NFL winners, losers from Week 18’s Saturday video games: Cowboys, Chiefs sort closing statements

For the first time in 28 years, an NFL season has stretched into Week 18 – though attend in 1993, the then-28 group league used to be experimenting with two bye weeks per membership loyal by the conventional season. 

For sure, conditions are varied now, the first 17-sport traditional season reaching its conclusion. But the NFL continues to tinker with its ever-evolving format, serving up a Saturday doubleheader for the 2021 advertising and marketing campaign – the matchups were TBD when the schedule used to be unveiled within the spring and weren’t finalized till the completion of Week 17 – even supposing all 32 teams own performed their traditional-season finales on Sunday currently.

How’s it going?

MORE: What might be the greatest surprises in Week 18 of NFL’s traditional season?

NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE: Where things stand as Sunday begins

WINNERS

Dak Prescott: Without reference to playing correctly into the second half – mostly in opposition to Philadelphia Eagles backups – the Dallas quarterback and varied Cowboys mainstays refrained from catastrophic injuries whereas discovering wished offensive rhythm in a 51-26 victory. Prescott threw a occupation-greatest five TDs, giving him 37 on the season – a new single-season Dallas chronicle.

Kansas Metropolis Chiefs: It wasn’t reasonably, but they came attend to beat the Broncos (for the 13th consecutive time) in Denver 28-24 – the select inserting Ok.C. attend atop the AFC heap, no no longer as much as swiftly. The Chiefs need the Tennessee Titans to lose to the Texans on Sunday in Houston in describe to impart No. 1 seed for the third time in four seasons.

College soccer followers: Whenever you wished your appetite whetted sooner than Monday’s nationwide championship sport between Alabama and Georgia, ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit known as an NFL sport for the second time in Denver. Gotta utter, they sounded utterly ready and had a really detached ride equipped that is no longer their day job. (Meanwhile, their Worldwide Chief colleague, Brian Griese, used to be inserting Jason Kelce into the Hall of Status on the first ballot, a sort belief … and practically undoubtedly chronicle.)

DeVonta Smith: The 2021 first-rounder caught three passes for 41 yards, giving him 916 – sufficient to damage DeSean Jackson’s rookie chronicle (912 in 2008) for Eagles receivers.

Patrick Mahomes: He did no longer throw for 500 yards or five TDs – 270 and two were on par for his barely more modest 2021 stat line – but did rep the W whereas bettering to 9-0 in opposition to Denver whereas operating his chronicle to 13-0 in AFC West street video games.

Ezekiel Elliott: He wished all 17 video games in what’s been a down season by his standards, but he hit the 1,000-yard speeding plateau for the fourth time in his six-twelve months occupation.

Jason Kelce:  His Hall of Status bona fides apart – and the All-Pro heart is on the total deserving of induction once his résumé is total – he performed one snap to lengthen his dash of customary-season begins to 122, the third-longest energetic dash within the league. Big participant and leader and arguably the heartbeat of an Eagles group headed attend to the playoffs despite rather a transformation since its Shipshape Bowl victory honest four years ago.

Ex-Charger Melvin (Ingram): Despite the indisputable reality that the three-time Pro Bowl scamper rusher looks to be bizarre in jersey No. 24, he forced the fourth-quarter fumble that resulted in rookie LB Carve Bolton’s 86-yard scoop and ranking – a TD that save apart save apart Kansas Metropolis sooner than Denver for loyal. 

LOSERS

Ex-Charger Melvin (Gordon): The Broncos operating attend used to be blown up by Ingram, his ragged teammate with the Bolts, coughing up the ball on the sport’s pivotal play.

Travis Kelce: He caught a TD scamper but used to be limping by sport’s discontinue, ESPN reporting a hip used to be bothering him. Not immense if the Chiefs desire to play next weekend.

Tyreek Hill: He afflict his heel in pre-sport warmups and barely performed. Not immense if the Chiefs desire to play next weekend.

Cincinnati Bengals: Eliminated from contentions because the AFC’s No. 1 seed by virtue of Kansas Metropolis’s select.

Recent England Patriots:  Eliminated from contentions because the AFC’s No. 1 seed by virtue of Kansas Metropolis’s select.

Eagles: They peaceful create no longer own a select this season in opposition to a group that currently has a successful chronicle … though the Recent Orleans Saints might maybe also trade that Sunday.

Cowboys: Without reference to the select, they’ll need support Sunday to beef up their No. 4 seeding within the NFC enviornment. Because it stands, Dallas would desire to host both the Los Angeles Rams or Arizona Cardinals, who beat them in Week 17 at AT&T Stadium, within the wild-card spherical.

Vic Fangio: Used to be Saturday his closing sport as head coach of the Broncos? Denver used to be 7-6 following Week 14 and within the thick of the AFC wild-card scoot … but did no longer select again. The Broncos are additionally having a scrutinize up at the total AFC West, ending with a 1-5 division chronicle. Fangio’s defense used to be typically solid, but his 19-30 chronicle since taking on in 2019 is no longer – especially for a franchise decided to return to postseason amid an absence that is coincided with Peyton Manning’s retirement following Shipshape Bowl 50.

NFL schedule makers: They unfailingly attend a immense lineup of video games yearly, despite the endless array of issues that must be navigated – especially now that the conventional season has ballooned to 272 video games. But Week 18 did no longer cooperate for the dramatic carry out the league might maybe also wish hoped for – and also you’ll need to surprise if the NFL used to be higher off with the added incentive of two byes per convention in desire to the 14-sport playoff format, but I digress. Though the Chiefs live within the combine for the AFC’s No. 1 seed, Saturday’s matchups were in most cases must-imprint TV, especially for more informal followers with out chronicle soccer implications to serve them . A shame Pittsburgh performed Monday evening, as Ravens-Steelers would’ve been a stunning Saturday choice – each and every teams clinging to playoff hopes and must-select eventualities this weekend. And maybe that is the lesson for future Week 18 Saturday video games: Predict matchups of teams outside the projected enviornment in describe to televise de facto playoff video games heading into Sunday. There’s frequently next twelve months.

Practice USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

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