The two teams that needed to win to get the final two playoff berths – Philadelphia and Tennessee – both did.
The Eagles beat the Giants to eliminate the Cowboys, who beat Washington. The Titans beat the Texans, who were resting their starters, to eliminate the Steelers and Raiders, but they both lost anyway.
The real drama was in the battle for the byes. San Francisco got the top seed in the NFC when Seattle imploded after getting within inches short of the victory. Green Bay got the second seed with the victory over Detroit at the buzzer.
In the AFC, the Patriots lost to Miami and that cost them the second seed when the Chiefs beat the Chargers. That means the Patriots will be a wild card team, and they’ve never won a Super Bowl without getting a bye. Baltimore had already wrapped up the top seed and rested Lamar Jackson but still beat the Steelers.
—San Francisco needed help from the Seahawks botching the final half minute but the 49ers have the top seed and a shot at their sixth Super Bowl victory and first since 1994. Jimmy Garoppolo gets a chance to join Joe Montana (4) and Steve Young (1) as quarterbacks who have led the 49ers to the Super Bowl. Both are in the HOF and Montana was named one of the ten best ever.
—Green Bay nailed down the second seed by beating the Lions on Mason Crosby’s field goal at the buzzer. Green Bay beat the Lions twice this year while trailing the entire game except when time expired. They now get a bye and at least one playoff game on the frozen tundra. –It was a surreal scene in Kansas City when the fans were cheering late in the fourth quarter even though they had the victory in hand over the Chargers. They were excited because Miami beat the Patriots, handing the Chiefs the bye.
—The Titans nailed down the wild card spot with the victory over the Texans and they let Derrick Henry stay in the game to beat out Nick Chubb for the league rushing title. Ryan Tannehill saved their season and is due for a big payday next year but fell eight yards short of the 2750 passing yards he needed to get a $250,000 bonus. The Titans should give it to them anyway.
—Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes in the easy 42-10 victory over the Panthers. The frustrating thing for them is that they still didn’t get a first-round bye and will likely have to win two road playoff games to get to the Super Bowl if they win the first one at home. Brees finished with 547 touchdown passes, six ahead of Tom Brady, whose career at New England may be nearing its end.
—When will Seattle get it right when it has the ball near the goal line in the final minute in a big game. They were inside the one against the 49ers after a Russell Wilson spike with three downs to put it in the end zone. But they got called for delay of game and Wilson’s fourth down completion was inches the goal line. Coach Pete Carroll blamed miscommunication for the mishap. Another word for it is inexcusable.
—Is the Patriot dynasty over? It sure looked like it when they lost to Miami, which cost them a first-round bye. And Tom Brady seems to have stayed a year too long. He should have retired on top last year the way John Elway did.
—The Steelers and Raiders needed victories to have a playoff shot if the Titans lost. The Titans won but they both lost anyway. The Steelers lost to a Baltimore team that rested Lamar Jackson and the Raiders lost to the Broncos 16-15 when Jon Gruden decided to go for the win rather than take the tie and go into overtime. But Derek Carr’s pass was deflected and the Raiders lost their last game as the Oakland Raiders.
—The Rams won their finale beating the Cardinals as Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes but it was a frustrating season for the Rams, who didn’t make the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl last year. Facing cap problems and the loss of two first round picks for Jalen Ramsey, the Rams window may be closing as they move into a new stadium next year.
—What is the future for the Bucs’ Jameis Winston? He threw a Pick Six in overtime against the Falcons to become the first play to throw 30 touchdown passes and 30 picks. Are the Bucs or any other team going to give him a big contract? Can he fix the interception problem? Stay tuned.