NFL Week 17 winners and losers: Aaron Rodgers, NY Giants, Carson Wentz...
It’s with a heavy heart that we discuss the NFL games of Week 17 as it came to a frightening close on Monday night.
Week 17 of the NFL came to a concerning and shocking end when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field. The game was postponed and the NFL has not yet announced when it will be played, but for now, all thoughts are with Hamlin and his family and team as he fights for his life in the hospital.
As we keep an eye on Hamlin’s condition and hope that he will pull through, the incident reminds us of the sometimes harsh realities of the NFL. ESPN’s Ryan Clark phrased it eloquently:
“These men are putting their lives on the line to live their dream, and tonight Damar Hamlin’s dream became a nightmare, not only for himself but for his family and his entire team.”
As we await the league’s decision on if and when the game will continue, let’s take a look at the Thursday and Sunday night games from Week 17 and what they mean for the playoff picture.
NFL Week 17 winners and losers
The new year started off with several NFL games as we now have just one week remaining in the regular season. For five teams, it was the penultimate week that ended up being an elimination round, though. The Washington Commanders, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and Las Vegas Raiders all had a rough start to the new year as they watched their playoff hopes disappear.
NFL Week 17 winners:
The New York Giants
The Giants officially sealed their spot in the postseason after beating the Colts 38-10. This is the first time they’ve made it to the playoffs in six years. It says a lot about their management changes that they were able to turn things around so quickly. Last season, they went 4-13, but new head coach Brian Daboll brought them to the playoffs this year.
The Packers got off to a horrible start to the season and even just a month ago, they were at 4-8. But of course, we can never completely write off any team Aaron Rodgers is quarterbacking. After winning four games in a row, the Packers just need one more to clinch a playoff spot. And while the Packers defense did a lot to contribute to their win over the Vikings in Week 17, Rodgers himself completed 15-of-24 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Good thing they didn’t put in Jordan Love just yet.
The Seahawks beat the Jets in Week 17, meaning Geno Smith got to beat all three of his former teams this season, beating the Giants, Chargers, and Jets by an average of 15 points per game. Smith does not lose to his former teams, and he completed the revenge tour in Week 17.
The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers aren’t in the playoffs just yet, but they’re a lot closer than anyone thought they’d be earlier in the season. If they can beat the Browns next week, and if the Jets beat the Dolphins and Patriots lost to the Bills, the Steelers would grab a spot. It may not be within their control completely, but the fact that they’re there at all is impressive. In Week 17′s win over the Ravens, QB Kenny Pickett threw a game-winning touchdown pass for the second week in a row.
NFL Week 17 losers:
Not only are the Jets officially out of the playoffs but they made it so in a weak 23-6 loss to the Seahawks. It’s now been 12 YEARS since the Jets reached the post season, the longest drought in all the league. QB Mike White completed just 23 of 46 passes for 240 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, and one fumble. This was the first year they didn’t have a terrible draft in a very long time…let’s see if they can get another option at quarterback next season.
Carson Wentz and Ron Rivera
Well, it was already a bad sign when Commanders coach Ron Rivera had no idea his team could be eliminated from the playoffs in Week 17…
And sure enough, the Packers beat the Vikings, eliminating Washington from the playoffs. Even still, Rivera’s decision to start Carson Wentz over Taylor Heinicke was questionable. Wentz threw three interceptions in their 24-10 loss to the Browns, so if the Packers hadn’t done it for them, that would have.
The Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles were having such a great season! But without Jalen Hurts, they’re not quite so dominant. They basically had the NFC East in the bag, but with two losses in a row, they still haven’t clinched it. If they beat the Giants in Week 18, they’re good to go. It’s no guarantee though, and the Eagles’ loss to the Saints hurts, since they own the Saints’ 2023 first-round draft pick. The Eagles need Hurts back next week - there is home-field advantage on the line.
The Carolina Panthers
If the Panthers had won, they would have completely changed the NFC South outcome, but instead, QB Sam Darnold had three turnovers in the last three quarters. It’s a shame it ended this way as the Panthers still had an 11-point lead in the 4th quarter.
The Panthers defense couldn’t cover Mike Evans, who had two huge back-to-back touchdown grabs in the fourth quarter. Instead of clinching the NFC South, the Panthers are eliminated from the playoffs completely.