The first ever NFL Week 18 wasn’t short on drama. Some teams that went into their final regular season games notched playoff berths while others fell hard. Other squads failed to win their divisions or improve their playoff positioning while some became legit underdogs to win Super Bowl LVI. Check out a recap of the NFL’s final week.
2021 NFL Week 18 Recap
Here are the final PT 2021 power rankings, with the Packers as our regular-season champions. Will they next win a championship that actually means something? https://t.co/9PSn7wilmq— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 11, 2022
Jaguars ends the Colts’
The Colts entered their game with the Jacksonville Jaguars a crazy -16 ½ favorite. The Jags beat Indianapolis 26-11, sending the Colts to the off season. For Indianapolis, it was the end to what could have been a magical season. A few weeks ago, Indianapolis looked like a real Super Bowl contender. The Colts had just won their third straight with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the desert.
But back-to-back losses to teams they should have handled with ease, the Raiders and Jaguars, ended things. The Colts head to the off season with their heads hanging. The Jags head to the off season with their heads held high. Jacksonville owns the top pick in the draft. Also, Trevor Lawrence proved he has the talent to become a 10-year starter and a possible all-pro.
Offensive coordinators like Byron Leftwich at Tampa Bay should be salivating at the prospect of coaching Lawrence. If Jacksonville rebuilds their offensive line, they could be a tough team to deal with next season.
Raiders beat the Chargers in a win and you’re in game
Why did Brandon Staley call a timeout with less than 40 seconds left? Maybe, Staley wanted to get his defense together. Or, maybe, Staley thought he could force the Raiders to punt so he could give quarterback Justin Herbert one last shot for the victory.
In any case, calling the timeout changed the Raiders’ play of running out the clock, which led to Josh Jacobs picking up a first down, which led to Las Vegas kicking a field goal and winning the game, which, if you didn’t know yet, led to the Chargers heading to the offseason.
Las Vegas gets a date with the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend while the Bolts are kicking themselves for missing out on the NFL postseason. Will the Chargers fire Staley? Probably not. But it’s obvious the young coach hasn’t figured things out yet. Earlier in the game, Staley went for it on fourth down in LAC territory. That led to a Raiders’ field goal.
Patriots fall to the Dolphins
For some reason, New England struggles with the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots wouldn’t have won the AFC East because Buffalo beat the New York Jets. But losing 33-24 to Miami isn’t the way Bill Belichick wanted to enter the playoffs. New England must travel to Buffalo on Saturday.
The Dolphins basked in the glory of their victory and then upper management proceeded to fire coach Brian Flores. The defensive-minded coach won’t be unemployed for long. He’s one of the better head coaches in the league.
Miami is a prime destination. So the Fins won’t struggle to find a coach. Maybe, Leftwich heads to South Florida. Byron could want to start his head coaching career some place with an excellent defense.
Rams lose to the 49ers but win the NFC West after the Seahawks beat the Cardinals
The Rams had a 17-0 lead against a division rival at home and, yep, found a way to lose 27-24 in overtime. For their efforts, the San Francisco 49ers get a chance to take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. San Francisco can beat Dallas. Jimmy Garoppolo proved he’s a legit playoff quarterback while the Cowboys have struggled at times stopping quarterbacks this season. Also, SF’s defense is finally healthy. So don’t give up on the Niners just because they’ve got a date with one of the top teams in the NFC.
The Rams get to play Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards aren’t in good shape after losing their final regular season game to the Seattle Seahawks. Arizona and Los Angeles are both struggling. The difference in Monday night’s game could come down to how well Murray handles the Rams’ front four.
Titans lock up 1-seed
After rallying to beat the Houston Texans 28-25, the Titans locked up home field advantage throughout the playoffs and a first-round bye. Tennessee has a real shot to win Super Bowl 56. The Titans beat the Bills, Chiefs, and Rams this season.
Derrick Henry is ready to roll while the defense shows no injuries. Give the Tennessee Titans a huge shot to take the AFC. The team plays excellent defense, has two legit RB1s in Henry and D’Onta Foreman, and coach Mike Vrabel has made fantastic decisions this season. Tennessee is ready. So if you agree, bet on them before Super Wild Card Weekend’s first contest, Raiders versus Bengals on Saturday.
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