NFL Week 16 takeaways, stat leaders

Week 16 within the NFL began on Christmas Day with an enormous efficiency by the Saints and Alvin Kamara, who turned the second operating again in league historical past to hurry for six touchdowns in a sport. The Saints additionally clinched the NFC South with a victory over the Vikings. Then on Saturday, the Buccaneers clinched a playoff spot for the primary time since 2007 earlier than the Dolphins pulled off a giant comeback win.

On Sunday, the Chiefs held off the Falcons to clinch the AFC’s high seed, and the Browns misplaced to the Jets to place their very own playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Jets’ victory additionally locked up the highest decide within the 2021 NFL draft for the Jaguars. Elsewhere, the Bears moved into the NFC’s seventh seed with a win, the Steelers bought again to their successful methods, and the Ravens bought a giant victory for his or her playoff outlook.

Within the afternoon slate, the Seahawks held the Rams’ offense at bay to clinch the NFC West, and Washington’s loss pushed the NFC East choice to Week 17.

All that and extra in Week 16‘s greatest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Bounce to a matchup:

Standout performer: Davante Adams: 11 catches, 142 yards, Three TDs

The No. 1 seed should wait till subsequent week, when the Packers can safe it both with a victory over the Bears within the regular-season finale or with a Seahawks loss to the 49ers. However the MVP race simply is likely to be wrapped up. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw 4 extra landing passes — three of them to Davante Adams — to run his season complete to 44 in opposition to solely 5 interceptions within the Packers’ dominant win over the Titans. The Packers have not been the No. 1 seed within the NFC since 2011, however they’re one win away from it. — Rob Demovsky

Subsequent sport: at Bears (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Titans squandered a possibility to clinch the AFC South Division title with a pitiful efficiency at Lambeau Subject. The identical points proceed to hang-out the protection, beginning with an absence of cross rush. Aaron Rodgers and the Inexperienced Bay offense torched the Titans, placing 40 factors on the board within the course of. The excellent news for Tennessee is it may possibly win the AFC South title subsequent week with a victory over the Texans. — Turron Davenport

Subsequent sport: at Texans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, 342 passing yards, Three TDs

The bins of AFC North champion shirts and hats have adopted the Steelers round for weeks, and Sunday afternoon, the crew lastly bought to interrupt out the celebratory gear with a comeback victory in opposition to the Colts. Within the first half, Pittsburgh appeared extra just like the group that misplaced to the Bengals on Monday night time, trailing 21-7 on the break. However after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger advised his crew at halftime to have extra enjoyable, the Steelers discovered a groove and scored 21 unanswered factors, as Roethlisberger threw landing passes on three consecutive drives. The Steelers did not repair all of their issues, however they proved they may do sufficient to recapture a number of the mojo they harnessed of their 11-Zero begin — and simply in time with the playoffs across the nook. — Brooke Pryor

Subsequent sport: at Browns (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Colts should beat Jacksonville subsequent week after which have both Cleveland, Baltimore or Miami lose to lock in a playoff spot. A blown 17-point second-half lead in opposition to Pittsburgh has put the Colts within the place of needing assist to say their second postseason berth since 2014. — Mike Wells

Subsequent sport: vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, 98 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Chiefs can win with out a nice sport from Patrick Mahomes. That is what they did in opposition to the Falcons, however the asterisk is that the opponent was the 4-11 Falcons. It is exhausting to image the Chiefs beating a playoff-caliber opponent with that form of sport from Mahomes (24-of-44, 278 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). — Adam Teicher

Subsequent sport: vs. Chargers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Falcons’ protection is formally good. We have seen Atlanta play strong video games in opposition to groups with offenses that do not essentially strike concern in defenses, however to carry the Chiefs to only 17 factors is not any small accomplishment or fluke. The Chiefs’ 17 factors was their fewest in a win underneath Mahomes. If there’s one constructive to take not simply from the sport but in addition from Raheem Morris’ tenure, it is that the protection is near — if not already — the place it must be because the Falcons transfer ahead. — Harry Lyles Jr.

Subsequent sport: at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, 183 passing yards, 2 TDs (plus 80 dashing yards)

The Ravens now management their playoff destiny, which is unhealthy information for the remainder of the AFC. Baltimore, which may clinch its third consecutive playoff berth with a win in Cincinnati, is wanting just like the bully that pushed round groups final season. The Ravens have gained 4 straight video games and have gained greater than 200 yards dashing in three of them. If this floor sport continues to roll, Baltimore could make noise within the postseason after two straight one-and-done appearances within the playoffs. — Jamison Hensley

Subsequent sport: at Bengals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Three straight video games, three straight blowout losses in opposition to potential playoff groups. Sunday was the newest in a sequence of actuality checks for the Giants. The dream of successful the weak NFC East appears to be like misplaced. There may be clearly loads of work to be accomplished earlier than the Giants (5-10) can think about themselves severe contenders. “Video games are all the time going to point out you what you could right,” quarterback Daniel Jones mentioned after throwing for 252 yards and a landing in his return after lacking final week’s loss to the Browns with ankle and hamstring accidents. There may be clearly rather a lot that should enhance, starting with the expertise on the roster. The Giants misplaced to Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore by a mean of 15.7 factors over the previous three weeks. — Jordan Raanan

Subsequent sport: vs. Cowboys (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Bengals QB Brandon Allen, 371 passing yards, 2 TDs

The Bengals are actually 4-10-1 after capturing back-to-back wins for the primary time since Week 5 of the 2018 season, which additionally marked the final time Cincinnati had 4 wins in a season. Cincinnati has a little bit momentum to shut a tough 12 months. And it may also have a backup quarterback for 2021. Brandon Allen made the case to be No. 2 on the depth chart subsequent season after finishing 29 of 37 passes for 371 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. — Ben Child

Subsequent sport: vs. Ravens (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Texans large receiver Brandin Cooks is on the cusp of one other 1,000-yard season, which might be the fifth of his profession. In Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, Cooks had seven catches for 141 yards and a landing. Though quarterback Deshaun Watson has proven he can put up massive numbers with a revolving group of receivers, Cooks has been constant and dependable this season, and if the Texans can preserve him in 2021 (he has a $12 million cap hit and no assured cash), he’ll give Watson some stability on the place. — Sarah Barshop

Subsequent sport: vs. Titans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Jets WR Jamison Crowder, 92 receiving yards, 1 TD (and 1 passing TD)

So lengthy, Trevor Lawrence. The Jets’ win, coupled with the Jaguars’ 14th loss, means the Jets clinch the No. 2 decide within the draft. It units up a captivating offseason, as basic supervisor Joe Douglas should resolve whether or not to maintain quarterback Sam Darnold, draft a alternative or maybe signal a veteran. Proper now, there is no clear-cut reply. Clemson QB Lawrence would’ve been a no brainer at No. 1. — Wealthy Cimini

Subsequent sport: at Patriots (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Although short-handed due to damage and COVID-19 issues, the Browns squandered a golden alternative to clinch a playoff spot for the primary time in 17 seasons. As a substitute, minus its total WR corps and several other different starters, Cleveland fell to the lowly Jets. The Browns nonetheless management their very own future to lastly finish the league’s longest playoff drought. However in a make-or-break sport subsequent weekend, they should defeat the rival Steelers — or watch the playoffs from residence but once more. — Jake Trotter

Subsequent sport: vs. Steelers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Panthers WR Curtis Samuel, 106 receiving yards (and 52 dashing yards)

Defensive coordinator Phil Snow is discovering methods to strain the quarterback and pressure errors with a mix of various appears to be like, and that performed an enormous function in Carolina ending a three-game shedding streak. Two interceptions and two fumble recoveries — together with one for a landing — made this one simpler than it ought to have been, although it might need value the Panthers a shot at a top-three draft decide. — David Newton

Subsequent sport: vs. Saints (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It is exhausting to think about Dwayne Haskins Jr.‘s Washington profession persevering with past this season. He had a shot to redeem himself in opposition to Carolina. As a substitute, he was benched within the fourth quarter and outplayed by his alternative, Taylor Heinicke, who arrived in Washington earlier this month. In two video games with Haskins beginning, Washington went from seeking to be in an awesome spot to win the NFC East to stumbling towards the end line. The exhausting half going ahead with Haskins is that Washington might need to only minimize the 2019 first-rounder if or when it decides to maneuver on, except it may possibly discover somebody to take him for even a late-round decide. It’s going to all the time be mentioned that Haskins has expertise; he simply has not proven he generally is a constant quarterback and has not impressed two teaching staffs together with his strategy. Washington can nonetheless win the NFC East, even when Alex Smith would not return, but it surely’s exhausting to think about Haskins getting one other likelihood to assist it achieve this. — John Keim

Subsequent sport: at Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Chargers Ok Michael Badgley, 4-for-Four FGs, 1 PAT

Quarterback Justin Herbert solidified himself as the true deal. The 22-year-old set an NFL rookie report for TD passes, breaking Baker Mayfield‘s 2018 mark with 28. The Chargers have gained 4 consecutive video games, which Herbert mentioned “places them in place” for subsequent season. — Shelley Smith

Subsequent sport: at Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Till Drew Lock stops turning the ball over in conditions when there are different, far easier options obtainable, he cannot actually declare to be the unquestioned man at quarterback. Until John Elway — or Vic Fangio — says in any other case within the weeks forward, he’s more likely to be Denver’s starter in 2021. However Sunday’s loss to the Chargers featured one more painful turnover as Lock was making an attempt to make one thing occur when, as Fangio put it, “there wasn’t a lot there.” Lock continues to flash the toughness, arm energy and data of the offense wanted to be a profitable starter, however nothing has compelled extra quarterbacks out of the job than turnovers. And till Lock stops making them, they’ll proceed to outweigh the entire good he has accomplished in a troublesome season. — Jeff Legwold

Subsequent sport: vs. Raiders (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, 225 passing yards, 1 TD (and 1 dashing TD)

The Seahawks’ protection held the Rams to solely three area targets. The legitimacy of their defensive turnaround from its traditionally unhealthy begin was in some query due to the caliber of opponents. Had the unit actually turned the nook or was it extra about the truth that it was enjoying unhealthy offenses with below-average or backup quarterbacks? Jared Goff is not any MVP candidate, however he is higher than the likes of Carson Wentz, Colt McCoy, Sam Darnold and Dwayne Haskins Jr. Seattle additionally confronted Kyler Murray originally of that turnaround. That is sufficient proof to recommend the Seahawks have a ok protection to make a deep run within the playoffs, which did not appear true earlier within the season. — Brady Henderson

Subsequent sport: at 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Rams wasted away one other alternative Sunday to clinch a playoff berth and the possibility to stay within the race for a division title. The protection was stout, however the offense fell flat as soon as once more. After the sport, Rams coach Sean McVay expressed frustration about his latest playcalling effort, which resulted in zero touchdowns on Sunday for the primary time this season. Regardless of shedding two straight, the Rams can nonetheless clinch a playoff spot subsequent week with a victory over the Cardinals or if the Packers beat the Bears. — Lindsey Thiry

Subsequent sport: vs. Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Cowboys DE Randy Gregory, 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, Three compelled fumbles, 2 QB hits, 1 cross breakup

The Cowboys do not know if they’ll make the playoffs, however they’ve given themselves an opportunity. Beat the Giants in Week 17 and have Washington lose to the Eagles, and the Cowboys would win the NFC East. This didn’t appear attainable after the Dec. Eight loss to Baltimore dropped them to 3-9 on the season. Since then, the Cowboys have gained three consecutive video games. “It is a lengthy season, and for positive we simply needed to push by some powerful stretches we had this season,” quarterback Andy Dalton mentioned. “On the finish of the day, you wish to be enjoying your greatest ball in December, going into January. For us, it looks as if we’re doing that proper now.” — Todd Archer

Subsequent sport: at Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It is a becoming tribute to the Eagles’ dysfunctional 2020 season that simply when a large window of alternative opened, they slammed it shut proper on their fingers. With Washington unable to maintain enterprise in opposition to the Panthers on Sunday, an Eagles victory in opposition to the Cowboys would have arrange a Week 17 showdown between Philadelphia and Washington for the NFC East crown. As a substitute, the Eagles came upon protection and misplaced to Dallas. Consequently, they had been eradicated from the playoffs and can miss the postseason for the primary time in 4 seasons. They’re now only a week away from what guarantees to be a drama-filled offseason by which the fates of coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz might be determined. A technique or one other, adjustments are coming. That is what occurs when a crew falls a mile in need of expectations and a championship-caliber nucleus reaches its expiration date. — Tim McManus

Subsequent sport: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Bears LB Roquan Smith, Eight tackles, 2 INTs

The Bears saved management of their very own playoff future with one sport left to play. Chicago can clinch the seventh NFC playoff spot with a win over Inexperienced Bay in Week 17 or a loss by the Cardinals to the Rams. The Bears scored 30-plus factors for the fourth consecutive sport for the primary time since 1965, in keeping with analysis by ESPN Stats & Info. — Jeff Dickerson

Subsequent sport: vs. Packers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Doubtlessly the best second within the historical past of the Jaguars got here on the identical day they set a franchise report with their 14th consecutive loss. Falling to the Bears coupled with the Jets’ victory over Cleveland clinched the No. 1 decide within the 2021 NFL draft — which the Jaguars will all however definitely use to pick out Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars have by no means had the No. 1 decide (they’ve picked second 3 times). — Mike DiRocco

Subsequent sport: at Colts (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 182 passing yards, 1 TD

Brian Flores would not care about typical quarterback choices or long-term results. He does what he feels offers his crew the very best likelihood to win it doesn’t matter what, as he confirmed by benching rookie Tua Tagovailoa for Ryan Fitzpatrick within the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 26-25 win over the Raiders. Tagovailoa will stay the starter, however that is the second time Flores has made the daring transfer to bench his franchise quarterback, and it exhibits the second-year coach is assured he is aware of how his crew will reply. Now the Dolphins are knocking on the door of their first playoff berth since 2016. Win subsequent Sunday in opposition to Buffalo and so they’re in. — Cameron Wolfe

Subsequent sport: at Payments (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The way in which the Raiders had been formally eradicated from the playoffs was oh so becoming. A blown protection by Damon Arnette. A “horrific” face masks penalty on the identical play by Arden Key. And, regardless of beginning at their 25-yard line with 19 seconds to play and no timeouts to make use of, the Dolphins had been abruptly in area purpose vary to win the sport, and the Raiders had been toast. Certainly, after a 6-Three begin, the Raiders have misplaced 5 of six and doubtless ought to have misplaced on the Jets. The Raiders are 7-Eight a 12 months after going 7-9 and head to Denver subsequent week. Derek Carr put up good numbers and had the Raiders in place to win, however he was clearly hobbled as Las Vegas was 0-for-10 on third down. What a miserable second half of the season for Las Vegas.— Paul Gutierrez

Subsequent sport: at Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr., 183 dashing yards (and 21 receiving yards, 1 TD)

If you happen to did not imagine in 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s head-coaching candidacy, it is best to now. Taking part in with out Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Javon Kinlaw, amongst others, Saleh’s group discovered a option to restrict Kyler Murray & Co. in an upset victory. Saleh’s protection has been ravaged by damage all season but in some way has managed to maintain the 49ers in most video games, even because the offense has turned the ball over repeatedly in latest weeks. The win will damage San Francisco’s draft positioning however ought to solely bolster Saleh’s case for an obtainable head-coaching place within the coming weeks.— Nick Wagoner

Subsequent sport: vs. Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Cardinals’ playoffs hopes are starting to slide away after Saturday’s loss to the 49ers. All Arizona wanted to do was win and the Cardinals would’ve stayed answerable for their playoff future. As a substitute, they misplaced, and now should depend on the Chicago Bears to lose their final two video games for Arizona to make the postseason for the primary time since 2015. — Josh Weinfuss

Subsequent sport: at Rams (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, 348 passing yards, Four TDs

Brady helped finish the NFL’s second-longest playoff drought by throwing 4 landing passes in a blowout win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday, clinching Tampa Bay’s first playoff berth since 2007. Brady, showing in his 300th sport in the identical metropolis the place his profession started — Detroit, 20 years in the past on Thanksgiving Day — led 5 TD-scoring drives within the first half earlier than giving option to backup Blaine Gabbert within the second half because the crew compiled 588 yards of complete offense. “It is just the start. Our purpose once we began out, particularly this 12 months, was simply to get within the dance,” coach Bruce Arians mentioned. “And now it is to win 11 video games. And see the place we stand and the place we’re going, know who we’re enjoying. Actually, actually proud.” — Jenna Laine

Subsequent sport: vs. Falcons (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

What’s there to say, actually? It was a horrific loss for the Detroit Lions in rating (47-7), in yards allowed (588) and in well being (Matthew Stafford missed all however one sequence with a proper ankle damage). This on high of the crew going on the market with out its head coach, defensive coordinator, line of defense coach, linebackers coach and secondary coach, all of whom needed to sit due to COVID-19 close-contact protocols. It was one of many worst losses within the historical past of the franchise — and the worst loss at residence within the Tremendous Bowl period. “The problem was on offense we could not keep on the sector,” receivers coach/appearing head coach Robert Prince mentioned. “And on protection we could not get off the sector.” — Michael Rothstein

Subsequent sport: vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Standout performer: Saints RB Alvin Kamara, 155 dashing yards, 6 TDs

Friday’s victory over the Vikings was one other emphatic reminder the Saints can win video games in quite a lot of methods. This time, it was Kamara’s NFL-record-tying six TD runs and a crew complete of 264 dashing yards (New Orleans’ second-highest complete since 1986). That was big on a day when the Saints’ receiving corps and protection had been beat up by accidents, and so they had been enjoying on a brief week. The Saints (11-4) nonetheless have an out of doors likelihood on the NFC’s No. 1 seed. Regardless, they now get some further relaxation earlier than Week 17, with an opportunity to heal up and peak in January. — Mike Triplett

Subsequent sport: at Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

That is the worst protection the Vikings have had in seven seasons underneath coach Mike Zimmer, and the rebuild goes to take far longer than anticipated. Issues needs to be higher in 2021, assuming Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter return from damage and Michael Pierce comes again after opting out. The Vikings nonetheless must overhaul the line of defense, significantly a 3-technique, after the unit generated one strain on Drew Brees and the third-lowest charge (23.2%) of any crew this season. “If you happen to take a look at the playoff sport final 12 months and also you take a look at the fellows who had been enjoying in that sport and the fellows who had been enjoying right this moment, it is utterly 100 % totally different,” Zimmer mentioned. — Courtney Cronin

Subsequent sport: at Lions (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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