WhatIfSports Duel to the Death Season: Week 17 (Part 2)

Our final post of regular season results – my goodness, have these four months of simulating football games just FLOWN BY! (Ed’s note: they actually have not). Still up for grabs in these last eight games of the season: both wild-card slots and the #2 seed in the AFC. Tennessee gets the bye if they beat Jacksonville or New England loses to Denver; if New England wins and Tennessee loses, they get the bye. Otherwise, here’s your long-winded cheat sheet for wild-card scenarios:

Jacksonville gets in if they beat Tennessee. If they lose, they’re out. Simple enough.

Miami already won in the results posted yesterday, so they get in the playoffs with some weird help: either a loss by Jacksonville or Denver or a Kansas City win by fewer than 36 points. Like I said: weird.

Kansas City gets in with a 36-point or greater win over Minnesota or a win and a Jacksonville loss. If they lose, they’re out.

Denver needs to beat New England and have Kansas City lose. If they lose, they’re out.

Baltimore won yesterday and would make the playoffs if Jacksonville, Kansas City and Denver all lose. Given the quality of teams that the Jaguars and Broncos are facing, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

Alright, for the final time in the regular season, here are the rest of this week’s results…

1952 Detroit Lions (3-12-1) 14, 1962 Green Bay Packers (9-6-1) 14 (OT)

The Packers’ winless streak stretched to five games as Bobby Layne threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cloyce Box and Bob Hoernschemeyer subsequently added a two-point conversion to tie the game at 14 with under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Lions then had three different opportunities to win the game at the end of regulation and overtime, but Pat Harder missed field goals from 37, 41 and 54 yards away to leave the game deadlocked. Bart Starr went 19-of-27 for 233 yards for Green Bay; Layne finished 17-of-19 for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Packers are the #6 seed in the playoffs and will play the Bears for the third time this season next week in the wild-card round.

1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) 19, 1964 Cleveland Browns (2-14) 7

Terry Bradshaw threw touchdown passes to Franco Harris and Lynn Swann, as the Steelers won their regular season finale at Three Rivers Stadium. The Steel Curtain defense added three interceptions off Frank Ryan, two of which came from Mike Wagner. Jim Brown scored the lone touchdown for Cleveland but only gained 71 yards on the ground. The Steelers will be the #4 seed in the AFC playoffs.

2005 Seattle Seahawks (8-7-1) 24, 1981 Cincinnati Bengals (7-9) 6

Shaun Alexander rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts as the Seahawks ended their season on a high note, getting above .500 for the first time all year. Matt Hasselbeck added 228 yards and touchdown passes to Bobby Engram and D.J. Hackett in his 33 pass attempts. Ken Anderson and Pete Johnson hooked up for the lone Cincinnati touchdown.

1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) 20, 2000 Tennessee Titans (13-3) 5

James Stewart touchdown runs of 2 and 30 yards helped fuel a 17-point fourth quarter for the Jaguars, who clinched a wild-card berth and the #5 seed in the AFC playoffs with the win. They’ll play at Pittsburgh next week. The win also finished off a season sweep of the Titans, whose only other loss this year came by one point last week at the hands of the 14-1 Chargers. Tennessee started the scoring off with a Keith Embray sack of Mark Brunell in the end zone less than four minutes into the game and led by the baseball score of 5-3 going into the fourth quarter. But with less than eleven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Stewart scored on a gutsy 4th-and-goal call from the two-yard-line to culminate a nine-minute, 15-play, 84-yard drive for the Jaguars. Stewart added his 30-yard touchdown run on the next possession to give the Jaguars a commanding 17-5 lead with 6:57 to play – a lead they would not relinquish. The Titans now wait for the result of the Patriots-Broncos game to see if they have to play next weekend or not.

1989 San Francisco 49ers (7-8-1) 31, 2008 Arizona Cardinals (6-10) 26

Joe Montana went 17-of-20 for 201 yards and two touchdown passes to Tom Rathman as the 49ers scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the Cardinals in Glendale. Roger Craig and John Taylor added touchdown runs for the Niners. Kurt Warner went 20-of-30 for 298 yards and a touchdown but also two interceptions.

1979 San Diego Chargers (15-1) 23, 1976 Oakland Raiders (4-12) 20

Even with nothing to play for, the Chargers felt compelled to come up with late-game heroics again as Dan Fouts hit Charlie Joiner with an 8-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds remaining to give the Chargers their 14th victory in a row. Clarence Williams and Mike Thomas added touchdown runs for San Diego. Mark Van Eeghen rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts for Oakland.

2007 New England Patriots (13-3) 26, 1998 Denver Broncos (8-8) 23

Stephen Gostkowski’s 44-yard field goal with three seconds remaining gave the Patriots the #2 seed and a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs and ensured Denver would not be a part of the postseason. New England had a 16-3 lead early in the third quarter thanks to three Gostkowski field goals and a 17-yard touchdown throw from Tom Brady to Wes Welker, but Terrell Davis’s 50-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter cut the Pats’ lead to six. Then after a Jason Elam field goal, Glenn Cadrez picked off Brady and returned the interception 48 yards for a touchdown and 20-16 Broncos lead. With a little over three minutes remaining, however, Kevin Faulk scored on a three-yard touchdown run to put New England back up by three. Denver drove down for a 34-yard Elam field goal to tie the game back up with 46 seconds remaining, but Brady drove the Pats 46 yards in six plays to set up Gostkowski’s game-winner.

1973 Minnesota Vikings (6-10) 24, 1969 Kansas City Chiefs (8-8) 17

Fran Tarkenton went 21-of-25 for 318 yards and three touchdowns (two through the air, one on the ground) as the Vikings scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to stun the Chiefs and send Miami to the playoffs. Tarkenton’s 8-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter tied the game up at 17 and on the ensuing possession, Tarkenton hit Carroll Dale with a 6-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game-winner. Chuck Foreman only rushed for 30 yards on 15 attempts but caught five passes for 110 yards. Len Dawson only went 10-of-21 for 101 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions for Kansas City, who lost their fourth game out of five to fall out of the playoffs.

Next week: The playoffs begin with the wild-card round:

AFC

(6) 1972 Miami Dolphins (9-7) at (3) 2000 Tennessee Titans (13-3)

(5) 1999 Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) at (4) 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)

Bye: (1) 1979 San Diego Chargers (15-1), (2) 2007 New England Patriots (13-3)

NFC

(6) 1962 Green Bay Packers (9-6-1) at (3) 1985 Chicago Bears (11-5)

(5) 1991 Washington Redskins (11-5) at (4) 2002 Tampa Bay Buccnaeers (10-6)

Bye: (1) 1999 St. Louis Rams (13-3), (2) 1992 Dallas Cowboys (12-4)

Final Regular Season Standings

AFC East

  1. ’07 New England: 13-3 (2)
  2. ’72 Miami: 9-7 (6)
  3. ’90 Buffalo: 7-9
  4. ’68 NY Jets: 6-10

AFC North

  1. ’75 Pittsburgh: 11-5 (4)
  2. ’58 Baltimore: 8-8
  3. ’81 Cincinnati: 7-9
  4. ’64 Cleveland: 2-14

AFC South

  1. ’00 Tennessee: 13-3 (3)
  2. ’99 Jacksonville: 9-7 (5)
  3. ’91 Houston: 7-9
  4. ’06 Indianapolis: 4-12

AFC West

  1. ’79 San Diego: 15-1 (1)
  2. ’69 Kansas City: 8-8
  3. ’98 Denver: 8-8
  4. ’76 Oakland: 4-12

NFC East

  1. ’92 Dallas: 12-4 (2)
  2. ’91 Washington: 11-5 (5)
  3. ’86 NY Giants: 7-9
  4. ’60 Philadelphia: 1-15

NFC North

  1. ’85 Chicago: 11-5 (3)
  2. ’62 Green Bay: 9-6-1 (6)
  3. ’73 Minnesota: 6-10
  4. ’52 Detroit: 3-12-1

NFC South

  1. ’02 Tampa Bay: 10-6 (4)
  2. ’05 Carolina: 8-8
  3. ’09 New Orleans: 6-10
  4. ’12 Atlanta: 6-10

NFC West

  1. ’99 St. Louis: 13-3 (1)
  2. ’05 Seattle: 8-7-1
  3. ’89 San Francisco: 7-8-1
  4. ’08 Arizona: 6-10
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