WTOP’s Rob Woodfork wraps up the gift of some Christmas Carpe Diem, Saturday stunners and the truth about the NFC East in the NFL Week 16 Recap.
2020 NFL Week 16 Recap
December 28, 2020, 5:03 AM
AFC East-champion Buffalo did another victory lap in Foxborough, becoming the first team to sweep New England in the not-so-new millennium and riding franchise-record performances from Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. This year has been miserable for a lot of people but 2020 will always be special for Bills Mafia.
In a low-key Super Bowl preview — this game featured two of the NFL’s top three scoring teams entering Week 16. Aaron Rodgers became the third QB in NFL history with six prime-time wins in a season and outshined Derrick Henry to all but lock up the MVP award. How ironic that Green Bay wins a snowy game at Lambeau Field to better their chances to punch a ticket to Miami?
And this much we know about Tennessee: Derrick Henry goes as Ryan Tannehill goes, so this was more about getting down early to a good opponent than being outmatched. I’d love to see this matchup again at a neutral site without weather as a factor.
Perhaps Jalen Hurts should have worried more about turnovers than rat poison.
Hurts, well, hurt his team with a three-turnover game while the Eagles defense fell apart without Fletcher Cox, giving up a historic 500-yard game to a Dallas offense left for dead just a month ago. As much as I hate to say it, the Cowboys look like the only team that wants to win the NFC East — and they will.
However bad Jared Goff has been — and he has been pretty bad — his broken thumb leaves L.A. with an inexperienced-yet-intriguing option at QB in a virtual win-or-go-home game against the Cardinals. Once the NFL’s golden boy, the shine comes off Sean McVay if his team fails to make the playoffs in a down year for the NFC West.
Meanwhile, Seattle won the division with a modest day from Russell Wilson, who has only beaten the Rams three times in the four years since McVay took over in Los Angeles. But the Seahawks are 7-1 at home this season and should be able to beat any of the teams currently occupying a wild card berth.
I don’t know what crystal ball Vic Fangio is looking at but the only “bright future” in this game was on the opposite sideline. Justin Herbert threw his 28th touchdown of the season to set the new rookie passing touchdown record, and Mike Williams had the rare distinction of notching an interception along with his 50-yard receiving performance — all on a day when Jerry Jeudy had a wicked case of the dropsies. The Broncos should get used to being in the AFC West basement.
So much for Ron Rivera’s revenge and Montez Sweat’s Christmas wish.
Dwayne Haskins’ week from hell ended with a well-deserved benching after his ineptitude went viral and Washington blew its best chance to clinch the NFC East. Haskins should never wear Burgundy and Gold again, and Washington should undergo a complete purge of the quarterback position in 2021.
Baltimore is on the brink of becoming the first team in the last 25 years to lead the league in point differential in consecutive seasons and has topped 100 rushing yards in 38 straight games (tied for second-most in NFL history). I know they beat a mediocre Giants team with a wounded quarterback but nobody wants to see the Ravens in the playoffs — especially if they exorcise some demons in Cincinnati with another blowout victory.
Big Ben stopped playing like poo, JuJu stopped dancing and the Steelers defense did enough to help Pittsburgh finally clinch its first AFC North title since 2017. However, the run game better get in on the fun or else Pittsburgh’s return to the postseason will be brief — especially if it means a short-order rematch with the Browns.
Boy, if Jets fans were mad at their punter for helping Gang Green win in L.A. last week, imagine the furor over Jamison Crowder catching and throwing for touchdowns to beat the Browns and end all hope of Trevor Lawrence coming to Gotham. Even if Cleveland blows a seemingly surefire playoff berth, the real Factory of Sadness now officially resides in New York.
To no one’s surprise, the road to the Super Bowl officially comes through Kansas City. Perhaps the less-expected results are Travis Kelce rewriting the record books and the Chiefs winning an NFL-record seven straight games by six points or fewer.
Everyone was a winner in Jacksonville: Chicago topped 30 points in four straight games for the first time in 55 years (when Gale Sayers was a rookie!) and jumped into the last NFC wild card spot, while the Jaguars officially won the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. ‘Tis the season.
Houston knows J.J. Watt is a real one. The Texans organization has squandered the future Hall-of-Famer’s prime, and here’s hoping he gets to play for a winner before he retires. Don’t be surprised if he joins his brothers in Pittsburgh.
Miami won this de facto playoff game by using a baseball approach — Ryan Fitzpatrick’s miracle heave reinforced he’s as good a closer as we’ve seen this side of Mariano Rivera, and there’s no reason whatsoever for the Dolphins not to go back to the bullpen if Tua Tagovailoa has a slow start to a tough, must-win game in Buffalo.
Look, Kyle Shanahan is a terrific coach and great offensive mind, but if Arizona can’t beat C.J. Beathard and Jeff Wilson Jr., it doesn’t deserve to make the playoffs. And thanks to this loss, they likely won’t.
Tampa clinched its first playoff berth since 2007 in large part because Detroit was decimated by COVID-19, but give it up for Tom Brady. The GOAT delivered one of his best performances in his 300th regular season game, throwing four first-half touchdowns to set the Bucs’ single-season touchdown record and becoming the first player in NFL history to make the playoffs in 12 straight seasons. I still think Brady and the Patriots are better together, but the GOAT’s second act isn’t so bad.
No one took the Christmas Carpe Diem challenge to heart as much as Alvin Kamara did. Christmas cleats and all, Kamara delivered holiday cheer to his fantasy owners and New Orleans fans alike, tallying a career-high 155 rushing yards and an NFL-record-tying six (6!) touchdowns. Nobody wants to go marching into The Superdome to face these Saints in the playoffs.
And Minnesota’s historically-awful performance may or may not cost Mike Zimmer his job, but he’s absolutely on the hot seat if he doesn’t continue his trend of making the playoffs in odd-numbered years. I know 2020 was tough on everyone, but this was a massive disappointment for a Vikings team that should have been ready to take the next step.
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