During the penultimate week of the NFL regular season, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas set a new single-season record for most receptions, breaking Marvin Harrison’s record of 143 catches. The Baltimore Ravens (13-2) won their ninth game in a row and locked up the #1 seed in the AFC.
Meanwhile, other NFL teams secured division titles in Week 16, including the Green Bay Packers (NFC North), New England Patriots (AFC East), and Houston Texans (AFC South).
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Dallas Cowboys, taking over first place in the shaky NFC East with one week remaining in the regular season.
The New York Jets temporarily knocked the Pittsburgh Steelers out of the AFC playoff hunt, much to the delight of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans couldn’t guard Michael Thomas, however, and lost to the New Orleans Saints in Week 16. Yet, the Titans still leapfrogged the Steelers to secure the second AFC wild card.
The Los Angeles Rams were officially eliminated from the playoff hunt when they lost a shootout against the San Francisco 49ers.
L-Jax and Ravens Clinch #1 Seed
Baltimore Ravens 31, Cleveland Browns 15… The Browns (6-9) led 6-0, and shutdown the Ravens (13-2) offense for a full quarter before Baltimore woke up and outscored Cleveland, 31-9. Lamar Jackson threw three more touchdowns and rushed for 103 yards. The Ravens clinched the #1 seed in the AFC, but it came at a huge price because RB Mark Ingram left the game with a calf injury and his future status is unknown. Regardless, with the #1 seed locked down, Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh can rest Jackson and let Ingram heal up for two extra weeks before the start of the postseason’s divisional round.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 23, 2019
Texans Secure AFC South Crown
Houston Texans 23, Tampa Bay Bucs 20… The Texans (10-5) were absolutely dominated, 435 to 229, in total yards against the seemingly unstoppable Bucs (7-8), but five costly turnovers gifted the win to the Texans. After two consecutive weeks with Jameis Winston’s good twin (450-plus yards in back-to-back weeks), his evil twin took over and tossed four interceptions in the loss. Deshaun Watson threw a TD and led the lo-fi Texans’ rushing attack with only 37 yards. Despite the ugly win, the Texans clinched the AFC South title.
11 Straight AFC East Titles for Tommy Boy
New England Patriots 21, Buffalo Bills 17… The Bills (10-5) went on the road and nearly pulled off a rare victory in Foxboro, but Josh Allen and the Bills Mafia couldn’t finish them off. Tom Brady (12-3) rallied the Pats to another fourth quarter comeback in Foxboro. The Pats secured another AFC East title. Derp.
Who Dat? Michael Thomas Sets New Record
New Orleans Saints 38, Tennessee Titans 28… This one felt like a playoff game, and the Titans (8-7) put up a valiant fight without Derrick Henry (hamstring). The Titans jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and the Saints exploded for 38 points, including three touchdowns from Brees. They should have dubbed this game the Michael Thomas Show because, once again, Thomas proved why he’s the top wideout in the league. Thomas caught 12 passes (for 136 yards and 1 TD) and broke Marvin Harrison’s record for most receptions in a season. Even with the loss, the Titans jumped into the second AFC wild-card spot behind the Buffalo Bills.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 22, 2019
Eagles In, Cowboys Out … For Now
Philadelphia Eagles 17, Dallas Cowboys 9… The Eagles (8-7) seized first place in the NFC East and secured a playoff spot with a clutch victory over the Cowboys (7-8). Jason Garrett is a dead man walking in Dallas, while the Eagles are hoping to make another magical run in January.
Drake Steamrolls the Seachickens
Arizona Cardinals 27, Seattle Seahawks 13… The Cardinals (5-9-1) upset the Seahawks (11-4) at home in Seattle. Kenyan Drake unleashed another monstrous game with 166 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks lost the game and lost RB Chris Carson for the season. Backup RB, CJ Prosise, broke his arm after replacing Carson. Pete Carroll is desperate for a running back and gave Marshawn Lynch a call to beg the retired star to return to the Seahawks. They will need Beastmode if they expect to win any playoff games.
San Francisco 34, LA Rams 31… The Niners (12-3) won another high-drama shootout between NoCal and SoCal football squads in a fierce NFC West battle that had serious playoff implications. The Rams (8-7) lost, and their postseason dreams were crushed by Jimmy G and Greg Kittle.
LOLJets Spoil Steeltown
NY Jets 16, Pittsburgh Steelers 10… The LOLJets and Le’Veon Bell got the last laugh when the Jets beat up the Steelers (8-7), and knocked them out of the AFC wild card. The Jets (6-9) are 5-2 in their last seven games. The Steelers need a lot of help if they want to seize their spot back from the Titans.
Da Bears Ready for Hibernation
Kansas City Chiefs 26, Chicago Bears 3… Patrick Mahomes accounted for three touchdowns in an easy win for the Chiefs (11-4) over the disappointing Bears (7-8). The Chiefs are currently in the #3 seed in the AFC.
Packers Win First NFC North Title Since 2016
Green Bay Packers 23, Minnesota Vikings 10… Aaron Rodgers threw zero touchdowns and his first interception since October, but the Packers (12-3) still held on to win Monday Night Football and secure the NFC North. Aaron Jones rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers defense held the Dalvin Cook-less Vikings to 139 total yards of offense. The Vikes (10-5) had an outside shot at a division title, but the Packers quickly shut the door on that notion. Hey, the Vikes are still going to the playoffs though.
Hines Puts Up 2 Punt Return TDs
Indianapolis Colts 38, Carolina Panthers 6… The Panthers (5-10) dropped seven in a row after starting the season 5-3. Rookie QB Will Grier looked excellent with three touchdowns in his debut with the Panthers. Nyheim Hines returned two punts for two touchdowns for the Colts (7-8) in this blowout.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 22, 2019
Saquon Monster Day in OT
NY Giants 41, Washington Redskins 35 (OT)… Saquon Barkley posted 279 combined yards and two touchdowns, including 189 rushing yards on only 22 carries (that’s 8.6 yards per carry). Daniel Jones threw five touchdowns in an overtime victory for the Giants (4-11). The Skins (3-12) rallied back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force an overtime.
Rocky Mountain Lock High
Denver Broncos 27, Detroit Lions 17… The Broncos (6-9) are now 3-1 since they started rookie Drew Lock at quarterback. The Lions (3-11-1) saw their losing streak extended to eight games. Matt Patricia and his lonely pencil are now 1-11 after their auspicious 2-0-1 start.
Dirty Birds Beat Sad Cats
Atlanta Falcons 24, Jaguars 12… In the “Degen Game of the Week,” the Falcons (6-9) covered and the under came in against Gardner Minshew and the dysfunctional Jags (5-10).
Bungles Lock Up #1 Pick
Miami Dolphins 38, Cincinnati Bengals 35 (OT)… The Bengals scored 23 points in the fourth quarter and rallied back in astonishing fashion to force overtime. The Dolphins saved face with an overtime win. The Bengals (1-14) officially locked up the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The s—tshow Dolphins (4-11) can’t even tank properly. Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for eight touchdowns and 815 passing yards, but FitzMagic squeezed out the victory.
No Home Love for Bolts
Oakland Raiders 26, LA Chargers 17… The Chargers went 2-6 in home games this season, playing at a soccer stadium in the LA burbs while they await a new shared stadium with the LA Rams in Inglewood. The move from San Diego to LA alienated a significant number of faithful fans. Way more opposing fans show up at games, which means the Bolts play 16 road games a season. Phil Rivers resorted to utilizing a silent snap count because the Chargers were surrounded by boisterous Raiders’ fans. The Raiders (7-8) held on to the win, and the Chargers (5-10) dropped five out of their last six games.