It’s the fantasy playoffs! It’s also, as Scott Hanson would deem it, the witching hour of the NFL season, where playoff seeding is fluid, yet the overall picture of the NFL becomes more clear. There were a few upsets in week 16; the Chargers losing to Houston and the Bears defeating Seattle, albeit the Seahawks aren’t exactly in a position to be favored.
Week 16 also provided more clarity on division winners. Both the Bengals and the Bills have significantly increased their odds of winning their respective divisions. The Chiefs, Cowboys, Packers, and Buccaneers have all their divisions secured. The Eagles win coupled with the Washington loss increased their playoff odds to 56 percent (according to FPI). Last week, it was at 33 percent. Here are the winners and losers from Week 16.
Wink Martindale’s defense isn’t what it once was, but Joe Burrow’s performance was still one to applaud. Burrow threw for 525 passing yards which has only been done four other times in NFL history. The Bengals defeated the Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntleyless Ravens 41-21, and the Bengals weren’t scared to run the score up on their divisional rivals.
Burrow also threw 4 touchdown passes. His primary receiver was second-year wide out Tee Higgins who finished the game with 12 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns on only 13 targets. The win placed the Bengals in the third seed of the AFC with an FPI 73 percent chance to win the AFC North. This Bengals’ win made a statement for the city of Cincinnati and their loved football franchise. With a bunch of young weapons, an underrated defense, and Joe Burrow at quarterback, the dismal past of the Cincinnati Bengals can hopefully be left behind.
The Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen and the Bills traveled into Foxborough and defeated Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, 33-21. Playing in New England is a difficult task, especially against the number three ranked defense, but Allen threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns to secure the divisional win. The win puts the Bills over the Patriots in playoff seeding with both teams at 9-6 records.
The Bills now have the fourth seed and the Patriots are at the 6th seed. Both teams now have a 95 percent plus chance of making the playoffs in the AFC. The teams split their matchup this season, but the Bills are 4-1 in the division and the Patriots are 3-2 which puts Buffalo higher in playoff seeding. Buffalo has struggled recently, but this is an excellent win for Josh Allen and company as the seasons shifts to the playoffs.
The Big Man Touchdown
Three offensive lineman scored touchdowns in Week 16. Conor McGovern of the Jets, Terrance Steele of the Cowboys, and Lane Johnson of the Eagles. Not only is it fun when the hog mollies score touchdowns, but it’s also a kick in the side to the defense they score against. Here are the two touchdowns.
Three elite playmakers found the end zone today ⚡️⚡️— Field Yates (@FieldYates) December 27, 2021
A mash-up Lane Johnson, Terence Steele and Conor McDermott. pic.twitter.com/zOcc3w6SFC
Nick Foles managed to start a game in the snow up in Seattle and found a way to lead the Bears to victory. Starting quarterback Justin Fields was dealing with an ankle injury, and Andy Dalton was recently activated off the COVID-19 list while dealing with a groin injury. Foles stepped to the plate and led a six-play, 80-yard drive to go up one point with a minute left in the game.
Foles connected with former Seattle Seahawk Jimmy Graham on a third-and-14 touchdown to make the score 25-24. Russell Wilson and Seattle could not drive down the field and get into field goal range despite having timeouts. The Bears, unfortunately, are now 5-10 - the same record as Seattle. Chicago doesn’t care much about draft position, due to the possession of their first round pick being with the New York Giants.
New York Giants
I get it…tell you something you don’t already know, and that’s not more than evident. The Giants are a disgrace; they’re uncompetitive, unwatchable, and just flat out terrible every Sunday. Teams like the Jets and Texans are winning football games, the latter against a presumed good football team, and the Giants offense is one of the least effective units I’ve ever seen in my time watching football.
The 34-10 Eagles’ defeat was bad enough, but the Chicago Bears come from behind 25-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the 4 p.m. window was the cherry on top of a terrible week. The Bears defeating Seattle makes the Bears’ first round pick, which is owned by the Giants, less valuable. The draft order now looks like the this:
New York’s picks are set at 5 and 8. The Jets win pushed their pick to 4, but the Seattle loss moved the Jets other pick to 6. The Giants are set to face the Bears in Week 16.
Los Angeles Chargers
Wow, the Los Angeles Chargers are in the thick of a playoff hunt in a competitive AFC race and they get embarrassed by the Houston Texans with rookie quarterback Davis Mills. The Chargers picked one of the worst games to play so horribly, as the fell to the Texans 41-29. Justin Herbert threw for 326 yards, but added two interceptions to that resume to go along with one touchdown. Austin Ekeler’s backup Justin Jackson played phenomenally, but had a costly fumble as well.
The Chargers started the season 5-1 and now sit 8-7. They lost to the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football and completely overlooked the Texans on the road. They have two AFC West battles to close the season; at home against the Broncos, and on the road at Las Vegas. If the season ended today, they would miss the playoffs because of a tie breaker that Baltimore owns from the Ravens week six 34-6 victory. ESPN’s FPI has the Chargers playoff chances at 38 percent.
The Cardinals were 7-0 and now find themselves on a 3 game losing streak as they failed to defeat the Indianapolis Colts at home. The Colts won 22-16, and the Rams defeated the Minnesota Vikings in a sloppy affair. The combination of these events put the Cardinals out of the AFC West lead. It once looked like the road through the NFC would be in the desert, but now it appears the Cardinals will have to win three games on the road to make an appearance in the Super Bowl. They’re not playing good football and mistakes are beating them. The travel to Dallas next week and then host the Seahawks in Week 18.
Washington and Pittsburgh
Both of these defenses were supposed to be top five units heading into the 2021 season, and they both have seemingly fallen off a cliff. Pittsburgh was embarrassed against the Chiefs - of course playing Patrick Mahomes doesn’t help, nor does a hapless offense led by Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, or whoever else they decide to throw out there. The Steel Curtain is nothing more than shower curtain right now. They lost 36-10 and it could have been much worse.
As for Washington, what an embarrassing game on Sunday Night Football. The Football Team was smacked around by the Dallas Cowboys. The final score was 56-14; Dallas had a defensive touchdown, a blocked punt for a touchdown, a rushing touchdown by Ezekiel Elliott, and 5 passing touchdowns - four for Dak Prescott and 1one for Cooper Rush.
Both the Steelers and the Football Team were in the hunt for the playoffs, and now both will have an uphill climb to earn the seventh seed.