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12 Ohio State greats are headed to the 2017 NFL Playoffs

Week 17 marks the final regular season game of the year, making way for the postseason.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The final day of the 2016 NFL regular season has come to a close in a New Year’s Day filled slate of games. Several former Buckeyes will continue into the postseason, with a few even snagging a first round bye in addition to division titles. Rookies out of Ohio State have had a particularly stellar year, and continued to ball out into Week 17.

Playoff Bound

There are 12 former Ohio State players heading to the postseason. Several players have already snagged division titles and various franchise and league records already this season, but they’re all fighting for the same goal — a Super Bowl win.

AFC: Nate Ebner (Patriots), Ryan Shazier (Steelers), John Simon (Texans)

NFC: Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith (Cowboys), A.J. Hawk (Falcons), Tyvis Powell, Nick Vannett (Seahawks), Corey Linsley (Packers), Eli Apple, Johnathan Hankins (Giants), Taylor Decker (Lions)

12-Gauge’s debut

Former Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones was drafted by the Bills, but has spent much of the season on the sideline. With the firing of head coach Rex Ryan earlier in the week and the announcement starting QB Tyrod Taylor would be benched, it was time to see what 12-Gauge can do in the league.

In his first game suited up, Jones completed 6 passes on 11 targets for 96 yards — proving he has an incredible arm with a 64-yard bomb downfield. Unfortunately, he didn’t get into the endzone during his time under center, and threw one interception on a deflection in his NFL debut.

1,000-plus yards

In the final loss of the Cleveland Browns’ season, Terrelle Pryor reached his first 1,000-yard receiving season in his first full year at wideout. In addition to the coveted feat, the former quarterback had previously claimed a 1,000-yard passing season with the Raiders — adding his name to yet another league record.

Rookie Michael Thomas set Saints’ franchise records Sunday and also set the stage for an impressive NFL career. Hitting over 1,000-receiving yards his first season in the league was just the first feat he accomplished in Week 17. Thomas also set the franchise rookie record of receiving yards (1,137), touchdown catches (9) and surpassed Reggie Bush with number of catches (92).

Plays of the week

Ryan Shazier

In addition to his eight total tackles against the Browns Sunday, Shazier also snagged his third interception of the season -- a career-high. He tied last season’s stats with 87 total tackles and 3.5 sacks, but he’s become the energetic leader of the Steelers defense in only his third year with a long career ahead of him.

Jalin Marshall

The Jets are not heading to the playoffs, but former Buckeye wideout Marshall wanted to make one more impression on his coaches and team before the end of his rookie season. He finished the year with 14 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns — he also claimed four fumbles, which he’ll need to correct this offseason.

Other notes

  • The final game of the 2016 NFL regular season will be the ‘Sunday Night Football’ matchup between the Green Bay Packers (Corey Linsley) and Detroit Lions (Taylor Decker).
  • Due to both injuries and postseason preparation, several other Buckeyes were inactive in Week 17, including Alex Boone (Vikings), Tyvis Powell (Seahawks), John Simon (Texans), Adolphus Washington (Bills) and Nick Vannett (Seahawks).
  • After initially thought to be an MCL tear, running back Carlos Hyde (Niners) ended up suffering an MCL sprain in Week 16, which while it wont require surgery, kept him off the field for the final game of the regular season.
  • Panthers’ safety Kurt Coleman missed out on a big bonus check Sunday — who was expecting $175,000 with one more interception on the season (totaling 5).
  • Safety Christian Bryant joined the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad this week after a short stint on the Giants PS.
  • Rookie defensive back Vonn Bell (Saints) has had a standout inaugural year in the NFL. Despite not reaching the postseason, Bell amassed 87 total tackles — 61 solo — 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles and 1.0 sack.
  • Running back sensation Ezekiel Elliott sat out Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys, as they’ve already clinched the NFC East division title and a first week bye with home field advantage. But the Buckeye wasn’t aware until just before kickoff so he brought his normal level of energy into his pregame warmup.