May 27, 2022

Wild weekend sets up NFL playoffs

The NFL regular season has reached its completion following the end of Week 18, and that last week had its fair share of drama to go with it. 

On the American Football Conference (AFC) side of things, it seemed that the playoff picture was mostly stable. The weekend was going to be highlighted by the Sunday night game between the Raiders and the Chargers for a win and get-in scenario.

The only expectation for that was the Colts were going to beat the lowly Jaguars and secure their place, leaving the winner of the late game to take the last spot. Instead, the Jaguars thoroughly dominated the Colts, winning 26-11 to win just their third game of the year. 

That Colts loss opened up a new world of possibilities and gave teams like the Steelers and Ravens new life. 

With the Colts losing, the Steelers, who many had counted out not long ago, only needed a win in their game, and that previously mentioned late-night game to not end in a tie to make their postseason dreams a reality. 

With a potential playoff berth on the line, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turned back the clock, leading his team on a touchdown drive to grab the lead in regulation, and then again to get them in position to kick the game-winner in overtime to beat and eliminate their bitter rival Ravens. 

Also around the AFC the Tennessee Titans beat the Texans to secure the number one seed in the conference, a Bills win along with a Patriots loss secured the AFC East title for Buffalo, the Browns beat the Bengals in a game that saw few starters play, and the Chiefs finished their season with a win over the Broncos. 

For the AFC, those results only left three options for two playoff spots. A Raiders win would see them and the Steelers make the playoffs. A Chargers win would see them and the Steelers make the playoffs. If the game were to end in a tie both the Raiders and the Chargers would make the big dance, with the Steelers missing out. 

The two teams ended up coming as close as possible to the tie without it actually happening. Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson kicked the game-winner with time expiring in overtime. 

On the other side of the league there wasn’t nearly as much drama, but there were still some upsets in the last week of the season. 

The top-seeded Packers dropped a game to the Lions, who like the Jaguars ended their season with just three wins. The once-dominant Cardinals lost to the Seahawks who finished last in their division, and San Francisco punched their ticket to the playoffs with an overtime win against the Rams. 

Most other scores were expected. Washington and New Orleans finished their years off with wins despite not making the playoffs. Tampa Bay demolished the Carolina Panthers, Dallas beat Philadelphia, who was resting for the playoffs. 

That marked the end of the season for all but 14 teams. They move on to the playoffs, where there might not be a next week.

  • Anthony DiCerbo is a junior at Capital majoring in professional writing/ journalism. Anthony is an avid sports fan and enjoys watching and writing about football, hockey, and various esports.

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