Week 17 of the NFL season saw the playoff picture, while not fully decided, become much clearer. Several teams got eliminated, while others punched their tickets. However, the week ended on a devastating note.
32. Chicago Bears (3-13) (Eliminated) Prev: 32
The Bears had an abysmal showing against the Lions, who were hungry to remain in the playoff hunt. Chicago got eliminated a while ago. They were only worth watching for Justin Fields’ big run of the week. With Fields out next week, the Bears will likely be in contention for the first overall pick.
Team MVP: Justin Fields (7/21, 75 yds, TD, INT, 132 rush yds)
Next: vs Vikings
31. Houston Texans (2-13-1) (Eliminated) Prev: 31
Houston was a warm-up for the Jaguars. Once Jacksonville started blowing them out, they benched their starters. The Texans will likely end up with the first overall pick unless they upset the Colts in Indianapolis.
Team MVP: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (4 tackles, sack, 2 TFLs, QB hit)
Next: at Colts
30. Indianapolis Colts (4-11-1) (Eliminated) Prev: 30
Indy was the final stepping stone to getting the Giants into the playoffs. There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the Colts. Next year’s quarterback is likely not on the team, and they will need a new head coach. Jeff Saturday has not been producing the results Indianapolis had hoped.
Team MVP: Bobby Okereke (17 tackles, 2 TFLs)
Next: vs Texans
29. Denver Broncos (4-12) (Eliminated) Prev: 29
Denver once again kept it close with the Chiefs before ultimately losing. There was one positive sign this week for the Broncos. Jerry Jeudy, who had been vocally upset the entire year, defended Russell Wilson against the media. Maybe Russ does have some support from his teammates.
Team MVP: Russell Wilson (26/38, 222 yds, TD, INT, 27 rush yds, 2 TDs)
Next: vs Chargers
28. Arizona Cardinals (4-12) (Eliminated) Prev: 28
Arizona was competitive in Atlanta but fell to a last-second field goal. Arizona’s next game will be the last in the career of NFL great JJ Watt. A three-time defensive player of the year, Watt will find himself in Canton someday soon.
Team MVP: Trey McBride (7 rec, 78 yds, TD)
Next: at 49ers
27. Los Angeles Rams (5-11) (Eliminated) Prev: 26
The Rams fell short in the battle of Los Angeles. They officially set the record for the most losses by a defending Super Bowl champion this week. It’s not entirely their fault, as they suffered numerous injuries throughout the year.
Team MVP: Cam Akers (123 yds)
Next: at Seahawks
26. Atlanta Falcons (6-10) (Eliminated) Prev: 27
The Falcons got a win this week against Arizona. It’s the first in Desmond Ridder’s career as a starter, although he has yet to throw a touchdown pass. Whether or not he is the answer for the team at quarterback remains to be seen.
Team MVP: Isaiah Oliver (9 tackles, sack, TFL, 2 pass defenses, QB hit)
Next: vs Buccaneers
25. Las Vegas Raiders (6-10) (Eliminated) Prev: 24
The Raiders were eliminated from playoff contention this week. Jarrett Stidham got the start this week and shocked everybody with a solid performance. His interception in overtime ultimately cost the team, ending their season. The Raiders will likely move on from Derek Carr and will be looking for a new QB1 this offseason.
Team MVP: Davante Adams (7 rec, 152 yds, 2 TDs)
Next: vs Chiefs
24. Cleveland Browns (7-9) (Eliminated) Prev: 25
The Browns soiled the Commadners’ playoff hopes, beating Washington in their stadium. Deshaun Watson’s play continues to be alarming. He’s looked nothing like he did in Houston, which is what Cleveland thought they were getting. The Browns’ investment may not pay off.
Team MVP: Amari Cooper (3 rec, 105 yds, 2 TDs)
Next: at Steelers
23. Carolina Panthers (6-10) (Eliminated) Prev: 22
With their playoff hopes on the line, the Panthers blew an early lead, falling to the Bucs. Carolina has been eliminated from playoff contention but has some positive things to build off. The foundation is there, but they are a few pieces away from being able to challenge for the division title.
Team MVP: Sam Darnold (23/37, 341 yds, 3 TDs, INT)
Next: at Saints
22. Washington Commanders (7-8-1) (Eliminated) Prev: 13
After holding the seventh seed for so long, the Commanders got eliminated from playoff contention. Washington turned back to Carson Wentz this week and threw three interceptions. The clock has officially struck midnight on Wentz’s NFL career as a starter.
Team MVP: Daron Payne (5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFLs, QB hit)
Next: vs Cowboys
21. New Orleans Saints (7-9) (Eliminated) Prev: 23
The Saints did their part by upsetting the Eagles. Unfortunately, the Panthers didn’t do theirs, allowing the Bucs to win the NFC South. New Orleans will be one of many teams looking for a quarterback, although the Saints won’t have a first-round pick.
Team MVP: Marshon Lattimore (6 tackles, 2 pass defenses, INT, TD)
Next: vs Panthers
20. New York Jets (7-9) (Eliminated) Prev: 16
This week’s loss to Seattle eliminated the Jets. New York looked primed for a run this year, especially with their defense, but it never came to be. Due to Zach Wilson being a bust, they, like many others, will be looking for a quarterback this off-season.
Team MVP: Tyler Conklin (6 rec, 80 yds)
Next: at Dolphins
19. Tennessee Titans (7-9) Prev: 19
Tennessee rested most of their starters, taking a loss to the Cowboys. The Titans and Jaguars will play for the AFC South on Saturday. Josh Dobbs will start for the Titans after signing just a few weeks ago. This game could get ugly for the Titans, as the Jags are white hot, and Tennessee is not.
Team MVP: Kevin Byard (6 tackles, 2 INTs)
Next: at Jaguars
18. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) Prev: 21
This team will not die. The Steelers upset the Ravens behind yet another late touchdown pass from Kenny Pickett. Mike Tomlin can avoid his first losing season with a win against the Browns. However, they’ll need help from the Bills and the Jets to make the playoffs.
Team MVP: Najee Harris (111 yds, 2 rec, 12 yds, TD)
Next: vs Browns
17. Seattle Seahawks (8-8) Prev: 20
Seattle stayed alive with a win over the Jets. The Seahawks need a win over the Rams and the Lions to beat the Packers to make the playoffs. Seattle’s win is feasible, but it’s not ideal to be relying on somebody else.
Team MVP: Kenneth Walker III (133 yds)
Next: vs Rams
16. Miami Dolphins (8-8) Prev: 12
A Miami win would have put them in the perfect position to clinch this week, but the Patriots had other plans. Now, Miami will need to win and for the Patriots to lose. With neither Tua Tagovailoa nor Teddy Bridgewater available, Skylar Thompson will suit up against a stingy Jets defense. It may be over for Miami.
Team MVP: Raheem Mostert (29 yds, 8 rec, 62 yds, TD)
Next: vs Jets
15. New England Patriots (8-8) Prev: 15
Somehow, the Patriots will have the most straightforward path to secure the seventh seed. Their win over Miami means they have to win, and they’re in the playoffs. The only problem is that they play Buffalo this week.
Team MVP: Kyle Dugger (5 tackles, INT, TD)
Next: at Bills
14. Detroit Lions (8-8) Prev: 14
The Lions will be playing for a playoff spot in week 18. Detroit needs Seattle to lose, and their showdown with the Packers would be for the last remaining playoff spot in the NFC. A Seahawks victory would eliminate the Lions, as Seattle beat Detroit earlier this year.
Team MVP: Jamaal Williams (144 yds, TD)
Next: at Packers
13. Green Bay Packers (8-8) Prev: 17
The Packers have an opportunity to run the table once again. Their win against the Vikings means if Green Bay beats the Lions, Green Bay is in the playoffs. This team was thought to be dead weeks ago but has gone on the run of a lifetime.
Team MVP: Darnell Savage (2 tackles, INT, TD)
Next: vs Lions
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8) Prev: 18
It took longer than anybody thought, but the Bucs clinched the NFC South this week. They took down the Panthers in dramatic fashion, punching their ticket. You’d think this is an easy win for whoever gets the fifth seed, but they would be facing Tom Brady in the playoffs.
Team MVP: Mike Evans (10 rec, 207 yds, 3 TDs)
Next: at Falcons
11. New York Giants (9-6-1) Prev: 11
The Giants are officially in after their win over the Colts. Nobody saw the Giants making the playoffs coming, as many had written them off. This well-coached unit will likely end up with the 6th seed, facing either the Vikings or the 49ers.
Team MVP: Daniel Jones (19/24, 177 yds, 2 TDs, 91 rush yds, 2 TDs)
Next: at Eagles
10. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) Prev: 8
The Ravens had already clinched a playoff spot but fell to the Steelers this week. Lamar Jackson can’t come back fast enough. This team looks dead in the water without him.
Team MVP: Mark Andrews (9 rec, 100 yds)
Next: at Bengals
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) Prev: 10
The Jags only needed to play their starters for one half to trounce the Texans. Jacksonville will face Tennessee’s third-string quarterback, and the Jaguars are playing well. Everything is lining up for the Jags to take the South.
Team MVP: Travis Etienne Jr (108 yds, TD, 3 rec, 32 yds)
Next: vs Titans
8. Los Angeles Chargers (10-6) Prev: 9
The Chargers are playing for seeding at this point, as they beat the Rams. This team could be dangerous come playoff time. They just got Joey Bosa back and are clicking on offense. Look out, AFC.
Team MVP: Austin Ekeler (122 yds, 2 TDs, 4 rec, 39 yds)
Next: at Broncos
7. Dallas Cowboys (12-4) Prev: 7
Dallas got it easy against the Titans. The Eagles’ loss to the Saints keeps Dallas in play to win the NFC East. The Cowboys will need to beat the Commanders, who will be starting Sam Howell, and the Eagles would need to lose at home against the Giants. From there, Dallas could be the one, two, or three seed.
Team MVP: Nahshon Wright (9 tackles, 2 pass defenses, INT)
Next: at Commanders
6. Minnesota Vikings (12-4) Prev: 4
Minnesota may have the NFC North locked up, but their loss to the Packers pushes them back to the third seed. The Vikings can end up as the second or third seed, but their defense raises several red flags. They could be a one-and-done candidate.
Team MVP: Dalvin Tomlinson (4 tackles, sack, TFL, QB hit)
Next: at Bears
5. Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) Prev: 5
After Demar Hamlin’s scary injury, the Bengals’ game against the Bills got postponed. The results and playoff seeding are secondary to Hamlin’s health.
Next: vs Ravens
4. San Francisco 49ers (12-4) Prev: 6
The 49ers scored an overtime victory over the Raiders to move into the second seed. San Francisco is dangerous, even with Brock Purdy at quarterback. This team is a serious Super Bowl candidate.
Team MVP: Christian McCaffrey (121 yds, TD, 6 rec, 72 yds)
Next: vs Cardinals
3. Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) Prev: 3
The Chiefs took down the Broncos to remain in the hunt for the first seed in the AFC. After being dominated by Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill for so long, the Chiefs’ new spread offense has been carving opposing defenses. Expect this team to make the AFC Championship, at least.
Team MVP: Patrick Mahomes (29/42, 328 yds, 3 TDs, INT)
Next: at Raiders
2. Buffalo Bills (12-3) Prev: 2
The Bills’ game against the Bengals got postponed after Demar Hamlin’s horrifying injury. As of Thursday, Hamlin was making positive strides in his recovery. We can only hope he continues to progress toward a full recovery.
Next: vs Patriots
1. Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) Prev: 1
The Eagles are slipping without Jalen Hurts. The Eagles have lost two straight, with a chance to clinch the NFC East and the first seed in the NFC. Hurts is likely to return for the team’s final game, where if they lose, they risk losing out on the NFC East.
Team MVP: DeVonta Smith (9 rec, 115 yds)
Next: vs Giants