With one week left in the 2016 regular season, only two playoff spots were unsettled. The Lions and Packers faced off Sunday night to determine which team would win the NFC North and which one would earn a wild card spot.
Green Bay swept the season series against Detroit with a 31-24 win. The Lions had home-field advantage this time around, but shifting locales to Michigan hasn’t been especially helpful recently. The team is just 3-8 against its division rival at Ford Field since 2006.
That unfortunate record includes last year’s complete inability to cover a Hail Mary. Green Bay was gifted a free play at the end of regulation thanks to a dubious facemask penalty, and Aaron Rodgers used the anti-aircraft gun he calls an arm to launch a last-gasp pass into the Detroit end zone. The Lions failed to properly cover Richard Rodgers, and the tight end hauled in a touchdown to help lift the Pack to a wild card berth.
Sunday’s game wasn’t as dramatic, but Detroit was denied its first division title since 1993 with the Green Bay win. The good news for the Lions is that they’re still headed to the playoffs, thanks to Washington’s loss earlier in the day.
Packers-Lions was Week 17’s biggest showdown, but it wasn’t the only one this weekend with postseason implications. Here’s what happened around the rest of the league on last Sunday of the regular season:
Bengals 27, Ravens 10
Marvin Lewis misses the postseason for the first time since 2010, but it probably won’t be the last victory of his long NFL coaching career.
Titans 24, Texans 17
Matt Cassel earns some resume fodder and makes his case to remain Marcus Mariota’s understudy, but last week’s loss to the Jaguars eliminated the Titans from postseason contention.
Colts 24, Jaguars 20
At 8-8, Indianapolis fulfills its destiny as 2016’s model of mediocrity.
Jets 30, Bills 10
The Jets can now stake their claim as New York’s second-best NFL team.
Patriots 35, Dolphins 14
The Patriots get the top seed in the AFC. With home-field advantage, the AFC’s path to Super Bowl LI runs through New England.
Vikings 38, Bears 10
The Vikings can point to an eight-win season as the reward for boldly shipping out valuable draft capital for quarterback Sam Bradford.
Eagles 27, Cowboys 13
Doug Pederson gets a resume-building win, but won’t be able to escape a disappointing finish after a 3-0 start to the season.
Steelers 27, Browns 24 (OT)
The Steelers will host the Dolphins next weekend in the playoffs, and the Browns get the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Buccaneers 17, Panthers 16
The Bucs won, but they were eliminated from the playoffs when the Cowboys lost. To recap everything that Tampa Bay needed to go right to make the postseason:
Washington to tie
Green Bay to lose
Tennessee, Indianapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco to ALL win.
Falcons 38, Saints 32
The Falcons will get a week off. Beating the Saints locked Atlanta into the NFC’s No. 2 seed.
Broncos 24, Raiders 6
The Broncos spoiled Oakland’s shot at home-field advantage — as well as the AFC West title — but their season still ended Sunday.
Cardinals 44, Rams 6
Arizona finishes on a high note, but it’s still pretty disappointing after last year’s trip to the conference’s title game.
Chiefs 37, Chargers 27
Kansas City earns the AFC West title and a first-round bye.
Seahawks 25, 49ers 23
Seattle just missed out on a bye, but earned the No. 3 seed.
Giants 19, Washington 10
The Giants were already locked in to a wild card spot, so all they did was ruin Washington’s playoff dreams.
Packers 31, Lions 24
The Packers win the NFC North and will host the Giants in the playoffs. The Lions are a wild card team and will head to Seattle to play the Seahawks.
Here are the final playoff standings of the regular season:
- Patriots (14-2, AFC East)
- Chiefs (12-4, AFC West)
- Steelers (11-5, AFC North)
- Texans (9-7, AFC South)
- Raiders (12-4, Wild Card)
- Dolphins (10-6, Wild Card)
- Cowboys (13-3, NFC East)
- Falcons (11-5, NFC South)
- Seahawks (10-5-1, NFC West)
- Packers (10-6, NFC North)
- Giants (11-5, Wild Card)
- Lions (9-7, Wild Card)