Your game-ball winner for Week 16 is Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, who after an average to below average start, led his team on a 5-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a scoring pass to seldom-used WR Domenick Hixon for a thrilling 17-13 home win over the New Orleans Saints. With the win, the Panthers made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and have a chance to claim the NFC South crown and possibly the No. 2 seed with a victory in Week 17 versus the Atlanta Falcons.
(Philadelphia, Pa) – Like a thrilling Kentucky Derby race, the 2013 NFL Season has hit the final turn with cries of “And Down the Stretch They Come” in the air. By design or mere coincidence, “Parity” has caused almost every game in the final two weeks of this season to have playoff implications.
Week 16 of the NFL season maybe championship week in most fantasy football leagues. But thankfully on-the-field teams were still fighting hard to get to “real” postseason games. With temperatures reaching frigid levels in several NFL cities, the action on the gridiron heated up as teams frantically tried to clinch division titles, home field advantage, byes, and playoff berths.
For fans there is nothing better than watching your team making a season cementing playoff run in December — NFL games were played on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sending football junkies into a frenzy. With 17 teams at .500 or better entering Week 16 and eighteen teams still in the playoff mix, no one could have predicted the twists, turns, ups, or downs the 2013 NFL rollercoaster during this crucial week.
Some of the bigger storylines from week 16 included:
- Denver Broncos surefire soon to be 5-time MVP QB Peyton Manning throwing his 51st touchdown pass of the season to set a new NFL single-season record.
- The Detroit Lions losing in overtime to the New York Giants which will surely spell head coach Jim Schwartz’s doom.
- The Carolina Panthers led by QB Cam Newton and LB’s Tommie Davis and Luke Kuechley returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 by virtue of their comeback win over the New Orleans Saints on a rainy muddy day in Charlotte.
- Much-maligned QB Tony Romo toughed it out late to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a crucial road win over the Washington Redskins that sets up a Week 17 “Win Takes It All” match-up with the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles.
- The Arizona Cardinals winning in Seattle as Russell Wilson had his 14-game home winning streak snapped. We will now see if the Cardinals can win in Week 17 versus the Niners to make the playoffs.
2 Teams ….12-3— Seahawks, Broncos
4 Teams ….11-4— Chiefs, Patriots, Panthers, Niners
4 Teams ….10-5 — Saints, Bengals, Colts, Cardinals
1 Team…. 9-6 — Eagles
5 Teams….8-7 — Dolphins, Bears, Ravens, Cowboys, Chargers
1 Team …. 7-7-1 — Packers
4 Teams …. 7-8 — Lions, NY Jets, Rams, Steelers
3 Teams …. 6-9 — Titans, Giants, Bills
1 Team …. 4-10-1 — Vikings
5 Teams … 4-11 —Jaguars, Raiders, Browns, Bucs, Falcons
2 Teams…..3-12–- Redskins, Jaguars,
1 Team …. 2-13 (A.K.A…. Teddy Bridgewater Sweepstakes) — Texans
• 13 Teams stuck in the NFL’s Parity Wasteland (8-7 to 7-8)…. Can you say “Any Given Sunday”
• Remember 11-5 (2008 New England Patriots) or 10-6 (Bucs and NY Giants in 2010; 2012 Bears) does not guarantee making the playoffs.
• Also you have to wonder if there will be another 12-4 Wildcard team like the 2008 Indianapolis Colts
AFC North — The Bengals (10-5) are your champs. After Cincy – who still are playing for seeding – Baltimore (8-7), who play the Bengals in WK 17, have the best chance to claim the AFC’s No. 6 seed. After the Top 2 are the still-hoping Steelers (7-8) and the awful Browns (4-11).
AFC South — The Colts (10-5) have clinched this awful division. Indy will have the division’s only non-losing record. Next are TEN (6-9), the Jaguars (4-11) and the soon to be picking No. 1 Texans (2-13).
AFC West — The Broncos (12-3) have clinched a playoff spot and division title, but they still need to win at Oakland in WK 17 to get the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Firmly in the AFC’s No. 5 spot are the Chiefs (11-4). After KC and DEN are the need-help-for-the-playoffs Chargers (8-7) and reeling Raiders (4-11).
AFC East — The Patriots (11-4) are the division champs again and now are still working for possibly the AFC’s No. 1 seed (at Buffalo). The formerly “surging” Dolphins (8-7) will need to win in Week 17 versus the Jets and hope for help. After Miami, are the NY Jets (7-8) and the fighting-till-the-end Bills (6-9).
NFC North — It is now or never for the Bears (8-7) as they will host the comebacking Packers (7-7-1) in Week 17 for all the marbles. The Lions (7-8) are now out and soon so will their head coach Jim Schwartz. Lastly are the still-fighting-despite-their-standings Vikings (4-10-1)
NFC South — The “climbing” Panthers (11-4) were not spectacular, but they were “gritty” in a huge Week 16 win over the struggling outdoors New Orleans Saints (10-5). The Saints will need to win Week 17 over the Bucs to claim a playoff spot and keep the Cardinals out. Next are the Bucs (4-11) and the Jadevon Clowney-hoping Falcons (4-11).
NFC West — This division just got a lot more interesting as the division-leading Seahawks (12-3) lost to the Cardinals in Week 16. To secure the division title and NFC’s No. 1 seed, Seattle will need to win at home in Week 17 versus STL. The Niners (11-4) are in the playoffs after a big MNF win over the Falcons. After the playoff-bound Niners, are the hopeful Cardinals (11-5) who are still in the mix for the NFC’s No. 6 spot. Next are the scrappy Rams (7-8), who are still dangerous.
NFC East — Just as we all have been saying for weeks, this division will come down to a “Loser Leaves Town” bowl as the Eagles (9-6) will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys (8-7) in Week 17 at Jerry World. After the Top 2 are the soon-to-be-changing NY Giants (6-9) and the in-fighting Redskins (3-12).
Niners — 5 games
Chargers — 2 games
Colts — 2 games
Panthers – 2 games
Bills – 2 games
Steelers – 2 games
Rams – 2 games
** Ravens had their 4-game winning streak snapped
** Dolphins had their 3-game winning streak snapped
** Chiefs had their 2-game winning streak snapped
** Packers had their 2-game winning streak snapped
Texans — 13 games
Redskins — 7 games
Raiders — 4 games
** Titans snapped their 3-game losing streak
How 2012 NFL Playoff Teams are Faring
**For the 17th straight season there have been at least 4 new playoff teams
** We will see if for the 16th time in 17 seasons that there will be 5 or more new playoff teams
*** Overall the 12 teams were a combined 7-5 in Week 15