NFL Wrap-Up: Week 17 West Divisions

Broncos win AFC West by default as Chargers play spoiler.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

The Rams gave the Niners a run for their money, but San Fran secured the #2 seed and a bye with a big win. The Broncos lost, and therefore locked themselves in a 3-way tie atop the AFC West, but still get into the playoffs by way of a tiebreaker. And Arizona wins in overtime, again.

 

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs  7
Denver Broncos  3


It’s OK folks, put your calculators away. Your eyes don’t fool you. Yes, only 10 points scored, total, in this entire matchup. Sure, the Broncos are in the playoffs, but it sure doesn’t mean it happened in a tremendously impressive manner.

With Oakland losing to San Diego just minutes following this game, the tiebreaker goes to Denver; going 6-6 against common opponents while the others went 5-7. The Broncos will host the Steelers next week in the first round of the AFC playoffs. It’s the first playoff game for Denver in six years.
 
"Well, we're AFC West champs," Denver coach John Fox said. "It doesn't matter how you do it. Once you get into the dance, they can't kick you out."
 
Overall, quarterback play was below anything of spectacular.  Tim Tebow was a miserable 6 for 22 passing, and the only touchdown of the game came from KC’s Dexter McCluster. Denver’s Willis McGahee, did however, continue a strong running game himself, as he had 145 yards on 28 carries, but still couldn’t punch one in the endzone.

Some fans were surely hoping for ‘Tebow Time,’ when Denver got the ball on their own 16-yard line with just a minute to go, but there was no magic at mile high this time around. Tebow’s last ‘hail mary’ chuck down the field was intercepted by Brandon Carr to end the game.

 

San Diego Chargers  38
Oakland Raiders  26

 
‘Curse you Philip Rivers! Now, you turn it on this late in the season!’ That’s what the Oakland Raiders are saying… at least in my head… but probably not quite as mild.
 
All Oakland needed was a win to secure a playoff birth, but Rivers threw three TD’s Sunday and had 310 yards, on get this; only 19 completions. Not bad. Not bad at all.
 
Richard Goodman also returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown to help San Diego’s cause.
 
Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer didn’t go down without a fight though. He had 417 yards in the air with two touchdowns. If only the Raiders defense could have made simply a few stops against the Chargers on Sunday, they could have made the post season for the first time in 8 years.
 
Fun filled fact of the game: The Raiders set season records for penalties, with 163 for 1,358 yards for the year.
 
Oakland, who was once 7-4, lost four of their final five games.
 
 
NFC West
 
San Francisco 49ers  34
St. Louis Rams  27
 

What a season for the 49ers: a final record of 13-3, their best record since the mid 1990’s.  The Rams, although tying for the worst final record in football, fought this one hard until the very end.
 
It’s obvious the 49ers let up during the second half. In fact, running back Frank Gore sat out the 3rd and 4th quarters and finished the game with only 9 yards.
 
The Niners had a commanding lead most of the contest, until a late rally by the Rams, that featured back-to-back touchdowns, made it a one-possession game. Brandon Lloyd snagged a 36-yard TD pass from Kellen Clemens, which then translated into a successful onside kick that scored another late TD by Cadillac Williams; all of this coming within 13 seconds of one another.
 
The Niners were able to hold on however, and thus secure the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs, which ensures them a first round bye.
 
The Rams finished tied with the Colts for the worst record in football at 2-14, but the Colts hold the tiebreaker for the #1 pick in the draft because of their strength of schedule. It is being reported that it’s very possible the Rams will fire head coach Steve Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney as early as Monday.
 
 
Game of the Week

Seattle Seahawks  20  OT
Arizona Cardinals  23

 
Another OT game for Arizona?? Surreal. Overtime for the Cardinals this season was about as common as my dad getting caught dipping his hand in the cookie jar…. which of course happens all the time.
 
This game went back and forth all afternoon and Seattle actually had a great chance to set up a field goal attempt for the win in OT after a solid 47-yard kick off return by Leon Washington, but couldn’t move the ball on their possession and had to punt. That punt led to an Arizona drive that featured an unreal Larry Fitzgerald one-handed grab to set up the game winning field goal from 28 yards out.
 
Sunday was Arizona’s fourth overtime victory at home in the last nine weeks of the season. Maybe it’s the area water?
 
The Cardinals (who started 2011 at 1-6) finish 8-8 on the year, but played great football as the season progressed, going 7-2 to finish the season.
 
Larry Fitzgerald caught nine throws for 149 yards
 

Offensive Player Of The Week 
 


Philip Rivers (QB) San Diego– 19/26,  310 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

Defensive Player Of The Week

David Hawthorne (LB) Seattle – 13 Tackles, 1 Sack

 

Division Standings

AFC West

Denver Broncos 8-8
Oakland Raiders 8-8
San Diego Chargers 8-8
Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
 
NFC West

San Francisco 49ers 13-3
Arizona Cardinals 8-8
Seattle Seahawks 7-9
St. Louis Rams 2-14

 

Be sure to check out all our football coverage at our NFL Wrap Up page.

 

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS