Sometimes, it's just out of your hands. On Sunday, both the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles needed help to make the NFL playoffs. The Eagles found themselves with at least one chance to repeat the success of the Super Bowl last season, while the Steelers saw their chances of a playoff vanish in a single shot.
The Eagles did their part to save themselves from a potentially stunning Super Bowl hangover season by defeating Washington 24-0, but they still needed the Chicago Bears to beat the Minnesota Vikings to secure the fourth seed in the NFC. Fortunately for them, the Bears ended up stifling Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense, outclassing them 24-10 in a game that looked like a much bigger defeat. With the win, the No 5 Bears both eliminated the Vikings and kept Philadelphia alive for at least one other game. The two teams will meet in Chicago on Sunday.
The Eagles did not have exactly the time to go back to the playoffs. First, they suffered the worst single-game loss of a defending Super Bowl champion. Then they lost the quarterback Carson Wentz for a back injury. Fortunately, they had the Super Bowl MVP and Human Good Luck Charm Nick Foles to join Wentz, and helped bring Philadelphia to three consecutive wins.
Everything is fantastic, is not it? Well, not so much. Foles left the game on Sunday with a chest injury. The third-rope QB Nate Sudfeld ended the game for Philadelphia and also launched a touchdown in the contest. Now, the question is whether the Foles will be healthy enough to start next week.
The Steelers do not feel sorry for the Eagles, that's for sure. They were left to watch the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns after doing their part to extend their season by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 16-13. The Steelers were in the playoffs if the Ravens were able to fall into the not so mediocre Browns who were experiencing a sort of rebirth thanks to QB Baker Mayfield, who ended up setting the debutante touchdown record during the match with his 27th.
It had to be a pungent experience, but the Steelers had reason to hope late in the game. The Browns cut the Ravens until 26-24 and were marching to the field goal with less than a minute remaining in the game when Mayfield threw an interception to CJ Mosley who sealed AFC North for Baltimore. In that moment, the Steelers season was over and there was nothing they could do but watch. (OK, it was not completely over, the Steelers could still sneak in if Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans ended their game in a draw, but it was not a completely realistic proposition.)
The truth is that they had no one to blame if not themselves. The Steelers entered the season listed as a potential Super Bowl team (well, at least for some) but ended up losing four of their last six games. QB Ben Roethlisberger has launched 16 interceptions the year, the maximum in the NFL, and there is always more sense that the team's playing style may no longer work.
Roethlisberger, at least, believes in his team. After the loss, he announced that he would return for the 2019 season. He also stated that this was not the beginning of the end: "We have young guys who keep improving." Guys like JuJu (Smith-Schuster), James Conner. The boys will continue to improve, I do not think our window is closed. "
The Raven window, meanwhile, appears wide open. Their run-off spot completes a turnaround started when they replaced quarterback Joe Flacco with novice Lamar Jackson. Jackson's unique ability to play with his legs helped unleash the Baltimore offense just as much, while their defense, which rightly did the post-war play, did the rest. Now the 10-6 Ravens will end up hosting the 12-4 Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. This is the advantage of winning the division, even if you do it in almost the last game of the season.
MVP of the week
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots. OK, maybe it has not completely finished. Tom Brady threw for 250 yards and four touchdowns while the Patriots annihilated a completely disinterested New York Jets team for 38-3 to earn a first round for the playoffs. This would be their ninth first take in a row, which definitely works for Brady's benefit. The old man needs to rest, after all.
Stat of the week
Three years. That's how it's been since Teddy Bridgewater launched a touchdown pass. Bridgewater left for the New Orleans Saints, who had already conquered the seed n. 1 of the NFC, replacing the regular QB Drew Brees. Bridgewater is back from the serious knee injury he suffered during practice in 2016. Bridgewater launched the nine-yard pass to Tre & # 39; Quan Smith in what was a 33-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers. It was a positive development for Bridgewater who showed he was finally healed from his torn ACL. He could be a free in-demand agent this summer.
Quote of the week
"I am disappointed today by the behavior of TJ Yeldon and Leonard Fournette." They were disrespectful, selfish and their behavior was not at the height of that of a professional football player. " – Jacksonville Executive Vice President Jaguars, Tom Coughlin, on the apparent off-field sulking of two of his running backs.
Yeldon and Fournette have literally pulled out the loss of the Jaguars for 20-3 against the Texans of Houston. Fournette, to be honest, was out of injury, but Yeldon was in theory on the active roster. The two decided to distance themselves from the teammates on the bench, an episode that infuriated Coughlin. It was a perfect final image for the dysfunctional Jaguars, who switched from the worst to last season only to return to the worst team of the South AFC this season. (The Jaguars could also seize the opportunity to hit Fournette in the wallet).
The Texans, on the contrary, have conquered the division and the seed n. 3 without too much drama. Last season they had the worst record in the division, which means that in the last two years the Jaguars have gone from the "worst first" to the "first to worst" while Houston went to the "worst first". No 3 Texans will host the Indianapolis Colts number 6 on Saturday.
Video of the week
For many teams, the final game of the year is an opportunity to unleash the magic games they have lied to. So, with the Detroit Lions playing with the Green Bay Packers, in a game between two teams that were not heading for the playoffs, the Lions had the kicker Matt Prater throwing a touchdown pass on a fake field goal. It was only part of a Detroit assault that made the Packers beat in a 31-0, which would have been a little bit more meaningful if he did something different from their draft position.
Elsewhere around the championship
• The regular season of the NFL ended with a prime-time play-in between Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans. Now, this should have been a bit exciting in theory, but what we have concluded was a sloppy game, full of turnover between two teams not entirely selected. Maybe it would have been more of a thriller if Marcus Mariota had been healthy. Instead the Titans went with Blaine Gabbert as a starter and that may have been the difference. Instead, a revitalized Andrew Luck brought the Colts to a 33-17 victory and captured the sixth seed in the AFC.
• Quarterback Eli Manning may have just played his last game for the New York Giants. Manning has already earned his place in the history of the Giants with his two Super Bowl victories over the New England Patriots, but this time he had a relatively miserable season. If so, it was not an absolutely terrible expedition. Manning threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns after getting the inevitable interception off the path in advance. In a sign that the future of the Giants could be brighter, Saquon Barkley set a record debut with his 89th appearance. Obviously, the Giants lost 36-35 for the Dallas Cowboys of the NFC East winners who, unlike them, are heading for the playoffs. The No 4 Cowboys will host the Seattle Seahawks number 5 on Saturday.
• The Kansas City leaders reached the first seed in the AFC with the Oakland Raiders 35-3 defeat. In the win, quarterback Patrick Mahomes launched his 50th touchdown of the regular season and reached the milestone of 5,000 meters away, putting him in the company of Peyton Manning and nobody else. These numbers probably set him apart as the pioneer of the NFL's MVP award. They will rest in their first week, along with the No 2 Patriots in the AFC and the No 1 New Orleans Saints and the No 2 Los Angeles Rams in the NFC.
• Black Monday starts before every year, apparently. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired first manager Dirk Koetter in the afternoon, after a loss of 34-32 against the Atlanta Falcons ended the season at 5-11. Meanwhile, the Jets, as almost everyone in the known universe set off in Sunday's game against the Patriots, let the trainer Todd Bowles go later that day.
• Congratulations (sort of?) To the Arizona Cardinals. With the 27-24 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, their final record ended 3-13, thus closing the race for the first choice in the NFL Draft. The 4-12 San Francisco 49ers, who were crushed by the Los Angeles Rams 48-32 and finished with the second choice, which means they could not even fail correctly this season.