Week #17 – Things are starting to become clearer: The Bengals are for real.
Falcons @ Bills (15-29)
The Bills (10-6). After taking care of divisional business last week in Foxboro, Buffalo could afford to take a step back, holding the Falcons (7-9) by one arm and letting them swing wildly but unable to do the Bills much harm. The game was ultimately so one sided that it brought images of big brother bullying little brother. The Bills have their ticket to the postseason via the AFC East Division Crown. The Falcons are still trying to dig out a wedgie, and that’s their biggest worry until next season.
Chiefs @ Bengals (31-34)
Week 16 was a week that saw the Chiefs (11-5) step into the AFC lead dog role. Week 17 saw the upstart Bengals (10-6) say “not so fast” to those Chiefs. So in a season, that’s been just like that; once again, a leader picking up momentum is shoved into a chair and told not to speak until spoken to. Joe Burrow was that bully this week to Pat Mahomes. All good ‘ole Joe did was sling a leather ball to the tune of 30 of 39 for 446 yards and four touchdowns, dwarfing the underwhelming 26 of 39 for 256 yards and two touchdowns, of the mighty Pat Mahomes. The up-and-coming AFC Powerhouse Bengals closed the door for the AFC North title, punching their ticket to the postseason. The two may meet again in postseason play, but until then the brags belong to Cincy.
Dolphins @ Titans (3-34).
Somebody had to do it; nobody had the nerve until the Dolphins (8-8) wandered into Nashville with their shiny seven-game winning streak to take on the Titans (11-5). Those dang Dolphins and their newly found playoff inspirations got open hand slapped back to life, back to reality, back to South Beach, to the realization that it sure was great during that almost unbelievable streak. Alas, the fat lady had sung. She had already left the stadium and taken with her, any chance at a Dolphins postseason. The Titans wrap up the AFC South with the blowout and take over as the one seed in the AFC. It seems like each week in that conference, some team doing well has decided to offer themselves up to NFL parity, further blurring the ability to tell who’s for real over there.
Raiders @ Colts (23-20).
Are you kidding me? The team that Gruden built (9-7) has possibly positioned itself to strongarm a playoff spot by beating the Chargers this week at home? The Colts losing this game now is in a must-win position against Jacksonville. Not so tough of an order. Don’t the Colts have a minor league team they can send down to the mouth of the St. Johns River to handle that loose end? Both these teams can play their way in by winning this week.
Jaguars @ Patriots (10-50).
There isn’t another team in the league that is more of a sure thing for a win than the Jaguars — perhaps the only sure thing in the AFC. The Jaguars are pitiful. The fifty points against the Jags should hint at that, or scream it! The Patriots are in the postseason, and I think everyone saw that coming. I know, the Jags are like a bad car accident, an accident so horrifyingly awful that you cannot even stand and stare. Just grab a hand and pray for them, and don’t let the kids look.
Buccaneers @ Jets (28-24).
I’ll admit this one had me scared. I was expecting a tough game from the Jets (4-12) at home — the place where Gang Green had three of their four wins in 2021 so far. I try to stay grounded and not get too carried away with the Bucs this season. Let’s face it, even though the Bucs are still a pretty good darn team with the injuries and Covid protocols. They are not, in my opinion, anywhere as good as they were last season at around this time. Last season by now (16 game season last year) The Bucs were cracking heads together and were a force to be reckoned with. Last season had the Bucs played the Jets after the bye, the Jets would have never even been in the game with Buccaneers. It would have been over by halftime. The Buccaneers aren’t that team this season. Have the Buccaneers played very well at times? Yes —Especially the offensive line.
The Bucs are too erratic and inconsistent this season, mostly because of injuries.
Basically, the only team that has remained strong most of the season is Green Bay. Who still managed to get blown out in the season opener by New Orleans, before they had themselves together. The Packers would lose again, this time to the Chiefs in a close one in week 9. With loss number three so far at the hands of the Vikings in week 11, who lived up to their potential – for once.
The good news is most of the teams that the Bucs will face in the playoff’s/Super Bowl are inconsistent and can play down to their opponents at times. The Packers will be the gut check at the door in the playoffs. If you don’t give them your very best game, you will lose. The Bucs can play with anybody out there for x amount of minutes in a game. It’s the other minutes that I’m worried about. Keep the faith.
Eagles @ Washington (20-16).
The Eagles have done the work, and they should be in the playoffs no problem — Nothing to see here.
Rams @ Ravens (20-19).
The Rams (12-4) were down to the Ravens (8-8) for a time in this one before pulling it out for the win. The Rams are in the playoffs, of course, and the Ravens are not. I knew their record earlier this season was misleading, same for the Cardinals.
Broncos @ Chargers (13-34).
The Chargers were in control of their own destiny until they allowed a loss to the lowly Texans last week — that all comes to a head now this week in a win-or-go-home game against the Raiders. This could be a very good game, filled with anticipation and something to lose for both teams, it is one of those games when you don’t need a pep talk to get you fired up and ready to rumble. The Chargers will know where they stand Sunday evening.
Texans @ 49ers (7-23).
49ers (9-7) can assure themselves of a playoff game if they win in week 18 against the division-leading Rams — their chances with a loss, of course, are much more complicated. What will they do? Stay tuned.
Cardinals @ Cowboys (25-22).
Dallas (11-5) hurt their seeding with the loss. This is another one of those games that was surprising. Here you had the Cardinals, losers of their last four games, up against a Dallas team that seemed to be peaking just right — forget about it. The ‘Cards reinsert themselves into the discussion of who’s the best in the NFC, and Dallas further backs up a trend from this season — that’s league-wide inconsistency, or parity if you will. Both teams are safely in the postseason, but questions remain.
The official NFL Seeding