With week 17 coming to a close, the 2016 NFL regular season has all-but wrapped-up. It went by in a hurry. It feels like only yesterday that teams had reported to training camp and now the playoffs are less than a week away. With the season in the books, it is time to move on. For some it means the playoffs and potentially a trip to the Super Bowl, but for those not as fortunate, it means heading into the offseason with only the Pro Bowl to look forward to, if they are so lucky.
This season was comprised of early season favorites, historical performances, rookie sensations, devastating injuries and late season disappointments. There were moments of triumph and despair. 2016 saw the continuation of some legacies, while others just began. Some franchises failed to live up to lofty expectations and for the others, it was another treacherous season that ended in misery.
With every week in the NFL comes surprises, while some of them are exhilarating and encouraging, others only lead to disappointment and despair. With any game or contest there will always be a winner and a loser, and is just as true this week in the NFL as it is the next.
Winners and Losers: NFL Week 16 — Bounce Back Week
QB Rankings: NFL Week 17 — The last dance
Five Questions: NFL Week 16 — Jerry’s World is a-rockin’
Power Rankings: NFL Week 17 — 2016’s Curtain Call
cover32 Exclusive: NFL Pick’ems Week 17 — In a blink
NFL Week 17 winners and losers
Kansas City Chiefs
The season was not over for the Chiefs in week 17 as they had plenty to play for, with the AFC West division title on the line. In possession of the tie-breaker and just a game back of Oakland, Kansas City got a much-needed win over the Chargers and with the Raiders losing to the Broncos, clinched the division. The victory moves the Chiefs into the AFC’s two-seed, along with securing them a first-round bye. Next for Kansas City will be a home contest, in the Divisional-round of the playoffs, against either Pittsburgh or the winner of Oakland and Houston.
Green Bay Packers
After a slow start and a difficult midseason patch, the Packers have turned it on as the postseason nears, winning their last six straight. Week 17 saw Green Bay matchup with the Lions in a divisional battle for the NFC North title. Detroit was unable to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers as he exploded on Sunday night, throwing four touchdowns in the Packers’ season finale. With the victory, Green Bay secured its fifth division title in the last six years. The Packers finished as the NFC’s fourth seed and will play host to the New York Giants in the Wild Card-round this Sunday.
New England Patriots
New England secured the number one seed in AFC playoffs and ensured that they would maintain home field advantage throughout the playoffs, with their week 17 victory over the Dolphins in Miami. The Patriots have now eight straight and 13 of their last 14 division championships. They are the most successful team in AFC history and are the early favorites to win their fifth Super Bowl. They will play either the winner of Oakland and Houston or Miami at home in the Divisional-round of the playoffs.
Week 17 saw many on the Minnesota Vikings have career-days, but none were greater than Sam Bradford’s. He finishes the year as the league’s most efficient quarterback ever, setting an NFL single season record, completing 71.6 percent of his passes. Bradford wasn’t the only signal caller to make history on Sunday, as Matt Stafford became the quickest quarterback to pass for 30,000 yards. It took Stafford just 109 games to complete the feat, passing Dan Marino and Kurt Warner who managed to do it in 114. Jordan Howard set a Bears’ rookie franchise record, rushing for 1,313 yards this season, passing Matt Forte’s mark of 1,238 yards, set in 2008. The historic marks continued on Sunday, with Antonio Gates tying Tony Gonzalez for the all-time touchdown record for tight ends, with his 111th career receiving score. Gates has said he plans on returning next year, when he should raise the bar and set a new mark.