This Week in the NFL – Week 16, 2021

Hey everyone, Tyler Arthur here, welcome to my weekly NFL column.

I am going to be using this space to keep all of you guys up to date with what you may have missed in the NFL, the biggest takeaways and stats, and then preview the upcoming week and what I think you need to be watching next.

Thanks for reading, now let’s get into this week’s column.

Ho Ho Holy moly what a week!

Merry Christmas everybody. All of us at #TeamUKFL send all best wishes and Christmas cheer to you and yours at this awesome time of year. We hope you (responsibly) had an amazing time this weekend and will do the same (responsibly!) at New Year’s Eve!

The best thing about this holiday season, though… There’s loads of NFL football!

This week saw a pretty epic Christmas slate, with as many close games as you could ask for. We almost hit double digits for games that finished separated by just one score. There was late drama, a historic moment or two and some great football all around.

Without further delay, let’s talk about what happened This Week in the NFL.

Cleats of the Week – Christmas Edition!

Marcedes Lewis!

Halftime Entertainment of the Week – Corgi Edition!

Upset of the Week!

Los Angeles Chargers @ Houston Texans

At a stage of the season where teams are fighting for playoff spots, trying to finish strong and get a good seeding, there is always the danger that the pressure will result in an upset or two where teams with nothing to lose sneak one over a contender. That is precisely what happened in Houston this week.

The Texans shocked the LA Chargers with a crazy fourth quarter effort that sent a seriously good football team home disappointed. It was 15-17 when the third ended, with the Chargers just two points back. It ended 41-29. With just over 2 and a half minutes left, the Texans scored and then almost immediately they scored a pick-six on Justin Herbert to end the game.

The Chargers entered the week from the 6th seed in the AFC with aspirations of bringing some momentum into their last two games of the year, but instead they got stunned and are now under some real pressure entering the final fortnight.

Winners and Losers


Tennessee Titans (10-5)

Green Bay Packers (12-3)

Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

Atlanta Falcons (7-8)

Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

Los Angeles Rams (11-4)

Buffalo Bills (9-6)

New York Jets (4-11)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4)

Houston Texans (4-11)

Chicago Bears (5-10)

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4)

Las Vegas Raiders (8-7)

Dallas Cowboys (11-4)

Miami Dolphins (8-7)


San Francisco 49ers (8-7)

Cleveland Browns (7-8)

Arizona Cardinals (10-5)

Detroit Lions (2-12-1)

Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

Minnesota Vikings (7-8)

New England Patriots (9-6)

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13)

New York Giants (4-11)

Carolina Panthers (5-10)

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

Seattle Seahawks (5-10)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)

Denver Broncos (8-7)

Washington Football Team (6-9)

New Orleans Saints (7-8)

Playoff Picture

AFC Playoff Spots Week 16

#1 – Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) **Clinched Division.

#2 – Tennessee Titans (10-5)

#3 – Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

#4 – Buffalo Bills (9-6)

#5 – Indianapolis Colts (9-6)

#6 – New England Patriots (9-6)

#7 – Miami Dolphins (8-7)

AFC Playoff Hopefuls

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7)

Las Vegas Raiders (8-7)

Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1)

Cleveland Browns (7-8)

Denver Broncos (7-8)

AFC Playoff Outlook

In the AFC, it is very much still all to play for. There has only been one playoff spot clinched, with Kansas City locking down the top spot in the AFC West. Their 11-4 record sits them atop a very competitive and intense AFC. Each other division hangs in the balance. The Bengals Week 16 win over Baltimore could prove a decisive blow but they are facing the Chiefs in Week 17 and they’re after that bye week. The AFC East could go either way, with the Bills and Patriots both on 9-6 records, and Miami just slightly trail at 8-7, currently in the final wildcard spot.

The AFC South is also looking like it could see extra representation, with the Titans and Colts jostling for the division lead at 10-5 and 9-6 respectively. The AFC West still looks like it could cause absolute chaos in these final weeks, with the Chargers and Raiders at 8-7 and Denver rocking a 7-8 record. In Week 17, the Broncos visit the Chargers and then in Week 18, the Chargers are going to Las Vegas.

And as if the divisional rivalry games aren’t plentiful enough. The Browns and Steelers have a date on Monday Night Football this week, with 7-8 and 7-7-1 records respectively. Then, in Week 18, they have to face their other two fierce divisional rivals, for some of the biggest and most intense games of the season.

It’s going to get really crazy down the stretch here, just sit back and enjoy the wild race as it unfolds.

NFC Playoff Spots Week 16

#1 – Green Bay Packers (12-3) ** Clinched Division.

#2 – Dallas Cowboys (11-4) ** Clinched Division.

#3 – Los Angeles Rams (11-4) * Clinched Playoff Berth.

#4 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) ** Clinched Division.

#5 – Arizona Cardinals (10-5) * Clinched Playoff Berth.

#6 – San Francisco 49ers (8-7)

#7 – Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)

NFC Playoff Hopefuls

Minnesota Vikings (7-8)

Atlanta Falcons (7-8)

New Orleans Saints (7-8)

Washington Football Team (6-9)

NFC Playoff Outlook

While the AFC is wide open, the NFC is about as tightly locked in as it could be through 16 weeks. Of the seven playoff berths, five have already been clinched, and the final two spots are up for grabs but it won’t be easy. The WFT would require a bit of a miracle to make the playoffs, but there are five other teams who are all separated by just one win.

The Niners and Eagles are in a good position, on 8-7 records, but neither have it easy. In their remaining two games, the Eagles have two divisional games, with Washington and Dallas both threatening their hopes. While the Niners have a theoretically easy Week 17 fixture vs Houston, they need to face the LA Rams in the final week.  The Saints and Falcons are meeting in Week 18, which could be epic, but Atlanta have to visit Buffalo first, a tough matchup.

Albeit a less open playoff race than in the AFC, the reduced availability of places creates even more tension in the remaining games for those hunting them. Also, don’t underestimate the desire from the Rams and Cardinals to win that division. They may have clinched playoff spots, but they won’t be satisfied until the NFC West is won.

Standout Individual Performers 

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

One of the best quarterback stat lines I have ever seen.

525 passing yards, 4 Touchdowns, 0 INT’s, 80% completion rate. 143.2 QB Rating.

My god, Joe Burrow. This is why the Bengals drafted the LSU quarterback, the ability have a game like this. In a Week 16 matchup against your division rivals and the leaders of the AFC North, Burrow decided to go absolutely nuclear. He threw the ball 46 times and completed 37 of them (80%) for a ridiculous total of 525 yards. Those 525 yards are the fourth-most in NFL history (it’s only happened 24 times in history, by the way) and he was just 3 yards shy of securing second place.

On top of the insane yardage, Burrow also threw 4 TD’s with no interceptions, as he dominated the Ravens for the second time this year. I am pretty confident in saying that the Cinci QB quite enjoys his rivalry games with Baltimore. The Bengals have won the two games with a combined score of 82-38 and Burrow’s two-game line is frankly hilarious: 941 yards, 7 TD’s and 1 interception.

Take a bow, Joe Burrow.

Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals

12 receptions, 194 yards and 2 TD’s.

Naturally, Joe had to have someone to throw the ball to! Tee Higgins had an absolutely huge day, catching 12 of his 13 total targets. He turned them into 194 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns as he absolutely torched the Ravens secondary all game. The rapport between Burrow and Higgins is evident and Ja’Marr Chase’s great rookie season seems to have actually benefited the second-year wideout to have more favourable looks at the defense. He has gone for over 100 yards in four of his last five games and looks incredible, right now.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

18 carries for 65 yards and a TD, plus 6 receptions for 70 yards and another TD.

Alright, this is the last Bengal, I promise. Star running back Joe Mixon had a few pretty uninspiring weeks after his huge weeks against the Raiders and Steelers, but this week he came back with a great day. He scored once through the air and once on the ground, while turning his 24 total opportunities into 135 scrimmage yards.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

72% completion rate, 330 passing yards and 4 TD’s.

There were a few blowouts this week, but this one was the biggest. The Cowboys beat Washington 56-14 and Dak Prescott had quite a day during the big win. He threw 330 passing yards and 4 touchdowns as they dominated on their home field. They have clinched the NFC East and their offense continues to look very dangerous as they prepare for the playoffs and try to secure as high a seed as possible.

Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

10 receptions, 114 yards and 2 TD’s.

First things first, congratulations to Aaron Rodgers for becoming the Green Bay Packers all-time TD leader with his throw to Allen Lazard early in the game, that 443rd touchdown pass will go down in history. Now that we’ve given him some love, let’s talk about the player who caught #444 and #445. Davante Adams remains to be one of the elite players in the league, and for my money he’s the best WR out there. He saw 13 targets this week and caught 10 of them for 114 yards while scoring twice in a historic Christmas Day at Lambeau.

A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans

11 receptions, 145 yards and a TD.

When your best offensive player is injured it’s pretty tough, but when your best and second best offensive players are both injured at the same time, it can be really really rough. That’s what the Titans were dealing with for the last month. This week, though, A.J. Brown returned to action, and he announced his return the best way he knows how. He caught 11 of his 16 targets and turned them into 145 yards. He also scored his 4th TD of the year.

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers

9 receptions, 159 yards.

One of the true breakout stars of 2021 without a doubt, Deebo Samuel continued his path of destruction through NFL defenses on Thursday Night Football. The Titans got the win, but that was not for his lack of effort. Samuel caught 9 balls and turned them into 159 receiving yards. He also added another 32 yards on the ground, where he’s been very dangerous lately. It was actually the first time in five weeks he didn’t hit the end zone, but still a great performance in an intense game.

Damien Harris, New England Patriots

18 carries for 103 yards and 3 TD’s.

One of the most efficient running backs in the NFL, Damien Harris continues to prove himself a worthy recipient of the main workload in New England. Bill Belichick hasn’t traditionally been a workhorse guy, putting it all on one RB, but Harris honestly commands touches. This week he returned after missing two games and instantly picked up where he left off, carrying the ball 18 times and scoring three times with 103 yards. The Pats lost but not through any fault of Harris, who was responsible for all three of their TD’s in the 21-33 loss to Buffalo.

Justin Jackson, Los Angeles Chargers

11 carries for 64 yard and 2 TD’s, plus 8 receptions for another 98 yards.

The Chargers may have lost with their star RB Austin Ekeler on the COVID list, but we have to show some love to the man who got the work in his absence. Justin Jackson stepped up and took on the majority of the receiving work as well as getting some rushing attempts too. He carried the ball 11 times for a very respectable 64 yards, while scoring twice. He also caught 8 of his 9 targets for another 98 receiving yards. That’s an Ekeler-esque line, and I think Jackson put in a valiant effort despite his team’s shortcomings.

Rex Burkhead, Houston Texans

22 carries for 149 rushing yards and 2 TD’s.

And the award for the unexpected stat line of the week goes too… Rex Burkhead! A man we once saw as a receiving back in a specialist role for the Patriots, the Texans RB has suddenly found himself in a much more traditional role, with 49 carries in his last three games and just 7 receptions. This week he showed that it might be worth deploying him on the ground more often. He rushed the ball 22 times and accumulated 149 rushing yards and a pair of TD’s in the upset win against the Chargers.

Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys

2 solo tackles, a 40-yard pick 6 and a sack.

This was a real feel-good performance to watch. In Week 1 of 2021, Demarcus Lawrence got injured and looked like he was going to miss near enough the entire season. This forced Dallas to reshuffle their defense entirely and they even changed their superstar Mike linebacker draft pick, Micah Parsons, to an edge rusher because of it. At the start of December, Lawrence managed to make it back into the team and he has been gradually finding his feet again. This week, though, he had his best game of the season, recording his second sack of the year, making two solo tackles and even securing a 40-yard pick six.

William Gholston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3 combined tackles and 2.5 sacks.

It feels like the individual players in Tampa’s front seven can just chop and change with every given week, this week William Gholston, one of their interior rushers, secured 2.5 sacks despite only having 2 solo tackles and one assisted tackle. Yes, that means that every single time he made a tackle, he was tackling the quarterback. A cool stat and a great performance.

Rasul Douglas, Green Bay Packers

5 solo tackles, and 2 interceptions.

He strikes again! The Green Bay Packers have an elite offense and some of the biggest stars in the NFL on their roster, but one of their best players this season has been Rasul Douglas. The fifth-year cornerback got the first multiple-interception game of his career, as they defeated Cleveland. Baker Mayfield never looked fully comfortable in the Christmas day game and Douglas took full advantage.

Games to watch back

Ravens @ Bengals

Browns @ Packers

Chargers @ Texans

Stat Leaders Through Week 16

Passing Yards – Tom Brady, 4580

Passing TD’s – Tom Brady, 37

Rushing Yards – Jonathan Taylor, 1626

Rushing TD’s – Jonathan Taylor, 17

Receiving Yards – Cooper Kupp, 1734

Receiving TD’s – Cooper Kupp, 14

Total TD’s – Jonathan Taylor, 19

Tackles (combined) – Bobby Wagner, 170

Sacks – T.J. Watt, 17.5

Interceptions – Trevon Diggs, 11

Week 17 – What to Watch

Week 17 Best Games

Chiefs @ Bengals, 6pm

Raiders @ Colts, 6pm

Rams @ Ravens, 6pm

Broncos @ Chargers, 9:05pm

Browns @ Steelers, MNF

Week 17 Storylines and what to watch

Can Buffalo stay atop their division while fending off a playoff-hunting Atlanta? Falcons @ Bills, 6pm

Can Joe Burrow match this week’s huge performance against the dominant Kansas City? Chiefs @ Bengals, 6pm

An AFC playoff clash, one team defending their seeding, the other trying to secure the final wildcard spot. Dolphins @ Titans, 6pm

An absolutely huge game for the AFC playoff race. Raiders @ Colts, 6pm

Will Washington stay alive another week, or will Philly protect their wildcard spot? Eagles @ Washington, 6pm

Baltimore look to cling on to their season, fighting injuries and illness, against a tough opponent. Rams @ Ravens, 6pm

Do Houston have another upset in their locker, to shake up the playoff picture? Texans @ Niners, 9:05pm

A battle for seeding in the NFC bracket, Cardinals @ Cowboys, 9:25pm

Will Green Bay’s quest for a bye week ruin Minnesota’s playoff chances? Vikings @ Packers, SNF

Epic AFC North clash, whoever wins will keep their hopes alive, the loser will almost certainly kiss their playoff hopes goodbye. Browns @ Steelers, MNF