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Top Week 16 NFL Takeaways

Cam shares his top takeaways from Week 16’s NFL action.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 24: George Pickens #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers leaps for a reception over Natrone Brooks #35 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter of a preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 24, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

It is 100% clear that the NFL has gotten what they wanted in their Christmas stockings this year: the vast majority of teams still fighting for a playoff berth heading into the final two weeks of the season.  Heading into Week 17, 75% of the league still has a chance at making the playoffs. Granted, the Chicago Bears are sitting with less than a 1% shot at making the postseason, but as Jim Carrey said in Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.” Even if the Bears fall short, they have proven to be a tough out these last few weeks and are now sitting with a 6-9 record. Let’s take a look at the other top storylines from Christmas weekend’s NFL action.

Offensive explosion in Pittsburgh: After not scoring over 20 points for what seemed like half the season, the Steelers took it out on their divisional rival, the Bengals. It barely kept the Steelers in the playoffs and severely hurt Cincinnati’s chances. The Bengals and Steelers are each sitting at 8-7, but even after the loss Cincy has a slightly better chance at making the playoffs, 23% to only 17% for the Steelers.

Lions FINALLY win their division: Was it during Watergate that the Lions last won the division? It feels that way, but for Lions fans, it’s been worth the wait. Not only have they clinched the NFC North, but they are sitting at 11-4, with the No .2 seed in the NFC. They are tied with the 49ers with that record and could ascend to the top spot and first-round bye.

Dolphins FINALLY beat a good team: The Dolphins hadn’t beaten a team with a .500 or better record all season until Sunday, when they defeated the Cowboys 22-20. They are now 11-4, while the Cowboys have fallen to 10-5. The Dolphins may still get the top spot in the AFC, or they may lose the AFC East to the Bills. The Cowboys may still get their third consecutive 12-5 season, but it will most likely only get them the No. 5 seed.

A race to the bottom in the AFC South: These teams just keep losing. The Jaguars, Colts, and Texans are all 8-7, with Jacksonville still clinging to the division lead based on tiebreakers. No matter what, one of these teams is going to win the division and make the playoffs, realistically with the No .4 seed. There is a chance they could overtake the Chiefs, who are only one game ahead at 9-6, for the third seed, but that feels like a stretch.

They’d be in first place in three other divisions: In the meantime, the Browns continue to be one of the bright and happy stories of the year. They are sitting at 10-5 and currently the No .5 seed. They’d be winning three other divisions, but they are in the tough NFC North, which puts them two games behind the Ravens. Realistically, they’ll be on the road facing the AFC South champions.

Floundering Chiefs searching for answers: The Chiefs have now lost three home games in a row. This doesn’t seem possible. They are now 9-6 with no chance at the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Patrick Mahomes has never played a road playoff game but will most likely have to this season if the Chiefs are to defend their title in Las Vegas. The offense is absolutely floundering, which is inexplicable for a Mahomes-led team. WR Rashee Rice has been a pleasant surprise, but Travis Kelce is showing his age; beyond those two players, the team doesn’t have a ton of offensive threats.

Eagles slow the slide: A loss to the Giants would have been devastating, but the Eagles took care of business, winning 33-25. Although they still aren’t playing great ball, they are the best team at performing the QB push, which is a guaranteed first down on third or fourth and one, and a guaranteed TD if they are at the one or two yard line. Without a clearly dominant team in the NFC, they still have a reasonable shot at getting back to the Super Bowl. The win sets them up to win the NFC East, and they still can get the No. 1 seed and first-round bye. They are sitting with the fourth-lowest odds to win it all, at 8/1.

Ravens prevail in battle for No.1: With the new playoff format, the two No. 1 seeds made it to the Super Bowl last season. This week, the two No. 1 seeds faced off in San Fransisco, as the Ravens took on the 49ers. The road team prevailed rather convincingly; Baltimore won 33-19. This drops the 49ers down to 11-4 and tied with the Lions and Eagles. They’ve clinched a playoff spot and won their division already, but the top seed and bye is still in play in the NFC. The Ravens have ascended to the top seed and now sit as the only 12-win team in the league. Talk about a tough stretch, though, they went to the West Coast and beat the Niners, and now have to play the 11-win Dolphins … at least they are at home. They should win, but could also deal with a bit of a letdown game.