The NFL Playoff Picture Comes Into Focus (2017-18)


One of the wackiest NFL seasons in recent history is over and the NFL playoff intrigue has just started. Six NFL franchises need to hire new head coaches. Eight teams are new to the playoffs compared to last year. Lastly, the Buffalo Bills ended the longest playoff drought in history and made the postseason after 18 years. Let’s review how the NFL Playoff picture came into focus by examining the biggest headlines around the league. Let’s get ready for Black Monday, Fantasy Football implications, and the playoff seedings.

New York Giants Are Rebuilding

The Giants fired Head Coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese in December. Owner John Mara got busy immediately and hired ex-Panthers executive Dave Gettleman as general manager. Gettleman has made moves already. He fired Marc Ross, the former vice president of player evaluation. The front office then waived RT Bobby Hart and benched LT Ereck Flowers for Sunday’s season finale. Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is the leading candidate to become the Giants head coach. The big questions for the organization are the futures of QB Eli Manning and superstar WR Odell Beckham JrGettleman must decide what to do with the number 2 draft pick too. Does he go, quarterback of the future, running back, or offensive tackle?

Indianapolis Colts and Bad Luck

The Colts have fired Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who coached the team for six seasons. His record was 53-43 and he led the team to three playoff appearances. His last two seasons have been hampered by his own cancer diagnosis and franchise quarterback Andrew Luck’s right torn labrum. Owner Jim Irsay and Luck have gone on record stating Luck will be healthy next season. We will believe when we see it.

The Return of Gruden to the Oakland Raiders

Mark Davis fired Jack Del Rio on Monday. During Del Rio’s tenure, the Oakland Raiders finally got back to their winning tradition. The team had a 12-4 record and made the playoffs in 2016. But, the NFL is a cutthroat business. You lead your team back from ridicule and your reward is a pink slip. What are the Raiders thinking? Jon Gruden, the current Monday Night Football analyst, and former Oakland head coach is expected to be named head coach very soon.

Fox and Chicago Bears Don’t Mix

Head Coach John Fox has been fired for the second time in two years. His players and coaching colleagues seemingly respect his talent, but that talent isn’t leading to sustained success. Since 2002, Fox has coached Panthers, then the Broncos, and the Bears. Fox should take some time off, go back to coordinating defenses, and rebuilt his resume.

Detroit Lions

F&TS does not understand this firing. In four seasons, Caldwell and the Lions had a 36-28 record. Coaching is not Detroit’s weakness. The lack of a sustained running game is. Lions’ ownership will learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. A recycled head coach or that young, hot coordinator isn’t the best solution for a new coach every time.

Fantasy Football Bridesmaid

For the second time in three years, Pablo, the F&TS head writer has come in second in his Fantasy Football League. His team, “Don’t Eli To My Face,” dominated the regular season, but lost at the worst time possible, Championship Sunday. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.


NFL News and Notes

This year’s NFL playoffs include eight teams new to the postseason from last year. Those teams include perennial losers The Bills, The Titans, Los Angeles Rams, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The “Marrone Bowl” will pit the Bills traveling to Florida to face the Jaguars. The Patriots’ path to the Super Bowl could come down to how well Jags’ QB Blake Bortles plays in the postseason. Bortles gets his first chance to silence the haters on Sunday.