NFL Week 17 winners, losers: 49ers could enjoy playoff home cooking

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Week 17 winners, losers: 49ers could enjoy playoff home cooking originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Week 17 no longer is the final slate of games in the grinding 18-week NFL regular season, but it turned into Elimination Weekend for an astounding five teams still hanging around the playoff picture.

The Washington Commanders, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Las Vegas Raiders all watched their playoff hopes fade into the abyss on Sunday. That surprised one particular head coach on Sunday (more on that below).

With no further ado, here are the Week 17 winners and losers:

Winner: Jalen Hurts

OK, yes, the Philadelphia Eagles lost ugly to the New Orleans Saints 20-10 on Sunday. But they look incredibly lost without star quarterback Jalen Hurts under center.

The Eagles’ struggles in losses the past two weeks have put any takes that Hurts is a system quarterback to rest. Philadelphia can’t move the ball without him on the field.

If Hurts returns from his shoulder injury next week and plays well in a win over the New York Giants to clinch the NFC East and No. 1 seed, he should be named the 2022 NFL MVP.

Loser: Riverboat Ron

It wasn’t a great week for Washington coach Ron Rivera.

First, he opted to start Carson Wentz at quarterback over Taylor Heinicke, which felt like a decision based on Wentz's $28.2 million cap hit more than anything else.

When Wentz taking over the offense went as expected (not great, Bob!) and the Commanders fell 24-10 to the Cleveland Browns, Rivera apparently didn’t know his team could be eliminated from playoff contention based on later results in the Sunday afternoon slate.

“We can be eliminated?” he asked a reporter during his postgame press conference.

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Sure enough, the Green Bay Packers stomped the Minnesota Vikings 41-17 to eliminate “Riverboat Ron” and the Commanders. At least Rivera was warned?

Winner: Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers were 4-8 and had lost seven of eight games. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was appearing on podcasts to rip his young, inexperienced wide receivers. Backup quarterback Jordan Love’s music started playing softly in the background.

But then, of course, the Packers rattled off four straight wins to climb back to .500, their latest triumph being a convincing 41-17 drubbing of Minnesota at Lambeau Field on Sunday.

R-E-L-A-X. Rodgers can never be eliminated. He is inevitable. He is a cockroach who laughs in the face of repellent.

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Loser: Kerryon Johnson

Former NFL running back Kerryon Johnson was a good sport on Twitter over the weekend.

When a Lions fan received a No. 33 Detroit Lions jersey a gift from his mother, who thought it was a Calvin Johnson jersey, Kerryon Johnson hopped in on the joke.

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On a positive note, the Detroit Lions whipped the Chicago Bears 41-10 to improve to 8-8 on the season. They can reach the postseason for the first time since 2016 with a win over the Packers combined with the Seattle Seahawks losing to the Los Angeles Rams next week.

Winner: Point differential stans

NFL Twitter has been attacking two teams in particular for having rather fraudulent records compared to their humble point differentials all season long.

Entering Week 18, the Vikings are 12-4 with a minus-19 point differential, meaning they have been outscored by 19 points this season. The Miami Dolphins, who were once 8-3 and threatening to overtake the AFC East from the Buffalo Bills, now are 8-8 with minus-7 net points.

"Hey Siri, play 'True Colors' by Cyndi Lauper."

Loser: Arizona Cardinals

The Atlanta Falcons beat the Arizona Cardinals 20-19 in a game with no playoff implications that nobody watched. Just including it here so everyone knows.

Winner: Poe

Baltimore fans' hearts were shattered Sept. 1 when Ravens mascot Poe suffered a "serious injury to his drumstick," also known as a torn ACL, during a preseason halftime game against youth football players.

Well, just in time for Sunday Night Football, Poe made his triumphant return to M&T Bank Stadium. He arrived in a wheelchair next to his mascot replacements, Edgar and Allan, and channeled his best impression of professional wrestler Kevin Nash by whipping off the blanket and jumping out of the wheelchair.

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"Here's a guy who might have a future in the WWE," said analyst Cris Collinsworth, probably.

Winner: Levi's Stadium

The 49ers are starting their third quarterback of the season, a rookie picked last in the 2022 NFL Draft in "Mr. Irrelevant" Brock Purdy. They began the season 3-4 with humbling losses to the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs.

Yet, as the NFL regular-season schedule enters its final week, the 49ers have a chance to lock up the NFC's No. 1 seed. The NFC playoffs could run through Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in overtime win vs. Raiders

To do so, San Francisco needs to defeat Arizona, and the New York Giants -- who are locked into the No. 6 seed -- need to beat the Eagles next week.

Unless the 49ers lose in shocking fashion to the Cardinals at home Sunday, they are guaranteed to host playoff games in the wild card and divisional rounds.

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