"The Stack" 1-1-18

Bills fans braved the cold to welcome back the playoff bound Buffalo Bills shortly after midnight. It is the first time the Bills have made the playoffs this century.

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully had a great weekend and a great New Year’s Eve. The Stack is back on the first day of 2018 with reaction to all of Sunday’s NFL action. The playoff field is set. Rather remarkable who is in the playoffs this year. Let’s get to the recap and reaction in “the stack” for today, Monday, January 1st:

Lions 35 Packers 11

Matthew Stafford had a great day passing with over 300 yards and three touchdowns and the Lions made life difficult for Brett Hundley (who hasn’t for a depleted Packers offense). Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep Jim Caldwell’s job which is a bummer. Lions end the year at 9-7. Had they beat the Ravens or Bengals, things may have been different this season.

Colts 22 Texans 13

The Texans season, marred by injuries, is mercifully over. The Colts should have won this game over the quarterback-challenged Texans and they did thanks to Frank Gore going for 100 yards on the ground. Hopefully it is not his last game of his career. It was a nightmare season for both teams and for Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, his time with the Colts is done.

Vikings 23 Bears 10

The Vikings defense once again dominated in this one making life incredibly difficult for Jordan Howard and Trubisky. The offense though struggled again which has to be a little concerning for Vikings fans going into the playoffs. That punt return design was pretty nifty by the Bears, using Tarik Cohen as a decoy and then having the other returner Callahan kneel on the field, get it and return it for a touchdown. That sort of trickery though wasn’t enough to help Bears head coach John Fox keep his job.

Patriots 26 Jets 6

So James Harrison had a pretty nifty debut for the Patriots with two sacks. The Patriots hope he can do that all postseason long. Dion Lewis also had a good game with two touchdowns. He’s a big-time weapon in the playoffs for the Patriots. The Jets have a mess of a quarterback situation if Josh McCown isn’t back.

Giants 18 Washington 10

Give the Giants a lot of credit for not quitting and finishing the year on a strong note. They played pretty well against Washington. Orleans Darkwa ran really well with 154 yards and a touchdown. Was this Eli Manning’s last game as a Giant? If it was, the fans were really appreciative. And if this was Kirk Cousins’ last game in a Washington uniform, it was not all that inspiring.

Cowboys 6 Eagles 0

Rougned Odor hit two three-run homeruns and Cole Hamels went the distance as the Texas Rangers shut out the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0. Oh sorry, this was a football game. How are Eagles fans feeling about their team in the playoffs after the last two weeks? Terrible offense. Nick Foles is not Carson Wentz, that’s for sure. There is reason to worry in the Philly.

Steelers 28 Browns 24

The Browns gave the Steelers second string squad all they could handle, but in typical Browns fashion, couldn’t seal the deal. A dropped pass by wide receiver Corey Coleman late in the fourth quarter sealed the Browns fate of joining the ’08 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history. Coleman was wide open. That sums up the Browns season, but hey, like Browns head coach Hue Jackson said any average person couldn’t do what he and the Browns did.

Falcons 22 Panthers 10

Boy Cam Newton and the Panthers didn’t start out good. Newton started out 0-for-8, but the Panthers defense kept them in it. With the scored tied 7-7 at half, the Falcons turned to kicker Matt Bryant in the second half who booted five field goals. The Panthers offense struggled much of the day. Fortunately, both teams are in the playoffs. The Falcons had to win this game to get in. And they did.

Bengals 31 Ravens 27

What an unbelievable finish in this one. The Bengals had nothing to play for while the Ravens had everything to play for. Win and they were in the playoffs. It was the Bengals though who came out sharp and with something to prove. They jumped out to a 14-3 lead and stymied the Ravens offense. The Ravens would get cooking though and eventually took the lead only to see Andy Dalton twist a knife in their back when he completed a 49-yard pass to Tyler Boyd on 4th and 12 with 44 seconds left to stun the Ravens and their crowd. Heartbreaking defeat for Baltimore. They won’t get over this one for a while.

Bills 22 Dolphins 16

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time this century, the Buffalo Bills are headed to the playoffs. They jumped on the Dolphins and got up 19-0 and needed every point in that lead, because the Dolphins came fighting back. Defensive lineman Kyle Williams ran in a touchdown in the third quarter too. This game was marred by a fight later in the game and the Bills lost LeSean McCoy with a leg injury, but their win coupled with the Ravens loss means the Bills are in the playoffs for the first time since the Music City Miracle in 1999. What a scene there in western New York.

Buccaneers 31 Saints 24

That was quite the throw by Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston at the end of the game to lift the Bucs over the Saints. Nice way to end the year for them even if it was incredibly disappointing. One thing is for certain. Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara is a special talent. With him and Mark Ingram providing the one-two punch in the backfield, the Saints are poised to do damage in the postseason.

Titans 15 Jaguars 10

It hasn’t been the prettiest of offensive play from Marcus Mariota and the Titans, but Mariota made several key plays in this one and Derrick Henry had a big touchdown catch to help the Titans fend off the Jaguars (who played their starters) and earn a wild card berth. That was not the best of games from Blake Bortles. He better do better in the playoffs.

Chiefs 27 Broncos 24

Not a bad first outing for Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He played pretty well and rookie running back Kareem Hunt ran it once for 35 yards and a touchdown to get the rushing record. Paxton Lynch did not have a great day for the Broncos, but they did rally to tie the game before the Chiefs would win it on a last-second field goal. For Vance Joseph at least he gets to keep his job.

Chargers 30 Raiders 10

Philip Rivers finished the year on a high note by throwing all over the Raiders, but it wasn’t enough to get the Chargers into the postseason. That 88 yard touchdown pass by Derek Carr to Amari Cooper was nice for the Raiders. Where has that been all season? Jack Del Rio got the axe. Bring on Jon Gruden. The Chargers can build on this season hopefully and look to win the division next year.

49ers 34 Rams 13

Even if it was against a bunch of second stringers for the Rams, for Jimmy Garoppolo to win his five starts for the 49ers is pretty remarkable and should give 49ers fans a lot of hope for next year. The 49ers absolutely trounced the Rams. That hit on Marquise Goodwin though was not cool. Hopefully the Ram gets suspended. There is hope in San Francisco.

Cardinals 26 Seahawks 24

As was the case in just about every other game this year, the Seahawks offense struggled mightily in the first half. Russell Wilson didn’t have much time and though he and Doug Baldwin got going in the second half, the Cardinals would prevail on a field goal late in the fourth quarter. Troubling loss for the Seahawks. Expect big changes between now and opening day next year.

Coming up Tuesday: College Football Playoff semi-final reaction plus the latest on the NFL coaching carousel