The Aftermath: NFL week #167 min read
The insanity continues to amaze in week 16
Just when you think you have seen it all this season, another team that you thought had finally gotten over the hump, one that was in control of their own playoff destiny, inexplicably loses to a bottom feeder and now could miss the postseason if things don’t fall right even if they win out; speaking of the Chargers (8-7), of course — more on that implosion and other head-scratchers in the Aftermath.
49ers @ Titans (17-20)
Two weeks ago, in week 14, the 49ers (8-7) traveled to the great state of Ohio to take on the playoff-bound and surprising Bengals (9-6). It was a game that, at the time, they had to win to remain in serious playoff contention. That’s just what they did. It took overtime to get it done but done; they got it. The following week, in week 15, they blew out the hapless Falcons (7-8) 31-13, keeping pace with the rest of their division. The Titans (10-5) went to Pittsburgh and lost by six to the up and down Steelers 19-13. The Titans are doing their best to fight off the Colts, which are only one game behind them in the standings. It was a game that many thought the 49ers would prevail. Not so fast; it’s 2021, and anything can and will happen. The Titans held them off and took the win by three —it was a loss that may have doomed the 49ers postseason; there are too many teams with identical records battling for those last two spots. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went 26-35 for 322 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Deebo Samuel ended his superhuman play, recording just 32 yards on 5 receptions. A.J. Brown hauled in 11 receptions for 145 yards for the winning Titans.
Browns @ Packers (22-24)
The Browns (7-8) knew that they had to win out to give themselves any chance at the playoffs. That’s probably why they gave the Packers (12-3) all they could handle at Lambeau Field. The Browns came up short by just two points when the final seconds ticked off. You can scratch the Browns out. They’re done, and being a spoiler is the only thing they can be moving forward. Nick Chubb rushed for 126 yards on 17 carries. Baker Mayfield again proved why he may not be quite good enough to enable his team to be consistently strong. While this may have been Mayfield’s first four-interception game of his career, it’s a signal of a problem. —this season, Mayfield has only thrown 15 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions. He’s not a big touchdown slinger. He’s yet to have over 27 passing scores in any season. In 2019, he had 22 touchdowns versus 21 interceptions. Last season was his best with a 26 to 8 ratio. The Packers stay the NFL’s top seed for another week.
Colts @ Cardinals (22-16)
I completely expected this one to turn out as it did. The Cardinals (10-5) are just a pretty good team. I said it last week, and I’ll say it again; the Cardinals haven’t been the same since Murray came back from injury. They have, now, given way to the Rams (11-4) as division leaders. The ‘Cards travel to Dallas to receive their sixth loss next week. The Colts (9-6) continue to play good football and chase the Titans for the division and a certain playoff spot if they can keep up their winning ways. The Cardinals will limp into the playoffs, where they will more than likely lose their first contest in the postseason. They just aren’t there yet, folks.
Ravens @ Bengals (21-41)
The Ravens (8-7) are the Cardinals of the AFC. And not so much by their record, but in leading the division most of the season, only to come back down to reality, giving up the top spot to a surging division rival. The Bengals (9-6) blew out the Ravens to take over first place in the division. Unlike the Cardinals, however, they didn’t win a bunch of games in the first 12 weeks; they have been close to a collapse for weeks. The Bengals have been playing well, winning four of their last six. They have a tough game with the class of the AFC next week, the Chiefs. The Bengals are a force if the right version shows up. We will see how they stack up against the Chiefs at Paul Brown Stadium. The Ravens better get it together quickly, or they could miss the playoffs in 2021.
Rams @ Vikings (30-23)
The Vikings (7-8) put up a good fight but just couldn’t get it done against a surging Rams (11-4) team that now leads the NFC West. Matt Stafford wasn’t impressive, throwing for only 197 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Sony Michel led the way with 132 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. The rams are already in, and the Vikings have been out.
Bills @ Patriots (33-21)
All of the drama of the Bills (9-6) season so far, and now they find themselves in the driver’s seat in the AFC East. The Patriots’ (9-6) 7 game win streak after going 2-4 in their first six, but now have lost their last two, are probably going to still get in. Belichick, won’t allow the Pats to collapse. Sometimes it just takes most of a season to put it all together. The Rams are kind of like the Buccaneers last season. Time will tell.
Giants @ Eagles (10-34)
I’m not going to waste time on this one. The Eagles (8-7) have won three consecutive games and control their own fate. They have games against Washington and Dallas remaining. Stay tuned.
Buccaneers @ Panthers (32-6)
The Bucs (11-4) officially took the NFC South Division Sunday in Charlotte for the first time since 2007. They have assured themselves a playoff spot and will defend last year’s title. Injuries and Covid protocols are hammering the Bucs, but with their depth, they are finding a way. Shaq Barrett should miss the last couple of games of the season, but the team hopes he will be ready for the playoffs. Ronald Jones II has yet to put together a great game in Fournette’s absence but will get another shot next week against the Jets, who allow a lot of rushing yards to opponents. Second-year-back Ke’Shawn Vaughn had the longest run of the season for the Bucs with a 55-yard touchdown scamper against the Panthers(5-10).
Chargers @ Texans (29-41)
The Chargers (8-7) should have beaten the Chiefs last week had they gone for field goals and not gone for it on fourth down four times. However, they got the reward of catching the Texans, who are always good for a bounce-back game for their opponents, but interestingly enough, they got blown out of Houston, allowing 41 points to a really bad Texans squad. That game went from an easy W to a David and Goliath takedown; quickly. The Chargers were in control of their destiny before that game; however, now they must depend on other teams to lose and themselves to win out. I stick to what I’ve said about the Chargers. They are a team on the rise, and if they can address their problems stopping the run next season, they should be in the playoffs easily. Stay tuned.
Steelers @ Chiefs (10-36)
The Steelers (7-7-1) are a pretty good team on offense — usually. There are some pretty good players over on that side, but the thing is, they were playing the team to beat in the AFC. The Chiefs (11-4) have arrived again at a familiar spot, the class of the AFC. Mahomes is back to as good as ever, along with Kelce and Tyreek Hill. The defense is now coming up to strength and looking formidable. The Steelers may have pulled down their own curtain on the playoffs!
Washington @ Dallas (14-56)
This was a trip to the woodshed for Washington(6-9) early, in the middle, and late in the game. Where was the team that beat the Buccaneers? Is Dallas (11-4) that much better than the Bucs; now? It’s hard to argue against that; when Dallas’s offense still has yet to reach its peak. The defense with Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons leading the way is scary; they are a better unit defensively than when they lost to Tampa in the season opener. But make no mistake about it, the road to the Super Bowl not only winds through Wisconsin but through Dallas, Texas as well. The NFC has taken over as the stronger of the two conferences.
Dolphins @ Saints (20-3)
The Dolphins (8-7) now control their own playoff destiny, and they also become the first team to have seven straight losses, followed by seven straight wins. If they make the playoffs, it will be the biggest story, minus Covid, of the year. Teams just don’t do this sort of thing to this degree. The AFC is having a down year, and every team, save the Chiefs, is fairly beatable by the Dolphins. They have already beaten the Patriots and Bengals, and the Ravens. They did lose both games to the Bills, but they were both in the first part of the season. Obviously, they are better now than then. The Dolphins could win a couple of playoff games. Stay tuned to the fish; they will be fun to watch finishing out.
Top 14 teams in the NFL – Week 16
- Dolphins – I believe the Fins are better than the bottom three
The Chargers and the 49ers are looking through the window. They must have things go their way and win out to get in.