NFL Week 17

NFL Week 17: Good, bad & ugly

Photo via Kansas City Chiefs/Facebook

The last week in the regular season is in the books and it was a good one. We had tons of games with playoff implications. Some were for playoff spots, while others were strictly for seeding purposes. Here are my observations:

The Good

-The Ravens set an NFL record with 3,296 yards rushing this season. The record was originally set by the 1978 Patriots who had 3,165. By averaging 206 yards per game on the ground, the Ravens bullied teams all season. It helps when you have two 1,000-yard rushers. It's extra specail when one of them is your quarterback who was number six in the league with 1,206 yards and didn't play in the final game.

-Panthers' running back Christian McCaffrey became the third running back in history to total 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. Roger Craig was first in 1985, followed by Marshall Faulk in 1999. He also posted the fifth most yards from scrimmage in a season with 2,366. He should end up second behind Lamar Jackson in league MVP voting despite his team's 5-11 record.

-Chiefs rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman scored the longest touchdown in the league this season with a 104-yard kickoff return in the 3rd quarter. The return put the Chiefs ahead for good as they secured the AFC's #2 seed with their win coupled with a Patriot's loss. This Chiefs team is hitting their stride at the right time. The big play element is back in their offense. Their defense is also picking it up after being considered a major weakness all season.

The Bad

-Buc's quarterback is the inaugural member of the 30/30 club. He finished the season with 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He also threw for the eighth most passing yards in a season with 5,109. He's the new Brett Favre, the epitome of the term gunslinger.

-Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have well over an 80% winning percentage at home. If you look at home games vs the Dolphins, I imagine that number is just as good if not higher. With a win and a chance at a bye in the playoffs, the Patriots pissed themselves at home and lost to the Dolphins 27-24. The Dolphins gutted their team and only had four wins coming into this game. Very uncharacteristic loss by the Patriots that may prove costly.

-The Cowboys started the year 3-0 and some thought they were a real threat. Fast-forward to the end of the season, and they ended the year 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Head coach Jason Garrett is most likely on his way out because he doesn't have a contract past this season and owner/general manager Jerry Jones has hinted that a change is coming. The salt in the wound here: they still haven't resigned Amari Cooper or Dak Prescott.

The Ugly

-The Browns fired head coach Freddie Kitchens after one year on the job. Kitchens was the offensive coordinator last year when Baker Mayfield had a productive season. He was given the head job after interim coach Gregg Williams wasn't retained. With the offseason Super Bowl title secured, the Browns expected the real one to soon follow. Overmatched to begin with, Kitchens failed miserably and was let go.

-Cardinals' rookie quarterback Kyler Murray injured his right hamstring in last week's win over the Seahawks. When it came to playing the last game of the season against the Rams, Murray said he had to be convinced to play because he was more concerned about injuring it more, but played because he's a competitor?!? Are you freakin serious?!? No competitor has to be convinced to play! A real competitor isn't worried about furthering an injury. They have that competitive spirit and want to rip their opponent's hearts out no matter what the circumstances are! Saying you had to be convinced, but you're a competitor is the biggest hypocrisy I've heard all week!

-The Seahawks played a tough game, but lost to the 49ers 26-21. The loss denied them the NFC West crown and dropped them to the #5 seed. Late in the game, they converted a 4th&10 inside the 2-yard line, but got a delay of game penalty after spiking the ball. Two plays later, the refs failed to call an obvious pass interference. They ended up inches short on a 4th&Goal when Jacob Hollister couldn't get the ball to break the plane of the goal line. That's the definition of what the saying means that football is a game of inches. Shame on the refs for not calling the PI or the booth/New York not ordering a review!

The playoff picture is set. So is the draft order, outside of some tiebreakers or coin flips here and there. Props to the NFL for scheduling divisional games in week 17. Over the last few years since they started this trend, it has made the regular season finale for each team count. We, as football fans, were treated to some great football in the last week of regular season football. Tons of games with meaning left to be played which limited the amount of players sitting and kept things interesting. The flex schedule even allowed for games/teams directly effecting each other to be played at the same time to keep the integrity of the way the games were played intact. While I'm sad that we only have a few weeks of football left now, I'm happy that it should prove to be the most exciting few weeks of football this season given that we have several true Super Bowl contenders in each conference.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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