The second to last week of the NFL season provided fans with some clarity as to how certain elements of the AFC and NFC playoff races will shake out.
Let’s take a closer look at three things we can take out of Week 17’s games, heading into the campaign’s final weekend.
A Sneak Preview From Tennessee
Week 17 started with a matchup of Thursday Night Football that many fans overlooked, unless they had players in that game who would help determine the outcome of their fantasy football championship. The game unfolded as many expected, as the Dallas Cowboys went into Tennessee and soundly defeated the Titans. Tennessee had been reeling, and all Dallas needed to do was avoid turnovers in order to take care of a struggling Titans squad.
However, head coach Mike Vrabel’s decision making leading up to that game provided a window into his thinking for the remainder of Tennessee’s season. He elected to start journeyman Josh Dobbs at quarterback, rather than rookie signal caller Malik Willis. This seemed like a pretty obvious admission that Dobbs allows Tennessee to be more diverse with their passing offense, as Willis has not been viable as a thrower at this stage of his NFL career.
There was some thought that Tennessee elected to rest key players in the Cowboys game because it was irrelevant to their playoff chances, but it turns out Dobbs will get the start again in Week 18 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
A Tricky Situation In Philadelphia
Heading into the Christmas holiday, the Eagles figured to be coasting towards the top seed in the NFC. Even though they received some unfortunate news about quarterback Jalen Hurts and his shoulder, the belief was that Philadelphia was all but guaranteed to clinch the top spot in the conference, while the MVP candidate could afford to rest and get healthy.
The Eagles can still wrap up homefield advantage in the conference with a victory over a New York Giants team that will likely sit most of its starters, but the path was supposed to be a lot less cumbersome. Philadelphia lost its second straight game in Week 17, falling at home to the New Orleans Saints.
It was the second straight start for backup quarterback Gardner Minshew. He played well in a Christmas Eve loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but could not get the offense into gear against New Orleans. As a result, Hurts may be forced back into action prematurely against New York.
Jets Not Cleared For Takeoff
When the Jets took the field for their game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, they were afforded a golden opportunity. The Miami Dolphins had just lost another game earlier in the day, and what seemed like an improbable playoff push seemed much more doable.
However, the Seahawks were also in must-win mode, and they played like it on Sunday. Seattle jumped out to an early lead against the Jets, and New York was not able to put up much of a fight. Fill-in quarterback Mike White was ineffective, and looked like he hadn’t quite recovered from the rib injuries he suffered a few weeks earlier.
As a result, the Jets lost, and were eliminated from postseason contention. After New York finishes its regular season slate against Miami, they will once again head into the offseason wondering how they can upgrade under center.