Although there is one more week left in the 2017 National Football League regular season, it's time to look back on the year and remember the best moments professional football in America had to offer its fans, both domestic and abroad. After all, the Super Bowl is watched worldwide, because the appeal of American football is so diverse.
The calendar year of 2017 began with the 2016 postseason—including Super Bowl LI—and concludes this upcoming weekend with Week 17 of the 2017 regular season. In between, there were a lot of special moments, no matter which team is your favorite one: From Miami to Seattle, from San Diego to New England ... the NFL criss-crosses the nation with excitement constantly.
So without further delay, here are our Top 10 NFL moments of 2017. We hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane!
10. Tom Brady at 40
In prior eras of NFL action, quarterbacks took a beating and didn't play deep into their 30s. But with different league rules designed to protect QBs from injury and new developments in sports medicine, times have certainly changed. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is a perfect example. At age 40, Brady is having one of his best seasons, throwing for 4,387 yards and 30 touchdowns with a week left in the season. Those kinds of numbers for an old man would astonish the QBs of the prior century.
9. Injuries, injuries, injuries ...
The Arizona Cardinals, the Houston Texans and the Seattle Seahawks are just three teams that have been leveled this year by major injuries to star players, and the game has suffered for it, sadly. The Cardinals lost star running back David Johnson in Week 1 and starting QB Carson Palmer later in the season. The Texans lost MVP candidate J.J. Watt early on and then dazzling rookie QB Deshaun Watson a few weeks into the season. In Seattle, the Legion of Boom that led the Seahawks to two straight Super Bowls was decimated by injuries to Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.
8. The end of an era in Seattle?
Speaking of those Seahawks, the injuries and time seem to have finally caught up with the club after a dominant run of success since 2012. Seattle won 56 regular-season games, eight postseason games and one Super Bowl title from 2012-2016, but the club struggled in 2017, culminating in an ugly 42-7 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams in Week 15. The Seahawks rarely lose at home, so that was a low point. Even though Seattle still can make the 2017 playoffs, it could be the beginning of the end for the Seahawks' core group.
7. The end of an era in New York!
Father Time catches up with most QBs, if they're not named Brady. That seems to be the case for New York Giants legend Eli Manning. A two-time Super Bowl winner, Manning struggled in 2017 as he posted his worst numbers since 2013—and his team, which made the postseason last year, struggled to a 2-13 record with one week to play. Yes, injuries to the receiving corps contributed to the problem, but when Manning was benched in Week 13 against the Oakland Raiders, it signaled something was ending in the Big Apple.
6. Ezekiel Elliott
After leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie in 2016 with 1,631 yards, the Dallas Cowboys RB was ready for another stellar season this year. But the NFL suspended him for an off-the-field incident, and the subsequent legal drama hovered over the Cowboys all season long. Dallas posted a 13-3 record last year, but this year, the Cowboys have been just 8-7 as Elliott missed six games due to the suspension. When he returned, Dallas lost at home to Seattle, getting eliminated from the playoff chase in the process.
5. The rise and fall of the Falcons
The year started off well for Atlanta, as it won the NFC Championship Game and saw QB Matt Ryan win the NFL MVP. Then, at one point in the Super Bowl, the Falcons were ahead of the Patriots, 28-3. The franchise's first NFL title was in sight. But then everything that could go wrong did go wrong (see below), and as 2017 winds down, Atlanta must beat 11-4 Carolina on the road in Week 17 to even make the postseason again. It's a long shot.
4. The resurrection of the Rams
The last time the Los Angeles Rams made the postseason was 2004, when the team was in St. Louis, and the last time the team finished a season with a record above .500 was 2003. Well, after several years of futility, the Rams put it all together in 2017 under first-year Head Coach Sean McVay. After averaging just six wins a season under prior coach Jeff Fisher, the L.A. bunch busted out this season, winning 11 games and claiming their first NFC West Division title since that 2003 season.
3. Cleveland Browns and historic futility
They haven't made the postseason since 2002, and the Browns are nowhere near it in 2017, either. In fact, the team is on an epic losing slide right now: Cleveland has lost 35 of its last 37 games dating back to the early 2015 season. There's a strong chance the Browns will lose in Week 17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, as well, clinching the second 0-16 season in NFL history (the 2008 Detroit Lions beat them to the distinction). The least the city has MLB's Indians and the NBA's Cavaliers to support, though.
2. Relocation on the brain
Recently, the NFL saw the Rams return to Los Angeles after a two-decade turn in the Midwest, and this season, it was the Chargers returning to L.A. for the first time since 1960. But the biggest relocation news in the NFL probably belonged to the Oakland Raiders, as the organization secured permission to move to Las Vegas for the 2019 season. Groundbreaking has begun on new facilities in L.A. and Sin City, and who knows which team(s) may be on the move next? Jacksonville to London, anyone?
1. The first Super Bowl to go into overtime
Super Bowl LI will be remembered for a long time as the first NFL Championship Game to go into overtime since 1958. The Patriots completed a 25-point comeback in the second half of the game and won the coin toss in overtime before scoring the game-winning touchdown. The Falcons never had a chance in overtime, thanks to arcane overtime rules which predominantly favor luck. The NFL needs to adopt the college football model for overtime games, giving both teams an equal chance to score—and reducing the chances of injury, too.