The NFL’s Week 17 has clarified the playoff situation, but that doesn’t mean all outstanding issues have been resolved.
One thread erupted in the NFC South that ended the Carolina Panthers’ improbable run, largely because of how Tom Brady defends his favorite target, Mike Evans. Tampa Bay is currently winning his NFC South.
Elsewhere in the conference, the Green Bay Packers (with a loss to the Washington Commanders) dominate their destiny for the last remaining playoff spot in the NFC. But this team is more than just quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In the AFC, the Miami Dolphins continued their free fall while the New England Patriots climbed the last open wildcard spot…for now.
Here are the winners and losers for the penultimate week of the 2022 NFL season.
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Kenny Pickett grows up
Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett faced a defense that hadn’t allowed a home touchdown in the previous 15 quarters and made several massive throws to cut four points ahead of the season. , needed a touchdown to move on.
Pickett (15 of 27 passes for 168 yards for a touchdown) didn’t record big numbers, but he played pretty well. But it was the game-winning series where he shined. In the series, Pickett completed 5 of 6 throws for 62 yards. This included a 10-yard touchdown to running back Nagy Harris, who escaped pressure and delivered an accurate pass on the move. He also converted two rushing first-down conversions on third down via a quarterback sneak. Now, more importantly for the Steelers (8-8), their meager playoff hopes lived with victory. Pittsburgh should beat the Browns next week and both the Patriots and Dolphins should drop the game.
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Even if they miss the playoffs, the Lions stand up
A seven-of-nine winner, the Lions have secured postseason berths on outside shots. Detroit (8-8) needs to beat the Packers (8-8) in Week 18, but the Seahawks (8-8) need to lose to the Rams (5-11). Frankly, all of that is unlikely to happen, but in any case, this season has been a huge success for Dan Campbell and the Lions.
Detroit has injected speed into its roster, although there are still some issues to work out on defense. That’s what star his rookie Jameson Williams is still recovering from the torn ACL he sustained in his championship game at the Nationals. Jared Goff tackles Detroit’s play his action pass his game with absolute precision. The offensive line is stable. Detroit is his best team to guard the ball in the NFL, recording just 15 turnovers. These are all things this young team can incorporate into next season and beyond.
Dangerous packers for many reasons
The Vikings have had unsustainable luck, with Green Bay having a big breakout with the Browns beating the Commanders, but the Packers (8-8) will be in a win-win scenario next week in the finale against the Lions ( 8-8). But Aaron Rodgers wasn’t the only one to suddenly put Green Bay in a difficult out.
Rodgers was efficient, completing 15 of 24 passes for 159 yards for two total touchdowns. However, the Green Bay defense his team and special teams set the tone with his two touchdowns in the opening of the game. A 105-yard kickoff return by Kaycean Nixon and a 75-yard pick 6 by safety Darnell Savage. Only 17 points are allowed per game during his four straight wins for Green Bay. Granted, they didn’t play their toughest opponents, and some teams were plagued with injuries, but the Packers beat their opponents to his 41.5% conversion on his third down, the Reds. His zone limits him to 44.4% conversions. They also forced 12 turnovers in that span.
The Case of Jarrett Stidham
Let the brutal interception get out of the way. Stidham should not have lofted it in the face of pressure. It’s the type of play he needs to learn if he’s to become a viable NFL quarterback.
Still, Stidham, who made his first career start (6-10) with the Raiders, will decide what Las Vegas does at quarterback, so depending on the price, he might be worth a flyer next season. Stidham (23 of 34 for 365 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) opened up the best defense in the NFL with 26. Josh McDaniels was New England’s offensive coordinator when he drafted Stidham. Given his familiarity with Stidham, McDaniels makes sense as a coach who can get the best out of him, and Stidham is almost certainly looking for a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2014. Makes sense as a bridge player on the team…off season.
Ron Rivera’s amazing lack of consciousness
Otherwise, the Commanders’ coaches had a solid season managing a roster insufficient for playoff contention. Rivera started Carson Wentz at quarterback. This is because Wentz had one good quarter the week before after benching Taylor Heinicke in a crushing defeat.
Washington’s offense had stalled recently, but not just because of Heiniecke’s play. The Commander (7-8-1) committed careless penalties, the rushing game vanished at times, and defenses that forced turnovers suddenly ceased to position the offense in an advantageous position. So rather than ride on the momentum Heinicke had built in a must-see match, Rivera turned to Wentz. achievement of implosion in a crucial game late in the season. That Rivera didn’t have a short leash on Wentz (16 of 28 for 143 yards, 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) sucks. That he didn’t know that Washington might be left out of playoff contention is completely indefensible.
Colts Collapse Has Ersay Fingerprints Everywhere
The Colts owner took the winning lap after interim coach Jeff Saturday won the first game of Week 10. According to multiple reports, Arsei was the catalyst Behind Matt Ryan’s team’s first benching at quarterback in October, when Frank Reich was still head coach.
Irsay is now watching for a series of moves that only create massive instability. Irsay largely dismissed Reich because the Indianapolis offense was ineffective. The Colts (4-11-1) have gone 97-16 in the last 10 quarters. The Giants hadn’t beaten anyone by more than eight points this season. They held Indy down to 28. The offensive line, which played Saturday and was expected to improve, continues its decline as one of the most disappointing units in the NFL. Without a quarterback, if anyone is to blame, it’s the owner.
Carolina makes a terrible decision not once, but twice…
The Panthers maintained an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Had they won, they would have had a chance to enter the season finale and clinch with an unlikely run to the NFC South Championship. , dropped out. This is mainly due to repeated mistakes (twice) early in the game.
After Panthers receiver Sea Smith caught a 19-yard touchdown in the fourth, Carolina played Bucks receiver Mike Evans into single-man coverage. A lead they won’t let go of. It’s puzzling that Carolina also single-mand against Evans after Evans scored for 63 yards late in the second quarter, and it’s also the peak of defensive mismanagement. As much as Steve Wilkes worked as an interim coach, this wasn’t his finest moment.
dolphin in free fall
At the end of Week 12, the Dolphins were 8-3. Their quarterback, his Tua Tagovailoa, was creeping into the MVP conversation. They were buyers at the deal deadline, and a playoff appearance seemed certain. Since then, Miami (8-8) has lost five in a row. They need help advancing to the postseason. Tagovailoa is facing health issues from a concussion and the team’s long-term questions about the quarterback have not been answered.
That all but one of Miami’s losses during the skid was a one-score game shows both how close the Dolphins are to another reality and how costly their missteps are. . Miami abandoned the rush at a crucial time. It often penalizes carelessness in high leverage situations. Place his kicker Jason Saunders became completely unreliable beyond 40 yards. The Dolphins gave him the ball 10 times during their losing streak. They are battling a rash of injuries. They can only blame themselves.