AFC Week 16 in Review
Week 16 in Review, AFC Edition
San Francisco 49ers @ Tennessee Titans (TNF)
So, I guess maybe the Titans are good. This up and down season for the Titans, mostly featuring ups continued on Thursday Night as they topped the 49ers by a score of 20-17.
AJ Brown’s return took over the show. He caught 11 balls for 145 yards and a touchdown. The Titans showed that they still have life in them. With the speculation of Derrick Henry coming back in Week 18, the Titans could be a dangerous team in the playoffs. Right now, they are the number two seed in the playoffs, and they will likely not move any higher. As the two seed, Tennessee will not get a first round bye. However, they should be able to beat a seven seed in the first round and maybe someone else in the divisional round as well.
San Francisco’s loss here isn’t the end of the world, but it certainly doesn’t help their case. Despite falling to 8-7, the 49ers were able to keep the sixth seed in the playoff race, but Philadelphia won this past weekend improving their record to 8-7. San Francisco does have the tiebreaker over Philadelphia, but a loss and an Eagles win would place the 49ers in 7th in the playoff standings. With Houston and Los Angeles on the schedule, San Francisco should be able to win one of the two and make the postseason.
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots
Buffalo got their revenge against New England, and with it took the lead in the AFC East. Josh Allen had a pretty good game himself as he threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns. Isaiah McKenzie stepped up for the Bills catching 11 passes for 125 yards and a score. Buffalo seemed like they were a step better than the Patriots the entire game. New England did not have a lead at all during this contest.
It wasn’t all bad for the Patriots, though, as running back Damien Harris had himself a day. The statline of 103 yards on just 18 carries is good in itself, but he also scored three times. New England stumbled down to 9-6 and have lost two in a row. They currently hold the sixth seed in the playoff race, and they should be able to make it in the playoffs. Their last two games include a home matchup against Jacksonville and an away game against Miami. Despite the losing streak, the Patriots are still a good team. I think we are going to see that play out in both of their next two games and again show the NFL why they are a team that should be solidified in the playoffs.
The Bills moved up to 9-6 and are now the leaders in the AFC East. They should have no problem finishing the year out 11-6 as they play the Falcons and Jets. Buffalo needs this easy end not only to ensure they win the East, but to give themselves a break after they have had a few bad ones in the last few weeks. If Josh Allen is able to keep up the performance that he had this week, then Buffalo should find themselves back in the AFC Championship game.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets
If you are a fan of one of these two teams, I’m sorry. This year has been rough for both the Jaguars and the Jets, but their faceoff meant that one fanbase is guaranteed to not have yet another loss to deal with this season.
The “Tank Bowl” was “won” by the New York Jets 26-21. Sure, getting a win is nice. However, if it costs you a better draft pick when you are already long out of the playoffs, what is the win really for?
New York currently possesses two choices in the top 10 picks in the first round. This win did not change that, and securing a fourth win doubled the Jets’ win total from a year ago. So, sure the win doesn’t mean all that much. On the other hand, maybe it tells us that the Jets are further along in the rebuild than we previously thought.
Jacksonville lost, shocker. They are in line to get the first pick again this season. That is absolutely horrendous. We can all hope that Jacksonville will find a good coach this offseason so that Trevor Lawrence will not have his entire career wasted in a bad situation.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Houston Texans
Okay Texans, I see you. The 41-29 victory over the Chargers marked Houston’s fourth win of the campaign and its second win in a row. Houston is messing up their chances of getting a top pick, but they are still the Texans. 11 losses is more than enough to get you a pick where you can get a player who changes the franchise. For the Texans, maybe they can get someone who can get them close to .500 next season.
Los Angeles really shot themselves in the foot here. This was supposed to be a layup for them, and they got “blocked by James”. The loss dropped their record to 8-7, and they are now 9th in the playoff race. In their next two games, they play the Broncos and the Raiders. Both of these are divisional games and are teams that are in the hunt just like the Chargers are. Winning these next two games is monumental for the life of their postseason hopes. These are two winnable games for the Chargers, but since they are both divisional matchups, you can never be sure about the outcome.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
What a day Joe Burrow had, and deservedly so. Earlier in the week, Baltimore defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said that he “wasn’t ready to hand Joe Burrow a gold jacket yet”.
Sure, Joe Burrow is only in the second year of what should be a long career. However, Burrow had some comments back at the Ravens DC.
“I didn’t think it was a necessary comment.” said Burrow
Although he didn’t flat out say that the comment motivated his outstanding performance, there’s got to be a part of him that believes that it did. The 41-21 win over the Ravens marks the Bengals’ first sweep of Baltimore since 2015.
Joe had a great day spreading the ball to all his receivers, tight ends, and running backs. This showed in the stat sheet as he totaled 525 yards passing and four touchdowns to go with it.
Cincinnati moved up to 9-6 and are now in first place in the AFC North, one full game ahead of Baltimore along with the double tie breaker. The division and a playoff spot are Cincy’s to lose. Their next two opponents are the Chiefs and the Browns. Neither of those will be easy, but don’t be surprised if Cincy wins both of those and goes on a run in the playoffs.
Baltimore has continued to disappoint as of late and they are now 8-7. This puts them as the number 8 seed in the playoff picture, which has them missing the playoffs.
The Ravens season depends on the health of Lamar Jackson. He is expected to play next weekend against the Rams, who would easily beat the Ravens without him. After that they host the Steelers, and last time they played they lost by one point after a questionable decision to go for two at the end of the game.
Baltimore pretty much has to win both of these contests to make the postseason. I’m not one who believes that this will happen for the Ravens, but I’ve been wrong before.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City shows their dominance yet again with this impressive 36-10 win over Pittsburgh. The win marked eight in a row for the Chiefs who show no sign of slowing down. With a full game lead over the Titans for the one seed in the playoffs with three games to go, the first round bye is the Chiefs’ to lose.
Patrick Mahomes had another outstanding three touchdown, no interception game. On top of that, Byron Pringle stepped up for the Chiefs in the absence of Travis Kelce due to Covid and the limited use of Tyreek Hill. He racked in six receptions for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Kansas City looks like a complete team and should be the favorite to represent the AFC in the Superbowl. Should the Chiefs win this week and the Titans lose, the Chiefs would clinch home field advantage for the entirety of the playoffs.
Pittsburgh dropped to 7-7-1 and seem to be a Ben Roethlisberger retirement away from being good again. This team has young stars such as TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick on the defensive side of the ball. Not to mention Najee Harris on offense. If Pittsburgh drafts a good quarterback or finds one on the market, maybe Aaron Rodgers as his name has been mentioned in Pittsburgh, then the Steelers could remake themselves into the team we all know them to be.
Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders
Just like Derek Carr said last week, the Raiders are still alive and have something to play for. This was a huge win for Las Vegas as they moved up to 8-7. They are just outside the playoffs, but if they win their last two it is possible for them to get in.
I’m not sure that Vegas will go very far if they do make it into the playoffs. Just to make it to this point with all the early season drama is a credit to Interim Coach Rich Bisaccia. The next two games for Vegas are Indianapolis and Los Angeles. Both of these teams are also in the playoff race, so going 2-0 would mean that there is a high probability that the Raiders make the playoffs.
Denver falling to 7-8 and to another team that is in the Wild Card race means that they are just about done with this season. The Broncos have proved to be a team that is good on the defensive side of the ball, but they need a quarterback to lead their offense. Aaron Rodgers was a name that had been mentioned to be the Broncos’ quarterback last offseason and don’t be surprised if his name pops up for them again, especially if Green Bay has a nasty end to the season.