NFL Week 16: What We Learned

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The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a huge deficit to shock the Indianapolis Colts. The Kansas City Chiefs barely beat the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens continued their surge with a win over the Giants. The top spot in the A.F.C. playoffs has been decided — as has the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft — but even a few irrelevant teams showed some pluck Sunday. And the Green Bay Packers closed the night in style with a blowout win over the Tennessee Titans.

Here’s what we learned:

Dalton has taken his lumps this season, but he had his first 300-yard game in more than a year and kept Dallas alive in the race for the N.F.C. East. Dalton’s memorable performance against Philadelphia included completions of more than 50 yards to three different wide receivers (Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb).

It is hard for other runners to seem notable after Alvin Kamara’s record-tying, six-touchdown performance for New Orleans on Friday, but Perine had a terrific day for Cincinnati in the Bengals’ 37-31 upset of the Houston Texans. Perine had a 46-yard run in the third quarter and put Cincinnati up to stay with a 3-yard score in the game’s final two minutes.

Adams had yet another dominant performance, with his three touchdowns in the snow against the Tennessee Titans helping Green Bay improve to 12-3. Adams now has an N.F.L.-leading 17 receiving touchdowns this season — the most by a player since Rob Gronkowski in 2011. With 1,328 yards receiving, Adams is just 58 short of tying his career high, which he set in 2018.

*Except when it takes more.

Chiefs 17, Falcons 14 It was a quiet day by Kansas City’s lofty standards, and the team’s running game looked far less effective without the injured Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but the Chiefs did have the silver lining of Travis Kelce reaching 1,416 yards receiving for the season, breaking the single-season record for a tight end set by George Kittle in 2018. Kelce has one more game to add to his total, provided Kansas City doesn’t rest him in next week’s irrelevant game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Packers 40, Titans 14 Green’s Bay’s comfort in the snow was evident as the Packers made quick work of Tennessee. Aaron Rodgers had the same number of touchdowns (four) as he had incompletions, A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones rushed for a combined 218 yards and Davante Adams scored three times.

Steelers 28, Colts 24 At halftime, Indianapolis was romping to an easy win. The second half was another story, as the Steelers stopped trying to dink and dunk themselves to victory and had their aggressiveness pay off in spades, with the team earning its first A.F.C. North title in three seasons.

Seahawks 20, Rams 9 It was hardly an explosive effort, but Seattle clinched the N.F.C. West title, kept alive a small chance at a first-round bye, and continued to show dramatic improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Despite its loss, Los Angeles controls its own fate next week. A win would give the Rams a wild-card spot in the playoffs.

Ravens 27, Giants 13 The Giants’ third straight loss was largely a result of Baltimore’s offense overwhelming them, but the Ravens’ defense had a fine day as well, making Daniel Jones’s life miserable with six sacks and 11 quarterback hits.

Jets 23, Browns 16 It took a total team effort for Cleveland to lose, with Baker Mayfield completing just 28 of his 53 passes, the Browns’ celebrated running game averaging just 2.5 yards a carry and the team’s defense making the Jets’ Sam Darnold look downright competent. A win would have clinched a playoff spot for Cleveland, but the Browns will now go into Week 17 fighting with Miami, Baltimore and Indianapolis for the three wild-card spots in the A.F.C.

Panthers 20, Footballers 13 Curtis Samuel put on a show for Carolina, piling up 158 yards from scrimmage, but the story of the day was quarterback Dwayne Haskins being benched for ineffective play on the heels of losing his captaincy as a result of off-field behavior. You have to assume that Haskins’s days in Washington are numbered.

Cowboys 37, Eagles 17 Everything went right for Dallas, with Andy Dalton throwing for 377 yards and three touchdowns, Ezekiel Elliott rushing for 105 yards and Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb all putting on a show against Philadelphia’s overwhelmed secondary. Jalen Hurts topped 300 yards passing for a second consecutive week, but wasn’t able to turn that yardage into enough points.

Chargers 19, Broncos 16 Denver had the ball with a chance to win the game in the final minute, but Drew Lock’s desperation heave was intercepted, handing Los Angeles its sixth win of the season.

Bears 41, Jaguars 17 It is not like Jacksonville had any motivation to win — quite the opposite — but watching Chicago put up 28 consecutive points to start the second half couldn’t have been very fun. Chicago’s win, combined with Arizona’s loss on Saturday, has the Bears in line for the N.F.C.’s final wild-card spot. That sets up an entertaining Week 17 in which Chicago closes its season with a home game against the top-seeded Green Bay Packers, and the Cardinals have a tough matchup on the road against the Los Angeles Rams.

Bengals 37, Texans 31 Brandon Allen threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns and Samaje Perine ran for 95 yards and two scores, powering Cincinnati to its first road win since Sept. 30, 2018. Houston dropped to 4-11, having absolutely wasted a season of quarterback Deshaun Watson’s prime.

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