The NFL season is finally (sadly) over. Week 17 showed us a lot about a lot of teams, and it also helped us identify which teams stand a chance in the playoffs this season. Here’s a couple of things we learned from Week 17:
The Cowboys have an offense: A big question about the Cowboys is whether or not they will be able to compete in the playoffs with Tony Romo at quarterback. Romo has never done anything in the playoffs, so most people assume he never will. Well that’s partially true, Romo doesn’t have to this season: he has a team to do everything for him. Although Romo’s stats are good, make no mistake that without Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray there would be no playoff appearance. The Dallas Cowboys also have something else they haven’t seen in years—a defense. The Cowboys are certainly not the favorites to win the Super Bowl (or even make the NFC Championship), but maybe Romo can at least win a game and a little respect.
Tom Brady sucks: I’ve been saying this for years, but maybe people will understand now. Bill Bellichick decided to play his starters for the first half of Sunday’s game against the Bills, with one big exception…Rob Gronkowski. Without Gronk on the field Tom Brady couldn’t do anything. Jimmy Garoppolo played better than Brady. Brady realized once again that without Gronk on the field, he actually needs to pass well to get completions. Gronk takes about 2-3 defenders with him on an average play, meaning everyone else is either wide open or single-covered. These receivers are easy to hit (Gronk is also easy to hit with 3 guys on him because…well..he’s Gronk). If anything were to happen to Rob in the playoffs, Brady can kiss a fourth ring goodbye.
The Panthers deserved to make the playoffs?: The NFC South has been the laughingstock of the NFL all season. The idea that a 3-8-1 team could not only be in the running for a playoff spot but also to win the entire division and host a game seemed ridiculous. Well, it happened. The Carolina Panthers will host a playoff game at 6-8-1. Maybe they don’t deserve to make the playoffs; however, it can’t be denied that they have significantly improved over the past few weeks. In fact, the Panthers ended the season on four straight wins, including a Week 17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons 34-3 to clinch the NFC South. Here’s the kicker: the Panthers host the Arizona Cardinals who have been playing worse basically every week. Provided Cam Newton can play well, the Panthers actually have the upper hand against a backup quarterback starting in the playoffs. Suddenly, the team that shouldn’t have even made the playoffs may go to the second round.