Week 16 of the NFL regular season is pivotal because the playoff picture is beginning to develop! The New Orleans Saints and five other teams have already punched their postseason tickets. In the AFC, the Chiefs, Bills, and Steelers have earned playoff berths. While in the NFC, the Packers and the Seahawks joined the Saints extending their seasons. What is not clear is seeding for the playoffs teams and byes.
Week 15 concluded with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs outlasting Drew Brees and the Saints as they fended off a late New Orleans rally. New York stunned the Rams for their first win causing Los Angeles to lose the NFC West lead. Arizona survived the Eagles, and the Seahawks held on to clinch a playoff spot.
The New York Jets won their first game of the season with a stunning 23-20 victory over Los Angeles. The unexpected upset put their top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft in jeopardy. The Rams would have clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Jets but dropped to 9-5.
The Miami Dolphins needed a win this week to stay ahead of the Ravens in the AFC playoff race. Baltimore handled their business and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars. San Francisco, Detroit, Atlanta, and Carolina no longer have a shot at the playoff race.
Kansas City Chiefs got a massive win in New Orleans in a game that could have been a preview to Super Bowl LV. The Saints had Drew Brees back at quarterback, but the Chiefs looked unstoppable in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Both teams faced their most challenging tests in the regular season as the marquee matchup featured the 2020 Super Bowl Champions against the 2010 Champions. Drew Brees felt a "greater sense of urgency" to return for the showdown.
Here's the thing, at this point every game is so important. Down the stretch everybody is battling something, everybody is fighting to get out on the field and put together our best effort in order to help our team win to advance our playoff status. Right now, the most important thing is getting our next win so we can officially win the division, and then we will worry about the next one after that. So, we have a one-game season and that is this Friday night. Drew Brees.
Saints News Network's Kyle T. Mosley said it best,
The New Orleans Saints were not at their best when they fell to the Kansas City Chiefs 32-29. Yet, they must be encouraged it was a three-point loss to the defending Super Bowl champions - especially in a possible rematch.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will host quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings in a special Christmas Day edition of the NFL on FOX Friday, December 25, 2020, at 3:30 PM CST.
Here are this week's NFL Top 5 Power Rankings for Week 16.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (13-1)
The Kansas City Chiefs kept putting more distance between them and the rest of the NFL. Last week’s 32-29 win over the New Orleans Saints was just the latest in a long line of Super Bowl contenders that have fallen to the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the high-flying Chiefs. The Mahomes magic continued as the reigning Super Bowl MVP finished the game with 254 yards, 3 touchdowns, and many tough passes. After the Pittsburgh Steelers' loss on Monday Night Football, the #1 seed is almost guaranteed for the Chiefs.
2. Buffalo Bills (11-3)
After demolishing the Denver Broncos, 48-19, the Buffalo Bills have now officially won the AFC East for the first time since 1996. The Bills’ offense, led by QB Josh Allen, has sneakily turned into one of the best passing attacks in the NFL. Against the Broncos, Allen threw for 359 yards for 4 touchdowns. Wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley had big games with 147 and 112 yards, respectively. The Bills are riding a fiery streak and look to carry that momentum straight into the playoffs.
3. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
The Green Bay Packers struggled a bit against the Carolina Panthers but ended up winning 24-16. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only threw for 143 yards, but running back Aaron Jones carried the offense, rushing for 145 yards with one touchdown. Green Bay now has a little wiggle room sitting at 11-3 and in control of the number 1 seed in the NFC. They only need one more win to lock-in NFC's top spot.
4. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
The New Orleans Saints went toe-to-toe against the champion Kansas City Chiefs but ultimately came up short, losing 32-29. Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees looked rusty in the first half after returning from injured reserve with broken ribs but showed up strong toward the end, finishing the game with 234 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The defense showed up big again, especially edge rusher Trey Hendrickson, who is now tied with the most sacks in the NFL. Unfortunately, the Saints' defense was unable to stop a hot Chiefs offense on critical drives. The top seed in the NFC is slowly slipping away, but the Saints still have options.
5. Seattle Seahawks (10-4)
The Seattle Seahawks find their way back into the top 5 after a 20-15 win against the Washington Football team. 'Hawks leader Russell Wilson and the Seahawks are finishing the season strong after having a couple of missteps in the middle of the season.
Seattle relied on a dominant run game, led by running back Chris Carson, who had 15 carries for 63 yards, and vigorous defense to carry the team to the win. The Seahawks control the NFC West and can clinch the division with two more wins.
Article Contributor Sam Lucio, Saints News Network Intern.