With 16 NFL games crammed into one glorious day, the league's regular season was primed for a thrilling finish in Week 17. Playoff scenarios abounded heading into Sunday, Dec. 29, and it's no surprise that fantasy scoring was down throughout the league as teams tightened up during the regular-season finales.
The impressive Carolina Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons to close out the season with a record of 12-4, winning the NFC South and securing the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason.
Other teams, such as the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, suffered defeat to finish the season on the outside of the playoff picture.
Here's a look at all the results from the NFL's final regular-season weekend, followed by an examination of the top fantasy performance.
Note: Results and fantasy info for late games will be added at the conclusion of those contests.
NFL Week 17: Results
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||20-7|
|New York Giants||Washington||20-6|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Baltimore Ravens||34-17|
|Tennessee Titans||Houston Texans||16-10|
|Indianapolis Colts||Jacksonville Jaguars||30-10|
|New York Jets||Miami Dolphins||20-7|
|Minnesota Vikings||Detroit Lions||14-13|
|Carolina Panthers||Atlanta Falcons||21-20|
|New Orleans Saints||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||42-17|
|New England Patriots||Buffalo Bills||34-20|
|Seattle Seahawks||St. Louis Rams||27-9|
|Green Bay Packers||Chicago Bears||33-28|
|San Francisco 49ers||Arizona Cardinals||23-20|
|Denver Broncos||Oakland Raiders||34-14|
|San Diego Chargers||Kansas City Chiefs||27-24|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Dallas Cowboys||24-22|
Pittsburgh Does Its Part to Advance, but San Diego Wins the No. 6 Seed
Heading into Week 17, Pittsburgh was one of four teams vying for the No. 6 seed in the AFC. The other three teams were the Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. Of the four teams, the Steelers needed the most help to get in, entering the weekend with a record of 7-8.
Baltimore lost badly to Cincinnati, however, and the New York Jets pummeled the Dolphins in the early games. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh easily cruised past a reeling Cleveland team, 20-7, to finish the season with a record of 8-8.
After the game, head coach Mike Tomlin reportedly lauded New York's big win over Miami, per Justin Rose of WTAE TV in Pittsburgh:
Mike Tomlin walks into locker room from field puts arms out like a plane and yells J-E-T-S jets jets jets! #Steelers— Justin Rose (@JustinRoseWTAE) December 29, 2013
The Chargers had yet to play at this point, however, and the Steelers still needed another miracle in order to get into the postseason tournament.
Sometimes the word "miracle" gets tossed around too loosely, but in this case it fits.
The reason for this is that the Kansas City Chiefs announced before Week 17's contest against San Diego that most of the starters would sit out, per Doug Farrar of SI.com, which essentially handed the Chargers the No. 6 seed in the eyes of ESPN's Skip Bayless:
Now the Chargers (vs KC backups) should keep the Steelers out of playoffs, though Steelers more dangerous.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) December 29, 2013
For a time, it appeared Pittsburgh would get its miracle, as the Chiefs led by a score of 24-14 late in the third quarter. However, the Chargers came charging back and scored the game's final 13 points to win by three in overtime, ending Pittsburgh's improbable run.
Pittsburgh's remarkable late-season surge is impressive, nonetheless. After losing six of the first eight games in 2013, the Steelers finished the season winning six of their last eight.
NFL Week 17: Top Fantasy Stars
|Browns at Steelers||Le'Veon Bell||RB||PIT||15||96 total yards, one TD|
|Redskins at Giants||Jerrel Jernigan||WR||NYG||26||147 total yards, two TDs|
|Ravens at Bengals||Andy Dalton||QB||CIN||19||304 total yards, two TDs, four INTs|
|Texans at Titans||Chris Johnson||RB||TEN||19||141 total yards, one TD|
|Jaguars at Colts||Andrew Luck||QB||IND||15||289 total yards, one TD|
|Jets at Dolphins||Geno Smith||QB||NYJ||19||234 total yards, one TD|
|Lions at Vikings||Cordarrelle Patterson||WR||MIN||20||85 total yards, two TDs|
|Panthers at Falcons||Cam Newton||QB||CAR||18||222 total yards, two TDs, one INT|
|Buccaneers at Saints||Drew Brees||QB||NO||37||389 total yards, five TDs|
|Bills at Patriots||LeGarrette Blount||RB||NE||30||189 total yards, two TDs|
|Rams at Seahawks||Golden Tate||WR||SEA||18||131 total yards, one TD|
|Packers at Bears||Matt Forte||RB||CHI||33||157 total yards, three TDs|
|49ers at Cardinals||Colin Kaepernick||QB||SF||22||334 total yards, two TDs|
|Broncos at Raiders||Peyton Manning||QB||DEN||26||266 total yards, four TDs|
|Chiefs at Chargers||Knile Davis||RB||KC||20||86 total yards, two TDs|
|Eagles at Cowboys||LeSean McCoy||RB||PHI||19||134 total yards, one TD|
Keep an Eye Out for Jerrel Jernigan in 2014
The New York Giants suffered another terrible rash of injuries in Week 17. Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks and Will Beatty all left the game for good at some point, and it would have been easy to understand if the Giants had just rolled over and died in the second half.
However, Jerrel Jernigan had different plans.
The diminutive wide receiver (5'8" and 189 pounds) first burst onto the scene in Week 16 with a 14-point performance against Detroit.
He followed it up with a huge game against Washington, as he displayed his multi-dimensional talents, rushing for 57 yards on two carries and catching six passes for 90 yards. He also scored both of New York's offensive touchdowns—one rushing and one receiving.
As Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News pointed out, Jernigan was carrying New York's offense through three quarters:
Giants have 244 yards through three quarters. Jerrel Jernigan has accounted for 139 of them. And both touchdowns. #NYG— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) December 29, 2013
Former Giants teammate and current analyst Jeff Feagles pointed out that New York could use Jernigan as a running back in 2014, since he and Victor Cruz are similar in what they do as receivers:
with cruz coming back next year and Jernigan too, no room at slot, but perhaps running back for him might work. Great run for young buck— Jeff Feagles (@Jfeagles) December 29, 2013
After the team's struggles at the running back position in 2013, it's not crazy to think Jernigan could cement a nice role as a Swiss Army-knife player for New York next season. He's displayed undeniable playmaking talent, and the Giants must find a way for him to see the field.
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