NFL Week 18 Recap and Playoff Picture

The final week of the 2021-22 NFL regular season had many surprises to offer. As the playoff standings were falling into place, some teams had to overcome scenarios to punch their ticket in. There were major shake-ups in the seedings as well as some teams losing embarrassingly. Here is a recap of the final week of the 2021-22 regular season.

The Kansas City Chiefs played the Denver Broncos in a pivotal game. The Chiefs were looking to clinch the #1 seed in the AFC, but they needed a couple of things to happen, and defeating the Broncos was the first step. Patrick Mahomes led the way for the Chiefs as he threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He also got it done on the ground as he led the Chiefs with 54 rushing yards. The Broncos put up a great effort, but it wasn’t enough as the Chiefs won 28-24.

The Dallas Cowboys traveled to Philadelphia to try and finish the sweep of the NFC East this year. As both teams gear up for the playoffs, the Cowboys opted to let their starters get the stink of the Arizona Cardinals loss off of them with a dominant victory over the Eagles. Dak Prescott threw for 295 yards and five touchdowns while completing 21/27 passes. Cedrick Wilson had a big game with 5 receptions for 119 yards and two touchdowns. The Cowboys complete the NFC East Sweep and win 51-26.

Despite their biggest offensive weapon Derrick Henry going down mid-season, the Tennesee Titans have clinched the #1 seed with a win over the Houston Texans. It didn’t come easy though. Davis Mills threw for 301 yards and three touchdowns on the day as he tried to muster a comeback for the Texans. Ryan Tannehill didn’t allow that to happen though, as the veteran QB threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns. The final score of the game was 28-25 and the Titans earn themselves a first-round bye.

The Buffalo Bills finished their season off with a big win over the New York Jets. The Bills made life uncomfortable for rookie QB Zach Wilson, who performed well last week vs. Tampa Bay. This week, the Bills held him to just 87 yards passing and 24 rushing yards. For Buffalo, Josh Allen threw for 239 and two touchdowns while completing just 24/45 passes. The Bills won 27-10 and finish the season 11-6.

The Arizona Cardinals looked to close their season out as NFC West champs, but the Seattle Seahawks played spoiler to those plans. Rashaad Penny dominated the Cardinals’ defense, as he rushed for 190 yards and one touchdown. Russell Wilson also threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns, with two being caught by Tyler Lockett. Jordyn Brooks controlled the Seattle defense, totaling 20 tackles on the day. The Cardinals lost 38-20 but still make their way into the playoffs.

In what could’ve been the last game of his career, Big Ben and the Steelers needed a few things to go in their favor to make the playoffs, and beating the Ravens was the top priority. It was a classic Steelers vs. Ravens game, low scoring, defensive-oriented and physical. Even though the Steelers lacked a consistent run game, Ben Roethlisberger did enough to keep the Steeler’s offense alive. And with the passing game not going for Baltimore, they ran for 248 yards as a team. As the game entered overtime, Ben executed on what could be the last drive of his career. He completed a pass to Ray-Ray McCloud to set up the game-winning field goal. Pittsburgh won 19-16 to keep their playoff hopes alive until the Chargers and Raiders eliminated them later on that night. TJ Watt also tied Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record with 22.5 sacks.

The Cincinnati Bengals, who have secured their playoff spot rested some of their starters this week against the Cleveland Browns, with Joe Burrow being the biggest name. The Browns were fueled by D’Ernest Johnson, who rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown on the day. For Cincinnati, they didn’t have a great offensive game, but Jamarr Chase did set a Bengals single-season record in the game. Chase’s two receptions for 26 helped him break the record for most receiving yards in a single season in Bengals history. The Browns won the game 21-16.

The Washington Football Team and New York Giants both have had abysmal seasons, and this was the final nail in the coffin for the two franchises. The WFT ran for over 200 yards as a team, with 146 coming from Antonio Gibson. For New York, they didn’t have much to offer as far as talent goes. The WFT held the Giants to just 177 yards on the day as they won 22-7.

The Chicago Bears and Minnesota looked to end their seasons on a good note with a win in the final week. In the first half, the Chicago Bears held Minnesota to just a field goal. But in the second half, the tide shifted and Minnesota outscored Chicago 28-3. Kirk Cousins threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The final score was 31-17.

The Indianapolis Colts were just one win away from punching their ticket into the 2021 playoffs but failed to get past the Jacksonville Jacksonville Jaguars. Even though he’s had a turbulent rookie season, Trevor Lawrence showed up and showed out against the Colts, throwing for 223 yards and two touchdowns. Jacksonville held star RB Johnathan Taylor to just 77 yards on the day, and by slowing him down threw the entire Colts offense out of sync. Indianapolis failed to gain any continuity and momentum in the game and lost 26-11, eliminating themselves from playoff contention.

The #1 seed Green Bay Packers used Week 18 as a practice run against the Detroit Lions, as most of their starters playing limited snaps. Aaron Rodgers threw for just 138 yards but did complete two of those for touchdowns. The Packers let Jordan Love get a few snaps as well throughout the game. Davante Adams’ six receptions for 55 yards helped him become the franchise record holder for most receiving yards in a season. For Detroit, Jared Goff threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions’ biggest play came from a trick play where WR Tom Kennedy threw a pass to Kalif Raymond for a 75-yard score. The Lions won the game 37-30.

The New Orleans Saints were another team looking to clinch the playoffs, but they needed a little luck for them to get in. Alvin Kamara had a monster game vs. the Falcons. Kamara ran the ball 30 times for 146 yards. Even with the murky QB situation in New Orleans, they still managed to defeat the Falcons 30-20. Unfortunately, the win didn’t guarantee them a playoff spot and they were eliminated later on.

The Tampa Bay Bucs were another team, like the Packers, who used their final game as a warm-up for the playoffs. With incentives and records on the line, Tom Brady aired it out for 326 yards and three touchdowns. He helped his buddy Rob Gronkowski cash in on a big payday as well, as Gronk caught ten passes for 137 yards. Mike Evans also caught two touchdowns on the season, bringing his total to 14 and making him the franchise leader in single-season touchdowns. Tom Brady broke his fair share of records as well, with the most pass completions, attempts, yards, and touchdowns in Bucs history. The Bucs dominated the Panthers 41-17.

The Miami Dolphins hosted the New England Patriots in their Week 18 showdown. Even though Tua Tagovailoa didn’t have his most impressive game, it was just enough for Sunday. Duke Johnson led the way for Miami as he rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Rookie WR Jaylen Waddle also set an NFL record as he made his rookie record 102nd catch on the season. Mac Jones threw a pick-6 to Xavien Howard that gave the Dolphins a 14-0 lead and they never looked back. Miami won the game 33-24.

The San Francisco 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo traveled to face the Los Angeles Rams in one of the biggest games of the season. Both teams started the game off slow, with the score being just 3-0 after the first quarter. But in the second quarter, the Rams scored two quick touchdowns and ended the first half with a 17-3 lead. In the second half, the Rams fell apart and the 49ers took over. With a rushing and passing touchdown coming from Deebo Samuel and big plays from Elijah Mitchell and Brandon Aiyuk, San Fran came back and managed to force overtime. The 49ers scored a field goal in overtime and an underthrown pass from Matthew Stafford that was intercepted by Ambry Thomas ended the game and pushed the 49ers into the playoffs. The final score was 27-24. For the Rams, Cooper Kupp became just the fourth WR to earn a ‘Triple Crown’ (lead the league in receptions, yards, and touchdowns’ but came just a few yards short of Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving yards record.

In the final game of the season, the Chargers and Raiders’ playoff hopes were both on the line. There was a scenario that if the game ended in a tie, both teams would be in the picture, but things unfolded differently. Ironically, the game entered overtime and both teams kicked field goals to tie the game at 32 apiece. But a few questionable calls put the Raiders in a position to win and they did just that with a 47-yard field goal from Daniel Carson as time expired. The Las Vegas clinched their spot with a 35-32 win, and eliminated the Chargers, but helped the Steelers in.

Here is a look at the Playoff Picture for the AFC:

#1 Seed: Tennessee Titans (12-5. Clinched Division and Homefield Advantage). First Round Bye

#2 Kansas City Chiefs (12-5. Clinched Division) vs. #7 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1. Clinched Wildcard)

#3 Buffalo Bills (11-6. Clinched Division.) vs. #6 New England Patriots (10-7. Clinched Wildcard)

#4 Cincinnati Bengals (10-7. Clinched Division) vs. #5 Las Vegas Raiders (10-7. Clinched Wildcard)

Here is a look at the Playoff Picture in the NFC:

#1 Green Bay Packers (13-4. Clinched Division and Homefield Advantage)

#2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4. Clinched Division) vs. #7 Philadelphia Eagles (9-8. Clinched Wildcard)

#3 Dallas Cowboys (12-5. Clinched Division) vs. #6 San Francisco 49ers(Clinched Wildcard)

#4 Los Angeles Rams (12-5. Clinched Division) vs. #5 Arizona Cardinals (Clinched Wildcard)