As it usually does, Week 17 brought NFL fans a type of madness that we don’t find in any other week of the NFL season. One key feature of the regular season’s final week is always the firing of head coaches around the league and this season is no different. On Saturday evening, while most of the world was celebrating the approaching new year, reports leaked out that the San Francisco 49ers planned to fire HC Chip Kelly and GM Trent Baalke and that is just what happened following the team’s loss against Seattle in the season finale. Kelly was not alone though.

 

Following the late afternoon games, we learned the fate of another pair of NFL coaches. First, the Chargers announced they had fired Mike McCoy, who lasted four years in San Diego and while he showed promise early in his tenure, the team has struggled over the past two seasons. With a potential move south to Los Angeles, the Chargers face an offseason of many changes.

 

Finally, a surprise report Sunday morning suggested Broncos HC Gary Kubiak would resign his position following the season due to growing health concerns. The Broncos dominated the Raiders the entire game and knocked Oakland from atop the division and following the game, Kubiak did in fact announce he’d be stepping away. This is a major blow for the defending Super Bowl champs and is a bad sign for the future of rookie QB Paxton Lynch.

 

 

In Other News:

 

Cardinals’ record-breaking RB David Johnson suffered a nasty leg injury in the first half that had many assuming the worst. Johnson was unable to return to the game, but Arizona beat writers did spot him on the sidelines later in the game. When asked about the injury following the game, HC Bruce Arians explained he didn’t think the injury was severe. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that while there was damage to the meniscus in Johnson’s left knee, his ACL was intact. This is great news after what looked like a huge blow to the Cardinals offense. Johnson will now have plenty of time to recover with the Cardinals failing to advance to the playoffs. Johnson is still scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.

 

Along with coaching changes, Week 17 is also well-known for deciding the final playoff spots. While many of the games were deemed meaningless, there were some very important matchups that would help determine the teams and seeds for next week’s playoffs. In the early afternoon games, the Patriots waxed the Dolphins to lock up the top seed in the AFC. That left the second seed and the AFC West title to be decided. The Raiders would claim the title and the second seed if they could take out the Broncos with backup QB Matt McGloin leading the way. That game was never really close though, which meant the Chiefs could win the AFC West with a victory, which they got in convincing fashion against San Diego. The NFC featured a pair of games that would essentially decide things. Surprisingly, the Giants never benched their starters and took out the Redskins in what was a must-win game for QB Kirk Cousins and his team. That loss meant both the Packers and the Lions would make the playoffs and their Sunday night tilt would determine a division champion and the seeding for the two rival teams. In the end, the Packers came out on top and will host the Giants as the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs.

 

 

Quick Hits:

 

With QB Tyrod Taylor benched, the Bills turned to E.J. Manuel, who struggled throughout the game. Eventually, interim HC Anthony Lynn gave rookie Cardale Jones a shot. Jones threw for just 96 yards and an interception in limited action. The Bills QB job is wide open for 2017… In what is expected to be his final game, Ravens WR Steve Smith went out with a whimper, catching just three passes for 34 yards… The Browns handed the Steelers a game after nearly winning their second consecutive victory, largely on the back of RB Isaiah Crowell, who gained 152 yards on the day… Surprisingly, some analysts had been suggesting Bears QB Matt Barkley should be a full-time starter in the league. After throwing two more interceptions Sunday, he was benched in favor of David Fales in the Bears’ blowout loss to Minnesota… NFC top seed Dallas rested their starters for much of the game as the Eagles got the win without much of a fight. Dallas veteran QB Tony Romo saw his first action of the year and threw a touchdown to WR Terrance Williams on his lone drive of the game… Patriots QB Tom Brady made his final case for the league MVP award, throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Pats to a top-seed clenching win over Miami… After weeks of disappointing play, Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin had a big game in a losing effort, catching six of his seven targets for 93 yards and a touchdown… Houston QB Tom Savage suffered a concussion and was relieved by former starter Brock Osweiler, who played one of his better games. Os threw for 253 yards and a touchdown as he tried to keep the Texans in the game… With the Jaguars top two runners banged up, they turned to unknown RB Corey Grant, who responded with 122 rushing yards on 18 carries, including a long 57-yard score… The 49ers offense predictably was pretty quiet against the Seahawks Sunday, but backup RB Shaun Draughn totaled 109 yards and two scores on the day… The Chiefs were without starting RB Spencer Ware Sunday, leaving Charcandrick West to do most of the work out of the backfield. He responded to lead the team in both rushing and receiving, catching two touchdowns from QB Alex Smith… It took 16 games, but a Giants RB finally put up a 100-yard rushing game. It was rookie Paul Perkins, not veteran Rashad Jennings. Perkins ran for 102 yards on 21 carries as the Giants took out the Redskins… Like Brady, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan made his MVP case in Week 17 as well, throwing for 331 yards and four scores as the Falcons outlasted the Saints… Oakland lost their starting QB for the second consecutive week as Matt McGloin was forced from the game with a shoulder injury. The team turned to rookie Connor Cook. Facing a strong Houston defense next week, this could be devastating news for the Raiders… Bills RB LeSean McCoy suffered an early ankle injury that forced him to the sidelines. McCoy pushed to return to the game, but HC Anthony Lynn wisely chose to sit McCoy in a game that meant very little… Ravens TE Dennis Pitta has been one of the top stories of the season as he has returned from multiple serious injuries. He finished off the season with 11 receptions on a team-high 16 targets for 91 yards… The Steelers, locked into the third seed, chose to rest key members of their offense including QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown… Rookie RB Jordan Howard had another nice game, gaining 135 rushing yards and setting a new Bears rookie rushing record… TE Zach Ertz has been the go-to option for the Eagles in recent weeks and he caught 13 of 16 targets for 139 yards and two touchdowns. All of those are season-best numbers for Ertz… WR Julian Edelman continues to be the top target for the Pats and he did more damage on Sunday, catching eight passes for 151 yards and a long 77-yard score… Panthers QB Cam Newton finished off a letdown of a season with another disappointing game. Newton threw for 237 yards and a touchdown, along with a trio of interceptions… Playing with both Tom Savage and Brock Osweiler, WR DeAndre Hopkins ended his regular season on a high note, catching seven passes for a season-high 123 yards… As the Jaguars and Colts battled it out, their QBs managed nice fantasy numbers despite subpar performances overall. Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles threw for 301 yards and a touchdown, while Andrew Luck has 321 passing yards and a pair of TDs… Chargers TE Antonio Gates, playing what could be his final NFL game, tied the record held by Tony Gonzalez for most touchdowns by a TE. Gates finished with five grabs for 55 yards and dropped the would be record-breaker late in the game… TE Jordan Reed gutted out a nice performance despite still being slowed by injuries. He caught five passes for 40 yards and a touchdown… The Falcons’ stars showed up against New Orleans. WR Julio Jones hauled in seven balls for 96 yards and a score, while RB Devonta Freeman totaled 177 yards and a touchdown of his own… After looking lost for much of the season, rookie RB Devontae Booker of the Broncos had another solid game, totaling 109 yards and a pair of TDs… It looked like the Jets might be without RB Bilal Powell for much of the week, but he ended up playing and playing well. Powell totaled 137 yards and a touchdown as the Jets routed Buffalo… The Bengals were without starter Jeremy Hill and many saw a nice game coming from RB Rex Burkhead. He did not disappoint, totaling 144 yards and two scores. Burkhead will enter free agency, so his statement game comes at the perfect time… Robert Griffin III finally threw for a touchdown. In fact, he threw for two as the Browns matched the Steelers score for score. RG3 finished with 232 passing yards… TE Travis Kelce was a no-show for Kansas City, failing to even see the field early in the game for an unknown reason. Once he did get in the game, he failed to make an impact, catching one pass for eight yards… Bears WR Alshon Jeffery might have been playing his final game for Chicago as he is set to hit the open market. Jeffery caught one pass for 10 yards… Former Cardinals WR Michael Floyd made a major impact for the Patriots Sunday, catching a touchdown pass from QB Tom Brady and then executing a crushing block on Edelman’s TD catch and run… Raiders RB Latavius Murray was a non-factor, rushing just five times for 11 yards… Saints WR Michael Thomas set the team rookie record for receiving yardage, posting a 10/156/1 line on the day… Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders suffered an early foot injury and could not return. He failed to record a reception as Denver cruised to victory… Bills WR Sammy Watkins had a quiet day, catching four passes for 31 yards and leaving the game early with an injury. It has been an injury-plagued season for the Bills star… Browns QB turned WR Terrelle Pryor broke the 1,000-yard mark for the season Sunday as he caught seven passes for 94 yards… RB Mark Ingram was back in charge of the New Orleans backfield, totaling 132 yards and a touchdown… The Vikings crushed the Bears Sunday, thanks in part to TE Kyle Rudolph (11/117/1) and RB Jerick McKinnon (110 total yards/2)… The Packers offense was clicking again, as QB Aaron Rodgers took over the league lead for TD passes, spreading the ball around to multiple receivers, including WR Geronimo Allison, WR Davante Adams and RB Aaron Ripkowski catching TDs…

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