-30 Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
- New England Patriots (10-7) 24-33 Miami Dolphins (9-8)
- New Orleans Saints (9-8) 30-20 Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
- New York Jets (4-13) 10-27 Buffalo Bills (11-6)
- Los Angeles Chargers (9-8) 32-35 Las Vegas Raiders (10-7) OT
Key Take-Aways From Sunday Night’s NFL Action
Titans Take The AFC Number 1 Seed – But Only Just
The Tennessee Titans earned the top spot in the AFC playoffs, but they were pushed all the way by a battling Houston Texans on Sunday night.
Houston had already beaten the Titans in Tennessee earlier in the season but at 21-0 at half time, the Texans looked dead and buried.
However, a fine second half revival saw them pull close to the Titans and it was only a late Julio Jones touchdown that put the Titans in a winning position. And even then, the Texans scored another touchdown and forced the Titans to earn two first downs to see out the game by taking a knee.
Two things mattered for Mike Vrabel’s Titans, the first was winning the game and the second securing the Bye to give the team a chance to heal and more time for star running back Derrick Henry to recover.
Henry returned to the roster this week but was inactive for this game. With two further weeks to heal and get fitter and stronger, the likelihood is he will be ready for the playoffs as well AJ Brown and Julio Jones and that could be worrying news for all those teams in action in the AFC this coming weekend.
Colts Carson Chokes As Indianapolis Playoff Dreams Chewed Up By Jags
The math was easy for the Indianapolis Colts. Beat the NFL’s worst team, the Jacksonville Jaguars and they would be in the playoffs.
However, a 26-11 loss and the manner of that defeat, which saw the Colts struggle to get going on offense against one of the worst ranked defenses in the NFL, will be a huge worry for Colts head coach Frank Reich.
It wasn’t just Carson Wentz who underperformed. Jonathan Taylor never got going at running back and the much admired Colts defense were manhandled by the Jaguars offensive line allowing Trevor Lawrence to have his best game in a Jaguars uniform.
This was a stunning loss for the Colts and one that could have significant repercussions for some members of this team come free agency.
Steelers And Raiders Snatch Overtime Wins And A Playoff Place
The big drama on Sunday came in the Steelers v Ravens and Raider v Chargers games, both requiring overtime to decide the winner and both seeing the victors in overtime clinch a playoff berth.
In Baltimore, Ben Roethlisberger managed to get the Steelers into position to kick the game winning field goal in overtime after the Ravens had not managed to score on their possession.
With a draw set to eliminate both teams, neither wanted overtime to end level, but it was the Steelers who managed to score the points that earned them arguably their most unlikely of playoff spots.
For the Raiders, it was a straight case of win and in but they faced the Chargers who were also in the same situation.
After being tied at the end of a dramatic game in regulation time, both teams converted field goals on their first possessions in overtime, however it was the Raiders who scored another field goal to clinch the win and with it fifth seed in the AFC playoffs.
49ers Comeback Win Over The Rams Denies Saints Playoff Spot
The NFC playoffs were already pretty much sorted with just one spot available for
either the San Francisco 49ers or the New Orleans Saints. Both teams did their job this week with the 49ers earning their second win of the season over the Los Angeles Rams, while the Saints defeated the Atlanta Falcons.
Those results saw the 49ers confirmed as the sixth seed in the NFC behind the Cardinals, who lost to the Seahawks and missed out on a chance to go atop of the NFC West ahead of the Rams. In fact, only the Cowboys and Buccaneers of the divisional winners won their final game of the season with the Packers also going down to the Lions.
That Lions win though could end up proving somewhat costly as had they lost, with the Jags winning, the Lions would have had the number 1 pick in April’s draft. However, credit to Detroit for playing the game hard and earning a very impressive win, even against a below strength Packers.
Let’s now take a look at how things finished in the NFL, and what the situation is for the playoffs in each conference.
Final Standings – AFC
Teams that have qualified for the playoffs are shown in italics. Latest moneyline odds from UniBet Sportsbook are shown for each Wildcard game.
- Buffalo Bills – 11-6
- New England Patriots – 10-7
- Miami Dolphins – 9-8
- New York Jets – 4-13
- Kansas City Chiefs – 12-5
- Las Vegas Raiders – 10-7
- Los Angeles Chargers – 9-8
- Denver Broncos – 7-10
- Cincinnati Bengals – 10-7
- Pittsburgh Steelers – 9-7-1
- Cleveland Browns – 8-9
- Baltimore Ravens – 8-9
- Tennessee Titans – 12-5
- Indianapolis Colts – 9-8
- Houston Texans – 4-13
- Jacksonville Jaguars – 3-14
- Tennessee Titans (12-5) – Bye and Home Field Advantage
- Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
- Buffalo Bills (11-6)
- Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)
- Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)
- New England Patriots (10-7)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)
Super Wildcard Weekend AFC Games
- Las Vegas Raiders (+200) @ Cincinnati Bengals (-265)
- New England Patriots (+170) @ Buffalo Bills (-210)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (+500) @ Kansas City Chiefs (-715)
Final Standings NFC
Teams that have qualified for the playoffs are shown in italics.
- Dallas Cowboys – 12-5
- Philadelphia Eagles – 9-8
- Washington Football Team – 7-10
- New York Giants – 4-13
- Los Angeles Rams – 12-5
- Arizona Cardinals – 11-6
- San Francisco 49ers – 10-7
- Seattle Seahawks – 7-10
- Green Bay Packers – 13-4
- Minnesota Vikings – 8-9
- Chicago Bears – 6-11
- Detroit Lions – 3-13-1
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 13-4
- New Orleans Saints – 9-8
- Atlanta Falcons – 7-10
- Carolina Panthers – 5-12
- Green Bay Packers (13-4) – Bye and Home Field Advantage
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)
- Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
- Los Angeles Rams (12-5)
- Arizona Cardinals (11-6)
- San Francisco 49ers (10-7)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
Super Wildcard Weekend NFC Games
- Arizona Cardinals (+160) @ Los Angeles Rams (-200)
- San Francisco 49ers (+125) @ Dallas Cowboys (-162)
- Philadelphia Eagles (+310) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-420)
All six Super Wildcard Weekend games will be played this weekend from Saturday to Monday. The six winners will join the two top seeds in next weekend’s Divisional Playoff games.