The longest NFL regular season on record is finally over — and it goes without saying that it was one of the craziest yet. The unpredictability of the maiden 17-game campaign has made it a joy to behold over the last five months or so, and for many of the league’s 32 franchises, it went right down to the wire with plenty of twists and turns right up to the final plays on gameweek 18.
The Las Vegas Raiders pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history “so it will read “The Las Vegas Raiders pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in NFL Super Bowl history. To sneak in to the AFC playoffs, helping the Pittsburgh Steelers secure a place as the ‘Sin City’ franchise crushed the hopes of the Los Angeles Chargers, while there were surprise No.1 seeds in both the AFC and the NFC — dooming last year’s Super Bowl contenders to the wildcard round without a bye.
The postseason may be on the horizon, with the wildcard round set to take place this weekend. But, looking at the betting exchange sites, it is still nearly impossible to call who is going to win Super Bowl LVI at the SoFi Stadium on February 13th. So, as we wait for more drama to unfold in front of our eyes, let’s take a look at some of the talking points as the playoff picture is confirmed…
Packers and Titans land No.1 seeds — extra work for Chiefs and Bucs
Despite losing to the Detroit Lions last weekend, the Green Bay Packers secured the No.1 seed in the NFC playoffs over defending champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with a victory over the Minnesota Vikings on gameweek 17. It means Aaron Rodgers and co. will have home-field advantage as they look to redeem themselves after losing to the Bucs in the Championship Game last year.
The Tennessee Titans pipping the Kansas City Chiefs to the top spot in the AFC is perhaps the more surprising story. The Titans narrowly edged past the Texans in Houston last weekend to hold onto the top seed. It will be the first time in the Patrick Mahomes-era that the Chiefs will have to play in the wildcard weekend, but there shouldn’t be any bumps in the road as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Raiders clinch playoff spot in dramatic fashion in titanic clash with Chargers
Both teams had it all to play for at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, with the winner securing a playoff berth and the loser sent packing. The Raiders looked set to breeze through as they boasted a 15-point lead with just five minutes left of the final quarter, but the Chargers scored twice to send the game into overtime.
To add even more drama to the matchup, a tie would have gifted both franchises a spot in the playoffs at the Steelers’ expense. In which case, most onlookers expected the two sides to play out a draw. However, the Raiders had other ideas — kicking a field goal on their drive before the Chargers hit back with three points of their own.
Expected to settle for a tie with the scores level again, the hosts moved the chains and Daniel Carlson, one of the stars of the Raiders’ four-game playoff charge, kicked another FG with just two seconds left to crush the Chargers’ postseason hopes — meanwhile, the Steelers would have breathed a sigh of relief!
Rams and Cardinals in costly defeats
The Los Angeles Rams may still have been crowned the NFC West champions despite losing to the San Francisco 49ers, who snuck in as No.6 seed after the overtime win at the SoFi Stadium. However, they subsequently missed out on taking the No.2 seed and now have a tricky matchup against the Arizona Cardinals in the wildcard round.
Luckily for the Rams though, they still have home advantage in LA as the Cardinals slipped up against the Seattle Seahawks at State Farm Stadium. The Arizona franchise could have taken the NFC West title with a victory and played host to the Rams, instead they have to make the journey to LA — albeit where they won 37-20 earlier in the season. The Rams won 30-23 in Phoenix to make it one apiece though, so this really could go either way!