Looking back on Week 16 in the NFL:
1. The 16th week of the season brought the playoff picture into focus and left the NFL without a good enough matchup the final week for a prime time Sunday night game. So the regular season will end with the second games when the 12 playoff spots will be set. In the AFC, the four seeds are set with the Ravens and Titans needing victories in final week to clinch wild card spots. The Bills and Chargers need wins and help. In the NFC, only one final spot is open. Atlanta gets a spot with a victory over Carolina while the Seahawks sneak in if they beat Arizona at home and the Falcons lose.
2. New England and Pittsburgh posted victories over Buffalo and Houston so if they both win their finales – and Pittsburgh seems like a lock over Cleveland – New England and Pittsburgh will have the top two seeds. New England closes at home against the Jets. If New England loses and Pittsburgh wins, they will switch with Pittsburgh taking the one seed and New England dropping to the second seed. In any case, they are both two wins away – the regular season finale and first round playoff game – from meeting in AFC title game for a Super Bowl berth.
3. Philadelphia clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a 19-10 victory over Oakland. But Nick Foles struggled and raised questions about whether he can lead them to the Super Bowl as he completed just 19 of 38 passes for 163 yards. “I didn’t play good enough,’’ he said. That’s true and he has to play better in the playoffs if the Eagles are to have a shot at their first title in the Super Bowl era.
4. The San Francisco 49ers are out of the playoffs but they will be one of the most talked about teams in the offseason after Jimmy Garoppolo boosted his record to 4-0 with a 44-33 victory over the Jaguars, who backed into the AFC South title because the Titans lost to the Rams. Now the question is whether Garoppolo can lead them to the playoffs next year. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles threw three picks, including a Pick Six, to raise questions about whether the Jaguars are a Super Bowl contender with him at quarterback.
5. Buffalo’s 37-16 loss to the Patriots virtually dropped them out of the playoff race as they fell to 8-7. They need to beat Miami and have Baltimore lose to Cincinnati or the Titans and Rams lose to the Jaguars and Oakland for them to make it. Assuming they don’t make it, they will spend the offseason thinking about rookie coach Sean McDermott benching Tyrod Taylor for Nathan Peterman against the Chargers. They might have lost with Taylor but they weren’t competitive with Peterman, who threw five picks in the first half before McDermott went back to Taylor. Now the Bills have to decide what they do at quarterback next year.