Salem, OR — We all knew that the final weeks of the season would give us some great match-ups, but no one could have predicted the wild finishes we got to see in week 16.
First there was the Bills clutch win over the Patriots, and in Foxborough! Then we had the return of Ezekiel Elliott to the Dallas Cowboys and while he didn’t have a huge game stat wise he was a big reason why the Cowboys were able to win against the Seattle Seahawks. The win moved the Cowboys to 8-7 and kept their playoff hopes alive.
Following those two games, we were then treated to an AFC vs NFC match-up featuring the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Francisco 49ers. The Jaguars needed a win to keep their slim hopes of a bye week alive, while the 49ers needed to win in order to avoid being eliminated from playoff contention. Unfortunately for the niner faithful their team was unable to get the win, thus their slim hopes of a playoff birth officially came to an end.
Lastly, we had what has to be the biggest upset, most shocking comeback win of the season, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers. The Buccaneers trailed 14-24 with a minute and fifteen seconds left in the game and somehow they were not only able to tie the game but they won it in overtime to eliminate the Panthers from playoff contention.
As you have just read, week 16 was a wild one. With week 17 here, there are plenty of story lines to follow as teams fight for position, the AFC wild cards are up for grabs and the NFC’s last wild card spot is fought for by four teams.
1. Oakland Raiders (12-3)
The Raiders got a big come from behind week against the Eagles last week, winning 24-13 on the road. The win, plus a loss by the Patriots moved the Raiders into first place and for now gives them home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they win this week against their division rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, the road to 2K OLF Super Bowl X is going through Oakland.
2. New England Patriots (12-3)
The Patriots loss to the Bills knocked them down to the second seed, but they’re still in a good spot as a win this week will lock them up in a bye week. They should be able to do it as they play the worst team in the AFC East, the New York Jets, a team they have already defeated this season.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (11-4)
It was a great comeback win for the Jaguars last week against the 49ers. The win could be even bigger if either the Raiders or Patriots lose and the Jags win this week against the Titans, the Jaguars could move into either second or first place in the AFC.
4. Baltimore Ravens (9-6)
The Ravens got it done at home last week with a blowout 7-45 win of the Indianapolis Colts. The win and the loss by the Cincinnati Bengals gave the Ravens the AFC North and locked them up as the fourth seed. It will be interesting to see if they decide to rest players this week or play their starters to try and get their fourth win in a row heading into the playoffs.
5. Tennessee Titans (9-6)
The Titans gave everyone in the race for the final wild card in the AFC a Christmas win by taking down the L.A Rams at home 21-29. The win was their second in a row to improve to 9-6 and if they win this week against the Jaguars they will be headed to their first wild card game since Season 7.
6. Kansas City Chiefs (9-6)
The Chiefs got back on track by winning their final home game of the season. They defeated the Miami Dolphins and got back into a playoff spot. Their final game is on the road against their division rivals, the Denver Broncos. If the Chiefs win they punch their ticket to a wild card playoff game. If they lose, they can still get in if the Bills lose to the Dolphins.
In The Hunt
7. Buffalo Bills (9-6)
As we mentioned before, the Bills big win against the Patriots keeps them in the hunt for a playoff birth. They must win and hope for either a loss by the Chief or Titans in order to get in. Their offense seems to be coming alive at the right time so don’t be surprised if they make it into the post season.
1. Atlanta Falcons (13-2)
The Falcons won their game last week against the New Orleans Saints, but the win came at cost. The Falcons head coach has been suspended from all league activities this week after violating league rules for a second time this season. The suspension could cost them home field throughout the playoffs. If the Panthers get the best of them this week and the Packers win, it will be the Packers who get home field throughout.
2. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Don’t look now but the Packers are the hottest team heading into the playoffs. The win last week against their division foes, the Minnesota Vikings, extended their win streak to eight. They have a huge game this week against the Lions, as a win will lock the NFC North for them. A loss could drop them to 5th place as the Lions would win the tie breaker.
3. Seattle Seahawks (11-4)
The Seahawks four game win streak came to an end at the hands of the Cowboys last week. The loss might have just cost them a shot at a first round bye. They’ll need to win their final game this week against the Arizona Cardinals and hope the Packers lose to the Lions. As it is, it is looking like they’ll be locked up in the 3rd seed heading into the playoffs.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (9-6)
The saying is “Fly Eagles fly!” but right now the only place they’re flying is straight out of a playoff spot if they don’t win this week. The Eagles play a Cowboys team desperate to get payback for the blow loss against them in week eleven. If they lose and the Redskins win the Eagles could fall down to the 7th seed, missing the playoffs entirely.
5. Detroit Lions (11-4)
The Lions eliminated the Bengals with an overtime win last week, winning it 31-28. The win keeps their hopes of a division title alive as they trail the Packers by just one game. If they win this week against the Packers they’ll get a first round bye.
6. Los Angeles Rams (8-7)
5 weeks ago this was a team that was threatening the Seahawks for the NFC West, fast forward to now and they’re nothing more than a mere shell of their former selves. If the Rams miss the playoffs expect heads to roll. The only positive the Rams have to go on this week is, they’ll be taking on a 49ers team they have already beaten….even if it was just by 2 points.
In The Hunt
7. Washington Redskins (8-7)
The Redskins were a heavy favorite going into they’re game against the 6-8 Broncos. But, maybe that caused them to get over confident as they lost a close one 16-10. Kirk Cousins was injured in that one and no word yet on whether or not he will be able to go this week against the Giants. If they win and Rams lose, they are in.
8. Minnesota Vikings (8-7)
The Vikings are going to have to forget that tough loss against the Packers A.S.A.P. It was a 10-10 game with 71 seconds left, but the Vikings defense could not make the stop they needed and because of that they’ll need help getting in. They have to win this week against the Chicago Bears and hope the Rams, Redskins and Cowboys lose.
9. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
Talk about getting what you wanted for Christmas! The Cowboys needed a win against a great Seahawks team, then hope all the teams ahead of them would lose. Well like a Miracle on 34th street, all of those things happen. If the Cowboys get the payback win they want, they’ll move into a tie with the Eagles for first place, then if the Redskins lose to the Giants, the Cowboys might get the division. The other scenario is, they win, Redskins win, Vikings and Rams lose they’ll get in as the 6th seed.