Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014 marked the final day of the 2014 NFL regular season. Next week, is Wildcard playoff weekend. There will be two playoff games on Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015 and two more on Sunday, Jan. 4. On this final weekend, there were still a handful of meaningful games, as there were a couple of playoff spots up for grabs, and in other games, home field advantage and 1st Round byes were on the line. Here is a look at some of the more meaningful games of Week 17.
Perhaps the most shocking result of Week 17, was the San Diego Chargers not making the playoffs due to losing 19-7 to a Kansas City Chiefs team which was without it’s starting QB Alex Smith. The Chargers had the enviable “win and in” scenario, but blew it. The loss opened the door for the Baltimore Ravens.
Baltimore started slow but a furious 4th Quarter rally gave them a victory in their matchup with a Cleveland Browns team which was without suspended star receiver Josh Gordon. The Browns also had to start third string rookie QB Connor Shaw due to injuries to both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel. The game was tied 3-3 at the half, and Baltimore trailed 10-3 going into the 4th Quarter, but rallied to win by a score of 20-10, to steal the last AFC playoff spot.
The New England Patriots lost 17-9 to the Buffalo Bills, but it was a meaningless game, as the Pats had already clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and a 1st Round bye. The other 1st Round bye, went to the Denver Broncos, who beat the Oakland Raiders by a score of 47-14.
In other games, the Indianapolis Colts beat Tennessee 27-10. On Sunday evening, in the final game of the day and the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 27-17. Both the Colts and Steelers will host playoff games next weekend.
In the NFC, there was one playoff spot still undecided as the day began, and the Carolina Panthers grabbed it. Cam Newton and his tobacco belt squad made mincemeat out of the Atlanta Falcons, as they claimed the NFC South division title by way of a 34-3 drubbing of their division rival.
In games which determined playoff positioning, the Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 30-20 to clinch the NFC North division, and a 1st Round bye. The Seattle Seahawks beat the St. Louis Rams 20-6 to solidify a 1st Round bye as well, and will have home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys beat Washington 44-17, and the Arizona Cardinals lost to San Francisco by a score of 20-17. Both teams will host a playoff game next weekend.
In summary, the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, and Green Bay Packers, have all earned a 1st Round bye, and will not play until the weekend of Jan. 10-11, 2015, when each will host a home playoff game. Here are the matchups for the four Wildcard Playoff games which will take place next weekend:
Saturday, Jan. 3: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers – 1:35 p.m. PT. Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers – 5:15 p.m. PT.
Sunday, Jan. 4: Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts – 10:00 a.m. PT. Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys – 1:40 p.m. PT.