The only thing predictable about Week 17 is that it’s unpredictable, given that teams have different motivations heading into the playoffs or a long offseason. Looking at the week’s top performers will give you a sense of how atypical the season finale can be. If you keep your eyes open, however, you can get a sneak peak at talent that may prove worthy next season.
On one hand there were teams like the Cowboys who rested their stars for most of their game. On the other hand there were the Patriots who had nothing to gain but played their starters late into their contest with the Dolphins.
Tom Brady finished off the season throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns. Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett and newly acquired Michael Floyd all cashed in. Edelman led the team with 151 yards on eight receptions.
Aaron Rodgers didn’t have to worry about a must-win to make the playoffs, but he sealed the NFC North division title with a 300-yard, 4-TD performance.
Sam Bradford had a big day as well, throwing for 250 yards and three touchdowns. His biggest weapon on the day was Kyle Rudolph, who caught 11 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Rudolph was one of quite a few tight ends that had big days. Zach Ertz was the most productive at his position, catching 13 passes for 139 yards and two scores.
Chargers tight ends had nice games as well, as both Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry each gained at least 40 yards and scored.
Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Matthew Stafford all had solid outings in their season finales.
Out of the backfield, Corey Grant made the most of his opportunity as he rushed for 122 yards on 19 carries and scored. His 57-yard sprint to the end zone in the second quarter is something to remember heading into next season. He’ll be in his third year in the league and T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory haven’t been too impressive for Jacksonville.
Another name to keep an eye on after this season is Paul Perkins, who rushed for 102 yards for the Giants in Week 17. Next season could be his breakout year as he ended this season by increasing his production in each of his last six games.
With Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard out of action, Rex Burkhead took full advantage, rushing for 119 yards and two scores. It was a nice outing for the fourth-year running back, but don’t expect him to have much success next season with Hill and Bernard healthy.
Isaiah Crowell led all rushers this week with 152 yards. He’s the kind of player most people will sleep on, but his carries and production have increased every year he’s been in the league. Crowell hasn’t missed a game in his career and he was 48 yards shy of having his first 1,000-yard season.
Bilal Powell and Jordan Howard also had big days out of the backfield. Powell rushed for 122 yards while Howard finished with 135. Both could end up being top-12 picks next season.
Devontae Booker showed that he’s best when a complementary player, scoring twice while Justin Forsett carried the rushing load.
Charcandrick West also scored twice and topped 100 yards from scrimmage for Kansas City. Mark Ingram had a 100-yard game and scored.
In better-late-than-never news, DeAndre Hopkins finally turned in a performance that one would’ve expected from him all season. He had seven catches for 123 yards with two quarterbacks.
Davante Adams had just 31 yards receiving but connected with Rodgers for two scores. Look for him to become the second-best option for Rodgers next season.
Michael Thomas will be the clear cut no. 1 option for the Saints at wideout next year. He finished the season with a 10-catch, 156-yard game.
David Johnson, DeMarco Murray and Alfred Blue all disappointed for different reasons.
Johnson failed to record 100 yards from scrimmage for the first time this season as he was injured after gaining 44 yards. He has a sprained MCL, according to NFL.com and should be fine for next season.
Murray ran into trouble against the Texans and had fewer touches than Derrick Henry.
Blue struggled to gain much yardage as the Texans eschewed their typical game plan, throwing the ball 48 times and giving Blue just 11 rushing attempts.