32 things we realized from Week 18 of 2021 NFL season: Playoff characterize gets closing-2nd shake-up

The 32 things we realized from Week 18 of the 2021 NFL season:

1. Parity, maybe the NFL’s main calling card, continues to blueprint rampant playoff turnover. Ever for the reason that league first expanded the playoff field to 12 teams and started seeding them in 1990, as a minimum four fresh clubs beget reached the postseason every successive three hundred and sixty five days. The 2021 lineup will feature seven teams – the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Las Vegas Raiders, Recent England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers – that didn’t decide half a three hundred and sixty five days previously.

2. With the Cards limping into the field, breaking a six-three hundred and sixty five days drought, every NFC team has participated in the Substantial Bowl tournament as a minimum as soon as since 2016 – when the Recent York Giants and Detroit Lions closing licensed. The Recent York Jets tackle the league’s longest playoff drought, one which extends to 2010, followed by the Broncos. Denver, which hasn’t returned since winning Substantial Bowl 50 following the 2015 season, fired coach Vic Fangio on Sunday morning.

3. What’s diversified about this three hundred and sixty five days’s playoffs? Perhaps no longer hundreds given Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are every again as soon as extra. But you can no longer demand either on the league’s first Monday night wild-card broadcast, a rubber match forum as the Cardinals remark to the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West opponents’ third meeting of the season.

4. Also diversified? The presence of Raiders QB Derek Carr, who will be making his long-awaited postseason debut. Carr used to be an MVP candidate in 2016, when the Silver and Shadowy closing reached the playoffs. But he suffered a season-ending damaged leg in Week 16.

4a. Las Vegas’ Rich Bisaccia also becomes the principle length in-between coach to e-book his team into postseason.

5. But what an improbable regular-season finale Sunday to wrap up the league’s first 17-sport regular season. The Pittsburgh Steelers clinging to lifestyles with an additional time preserve at Baltimore and serve from an no longer going offer in Trevor Lawrence. Then the 49ers made a memorable comeback in Los Angeles, punching their wild-card imprint with an additional time overcome the Rams, who backed into the NFC West crown anyway resulting from a loss by Arizona. But that every person paled to sport No. 272, the Raiders beating the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night with a field purpose on the final phrase play of additional time – after the Bolts known as a extensively parsed timeout that will want nixed the tie which would perhaps well maybe beget permitted every teams to pass beyond the playoff velvet rope. A actually gorgeous day of football.

NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE: Raiders seal wild-card location, push Steelers into field with OT preserve vs. Chargers

NFL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE: Instances, dates, matchups, TV files for wild-card round by Substantial Bowl

6. Apparently the Indianapolis Colts in actuality didn’t feel like doing to any extent additional “Laborious Knocks” episodes. How else to reveal Sunday’s unforgivable 26-11 loss to the Jaguars in Jacksonville, the put the Colts amazingly have not obtained since 2014? Now, a team that seemed primed to potentially attain main ruin in the playoffs, prematurely heads into an offseason the put many will again overtly wonder if the Carson Wentz replace – and this is able to well maybe now price Indy its 2022 first-rounder – used to be worth it.

6a. And bummer for Colts RB Jonathan Taylor, the NFL’s 2021 dashing king by a thought, who saw his credibility as an MVP candidate drain away on a forgettable 77-yard day.

7. But it used to be pretty enjoyable to survey the Jags – they scored as a minimum 24 parts for the principle time this season – prevail given what a rough three hundred and sixty five days every person in Duval County has had. And their victory proved fully disruptive to the AFC playoff characterize for the rest of Sunday.

8. That is six straight wins for Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers against Sean McVay’s Rams, Sunday’s additional time thriller cementing the Niners’ wild-card berth. Put together for never-ending replays of “The Make a selection” and “How ’bout them Cowboys?!?!?” with the 49ers headed to Dallas for the wild-card round.

9. The NFC East champion Cowboys completed 6-0 against their divisional opponents however were 6-5 against every person else, including a 3-4 worth against teams ending above .500.

10. MVP? In a half of of labor against a unhealthy Lions team, Inexperienced Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers handed for 138 yards and two TDs.

10a. Commerce bait? In a half of of labor against a unhealthy Lions team, Inexperienced Bay Packers QB2 Jordan Love handed for 134 yards with two INTs and a TD.

10b. Is it a fully dazzling comparison? Pointless to claim no longer, especially – as an instance – given Love didn’t beget the abet of working with WR Davante Adams. Serene, valid-time reminder that the Pack and Rodgers would be wise to expand a wedding that looks to be off the rocks and maybe headed toward main bliss in about a weeks.

11. Oh, and Adams? He effect in barely sufficient work Sunday – six grabs for 55 yards – to effect a brand fresh team document for receiving yards (1,553) yards in a season, topping Jordy Nelson’s old worth by 34 yards.

12. Mandatory Brady update: The 44-three hundred and sixty five days-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback joined Drew Brees as the right kind gamers with extra than one 5,000-yard passing seasons, and TB12 also surpassed Peyton Manning as the oldest player to tempo the league in passing yards (career-finest 5,316) and TD throws (43). (Manning used to be 37 when he managed the feat in 2013 for Denver.) Lastly, with the abet of a 17th sport, Brady swiped Brees’ single-season document for completions (471) by hoisting 485.

12a. And chew on this – Brady is already No. 2 on Tampa Bay’s career list for TD passes with 83. He would overtake Jameis Winston by tossing 39 subsequent season.

13. Bucs WR Mike Evans has completed eight NFL seasons … and has 1,000 yards receiving in every particular person of them. No one else can stake the same claim on the outset of a career.

14. Whenever you have not been taking note of the Tennessee Titans, disgrace on you. Their subsequent side highway day out will either be in the 2022 regular season … or to Substantial Bowl 56 after they strapped down the AFC’s first-round bye and residential-field abet Sunday. Now RB Derrick Henry has two extra weeks to put together his surgically repaired foot to enrich an underrated defense that constantly looks ready. No one ought to be though-provoking to proceed to Song City this month.

15. The AFC East champion Buffalo Payments land in the playoffs with a conference-finest four-sport winning skedaddle. They also piled up nine sacks in Sunday’s preserve. An up-and-down regular season is trending the factual manner on the factual time.

16. Rams WR Cooper Kupp didn’t ruin any main files Sunday, however he became finest the 2nd player to surpass 1,900 receiving yards (1,947) and completed 18 looking breaking Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson’s document.

17. The Rams led the 49ers 17-3 at halftime. Welp. McVay is now 43-1 when up at intermission.

18. Who would beget figured Houston’s NRG Stadium to be the O.Okay. Corral? Nonetheless, Titans QB Ryan Tannehill and Texans counterpart Davis Mills blended for seven TD passes and nearly 600 yards passing in what became out to be a surprisingly competitive 28-25 sport obtained by Tennessee. Kudos to Mills, who’s had as a minimum as correct a rookie season as various his extra high-profile peers and no doubt deserves to compete to be the starter in 2022.

COVID-19. Thankfully, no longer as prevalent a utter in Week 18, even though a dozen Philadelphia Eagles damage up on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including DT Fletcher Cox and TE Dallas Goedert. Now we’re left to wonder how the virus might well well maybe impact the league’s 13 postseason games …

20. Bengals WR Ja’Marr Hump completed the regular season with 1,455 receiving yards, a brand fresh single-season Cincinnati document that also extended Hump’s rookie document in that division throughout the Substantial Bowl era (since 1966). He fell merely looking snatching Bill Groman’s all-time rookie document of 1,473 yards, space in 1960 with the American Soccer League’s Houston Oilers.

21. Miami Dolphins WR Jaylen Hasten completed the regular season with 104 receptions, breaking Anquan Boldin’s 18-three hundred and sixty five days-old document (101) document for a rookie receiver.   

22.5. Steelers OLB T.J. Watt matched Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s single-season sack document by ending at 22½. Strahan completed in 16 games in 2001 … when Brett Favre serve him space the “document.” Watt seemed in 15 games this season and acquired no serve from the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

23. How about this as a capability epitaph to Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger’s career: In 18 NFL seasons, he’s by no intention completed beneath .500, a league document for a player.

24. If Sunday used to be QB Russell Wilson’s closing sport with the Seattle Seahawks, he went out with a relative bang, accounting for four TDs in a 38-30 victory at Arizona which price the Cardinals an NFC West crown.

25. Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny, a major-rounder in 2018, seemingly made himself some cash heading into free agency. His 190-yard output Sunday affords Penny, at closing wholesome, 671 yards and six TDs on the bottom over the previous five games.

26. The Giants scored 26 parts – entire – over their closing four games. 

27. Meanwhile, the Jets mustered four first downs and 53 entire yards in their closing “efficiency” of the season.

28. Any shock Recent York’s finest are every 22-59 for the reason that initiate of the 2017 season, tied for the league’s worst document over that span?

29. And the Jets didn’t fetch any 2022 favors from Seattle, which obtained its closing two games to drop its first-round preserve – Gang Inexperienced owns it resulting from the Jamal Adams replace – to 10th after it seemed for some time like the NYJ might well well maybe fetch two picks in the tip five of the upcoming draft. 

29a. The Giants will preserve fifth and seventh overall resulting from the Bears’ 6-11 build – which integrated a Week 16 victory at Seattle. Immense Blue bought Chicago’s first-rounder this three hundred and sixty five days on a 2021 draft night replace that brought QB Justin Fields to the Windy City.

30. Fangio’s dismissal intention three league jobs are initiate, the Jaguars and Raiders undergoing midseason modifications on the sideline. On the opposite hand Vegas’ gorgeous playoff entry beneath Bisaccia might well well maybe replace the post-Gruden calculus.

31. Mighty season by the Recent Orleans Saints given their accidents, particularly the revolving door at quarterback. But potentially for the right kind we weren’t subjected to a wild-card sport began by Trevor Siemian, effective as he used to be Sunday in reduction of injured Taysom Hill.

32. The Jaguars might well well maybe wish created the most chaos in Week 18 … however they also dwell the league’s worst team and will preserve No. 1 overall in the draft for the 2nd straight three hundred and sixty five days. Stable to notify they might well well maybe no longer be taking a quarterback.

Educate USA TODAY Sports actions’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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