In My Opinion

Greg Cote: Exciting end to NFL season in store for fans

Few NFL regular seasons have ended with a more frantic finish than this one. (Don’t we know it, Miami!) Week 17 bears in with four of 12 playoff spots yet to be determined and with 10 teams still alive — however faintly — for that final coveted quartet of postseason passes.

It has been seven years since this many fans league-wide have been allowed to carry hope into the last week, and, complainers be damned, it’s a wonderful advertisement for King Sport. Two winner-take-all finales in Packers-Bears and Eagles-Cowboys — I don’t care what the records are, that’s sports drama to the max.

The complaint of course is that mediocrity is taking over, like crabgrass, because the teams still fighting for a playoff spot include one with six losses, six with seven losses — including the Dolphins — and one with eight losses.

So what. When it all shakes out at least nine and perhaps as many as 10 of the 12 playoff entrants will be 10-win teams.

It is the barely-over-.500 teams sneaking in last that give a postseason its Cinderella element, its needed balance.

Besides, this isn’t the NBA or NHL, where seven-game playoff series make it nearly impossible for the true underdogs to advance. And this isn’t baseball, where so few (too few) teams make the postseason that Cinderellas need not apply.

This is the NFL, where being in the playoffs means you have a real chance, and where being in the playoffs needn’t always mean excellence, because there is room too for the pluggers, the fighters, the grinders and the lucky.

Consider that just since 1997 five wild-card teams have won the Super Bowl and five teams with six or more losses have reigned. Have we forgotten that as recently as 2011 a 9-7 Giants team wound up fitting its nickname? Matter of fact the past three SB champs in a row lost at least six games.

So, yes, a bunch of barely .500 teams are still alive this weekend.

And it’s a good thing.


Here’s how it is entering the Week 17 regular-season finale:

• AFC — In: Broncos, Patriots, Bengals, Colts and Chiefs. Four alive for final spot, with postseason likelihood via Ravens 43.76%, Dolphins 37.46, Chargers 12.58 and Steelers 6.20.

• NFC — In: Seahawks, Panthers and 49ers. Six alive for final three spots, with postseason likelihood via Saints 74.89%, Eagles 50.12, Bears 50.10, Packers 49.90, Cowboys 49.88 and Cardinals 25.11.


• Final Pro Bowl votes are to be revealed Friday. No Dolphin will make it via fan selection, but guys who still have a shot to be added include punter Brandon Fields, cornerback Brent Grimes, center Mike Pouncey and defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.

• Denver’s will be most prolific offense of modern era if it scores 18 points at Oakland to break New England’s 2007 season record of 589. Pats scored 75 touchdowns that year. The Broncos enter their finale with 72.

• Panthers’ Luke Kuechly might have secured defensive player of the year honors last week as first player since 2001 to have a game with 20 tackles and an interception.

• Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (103 catches) has joined Wes Welker as only players with five 100-catch seasons.

• Ex-Dolphins linebacker Karlos Dansby of Cardinals is only the fourth player to have at least six sacks, four interceptions and two returned for TDs in a season.

Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

Phillies fans show their desire to have Pete Rose inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday, July 30, 1995, before the start of the Hall of Fame Inductions in Cooperstown, N.Y.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: It’s time to welcome Pete Rose back to baseball

    Twenty-five years ago this week, Pete Rose was banished for life from baseball, and thus from the red carpet ride he would have taken into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Sympathy hasn’t often come his way since, partly because Rose can come off as irascible, unlikable, his own worst enemy — but mostly because he agreed to his ban, with a swipe of a pen trading immortality for indelible notoriety.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton watch from the dugout in the sixth inning of a Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday, August 15, 2014, at Marlins Park in Miami.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: NL MVP? It’s the Miami Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton by a landslide

    Giancarlo Stanton deserves the NL MVP for carying the Marlins on his shoulders.

In this Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 photograph, Tony Stewart stands in the garage area after a practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Watkins Glen International, in Watkins Glen N.Y.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: NASCAR tragedy a result of auto racing culture

    The 65-second video is horrible and hard to watch because you know you are seeing a young man in the last seconds of his life. We all accept that auto racing can be dangerous and that the risk can even be deadly, but not like this. This jars the senses. You can’t believe what you are seeing.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category