Biggest NFL Storylines Week 17
Bills Make The Playoffs!
Here’s guessing the Buffalo Bills took a cue from Prince and partied like it was 1999. The Bills ended the NFL’s longest playoff drought by earning a trip to the postseason for the first time since 1999. Their fans are ecstatic as their favorite team has finally made its way back to the NFL’s Postseason Party where they will face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who return to the postseason for the first time in ten years themselves.
NFL fans should be in for a treat, with these two playoff neophytes battling each other on Wild Card Weekend. Their respective waits come to an end this Sunday. One will live to see another day, with the other having to wait until next season.
The NFL Coaching Carousel Spins Again
Chuck Pagano, Jim Caldwell, Jack Del Rio, John Fox and Ben McAdoo are the latest members of the Coaching Carousel as they were all relieved of their duties (i.e., fired) from their various head coaching jobs, with Dom Capers having been fired as defensive coordinator in Green Bay.
Arizona head coach Bruce Arians and Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced they would be retiring from their respective posts.
Even though this type of turnover happens on a yearly basis, it’s never a pleasant thing to see. This unfortunate occurrence is a vivid reminder that while football is a sport, the NFL is a business. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo replaced Ben McAdoo as interim head coach of the New York Giants, while reports indicate ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is the favorite to replace Jack Del Rio in Oakland.
Surprisingly, Cincinnati maintained the status quo and re-signed Marvin Lewis to a two-year deal.
Perhaps Sean McVay’s immediate success in Los Angeles will serve as a template for owners and general managers to look for the next young/inspirational voice to come and potentially change the fortunes of their franchise. As possible replacements are mentioned, fan bases across the land are hopeful that their favorite team hits a home run with its hire.
The 2017 Cleveland Browns joined the 2007 Detroit Lions, to become the only teams to finish a 16-game season winless. Earning such a distinction certainly isn’t one that the Browns, Lions, or any other team for that matter, seeks to accomplish. While being fortunate enough to have one of the most passionate and supportive fan bases in all of sports, Browns fans deserve a better product than they have been forced to endure.
Since rejoining the NFL after Art Modell relocated his organization to Baltimore, ultimately becoming the Ravens, the reborn Cleveland Browns organization has experienced futility unlike any other. They have cycled through head coaches, while continually missing the mark at the quarterback position. Eventually, they have to hit the success button even if by accident. The status quo cannot continue. Diehard Browns fans deserve to have a winner to cheer on, and would like for it to begin in 2018. Their long-suffering supporters have been patient, but the rock-bottom effort posted by the 2017 team has to be the final straw. Given the most recent outcome, one thing is for sure: It can’t get any worse.
Injuries, Injuries, and More Injuries
This past NFL season has seen more than its share of injuries suffered by a multitude of players. NFL fans saw an inordinate amount of players succumb to ailments of all kinds. Unfortunately, the postseason will not be spared this epidemic.
Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is still unsure if he will be able to play this weekend, thanks to an ankle injury.
The Tennessee Titans have already decided that running back DeMarco Murray‘s torn MCL will keep him out of play.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is out for the season with a torn ACL. Despite their number one seed/home-field advantage, the Eagles appear to be more vulnerable with Nick Foles under center as opposed to Wentz.
Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Antonio Brown is hoping to recover from a torn calf muscle in time for their playoff game next weekend. These are just a few of the players that we will or won’t see perform in the playoffs. Here’s hoping that the injury bug has bitten all of its’ “victims” and loses its teeth before attacking again.
The More Things Change…
The more they stay the same. As we welcome playoff newbies in the form of Jacksonville, Buffalo, and Tennessee, we see old favorites in the form of Pittsburgh and New England. Again.
The Patriots continue to defy logic by continually producing a winner, contending for the Lombardi Trophy. Again. At the ripe old (says who?) age of 40, Tom Brady led the NFL in passing yards. Head coach Bill Belichick and his “accept nothing less than your best attitude” has the Patriots in position to play for Super Bowl victory number six. If they accomplish this feat, they would join the Steelers as the only franchises with six Lombardi trophies to its credit. Instead of slowing down, Brady looks to be just warming up, at just the right time for New England, and the wrong time for the rest of the NFL. With home-field advantage through the AFC Championship game, short of a catastrophic injury, everything seems aligned for the Patriots to go into Minneapolis, and come out with the Lombardi trophy. Again.