Week 16 in the NFL began on Christmas Day with a grand performance from Saints and Alvin Kamara, the second in league history to complete six touchdowns in one game. The Saints also took the NFC South with a win over the Vikings. On Saturday, the Buccaneers took their place in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 before the Dolphins celebrated a big comeback win.
On Sunday, the Chiefs held the Falcons back to get the AFC's top seed and the Browns lost to the Jets to put their own playoff hopes at risk. The Jets 'win also secured the Jaguars' top pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Elsewhere, the Bears went into the NFC's seventh seed with a win, the Steelers returned to their wins, and the Ravens took a big win for their playoff prospects.
That afternoon, the Seahawks held the Rams offensive in check to win NFC West, and Washington's loss pushed NFC East's decision to week 17.
All that and more at Week 16's NFL Nation's Largest Takeaways.
Jump to a matchup:
TEN-GB | IND-PIT | ATL-KC
NYG-BAL | CIN-HOU | CLE-NYJ
CHI-JAX | CAR-WSH | DEN-LAC
LAR-SEA | PHI-DAL | MIA-LV
SF-ARI | TB-DET | MIN NO
Outstanding Artist: Davante Adams: 11 catches, 142 yards, 3 TDs
The number 1 will have to wait until next week before the Packers can secure them either with a win over the Bears in the regular season finals or with a loss to the 49ers by Seahawks. But the MVP race might be over. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw four more touchdown passes – three to Davante Adams – to extend his season to 44 against just five interceptions in the Packers' dominant win over the Titans. The Packers haven't been # 1 in NFC since 2011, but they're just one win away from it. – Rob Demovsky
Next game: at Bears (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Titans missed the opportunity to claim the AFC South Division title with a pathetic effort at Lambeau Field. The same problems continue to haunt the defense, starting with a lack of pass rush. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Offensive set the Titans on fire, putting 40 points on the board. The good news for Tennessee is that it can win the AFC South title with a win over the Texans next week. – Turron Davenport
Next game: at Texans (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, 342 yards, 3 TDs
The boxes of AFC North champions' jerseys and hats have been following the Steelers for weeks, and on Sunday afternoon the team was finally able to break out of the festive gear with a comeback win over the Colts. In the first half, Pittsburgh looked more like the group that lost to the Bengals on Monday night and stayed 21-7 at break. After quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told his team to have more fun at halftime, the Steelers found a groove and scored 21 unanswered points when Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes on three consecutive rides. The Steelers haven't fixed all of their problems, but they have proven that they can do enough to recapture some of the mojo they used in the 11-0 start – right on time for the playoffs around the corner. – Brooke Pryor
Next game: in Browns (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Colts will have to win against Jacksonville next week and then lose to either Cleveland, Baltimore or Miami to secure a place in the playoffs. A 17-point lead in the second half against Pittsburgh has left the Colts in a position to need help getting their second post-season berth since 2014. – Mike Wells
Next game: Jaguars (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, 98 reception areas, 1 TD
The Chiefs can win without a great game from Patrick Mahomes. They did that against the Falcons, but the asterisk is that the opponent was the 4-11 Falcons. It's hard to imagine the Chiefs beating a playoff-sized opponent with this type of game from Mahomes (24 of 44, 278 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). – Adam Teicher
Next game: Chargers (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The falcon defense is officially good. We've seen Atlanta play solid games against teams with offenses that aren't necessarily scared on defense, but keeping the Chiefs down to just 17 is no small feat or a fluke. The Chiefs' 17 points were the fewest in a win under Mahomes. If there's one positive outcome, not just from the game but also from Raheem Morris' tenure, then the defense is near – if not already – where it needs to be if the Hawks move forward. – Harry Lyles Jr.
Next game: at Buccaneers (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Travis Kelce will be the first close ending in NFL history with several 100 catch seasons.
Outstanding Artist: Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, 183 yards, 2 TDs (plus 80 rushing yards)
The Ravens are now in control of their playoff fate, which is bad news for the rest of the AFC. Baltimore, which can reach its third straight playoff spot with a win in Cincinnati, looks like the bully who pushed teams around last season. The Ravens have won four games in a row and won over 200 yards in three. If that ground game keeps rolling, Baltimore can make a racket in the postseason after two consecutive appearances in the playoffs. – Jamison Hensley
Next game: in Bengals (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Three games in a row, three defeats in a row against potential playoff teams. Sunday was the last in a series of reality checks for the Giants. The dream of winning the weak NFC East seems to be lost. There is obviously still a lot to do before the Giants (5-10) can consider themselves serious competitors. "Games will always tell you what to correct," said quarterback Daniel Jones after throwing 252 yards and touchdown on his return after missing the Browns loss last week with ankle and thigh injuries . There is clearly a lot that can be improved, starting with the talent on the squad. The Giants have lost an average of 15.7 points to Arizona, Cleveland and Baltimore over the past three weeks. – Jordan Raanan
Next game: Cowboys (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Bengals QB Brandon Allen, 371 yards, 2 TDs
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The Bengals are now 4-10-1 after winning for the first time since week 5 of the 2018 season. It was also the last time Cincinnati had four wins in one season. Cincinnati has a little momentum to end a difficult year. And there could also be a backup quarterback for 2021. Brandon Allen made the case second on the depth map the next season after completing 29 of 37 passes for 371 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. – Ben baby
Next game: Ravens (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Texan recipient Brandin Cooks is about to begin another 1,000-yard season that would mark the fifth of his career. In Sunday's loss to the Bengals, Cooks had seven catches for 141 yards and one touchdown. Although quarterback Deshaun Watson has shown he can put up big numbers with a spinning group of receivers, Cooks has been consistent and reliable this season, and if the Texans can keep him in 2021 (he has a cap hit of 12 million Dollars and not guaranteed money) it will give Watson some stability in the position. – Sarah Barshop
Next game: Titans (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Jets WR Jamison Crowder, 92 reception yards, 1 TD (and 1 passing TD)
See you soon, Trevor Lawrence. The Jets win coupled with the Jaguars' 14th defeat means the Jets hit number 2 in the draft. It's an intriguing off-season as General Manager Joe Douglas must decide whether to keep quarterback Sam Darnold, draft a replacement, or maybe sign a veteran. At the moment there is no clear answer. Clemson QB Lawrence would have been a breeze at # 1. – Rich Cimini
Next game: at Patriots (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Despite being understaffed due to injuries and COVID-19 concerns, the Browns missed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure a place in the playoffs for the first time in 17 seasons. Instead, Cleveland fell on the minor jets without the entire WR Corps and a few other starters. The Browns are still in control of their own destiny to end the league's longest playoff drought. But in a make-or-break game this coming weekend, they have to defeat rival Steelers – or watch the playoffs from home again. – Jake Trotter
Next game: Steelers (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Sam Darnold throws his second touchdown pass of the day at a wide-open Jamison Crowder to extend the Jets lead.
Outstanding Artist: Panther WR Curtis Samuel, 106 reception areas (and 52 express gardens)
Defensive coordinator Phil Snow finds ways to put pressure on the quarterback and force mistakes with a mix of looks. This played a huge role in Carolina as he finished a three-game loss. Two interceptions and two fumble recoveries – including one for a touchdown – made this easier than it should have been, although it might have cost the Panthers a shot at a top-three draft pick. – David Newton
Next game: Against Saints (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
It's hard to imagine Dwayne Haskins Jr.'s Washington career continuing beyond this season. He had a shot to redeem against Carolina. Instead, he was put on a bench in the fourth quarter and outdone by his successor Taylor Heinicke, who arrived in Washington earlier this month. In two games with Haskins Start, Washington went from a great place to win the NFC East to stumbling across the finish line. The hard part about Haskins is that Washington may only have to cut off the 2019 first-round player if or when it decides to move on, unless it can find someone to take him for a late pick. It is always said that Haskins has talent; He just hasn't shown that he can be a consistent quarterback and hasn't impressed two coaching staffs with his approach. Washington can still win NFC East even if Alex Smith doesn't return, but it's hard to imagine Haskins getting another chance to help him do it. – John Keim
Next game: at Eagles (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Chargers K Michael Badgley, 4-for-4 FGs, 1 PAT
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Quarterback Justin Herbert cemented himself as the real deal. The 22-year-old set an NFL rookie record for TD passes and broke Baker Mayfield's 2018 mark at 28. The Chargers have won four games in a row. Herbert said they are "in a good position" for the next season. – Shelley Smith
Next game: at Chiefs (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Until Drew Lock stops flipping the ball in situations where there are other, far simpler solutions, he can't really claim to be the undisputed guy at quarterback. Unless John Elway – or Vic Fangio – says otherwise in the coming weeks, he'll likely be the Denver starter in 2021. Sunday's loss to Chargers, however, was another painful turnover as Lock tried to make a difference as Fangio, to put it simply, "It wasn't there." Lock continues to display the toughness, arm strength, and offense knowledge required to be a successful starter, but nothing has knocked quarterbacks off the job more than sales. And until Lock stops doing them, they will continue to outweigh all the good he has done during a difficult season. – Jeff Legwold
Next game: Raiders (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, 225 yards, 1 TD (and 1 rushing TD)
The Seahawks' defense only held the Rams for three field gates. The legitimacy of their defensive turnaround from their historically poor start was questionable because of the caliber of the opponents. Did the unit really go around the corner, or was it more about the fact that they played bad offenses with subpar or backup quarterbacks? Jared Goff isn't an MVP candidate, but he's better than Carson Wentz, Colt McCoy, Sam Darnold, and Dwayne Haskins Jr. Seattle also faced Kyler Murray at the start of that turn. That's enough evidence to suggest that the Seahawks have enough defense to get a deep run in the playoffs, which didn't appear to be the case at the start of the season. – Brady Henderson
Next game: at 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Rams missed another opportunity on Sunday to secure a spot in the playoffs and stay in the race for the division title. The defense was strong, but the offensive fell flat again. After the game, Rams manager Sean McVay expressed frustration with his recent game-calling efforts, which resulted in zero touchdowns on Sunday for the first time this season. Although the Rams have lost twice in a row, they can secure a place in the playoffs next week if they beat the Cardinals or if the Packers beat the Bears. – Lindsey Thiry
Next game: Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Russell Wilson throws a deep ball at a pedaling back David Moore who somehow manages to make the 45-yard catch along the sideline for the first time with a defender draped over him.
Outstanding Artist: Cowboys DE Randy Gregory, 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 forced fumble, 2 QB hits, 1 pass separation
The Cowboys don't know if they'll make the playoffs, but they gave themselves a chance. Beat the Giants in week 17 and let Washington lose to the Eagles and the Cowboys would win the NFC East. That didn't seem possible after the December 8 loss to Baltimore brought them down to 9-3 for the season. Since then, the Cowboys have won three games in a row. "It's been a long season and we have certainly just had to tackle some tough stretches that we have had this season," said quarterback Andy Dalton. "At the end of the day, you want to play your best ball in December, well into January. It seems to us that we are doing this right now." – Todd Archer
Next game: at Giants (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
It is a fitting tribute to the Eagles' dysfunctional 2020 season that when a huge window of opportunity opened, they slammed it right on their fingers. With Washington unable to take care of business against the Panthers on Sunday, a win by the Eagles against the Cowboys would have sparked a week 17 showdown between Philadelphia and Washington for the NFC East Crown. Instead, the Eagles tripped over the defense and lost to Dallas. As a result, they have been eliminated from the playoffs and will miss the postseason for the first time in four seasons. You're only a week away from what promises to be a dramatic off-season that will determine the fate of coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz. One way or another, changes come. That's what happens when a team falls a mile behind expectations and a championship-caliber core hits its expiration date. – Tim McManus
Next game: Washington (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Bears LB Roquan Smith, 8 tackles, 2 INTs
The Bears retained control of their own playoff fate and there was only one game left to play. Chicago can reach seventh NFC playoff spot with a win over Green Bay in week 17 or a Cardinals loss to the Rams. According to a study by ESPN Stats & Information, the bears scored more than 30 points for the first time since 1965 for the fourth time in a row. – Jeff Dickerson
Next game: Packers (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Possibly the greatest moment in the history of the Jaguars came on the same day they broke a franchise record with their 14th consecutive loss. The Falling to the Bears coupled with the Jets' win over Cleveland secured the number 1 in the 2021 NFL draft – which the Jaguars are sure to pick Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars have never been number 1 (they have finished second three times). – Mike DiRocco
Next game: at Colts (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 182 yards, 1 TD
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Brian Flores doesn't care about traditional quarterback decisions or long term effects. He's doing what he believes and is giving his team the best chance of definitely winning, as he showed when he benched Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 26:25 win against Raiders rookie Tua Tagovailoa sat. Tagovailoa will remain the starter, but this is the second time Flores has taken the bold move to bench his franchise quarterback and it shows the sophomore manager is confident he knows his team will react. Now the Dolphins are knocking on the door of their first playoff berth since 2016. Win against Buffalo next Sunday and you're in. – Cameron Wolfe
Next game: for bills (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The way the Raiders were officially eliminated from the playoffs was oh so fitting. A blown coverage by Damon Arnette. A "terrible" face mask penalty for the same game from Arden Key. And even though the Dolphins started on their 25-yard line with 19 seconds of play time and no timeout, suddenly they found themselves in the field goal area to win the game and the Raiders toasted. In fact, after a 6-3 start, the Raiders lost five out of six and should probably have lost to the Jets. The Raiders are 7-8 a year after 7-9 and head to Denver next week. Derek Carr put up good numbers and had the Raiders in position to win, but he was clearly hobbled when Las Vegas was in third place 0-10. What a depressing second half of the season for Las Vegas. – Paul Gutierrez
Next game: in Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: 49ers RB Jeff Wilson Jr., 183 rushing yards (and 21 receiving yards, 1 TD)
If you didn't believe in 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's candidacy for head coach, do so now. Saleh's group played without Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Richard Sherman, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, and Javon Kinlaw, among others, and found a way to narrow Kyler Murray & Co. in an angry win. Saleh's defense has been ravaged by injuries all season, but somehow managed to hold the 49ers in most games, despite the offensive flipping the ball repeatedly over the past few weeks. The win will hurt San Francisco's draft positioning, but it should only bolster Saleh's case for an available position as head coach in the coming weeks. – Nick Wagoner
Next game: Seahawks (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
The Cardinals' hopes for the playoffs are gradually waning after the loss to the 49ers on Saturday. All Arizona had to do was win and the Cardinals would have kept control of their playoff fate. Instead, they lost and now have to rely on the Chicago Bears losing their last two games for Arizona to make the postseason for the first time since 2015. – Josh Weinfuss
Next game: at Rams (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)
At its first start since 2018, C.J. Beathard crossed the middle to find Jeff Wilson Jr. for the short touchdown.
Outstanding Artist: Privateer QB Tom Brady, 348 yards, 4 TDs
Brady helped end the NFL's second-longest playoff drought by throwing four touchdown passes in a blowout win against the Detroit Lions on Saturday, securing Tampa Bay & # 39; s first playoff spot since 2007. Brady appeared in his 300th game in the same city he started his career in – Detroit, 20 years ago on Thanksgiving Day – led five TD scoring drives in the first half before assisting Blaine Gabbert in the second half when the team put together a total of 588 yards offensive. "It's just the beginning. Our goal when we started, especially this year, was to just get into dancing," said coach Bruce Arians. "And now we have to win 11 games. And see where we are and where we are going, know who we are playing against. Really, really proud." – Jenna Laine
Next game: Against Falcons (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
What is there to say? It was a terrible loss for the Detroit Lions in terms of scores (47-7), eligible yards (588) and health (Matthew Stafford missed all but one series with a right ankle injury). This on top of the team that dropped out of the team without a head coach, defensive coordinator, defensive coach, linebacker coach and secondary coach, all of whom had to sit for close contact due to the COVID-19 protocols. It was one of the worst losses in franchise history – and the worst loss at home in the Super Bowl era. "The problem on the offensive was that we couldn't stay on the field," said recipient coach / deputy head coach Robert Prince. "And in defense we couldn't leave the field." – Michael Rothstein
Next game: Vikings (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
Outstanding Artist: Saint RB Alvin Kamara, 155 rushing yards, 6 TDs
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Friday's victory over the Vikings was another powerful reminder that the Sacred Games can win in different ways. This time it was Kamara's NFL record with six TD runs and a total of 264 rushing yards (New Orleans second highest total since 1986). That was huge on a day when the Reception Corps and Saints' defenses were beaten up by injuries and they played in a short week. The Saints (11-4) still have an outside chance at number 1 in the NFC. Regardless, they now have an extra break before week 17, with a chance to get well again in January. – Mike Triplet
Next game: at Panthers (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)
This is the worst defense the Vikings have had in seven seasons under coach Mike Zimmer and the rebuilding will take much longer than expected. Things should get better in 2021, provided Anthony Barr and Danielle Hunter return from injury and Michael Pierce returns after signing out. The Vikings have yet to overhaul the line of defense, especially a 3 technique, after the unit put pressure on Drew Brees and the third lowest odds (23.2%) of any team this season. "If you look at the playoff game last year and the guys who played in that game and the guys who played today, it's 100 percent different," Zimmer said. – Courtney Cronin
Next game: at Lions (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)