04 Jan Week 17 Recap with Matt Lownes
The playoffs are set and Black Monday has begun across the NFL. 2021 is here and we are locked and loaded with a fantastic six-game Super Wild Card Weekend ahead of us! Before we get there let us breakdown the important storylines from Week 17.
The Browns are in the playoffs
The Cleveland Browns had not made the playoffs since before LeBron James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Yet here we are in 2021 with the Baker Mayfield and the Browns in the playoffs. Even AFC North fans must have a tiny smile for the Browns, as they have suffered years of pain.
The Browns beat the Steelers in Week 17 at home to set up a playoff matchup against the Steelers next Sunday night. While many Steelers starters did not play throughout the game, next weekend will obviously be far more interesting than their Week 17 affair. I will post my Super Wild Card predictions at the end of this article.
Dolphins embarrassed by Bills, miss out on playoffs.
While it was a potential Cinderella story for the Dolphins to make the playoffs, Miami simply did not show up for their Week 17 contest versus the Bills losing 56-26. Nothing worked for the Dolphins and they will have to regroup and continue building for the playoffs in 2022. Fins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa went 35-58 for 361 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Not a good day.
Meanwhile, Josh Allen set the all-time single season record for passing for the Bills, and will host the Colts as the #2 seed in the AFC. Congrats to Bills Mafia, as the Bills are a serious Super Bowl threat.
Rodgers keeps MVP pace, Packers get Bye
I have flip flopped my MVP winner throughout the season and I am officially stating that Aaron Rodgers should be the 2020 NFL MVP. Here is a stat no one will show you: Aaron Rodgers has more touchdown passes for the Packers this season (48) than the Packers have punts (46). Rodgers finished the season with his best completion and touchdown percentage of his career.
The Packers beat the Bears 35-16 yesterday, finishing what some consider as the single best Packers season ever. The Packers are the favorite to make the Super Bowl in the NFC and in my opinion should be in Miami come Super Bowl Sunday.
Alex Smith and the WFT win the NFC Least.
Someone had to win the NFC Least. A week after cutting their former 1st round quarterback Dwayne Haskins, and in the same season they changed their name and their head coach went through cancer treatments, the Washington Football Team is in the playoffs.
While the entire NFC Least is pathetic, and I will go on record to say the NFL should not allow a team to make the playoffs like this, the Washington Football team is a prime example of what good coaching can do.
Ron Rivera and his staff did a fantastic job of keeping these guys up week in and out and win the division. Of all the quarterbacks to make the playoffs, or even play in 2020, Alex Smith deserves the playoffs more than anyone in the entire league. We all know about his leg injury in 2018, we all know how Smith almost lost his leg and had severe health issues due to complications from surgery.
That is why we all should stan Alex Smith and root for the Washington Football team when they host the Tampa Bay Bucs Saturday night. Forget giving the Comeback Player of the Year award to Alex Smith, re-name it after him because he deserves nothing less. Congrats to Alex Smith after starting last night and winning the NFC East.
King Henry rushes for 2,000 yards, Titans make playoffs
Derrick Henry, sorry King Henry, rushed for 250 yards versus the Texans in Week 17 and totaled 2,027 yards over the entire season. He is the eighth running back to do so in NFL history, and for that reason alone he should legally change his name to King Henry. Backs may not matter like they did two decades ago, but King Henry is an anomaly to that rule.
It took a doink-in game-winning field goal for Sam Sloman and the Titans to defeat the Texans 41-38 yesterday, but none of that matters now that they are in the playoffs. They will host the Baltimore Ravens in a rematch of last year’s playoff game in which Henry broke the internet stiff-arming safety Earl Thomas. That should be the best playoff game next weekend, more on that later.
Ageless Brady keeps playoff streak alive
I swear to god if I hear “Tom Brady is gonna retire….”
He is ageless and at this point I am just appreciating the fact he is doing what he is able to do at age 43. The guy is a legend and I spent most of his career hating him because I am a Jets fan. I can finally appreciate Tom Brady, nevertheless go WFT next weekend.
The Bucs beat the Falcons 44-27 and lost Mike Evans early on due to a knee injury. Brady threw for 4,633 yards, 40 touchdownss, and posted a 72.4 season QBR, which is 10th in the NFL. At age 43. Simply amazing.
As I am typing this, there are five Head Coach openings in the NFL: the Texans, Jets, Jaguars, Falcons, and Lions. The Lions, Falcons, and Texans are also hiring new GM’s this off-season. EDIT: The Chargers fired Anthony Lynn, making it six head coach openings.
Doug Marrone, Dan Quinn, Matt Patricia, Adam Gase, and Bill O’Brien were all fired either during the season or today on Black Monday. I will be dropping a head coach/general manager search article later this week.
NFL Condensed Soup
The Ravens ran all over the Bengals in a 38-3 affair. Zac Taylor will keep his head coaching job per Adam Schefter, among others. Congrats I suppose.
The Vikings outscored the Lions 37-35 in Week 17, with rookie receiver Justin Jefferson setting the Vikings and the NFL rookie record for yards by a rookie wideout. Matthew Stafford is a legend and the football gods must allow him to move on and try to win elsewhere.
The Patriots beat the Jets 28-14. Y’all knew Bill Belichick was not going to lose to the Jets. Adam Gase is finally gone, but at what cost?!?
The Giants beat the Cowboys 23-19, only to find out the Eagles benched Jalen Hurts later in the night, ruining their playoff chances. Real talk Giants fans: How about not being mad at the Eagles and being mad at your own team? Philly won four games. The Giants did not deserve the playoffs anyway.
The Raiders beat the Broncos 32-31. Both coaching staffs are expected to make changes but keep their head coaches. The Raiders are all hype so let us see if that changes next year in 2021.
The Colts made the playoffs after beating the Jaguars 28-14 and with the help of the Bills demolishing the Fins. The Jaguars will have a new head coach and most likely draft Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
The Chargers molly-whooped the defending champion Chiefs 38-21, with the Chiefs played mostly backups. Patrick Mahomes is great, but Aaron Rodgers is the true 2020 NFL MVP.
The Rams beat the Cardinals 18-7, making the playoffs as both teams had backups in for a good majority of this game due to injury at the quarterback position. In an ugly game, the Cardinals lost too many close games this year and need to fix the offensive line for any major success in 2021.
Seattle barely beat the 49ers 26-23, but will host the aforementioned Rams next weekend in the playoffs in what should be a very defensive game and probably low scoring affair.
SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND
Quickly, here are my predictions for the inaugural Super Wild-Card Weekend.
Bills – 35, Colts – 24: The Bills are too much for the Colts and Josh Allen and company are hot entering the playoffs. Philip Rivers will lose another Wild Card game.
Seahawks – 17, Rams – 9: Seattle should beat the Rams if Jared Goff does not play. If he does play, Seattle is still the better team and I have no confidence in the Rams right now.
Bucs – 41, WFT 1- 7: Tom Brady and the Bucs are not losing to the WFT. I will guarantee it.
Titans – 31, Ravens – 28: King Henry and the Titans will defeat the very hot Ravens by controlling time of possession in the 4th quarter and running the ball down the Ravens’ throat. This game will be the most exciting wild card game.
Saints – 34, Bears – 24: Yes, your children can watch this game in the other room on Nickelodeon while your wife watches it on Amazon Prime, and you watch it on CBS. What a time to be alive. The Saints are too good for the Bears but this could be a major upset if the Bears defense shows up ready to get after Drew Brees.
Browns – 27, Steelers – 24: Upset special! I believe the Browns, if COVID-19 healthy, will defeat the Steelers. If the Browns can run the ball effectively and keep the ball out of Big Ben’s hands, I believe the Browns can upset the Steelers. The Steelers have not looked good the last four weeks besides one great half against the Colts and some nice plays in Week 17 versus the Browns.
The Browns have only struggled lately due to injuries and COVID-19 related absences; therefore, I am going with the better team right now, the Browns.
Matt’s Life Advice
Do not bet on more than two games this weekend, as we have no idea what the new playoff format will result in, nor do we have much certainty with COVID-19. Pick two lines you really like, and then put the phone away. Have a great week everyone!