Surprise upsets, bitter endings and retirement rumours highlight the final week of the 2022 NFL season, as the playoff picture is finally set. Things kick off with a Wild Card round next Sunday, so sit back, place your bets and get ready to enjoy some football.
But first, let's get into my usual rant about Week 18's matchups...
Chiefs 31 - 13 Raiders
At this point, it's clear that the Chiefs can basically do whatever they want and still win comfortably. Not to mention this touchdown was brought back for a holding call, but Andy Reid still found a way to get Kadarius Toney into the end zone again on the very next play.
I mean, Kansas City needed this win for the No.1 seed and they still played ring around the roses to start a play. Josh Allen is shaking in his boots.
Meanwhile, Raiders fans have truly had enough of Josh McDaniels. Expect a change in Las Vegas before next year.
Titans 16 - 20 Jags
How the Titans choked this sad excuse of a division, I will truly never know...
Tennessee lost 7 in a row to go from 7-3 and sure-fire champs, to being knocked out of the playoffs by the Jags. And they couldn't have given away the crown in a more appropriate way - by blowing a 10-0 lead to lose 16-20.
Although, in fairness, I can't help but think the refs had some money on Jacksonville with this call... Is this really a fumble?
In any case, the Jags went from 3-7 to divisional champions. Impressive stuff, even in the AFC South.
Now, I'm not sure if Trevor Lawrence has what it takes to win in the postseason, but the Titans absolutely deserved to lose.
Browns 14 - 28 Steelers
I don't care that the Steelers ultimately missed playoff football, Mike Tomlin deserves a shout out either way... He has now logged his 16th straight non-losing season and has led all but one of his 258 games with his team in playoff contention.
It may be a rag-tag team of rookies for now, but don't sleep on Pittsburgh next year.
And by the way, whether this was a catch or not, George Pickens is on his way to being a top 10 receiver.
Ruled incomplete but here’s the weekly play where Steelers rookie George Pickens shows he’s an alien with absurd body control pic.twitter.com/6KNCBl2Nop— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) January 8, 2023
PS: as much as I hate to say it, the Browns will make the postseason next year.
Ravens 16 - 27 Bengals
Even if Lamar Jackson can get healthy for the replay next week, my money's still on Cincy.
For one thing, they have a QB who's cocky enough to say things like - the Bengals’ championship window is always open because the window is his whole career. And for another, the Ravens defense just can't stop Ja'Marr Chase... Then again, who can?
BURROW TO CHASE TOUCHDOWN!— Cincinnati 💔 (@CincyProblems) January 8, 2023
Bengals up 17-0 🔥 pic.twitter.com/J0UWXIyBfy
Vikings 29 - 13 Bears
For the first time since 1947, Chicago has landed the No.1 overall pick after logging franchise records for total season losses (10) and consecutive losses (14).
We all know Justin Fields is the entire future of the Bears, so let's trade away that top spot and give him someone to actually throw to.
Meanwhile, the Vikings are somehow 13-4 with a negative point differential... It's probably safe to assume their stint in the postseason will be brief (once they've defeated New York, of course).
Either way, you can expect more of this guy while they're on the field.
Patriots 23 - 35 Bills
The Bills could not have honored Damar Hamlin any better...
Nyheim Hines took the opening kick return to the house (and did it again in the 3rd quarter) to lead Buffalo to their 7th straight win. The Bills matched this franchise record to tally 13 victories on the year. The only thing stopping Josh Allen might be the Chiefs' playground football.
Meanwhile, conversations are stirring about a hard reset in New England. I know Belichick is basically the face of that city, but it's probably time for a change.
Jets 6 - 11 Dolphins
Miami might be heading to the playoffs, but if they have to field Skylar Thompson in Buffalo, they're in for a very, very tough time. Expect Wilson and Mostert to be doing most of the heavy lifting if Tua can't make it onto the turf.
And, the Jets may not have made it to the postseason but Robert Salah deserves all the credit for bringing this shambles of a team anywhere close to the Wild Card round. I hate to say it, but Jimmy G to New York next year...?
Buccaneers 17 - 30 Falcons
Tom Brady breaking records. What's new?
No.12 stuck around long enough last night to throw his 490th completion of the season, breaking the previous record of 485, set by himself last year, obviously.
Tampa Bay are on their way to face the spiralling Cowboys (who Brady has beaten all 7 times he's played them). It seems crazy to say, but could TB12 actually do it again?
Tom Brady’s 2022-23 regular season at 45 years old:— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) January 8, 2023
◽️ 490 completions*
◽️ 733 pass attempts*
◽️ 66.8% completion %
◽️ 4,694 pass yards
◽️ 25 TD-9 INT
◽️ 5 game-winning drives
◽️ Playoff bound
*single-season record pic.twitter.com/o1JGqdM7rN
Meanwhile, Desmond Ridder may have successfully landed the top spot in Atlanta after a solid four game run. Maybe Mariota to the Jets?
Honestly, I think Robert Saleh would have anyone taking snaps over Zach Wilson.
Panthers 10 - 7 Saints
Carolina just won a game with Sam Darnold recording a rating of 2.8. Yes, you read that correctly... 2. Point. 8.
That's all I have to say.
Texans 32 - 31 Colts
This exciting finish just cost Houston the No.1 overall pick (and Lovie Smith his job). It seems upper management wasn't happy about Smith still wanting to win football games. Weird.
And Jeff Saturday may have seemed like a crowd pleaser at first, but Indy will need a new head coach if they want to get back to a winning record.
Although, it wasn't all his fault. There's not much he can do when his team is making plays like this.
Cardinals 13 - 38 49ers
We could talk about how good the 49ers are all day long (and they're scary good), but seeing JJ Watt close out his final game with 2 sacks in a loss, is sadly a perfect poster for his whole career, in which he was a lone bright spot for a lot of bad teams.
We all would have loved to see Watt with a ring, but he'll go down as one of the greats either way.
JJ WATT WITH 2 SACKS IN HIS FINAL CAREER GAME 👑 pic.twitter.com/trKZzPLTuM— PFF (@PFF) January 8, 2023
Someone else I'd love to see with a ring is Brock Purdy. San Francisco haven't slowed down one bit without Garoppolo. Could this be Tom Brady reincarnated?
Cowboys 6 - 26 Commanders
Sam Howell may not be a franchise QB, but he's the only passer in Washington that could be worthy of returning next season. It's just a shame Ron Rivera had faith in Carson Wentz, for some reason.
On the other hand, Dak Prescott is making his case for a spot on the bench. No.4 has now thrown a pick in 7 consecutive games and I'd put my money on the Bucs to make it 8.
I said it a while ago, and I'll say it again. Brady will send Prescott home in the Wild Card round.
Rams 16 - 19 Seahawks
The Seahawks owe Detroit half a ring if they manage to get one. (They won't)
All jokes aside, Pete Carroll found a way to turn Geno Smith into a potential franchise QB, who just broke Seattle's single-season passing record. And for that alone, he deserves playoff football. (Even if it is all thanks to Jared Goff)
Now, Smith's storyline is one thing, but fleecing Denver for all the draft picks in the world with the Russell Wilson trade, is perhaps the best decision in NFL history. Carroll can have Coach of the Year right now.
What an absolute DOT from Geno Smith pic.twitter.com/CfSP8eVe7Z— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 8, 2023
On the other hand, Sean McVay has gone from glory to the gutters. If Stafford and Kupp aren't set for a 2023 return, it'll be another tough run for the Rams and I'm not sure McVay will last.
Giants 16 - 22 Eagles
I know Jalen Hurts wasn't at 100%, but Philly just barely held onto a win against a Giants team that was benching nealry every starter they had.
Could Big Blue upset the Birds No.1 seed run? If anyone's going to do it, I'd love it to be Brian Daboll.
Chargers 28 - 31 Broncos
Justin Herbert now joins Peyton Manning as the only two players with 25 or more touchdowns in each of their first three seasons. The Herbert-Lawrence matchup for Wild Card Weekend will certainly be a fun one.
And while the Bolts are looking set for a bright future, I think it's safe to say that Denver successfully dug their own grave when they took Russell Wilson on board.
The Broncos are a side that need the reset of all resets. At this point, I'd just delete the franchise and start again.
Lions 20 - 16 Packers
The Packers in a win or go home game: Rasul Douglas punched a player, Jarran Reed forearm to the helmet and Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt pushed a trainer.
So, maybe Aaron Rodgers' teammates deserve this bitter end to the year, but with the following clip suggesting the end of No.12s career, it would be a tough way to go.
“I’m holding onto this one”— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 9, 2023
On the other hand, Jared Goff didn't make it to the playoffs and I'm super happy about that.