NFL Week 16 Damage Report: Changes in the Betting Landscape

NFL Week 16 Damage Report: Changes in the Betting Landscape

Week 16 in the NFL will wrap up with a significant cross-conference matchup on Monday Night Football between the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints, but Sunday’s action already brought long-awaited clarity to the NFL playoff picture, at least in terms of the teams that will make the playoffs in the NFC.

As of Monday morning, the Packers, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Rams, and Cardinals have all clinched playoff berths, and the first three teams on that list have clinched their division, while the Rams hold a one-game edge on the Cardinals in the NFC West race. This weekend’s action muddied the water on which NFC team should be favored, as quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys got back on track, the Buccaneers suffered another key injury, and the Packers, Rams, and Cardinals turned in lackluster performances, but most of the NFC field is now locked in.

The opposite is true in the AFC, where the Chiefs are the only team that has clinched a playoff berth. Kansas City sits at 11-5, Tennessee at 10-5, and behind them, 11 of the conference’s 16 teams have between seven and nine wins, including all four teams in the AFC North. Last week’s Damage Report column focused on the favorites, a conversation that was shaken up this weekend, but with a Chargers loss to Houston creating a wide-open field in the AFC Wild card race, it seems only fitting to start there. All odds are provided by DraftKings.

What happened to the Chargers?

After finding a variety of ridiculous ways to lose games during the 2020 NFL campaign, the Chargers appeared to have turned the corner early in 2021 as second-year quarterback Justin Herbert led them to a 4-1 start that included a road win over the division rival Chiefs.

Little has gone right since then; the aggressive decisions that worked early started to turn up negative in a 34-6 loss to the Ravens, a game that started the 4-6 skid the Chargers find themselves on entering the final two weeks of the season. Two weeks ago, the Chargers appeared to be on their way to a win over the Chiefs that would have created a race for the AFC West title; instead, they now risk finishing last in the division if they lose to the Raiders and Broncos in the final two weeks of the NFL season.

If the Chargers had beaten the Texans on Sunday, the AFC field would be close to set, with the Chargers fitting in as the third Wild Card team with the Colts and Patriots, who will make the playoffs barring a complete collapse. The Colts and Patriots both play Jacksonville in one of their final two games and will finish with at least 10 wins if they beat the Jaguars, a scenario that would leave nine teams to battle for two playoff spots through the AFC North title and the third Wild Card spot. Los Angeles appeared set to fill that final berth, but after Sunday’s loss, there are endless scenarios on the table.

San Francisco and Philadelphia set to round out NFC Field

San Francisco could have locked up their spot and created even more chaos in the AFC if they had beaten the Titans last week, but the 49ers get a chance for redemption against the Texans, while the Eagles will look to extend the Football Team’s recent misery against NFC East rivals and come one step closer to a playoff berth.

Washington had an opportunity to make a playoff push in early December, but the Football Team has been blown out in three straight games, a streak that includes a pair of losses to the Cowboys and another to the Eagles. The Football Team still has an opportunity to shake up the NFC Wild Card picture if they can get their revenge on the Eagles this week, but given the way quarterback Taylor Heinicke has been beaten up over the past few weeks and the Football Team’s continued frustrations on defense, that appears to be a longshot.

NFL fans don’t have to look any further than Philadelphia’s loss to the Giants a few weeks ago to remember that anything could happen in this matchup between the Eagles and the Football Team, but Philadelphia and San Francisco should be able to push their respective records to 9-7 ahead of the final week of the NFL’s regular season. The Saints could the race more interesting if they find a way to beat the Dolphins with rookie Ian Book at quarterback, which would put New Orleans at 8-7, but if Miami wins tonight, the Eagles and 49ers will be in an excellent position to punch their NFL playoff tickets next week.

Joe Burrow vs. Patrick Mahomes Headlines Week 17

Over the past few seasons, Bengals fans have gotten glimpses of talent from their pieces on offense that made it reasonable to imagine Sunday’s performance against the Ravens, though the group seemed incapable of getting on the same page for the same game.

That changed against a depleted Ravens defense on Sunday, when running back Joe Mixon and wide receivers Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd all put up huge production numbers as quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 525 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions in a pivotal AFC North matchup.

The concern for Bengals fans is that Cincinnati also put up 41 points in their first win over Baltimore this season, but it was not a sign of good things to come, as the Bengals proceeded to drop games to the Jets and Browns. Cincinnati will be in the discussion as a Super Bowl contender this offseason regardless of what happens this weekend, but a win in their matchup with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off a resounding victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, would put the rest of the NFL on notice that Burrow and his star-studded cast of weapons are ready to compete with the NFL’s best in this year’s playoffs.

The Bengals started this season with exceptionally long odds to win the AFC North and a quarterback whose future was in question following a torn ACL; Burrow’s rebound from that injury has made it a successful campaign for Cincinnati regardless of how things finish, but it will take the hype train to a whole new level if the Bengals can carry this performance forward and make noise in the AFC playoffs this season. After losses to the Chargers and 49ers, DraftKings had the Bengals at +300 to win the AFC North; entering the final two weeks, “Who Dey” nation is the division favorite at -225.


This article recapped developments from around the NFL this weekend. For more of The Professor’s content check him out on BeerLife Sports!

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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.