Week 16 features a change at the top after the Patriots benefited from a referee’s late game decision on a touchdown call for the third time this season. In the middle of the pack, the Titans have lost two in a row and gone from the top of the AFC South to battling for their playoff lives. The Chiefs scored a big victory over the Chargers which essentially assures them of the AFC West title unless they lose out. The Bills and Ravens stayed right in the Wild Card mix while the Chargers are still hovering a game back. The Jets and Bengals were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention this week and the Raiders and Dolphins are both long shots. With only two games to go, the AFC playoff picture is coming into focus. The Christmas-movie themed GIFs also continue this week.
Last Week: Defeated Pittsburgh with some help from Tony Corrente 27-24
This Week: vs Buffalo
Remaining Opponents: vs BUF, vs NYJ
Clinching Scenarios: New England clinched the AFC East title. The Patriots can clinch a first round bye with a win and a loss by either Pittsburgh or Jacksonville OR a tie and a Jaguars loss. New England can clinch the #1 seed with a win and losses by both Pittsburgh and Jacksonville.
Patriots MVP Tony Corrente overturned the second touchdown of the year that gave the Patriots a victory. The first was in a game against the Jets when he turned a touchdown for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins into a touchback. The second came in the closing seconds against the Steelers when he lacked conclusive video evidence that the ball hit the ground but still overturned a Jesse James touchdown that would’ve given the Steelers the lead. For those keeping score at home, that was the third game this season the Patriots won on a controversial touchdown call (the other being a Brandon Cooks TD that was upheld against the Texans despite the ball hitting the ground).
Last Week: Lost to New England and the referees 27-24
This Week: at Houston (Christmas Day)
Remaining Opponents: @ HOU, vs CLE
Clinching Scenarios: The Steelers have clinched the AFC North title. They can clinch a first round bye with a win and Jaguars loss or tie OR a tie and a Jaguars loss.
The Steelers did nearly everything right in their loss to New England. They controlled the clock, they did not turn the ball over (until the last play), and they got pressure on Brady. The Steelers have never been able to cover Rob Gronkowski and it was no different this time around. Pittsburgh blew an 8-point lead in the fourth quarter as the offense could not get first downs. The game-winning touchdown to Jesse James was overturned because the NFL has no idea what a catch is or is not. Now, the Steelers find themselves in a precarious position. They need to win their final two games in order to get a first round bye ahead of the Jaguars. The Steelers are not out of the race for the #1 seed yet, but would need either the Bills or the Jets to beat New England in Foxborough in one of the final two games. Steelers fans are justifiably still livid this week.
Last Week: Defeated Houston 45-7
This Week: at San Francisco
Remaining Opponents: @ SF, @ TEN
Clinching Scenarios: The Jaguars clinched a playoff spot with a win over Houston. Jacksonville clinches the division title with a win or tie OR a Tennessee loss or tie.
The Jaguars are going back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Blake Bortles had one of the best games of his career over Houston, throwing for over 300 yards and 3 TDs. The Jaguars now have two road games with an opportunity to clinch the division title. They travel to San Francisco to take on the suddenly-hot 49ers this week. With the Steelers loss to New England, Jacksonville’s hopes of earning a bye week are still alive as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Pittsburgh.
Last Week: Defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 30-13
This Week: vs Miami
Remaining Games: vs MIA, @ DEN
Clinching Scenarios: Kansas City clinches the AFC West title if any of the following scenarios occur: the Chiefs beat the Dolphins, OR the Chiefs tie and the Chargers tie, OR the Chargers lose
The Chiefs have remembered how to win, and just in time to make a December run. Their wins over the Raiders and Chargers the last two weeks have put them a game up in the AFC West Standings and given them head-to-head tiebreakers over both teams. Kansas City has the inside track to the division title and a home playoff game at the daunting Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are pretty much locked into the #4 seed at this point, and just need a win this week over Miami to lock it up.
Last Week: Lost to San Francisco 25-23
This Week: vs Los Angeles Rams
Remaining Games: vs LAR, vs JAX
Clinching Scenarios: Tennessee clinches a playoff spot with a win and losses by both Baltimore and Buffalo
How the mighty have fallen. In just two weeks the Titans have gone from leading the AFC South to in a three-way tie for the final playoff spot. Tennessee went 0-2 on their west coast road trip with losses to Arizona and San Francisco, the bottom teams in the NFC West. The Titans have now fallen two games behind the Jaguars and could be eliminated from the possibility of winning the division title if the Jaguars win this week.
Last Week: Defeated Miami 24-16
This Week: at New England
Remaining Schedule: @ NE, @ MIA
The Bills reached the 8-win plateau and ensured themselves their third .500 season in the last 4 years. However, Buffalo is still in search of their first playoff berth since 1999. The Bills finish the season with two games away from western New York. Outside of Buffalo, the biggest Bills fans this weekend will be in Pittsburgh as a Bills win over the Patriots could help the Steelers in their quest for homefield advantage. Buffalo does need a win to keep themselves ahead of the Ravens in the playoff race. The Bills are currently a half-game behind the Titans in the Wild Card tiebreakers (based on Tennessee’s 7-4 conference record to Buffalo’s 6-4 record) and could still hop the Titans as well.
Last Week: Defeated Cleveland 27-10
This Week: vs Indianapolis
Remaining Games: vs IND, vs CIN
The Ravens rebounded from losing the division title to the Steelers by rolling past the hapless Browns on Sunday. Baltimore is still very much alive in the playoff race and can re-take possession of a wild card spot this week with Buffalo taking on New England and Tennessee facing the Rams. The Ravens do not have tiebreakers working in their favor, however, as they lost head-to-head to the Titans and the Bills currently hold the Strength of Victory tiebreaker over Baltimore. The Ravens won’t have much opportunity to improve that number as their final two games are against the lowly Colts and slumping Bengals. Baltimore needs Tennessee or Buffalo to lose one of their remaining games in order to get in.
Last Week: Lost to Kansas City 30-13
This Week: at New York Jets
Remaining Games: @ NYJ, vs OAK
The Chargers had won 4 in a row to draw even with the Chiefs, but threw away their opportunity for the division title in the second half. Their defense gave up 20 points to Kansas City and their offense committed turnovers on 4 straight possessions. Phillip Rivers threw three second half interceptions and now the Chargers have an uphill battle to make the playoffs. They do have a head-to-head win over Buffalo, but their 4-6 conference record could prove troublesome in tiebreaker scenarios.
Last Week: Lost to Dallas 20-17
This Week: at Philadelphia
Remaining Games: @ PHI, @ LAC
The Raiders were once thought of as contenders for the AFC West crown, but two straight losses have dropped Oakland to the back of the pack. They lost to the Cowboys on a Sunday night game which no one in Pittsburgh watched because we were all fed up with the NFL. Oakland now has to take on Philadelphia, the top team in the NFC, and the Chargers (who are battling for their playoff lives) over the last two weeks.
Last Week: Lost to Buffalo 24-16
This Week: at Kansas City
Remaining Games: @ KC, vs BUF
A week after springing a shocking upset on the Patriots, the Dolphins fell on the road to the Bills. They are nearly eliminated from playoff contention at this point and have to win over Kansas City and Buffalo plus have a bunch of other scenarios fall into place in order for them to win the necessary tiebreakers. A loss to Kansas City this week will eliminate the Dolphins from playoff contention.
New York, Cincinnati, and Denver are 5-9. Houston is 4-10. Indianapolis is 3-11. Cleveland is 0-14.
The Jets and Bengals were eliminated from playoff contention this week. Marvin Lewis stated that this will be his final season in Cincinnati and he will go in search of greener pastures this offseason. The Broncos won a Thursday Night game between two of the worst teams in the AFC in Indianapolis.