By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
After the “biggest season ever” ended on late Sunday night, four of the Field Generals are now set to begin the next and most important chapter of the season — the playoffs. Three of the four will play on Super Wild Card Weekend on Sunday.
At 1:00 PM, Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles will head to Tampa to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Bucs on Fox. Later at 4:30 PM on CBS, the San Francisco 49ers will meet Dak Prescott and the NFC East Champion Dallas Cowboys at Arlington.
Finally, on NBC at 8:15 PM, Patrick Mahomes and the defending AFC Champion Chiefs will host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fourth Field General, Arizona’s Kyler Murray, will travel to Los Angeles to meet their division rival Rams on Monday night at 8:15 PM on ESPN and ABC.
Now that we’ve previewed the postseason, let’s take a look back at the final week of the regular season.
LAST WEEK: 4-2 (81-75 final regular-season record)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win at Denver)
After an up-and-down season by their lofty standards, the Chiefs gathered themselves just in time to thunder into the postseason with an AFC-best 12 wins. Like many of the other victories in the Chiefs’ 13-game winning streak against Denver, this one was no cakewalk. The Broncos (7-10) led for much of the afternoon despite having nothing to play for but pride. Down 21-20 late in the fourth quarter, rookie linebacker Nick Bolton recovered a Melvin Gordon fumble and rumbled down the Chiefs’ euphoric sideline, nearly falling down at midfield before regaining his balance and scoring the game-winning score. As for No. 15, he went 27-of-44 for 270 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kansas City hosts Pittsburgh in a wild-card game Sunday night in its quest to reach a third consecutive Super Bowl.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Win at Philadelphia)
Going up against the Jalen Hurts-less Eagles, No. 4 sent a message for any team he’ll meet in the playoffs. Prescott threw a career-high five touchdown passes and finished 21 of 27 for 295 yards and no interceptions for the victory. Going up against a Philly team that rested many key starters, Prescott did his best to get an offense that routinely produced at least 400 yards during a 6-1 start back on track heading into the playoffs following a two-year absence. He also set the team record for touchdown passes with 37 as he helped lead Dallas to a 6-0 record in the division. They’ll host the 49ers on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (Win vs. New England)
It started with a win against New England and it ended with a win against New England. In between, a Miami team that started 1-7 won eight of its last nine games, finishing 9-8 — just missing the playoffs. While Tagovailoa didn’t put up big numbers (15 of 22, 109 yards, TD), he helped lead the Dolphins to a winning record for the second consecutive season and once again didn’t have a playoff berth to show for it. Miami became only the second team to win both of its AFC East meetings against New England in the past 21 years. Buffalo did it in 2020; before that, Miami and the New York Jets both did it in 2000. However, it wasn’t enough for head coach Brian Flores to keep his job as he was fired on Monday.
Tyler Hundley, Baltimore (Loss vs. Pittsburgh)
The Ravens had a slim chance to make the postseason especially playing without Lamar Jackson for a fourth straight game. The last-second loss to their division rivals was a microcosm of the second half of the season. Latavius Murray put the Ravens ahead 10-3 with a 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but Baltimore lost its sixth straight game to end the season. Five of the losses in that skid were by three points or fewer. On the day, Hundley was 16 of 31 for 141 yards and two costly interceptions including a late pick in the fourth quarter.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Win at Arizona)
In a game that was a snapshot of his time in Seattle, No. 3 threw three touchdown passes as the Seahawks spoiled a shot at the NFC West title for the Cardinals. Seattle finishes 7-10 and won’t be in the postseason for just the second time in the past 10 years. Wilson, playing potentially his final game with the Seahawks, finished with 238 yards passing. Seattle closed the season with a 4-2 record being eliminated from playoff contention for most of that stretch.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss vs. Seattle)
The Cardinals couldn’t take care of business against the Seahawks and will settle for the No. 5 seed after starting the season with a 7-0 record. Arizona is 4-6 since that hot start, including losing four of its last five. It was a back-and-forth game supplemented by a healthy dose of scoreboard watching. The Cardinals (11-6) were still in the running for the NFC West title with a win, especially since the 49ers beat the Rams. In the end, the scoreboard’s results were moot following the loss. As for Murray, he went 28 of 39 with 240 yards and a touchdown. No. 1 was also sacked five times as the Cardinals head to L.A. to meet the Rams on Monday night.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Speaking of Mr. Murray, he has 70 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns since entering the league in 2019, is the first player with at least 70 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons in NFL history.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.