NFL Week 18 Winners and Losers: Packers, Texans, Steelers Punch Playoff Tickets While Jaguars Collapse

The Packers, Texans, and Steelers are in the playoffs, but the Jaguars are shockingly out. Who were the other winners and losers from NFL Week 18?

The 2023 NFL regular season is nearly over. The Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills will face off in the campaign’s final game on Sunday night in a matchup that will affect playoff seeding, but it’s time to assess which teams put up the best performances in Week 18.

With so much on the line, which clubs punched their postseason ticket on Sunday? Which teams fell apart? And which head coaches should be watching their back on Black Monday? Here are all the winners and losers from Week 18.

Winners and Losers From NFL Week 18

Winner | Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin has done it again.

Few teams had a better Week 18 than the Steelers, who beat the Baltimore Ravens (who sat many of their starters) on Saturday, then watched the Jacksonville Jaguars lose to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, securing Pittsburgh’s Wild Card berth.

The Steelers were left for dead after a three-game losing streak that included embarrassing defeats to the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots. But quarterback Mason Rudolph’s insertion into the starting lineup boosted the club’s offense in Week 16 and beyond as Pittsburgh won three straight to close the year and finish 10-7.

While they remain long shots to make noise in the playoffs, the fact that the Steelers even made the dance makes them a clear Week 18 winner.

Loser | Jacksonville Jaguars

While the Jaguars appeared to have the AFC South title on lockdown after moving to 8-3 in Week 12, a 1-5 record down the stretch ended any hopes Jacksonville had of repeating as division champs. Their Week 18 loss to the Titans was a microcosm of their season, as Trevor Lawrence and Co. butchered multiple chances to walk away with a victory over an inferior opponent.

The Jags will face myriad questions during the 2024 offseason. Is it time to extend Lawrence? Will they retain WR Calvin Ridley and EDGE Josh Allen? And can Jacksonville still contend in an AFC South that’s gotten much more difficult?

Winner | Houston Texans

After taking down the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night, the Texans would have made the playoffs regardless of what the Jaguars did on Sunday. But Jacksonville’s loss gave Houston — a team that won 11 combined games over the past three seasons — the AFC South crown.

C.J. Stroud and DeMeco Ryans might be in line for postseason hardware after leading a Texans club that had been among the league’s most directionless teams to the postseason. Next up? A Round 1 home game against Joe Flacco and the Cleveland Browns.

Loser | Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints

Week 18’s Falcons-Saints tilt didn’t end up mattering in the NFC standings. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won on Sunday, so neither Atlanta nor New Orleans could win the NFC South.

The Saints dominated the Falcons in a 48-17 win, but neither team covered themselves in glory.

MORE: NFL Playoff Bracket

Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith, who might be out of a job after posting his third straight seven-win season, wasn’t happy that the Saints scored a late touchdown with the game already out of hand — and he let New Orleans HC Dennis Allen know about it. Smith’s poor personnel management is one thing, but is there anything worse than a sore loser?

After the game, Allen apologized for the touchdown, indicating he wanted the Saints to kneel. New Orleans’ players, wishing to get RB Jamaal Williams a score, apparently staged a mutiny and called their own play. That might not be the sort of thing Allen — whose job security is on thin ice — should have admitted.

Winner | Green Bay Packers

The Packers are in the playoffs after taking care of business against the Chicago Bears, completing a three-game win streak that pushed them into the dance. Jordan Love missed on just five pass attempts while throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns in Green Bay’s 17-9 victory.

Love and the Packers’ offense can put up points, but the team’s defensive performance might decide how far it can go in the postseason. But a playoff appearance — especially when a certain ex-Green Bay quarterback now playing in New York missed the dance — makes the 2023 campaign a success for Matt LaFleur and Co.

Loser | Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks went all-in on the 2023 season. Seattle re-signed veteran quarterback Geno Smith instead of using the No. 5 overall pick on a rookie signal-caller, spent the 10th-most cash on their roster of any team in the league, and sacrificed a second-round pick for DL Leonard Williams at the trade deadline.

And yet, Pete Carroll’s club will watch the playoffs from home. An uninspired loss to the Steelers in Week 17 ultimately doomed the Seahawks. Their Week 18 win over the Arizona Cardinals was meaningless, as they would have needed the Packers to lose to the Bears in order to grab a Wild Card berth.

Loser | Philadelphia Eagles

While the Eagles are the defending NFC East champions, it’s hard to imagine any team feeling threatened by this version of Philadelphia.

The Eagles’ only win since November came against the New York Giants in Week 16. That same Big Blue squad defeated Philadelphia on Sunday, but Week 18’s upset wasn’t the worst part of the Eagles’ day.

A.J. Brown injured his knee in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss and never returned, while Jalen Hurts hurt his finger but kept playing before the game got out of hand. WR DeVonta Smith missed Week 18 with an ankle injury, and the Eagles will have a hard time putting up points if neither of their top two wideouts can play against the Bucs in the Wild Card Round.

Loser | Detroit Lions

The Lions didn’t have much to play for in Week 18. Sure, Detroit could have moved up from the No. 3 seed to the No. 2 seed, but that would taken a Lions win plus Cowboys and Eagles losses.

Still, head coach Dan Campbell opted to play his starters in what was essentially a meaningless game — and things could hardly have gone worse.

Sam LaPorta, who set a new NFL rookie TE record with his 82nd reception on Sunday, went down with a knee injury and never returned. Campbell said LaPorta’s injury wasn’t as bad as it may have looked but suggested the second-round selection will miss time.

Punt returner Kalif Raymond also suffered a knee injury and failed to re-enter Sunday’s game. Wideout Amon-Ra St. Brown and defensive back Brian Branch, two more critical pieces for Detroit, picked up injuries but finished Week 18.

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more! 

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