NFL Week 16: Things That We Learned from Sunday's Action

Matt SchreiberAnalyst IIIDecember 23, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 23: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates his touchdown run against the Tennessee Titans at Lambeau Field on December 23, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn /Getty Images)
Tom Lynn/Getty Images

Week 16 of the NFL season brought plenty of games with many playoff implications on the line. It surely didn't disappoint us as fans, unless you root for the Giants or Steelers.

Let's take a look at eight things we learned from all of the action on Sunday.


1. The Minnesota Vikings are more than just Adrian Peterson.

The fact that the Vikings won in Houston without a 100-yard performance from Peterson boggles my mind. Their defense stepped up in the clutch when they needed to. Christian Ponder didn't make mistakes.

If the Vikings beat the Packers at home on Sunday, they hold the tiebreaker over Chicago that would enable them to get in the playoffs.



2. The Green Bay Packers are going to be tough to beat in January.

Yes, they beat a porous Tennessee Titans team, but what Aaron Rodgers was able to do is tough against any team. He lit up the stat sheet with three passing touchdowns and one on the ground.

Once the Packers get a healthy Jordy Nelson back, the Packers will be a force to be reckoned with. If the 49ers lose to the Seahawks tonight and the Packers win next week, they will seal up a first-round bye for the second consecutive year.



3. Adrian Peterson can still break the rushing record.

Peterson needs 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 yards. The Vikings play the Packers, who rank 13th in the league against the run. Whatever their ranking may be will have no bearing on Sunday's contest.

Peterson has lit up the the Packers in the past, including a 210-yard performance in Green Bay just three weeks back. If he repeats his last performance, the record becomes his.



4. The New York Giants can't win the NFC East.

The Giants' loss to the Ravens today was crucial. While they are still alive for the Wild Card, their three losses within the NFC East hands the tiebreaker to the winner of the Dallas and Washington game in Week 17.

It has been a roller coaster ride for the Giants this year, but it seems unlikely we will see them do what they did last year.



5. Nobody wants to play the Carolina Panthers. 

Cam Newton may be the hottest quarterback in the league right now. The Panthers have won 4-of-5 since Week 12, including a routing of the Atlanta Falcons.

They were certainly a disappointment all year, but their outlook for next year is looking great.



6. Peyton Manning is inching closer to winning both the MVP and Comeback Player of the Year.

Peyton's 339 yards Sunday against the Cleveland Browns put him over 4,000 yards. Not many people were saying that was possible in the preseason. Factor in that he has led the Broncos to 10 consecutive wins, and he is making a solid case for the league MVP.

The Broncos have the second-best record in the NFL and are still very much alive for the top seed in the AFC. If they beat the the Chiefs on Sunday and the Texans lose to the Colts in Indianapolis, home-field advantage belongs to the Broncos.

Manning already has Comeback Player of the Year locked up. You can make a case for Adrian Peterson, but Manning missed the entire season last year. Peterson played in more than 10 games in 2011. 


7. The Redskins/Cowboys game next Sunday will be one for the ages.

Hollywood couldn't have written a better script. Analysts across the country had either the Philadelphia Eagles or the New York Giants winning the division. Well, that's not the case.

The Redskins have been an abysmal franchise since they made it to the postseason back in 2007. After getting Robert Griffin III and stealing Alfred Morris in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL draft, the Redskins are revitalized. They will be a threat in the division for years to come.

Tony Romo has been playing great lately. His 400-plus yards against the Saints Sunday and four touchdowns weren't enough, but his mistake-free football of late will make for an amazing game. 

Winner takes all. The game's in DC. It will be a great one.



8. Jamaal Charles' talents are going to waste in Kansas City.

Charles' 226 yards Sunday were one of two 200-yard games that he has had this year. His team often falls behind early, leaving him virtually invisible from the game. 

He is obviously not going anywhere anytime soon, but it is unfortunate that he is unable to be utilized in the way he should be.

Other notes from the weekend: The Bengals clinched a playoff birth for the second consecutive year. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins were both eliminated from contention. Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record.