NFL | Jan 09, 2024

2023/24 NFL Week 18 Recap

By Harry Bazley

USATSI 22242576

The 2023/24 NFL regular season has come to an end, with Super Wildcard Weekend just around the corner.

From Belichick’s last game in New England (maybe), to the Steelers somehow making the playoffs, Week 18’s slate of games delivered plenty to talk about. Here’s our recap of every matchup from the final weekend of the regular season.

Steelers 17 - 10 Ravens

It certainly wasn’t pretty - with 6 Steelers fumbles on the night - but Mason Rudolph & Co. did what they had to do to secure a win over Baltimore’s back-up squad. Somehow Mike Tomlin has produced another winning season for Pittsburgh.

Along with plenty of help from Sunday's surprising results, the Steelers are now in the postseason. Their stellar defense has taken them this far, but I don’t expect them to make it beyond the wild card round. They’ll head to Buffalo to take on Josh Allen and the Bills this Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Ravens will enjoy a bye week as the top seed in the AFC.

Texans 23 - 19 Colts

As a Rams fan, I’m heavily biassed towards the greatness of Puka Nacua, but if I’m being honest, C.J. should be our Offensive Rookie of the Year. The guy is a serious baller. .

After a season full of throws like this, he’s taken the Texans to the playoffs in his first year in the league as champs of the AFC South.

As for the Colts, they may be eliminated this time, but if Anthony Richardson can stay healthy next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them competing for a spot again.

Jaguars 20 - 28 Titans

The Jags rocky few weeks ends with even more disappointment.

After starting the year 8-3, Jacksonville went on to lose 5 of their final 6 games, as Trevor Lawrence and others battled through injuries.

With an 8-point deficit in a win-and-in game, Lawrence put faith in the right arm that had him listed as questionable heading into the matchup. And with this one goal-line stop, the Titans put the playoffs out of reach.

Vikings 20 - 30 Lions

The Vikings either need to let Jefferson go and accept their fate for the next few years, or make as many upgrades as they possibly can all over the field. No.18 deserves more.

Meanwhile, this victory secured the No.3 seed for Detroit, who will now host the Rams this Sunday for their first home playoff game since 1993.

Goff will be taking on the team that traded him away and went on to win the Super Bowl with his replacement. This will be one hell of a game.

Falcons 17 - 48 Saints

This game was over long before this controversial play, but it seems to be all that people are talking about.

In fairness, faking the knee 24 points up with a minute left is not something you see every day, but the team wanted their running back to get his only touchdown of the year and went against Dennis Allen’s instructions to get it. I guess the point is, if you want to score then do it legitimately. And honestly, I agree.

Regardless, Arthur Smith has now been let go as the Falcons head coach and I’m just surprised he lasted the whole season.

Jets 17 - 3 Patriots

This is not how any of us wanted to see Belichick leave New England, but it’s a perfect reflection of what has been an underwhelming season. In fairness, I can’t imagine how tough it was to go from Tom Brady and 6 Super Bowl victories to Bailey Zappe, Mac Jones and a 4-13 record. In any case, I hope this isn’t the last time we see Belichick on an NFL sideline.

On the other hand, I think the Jets have a lot to look forward to. The biggest problem with the team this year was their quarterback and when Aaron Rodgers returns next season, I believe we’ll get a great year of football out of New York.

Buccaneers 9 - 0 Panthers

Well, a three field goal win over Carolina isn’t anything to brag about, but either way, the Bucs are in the playoffs and champs of the NFC South.

Baker Mayfield may have finally found his home after putting together by far his best season of football. The offense may have stalled in the last two games, but whether they win or lose this weekend, I fully expect Mayfield to be back at the helm next year.

As for the Panthers, I’m not sure what to expect. The bottom line is, they have to stick with Bryce Young, no matter how inconsistent he’s been. You can’t draft a No.1 pick and give up on him after one season. Unfortunately, I don’t expect a competitive team to come out of Carolina for some time.

Browns 14 - 31 Bengals

The big story we’ve missed with our hiatus over the last few weeks, is Joe Flacco.

Flacco was watching the NFL on his sofa just over a month ago, when he got the call from Cleveland and he’s now taken the Browns to the postseason after a four-game win streak to see out the season (Week 18 not included).

He’ll be facing the Houston Texans this weekend and there’s one stat that speaks volumes about Flacco when the pressure is on…

Meanwhile, Jake Browning may have a shot at a starting spot next season with the kind of year he’s had in Cincy. It’s been up and down, but for the most part he’s looked like a solid QB. It’ll be interesting to see where he heads in the offseason.

Cowboys 38 - 10 Commanders

There’s no doubt Tua & Tyreek have been a special combo this season, but there may not be a better QB-WR connection than Dak Prescott and Ceedee Lamb.

Lamb finished the season as the No.1 receiver with the most total touchdowns, scrimmage yards, receptions, targets and touches. If this kind of production continues in the postseason, I’m scared for Green Bay.

Rams 21 - 20 49ers

Well, not much to say here for two teams resting most of their starters. But one thing that’s certainly worth mentioning, is Puka Nucau rounding off an insane first season in the league.

The Rams 5th round pick just broke the all-time rookie receiving record for receptions and yards. Stafford has another star on his hands…

The Rams will now head to Detroit as both Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff take on their former teams. You couldn’t write it any better than this.

(Header Image Credit: Bob Donnan - USA TODAY Sports)