NFL Week 18: Recap & Final Power Rankings

The wild and crazy 2021 NFL season came to a fitting end on Sunday night as we were treated to what was likely the game of the year. Before I get to that, I went 11-5 in on the official books in Week 18 while Christen went 10-6. We both had had down years after last season but I was able to pick up an extra game in our pick ’em group, which gave me the weekly win for the fourth-straight week, and secured me the season-long title. Here are the final numbers.

Thrill and agony

Getting back to the Raiders and Chargers, the season couldn’t have ended in more dramatic fashion if it was scripted, and it sure seemed scripted during some moments. After blowing a 29-14 lead, the Raiders won the FG battle in overtime with a 35-32 win. Daniel Carlson’s game-winner punched Las Vegas’ ticket to the post-season and sent the Chargers packing to watch from home.

Deebo Samuel did it all for the 49ers with 95-yards receiving, with a passing and rushing TD

The 49ers’ playoff lives were hanging in the balance as they stared down the barrel of a 17-0 deficit. Nothing was going their way as Kimmy G struggled with his thumb injury, but they were able to get 3-points right before the half and it was enough to spark the comeback. San Francisco struck with touchowns to start the second half and tie the game, but a costly interception from Jimmy G swung momentum as the 49ers were driving and allowed the Rams to take back the lead. With their backs against the wall, Jimmy led his troops down the field to force overtime where a field goal and an interception of Matthew Stafford iced it.

In less dramatic fashion, the Buccaneers handled the Panthers 41-17, as expected, and got some much needed reps in for their players who will be stepping into big roles. At the end of the day, the defending champs still finished the season tied for the best record in the league. The Bills also beat the Jets 27-10, to nobody’s surprise and the Saints beat the Falcons 30-20 but were eliminated from playoff contention with the Niners’ win.

The season was disapponting, but Russell Wilson might have more to give Seattle

The afternoon held some surprises as the Seahawks showed that even though they are out of the playoff picture, they may have more left in the tank than many of us thought as the beat the Cardinals 38-30. The Dolphins also surprised the Patriots with the 33-24 upset. Miami finished the season 9-8 after a 1-7 start, but the front office decided to fire head coach Brian Flores anyway. That’s going to rove to be a mistake. New England was still playing for the AFC East heading into Miami, so it’s not a great game for them as they head into the playoffs.

Where do the Colts go from here?

In what had to be the biggest surprise of the weekend, the Colts choked away their playoff spot as they got absolutely starched by the Jaguars 26-11. They hadn’t won in Jacksonville five years, but this was as favorable of a game as they could have asked for. The Carson Wentz experiement may be over in Indy because despite his reasonable season stats, he was a major factor in all of their losses. If anyone needed a reminder as to why winn-loss record s a QB stat, look no further than the Colts. On the other side of the AFC South, Tennessee locked up the AFC’s #1 seed with their win over the Texans, but Houston made a run on them there at the end. With the top spot in the conference, the Titans get an extra week to rest and prepare to get Derrick Henry back.

The Steelers keep finding a way

Nobody may have been as interested in the Sunday night game as the Pittsburgh Steelers. They gave themselves a chance with an 16-13 overtime win on the road vs the Ravens and the Raiders took care of the rest. The other AFC North matchup was of little signficance as the Browns took a 21-16 win off a resting Bengals team that is now locked into the #4 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers sure seemed to make a big deal about playing in a meaningless game against the Lions right around the time rumors were surfacing that he may be boycotting any potential Super Bowl appearnce. I get not wanting to be on the sidelines for close to three weeks and Rodgers did his thing, but the Packers’ starters were losing to the Lions at the half and that’s not the way you want to head into the playoffs either.

In the only inconsequential games, the Packers’ NFC North division-mates battled for their coaches as the Vikings beat the bears 31-17. However, in the grand scheme of things, both teams lost as the Bears fired Matt Nagy and the Vikes did the same to Mike Zimmer. The one coach who has somehow avoided the chopping block thus far is New York Giants’ coach Joe Judge. The owners refused to fire him after their 22-7 loss to Washington, completing their 4-13 season, but whoever the new GM will be will likely make that decision.

That’s that for the NFL regular season. It’s been fun and the playoffs always up the ante, so I am looking forward to that. Here is a look at the playoff tournament:

Remember that the lowest remaining seed goes to the highest in Round 2

Here are the updated Power Rankings. The Packers stay in the #1 spot despite the loss, there’s some shuffling in the Top-5, and the Jags take the bottom spot for the second straight season.

1. Packers 13-4 (=)
2. Buccaneers 13-4 (+1)
3. Titans 12-5 (+1)
4. Cowboys 12-5 (+2)
5. Rams 12-5 (-3)
6. Chiefs 12-5 (+3)
7. Bills 11-6 (+1)
8. Cardinals 11-6 (-3)
9. Bengals 10-7 (-2)
10. Patriots 10-7 (-1)
11. Raiders 10-7 (+1)
12. 49ers 10-7 (+2)
13. Eagles 9-8 (-2)
14. Steelers 10-7-1 (+2)
15. Chargers 9-8 (-4)
16. Saints 9-8 (+1)
17. Dolphins 9-8 (+2)
18. Colts 9-8 (-5)
19. Ravens 8-9 (-1)
20. Vikings 8-9 (=)
21. Browns 8-9 (=)
22. Broncos 7-10 (=)
23. Falcons 7-10 (=)
24. Seahawks 7-10 (+1)
25. Washington 7-10 (+1)
26. Bears 6-11 (-2)
27. Panthers 5-12 (=)
28. Texans 4-13 (=)
29. Jets 4-13 (+1)
30. Lions 3-13-1 (+1)
31. Giants 4-13 (-1)
32. Jaguars 3-14 (=)

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