NFL Recap: Week 16

Wow, wow, WOW! The Football Gods were great to us this weekend. I wish I could say the same about the fantasy Gods, but what are you going to do? There’s a pandemic, people. Anyways, It was a weekend chock full of great football; A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! We saw some major upsets, some record breaking performances, and a plethora of actually interesting, close games. Let’s break it down!

The week kicked off with a matchup between the 49ers and Titans on Thursday night. With both teams looking to securely cement themselves in the playoff race, this game was bound to be a well fought matchup. The 49ers went into halftime with a 10-0 lead off the legs of Jeff Wilson, but that was not nearly enough to keep the Titans quiet. The Titans came out swinging in the second half, successfully tying the game in the third quarter with a rushing touchdown of their own. A back and forth game in the fourth quarter, the stars showed up; AJ Brown and Brandon Aiyuk each scored late touchdowns to see the score at a 17-17 stalemate. Unfortunately for 49ers fans, they left too much time on the clock for Ryan Tannehill, as he marched down the field to set up the game winning field goal with only four seconds left. The Titans take out the 49ers in a close one, 20-17, bringing their record to an impressive 10-5. Their division title hopes are still alive with the surging Colts right behind them. 

What’s this? Two games of good ol’ fashioned American Football on Christmas Day?! What a treat! The day started off with a surprisingly close matchup between the Browns and Packers. As Mayfield struggled by throwing four interceptions, Aaron Rodgers made sure he felt those mistakes, finding his star receiver, Davante Adams, for two scores and over half of his yardage on the day. Mayfield and the Browns made it interesting, scoring a touchdown with four minutes left and getting the ball to potentially win the game, but Mayfield unfortunately threw his fourth and final interception on a pass intended for Peoples-Jones, bringing the final score to 24-22. This all comes on a day where Aaron Rodgers officially passed Brett Favre to become the Packer’s franchise leader in touchdown passes. He may look like he’s 56, but that boy is still slingin’ it like he’s got something to prove. Congratulations, King!

Christmas Day was rounded out by an ultra important game for two teams: The Colts and Cardinals. The Colts are making a late season surge for the AFC South division title, while the struggling Cardinals are doing everything in their power to maintain the lead in the NFC West division. On a day where the Colts were battling several injuries to key players, Carson Wentz and Jonathan Taylor said, “don’t worry, we got this.” While Jonathan Taylor ran like a mad man for 108 yards, Carson Wentz threw a first quarter touchdown to ol’ reliable, TY Hilton, and never lost the lead from that point onward. Kyler Murray did what he could to keep his team close by throwing for 245 yards and adding another 74 on the ground, but the crashing Cardinals could not turn it around in this one and lose 22-16. This allowed the Rams to steal the NFC West division the very next day. With only two games remaining in the lengthened season, Jonathan Taylor only needs 374 more yards to be the league’s newest 2,000 yard rusher. Still can’t believe this man fell to the second round. 

Sunday’s games were kicked off with a battle between the Lions and the Falcons, and surprisingly, this game was more exciting than most people expected. With Goff out with Covid, Tim Boyle stepped in and did all that he could to play spoiler. He threw a first half tuddy to the exciting young receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown, but Matty Ice refused to be the next team to be embarrassed by the lowly Lions. Ryan found his ultra-talented rookie TE, Kyle Pitts, for 102 yards on the day, and threw a game winning TD to his other TE, Hayden Hurst, to seal the victory. Falcons edge out the Lions, 20-16.

Joe Burrow was PIPING hot in a divisional matchup vs. the banged up Baltimore Ravens. With both Jackson and Huntley out for Baltimore, Cinci did whatever they wanted on the day after Christmas. On a day where Burrow made no mistakes and threw for 525 yards and five touchdowns, he had nearly three receivers go over the 100 yard mark, but a late touchdown to Tyler Boyd was called back after a review. Tee Higgins popped off for 194 yards and two touchdowns; Your ROY, Ja’Marr Chase, added another 125 yards; and Tyler Boyd finished with 85 yards and a score. That’s not all: Joe Mixon imposed his will with 135 scrimmage yards and two scores of his own. Cincinnati looked real dangerous in this one folks, and I for one love to see it. The Bengals SPANK the Ravens, 41-21. Chase Burrow’s rookie card here!

Next up: The Rams vs. the Vikings. Most people expected the Rams to come out and destroy the Vikings as they are fighting for control of the NFC West, but Stafford struggled mightily, throwing three interceptions. Luckily, Sony Michel came to play, rushing for 131 yards and a score, while the Rams special teams added a punt return TD in the third quarter. The Vikings made the score look closer than the game actually was with 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the Rams pulled one out with the final score 30-23. Even on a day where Stafford struggled a bit, he became the quickest/youngest player to reach the 50,000 passing yards mark. On top of that, Kupp added another 10 receptions for 109 yards, inching him closer to several NFL records. He only needs 18 receptions in two more games to break Michael Thomas’s single season catch record, and only 231 yards to break Megatron’s single season yardage record. I know there’ll be haters that say, “oh, he needed an extra game to break those records”, but this is the new league we’re watching, and it’s impressive nonetheless. AND we have to give credit where credit is due, as Mathew Stafford will now be the one responsible for two of the most prolific receiving seasons in NFL history. I know I’m rambling, but Stafford has been underrated and overlooked during his entire NFL career.

In another hyper-important divisional matchup, The Bills travelled to New England to take on the Patriots. Whoever wins this game has sole possession of the no.1 spot in the AFC East. The hot and cold Bills decided to be hot today, going into halftime with a 17-7 lead following touchdowns from Stefon Diggs and the star of the game, Isaiah McKenzie (yes, Isaiah McKenzie). Filling in for Cole Beasley, McKenzie balled out all game to the tune of 11 receptions for 125 yards and a score. Josh Allen heard enough of the, “Are the Bills even good?” talk, as he threw for 314 yards and three scores, and added another 64 yards on the ground. On the other side of the ball, Damien Harris decided to help his team out with 103 yards and three touchdowns, but Mac Jones struggled mightily, throwing two interceptions at pivotal moments. The Bills regain the lead in the AFC East with a final score of 33-21, and it’s hard to think they lose that lead with the Falcons and Jets being their remaining opponents.

The first and second overall picks in the 2021 NFL draft go to battle for the first time in their young careers as the Jaguars travel to MetLife stadium to take on the NY Jets. The Jaguars lost their stud running back, James Robinson, early in the first quarter with an achilles injury, so the weight was now on Trevor Lawrence to win this game. With both teams having incredibly porous defenses, we got a look at what these rookies can do. With both rookies minimizing mistakes, Lawrence showed off his arm strength and pocket presence as he finished the game with 280 yards through the air, and more importantly, no turnovers. Wilson finished the game with only 102 yards and touchdown, but showed off some WHEELS with a 52 yard scamper to the endzone to put the Jets up early. Wilson finished the game with 91 yards on the ground, which is a new franchise record for the NY Jets. A rushing touchdown, fumble recovery in the endzone, kick return, and offensive lineman touchdown rounded out the scoring in this whacky game. Lawrence marched down the field in his two minute offense in attempt to win the game, and even brought his team to the Jets one yard line. Here’s something you never thought you’d hear: The 2021 NY Jets have a goal line stand to win the game 26-21. A well fought matchup between the top two rookies, you can look for their rookie cards here!

The Giants make the trip to Philly to take on the Eagles in a divisional matchup, and there is absolutely nothing to see here. The banged up Giants decided to see what Jake Fromm could do in his first career start, and he delivered a 6/17 stat line for 25 yards and a pick before being benched for Mike Glennon. On the other side of the ball, Jalen Hurts slung the ball for 199 yards and two touchdowns, with one going to the hyper talented Devonta Smith. Chase Smith’s rookie card here! The Eagles dismantle the giants 34-10.

We’ll just get the snoozefest games out of the way here with an absolute massacre between the Bucs and Panthers. Carolina seems to love to play musical chairs with their quarterbacks, as Cam Newton got the start and once again got benched, but this time in favor of Sam Darnold. While the Panthers could only muster two field goals in this game, the Bucs run game went for over 150 yards and two scores. Good news for Bucs fans: Antonio Brown is back and looks as healthy as ever, finishing the game with 10 catches for 101 yards. The Bucs cook the Panthers, 32-6.

Another snoozer in Kansas City as the Steelers look to keep their playoff hopes, and potentially Big Ben’s last season alive. Unfortunately, the Steelers did the exact opposite of that. The Chiefs played smothering defense, keeping Roethlisberger under immense pressure the entire game as he struggled to find an open receiver. Mahomes on the other hand had no problem moving the ball to the beat of 258 yards and three touchdowns to secure the win for his team. The Chiefs slap the Steelers, 36-10.

UPSET ALERT! Davis Mills is beginning to look like the steal of the 2021 draft, as he leads his Texans to a shocking victory over the LA Chargers. The Chargers defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed this week, as Davis Mills and Rex Burkhead (you read that right) did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted to do it. Mills finished the game with 254 yards and two touchdowns, while Burkhead wound up with 149 yards (!!!) and two touchdowns of his own. Justin Jackson played stellar for the Chargers with over 160 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, but untimely interceptions and poor defensive play would lead to the Charger’s demise. The Texans shock the world and beat the Chargers 41-29, putting a massive dent in the Charger’s playoff hopes. Hunt for that Davis Mills rookie card here!

Da Bears headed to Seattle on a mission to take out Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, and they did just that. I would love to call it an upset, but Seattle has not looked like themselves all year. The Seahawks were in control for most of this game, heading into halftime with a 17-7 lead with touchdowns from Metcalf and Penny. However, the Bears saved their best for last as they came to life in the fourth quarter. Following stellar defensive play and a field goal to make it a one score game, the former Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, took the game into his own hands on his final drive. Foles went 80 yards down the field before hitting Jimmy Graham (amazing catch, btw) for the potential game tying touchdown. But the Bears said we don’t want to play OT, so they went for two as Foles connected with Damiere Byrd for an awesome catch to win the game. But look on the bright side, Seattle. At least you have good draft stock, right? SIKE. They traded away their first round pick in the Jamal Adams trade. Da Bears stun the Seahawks, 25-24.

With Denver and Las Vegas both clinging onto playoff hopes, this should make for an interesting divisional matchup, right? Well, not necessarily. The game was close, but it was not too much fun to watch. Denver entered halftime with a 13-7 lead on a late touchdown run from Javonte Williams, but they could not get the ball moving whatsoever in the second half. Derek Carr and the Raiders took advantage, scoring 10 second half points to win the game 17-13 and keep their playoff hopes alive. 

Well, if you’re a Dallas fan then maybe you enjoyed the Sunday Night Game, but I think I speak for the rest of America when I say that this game was boooooooooooorrrringggggg. Dallas got off to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. Who didn’t go nuts for Dallas this week? The defense had five sacks, two interceptions (one of course to Trevon Diggs), and an impressive INT returned for a touchdown from Demarcus Lawrence. This defense is scary good. Zeke of course did his thing with two touchdowns, while Prescott finished with an impressive 330 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers. Even the backups got in on the fun, scoring a touchdown of their own. The Cowboys are heating up at the right time with the playoffs right around the corner, and they easily beat the Football Team 56-14.

The playoff picture looks slightly different than last week with some divisions starting to heat up. KC still owns the top spot in the AFC, with TEN, CIN, and BUF now each leading in their respective divisions. IND, NE, and BAL round out the playoff picture, but LAC and LV are knocking on the door with 8-7 records. In the NFC, GB continues to hold the top spot, while DAL, LAR, and TB now each hold the lead in their divisions. ARI, SF, and PHI hold the last three spots for the NFC,  but NO is right behind them at 7-7. With a win tonight, they could make it very interesting.

Monday Night Football will showcase two teams with .500 records who are looking to keep their Super Bowl dreams alive: The New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins. This game could go either way, but I believe Tua shows out tonight and Miami takes out New Orleans in a close one, 24-20. Look for Tua’s and other rookie cards here!

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