The Cowboys Are NFC East Champs & Other Things We Learned In NFL Week 16
Detroit, Green Bay, Dallas, Seattle and Pittsburgh each clinched playoff spots in Week 16. Here’s a recap of the week’s highlights and scores:
The Seahawks Look Totally Unstoppable
The Cardinals hoped to claim the NFC West title on Sunday night, but the incumbent Seahawks were having none of it. Seattle demolished Arizona, 35-6, to tie up the division race and remind us that they are still the reigning NFL champs. After clinching a playoff berth earlier because of the Eagles’ loss and the Cowboys’ win, the Seahawks rolled up a franchise-record 596 yards of offense on the Cardinals. Included in the barrage were Marshawn Lynch’s 79-yard touchdown run and an 80-yard scoring pass from Russell Wilson to Luke Willson.
The Arizona (11-4) offense never took flight under third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley, a bad omen if they want to advance in the NFC playoffs. Seattle (11-4) can win the NFC West title — and guarantee themselves home-field advantage through the NFC title game — by beating St. Louis next week.
The Cowboys Crushed The Colts & Won The NFC East
The Cowboys didn’t wait for a Week 17 game to decide their post-season fate this year. Dallas (11-4) claimed the NFC East title with a 42-7 rout of the Colts. Already the AFC South champ, Indianapolis (10-5) had little to play for, and it showed; the Colts trailed 28-0 at halftime.
The Dallas victory — coupled with Philadelphia’s loss on Saturday — gave the Cowboys their first NFC East title since 2009. They were eliminated from playoff contention in the last week of each of the past three seasons. Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo was nearly perfect on Sunday, completing 18 of 20 passes for 218 yards and four touchdowns. He also passed Troy Aikman to become the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards.
The Steelers Claimed An AFC Playoff Spot. The Rest? Well…
The Steelers ended their three-year playoff drought by beating the Chiefs, 20-12, on Sunday behind solid games from Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh (10-5) can still win the AFC North title, but they know they’ll be in the playoffs even if they don’t beat the Bengals next week.
Kansas City (8-7) lost their fourth game in the last five contests. The Chiefs, Ravens and Texans need to win in Week 17 and hope that they get some help in the AFC wild-card chase. The Chargers and Bengals control their own destiny. New England, Denver and Indianapolis each secured division titles last week.
Next Week’s Packers-Lions Game Is For The NFC North Title
The Packers defense helped get the team to the playoffs? Strange, but true. Yes, Aaron Rodgers threw for 318 yards and one touchdown to help beat the Buccaneers, 20-3, but it was hardly the offensive onslaught the Pack usually delivers. With the win, Green Bay (11-4) clinched a playoff spot and can claim the NFC North crown by beating the Lions at Lambeau Field next Sunday.
Detroit (11-4) overcame an inspired effort from the Bears to win, 20-14, on Sunday and set up next week’s showdown. The Lions locked up a post-season berth when the Redskins beat the Eagles on Saturday. Subbing in Jimmy Clausen for Jay Cutler at quarterback wasn’t enough to make the Bears victorious. Both Chicago (5-10) and Tampa Bay (2-13) were eliminated weeks ago.
The Falcons & Panthers Will Play For The NFC South Crown
As of this writing, the NFL will still allow the NFC South champ to make the playoffs — the winner just won’t be a very good team. Matt Ryan completed 30 of 40 passes for 322 yards as the Falcons knocked the Saints out of playoff contention, 30-14, on Sunday. Atlanta (6-9) won for the second time this season against New Orleans (6-9), which lost its fifth straight home game.
The Falcons will host Carolina (6-8-1) next Sunday in a game which will decide the NFC South title. Cam Newton ran for one touchdown and threw for another as the Panthers beat the Browns, 17-13, on Sunday. Newton’s big day came less than two weeks after he suffered two fractures in his back as a result of a car accident. Cleveland (7-8) had to press former starting quarterback Brian Hoyer into service when rookie starter Johnny Manziel suffered a hamstring injury in the first half. The Browns fell under .500 for the first time since Week 4.
Thurs. Dec. 18
Jacksonville 21, Tennessee 13
Sat. Dec. 20
Washington 27, Philadelphia 24
San Diego 38, San Francisco 35 (OT)
Sun. Dec. 21
Miami 37, Minnesota 35
Houston 25, Baltimore 13
New England 17, N.Y. Jets 16
N.Y. Giants 37, St. Louis 27
Oakland 26, Buffalo 24
Full NFL Standings