It’s Over: Thoughts on Wild Week 17, Playoffs

Football fans, especially Giants fans, are irate with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson after essentially tanking the season finale against Washington. (Photo Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports).

What a week it was. While the Giants are rightfully steaming mad at Doug Pederson right now, the Ravens might not be too happy with the Texans for choking away a win and a chance for Baltimore to get a more favorable matchup with Indianapolis. Meanwhile, three head coaches were fired on Black Monday, the Jaguars joined the team they came into the league with in 1995 in making dubious history, and the Buffalo Bills put up 56 points on a team that had playoff aspirations when the day began.

A deeper dive into the week that was:

Eagles’ tanking was an utter disgrace

I’m not a Giants fan, but if I was, I’d have lost my cool last night. As it were, I wanted nothing more than to see history made with a 6-10 NFC Least winner, but it wasn’t meant to be. Thank you, Doug Pederson. For no reason other than to move up three slots in the draft, which guarantees absolutely nothing, Pederson put in a terrible, overmatched, third-string QB in a game that had major playoff implications. Many of the players will not even be on the roster next year, a slap in the face to them that a three-spot difference in a future draft was more important than the blood, sweat, and tears being shed on the football field trying to win a game.

Sadly, there’s nothing the league can do to punish the Eagles without looking insanely petty, and that is a shame. What the Eagles did was embarrassing, and it’s hard to believe a coach that was so masterful in outwitting the great Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl three years ago could pull such a cowardly stunt like that.

The Texans make their case for underratedly-sorriest team

Apparently, Houston watched the Raiders’ collapse against Miami and said “hold my beer…” With a chance to keep the Titans from winning the AFC South — and in the process make life a little easier for the Ravens, who have had their problems with Tennessee in the last year — Houston found yet another incredulous way to blow a football game. It was shades of how they choked away a first-round bye in 2018 with a late-game defensive meltdown against the Eagles, giving up a big play in an inexplicable circumstance when simply playing basic prevent defense would have got them into overtime in a game they trailed 31-15 late in the third quarter.

Poor DeShaun Watson. 365 yards and three touchdowns wasn’t enough to overcome a pitiful defense, bad coaching, and a culture that needs a serious overhaul.

Coaches on the firing line

For Dan Quinn, Bill O’Brien, and Matt Patricia, Black Monday came early. For three more head coaches, the day after the regular season was the end of the line. Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, and Anthony Lynn are now out of work, and none should come as a surprise. Lynn’s firing may seem a bit odd to some considering the Bolts ended with a four-game winning streak, but no team may have been more impacted by poor coaching than the Chargers. All the excruciatingly close losses finally wore on Alex Spanos enough to pull the trigger on axing Lynn.

Los Angeles has a bright future, at least at quarterback with Justin Herbert. For the other clubs, well, only time will tell.

Jags join 2001 Panthers in a dubious club

Wondering when the last time a team started 1-0 only to finish 1-15? It had only happened once prior to yesterday, when the Carolina Panthers knocked off the Vikings on the road in a game where Steve Smith ran the opening kickoff back for a score in his NFL debut, only to follow with 15 straight losses. The Panthers and Jaguars entered the NFL together in 2001, and both found success quickly, reaching the conference championship game in their second seasons in 1996.

If there’s any potential silver lining for the Jags, whose lone win actually came over the playoff-bound Colts, it’s that those aforementioned Panthers reached the Super Bowl just two years later. Perhaps Trevor Lawrence will be the savior in Jacksonville.

Are the Bills really this good?

Putting up their most points in a game since 1966, the Bills are making believers every week. Shredding the playoff-hopeful Dolphins, 56-26, the Bills finished 13-3 (and easily could have finished 14-2 if not for a Hail Murray by the Cardinals). This is a team that hadn’t won a division title since 1995, and is still seeking its first playoff win since that season. Granted, they never did overcome the Patriots during the Brady era, so it feels a bit like they simply waited until it was their turn, but it’s hard to overlook just how potent this offense has become.

The question now is what they can do for an encore in January (and perhaps February). The AFC is loaded, with Kansas City at the top, the Ravens and Steelers very capable of making deep runs, and even the “second-level” teams (Titans, Colts, Browns) representing tough outs. It’s a crying shame that 2020-21 is what it is, because you can imagine just how crazy Buffalo would be going right now for their Bills, and how loud New Era Field would be on Sunday. Instead, around 6,000 “socially distanced” (are you as sick of that term as I am?) fans will attend, pending negative COVID-20 tests (yes, I prefer to call it COVID-20, since I’d rather it be associated with the awful year that it ruined).

Another “2020” fact the Bills and their fans probably dislike: if this were still 2019, Buffalo would also have a first-round bye, instead of hosting the Colts in the wild card round. Like the awfulness of 17-game seasons, get used to No. 7 seeds being a thing, too.

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