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NFL Week 17 Recap – 2014 Playoff Matchups with Superbowl Odds

The Panthers needed a win on Sunday to earn their first NFC South  title in the last five years. And despite the Atlanta Falcons giving them all they could handle, they were able to edge out a 21-20 win for that top spot. The Panthers will now have a first round bye and wait to see who they’ll meet in the second round. Cam Newton had two touchdown passes, one to Ted Ginn Jr and one to Greg Olsen, and the Panthers also had a defensive interception that lead to a touchdown as well. The one-point loss pretty much summed up the disappointing Falcons season. Matt Ryan had two touchdowns, one to Roddy White and the other to Jason Snelling, but it was the interception that lead to points that fans can look back on in frustration. Another note in this game was that it was quite possibly Tony Gonzalez’s last game in the NFL. Not the way one of the best tight ends to ever play the game would’ve imagined his last season, but you have to applaud the guy for staying tough all year long.

A few weeks ago many people were talking about the Ravens looking like they could make another push for the Super Bowl like they did last year. On Sunday, Andy Dalton and company nixed any hopes for that happening. Although Dalton would throw four interceptions on the day, he also threw for two touchdowns, which was enough to give him the most in a single season in Bengals history. Joe Flacco threw for three interceptions of his own, which, at 22, was the most in franchise history. Not the kind of turnaround you’d hope for from the Super Bowl MVP last season. Especially after not getting a huge contract extension like he did this last offseason. The Bengals won’t get a first round bye, but they will get to host a playoff game. That’s great news for a team that’s gone 8-0 at home thus far this year. However, they’ll have to turn around the luck if they want to win their first playoff game since 1990. The Ravens, on the other hand, became just the 15th team in history to not make the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl in the previous season.

After starting the season 2-0, the only good news about the Texans 14 game losing streak is the fact that they’ll get the top pick in next years’ NFL Draft. The 16-10 loss to the Titans puts an end to one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. Especially considering the high hopes that they had coming in. Houston will have a lot of decisions to make before they make the first overall pick in May, one of which could be who their starting quarterback will be. The current option, Matt Schaub, threw 2 interceptions on Sunday, as that was the end of a forgettable season for him. The losing streak that started as a surprise and finished as a nightmare ranks among the longest in league history. Only the 2008 Lions and 2001 Panthers have worse streaks at 16 and 15 respectively. As for the Titans, they’ll hope to get Jake Locker back next season, and also hope to get more production from Chris Johnson. On Sunday, Johnson had 127 yards and a touchdown; though that wasn’t the typical production he put out this year. Both teams cleaned out their lockers on Sunday and are finished on the season.

Whoever said the last game of the season doesn’t matter obviously didn’t make much of an impression on the Colts. Andrew Luck and company would come out and route the Jaguars 30-10 to cap their 11-5 season. Despite the Colts win, the Patriots also winning meant that the Colts wouldn’t get a first round bye, but they will get to play at least one game at home. That game will be against a Chiefs team that the Colts beat just last week in a 23-7 blowout on the road. Now they’ll hope to make an even bigger statement at Lucas Oil Stadium. Andrew Luck had 282 yards passing and a touchdown on Sunday. The Colts also got touchdowns from Donald Brown and Trent Richardson on the ground. The Jags showed a glimmer of hope in a five week span that started in Week 10. But they finished the season on a three-game losing streak that has to be disappointing. They look to have a long way to go and will start working on that path now that their season is over.

Since the Ravens lost on Sunday as well, the Dolphins would only need a win in order to make their way into the playoffs. And when they were playing divisional rival Jets in Miami, you’d think it wouldn’t be too much to ask. But after Mike Wallace scored just four minutes into the game, the Dolphins wouldn’t be able to get anything going the remainder of the game. The 20-7 loss eliminated the Dolphins from the playoffs and put a stamp on a wild and tumultuous season. They finished at 8-8, which is ironically what the Jets were able to bring themselves to after winning three of the last four games on their season. Those three wins and a .500 record may be just enough to save Rex Ryan’s job as the head coach of this squad, something that nobody thought possible just a few weeks ago. After starting the season by alternating wins and losses for the first 10 games of the season, it was a three game losing stretch to Buffalo, Baltimore and then Miami that put the Jets just one game out of the playoffs. But with Geno Smith having a year under his belt and another offseason to work with his team, it’s possible the Jets have more to look forward to next year. As for the Dolphins, they’ll look to put this season, and all of the publicity that came from off the field, behind them in hopes for a better future for Ryan Tannehill. But they still have to be disappointed in losing on Sunday, as a win would’ve put them into the playoffs.

It may not have meant much to the rest of the league, but the Vikings locker room was filled with jubilation after their 14-13 win in Minneapolis on Sunday. The game not only was against a divisional opponent in the Lions, but it was also the last game that the Vikings will be playing at Mall Of America Field. Cordarrelle Patterson scored both of the touchdowns for the Vikings, including the go ahead touchdown with just over nine-minutes left on the clock. As for the Lions, the loss puts a cap on a disappointing season. Despite having tons of projections for their success this year, Detroit was a mediocre team and ended the season on a four game losing streak, which was part of dropping six of their last seven games. Add the Lions to the conversation of teams that could see huge makeovers this offseason. They seem to have all the pieces to have a great squad, but apparently it’s not meshing like it should. Both teams are done for the season, Detroit finishing at 7-9 and the Vikings finishing at 5-10-1.

The Redskins and Giants weren’t playing for much on Sunday. And even the 20-6 victory for the Giants didn’t do anything for either team. For the Giants, Eli Manning left with a sprained ankle after he started the game going 10-24 for only 152-yards. Sadly enough, he was hardly outdone by Kirk Cousins, who played the entire game and went 19-49 for 169-yards of his own. Black Monday could be an interesting day for both of these squads, as we’ll see what happens for both Mike Shanahan and possibly even Tom Coughlin. Either way, both of these teams will hope to get much, much better in the offseason for a better showing next season.

After a 0-4 start, the Steelers went out Sunday and got a 20-7 win over the Browns. Unfortunately for Steelers fans, they still came up short of the playoffs. Over the final half of the season, the Steelers were 6-2, which was one of the best in the AFC over that span. And even as the Ravens and Dolphins both lost, opening the door for the Steelers, it was the Chiefs giving up an overtime loss to the Chargers that edged Pittsburgh out of the conversation and made way for a third AFC West team instead. The Browns not only lost on Sunday, but they also fired head coach Rob Chudzinski after the game. Going 4-12 in just his first season under control of this team, apparently Cleveland has other ideas of how to approach the future with this team. Lady luck wasn’t on the side of the Steelers on Sunday, and we’ll see how that affects them in the offseason.

The Packers and Bears game was one of the most meaningful on the day. It was even better because it was also one of the most exciting. It was win and in for whoever won this one, which the Packers did with a 48-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb with just 38-seconds left in the game. This was Rodgers first game back after missing the last seven with a broken collarbone, and his 318-yard and two touchdown performance showed how valuable he is to the Pack. As for the Bears, Jay Cutler performed well with 226 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own. He also managed the ball well and hit his targets at key points in the game. But Cutler couldn’t do much but watch as Rodgers hit Cobb in the closing minutes, to close out the Bears season. After winning their first three, Cutler’s injury would add to the troubles the Bears had on the season. They lost four of their last six games and missed out on a playoff spot that required only one win in those final weeks. As for the Packers, they won three of their last four, including a huge 37-36 win over the Cowboys that allowed them to sneak into the playoffs. Now with Rodgers back, the Pack looks to be like a team that could be hard to deal with in the playoffs. As for the Bears, we’ll have to see if Cutler remains as the cornerstone of this team and where they go in the offseason.

The Broncos already had a lot of things locked up going into Sunday’s game against Oakland. But amazingly enough, they accomplished even more in just the first half of this game. The 34-14 win was enough to get the top seed in the AFC for the Broncos. But also in the first half, Peyton Manning would set the single-season record for yards thrown in a game. The Broncos would also set the new record for points scored in a season. The Broncos will now have a week off to celebrate this win and prepare for whoever they’ll meet in the second round. As for the Raiders, this is their 11th straight sub-.500 record and their second 4-12 season in a row. There was plenty of debate as to whether Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin should be the future of this team. And Dennis Allen had a second straight tough year as the head coach. Black Monday could determine a lot about how Allen and the rest of the Raiders squad will go during the offseason.

LeGarrette Blount had a huge day for the Patriots running up, down and all over the Bills for 189-yards in the 34-20 win for New England. The win not also gave plenty of confidence and momentum to a running back heading into the playoffs, but it also gave the Patriots a first-round bye in the AFC Playoffs. Tom Brady only had 122 yards and a single touchdown on 14-24 passing. But he didn’t have to be Tom Terrific, especially when Blount had a career day in a rainy and dreary Gillette Stadium. As for the Bills, they did win two of their final three games, but they only managed a 6-10 record on the season. We’ll see the moves they make in the offseason, especially considering they just drafted EJ Manuel in the first round last year.

The Saints had a surprising amount of pressure on them heading into Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay. Leading the NFC South and looking at a first-round bye just a few weeks ago, the Saints needed a win on Sunday in order to make things easier on themselves just to make the playoffs. Luckily, they were able to get that win against the Buccaneers in a huge 42-17 win. In the win, Drew Brees would have 381-yards and four touchdowns. Those are the type of numbers that can be huge for a  quarterback as he heads into the playoffs. Despite going 8-0 at home this year, the Saints were 3-5 on the road. They’ll be on the road throughout the NFC Playoffs, no matter how far they make it.  As for the Bucs, add Greg Schiano to the list of names to look out for on Black Monday. After a 4-12 season, Schiano could be on his way out after just his second year in Tampa. The Saints will open the playoffs in Philly next week.

Even with a win, the Arizona Cardinals would’ve still needed a lot to go their way to make the playoffs. Unfortunately for Cardinals fans, they lost and their 10-win season was just not enough to get them into the playoffs. Down 17-0 at halftime, the Cardinals would score the next 17 points before Phil Dawson hit a 56-yarder with just under two-minutes left in the game. Then as Jay Feely hit a 43-yarder with 30-seconds left, it looked like we might be heading to overtime. That is, until Phil Dawson hit a 40-yarder as time expired. The win puts the 49ers into the fifth spot in the NFC and are riding a six game winning streak. Colin Kaepernick also had a solid outing, going 21-34 for 310-yards and two touchdowns. Although that stat line was impressive, he was outdone by Carson Palmer who had 407 yards on 28 completions, though it wasn’t enough when it was all said and done. Statistically, the Cardinals have the same record as the NFC East winners, the Eagles, and more wins than the NFC North winners, the Packers. But because they are only third in their own division, they’ll miss the playoffs with a 10-6 record. As for the 49ers, they look like one of the hottest teams in the league, and early January is always a good time to get hot.

The luckiest team of the day had to have been the San Diego Chargers. They needed the Dolphins and Ravens to lose, which they both did. And despite the Chiefs sitting most of their starters, a missed field goal by the Chiefs allowed this game to go into overtime. It was then that Nick Novak hit a 36-yarder to give the Chargers their own spot in the playoffs with a 27-24 win. The Chargers have now won four straight, including wins over the Broncos and the Chiefs. Now, the Chargers will head to Cincinnati, where the Bengals have not lost all year long. And the Chiefs will pay the Colts, a team they lost to just last week. We’ll see how the Chiefs sitting their starters and the Chargers lucking their way in affects the rest of the playoffs.

The Seahawks needed just one more win on the season to capture the top spot in the NFC. And with their 27-9 win over the Rams, the Seahawks assured that all roads will have to go through Seattle for as long as they are alive. On Sunday, Russell Wilson had a modest 172-yard game with one touchdown. Marshawn Lynch had 97 yards on 23 carries. And Golden Tate had 129-yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. The loss for the Rams doesn’t quite tell how accomplished this team should feel this year. Sure, they finish the season at 7-9, but they were in one of the hardest divisions in football and had to play three of the toughest teams in the NFC two times each. And considering they did all of this without their franchise quarterback, they didn’t fair too badly. While the Rams will head home, the Seahawks will wait to see who the lowest seed to advance from the first-round, as that will be who they play in round two.

two.

It only makes sense that the last regular season game of the NFL season would have so much on the line. And when Philly headed into Dallas, neither team disappointed with their performance. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it was a late interception thrown by Kyle Orton that allowed the Eagles to score another touchdown and get just out of reach, even as the Cowboys scored another touchdown of their own in the final minutes. Instead, the 24-22 win for the Eagles will send them to the playoffs, and the Cowboys home. This is the third season in a row that the Cowboys will finish at 8-8, and just barely out of the playoffs. As for the Eagles, they have to be ecstatic to be where they are, especially after starting the season losing three of their first four. And ironically enough, when Michael Vick went down, it was the changing of the guard in Philly and Nick Foles would finish the season with a surge to the playoffs and with the best touchdown to interception ratio in NFL history. Now Foles, and the rest of Eagles nation, will hope he can keep it up as they welcome a tough New Orleans team to town next weekend. That should be a good one, especially with how poorly New Orleans plays on the road.

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NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
3:35p
101
Kansas City Chiefs
+3 (-130)
102
Indianapolis Colts
-3 (+110)

 

7:10p
103
New Orleans Saints
+3 (-130)
104
Philadelphia Eagles
-3 (+110)
Sunday, January 5, 2014 (Times shown in Central Standard Time)
NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
12:05p
105
San Diego Chargers
+7 (-115)
106
Cincinnati Bengals
-7 (-105)
NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS
3:40p
107
San Francisco 49ers
-3 (EVEN)
108
Green Bay Packers
+3 (-120)
Saturday, January 4, 2014 (Times shown in Central Standard Time)
Odds to win the 2014 Super Bowl XLVIII
All wagers have action.
3:30p
Denver Broncos
11/4
Seattle Seahawks
11/4
San Francisco 49ers
7/1
New England Patriots
9/1
Carolina Panthers
10/1
Green Bay Packers
14/1
Cincinnati Bengals
16/1
Philadelphia Eagles
16/1
New Orleans Saints
22/1
Kansas City Chiefs
25/1
Indianapolis Colts
28/1
San Diego Chargers
40/1
Odds to win the 2014 AFC Conference
AFC team to make Super Bowl is the winner
3:30p
Denver Broncos
5/7
New England Patriots
7/2
Cincinnati Bengals
7/1
Indianapolis Colts
12/1
Kansas City Chiefs
14/1
San Diego Chargers
18/1
Odds to win the 2014 NFC Conference
NFC team to make Super Bowl is the winner
3:30p
Seattle Seahawks
10/11
Carolina Panthers
5/1
San Francisco 49ers
5/1
Green Bay Packers
8/1
Philadelphia Eagles
9/1
New Orleans Saints
14/1

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