16 eventful games made up Week 17 of the 2021 NFL Season as some teams booked their spot in the playoffs and others saw their season come to a close.
It all sets up for a dramatic inaugural edition of Week 18 in six days time but before we get too far down that rabbit hole, we need to recap the games just gone by.
As far as Antonio Brown’s sideline meltdown, there was nothing new to learn from that and anything else would just be a needless pile on.
What we do have however is five big reactions to the on-field action in Week 17 of the National Football League.
1 – The Dolphins Collapsed Again
For the second season in a row, the Miami Dolphins had a Week 17 game they needed to win and for the second season in a row, they were blown out by over 30 points to get knocked out of playoff contention.
Had they defeated the Titans yesterday, they would have been presented with a “win and in” scenario against New England in Week 18.
It will be the third straight season that Brian Flores and company will fall just short of the postseason and patience has to be wearing thin now.
In 2019, they tore down their roster and began an overhaul that included picking up “franchise quarterback” Tua Tagovailoa giving the fanbase plenty of hope.
2020 saw them collapse in Buffalo and set the bar for this season at the playoffs.
Losing seven straight games put them behind the eight ball, but a seven game winning streak once again gave them hope.
Then they hopped on a plane to Tennessee and faced the Titans, and things got off to a bad start.
It did not get any better with the Titans having their way with the Dolphins defence.
Perhaps the seven game winning streak is enough to salvage something going into the offseason, especially if they can give the Patriots a beating as Flores prepares to face his former boss.
But don’t be surprised if the owners are searching for a new coaching staff before too long.
2 – Cincinnati Is Dangerous
The game of the day unfolded in Cincinnati as the Bengals and Chiefs went to the wire with the home side winning the game and the AFC North on a last second field goal.
But the star of the show was unquestionably rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase who had a day for the ages with 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
Doing that against what has been one of the best defences in the league over the last couple of months makes it even more impressive and it is exactly why the Bengals should be feared in the postseason.
An offence that can match anyone point for point, lead by a quarterback oozing confidence will be what keeps them in every game.
Of course they are also dangerous the other way for punters, with a very young roster and a coaching staff capable of collapsing at any point in time, especially on the big stage of the NFL Playoffs.
Either way, the Bengals games are going to be must watch.
3 – There Was Nothing To Learn From New England
It’s not very often a team can win a game by a final score of 50-10 and the general reaction is, “so what?”
But that was exactly the attitude in New England when they pasted the hapless Jaguars.
New England returned to the playoffs after missing them in 2020 with that result and have done so with rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
It was even enough to get Bill Belichick to smile so it certainly counted for something on the day.
We know that New England can beat bad teams, they have already shown us that this season, but you have to wonder just how good they are against the NFL’s elite.
Well now they have a chance to prove it in a fortnight, either at home or on the road, with the division still very much in play.
All they need is a win against Miami and the Jets to knock off the Bills… so it’s not likely but there is a chance.
4 – Arizona Got Exactly What It Needed
Arizona was headed towards another late season collapse under Kliff Kingsbury, losing three straight games and struggling mightily on offence.
A trip to Dallas was the last thing the Cardinals needed but needing to win to keep their hopes of a division title and home playoff game alive.
Missing the two guys who make their offence go, Arizona turned to some of its role players plus a bit of trickery to get them over the line and did it with… just a bit of good fortune.
But undoubtedly the biggest winner was Kyler Murray who made all the throws on the Cowboys defence to get the win.
Learning to win without their two superstars was huge for the Cardinals heading into Week 18 and beyond and this is a team that can build on that result.
5 – Don’t Anoint Green Bay Just Yet
Green Bay locked up the NFC’s top seed for the second year in a row with a big win over Minnesota on Sunday Night Football.
Aaron Rodgers was at his pinpoint best as he enjoyed another divisional win.
But you would be hard pressed to find a Packers fan that is not at least a little bit nervous about what is going to unfold in the next few weeks.
If there is one on-field marker against Aaron Rodgers it is the fact that despite all of his statistical success, he has only made one trip to the Super Bowl in his 14 seasons as the Packers starter.
There have been plenty of occasions where the Packers have gone into the postseason as the NFC’s top seed and the Super Bowl favourite, only to fall short in heartbreaking circumstances.
Not all of those early exits have been the fault of Rodgers by any means, but it is a stark reminder that while Rodgers has been a remarkable quarterback, just one Super Bowl appearance is less than someone of his ability should have.