2021 NFL Season Recap

The confetti has flown, we crowned a champion, and now it’s time to recap the NFL season. 285 games over 22 weeks have taken 32 hopeful teams all the way down to one last man standing. We wanted to recap the best and the worst of a wild NFL season, and break down how the Rams became Super Bowl champions!

Regular Season

AFC East 

In reality, not much time to waste here. The Patriots are back already, so that sucks. Mac Jones was the best rookie QB, and likely a franchise QB for the foreseeable future, which the Patriots deserve… right? At the beginning of the season, the Bills were the heavy favorite to win the entire division, and they got it done. It looked sketchy for a minute, they had midseason struggles, but they managed to get it together and pull it off. The Dolphins started off slow before rattling off seven in a row and ALMOST got a playoff spot. They then fired head coach Brian Flores. Rumor has it he was power-hungry and had a bad relationship with Tua Tagovailoa. Now they are looking for their next head coach, a spot they’ve been in a lot recently. The Jets… same Jets. 

Bills 11-6

Patriots 10-7

Dolphins 9-8

Jets 4-13

AFC North 

The Ravens and the Browns were most people’s picks to win the division. Some “professionals” even picked them to win the Super Bowl. Instead, they finished 3rd and 4th in the division. The Ravens had a season from hell. Lamar Jackson was often injured, and most of the team around him was as well. They still fought hard, but they never had a chance with all the injuries. The good news is the Ravens will have an easier schedule, and the 14th pick in the draft this year. This will help them a lot in 2023, and the Ravens will likely be back in the playoffs. 

For the Browns, the question becomes what happens to the future of Baker.

This was going to be the year Cleveland turned the corner and made a run, yet it turned out to be another failure. Odell Beckham Jr. got cut. Kevin Stefanski forgot he had the best running back stable in the game. He seemed to force an injured Baker to throw the ball constantly. The Browns had a projectile to be an up-and-coming franchise. Now that might all be passed and lots of questions loom. 

The Steelers got their last chance to watch Ben Roethlisberger as their QB. Although most Steelers fans know his career was over, it is still sad to say goodbye to a legend. They played subpar football most of the season. The low point was a tie to the winless Lions. Despite all the struggles, Pittsburgh had a sliver of hope to sneak into the playoffs. First, they needed a major upset of the Colts losing to the Jaguars. They got it. Then they needed to upset the Ravens on the road. Check. Finally, they needed the Raiders and Chargers game to not end in a tie. Although it took a walk-off field goal in OT, they got it. It was the ultimate underdog story and a fitting end to Roethlisberger’s all-time great career. 

The Bengals? They won the division? Not only did the Bengals win, but they look like what the Browns wanted to be. Rookie WR Jamar Chase and second-year QB Joe Burrow look like the best QB-WR duo in the game. They won all the games they needed to and even upset the Chiefs in week 17. The Bengals didn’t have the flashiest season. But for a team that wasn’t supposed to win more than 5 games, they were able to expedite their window to compete. Look for the Bengals now to be favored to repeat as AFC North champions going into 2022.

Bengals 10-7

Steelers 9-7-1

Browns 8-9

Ravens 8-9

AFC South 

Like the AFC East, this division went pretty much as expected. The Titans were heavy favorites to win it. They faced adversity though. They struggled against inferior teams and lost Derrick Henry for most of the season. At the end of the day though, they got their shit together and not only won the South but got the #1 seed in the AFC. This gave them a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the playoffs. 

The Colts started out 1-5. Pardon My Take’s Big Cat was so confident in how bad they sucked, he said he would cut off his pinky if they won the Super Bowl. They then gave RB Jonathan Taylor the ball every play and started to win. In fact, they went from 1-5 to 9-7 entering Week 18. All they had to do was beat the 2-14 Jaguars to clinch a playoff birth. But it didn’t happen. They got embarrassed and eliminated from playoff contention. Now they have a lot of questions to answer, including who will be QB1 in Week 1 next year. 

The Texans don’t believe in having talent on their roster. Every time they have something good, they cut or trade them. DeAndre Hopkins? Gone. J.J. Watt? See ya. Tyron Mathieu? Go elsewhere, please. Deshaun Watson? Ok well, understandable, but still super talented. The worst part is the Texans have no talent to show for these losses. Dave Culley got hired before the 2021 season and did a fantastic job. He came in and managed four impressive wins despite Davis Mills being his best player. But the Texans are the Texans, and in true Texan’s fashion, they fired Culley after the season ended. The poor guy over-performed and made the Texans not look like a dumpster fire, and now he’s gone. Good luck to whoever they hire next. 

Oh, Jacksonville Jaguars. Remember when Urban Meyer was your coach? Then he fingered some random chick’s asshole and pissed off EVERYONE in the organization. He also might have ruined one of the most highly touted prospects in NFL history. It was a fun 10 weeks with Urban Meyer was in the league though, he spiced it up. Trevor Lawrence is supposedly the next big thing, but he didn’t look like it last year. I remain high on Lawrence though, especially if the Jags go out and get Byron Leftwich as their next head coach. Can the Jags do something right to not be a dumpster fire? Well, they have the top pick in the draft again, and it doesn’t seem like it can get any worse. 

Titans 12-5

Colts 9-8

Texans 4-13

Jaguars 3-14

AFC West 

Let’s get the Chiefs out of the way. They looked like shit in the early part of the season. Then Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreke Hill remembered they are Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreke Hill. They then went on a tear and won the West again. 

The Raiders should not have been the team they were. They won ten games. First off, the roster didn’t look like a 10 win roster. Then, they lost head coach Jon Gruden halfway through the year. Next, star WR Henry Ruggs got cut when he drunk drove and killed someone in a high-speed crash. 

But they had Derek Carr. Carr proved that he is one of the best QBs in the league despite getting no respect from anyone. They also had interim head coach Rich Bisaccia. Bisaccia killed it, as he went 7-5 after he took the helm. They brought in Will Compton to hold down the defense. Then they cut him, then they signed him, and then they cut him again right before the playoffs. Get your “Playoff Willy” gear here. It took a miracle for the Raiders to get in, as they needed a win or tie with the Chargers to make the dance. This came to fruition. In the final seconds of overtime in the final game of the regular season, Daniel Carlson kicked a walk-off field goal to send the Chargers home. 

Opposite of the Raiders is the Chargers. This is a team that looked good on paper. But they ended up not being good. The Chargers finished 9-8 but that feels like a failed season with Justin Herbert as their QB. It feels like every year the experts pick the Chargers to finally beat the Chiefs. Yet every year they miss the playoffs. I’m not going to say I don’t believe in Justin Herbert or head coach Brandon Staley. Herbert is a mega-talented young QB, and Staley is a stats wizard. Until they get over the hump and make a postseason run though, I’d count on them finishing outside of the playoffs. 

The Broncos pretty much had the year everyone expected. They are a good roster. The problem is at QB. Teddy Bridgewater is the ultimate 6-9 win QB regardless of how good or bad his team is. He’s a great stop-gate if your hunting for your next franchise QB. 2022 should be interesting as the Broncos are the team to watch this upcoming offseason. They hired Nathanial Hackett to be the new head coach, a favorite of Aaron Rodgers. Could Hackett get Rodgers to Denver? If they can they might be Super Bowl favorites next year. If not Rodgers, could they take a risk on Baker Mayfield or Carson Wentz? Denver should be fun to watch this year.

Chiefs 12-5

Raiders 10-7

Chargers 9-8

Broncos 7-10

NFC East 

Fuck the Cowboys and all you fucks that like them. I enjoyed last year when their defense was historically bad, but Dan Quinn had to ruin that. The Cowboys proved that they are a good, bad team, and managed to get twelve wins this year. I can’t say that I’m surprised they won the division, the Giants suck, the Football team sucks, and the Eagles were surprisingly good, but Jalen Hurts and that’s all I have to say about that. The Cowboy’s most impressive win was the Patriots in week 6, but besides that, they didn’t beat anyone. They lost pretty bad to every playoff team they faced, and the Broncos at home. But someone had to win the East, and the Cowboys were the beneficiaries. 

Speaking of Jalen Hurts, the Eagles were another team that wasn’t very good. The difference though is that they played well against teams worse than them. In fact, the list of QBs the Eagles beat are as follows.

Matt Ryan 

Sam Darnold 

Jared Goff

Teddy Bridgewater

Trevor Siemian 

Zach Wilson 

Garrett Gilbert 

Taylor Heinicke 

Mike Glennon 

Nothing against Matt Ryan. But when a 36-year-old Matt Ryan is by far the best QB you beat, that doesn’t exactly bode well for your team. To be fair, the Eagles still had to handle their business and they did, but I wouldn’t expect them to be as good next year. They do have 3 first-round picks which helps them, but they still have Jalen Hurts.. sounds like a nice guy, would love to have him on my fantasy team, but Super Bowl-winning QB? 

The Football team wrapped up its final season as the Football team. They won the same number of games they did when they won the division in 2020. It wasn’t as impressive though because they also lost one more due to the extra game. They dropped to third in the division. While they have a quality head coach in Ron Rivera, they have Taylor Heineke at QB. They are also the Washington Football Team at the end of the day. If I had to bet, I would put the Washington name TBD team at somewhere between 6-8 wins next year. 

My Giants, what a year. The Gettleman-Judge era came to an end with the worst playcalling I’ve ever seen. I had to attempt to explain to my girlfriend how QB sneaks worked. Then I had to explain why doing it from your own 3-yard line was pathetic. Daniel Jones is starting to look like a bust, but I’m still holding hope that the new regime can turn him into Josh Allen. Oh Giants, please stop being so bad. 

Cowboys 12-5

Eagles 9-8

Football Team 7-10

Giants 4-13

NFC North 

This division also pretty much went exactly as expected. The “last dance” Packers looked like about the best team in football. The Vikings once again managed to be a middle-of-the-road team. The Lions looked like shit but played with a lot of heart. Dan Campbell looks like he might actually make them a good team in the future. The Bears, who the Giants have their draft pick, managed to rattle off a few late wins. They had to fire Matt Nagy and hire Matt Eberflus to be Justin Fields’ next head coach. If Aaron Rodgers leaves, the NFC North could quickly turn into the worst division in football. The QBs would be Jordan Love, Kirk Cousins, Jared Goff, and Justin Fields. With this list, the Vikings might turn into the team to beat. 

Packers 13-4

Vikings 8-9

Bears 6-11

Lions 3-13-1 

NFC South 

The Buccaneers were the team to beat, and they won the division. Yet, there is an argument to be had that the Saints were the better team in that division. Why? Well, they blanked the Buccaneers in their home and home series 0-2. In fact, the Buccaneers scored 0 points against the Saints in one of the games. Now though Tom Brady is retiring. The Buccaneers could be heading toward a rebuild after their brief stay as the best team in football. 

Likewise, the Saints might also be heading towards a rebuild. Taysom Hill has proven he’s better as a weapon than a full-time starting QB. Jameis Winston had a good start to the season but has injury questions. Sean Payton is gone. This once powerhouse franchise might be heading towards a rebuild very fast. 

The other two teams, the Panthers and the Falcons, both have more questions than answers. For the Panthers, they have a head coach that could be leaving for Michigan. They don’t have a good QB and finished the season losing seven games in a row. The Falcons have a young head coach that took a bad team to a respectable 7-10 record. Still, they could look to move on from an aging Matt Ryan and rebuild as well. This division might turn into one where a team has to win rather than earn it very fast. 

Buccaneers 13-4

Saints 9-8

Falcons 7-10

Panthers 5-12

NFC West

The final division is the best one. The worst team, the Seahawks, still went 7-10 despite not having Russell Wilson for half of the year. The 49ers, who finished 3rd in the division, are the 6th seed in the playoffs. They are behind the Cardinals who were 5th and the Rams who were 4th. This division gets hurt by how often they played each other. Is it unrealistic to believe the Seahawks would’ve won the NFC East or AFC South if they played in it? I don’t think so.

Anyway, the Rams played fantastic after acquiring every big-name player available since the 2021 Super Bowl ended. Matt Stafford, Von Miller, and Odell Beckham Jr. all got acquired since the end of last season. Don’t forget they have Aaron Donald, the best defensive player in the league. They also have Sean McVay who might be the best head coach in the league in the next ten years. 

The Cardinals would win the Super Bowl every year if it got played before the season started. They were the last undefeated team in the NFL, yet somehow didn’t even win their division. Kliff Kingsbury has a history of teams starting fast and failing late. Unfortunately for him, that didn’t change this year. The 49ers seem to be a franchise in transition from Jimmy G to Trey Lance, but the roster has talent. Like the Rams, they have one of the brightest young coaching minds in the game, as Kyle Shanahan is at the helm. Not only was the NFC West the best division in football this year, but it is also on the rise. 3 of the 4 coaches are under 45 years old. The four front offices are young and intelligent as well, so the NFC West could be the standard for a long time. 

Rams 12-5

Cardinals 11-6

49ers 10-7

Seahawks 7-10

Wild Card Round 

One of the more boring weekends of playoff football all time, the Wild Card round laid some eggs. The best two games were the Raiders-Bengals and 49ers-Cowboys. The Raiders were down 7 with under a minute to go, and Derek Carr was leading a beautiful drive. Yet he threw a pick in the endzone to seal the Bengal’s win. The 49ers-Cowboys game ended in big drama. Bad time management from Dak and Mike McCarthy led to a QB draw with 14 seconds and no timeouts left. The play got them a large gain, but the refs couldn’t get to the ball fast enough to spot it, and the 49ers won the game.

Bills mafia can rejoice as they dismantled the Patriots 47-17 in Buffalo. The Buccaneers played the Eagles in Tampa. Despite a few garbage-time touchdowns, the Bucs dominated the game. I was at that game, and it was an awesome atmosphere, shoutout to Tampa fans for being cool. The Chiefs retired Big Ben. The Steelers looked like they might beat them, but then Patrick Mahomes remembered he’s one of the best QBs in the game. The Chiefs ended up routing the Steelers 42-21. The Rams embarrassed division rival Arizona in Los Angeles 34-11 to round out the week. 

Divisional Round 

One of the most entertaining weekends of playoff football of all time, every game got settled as the clock hit 0. First, the Bengals upset the 1 seeded Titans in Nashville on a walk-off field goal, 19-16. The 49ers upset the 1 seeded Packers in Green Bay, as Aaron Rodgers was never able to get anything going. Like the Bengals, the 49ers won on a walk-off field goal by Robbie Gould. They also might have sent Aaron Rodgers out of Green Bay.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but the Rams beat Tampa with a walk-off field goal. That is selling this game short though, as Tampa found themselves down 27-6 quickly. Tom Brady remembered he was Tom Brady though and brought his team back to tie the game 27-27. There was too much time left on the clock for Matt Stafford. He hit Cooper Kupp for a 44 yard gain with under 10 seconds left. That set up a short 30-yard field goal and sent the Rams home for the NFC Championship. The game of the weekend though was between the Bills and the Chiefs. The teams traded shots all game, but in the last two minutes, the score went from 26-21 Chiefs to 36-36 tie. Then in OT, the Chiefs were able to get the ball first. This led them to tear up Bill’s exhausted defense, score a TD, and send them to the AFC Championship round.

Championship Round 

Well shit, another round of great football. The Bengals faced off against the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium. Patrick Mahomes got another shot at Joe Burrow who beat him in week 17. The Chiefs got off to a very fast start, going up 21-3 early. The Bengals battled back and made it 21-10 at halftime. In the second half, the Chiefs forgot how to score, as they managed only 3 points. The Bengals caught fire and scored 2 TDs tying the score at 24-24 at the end of regulation. Like the week before, the Chiefs won the toss in OT and started with the ball. Unlike last week, Pat Mahomes tried to do too much and threw a pick. In this game ice-cold blood, Joe Burrow was the one getting the last laugh. Burrow drove down the field and got rookie kicker Evan McPherson in field goal range. McPherson drilled the winning field goal, sending Cincinnati to the Super Bowl.

On the West coast, it was a rivalry game between division foes Rams, and 49ers. The game was in LA, although it felt like the game was in San Francisco because of the crowd. It was projected that 65% of the attendance was 49ers fans. The game started out slow and it was 10-7 49ers at halftime. Then the Rams came out and remembered that they wanted Matthew Stafford to get to the Super Bowl. Stafford spent his entire career in Detroit up to this year and had never won a playoff game. Jimmy G remembered that he is Jimmy G, and forgot how to complete the ball. This led to a Rams came back, beating the 49ers 20-17.

This set up a Super Bowl between preseason favorite in the NFC the Rams, and the young upstart from the Midwest Bengals. The Rams had to beat Kyler Murray, retire Tom Brady, outlast Jimmy G to get there. The Bengals had to take out the Raiders, the top seed Titans, and the superpower Chiefs. Both teams are deserving, but only 1 can be the Super Bowl Champion. 

Super Bowl

First note, the Rams are only the second team to play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. The first is the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Second, the Rams are the first team to win the Championship round in their own stadium and then play in the Super Bowl next week. Matthew Stafford had never won a playoff game in Detroit, and now he’s in the biggest game of his career. The Rams are the favorites to win the game over the Bengals. Despite being the better team on paper and being at home the margin is smaller than I’d expect, the Rams opened up at -4.5 point favorites. 

As for how the game went, not bad at all. The Rams started out absolutely dominating the Bengals, but the Bengals got their footing quick. At halftime it was 13-10 Rams. Coming out in the second half the Bengals had the opportunity to take the game over. They hit a huge TD to open the half, and then immediately picked off Stafford. However the Rams held them to just a field goal, and the score of the game was 20-13. Fast forward to the last 2 minutes with the score 20-16, the Rams were able to throw a clutch TD with a minute and a half left to make the score 23-20. Joe Burrrrow had the opportunity to drive down the field to win it or at least kick a field goal, but after some questionable play calling and Aaron Donald happening, the Bengals turned the ball over on downs and the Rams won.

Other Notes 

This season was one of unpredictability. From week 1 when the Saints beat the Packers 38-3 in Green Bay, to the last week of the season where the Jaguars knocked off the Colts, the upsets were insane. Shoutout to the Jaguars. First, they upset the Bills 9-6. At the time the Bills were regarded as the best team in football. After that was the Colts were upset, stopping Indy from being in the playoffs. The Jets were another upset machine, as they beat the division-winning Bengals and Titans. The Lions beat the Cardinals in Week 15, giving Dan Campbell his first signature win as a coach. The Broncos beat the Cowboys in Dallas. The Broncos ended up being a decent team, but the spread was -10.5 in the Cowboy’s favor. 

This year could be a huge year for QB movement. Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady are gone. Aaron Rodgers has been noncommittal to playing past this season. If he does play he hasn’t said where he will play. Russell Wilson will probably be back with the Seahawks. There was still a lot of smoke in Seattle, so it’s worth watching the situation anyway. DeShaun Watson won’t be back with the Texans, but his next team will have to give up a lot to get the young QB. I would bet the Panthers take the chance and get him pending his legal issues. Matt Ryan isn’t guaranteed to stay in Atlanta, but it looks like he might because of his contract. Jalen Hurts might not be the guy in Philly, but I would think he is the guy right now.

Jimmy G probably won’t be back in San Francisco. Teddy Bridgewater probably won’t be back in Denver. Jameis Winston might not be back in NOLA. Carson Wentz might be gone in Indy, but who replaces all these guys is a mystery. Baker Mayfield probably will get another chance in Cleveland to rehab and be healthy. Still, after rumors, his head coach doesn’t want him, it’s also worth watching. This might be a big year of movement. It also might be a massive stalemate of guys getting one more chance in their respective cities. By the 2024 kickoff though, the QB landscape will be much different.

The 2021 NFL season was amazing, and congratulations to the Rams again! Now it’s time for the offseason. Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral are going to get drafted. DeVante Adams and Aaron Rodgers will decide their futures. New coaches like Brian Daboll to the Giants will get their first chances to build their rosters. Next year should be fun! 

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