As the final whistle was blown in Washington D.C Sunday night, the NFL regular-season concluded and the post-season began. After 17 grueling weeks of football, 12 teams prevailed and gave themselves a chance to win the Super Bowl.
Before we look ahead to the playoffs, lets take a glance back at all the milestones achieved throughout the regular-season.
It all started with the rookie quarterbacks taking the league by surprise and continued throughout the season, ultimately resulting in three rookies leading their teams to the playoffs. The standout rookies are Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts (1st pick), Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins (2nd pick) and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks (75th pick).
Beyond the impressive rookie play, veterans such as Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson have done much more than was expected of them as they returned from their injuries. Manning sat out all of last season as a Colt due to a neck injury. As for Peterson, he tore his ACL and MCL only eight months ago.
Now, Manning has his Denver Broncos as the top seed in the AFC after a 13-3 season and poised for a Super Bowl run. Peterson and his Minnesota Vikings have also made the playoffs as the sixth seed.
Individually, both of these players are not only the front runners for the Comeback Player of the Year award, but they are also the front runners for the Most Valuable Player award. In addition, Peterson fell just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson’s record for most yards in one season. Peterson finished with 2,097 rushing yards making him the seventh player in NFL to reach 2,000 rushing yards in a season.
The final remarkable feat of this year’s NFL season is the story of the Indianapolis Colts. After winning only two games all of last season and losing their 14-time quarterback, they restarted. That restart transformed into an 11-5 record and a playoff spot.
However, the most impressive part of it all is that Colts’ head coach,
Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and was sidelined since the third week of the season. Now, Pagano is back and leads his Colts into the playoffs.
The first playoff match-ups, also known as the “Wild Card” round consists of the Green Bay Packers at home against the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins at home against the Dallas Cowboys. In the AFC, the Houston Texans have a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Colts go on the road to play the Baltimore Ravens.
The top two seeds in each division receive a first round bye. The Atlanta Falcons and the San Francisco 49‘ers receive byes in the NFC, while the Broncos and the New England Patriots receive them in the AFC.
Although the regular-season is over, the excitement is only beginning. From a snowy game in Green Bay at Lambeau Field to a game in the high altitude in Denver at Mile High Stadium, home field advantage could be the difference in this year’s playoffs.