Just as is the case in the NRL and maybe others as well, the day following the conclusion of the NFL’s regular season was a day for sacrificing scapegoats for the inability of the players.

The NFL playoff picture went down to the final minute as the NFC North could have gone to the Pittsburgh Steelers if the Cleveland Browns had been able to finish a last-second comeback against the Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh had to come from behind to beat the Cincinnati Bengals. Immediately after, the players and the fans watched the big screen at Pittsburgh’s stadium to watch their slim playoff hopes vanish when Cleveland could not get into position for a winning field goal.

The rest of the playoff grid is set, sort of.

Next weekend will be the first round, when the Wild Card round features the teams that squeezed in. It is a veritable smorgasbord for gridiron fans, as the American and National Conferences will each stage two games over the weekend to see which clubs survive to play the Division winners.

The Indianapolis Colts will face the Houston Texans to start the proceedings for the AFC. Later that day, the NFC will offer the Seattle Seahawks versus the Dallas Cowboys. The first game on Sunday (Monday Australia time) has the San Diego Chargers traveling to Baltimore to face the Ravens, in that all-to-usual-NFL scenario where a team with a better record has to tour to the city with the poorer record because of the divisional alignments that grant home ground advantage to divisional winners.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots get to watch the first round in the AFC, while the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams get first round byes in the NFC.

Six Head Coaches lost their jobs, four yesterday, on the day that has been dubbed Black Monday, as it is the day when perfectly good coaches are held accountable for the exploits of players who underperformed. Two others were fired before the season concluded.

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