The first round of games Sunday provided some surprising results that saw the Dolphins and Ravens eliminated from postseason contention. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who needed four games to fall in their favor, are still alive pending the result of the Chargers’ matchup with the Chiefs in the late round of games.
The Steelers were able to take care of business against the Cleveland Browns without very much resistance. They were able to dominate the Browns from start to finish, but even so, Pittsburgh needed tons of help going into Sunday’s games.
The Bengals, who have historically struggled against the Steelers and Ravens, were able to outlast the Ravens despite a number of poor decisions and bad breaks. Cincinnati gave the Ravens every opportunity to stay in the game, but as is often the case in the NFL, talent was more important than strategy. The Ravens had previously survived a number of close games to stay in the playoff race, but there was no magic left for week 17.
The Ravens’ struggles left the door wide open for the Miami Dolphins, but the New York Jets picked the last week of the season to play smart football, taking advantage of Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ mistakes. Obviously, the Jets would have preferred to be in the postseason talk, but playing spoiler to the Dolphins was likely a great consolation prize they were all too happy to accept.
For the San Diego Chargers, the early round of games was nearly perfect. With the Chiefs benching most of their star players, the Chargers should be able to win without great resistance from Kansas City. If that’s the case, the Chargers will sneak into the postseason as the sixth seed in the AFC. If the Chiefs are able to somehow beat the Chargers, however, the Steelers are in position to steal a spot in the playoffs after an improbable week of results.