The NFC playoff picture became much clearer after Week-16, with two more teams clinching division titles over the weekend. However, the AFC playoff race is still far from over, with only the Chiefs securing the AFC West title. In addition, only three teams have been eliminated from the playoffs, with two games left in the new 17-game regular season.
Bengals Crush Ravens in AFC North Battle
The AFC North is still looking for a champion this season, and it’s looking more and more like the pre-season favorite Baltimore Ravens could fall out of the playoffs altogether after their fourth straight loss. However, all four teams still have a shot at winning the division with only two games remaining in the regular season.
QB Joe Burrow set a franchise record, passing for 525 yards and four touchdowns to give help give his team a 41-21 win over the division-rival Ravens. WR Tee Higgins also had a career day, catching twelve balls from Burrow for 194 yards and two touchdowns, and WR Ja’Marr Chase had seven catches for 125 yards. As a result, Cincinnati moves alone into first place, one game ahead of Baltimore for the division lead.
Next week, the Bengals must travel to Kansas City to face the red-hot Chiefs while Baltimore plays the Rams at home next Sunday in a must-win game for them, as are all games within this division.
Bills Cruise to Victory over Patriots
The Buffalo Bills showed their dominance in this crucial matchup for the lead in the AFC East division. In the road victory, QB Josh Allen was 30/47 for 314 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target in this game was WR Isaiah McKenzie, who had eleven receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown.
RB Damien Harris had 103 yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Patriots as QB Mac Jones had a less-than-spectacular performance. He was 14/32 for 145 yards and no touchdowns with two crucial interceptions as New England suffered their second straight loss.
The two teams are now tied for the division lead at 9-6 and are still looking to clinch a playoff spot in the log-jammed race for an AFC postseason berth. Buffalo holds the tiebreaker over New England with a better record in the division and will play their last two games at home against the Falcons and Jets, two games they should be able to win. The Patriots will play Jacksonville at home and then travel to Miami to face the red-hot Dolphins.
Rams Clinch Playoffs with Win over Vikings.
The Los Angeles Rams clinched a spot in the playoffs with a 30-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The big play in this game was a 61-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter by Brandon Powell that helped secure the victory for the Rams. After their last game was postponed, Los Angeles played on only four days of rest on Sunday.
Matthew Stafford didn’t have a great game and only threw for 197 yards and one touchdown. He also had three interceptions. RB Sony Michel was the big story on offense for the Rams as he rushed for 131 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. QB Kirk Cousins threw for 315 yards for the Vikings, and WR Justin Jefferson caught eight passes for 116 yards.
The Rams have two road games remaining on their schedule as they’ll travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens next Sunday and then close out the regular season against the 49ers. The Vikings will go to Lambeau Field next week vs. the Packers and wrap up the season at home against the Chicago Bears.