|Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports|
NFL scores and more, Week 17: What happened Sunday
The Patriots didn’t need to play their starters as long as they did against the Dolphins on Sunday. All they needed was a secure lead, which they had with a 20-7 lead at the half. Leave it to Bill Belichick to put his foot on the gas in one last tune up before the Patriots get a week off.
They could see the Dolphins again, if Miami can beat Pittsburgh next week in the Wild Card round. Or, they could take on the winner of the Raiders-Texans game, which is the next best thing to a second bye. In other words, the Patriots have a fairly easy path to the Super Bowl, probably the easiest of any team in the playoffs this year.
Things aren’t so clear cut in the NFC. Dallas locked up the top seed a few weeks ago, and they looked excellent again, even with the backups playing, on Sunday afternoon against the Eagles.
The Packers are playing out their mind. After Aaron Rodgers promised to run the table in Week 11, they did it, winning six straight games to clinch their fifth NFC North title in the last six years.
Rodgers looks nearly impossible to beat the way he’s playing right now.
But out of all those teams, the one I think might be the surprise winner in the NFC is the Falcons. They’re playing indoors the whole way through the playoffs, even if they end up going to Dallas for the NFC Championship.
The Falcons are more than just a “dome” team. They’ve proven that time and again, and I’ll refer you back to this piece from Geoff Schwartz breaking down why that’s the case. However, the fact that they do get to play inside (hell, they’ll be in a dome if they do go all the way to the Super Bowl in Houston), only makes them better. The kind of speedy, explosive offense they have will burn up the turf under a roof.
Matt Ryan for MVP
He’s my pick. What he did this week against the Saints sealed it. He led a touchdown drive on the Falcons’ opening possession, something he’s done every week in his last six games. They scored five touchdowns on their first five drives.
This is Greatest Show on Turf era Rams level offense.
He joined Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers as only the third player ever with at least 35 passing touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions. His 9.26 yards per attempt was a new NFL record.
Ryan finished the year with 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and seven picks. His 117.1 passer rating leads the league.
He’s got Julio Jones’ endorsement.
On the other hand, there’s Aaron Rodgers
He finished the season with the NFL lead in touchdown passes, with 40, topping Ryan. But the fantasy numbers don’t really tell the full story. This is the kind of stuff that does, impossible plays like the back-breaking touchdown against the Lions on Sunday night.
In his last seven games, Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdowns and no interceptions.
What makes Rodgers’ MVP candidacy different than Ryan’s is the hot streak late in the season, saving it for the Packers, and the dramatics.
Ryan’s success has been measured out over the course of an entire season. He puts up huge numbers week after week and makes it look effortless. Rodgers does it with more flair, like the play above. It’s no less valuable than what Ryan’s done this season, but it might be more to sway voters, especially since it’s the folks with a press pass doing the voting, and those people love a good story, so I’m told.
Confirmed: Texans vs. Raiders Wildcard game is going to suck
The Raiders might have Matt McGloin back next week. If not, they’ll go with third-string rookie Connor Cook.
The Texans will start Tom Savage, maybe. Savage suffered a concussion, came back onto the field for a kneel down at the half, and then was replaced by Brock Osweiler.
I think the Raiders will win that game. They’re a much better team, even with the backup quarterback in there. And then they’ll get fed to the lions the week after that, playing either the Patriots of the Chiefs.
This sucks for the Raiders. They’ve been one of the most fun teams to watch this year, and they will be again next year. But without Derek Carr, they’re just not as good as they could be. Greatness deferred.
A bad year for football in California
At least the Raiders are good, backup quarterback and all. That’s more than you can say about the other three teams that play in the Golden State.
The Chargers fired Mike McCoy on Sunday night. The 49ers were reportedly going to give Chip Kelly the boot on Monday, and the Rams reached their limit with Jeff Fisher’s trademark “7 and 9 bullshit” earlier in December.
It’s going to be awhile before the Rams or 49ers are good again. There’s a lot of work that has to be done. The Chargers could get there sooner, but the distraction of a relocation drama and the Spanos family’s commitment to being terrible, is going to hold them back.
Of course, the Raiders might be playing in Las Vegas soon.
The Browns took the Steelers’ backups all the way to overtime. They still lost, but points for trying! They still get to keep the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They also have the 12th and 33rd picks.
Want some even better news, Browns fans? Owner Jimmy Haslam doesn’t plan to make any changes to the team’s leadership. They may add a personnel guy to help the eggheads, but that COULD make for a good balance.
Hue Jackson certainly didn’t deserve to get fired, even after a 1-15 season. His players played hard, and he showed a knack for trying whatever the hell he could, because what else did the Browns have?
Jackson and the front office haven’t had a chance to put their imprint on the team yet, and with all those draft picks, they could be set up for a decade, if their organizational vision holds.
Rodgers somehow escaped disaster twice to throw his third touchdown pass of the night.
Packers cornerback Quinten Rollins was taken to the hospital after he was carted off the field in the third quarter with a neck injury.
Davante Adams after his touchdown catch executed an awesome 360 dunk over the goalpost, and was flagged 15 yards.
The kid who retrieves the kickoff tee for the Lions got a little extra screen time on ‘Sunday Night Football,’ and took advantage with a fun dance.
Two late turnovers ended Washington’s playoff hopes in an ugly home loss to the Giants.
Jeremy Kerley made a sensational one-handed grab against the Seahawks.
Tyreek Hill returned a punt 95 yards against the Chargers, tying a Chiefs rookie record with his 12th overall touchdown of the season.
Jahleel Addae picked off Alex Smith and somehow avoided several Chiefs on his way to a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown.
A frustrated Josh Norman headbutted Odell Beckham Jr.
Patriots TE Martellus Bennett equated winning with the Patriots to having sex.
The Rams and Cardinals traded interceptions in a sloppy sequence in Los Angeles.
Antonio Gates caught his 111th career TD pass, tying Tony Gonzalez for most all-time for a tight end.
Alshon Jeffery guaranteed he’ll win a Super Bowl next season ... but didn’t say for which team.
Broncos CB Aqib Talib ripped off the gold chain of Raiders WR Michael Crabtree.
The Jets accidentally kicked an onside. And then scored on it!
Do you think Tom Brady gets tired of setting records? Here’s another...
Good job on setting the completion percentage record, Sam Bradford.
The Browns had a pick-6! Oh, wait... nevermind. They are the Browns.
Who knew wide receivers could lay such devastating blocks?!?
Trick play touchdown pass! By the Bears!
Ah, yes, that IS the Mark Sanchez we all remember. Nice interception!
Tom Brady just passed Dan Marino in career passing yards — vs. the Dolphins.
Tipped interceptions have to be the worst for QBs — right, Jameis Winston?
Who remembers Tony Romo? Apparently the Cowboys do! He’s playing!
Hey! Looks like Malcolm Floyd can catch touchdowns even in a Pats jersey.
Martellus Bennett scored a touchdown, then scarfed down a banana on the sideline.
Raiders backup QB Matt McGloin exited with a left shoulder injury against the Broncos, and is questionable to return.
Cardinals RB David Johnson was carted off after a leg injury against the Rams.
Officials sent Houston’s Tom Savage to get concussion testing, and he was ruled out.
LeSean McCoy was thought to be out for the game but went back to the sidelines.
NFL Scores Week 17: Final Results, Playoff Standings and Picture for AFC, NFC
It's the first day of 2017 and the final day of the NFL regular season has come to a close. While the playoff picture was relatively clear coming into the day, the postseason has now been set.
Coming into the day, the playoff field in the AFC was completely set. However, the final seeding for the conference was not. With the New England Patriots besting the Miami Dolphins during the early slate, the Patriots have locked up the No. 1 seed while the Dolphins have earned the sixth seed.
The Philadelphia Eagles' early-afternoon win officially eliminated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from playoff contention. The New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins in the late afternoon to send Washington home for the postseason.
Also in the late afternoon, the Oakland Raiders fell from the No. 2 seed in the AFC, while the Atlanta Falcons clinched the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The Kansas City Chiefs slide into the AFC's second slot and earn the title of AFC West champ.
To cap the day's action. The Green Bay Packers knocked off the Detroit Lions to claim the NFC North title and keep Detroit as the sixth seed.
Let's take a look at the playoff field and examine some of the top playoff-related storylines coming out of sendoff Sunday.
Week 17 Playoff Picture
Week 17 Results
NFL scores: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions RECAP, final score and stats
The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions battled for the NFC North title and seeding in the NFL playoffs in the regular-season finale on Jan. 1, 2017, at Ford Field in Detroit.
The Packers captured the NFC North division title, grabbed the No. 4 seed in the conference and will host the Giants in a wild-card game on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
The Lions are the No. 6 seed in the conference and travel to meet the Seattle Seahawks in a wild-card game on Saturday at 8:25 p.m.
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Here's the AP recap:
DETROIT (AP) -- Aaron Rodgers threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, lifting the Green Bay Packers to an NFC North-winning 31-24 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday night.
Detroit's Matthew Stafford connected with Anquan Boldin for a 35-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left, but the Packers recovered the onside kick and Rodgers had only to kneel once to seal the victory.
The Packers (10-6) closed the regular season with six straight wins, running the table as Rodgers said they could after losing four straight games midway through the season, to win the division for the fifth time in six years. Like his team, Rodgers has been perfect during the streak with 15 TD passes and no interceptions. He will lead fourth-seeded Green Bay at home Sunday against the fifth-seeded New York Giants in an NFC wild-card game.
Detroit (9-7) dropped its last three games after it had a two-game lead in the NFC North, spoiling its shot at winning a division title for the first time since 1993.
The Lions, though, will be in the playoffs for the second time in three years with coach Jim Caldwell because the Giants beat the Washington Redskins earlier in the day. The sixth-seeded Lions will play at third-seeded Seattle on Saturday night in a wild-card game.
Rodgers , who was 27 of 39 for 300 yards, threw a go-ahead, 3-yard TD pass to Davante Adams with 9:23 left in the third quarter. Rodgers connected with Geronimo Allison and Adams in the end zone in the fourth quarter to give Green Bay a 14-point lead in a game it trailed 14-7 at halftime.
Stafford put Detroit ahead by a touchdown with a 3-yard pass to Golden Tate with 23 seconds left in the second quarter after Zach Zenner tied it with a 1-yard run.
Stafford was 26 of 41 for 347 yards with two TDs and an interception. He made some fantastic passes and some he sailed over wide-open receivers.
RODGERS RUNS: Rodgers ran for 42 yards, his third-highest total of the season, on 10 carries. By design, he converted a third-and-1 from the Green Bay 34 with a 13-yard run a bootleg. Rodgers also used his feet to escape sacks and to give his receivers time to get open.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Stafford failed to connect with Tate when he was all by himself midway through the first quarter, wasting a chance to make a big play to possibly score on Detroit's second drive. Early in the scoreless second period, Matt Prater missed a 39-yard field goal. Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews also missed an opportunity, dropping one of Stafford's passes that he could've possibly returned for a score.
MATTHEW'S MILESTONE: Stafford surpassed 30,000 yards passing for his career, becoming the fastest quarterback to reach the mark. He did it in his 109th game Sunday night against Green Bay. The previous record was held by Dan Marino and Kurt Warner, who did it in 114 games. With a chance to lead the Lions to a signature win, however, Stafford came up short to add to his legacy that he beats bad teams and loses against winning teams.
Packers: Two cornerbacks -- Quinten Rollins (neck) and Makinton Dorleant (knee) -- were carted off the field minutes apart late in the third quarter and another cornerback -- Damarious Randall (knee) -- left the game with an injury in the second half. Rollins, who was conscious and able to move, was taken to a hospital. Receiver Randall Cobb (ankle), running back James Starks (concussion) and center JC Tretter (knee) were inactive with injuries.
Lions: Receiver Marin Jones was evaluated late in the game for a concussion, but returned to play. Cornerback Darius Slay returned from a one-game absence with a hamstring injury. Right tackle Riley Reiff was out with a hip injury and was missed, especially when Nick Perry got past his replacement, Corey Robinson, for a possession-ending sack in the third quarter. Robinson left the game with an apparent injury in the second half and
Packers: Green Bay will play the Giants at Lambeau Field, where it beat them 23-16 in Week 5.
Lions: Detroit, which has won only one playoff game since winning the 1957 NFL title, will face long odds to advance on the road against the Seahawks.
Here's what you need to know:
Who: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
When: Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
Time: 8:30 p.m. Eastern
Livestream: NFL GamePass (subscription)
Line: Packers -3.5
PACKERS: QB AARON RODGERS has 1,718 pass yards (286.3 per game) with 14 TDs & 0 INTs for 118.8 rating in past 6. In 15 career meetings, has 30 pass TDs vs. 6 INTs for 108 rating. Has 4,128 pass yards, 6th career 4,000-yard season, most in GB history...RB TY MONTGOMERY has 3 rush TDs in past 3...WR JORDY NELSON leads NFL with 14 rec. TDs. Has 30 receptions for 437 yards (109.3 per game) & 5 TDs in past 4. Has 1,191 rec. yards, 3rd career 1,000-yard season. WR DAVANTE ADAMS has 4 TD catches in past 5. TE RICHARD RODGERS aims for 4th in row vs. Det. with rec. TD...LB CLAY MATTHEWS has 3 sacks, FF & 2 PD in past 4 vs. division. LB JULIUS PEPPERS has 7.5 sacks, 9th consecutive season with 7+ sacks. Has 3 sacks & 3 FFs in past 3 at Det. LB NICK PERRY has 5 sacks & INT in past 3 vs. division. S HA HA CLINTON-DIX has 2 sacks & 2 INTs in past 4 on road vs. NFC North.
LIONS: QB MATTHEW STAFFORD has 3,980 pass yards & needs 20 yards for 6th consecutive 4,000-yard season. In past 7 at home vs. division, has 1,879 pass yards (268.4 per game) with 13 TDs & 3 INTs for 99.7 rating...RB ZACH ZENNER had career-high 67 rush yards & 2 TDs in Week 16...WR GOLDEN TATE has 2 TDs in past 3 games at home vs. GB. Has 85 receptions for 1,000 yards, 2nd career 1,000-yard season. WR ANQUAN BOLDIN has 500+ rec. yards in all 14 NFL seasons. Aims for 4th game in row vs. NFC North with TD catch...DE EZEKIEL ANSAH has 3 sacks in 3 career home meetings. DE KERRY HYDER has 5 sacks in past 5 vs. division. LB TAHIR WHITEHEAD has 125 tackles, 1st career 100-tackle season. S GLOVER QUIN has 16 INTs since 2013, most among NFC safeties.