Most of the playoff spots are clinched with only one week remaining in the NFL regular season, but plenty of intrigue remains. Three divisions are yet to be determined, with the AFC North, NFC North and NFC South coming down to head-to-head matchups.
So much fun remains and for some, just a tad of misery before we move onto the postseason and offseason, respectively. So what did we learn with the results of Week 16? Plenty.
1. Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals can win a big game
The Bengals are a good team. However, they often lose when the lights come on. Including the playoffs, Dalton was 2-9 in primetime entering Monday night against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. However, Cincinnati rose to the occasion, picking Manning off four times in a 37-28 win. The victory clinched a playoff berth for the Bengals, their fourth consecutive. Should they win a postseason affair, it will be the first time since 1991.
2. The Indianapolis Colts are not contenders
Indianapolis won the AFC South and at 10-5, is locked into the AFC’s fourth seed in the playoffs. The Colts will likely play the loser of the Bengals-Steelers game on Sunday Night Football, and it could beat either team at Lucas Oil Stadium. After that, the Colts will be unceremoniously bounced by either the New England Patriots or Broncos. Andrew Luck is terrific, but he can’t play defense or block. Indianapolis was hammered 42-7 by the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, showcasing all its flaws. General manager Ryan Grigson has some serious work to do.
3. Odell Beckham Jr. might be the best receiver in football … now
Beckham Jr. has been a revelation for the New York Giants in his rookie season. The first-round pick out of LSU has torn the NFL to shreds in a way we haven’t seen from a rookie since Randy Moss in 1998. In only 11 games, Beckham Jr. has caught 79 passes for 1,120 yards and 11 touchdowns on a team without another legitimate outside threat. Beckham torched a solid St. Louis Rams secondary for two scores and 148 yards, his third consecutive 100-yard game.
4. Joe Philbin won’t be going anywhere
After a wild 37-35 win over the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross declared that Philbin will be staying in South Beach, earning a fourth year, per ESPN. Philbin has the Dolphins 8-7 after finishing 8-8 last year and 7-9 in 2012. With a promising roster in hand led by Ryan Tannehill and Cameron Wake, Philbin will have one more opportunity to lead Miami into the postseason for the first time since 2008.
5. The New Orleans Saints should be blown up
New Orleans lost its fourth straight game in the Superdome, this time a crushing 30-14 decision to the Atlanta Falcons. The defeat eliminated the Saints from playoff contention and should make general manager Mickey Loomis gut the roster. Next year, New Orleans is projected to be $20.5 million above the salary cap, per Over The Cap. It is hard to say where the Saints should start with this purge, considering the amount of big-money, long-term deals they are locked into. Seriously, look at this train wreck, via Spotrac. Good luck, New Orleans.