Daniel Carlson
On Sept. 16, 2018, Carlson, a Vikings rookie in his second game, missed three field goals, two in overtime, including a 35-yarder as time expired in a 29-29 tie. The next morning, Rick Spielman, the general manager who drafted him, and Mike Zimmer, the coach who could no longer tolerate him, released Carlson. On Jan. 9, 2022, Carlson, an established veteran with the Raiders, made 5-of-5 field goals, two in overtime, including a 47-yarder to lift the Raiders past the Chargers and into the playoffs as time expired. The next morning, Carlson probably smiled when he saw the Vikings had released Spielman and Zimmer.

Leslie Frazier
Eight years ago, Zimmer was hired to fix Frazier's broken-down defense, which ranked last in the league in points allowed. Zimmer did fix it, but it got unfixed the past two years as it became the first Vikings defense to allow 400-plus points in back-to-back seasons. Meanwhile, as Zimmer coached his last game, Frazier, as Bills defensive coordinator, was putting the finishing touches on a defense that led the league in fewest points (17.0), yards (272.8) and third downs (30.84%) allowed.

Kellen Moore
Ah, to be 33 years old and a gifted offensive mind in today's NFL. The Cowboys offensive coordinator is young enough, and the Cowboys stable enough, for Moore to be selective about which team he wants to leap to as head coach. He can wait another year if he's not thrilled by coaching Justin Fields or Kirk Cousins or the other quarterbacks on teams with coaching vacancies. The Cowboys led the league in points (31.2) and yards (407.0). They also joined the Bills and Cardinals as the only teams to rank in the top 10 in rushing and passing.


Carson Wentz
The Jaguars lost by 40 points in Week 17. They were 15 ½-point underdogs at home against the Colts in Week 18. All Wentz and the Colts needed to do to make the playoffs was win. They didn't. Jags interim coach and former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell got the win and an interview for the job next season. And it didn't cost Jacksonville a second straight No. 1 overall draft pick. Eagles fans also were happy. Wentz's season-finale meltdown means Philly gets the 16th overall draft pick this year. Had the Colts made the playoffs, that pick would have fallen between 19 and 32.

Arizona Cardinals
At 7-0, the Cardinals were the league's last undefeated team. That hasn't meant a whole lot in a long time. The last time a team won the Super Bowl after being the last undefeated team was 2006, when the Colts started 9-0 and won it all. The Cardinals have the least momentum of any playoff team as they head to Los Angeles to play the Rams. Not surprising. Coach Kliff Kingsbury has climbed to .500 at 24-24-1, but he's 9-16 after October, including 4-5 this year.