Just as promised, the final week of the NFL season have us the answer to a number of issues that had remained open until these last games were played.

We now know which 14 teams will be in the Playoffs and which seed they will be.

We also know that if the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs make it through to the AFC Championship game, then Roger Goodell will decide which neutral venue this game will be played at, given his ruling to postpone the Bengals v Bills game that ended after Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest last week.

Fortunately, Hamlin seems to be on his way to a great recovery, which made this weekend’s set of games much easier to get through for all with an interest in the NFL.

The regular season may be over and 18 of the 32 teams may be heading off until pre-season workouts start in a few months, but there’s still plenty of action left in the season for the 14 teams involved in the playoffs.

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So what happened in Matchday 18? Who were the teams to earn a playoff spot, and who missed out and who, surprisingly, ended up with the first pick of the 2023 NFL Draft? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

NFL Matchday 18 – Main Stories

  • Potential Chiefs And Bills AFC Championship Game To Be Held At Neutral Venue – The NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced early last week that the postponed Bengals v Bills game would not be replayed and that a certain number of contingincies would be made to make good on the equalities of two AFC teams playing 16 games, while others played 17. As it turns out, it essentially just means that if the Bills and Chiefs reach the AFC Championship Game (which as 1&2 seeds is possible) then the game would be played at a neutral venue.
  • Jaguars Snatch Win And AFC South From Titans – The first big issue of the week was decided on Saturday night as a late strip sack, forced fumble and fumble recovered for a touchdown put the Jags into the playoffs as the AFC South winners over the hapless Tennessee Titans who finished the season with a losing run of seven games to slip from. 7-3 to 7-10. Take nothing away from the Jaguars though, over the season they deserved the top spot and will move on to the playoffs.
  • Patriots Loss Hands Dolphins Final AFC Playoff Spot – New England had to beat the Bills to ensure a playoff spot, but they couldn’t manage it which meant the door was open for the Dolphins and in a tight game with the Jets, which saw no touchdowns scored, they came away with an 11-6 victory to move on into the playoffs ahead of the Pats and the Steelers.
  • Eagles Lock Up NFC East And #1 seed in the Playoffs – Jalen Hurts returned for the Eagles and steered them to a 22-16 win over the Giants, meaning that the Eagles confirmed top spot in the NFC East, and also the number 1 seed in the NFC. That will give them a bye next week, offering them a chance to get some of their injured and banged up players a bit of rest ahead of the divisional games the following week.
  • Seahawks Overtime Win clinches Playoff spot ahead of Lions & Packers – In a dramatic game, the Seattle Seahawks wasted an opportunity to kick a winning field goal in normal time but then Jason Myers did connect in overtime to clinch a vital 19-16 win over the battling Rams. That combined with the Lions win over the Packers means that it is the Seahawks that move on to the playoffs.  
  • Texans Last Gasp Win Sees Bears Land #1 Pick in the Draft – Has somebody told Lovie Smith that he may be being sacked today? Well, it sure seemed like it as the Texans snatched a win that probably few of their fans wanted against the hapless Indianapolis Colts. That win, combined with the Bears loss to the Vikings, means that despite being the worst team in the NFL for almost the whole season, the Texans will pick 2nd in the NFL Draft in April.

NFL Star Performers of the Week – Offense/ST

  • QB Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars) – 20/32 for 212 yards and a touchdown.
  • RB Derrick Henry (Titans) – 30 carries for 109 yards
  • QB Josh Allen (Bills) – 19/31 for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns.
  • KR Nyheim Hines (Bills) – 4 returns for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • WR Davante Parker (Patriots) – 6 receptions for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • RB Zack Moss (Colts) – 18 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown
  • WR Brandin Cooks (Texans) – 5 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown
  • RB Cam Akers (Rams) – 21 carries for 104 yards
  • WR Jerry Jeudy (Broncos) – 5 receptions for 154 yards
  • WR Keenan Allen (Chargers) – 8 receptions for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns

NFL Star Performers Of The Week – Defense

  • Jacksonville Jaguars – Not only did the Jaguars defense keep Derrick Henry in check, they also proved to be the key element in the Jags victory, as Jared Allen strip sacked the Titans QB and returned the loose ball for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter for what proved to be the game winning and AFC Winning, playoff clinching score.
  • Miami Dolphins – Admittedly, the Dolphins were not up against too much offense on the day, but in a game where defenses ruled, it was the Dolphins that eventually were the ones that led their team to victory, with the safety late in the game sealing the win that put them into the post-season.
  • Carolina Panthers – Holding the Saints to just seven points in Louisiana is no mean feat, especially after the Saints had just beaten the Eagles last week. The Panthers smothering defense was the foundation for their success and ensure that all teams in the NFC South finish either on 8-9 or 7-10.
  • Washington Commanders – Already out of the playoffs, the Commanders exposed the Dallas offense in this key NFC East game, forcing an interception and a fumble, which they recovered on the way to a victory which ensured that the Cowboys would not be playing at home in the playoffs next weekend.

NFL Rookies Of The Week

  • QB Kenny Pickett (Steelers) – 13/29 for 195 yards and 1 touchdown
  • WR George Pickens (Steelers) -3 receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown
  • TE Isaiah Likely (Ravens) – 8 receptions for 103 yards
  • WR Garrett Wilson (Jets) – 9 receptions for 89 yards.
  • QB Desmond Ridder (Falcons) – 19/30 for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns
  • RB Tyler Allgeier (Falcons) – 24 carries for 135 yards
  • WR Drake London (Falcons) – 6 receptions for 120 yards.
  • WR Chris Olave (Saints) – 5 receptions for 60 yards and a touchdown
  • S Jalen Pitre (Texans) – 7 tackles, 1 assist
  • QB Brock Purdy (49ers) – 15/20 for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns
  • WR Jahan Dotson (Commanders) – 3 receptions for 72 yards.
  • QB Sam Howell (Commanders) – 11/19 for 169 yards and a touchdown, 5 rushes 35 yards.
  • RB Kenneth Walker (Seahawks) – 29 carries for 114 yards
  • WR Christian Watson (Packers) – 5 receptions for 104 yards

NFL Key Injuries

  • G Alex Cappa (Bengals) – Ankle injury – severity unknown as yet.
  • RB Gus Edwards (Ravens) – head injury – day to day but should be fit for playoffs.
  • WR Mike Williams (Chargers) – Back injury – scheduled for further tests this week.
  • LB Kenneth Murray (Chargers) – Stinger but should be able to play next week.
  • OT Brandon Shell (Dolphins) – Ankle or Knee injury – questionable for next weekend.
  • RB Raheem Mostert (Dolphins) – Thumb injury but should be fine for next week.
  • S Jason Pinnock (Giants) – Shoulder injury – a doubt for the playoffs.
  • WR Mike Evans (Buccaneers) – illness – Should be fine for playoffs.
  • TE Kyle Rudolph (Buccaneers) – Knee, a doubt for the playoff game.

NFL Bonehead of The Week

Usually, it is an NFL team or player that gets the bonehead of the week award, but this week it goes to Fox Sports NFL analyst Skip Bayless for his somewhat misguided, and at worst, downright insensitive Tweets just minutes after the incident in last weeks Bills v Bengals Monday Night Game.

Both Michael Strahan and Shannon Sharpe have stated that they did not agree with the comments made by Bayless, who doubled down on his comments when speaking with Shannon Sharpe ahead of Sunday’s games.

Bayless Tweet seemed to suggest that the outcome of the game and its importance in terms of the end of season rankings and seedings was a greater magnitude to the life of Hamlin, which at the time hung in the balance.

There has been a huge outcry for Bayless to be fired from his position, but as yet, he remains on the Fox payroll.

NFL Matchday 18 – Results

  • Kansas City Chiefs 31-13 Las Vegas Raiders
  • Tennessee Titans 16-20 Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Cleveland Browns 14-28 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Baltimore Ravens 16-27 Cincinnati Bengals
  • Minnesota Vikings 29-13 Chicago Bears
  • New England Patriots 23-35 Buffalo Bills
  • New York Jets 6-11 Miami Dolphins
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-30 Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers 10-7 New Orleans Saints
  • Houston Texans 32-31 Indianapolis Colts
  • Arizona Cardinals 13-38 San Francisco 49ers
  • Dallas Cowboys 6-26 Washington Commanders
  • Los Angeles Rams 16-19 Seattle Seahawks (OT)
  • New York. Giants 16-22 Philadelphia Eagles
  • Los Angeles Chargers 28-31 Denver Broncos
  • Detroit Lions 20-16 Green Bay Packers

NFL Standings After Matchday 18

NFC North NFC West NFC East NFC South 
Vikings13-449ers13-4Eagles14-3Buccaneers8-9
Lions9-8Seahawks9-8Cowboys12-5Panthers7-10
Packers8-9Rams5-12Giants9-7-1Saints7-10
Bears3-14Cardinals4-13Commanders8-8-1Falcons7-10
AFC North AFC West AFC East AFC South 
Bengals*12-4Chiefs14-3Bills*13-3Jaguars9-8
Ravens10-7Chargers10-7Dolphins9-8Titans7-10
Steelers9-8Raiders6-11Patriots8-9Colts4-12-1
Browns7-10Broncos5-12Jets7-10Texans3-13-1

Teams qualified for the playoffs are shown in Italics.

Teams confirmed as Divisional Winners are shown in Bold.

*Bengals and Bills played just 16 games after their Week 17 game was postponed.

NFL Playoffs – Seedings

NFC Seedings

  1. Philadelphia Eagles
  2. San Francisco 49ers
  3. Minnesota Vikings
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  5. Dallas Cowboys
  6. New York Giants
  7. Seattle Seahawks

AFC Seedings

  1. Kansas City Chiefs*
  2. Buffalo Bills*
  3. Cincinnati Bengals
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Los Angeles Chargers
  6. Baltimore Ravens
  7. Miami Dolphins

NFL 2023 Draft Positions (Confirmed)

Teams that have traded away their 2023 are shown initalics.

  1. Chicago Bears
  2. Houston Texans
  3. Arizona Cardinals
  4. Indianapolis Colts
  5. Denver Broncos – Traded to Seattle Seahawks
  6. Los Angeles Rams – Traded to Detroit Lions
  7. Las Vegas Raiders
  8. Atlanta Falcons
  9. Carolina Panthers
  10. New Orleans Saints – Traded to Philadelphia Eagles
  11. Tennessee Titans
  12. Cleveland Browns – Traded to Houston Texans
  13. New York Jets
  14. New England Patriots
  15. Green Bay Packers
  16. Washington Commanders
  17. Pittsburgh Steelers
  18. Detroit Lions

The number 19 to 32 picks are yet to be confirmed.

NFL Playoffs – Schedule of Games – Super Wildcard Weekend

Saturday 14th January

  • Seattle Seahawks (9-8) @ San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
  • Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)

Sunday 15th January

  • Miami Dolphins (9-8) @ Buffalo Bills (13-3)
  • New York Giants (9-7-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
  • Baltimore Ravens (10-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)

Monday 16th January

  • Dallas Cowboys (12-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)

Tune in later this week when we will preview all six Wildcard Weekend games in more depth and give you our top bets for each game.

NFL – Power Rankings (End of Regular Season)

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3) (2,2,4,3,2,3,3,3,4,4,2,2,4,5,6,3,2,1)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3) (7,4,2,1,3,2,2,2,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (13-4) (16,11,17,15,9,10,13,10,14,13,10,8,6,4,3,5,4,3)
  4. Buffalo Bills (13-3) (1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,2,3,4,5,5,2,2,2,3,4)
  5. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4) (8,15,12,11,13,9,9,13,11,12,9,7,7,6,4,4,5,5)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (13-4) (9,12,13,9,5,4,5,4,3,1,3,3.2,7,5,6,7,6)
  7. Dallas Cowboys (12-5) (19,17,11,6,4,7,6,5,5,9,6,4,3,3,7,7,6,7)
  8. Los Angeles Chargers (10-7) (3,5,16,10,8,6,10,12,13,14,16,14,15,12,9,9,8,8)
  9. Detroit Lions (9-8) (28,21,25,27,29,30,32,32,28,25,20,19,18,17,14,16,12,9)
  10. Seattle Seahawks (9-8) (23,25,29,24,25,20,12,9,8,10,13,15,10,10,15,19,14,10)
  11. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8) (31,26,14,18,21,25,28,29,26,28,31,26,28,22,20,14,13,11)
  12. New York Giants (9-7-1) (22,10,15,14,6,5,4,7,7,5,11,12,12,13,10,11,9,12)
  13. Baltimore Ravens (10-7) (6,8,6,8,7,8,11,8,10,11,8,11,9,8,8,8,10,13)
  14. Washington Commanders (8-8-1) (18,23,26,30,28,27,21,19,18,16,15,13,14,14,13,15,19,14)
  15. Miami Dolphins (9-8) (13,7,3,4,14,16,14,14,12,6,7,6,8,9,11,10,16,15)
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-8) (10,16,21,29,32,26,30,30,31,30,29,27,21,23,22,18,18,16)
  17. Green Bay Packers (8-9) (11,9,7,5,10,11,15,16,20,18,18,20,22,18,18,12,11,17)
  18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9) (4,3,8,12,11,12,16,21,16,17,17,17,16,19,23,17,17,18)
  19. New England Patriots (8-9) (26,20,24,28,24,19,23,15,15,15,14,16,17,16,17,20,15,19)
  20. New York Jets (7-10) (32,27,31,26,19,13,7,11,6,8,12,10,11,11,12,13,20,20)
  21. New Orleans Saints (7-10) (12,14,18,23,17,21,25,18,19,23,25,28,26,29,25,23,21,21)
  22. Carolina Panthers (7-10) (30,32,28,31,31,32,29,27,30,29,23,23,25,24,24,24,25,22)
  23. Atlanta Falcons (7-10) (29,30,27,20,23,18,19,20,21,21,19,18,23,25,26,27,26,23)
  24. Cleveland Browns (7-10) (14,18,9,13,16,22,26,22,22,27,26,24,20,21,21,25,24,24)
  25. Las Vegas Raiders (6-11) (17,24,30,21,27,28,24,28,29,31,27,25,19,20,19,22,22,25)
  26. Tennessee Titans (7-10) (24,31,23,19,12,15,8,6,9,7,5,9,13,15,16,21,23,26)
  27. Los Angeles Rams (5-12) (5,6,5,7,15,14,17,17,17,22,24,29,29,26,28,26,27,27)
  28. Denver Broncos (5-12) (20,13,10,16,20,24,27,24,23,24,28,30,30,30,27,28,29,29,28)
  29. Arizona Cardinals (4-13) (25,19,22,17,18,23,18,23,24,19,22,21,24,28,30,28,28,29)
  30. Indianapolis Colts (4-12-1) (15,29,20,25,22,17,20,25,25,20,21,22,27,27,29,30,30,30)
  31. Houston Texans (3-13-1) (27,28,32,32,30,31,31,31,32,32,32,32,32,32,32,31,31,31)
  32. Chicago Bears (3-14) (21,22,19,22,26,29,22,26,27,26,30,31,31,31,31,32,32,32)