NFL, What do you know? Week 18 Edition

Cowboys clinch NFC East and second seed 

After their 38-10 victory over the Washington Commanders Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys have won the NFC East. With that win, they also clinched the number two seed in the NFC. This is now the Cowboys’ third consecutive 12-5 regular season record. For as much criticism has been levied at head coach Mike McCarthy for certain things like clock management, you can’t deny giving him credit for what he has achieved with the Cowboys in the regular season. 

McCarthy and Dak Prescott came into this season under immense pressure. After another disappointing playoff exit, Prescott having the most interceptions of his career last season and McCarthy wanting to take control of play calling duties, the pair of them had to have good seasons. Well they came out and had great seasons. Prescott’s season stats include throwing for 4,516 yards, 36 touchdowns, completing 69.5% of his passes and having a passer rating of 105.9. This was also the season that CeeDee Lamb emerged as a true superstar wide receiver. After a slow start to the season, which led Lamb to approach McCarthy on how he could be better utilized in the offense, he and the offense took off. Lamb ended the season with 135 receptions, 1, 749 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

As the Cowboys head into the playoffs, there are two big questions that loom over them. Whether or not they can beat the 49ers, and if they can win on the road against a good team. Luckily for them, they don’t have to worry about facing the 49ers until the NFC Championship game, which would be their first time getting that far in the playoffs since 1996. So if that is what they would have to face, I’m sure they’d take it. They also have the opportunity to host two playoff games. They are 8-0 at home this season, and have won 16 straight. 

Texans steal the AFC South 

The Houston Texans beat the Indianapolis Colts 23-19 in a win and you’re in the playoffs game against each other Saturday. An incredible position that both teams found themselves in considering the seasons they had last season and the expectations they had coming into this one. The most important thing for the Texans this year was finding out what they had in rookie quarterback CJ Stroud. 

It seems they have a future superstar for years to come. Stroud’s season stats include throwing for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns and 100.8 passer rating. It isn’t only about the numbers for Stroud. He plays with so much poise that it can make you forget that he is a rookie. Against the Colts, Stroud went on the road and completed 20 of 26 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. With that win and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ loss, the Texans have a record of 10-7 and have won the AFC South. No matter what happens in the playoffs, it has been a wildly successful season for them. It was also important for  first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans to change their culture, which he certainly has.  

Jaguars Implode 

As much of a success story the Texans are, you can’t tell the story of this season’s AFC South without mentioning the incredible collapse of the Jaguars. The Jaguars started off the season with an 8-3 record, and looked as though they would run away with the division. Instead, they went 1-5 in their final six games to finish with a 9-8 record. In Week 18, they lost 28-20 to the Tennessee Titans. 

After taking a huge step forward as a franchise last season, by getting to the playoffs and winning a playoff game, they’ve taken a few steps back with how this season has ended for them. Their defense did not make the improvement they needed to make, and there are more questions about Trevor Lawrence now then there was coming into the season. Some of his season stats include throwing for 4,016 yards, 21 touchdowns and a passer rating of 88.5. Those stats aren’t that impressive, and the other is that he has been a turnover machine. He had 14 interceptions and seven fumbles lost. To be fair to Lawrence, he was dealing with some injuries in the second half of the season that hampered his ability to run, which is one of his major strengths.            

Header Photo: ​​The Buffalo Bills drown the Miami Dolphins and lock up the two seed in the AFC. (Photo courtesy Mavericks Athletics)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at mohamed.warsame@mnsu.edu

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