Week 16 in the NFL was great as the playoff picture is a lot clearer than the week before and is now in the books. Speaking of books, the NFL history books were subject to several changes.
The AFC playoff picture is set and is pretty much ready to go, with a couple positions left to be determine, and the NFC still have some loose ends to settle, but the light can be seen down the tunnel.
Week 16 resulted to these scenarios as all six playoff spots in the AFC have been clinched.
- The Cincinnati Bengals and the Indianapolis Colts each clinched a playoff berth Sunday. The Bengals defeated the Steelers at Pittsburgh 13-10 and the Colts earned their playoff berth on the road at Kansas City against the Chiefs, 20-13. Both teams earned Wild-Card berths.
- The once-shaky Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants 33-14 to clinch the AFC North.
- In the AFC, the Ravens (AFC North), Houston Texans (AFC South), Denver Broncos (AFC West), and the New England (AFC East) have clinched their division.
- On Saturday night, the Atlanta Falcons secured home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with their win against the Detroit Lions, 31-18.
- In the NFC, the Falcons (NFC South) and the Green Bay Packers (NFC North) have clinched their division.
- The Seattle Seahawks secured a playoff spot with their beatdown of the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night, 42-13. The Seahawks and 49ers can still win the NFC West. If the 49ers defeat the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17, their will win the division.
- The Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys remain in contention for the NFC East division title. The Redskins, Giants, Minnesota Vikings, and the Chicago Bears remain in the hunt for a Wild Card berth. However, if the Vikings defeat the Packers in Week 17, they are in.
The 2012 NFL season will forever be marked as the year for the rookie quarterback.
Four rookie quarterbacks – Colts’ Andrew Luck (4,183), Cleveland Browns’ Brandon Weeden (3,385), Redskins’ Robert Griffin III (3,100) and Miami Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill (3,059) – have already reached 3,000 passing yards this year, the most rookies to reach the mark in a season in NFL history.
“Robert, obviously being the quarterback, he leads them,” said Redskins’ head coach Mike Shanhan. “I think one of the biggest honors that Robert has had is being elected captain at mid point in the season. It doesn’t happen very often, so it kind of gives you an idea of what people think of him and how he handles himself on a day-to-day basis, because that’s not easy to have happen.”
Luck passed for 205 yards and a touchdown in the Colts’ victory Sunday. Luck has 4,183 passing yards and passed the record set by Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton a year ago of 4,051 yards for the most by a rookie in NFL history.
“That’s something that I didn’t know going into the season we would even come close to, with the number of other rookies that we have,” said Colts’ interim head coach Bruce Arians. “I knew he was capable of it. We’re not a dink and dunk offense. We’re throwing it down the field. If we complete them, we’re going to be up there around 4,000 yards every year like we always have been.”
Luck, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne with 4:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, has seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That is tied for the most by a quarterback in a single season since the 1970 merger.
The last quarterback to accomplish the feat was Peyton Manning in 2009.
Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson could join the rookie 3,000 passing yards club in the final week of the NFL (2,868). Wilson needs 132 yards against the St. Louis Rams.
Wilson threw for 171 yards with a career-high four touchdowns and a 115.3 passer rating Sunday. Wilson’s 25 touchdown passes this season are the second-most among rookie quarterbacks all-time, one shy of Manning’s record 26 in 1998.
Texans’ wide receiver Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 97 yards on Sunday. Johnson, who has 806 career receptions, recorded his 800th catch in his 137th game, reaching the mark in the second-fewest games in NFL history.
Only former Colts’ wide receiver Marvin Harrison amassed 800 catches in fewer games (131).
Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson totaled 225 receiving yards on 11 catches (20.5 average) on Saturday night in a losing effort against the Falcons. With the performance, Johnson accomplished the following feats:
- Set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season with 1,892 (Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, 1,848 in 1995).
- Recorded his 11th 100-yard receiving game in 2012, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11 in 1995) for the most in a season.
- Set an NFL record with eight consecutive 100-yard receiving games, surpassing Charley Hennigan (seven consecutive in 1961) and Irvin (seven consecutive in 1995) for the longest such streak in league history.
- Registered his NFL-record fourth consecutive game with 10 or more receptions.
Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 339 yards with three touchdowns for a 106.6 passer rating in a 34-12 win against the Browns, which helped the AFC West-champion Broncos improve to 12-3 after a slow start.
“I think we’ve made some strides each week,” said Manning. “I still have to admit that’s it’s not going to be [like] an offense that’s been together for five years. It’s not going to look like that because we haven’t. We’ve only been together for however many weeks, so we’ve tried to improve each week, but a lot of things just take time. We’re trying to do the best we can in this limited amount of time.”
Since entering the NFL in 1998, Manning’s teams have reached 12 regular-season wins in nine different seasons, the most by a starting quarterback in NFL history (Tom Brady currently have six, Brett Favre finished with six and Hall of Famers in John Elway and Jim Kelly had four).
“I know you guys don’t believe me when I say I’m still kind of learning about myself physically and what I can do,” said Manning when asked playing well at this time in his career. “It’s still the truth, and I still have things that are harder than they used to be and things that I continue to have to work on, from a rehab. standpoint to a strength standpoint. And that’s just the way it is, and maybe that’s just the way it’s going to be from here on out for me. I don’t know. I’m going to keep trying.”
New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees passed for 446 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s 34-31 overtime win against the Cowboys at Dallas. Brees has 4,781 passing yards and is the first player in NFL history to record at least 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons.
Over the past three seasons, Brees has 14,877 passing yards, the most in any three-year span in NFL history.
Patriots’ wide receiver Wes Welker had 10 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots’ 23-16 win against the Jaguars at Jacksonville. Welker has 18 career games with at least 10 catches and passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and Andre Johnson (17) for the most such games in NFL history.
Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten had six catches for 60 yards in the Cowboys’ overtime loss to the Saints. Witten has 103 receptions, the most by a tight end in a single season in NFL history. Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez set the record in 2004 with 102 receptions.
For Week 17, the Playoff scenarios are as followed:
Texans (at Indianapolis)
Houston clinches a first-round bye with:
1) HOU win or tie or
2) NE loss or tie or
3) DEN loss
Texans clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) HOU win or
2) HOU tie + DEN loss or tie or
3) NE loss or tie + DEN loss
Broncos (vs. Kansas City)
Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
1) DEN win or tie or
2) NE loss or tie
Denver clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) DEN win + HOU loss or tie or
2) DEN tie + HOU loss
Patriots (vs. Miami)
New England clinches a first-round bye with:
1) NE win + DEN loss or
2) NE win + HOU loss
New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) NE win + DEN loss + HOU loss
Packers (at Minnesota)
Green Bay clinches a first-round bye with:
1) GB win or
2) GB tie + SF loss or tie or
3) SF loss + SEA loss or tie
49ers (vs. Arizona)
San Francisco clinches NFC West division with:
1) SF win or tie or
2) SEA loss or tie
San Francisco clinches a first-round bye with:
1) SF win + GB loss or tie or
2) SF tie + GB loss
Seahawks (vs. St. Louis)
Seattle clinches NFC West division with:
1) SEA win + SF loss
Seattle clinches a first-round bye with:
1) SEA win + SF loss + GB loss
Redskins (vs. Dallas)
Washington clinches NFC East division with:
1) WAS win or tie
Washington clinches a playoff spot with:
1) CHI loss + MIN loss
Cowboys (at Washington)
Dallas clinches NFC East division with:
1) DAL win
Giants (vs. Philadelphia)
New York clinches a playoff spot with:
1) NYG win + DAL loss or tie + CHI loss + MIN loss
Vikings (vs. Green Bay)
Minnesota clinches a playoff spot with:
1) MIN win or
2) MIN tie + CHI loss or tie or
3) DAL loss or tie + NYG loss or tie + CHI loss
Bears (at Detroit)
Chicago clinches a playoff spot with:
1) CHI win + MIN loss or tie or
2) CHI tie + MIN loss