The final week of the regular season is in the books and the playoffs are set. We had the Texans take a road win over the Colts, the Cowboys go into hiding at the Commanders, the Eagles lock up the No. 1 seed, finally, and the 49ers looking like they deserve the homefield throughout.
It was low scoring with five games where neither team scored 20 points. It’s very different from Week 1 when points are plentiful and we recognized all the player names. Week 18 had plenty of second and third-stringers getting their chance to impress and a few did. It has been a great season, made forever memorable by the Bills-Bengals game that wasn’t.
Kansas City 31, Las Vegas 13
The Chiefs led throughout this matchup and staked the claim to the No. 1 seed in the AFC with homefield rights throughout the conference playoffs. The Raiders season ends without a close three-point loss but instead a game that they trailed throughout. Patrick Mahomes only passed for 202 yards and one score but ran for 29 yards before hitting the bench in the fourth quarter. Isiah Pacheco (8-64, TD), Ronald Jones (10-45, TD), and even Kadarius Toney (3-26, TD) all ran for a score. Jerick McKinnon only had six total yards but caught the obligatory touchdown. JuJu Watson (1-67) was the only receiver with more than 38 yards in a game that the Chiefs won easily. The Chiefs end with an AFC-best 14-3.
Jared Stidham passed for 219 yards and one score with one interception and a lost fumble. Davante Adams (5-73) and Hunter Renfrow (7-63, TD), and Darren Waller (2-35) were the only receivers with more than 15 yards. Josh Jacobs was active but only gained 45 yards on his 17 carries plus five yards on two catches. The reports that Zamir White would see more playing times were misguided, as he only ran once for four yards. The Raiders end with a 6-11 record.
Tennessee 16, Jacksonville 20
Well, it wasn’t much for points and the Titans defense played a great game. But Josh Dobbs was hit and lost the ball in the fourth quarter that became a 37-yard fumble return touchdown. The winning touchdown. There were only three touchdowns in the entire game and it was the only in the second half and came with just 2:51 left to play. Dobbs passed for 179 yards and one interception with Chigoziem Okonkwo (3-42, TD) and Robert Woods (4-40) as the top receivers. Derrick Henry ran for 109 yards on 30 carries and added a 19-yard catch. The loss drops the Titans to 7-10 with their seventh-straight loss and removed them from contention for the AFC South.
Trevor Lawrence only passed for 212 yards and one score with Christian Kirk (6-99, TD) and the only receiver with more than 29 yards. Evan Engram ended with four receptions for 27 yards and the Titans defense even held Travis Etienne to only seven runs for 17 yards and two receptions for 17 yards. The returned fumble saved the Jaguars who struggled to sustain drives for the entire game. That win gives them the AFC South title and homefield next week in the playoffs. They ended 9-8 with a five-game winning streak.
Tampa Bay 17, Atlanta 30
The Buccaneers treated this game as a throw-away with nothing on the line other than the chance to record a winning season. But Tom Brady stayed on long enough to throw 17 passes which was longer than expected. Chris Godwin (6-55) ended as the top receiver while Mike Evans left the game due to illness before recording a catch. Ke’Shawn Vaughn (8-26) and Giovani Bernard (7-28) were the leading rushers but this was a meaningless game that just trotted out the B-Team while willingly losing. The 8-9 Buccaneers already won the division, and are ready for their one-and-done next week.
Nothing makes life easier than facing an opponent who doesn’t care. Desmond Ridder passed for 224 yards and two scores between Olamide Zaccheaus (4-37, TD) and MyCole Pruitt (3-34, TD) while Drake London went big for the final game of his rookie season with six catches for 120 yards. Tyler Allgeier also ended his rookie year with 24 rushes for 135 yards while Cordarrelle Patterson (5-18, TD) took the rushing score. The Falcons end 7-10 in HC Arthur Smith’s second season with plenty of work to do for next year.
New England 23, Buffalo 35
This was the emotional game on the site of the injury to Damar Hamlin last Monday. It started out with a 96-yard kickoff return for a score by Nyheim Hines but the Patriots led 17-14 in the third quarter before the Bills shifted into a higher gear and posted 21 points to just seven for the Pats the rest of the way. And that included another 101-yard kick return for a second touchdown.
Rhamondre Stevenson (6-54) and Damien Harris (13-48) shared the backfield with Harris getting most of the rushes despite Stevenson being much more effective plus adding five catches for 28 yards. Mac Jones threw for 243 yards and three scores but also three interceptions. DeVante Parker (6-79, 2 TD) and Jakobi Meyers (3-32, TD) scored while no other receivers had more than 45 yards or scores. The Pats were kicked out of contention this week and end 8-9 on the season.
The Bills needed this so that if the AFC Championship game includes them and the Bengals, it would be played on a neutral field. Josh Allen passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns but only gained 16 yards on nine rushes. Stefon Diggs (7-104, TD) was the only receiver with fantasy value but John Brown caught a 42-yard touchdown on his only catch. Devin Singletary (7-29) and James Cook (9-45) shared the carries while neither did much as a receiver. The Bills end with a 13-3 record as the No. 2 seed.
Minnesota 29, Chicago 13
The Vikings helped the Bears nail down the No. 1 draft slot in April but it was close and needed the Texans to beat the Colts. Kirk Cousins passed for 225 yards and a score before letting Nick Mullens take over for 13 passes and 116 more yards. K.J. Osborn (5-117) was the top receiver but Justin Jefferson (4-38), T.J. Hockenson (1-16) and Adam Thielen (2-8, TD) didn’t need to get involved much. Dalvin Cook (11-37) only played in the first half while Alexander Mattison (10-54, 2 TD) did most of the damage. The Vikes remained 13 points or more ahead from the second quarter onward. They end 13-4 on the season.
The Bears were even more ineffective than usual. Nathan Peterman and Tim Boyle combined for 147 passing yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Cole Kmet (4-57, TD) was the only receiver with more than 29 yards. Khalil Herbert (10-50) and David Montgomery (7-21) shared the backfield while the rookie wideout Velus Jones ran a 42-yard touchdown as the only notable play in the entire game for Chicago. They end 3-14 with a ten-game losing streak in HC Matt Eberflus’ first season.
Baltimore 16, Cincinnati 27
The Ravens already clinched the playoffs but just officially lost the AFC North to the Bengals. Still without Lamar Jackson, they were down to Anthony Brown this week and he passed for a career-best 286 yards but two more interceptions. Mark Andrews and J.K. Dobbins were inactive. Isaiah Likely (8-103) and Sammy Watkins (2-79) were the top receivers but were the only receivers with more than 49 yards. Kenyan Drake (16-60, TD) and Justice Hill (7-34) handled the rushing but the Ravens waved the white flag before the game ever started with their inactives. They end 10-7 on the season.
The Bengals did nothing special here but took the win by leading 24-7 at halftime and riding the lead the rest of the way. Joe Burrow only passed for 215 yards and one score while Ja’Marr Chase (8-86, TD) and Tyler Boyd (5-51) were the top receivers but Tee Higgins (1-7) was injured and did not finish the game. Joe Mixon only ran for 27 yards but scored and added five catches for 41 yards. The 12-4 Bengals take the AFC North and the No. 3 seed.
NY Jets 6, Miami 11
What if Breece Hall never got hurt? If the Jets had a quarterback they liked? This snooze-fest was a defensive war between two backup quarterbacks and neither were up to the task against solid defenses. Joe Flacco passed for 149 yards and no scores but at least Garret Wilson (9-89) ends his rookie year on a high note as the only receiver with more than 17 yards in the game. Zonovan Knight (12-22) and Ty Johnson (5-12) had nowhere to run as the Jets offense never looked worse. They end 7-10 on a six-game losing streak. The defense played great all year and the offense was good for the first half of the year, but once Breece Hall left and Zach Wilson needed to pass, it all fell apart.
The Fins end with a win and that was good enough to grab the No. 7 seed and qualify for the postseason. Tua Tagovailoa remains out with his second concussion and they were down to only Skylar Thompson who threw for 152 yards and no turnovers. Mike Gesicki (4-46) and Jaylen Waddle (5-44) were the top receivers while Tyreek Hill (2-23) got sauced. Jeff Wilson (16-72) and Raheem Mostert (11-71) were the main reason the offense was able to post just enough points to win this 17-total-point struggle. It wasn’t pretty and only minimal fantasy points were involved but the Dolphins got the win and made the playoffs – that is all that matters.
Carolina 10, New Orleans 7
Yet another game that featured offenses that sputtered and flopped. The only Panther touchdown was when an offensive tackle fell on a Sam Darnold fumble in the endzone. There was rain, but it is still hard to explain how Sam Darnold completed 5-of-15 for 43 yards and two interceptions. Chuba Hubbard (21-69) and D’Onta Foreman (12-68) handled most of the plays in the game. Foreman was ejected for throwing a punch only two minutes deep into the second half. A 42-yard field goal took the win as time expired.
Andy Dalton threw for 171 yards and one score to Chris Olave (5-60, TD) but no other receiver gained more than 34 yards or scored. Alvin Kamara ran for 107 yards on 23 carries as the main weapon while Taysom Hill was limited to 24 yards on five runs and one catch for six yards. The Saints end with a four-game winning streak but are bound to have plenty of player movement in the offseason. They finish with a 7-10 record and HC Dennis Allen may not see a second season as their leader.
Cleveland 14, Pittsburgh 28
The Steelers just missed making the playoffs but end with a 9-8 winning record in Kenny Pickett’s first season under center. He threw for 195 yards and one touchdown to George Pickens (3-72) while Diontae Johnson only caught two passes for 38 yards despite a team-high ten targets. Najee Harris continued his late-season surge with 84 yards and a touchdown on 23 rushes and one to-yard catch. The Steeler’s defense rose to the occasion but it was just a little too late for the franchise to reach the postseason.
Deshaun Watson threw for 230 yards and two scores but also two interceptions while being sacked seven times. Amari Cooper (2-51), Nick Chubb (5-45, TD), and David Njoku (4-42, TD) led the receivers but Chubb and Njoku were the main targets. Chubb also ran for 77 yards on 12 carries while Watson gained 44 yards on his six runs. So far, Watson hasn’t looked like he was worth all the money, but he’s working his way back on a new team that hasn’t thrown much anyway. The Browns settled for a 7-10 record.
LA Chargers 28, Denver 31
Much higher scoring game than expected. The Chargers remained the No. 5 seed and battled back after falling behind in the second half but fell just short. Justin Herbert passed for 273 yards and two scores to Keenan Allen (8-102, 2 TD) while Mike Williams (4-32) was carted to the locker room with a back injury. It was a meaningless game and now Williams’ availability for the playoffs is in question. Austin Ekeler was limited to 11 runs for 34 yards and four receptions for 36 yards. No other Charger had any fantasy relevancy and they finish 10-7 only without Mike Williams.
Russell Wilson ended his bad season on a higher note, passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Jerry Jeudy (5-154) accounted for over half of the passing yardage while Courtland Sutton (3-33, TD), Tyler Badie (1-24, TD), and Eric Tomlinson (1-3, TD) all scored. Latavius Murray ran for 105 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, The Broncos played much better than they had for most of the season, and it is promising for next year. They end only 5-12 in Russell Wilson’s first season.
NY Giants 16, Philadelphia 22
The Eagles needed this win to wrap up the No. 1 seed but it wasn’t easy and maybe wouldn’t have happened if the Giants didn’t go with Davis Webb at quarterback. He only threw fo4 168 yards and one score to Kenny Golladay (2-30, TD) while tight end Lawrence Cager (8-69) dominated the receiving stats. The Giants sat Saquon Barkley, so Gary Brightwell (11-60) and Matt Breida (4-28) handled the rushing. The Giants trailed 19-0 at halftime and the Eagles just coasted to the win in the second half. The Giants were already the No. 6 seed and ended 9-7-1.
The Eagles sewed up the No. 1 seed and homefield throughout the playoffs. Jalen Hurts returned but only threw for 229 yards and one interception and ran nine times for only 13 yards with his aim to win the game and not worsen his sore shoulder. A.J. Brown (4-95) and DeVonta Smith (7-67), and Dallas Goedert (6-46) led the receivers. Miles Sanders only gained 33 yards on 11 rushes while Boston Scott (9-54, TD) was the better fantasy play and Kenneth Gainwell (5-35) also contributed. The Eagles end 14-3 after a 9-8 last year.
LA Rams 16, Seattle 19
Another low-scoring affair even though Seattle was fighting for their playoff life. Cam Akers (21-104) continued his late-season surge and even added three catches for 24 yards. Baker Mayfield only managed 147 passing yards and one interception with Van Jefferson (3-61) as the only receiver with more than 33 yards. The lone touchdown went to TuTu Atwell on an 11-yard end-around run. The Rams defense kept them in the game and the reigning NFL champs finish with a 5-12 record with a starting lineup that looked nothing like the one from a year prior.
Geno Smith passed for 213 yards and one score but had two interceptions. Tyler Lockett (4-54, TD) and DK Metcalf (3-40) were largely held in check, but Kenneth Walker ran for 114 yards on 29 carries and didn’t hurt his Offensive Rookie of the Year aspirations. Smith also ran for 51 yards on his four runs. These teams went into overtime thanks to a Seattle field goal and finally took the win with another in overtime.
Arizona 13, San Francisco 38
This is how a top team handles a year-end game against a weaker opponent. The 49ers took the lead in the first quarter and never looked back. They led 13-14 at halftime but the Cardinals never scored again. Brock Purdy passed for 178 yards and three touchdowns between Christian McCaffrey (3-34, TD) and George Kittle (4-29, 2) while Brandon Aiyuk (4-59) had the highest receiving yardage. The backfield took turns between Elijah Mitchell (5-55, 2 TD), McCaffrey (10-45), and Jordan Mason (8-28). It was a solid win throughout and the 13-4 49ers have the look of a team that will be around the playoffs for a while.
The Cardinals end their nightmare season. David Blough passed for 180 yards and a score with two interceptions. A.J. Green (3-91, TD) may have played his final game but at least it was a good one with a 77-yard touchdown in the first minute of the first quarter, Corey Clement (8-23, TD) took the place of James Conner but the Cardinals were overmatched and wrap up a year with a seven-game losing streak and a 4-13 record. Their final game had none of their fantasy stars that began the year other than Marquise Brown with just one catch.
Dallas 6, Washington 26
This does not bode well for the playoff fortunes of the Cowboys who were embarrassed by a rookie quarterback in his first NFL start and a backfield that contained second-string rushers. They appeared unprepared and unmotivated even though they could have potentially been in line for the division and first-round bye if the Eagles had lost. Dak Prescott only managed 128 yards and a touchdown with an interception. CeeDee Lamb (5-52, TD) and Dalton Schultz (4-33) were the only receivers with more than 19 yards, Ezekiel Elliott (8-10) and Tony Pollard (7-19) were ineffective in this beatdown. The 12-5 Cowboys end as the No. 5 seed but do not look like they deserved it.
The Commanders finish their year on a high point, starting the rookie Sam Howell for the first time and his 169 yards and a score were better than Prescott’s stats. Terry McLaurin (3-74, TD) and Jahan Dotson (3-72) were the only Commanders with more than 16 receiving yards. The backfield was without Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson but Jarrett Patterson (17-78) and Jonathan Williams (14-32) were not a big drop-off in production. They reach 8-8-1 to avoid a losing season and beat the Cowboys as an added benefit. It was a brief look at Howell, but he completed 11-of-19 passes and connected on a 52-yard bomb with McLaurin.
Detroit 20, Green Bay 16
Sure, it wasn’t high scoring and the visiting Lions were only playing for pride and a general dislike of the Packers. Had Green Bay won, they were in the playoffs. Instead, the Seahawks are very happily taking the final spot. Jared Goff only passed for 224 yards but no turnovers. Kalif Raymond (4-66), D’Andre Swift (7-61), and Amon-Ra St. Brown (6-49) were the only Lions with more than 16 yards. Jamaal Williams ran for 72 yards and two scores on 16 carries while Swift gained 25 yards on six runs for a very effective backfield. The victory means the 9-8 Lions had a winning season.
The Packers had a simple directive – just win and they were in. But Aaron Rodgers only managed 205 yards and one score against the worst pass defense though his hand was an issue. Christian Watson (5-104), and Allen Lazard (4-41, TD) where the top receivers and the backfield was limited to 12 runs for 48 yards by Aaron Jones and 33 yards on nine runs by AJ Dillon. The Packers threw an interception and lost a fumble that proved critical in the loss. The Packers fall to a losing record of 8-9.
Game-o-the-Week: Houston 32, Indianapolis 31
Why wouldn’t this be the game of the week? Two terrible teams with an over/under of 38 points scored a total of 63 as the highest-points total of the weekend. And the worst team in the NFL is on the road and beats the Colts who they tied to open the year. And, the Texans tied the game with 50 seconds left and went for the two-point conversion for the win and was successful. The Texans led 24-14 in the third quarter but the Colts were up 31-24 with only three minutes left to play. Granted, there were almost no skill players with recognizable names, but it was a brief slice of excitement for a Houston franchise who lost the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft to the Bears.
Davis Mills passed for 298 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Brandin Cooks (5-106, TD) may have played his final game as a Texan but made it a good one. Jordan Akins (4-70, 2 TD) was a difference maker and fellow tight end Teagan Quitoriano (3-83) had a career game. The rushing effort wasn’t much between Dare Ogunbowale (11-33) and Royce Freeman (7-15). The Texans settle for a 3-13-1 but were 2-1 over the final three games.
Sam Ehlinger threw for 209 yards and two scores with two interceptions. But Deon Jackson (6-75) and Parris Campbell (6-42) were as good as it got with receivers and Michael Pittman (3-30, TD) scored to salvage his fantasy value. Zack Moss ran for 114 yards and a touchdown on his 18 runs and even Jackson gained 35 yards on eight carries. This was a messy game by both teams with three turnovers each. And the controversial installation of Jeff Saturday as the interim head coach ends with seven straight losses. Both teams will be in upheaval over the offseason, but at least the Texans ended with a small bright spot.