With the exception of the unfortunate fact that the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, a team that is NOT significantly better than the Detroit Lions, is in the National Football League playoffs, it was a pretty good year for the NFL.
Tom Brady was sensational, Arian Foster was a horse, Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis remained the best defensive players in the NFL, our pal Israel Idonije had a great year in Chicago, the Lions got better, Kansas City stepped up, Oakland improved, Tim Tebow showed why he should be No. 1 in Denver, Peyton Manning willed the Colts back to the playoffs, Brett Favre retired, Sam Bradford arrived and the poor Minnesota Vikings finished the year with an interim coach, a collapsed stadium and a vantage point from the basement of the NFC North.
On Sunday evening, the NFL’s playoff schedule has been set. In the opening round, New England and Pittsburgh have the byes in the AFC while Atlanta and Chicago have the byes in the NFC. New England and Atlanta have home field throughout the playoffs. This Saturday, New Orleans plays at Seattle at 3:30 while the Jets play at Indianapolis at 7, both games are on NBC. On Sunday, Baltimore is at Kansas City at 12 Noon on CBS and Green Bay is at Philadelphia at 3:30 on FOX.
Let’s enjoy it because if the folks who run the league and the Players Association don’t get their collective act in gear, we might have nothing but the CFL, the UFL and BCS next season.
OK, Sport Select and Fantasy Players, here are your NFL scores and highlights for Week 17…
Seattle 16 St. Louis 6
Just a horrible football game. Seattle wins the NFC West with a 7-9 record, the first sub.500 division champ in league history and they’ll get to play host to New Orleans on Saturday.
Detroit 20 Minnesota 13
The Lions won their final four games and finished ahead of the Vikings in the standings. It’s the first time since 1990 that the Vikes have finished last in the NFC North. And Brett Favre, who was inactive yesterday with a concussion, HAS retired. Detroit’s Shaun Hill threw for 258 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota’s only touchdown came on an interception return by Jared Allen. It looks like Leslie Frazier will keep his job as the Vikings head coach.
Green Bay 10 Chicago 3
Aaron Rodgers one-yard pass to tight end Donald Lee gave the 10-6 Packers all they needed in the fourth quarter to win the game and lock up a playoff berth.
NY Giants 17 Washington 14
The 10-6 Giants got the win but they didn’t get the help they needed to make the playoffs. The Packers win eliminated New York.
Indianapolis 23 Tennessee 20
Peyton Manning threw two touchdowns passes and Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning field goal with no time left on the clock as the 10-6 Colts made the playoffs again.
NY Jets 38 Buffalo 7
Veteran Mark Brunell threw two TD passes for the 11-5 Jets as Mark Sanchez rested for the playoffs after the first series of downs.
Tampa Bay 23 New Orleans 13
Tampa finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs. Bucs QB Josh Freeman threw for 255 yards and two TDs. The Saints finished 11-5 and will head off to the post-season.
New England 38 Miami 7
The Pats’ Tom Brady went 10-fort-16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. His new favorite target, Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 102 yards and a TD. The 14-2 Patriots won their final eight games. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano could lose his job this week.
Pittsburgh 41 Cleveland 9
The Steelers Ben Roethlisberger went 15-for-22 for 280 yards and two touchdowns as 12-4 Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North title. Expect the Cleveland coaching staff to be fired en masse today. (Note: Eric Mangini was fired Monday morning before 9 a.m.)
Baltimore 13 Cincinnati 7
The Ravens offence did nothing, but Ed Reed had two interceptions and Ray Lewis recovered two fumbles. Baltimore will enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
Atlanta 31 Carolina 10
Matt Ryan threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons finished 13-3 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Dallas 14 Philadelphia 13
Jason Garrett will be go from interim to semi-permanent head coach of the Cowboys (all coaches are semi-permanent). Stephen McGee threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Jason Whitten with 55 seconds left to give Dallas the victory. Michael Vick did not play for the Eagles, but will start this coming Sunday against Green Bay.
Oakland 31 Kansas City 10
The Chiefs Matt Cassel was awful – 11-for-33 for 115 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Oakland’s Michael Bush carried 25 times for 137 yards and a touchdown. The 8-8 Raiders went 6-0 within the AFC West Division and missed the playoffs. The Cjiefs won it at 10-6.
San Francisco 38 Arizona 7
It was likely Alex Smith’s final game for the 49ers and he was pretty good. He threw for 276 yards and two TDs.
San Diego 33 Denver 28
Chargers rookie Ryan Matthews ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns. For Denver, QB Tim Tebow threw two touchdowns passes and ran for another.
Houston 34 Jacksonville 17
The Texans’ Arian Foster rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns and won the NFL rushing title.