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Young Stars Injured
It was a tough week 16 for many franchises who had to see their young stars go out with brutal injuries. Mariota and Carr both broke their fibula. Tyler Lockett broke his leg, Carlos Hyde hurt his knee and Bryce Petty hurt his shoulder. The only playoff-crushing injury was Carr, but Mariota’s injury was so bad that it will be at least a 5-month recovery which could really hurt Mariota getting ready for next season and the recovery period will most likely result in him missing OTA’s (offseason training activities).
All The Playoff Teams Decided in the AFC
The six playoff teams in the AFC have now been set. The big surprise, the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos are officially out. They got handled in a must-win game against division rival Kansas City. It wasn’t surprising that they lost, but it was absolutely shocking that Denver couldn’t even keep the game close in a must win situation.
The six teams that are officially in are New England, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Houston, Kansas City, and Miami. That would also be the current seeding if the playoffs ended today. However, there is still a lot that can change on the final Sunday in the regular season. New England has a chance to be a 1 or 2 seed. A win guarantees them the one seed, but a New England loss and an Oakland win catapults Oakland up to #1 and New England drops to 2. Oakland can also be the five seed if they lose and Kansas City wins. If that happens Kansas City would then take the two spot. The 3 and 4 seeds are set. Pittsburgh will be the 3 and Houston will be the 4. The last playoff scenario is Miami can jump Kansas City for the 5 seed if Kansas City loses and Miami wins.
Tom Savage #3, Houston Texans
Photo Credit: Ben Margot, STF
Backup Quarterback Galore
This has to be unprecedented, but there are 3 backup quarterbacks looking to start in the AFC playoffs. With recent injuries and benchings, Matt Moore, Tom Savage, and Matt McGloin all look like they will be leading their teams through the playoffs. It is still possible that Tannehill makes it back for a playoff game, but his status is very much unknown. Derek Carr seems like he will be out at least 6 weeks, which may be enough time for a Super Bowl return, but we have to be realistic, no Matt McGloin led team is going to the Super Bowl. Lastly, Tom Savage is in for the terrible Brock Osweiler. This change is probably the only backup change in the AFC that has made a team better, but nonetheless, Savage was still the backup quarterback and is looking to start in the playoffs. I can’t imagine there was another season with 3 backup quarterbacks starting playoff games in the same conference.
The road for Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger just got a whole lot easier. It is just a path of backup QB’s and Alex Smith until New England and Pittsburgh would most likely face off in Foxborough for an AFC Championship.
Derek Carr had no ligament damage in his broken fibula, so even though they are saying a minimum return time of 6 weeks, it is not impossible to return in 3-4 weeks after the plate in the fibula is put in (which it was on Tuesday during surgery). It would just be a matter of Derek having confidence in the leg and managing the pain. Charles Woodson has shown that it can be done by coming back in 3 weeks with the same injury. Just listen to the beginning of this clip when Romanowski talks about a possible 3-4 week recovery for Carr.
NFC Playoff Picture
The NFC playoff picture is mostly set. There are 7 teams still alive (not including the Bucs 1 in 100 million chance) fighting for 6 spots. The Cowboys, Giants, Falcons, and Seahawks have all clinched a playoff spot. The 3 teams left fighting for the last two spots are the Lions, Packers, and Redskins.
The Cowboys have secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the 1 seed. The New York Giants have also clinched the 5 seed.
Every other seed is up for grabs. The 2 seed could go to either Atlanta or Seattle. Atlanta is in the driver seat because all they need is a win on Sunday to clinch a first round bye. However, a Falcon’s loss and a Seattle win will have Seattle jump Atlanta to the 2 spot and take the bye. Seattle also needs to win, even if Atlanta wins, to make sure they can retain at least a 3 seed. A loss for Seattle and a win by either Detroit or Green Bay, who play each other, would result in Seattle falling to the 4 spot. Luckily for Seattle, they play the Niners and should easily win.
The last division, in the NFC, that is still up for grabs is the NFC North. Green Bay and Detroit play in a winner take all game on Sunday Night Football. Winner takes the division and the loser probably misses the playoffs. The winner will most likely grab the 4 spot and the loser only gets in if Washington loses to the Giants, which is unlikely because the Giants don’t have anything to play for knowing their spot as the 5 seed can’t change.
Aaron Rodgers successful hail mary last time the Packers played in Detroit
USA TODAY Sports Images
The last seed that is up for grabs is the 6 seed. If Washington wins against New York, and the Lions and Packers don’t end up in a tie, then Washington will be the 6 seed. However, I would never expect this to happen, but Detroit and Green Bay could both guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs by tying each other. A tie would have Washington eliminated and Detroit and Green Bay would be in. However, that would never happen because that would involve Detroit giving the NFC North title to Green Bay. In the end, it is basically a win and you’re in game for Washington because the chances for Green Bay and Detroit tying are so low.
#24 Josh Norman
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post
Projected Playoff Seeding
Ryan is currently a student at the University of North Carolina. He grew up in the Bay Area and has had Raiders season tickets his entire life fostering his love for the NFL. He has founded his own sports website, thejrreport.com and works at the Sports Desk for the Daily Tar Heel. You can follow Ryan on twitter @rytime98 if you want to discuss anything sports.