The NFL regular season has come to an end, but that just means that the really good stuff is right around the corner. Playoff brackets are set and some head coaches have already seen the axe. Here are some of the headlines around the NFC following the conclusion of week 17.
Hasta La Vista, Reid
Andy Reid’s job with the Philadelphia Eagles has been on thin ice for at least the past seven seasons if all reports were to be believed. Every offseason, Reid was certain to meet the chopping block only to end up getting a vote of confidence from Eagles management. Those days are over. Reports surfaced Sunday night that Reid’s dismissal was imminent and they proved to be true. The Eagles finished 4-12 in Reid’s 14th and final season. With the number of coaching vacancies, odds are Reid will be able to find a home this offseason.
Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith was also a Black Monday victim. Smith ended his 9th year as Bears head coach with a win on Sunday in Detroit, but Minnesota’s victory over the Packers ended Chicago’s playoff bid (as well as Smith’s tenure). The Bears are evidently fed up with the pattern of late season swoons, but whoever lands the Bears’ job will have a mostly-complete team handed to them. Fellow NFC North coach Jim Schwartz of Detroit was rumored to be on the hot seat but appears to be safe for now.
BREAKING NEWS: The Arizona Cardinals have fired Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who led the Cards to a narrow Super Bowl defeat in 2009 to the Steelers. The Cardinals finished a disappointing 5-11 including a 1-11 finish to the season.
Washington, Minnesota In
The Vikings held their own against Green Bay in a “win and in” situation, defeating the Pack 37-34 on a game winning 29-yard Blair Walsh field goal. Adrian Peterson fell 8 yards short of tying Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record as the Vikings running back galloped to 199 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota’s victory assured them of a playoff spot and made the Redskins-Cowboys Sunday Night matchup the deciding factor for the NFC East division crown and the 4th seed in the NFC. Per usual, Dallas fell behind and then proceeded to claw their way back in with a chance to tie. Down 3 and with the ball, Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw an ill-advised pass to Demarco Murray that was intercepted by Washington and that led to a game-clinching Alfred Morris touchdown.
NFC Playoff Picture
Wild card weekend will feature a rematch of this past week’s Packers-Vikings contest, only it will take place in the ice and cold of Lambeau Field. After a narrow loss in a game that could have secured them a bye week, the Packers will be out for blood against Minnesota.
The Seattle Seahawks may have finished the year in style but they still came up second in their division, meaning that they will have to go on the road throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks will travel to Washington to take on RGIII and the Redskins, and the ‘Skins have to be relieved to not have to visit the 12th man in Seattle. Atlanta will be waiting to take on the lower seed of the two teams that emerge victorious, with San Francisco playing the other winner. Washington and Seattle are two of the league’s hotter teams, and the winner will be riding a significant streak into the second round. The regular season might be over but the fun is just beginning.