What We Learned From Week 16 in the NFL

Cowboys 40, Eagles 34: There’s a case to be made that Jalen Hurts would have won this game if he had been able to play, but it’s not as if the Eagles collapsed with their backup quarterback, Gardner Minshew. The Eagles’ offense scored 27 points, thanks in part to Minshew’s willingness to feed his skill players, and their defense scored a pick-6 on the Cowboys’ first drive. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys went nuclear after that opening drive blunder, however, and proved too explosive for the Eagles defense.

49ers 37, Commanders 20: Brock Purdy isn’t perfect, but he will uncork the ball to the 49ers’ handful of elite skill players. Kyle Shanahan usually makes that pretty easy to do, too, just as he did in this one. Tight end George Kittle had himself a day, scoring one touchdown on a deep post and another on a 33-yard catch and run. The 49ers’ pass rush got after Taylor Heinicke to the point where he was pressured into a fourth-down misfire for an interception that got him benched in favor of Carson Wentz.

Bengals 22, Patriots 18: Each team scored in only one half, the Bengals dominating the first before the Patriots rallied in the second. Joe Burrow diced up the Patriots for the first two quarters, leaning heavily on the big-bodied wide receiver Tee Higgins to dunk on the Patriots’ small cornerback group. But a couple of key mistakes — two interceptions thrown by Burrow and a Ja’Marr Chase fumble — made it tough for the Bengals to pull away, and the Patriots clawed their way back, narrowing the lead before fumbling inside the Bengals’ 10-yard line on what could have been a game-winning drive.

Kansas City 24, Seahawks 10: Geno Smith was in hell all day. Kansas City’s pass rush swarmed him for four quarters, generating a tone of interior pressure led by Chris Jones. When paired with the physical, tight-window style of coverage played by Kansas City, it was tough sledding for a Seahawks’ passing offense that has otherwise carried the team. For Kansas City, the ever-reliable Patrick Mahomes-to-Travis Kelce connection did its magic. Kelce snagged six catches for 113 yards, earning just over half of the team’s total receiving yards on the day.

Bills 35, Bears 13: Not many teams throw two interceptions and come away with a 22-point win anyway. The Bills are not most teams. Josh Allen was mostly good outside of a few numbskull plays, the kind of performance he can be prone to when nothing is really on the line. The Bills’ defense was the real reason for the team’s success, though. Bears quarterback Justin Fields had just seven carries for 11 yards, the first time he’s been held to under 50 yards since early October.

Raven’s 17, Falcon’s 9: A surging Ravens’ defense held its own against a tough Falcons’ run game. The Falcons slammed their running backs forward 33 times but netted just 115 yards, roughly 3.5 yards per carry. The Ravens ran the ball much better, earning 5.4 yards per carry, and were able to control the pace of the game. Atlanta’s rookie quarterback, Desmond Ridder, led the offense into the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, but the first drive ended on downs and the second ended in a field goal that was too little, too late.

Panthers 37, Lions 23: The Lions needed to win this game to have a good shot at the playoffs, but they didn’t play with any urgency. From the first play of the game, the Panthers’ ground attack gashed the Lions up and down the field. The Panthers finished with 320 yards rushing, 240 in the first half alone. The Panthers went into the half with a 24-7 lead, and that was enough of a cushion to stave off the Lions’ comeback attempt.

Written by trendingatoz

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