NFL

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31494682 Listless in Seattle Listless+in+Seattle NFL

Hard to imagine things going much worse for the 49ers in Seattle on Sunday night. First, they fell behind thanks to two quick Seattle scores. Then, they lost tight end Vernon Davis to a concussion and receiver Mario Manningham (pictured) to a leg injury. And finally, they never got anything going and fell to the Seahawks 42-13. A win would have meant the NFC West and the No. 2 seed (and its first-round bye). Instead, if things continue to go bad in Week 17, the 49ers could not only lose the bye but be on the road in the wild-card round . . . and the game could be in Seattle. But the 49ers were far from the only team to do damage to their playoff hopes. . . .

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31493890 The cardiac Giants need one more miracle The+cardiac+Giants+need+one+more+miracle NFL

Playing with their backs against the wall is nothing new for the Giants and QB Eli Manning (pictured). But with one game left in the regular season, the defending champs need their biggest rally yet. With Sunday's 33-14 loss in Baltimore, the Giants sit at 8-7 on the season, a game behind the Redskins in the NFC East, and will need a win over the Eagles in the regular-season finale and losses by the Cowboys, Vikings and Bears to extend their season into 2013. Meanwhile, the Ravens locked up the AFC North and sit No. 4 in the conference standings. A win next week against the Bengals combined with a Patriots loss to the Dolphins would give the Ravens the No. 3 seed.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499195 Trenches expose Texans Trenches+expose+Texans NFL

The Houston Texans' two losses before this week were big ones, as they allowed 42 points in each. But they elicited no alarm. After all, they came against the Packers and Patriots and future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Tip your cap and move on. But on Sunday, with a chance to secure the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed, the Texans were spanked 23-6 at home by Minnesota. The Vikings knocked the Texans off the line, limiting them to 2.1 yards per rush attempt and denying them on 10 of 11 third-down conversion attempts. Meanwhile, Arian Foster had 10 rushes for 15 yards before leaving with about nine minutes left in the third quarter with an irregular heartbeat. Just a bad week or a bad omen? For once, the answer is not clear. The Texans still have the inside track on the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but a loss in Week 17 and it's out of their hands.

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Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-4_20121223161953438_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-4_20121223161953438_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499191 Everybody feels good in Green Bay Everybody+feels+good+in+Green+Bay NFL

The Packers crushed the Titans 55-7 on Sunday. So why in the world is there a pic of kicker Mason Crosby (No. 2) to the left? Because it's a feel-good game for the Packers, and few in Green Bay needed a boost more than Crosby. A Packers stalwart, he has seen speculation about losing his job this season while suffering a career-high 12 missed field-goal attempts. He had hit only 58.6 percent of his tries this year before Sunday. But this week brought a 2-for-2 effort, field goals of 26 and 48 yards, plus seven extra points. In December. In Green Bay. It's a confidence boost. And it meant even more with the Packers now simply a win away from locking up the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye thanks to the 49ers' loss.


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Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-1_20121223161953436_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-1_20121223161953436_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499197 Redskins have redeemed their coach Redskins+have+redeemed+their+coach NFL

Quarterback Robert Griffin III (pictured) has created more DC buzz than the fiscal cliff. In doing so, he has overshadowed the coaching resurrection of Mike Shanahan. The two-time Super Bowl winner saw his days in Denver end amid an avalanche of losses and a team making as many headlines off the field as on it. When Shanahan got off to a slow start in DC, he became an easy target — a coach whose time has passed, they said. Well, the Redskins are winning again (in fact, a win next week gives them the NFC East), and it's not all RG3. Shanahan has built a team that plays smart and hard on both sides of the ball. He again has found a running back from nowhere (Alfred Morris). And he won last week with backup QB Kirk Cousins and this week with the run threat removed from Griffin's repertoire. As the Redskins won 27-20 on Sunday, Eagles coach Andy Reid would have been wise to take notes. Yes, an old coach can win again after being run out of town.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499198 Dallas needs to draft DBs Dallas+needs+to+draft+DBs NFL

So, it again comes down to the final weekend of the regular season for the Dallas Cowboys. Just figures, for this talented but flawed team. The Saints dropped Dallas 34-31 in overtime Sunday while Drew Brees played the part of conductor of the orchestra. Nary a sour note to be heard as Brees enjoyed the same kind of comfort so many quarterbacks have against Dallas. Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdown with no turnovers. The Cowboys this year have a league-low seven interceptions and have the sixth-worst passing defense, judged by opposing QB passer rating. Dallas is above league average in sacks, so lack of pressure isn't the problem. The Cowboys need some defensive backs to give QBs a bit more trouble, or the playoffs will be nothing but a dream. Oh yeah, they play RG3 in Week 17.

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AP Photo/Sharon Ellman - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-10_20121223162041446_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-10_20121223162041446_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31493892 Just what the offense needed Just+what+the+offense+needed NFL

The Bears entered Week 16 on a three-game losing streak and went from early-season talk of a championship run to late-season worries of missing the playoffs. Well, Chicago is no lock for the postseason, but the Bears' defense certainly helped keep the dream alive. The Bears scored two defensive TDs (including this pick return by Charles Tillman, No. 33) in Sunday's 28-13 win at Arizona. In order to get to the postseason, the Bears will need to win and help from the rival Green Bay Packers of all teams Sunday — the Vikings gotta lose.

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Paul Connors - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Gallery-LA-G3_20121223203223535_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Gallery-LA-G3_20121223203223535_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31493891 Actually, it's even better than this Actually%2C+it%27s+even+better+than+this NFL

We already knew the Broncos had a gem in Peyton Manning under center. And we already knew they were headed to the postseason. But with Sunday's 34-12 blowout of the Browns, Denver extended its winning streak to 10, moved into a first-place tie in the AFC with Houston, and can gain home-field advantage in the conference with a win over the Chiefs and a Texans loss in Week 17. Manning continued his MVP-caliber season with 339 yards and three touchdowns.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499193 Patriots are evolving Patriots+are+evolving NFL

With the production of tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski down because of injuries, the Patriots have done an interesting thing. They have rediscovered their running game. Their passing game was so precise, and so effective with the tight ends and slot receiver Wes Welker underneath, that they could afford to ignore the ground game for years. This season, however, Stevan Ridley has become only the fourth Patriots back to run for 1,000 yards in coach Bill Belichick's 13 seasons. Ridley ran for 84 yards Sunday in New England's workmanlike, 23-16 victory at Jacksonville. Believe it or not, New England leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 23. Just one more thing for defensive coordinators to consider in postseason game plans. They enter Week 17 sitting third in the conference standings, but could get the No. 1 seed with a win and losses by the Texans and Broncos and, even if that doesn't all happen, No. 2 and a first-round bye is a possibility, too.


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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499199 Indy's old guys aren't finished Indy%27s+old+guys+aren%27t+finished NFL

In an offseason of upheaval and renewal, the Indianapolis Colts wisely brought back a few veterans most pundits were sizing up for new uniforms. And they weren't kept around merely for the elusive 'locker room presence.' Wide receiver Reggie Wayne (pictured) was one such player. As quarterback Andrew Luck was collecting rookie records Sunday, Wayne was at the right spot and the right time to catch the game-winning touchdown in Indy's 20-13 victory over Kansas City. The Colts are back in the playoffs and locked into the No. 5 seed one season after going 2-14. And Wayne just might get to share a field with Peyton Manning again, as playoff opponents.


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AP Photo/Ed Zurga - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-11_20121223162042448_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-11_20121223162042448_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499203 Bengals have become the Steelers Bengals+have+become+the+Steelers NFL

Once upon a time, the Steelers won by controlling both sides of the line and making game-changing plays on defense. The quarterback's play was not a make-or-break issue. The 2012 Bengals are those Steelers. They have held five straight opponents to less than 100 yards rushing during the time of year the weather gives physical teams an even greater advantage. The Steelers on Sunday did shut down Cincinnati's running game, too, but they couldn't match the Bengals' big defensive plays. Cornerback Leon Hall's pick-six (pictured) opened the scoring, and Reggie Nelson's interception in the final minute set up the game-winning field goal as the Bengals prevailed 13-10, clinching the No. 5 seed in the AFC while knocking Pittsburgh out of playoff contention. With six wins in their past seven games, Cincy suddenly looks like a playoff team to fear.

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AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar - AP Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-9_20121223162634457_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-9_20121223162634457_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499190 Cam can save his coach ... Cam+can+save+his+coach+... NFL

... if Panthers owner Jerry Richardson is paying attention. Second-year head coach Ron Rivera seemed as good as gone when Carolina got off to a 2-7 start, during which Richardson fired the general manager who hired Rivera, Marty Hurney. But after a 17-6 victory over Oakland on Sunday, the Panthers have won three in a row and four of five to climb to 6-9 and match last year's win total. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (pictured) struck the Heisman pose Sunday, a reminder of how young he still is. Carolina's early season woes reflected Newton's inconsistency — nine touchdown passes, 10 interceptions. During the hot streak, he has 10 TD passes and only one pick. Will Richardson really blame the coach for the growing pains of a young QB?

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499196 Rivers might be 2013 fantasy steal Rivers+might+be+2013+fantasy+steal NFL

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (pictured) has been every bit as bad as the numbers tell us, with 43 turnovers since the start of the 2011 season. But he just might be a bounce-back candidate in 2013 after coach Norv Turner gets the boot. Rivers led the NFL in yard-per-attempt in every year from 2008-10 as he thrived in Turner's system, throwing plenty of deep balls and perfecting intermediate passes. As the Chargers' offensive line crumbled, Turner was slow to adjust and kept calling passes Rivers no longer had time to execute. Rushed passes, poor reads and a QB without confidence were the result. Well, Rivers had no turnovers Sunday in the Chargers' 27-17 victory over a team with an even worse O-line, the Jets. Rivers has thrown only one interception in the past five games. He's still a better QB than Turner is a coach.

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NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499192 The Bucs are out of gas The+Bucs+are+out+of+gas NFL

Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano had players practicing at game speed, or as close to it as he could duplicate, from the first day of training camp. It served a purpose, established his way of doing things and contributed to the team's 6-4 start. But the Buccaneers are now running on empty. Their 28-13 home loss to St. Louis was their fifth straight. They committed five turnovers for the second straight week. Quarterback Josh Freeman (pictured) ends the year pretty much status quo from where he started it — still a work in progress. A lost year? Not exactly. But much depends on whether Schiano continues to get buy-in from the players. The Bucs' offseason program might be more crucial than any other team's.

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-2_20121223161953435_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-2_20121223161953435_107_80.JPG
NFL 5 2020 What we learned in Week 16 31499194 Bills need renovation Bills+need+renovation NFL

The Buffalo Bills announced plans to improve and renovate rickety Ralph Wilson Stadium. They would be wise not to upgrade any of the video screens, unless they improve and renovate the product on the field. Buffalo threw another clunker Sunday, a 24-10 loss at Miami that ensured their third straight season with at least 10 losses. And this was supposed to be the dark-horse team for the playoffs? Buffalo entered the week last in the NFL in scoring defense. It's bad against the run and average against the pass. With an offense that boasts running back C.J. Spiller and not much else, the Bills' front office will be rebuilding long after the contractors punch out of the stadium job.


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Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-3_20121223161953440_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/12/23/122312-NFL-Lessons-Learned-Gallery-SW-3_20121223161953440_107_80.JPG
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