NFC Week 16 in Review
Week 16 in Review, NFC Edition
Cleveland Browns @ Green Bay Packers (Saturday Afternoon Football)
You would think if your starting quarterback threw for four interceptions in a game that your team would lose by a larger margin than just two points. This was not the case for the Cleveland Browns as they lost to the Packers 24-22 last Saturday.
Baker Mayfield was pretty much the reason the Browns lost. 4 turnovers is asking to lose. Green Bay came out slow for the first few minutes of the game, but were able to take advantage of Mayfield’s interceptions as they turned them into quick touchdowns.
Despite the interceptions throughout the contest, the Browns still had a chance to win late in the game. Down by two points with just two minutes to go, Green Bay punted to Cleveland. The Browns made it to midfield when Baker Mayfield threw his fourth interception of the game. As the throw was being made, it looked like the Browns’ receiver was held for pass interference. However, it was not called and Green Bay took over into victory formation.
The Browns fell to 7-8 and are likely done in terms of making the playoffs. Green Bay improved to 12-3 and showed that they could win a game even when they didn’t play at their best. The Packers are a team to watch out for as Aaron Rodgers was quoted as saying that he’s having the most fun this year despite all of the controversy.
Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals (Saturday Night Football)
Inertia was key in this matchup as the Colts were the object in motion and the Cardinals were the stopped object. Indianapolis keeps on improving and looks like a dangerous team while Arizona fell yet again and are looking lethargic.
Indianapolis improved to 9-6 and are bound for the playoffs. Defense and the running game have been the success story for the Colts all year, and it applied to this rare Saturday Night matchup. Jonathan Taylor rushed for over 100 yards again and the Indy defense held the Cardinals to 16 points. If they can keep this up for the rest of the year, watch out for the Indianapolis Colts.
Arizona sputtered again at home and fell to 10-5. While they are essentially in the playoffs, don’t expect them to make it past the first round with the way they are playing now. The Cardinals have no time to mess around as they are faced with a road trip next week to Dallas who has been on fire as of late.
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia’s slow start against their division rival New York was rather short lived come the start of the second half. New York was forced to start Jake Fromm, which lead many to believe that this would be a blowout in favor of the Eagles.
In the end, those people were right as the Eagles beat the Giants soundly 34-10. Jalen Hurts had another good game for the Eagles as he threw for 199 and two touchdowns along with no turnovers. With the Saints loss to Miami on Monday night, the Eagles are now the frontrunner to get the 7th seed in the playoffs. The Eagles are starting to get hot at the right time and their upcoming matchup with the Cowboys in two weeks will be a true indicator of what this team can do.
The Giants fell to 4-11 and currently have the 5th and the 8th pick in the first round of the draft. With needs on the offensive line and in need of a potential replacement for Daniel Jones, this draft can be one that changes the franchise for the Giants.
Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota maybe would have had a chance at the playoffs if they had come out on top of the visiting Los Angeles Rams, but now their playoff dreams are soon to be just that, dreams.
The Vikings need help on the defensive side of the ball, and with the 12th pick in the draft they are well on their way to rebuilding a true Mike Zimmer defense. Minnesota having the 29th ranked defense in the league is unheard of under Mike Zimmer. So, things will have to change soon. Given that the Vikings make moves to improve their defense in the off season, they will be a team to watch out for next season with offensive stars such as Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook leading the charge.
Los Angeles improved to 11-4 and are a win and an Arizona loss next week away from a division title. Matt Stafford had a rough start to the game as he threw three interceptions before he found Odell Beckham Jr. for a seven yard score. The Rams are improving from their mid season drought and are looking like they can be a team that can make a deep run for the Lombardi Trophy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
Tampa is better than Carolina, they were more motivated than Carolina, and they had something to prove. After last week’s stunning loss to New Orleans, Tampa Bay put the beat down on the poor Panthers by a score of 32-6.
During the week, it was announced that Wide Receiver Antonio Brown would be coming back from suspension due to using a fake vaccination card. His return was especially helpful because Chris Godwin and Mike Evans will be out for Tampa for at least a few weeks, which could hurt them come playoff time. Brown’s return was note worthy as he racked in 10 receptions along with 101 yards.
With the win, Tampa Bay clinched the NFC South for the first time since 2007. Tom Brady will be in the playoffs again, and will likely make a deep run even with the various injuries suffered in the last few weeks.
Carolina lost for the fifth game in a row and are in their last season collapse once again. They currently possess the 6th overall pick and will likely need to select a quarterback as speculation that Cam Newton will retire at the end of the season is rising. Carolina announced that they will be starting Sam Darnold going forward, but he is not a good answer for the future. Besides, its about time that Christian McCaffery needs to stay healthy and get some offensive help (Matt Corral/Kenny Pickett).
Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons
You can’t blow the game if the other team does it for you, and that’s just what Detroit did. On paper, Atlanta should win this game comfortably. That’s been the story for them for a long time, and on Sunday the Falcons went away from the narrative and won a game they should.
Going into the 4th quarter, this game was tied at 13. Atlanta went on a nice five minute drive and topped it off with an impressive touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Hayden Hurst. In response, Detroit took 10 minutes off the clock to cut the lead to four with two and a half minutes to go.
As one could predict, Atlanta literally and figuratively fumbled as a response to having a lead late in the game. Detroit was set up perfectly to go and take the lead, but backup quarterback Tim Boyle threw an interception in the red zone with just 33 seconds to go in the game to seal the win for Atlanta.
Detroit fell to 2-12-1 and currently hold the number two pick in the draft. They will need to lose out and have Jacksonville win one of its next two games if the Lions are going to get the first pick. Atlanta improved to 7-8, and are unlikely to make the playoffs. However, they have a date with their hated rival (New Orleans) in two weeks which could potentially be a playoff eliminator.
Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks
This nice comeback for the Bears officially eliminated Seattle from playoff contention. Chicago was forced to start Nick Foles after Justin Fields suffered an ankle injury. This ankle injury on top of a few other lingering injuries, including his ribs, is the story of Fields’ first year in Chicago.
Despite Justin Fields missing the game, Nick Foles was able to lead the Bears to a 25-24 win. Down 24-14 late in the 3rd quarter, the Bears chances of winning looked bleak. After a Cairo Santos field goal with 10:42 to go in the fourth, things got interesting. Both teams traded the ball back and forth with little offensive production until the Bears got the ball in the last possession of the game. Nick Foles showed a little bit of his old magic by throwing the game tying touchdown and go ahead two point conversion.
After Graham caught the touchdown, Seattle fans started throwing snowballs at the Bears’ players. More and more came down after the successful two point conversion and things only got worse after the game ended. Sure, snowballs aren’t as bad as water bottles and having to evacuate the field. Still, it’s not a good thing to do.
I understand the frustrations of the Seattle fans. A team with Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll that normally makes the playoffs has no business being 5-10. Not only that, the rumors of Russell Wilson potentially being traded are heating up. He only has so much longer to be good, so why waste it on losing seasons?
As for Chicago, they improve to 5-10 and have shown some bright spots in games this year on the defensive side of the ball. The Bears could be playoff contenders next season with Justin Fields healthy next season, a good draft pick, and an above average defense.
Washington Football Team @ Dallas Cowboys
From the beginning of the game you could tell that Dallas was going to steam roll Washington. With the final score being 56-14 in favor of the Cowboys, that assumption of an ass beating was correct.
Dallas went up 21-0 in the first quarter and never looked back thanks to an outstanding performance by Dak Prescott. The speculation that I, and many others, had about Dak possible being injured is out the window. Prescott looked like his best self and had the Dallas’ offense clicking all night long.
Not only was the offense on top of its game, the defense played great as well. Two interceptions and only 14 points given up against a division rival is a perfect recipe for success.
Dallas improved to 11-4 and seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. They play Arizona next week who have been struggling as of late. The Cowboys should win this game especially because it is at home, where they have had great success this season by losing just two games at home.
Washington fell to 6-9 and are essentially out of the playoffs. In order to make it, they must win out and have a few teams (New Orleans, Atlanta, Minnesota, and San Francisco) all lose in the next two weeks. They lost the head to head against New Orleans so the Saints have to lose out and Washington has to win out in order to pass them in the playoff race. If that doesn’t put it into perspective, then the probability of losing a Superbowl with a 25 point lead and 17 minutes to go is about the same possibility of Washington making the playoffs. That lead was blown, so I guess there is still a chance that the Washington Football Team plays in the postseason.
Miami Dolphins @ New Orleans Saints
If you thought last year when Drew Brees retired that Ian Book would be the starter for the Saints in a crucial Monday Night game in week 16, you are lying. Covid-19, along with the Miami defense, destroyed New Orleans this week.
New Orleans had 21 players miss the game this week, including their top two quarterbacks on the roster and several defensive starters. In addition, they also had four assistant coaches miss the game.
This proved to be costly for the Saints as rookie quarterback Ian Book threw a pick-six on his second career pass. The early defensive touchdown for Miami would have been enough for the Dolphins to come out on top as they were victorious 20-3 on Monday night.
The Saints fell to 7-8, and while they still have a chance to make the playoffs, this loss was just as big as the win last week against the Buccaneers. The Dolphins improved to 8-7 and have won seven straight since starting the season 1-7.
Neither of these teams has a good chance to make the playoffs, but next year I would be concerned if your favorite team has to play either one of these two.