NFL Week 16 Winners and Losers

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IDecember 25, 2011

NFL Week 16 Winners and Losers

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    Week 16 had major playoff implications, as teams that we thought were destined for the postseason came up short, while unproven contenders came up big.

    The second last week of the regular season gave us plenty of entertainment and shock, and it left fans questioning where there teams went wrong.

    Here are the biggest winners and losers from this week of football action. 

Winner: New York Giants

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    The Giants came out on top of the do or die battle known as the Battle of New York. 

    Despite being outplayed for most of the game, Eli Manning and company used big plays to their advantage.

    Manning connected with stud wide receiver Victor Cruz for a colossal 99 yard touchdown late in the first half, and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined to dominate the Jets defense in the second half.

    The Giants pass rush was ferocious, as the team recorded five sacks, and pressured Mark Sanchez all day long.

    Big Blue will now play for the division at home against the Cowboys next Sunday. 

Loser: New York Jets

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    The New York Jets are regarded as one of the finest teams in the league in the clutch, but Sunday proved that they are pretenders this season. 

    Despite handling the Giants for the majority of the game, the Jets could not come up with any big plays. Mark Sanchez failed to impress by committing numerous turnovers in key times.

    The 29-14 loss should be completely blamed on the offense, as the Gang Green defense was stiff all game. Stars David Harris and Darrelle Revis both had excellent games, but Antonio Cromartie and the rest of the Jets secondary struggled, allowing big plays and missing multiple tackles.

    The Jets offensive line was outplayed by the Giants elite defensive line all day, and Mark Sanchez was under pressure for the majority of the game. 

    New York now needs a miracle to make the postseason. To claim the final spot in the AFC playoffs, The Jets have to beat the Dolphins next week, while also getting losses from the Bengals, Titans and Broncos or Raiders

Winner: Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Bengals now control their own playoff destiny. After a huge win over the Arizona Cardinals, and a Jets loss, Cincinnati is now the lone team to sit at 9-6 in the AFC. 

    Andy Dalton and company dominated for the first three quarters on Sunday, as they jumped out to a 23-0 lead. The young team received a scare from a determined Arizona squad late, but they still managed to hold on for a 23-16 win.

    Cincinnati has been one of the most surprising teams in the league this year, as they have managed to compete with some of football's finest teams with a rookie quarterback.

    A win against a strong Ravens squad will give the Bengals their first playoff berth since 2009. 

Loser: Philadelphia Eagles

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    Despite beating the Cowboys 20-7 in Dallas to continue their late season surge, the Philadelphia Eagles were eliminated by virtue of a Giants win.

    The Eagle season is a perfect example of "too little, too late", as the team was a colossal disappointment for the majority of the season, before putting it together late.

    Michael Vick and company will be Super Bowl favorite heading into next season, but Philly fans will be hard pressed to forget such a depressing season. 

Winner: Oakland Raiders

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    Even with a late season collapse, the Oakland Raiders are still in a prime position for a postseason berth.

    Carson Palmer's struggles mounted Saturday, but a terrific defensive effort was enough to squeak by Kansas City, 16-13.

    After surviving a determined Chiefs team on Christmas Eve, the Raiders can now win the AFC West or the final wild card spot with a win and some help in Week 17.

    Oakland will win the division with a win and a Broncos loss, or claim the final wild card spot with a win and losses by the Titans and Bengals.

Loser: Dallas Cowboys

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    Not only did the Dallas Cowboys lose 20-7 to the Eagles at home on Saturday, they also lost starting quarterback Tony Romo to injury.

    Romo suffered a bruised hand in the first quarter of the divisional matchup, as he was thrown to the ground viciously by Jason Babin. The star quarterback did not return to the game. 

    Dallas had a chance to wrap up the NFC East this week, but a Giants win killed those hopes. 

    The Cowboys will now have face a do or die game with Big Blue this week, with Tony Romo's status in jeopardy. 

Winner: Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions continued their remarkable season with a blowout win over a solid Chargers squad at home on Saturday.

    The 38-10 win not only moved them to a superb 10-5, but it also guaranteed them a playoff spot for the first time this decade. 

    Matthew Stafford was absolutely terrific all game long, and the defense was stingy, to say the least.

    The young Lions can be a very dangerous postseason team if they can continue to mature on both sides of the ball. 

Loser: San Diego Chargers

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    Another season, another choke by the San Diego Chargers.

    After a dominating win over the Ravens last week, as well as Broncos loss earlier in the day, the Chargers appeared like they could actually make the playoffs if they could win out. 

    Philip Rivers and company responded with a horrific showing in Detroit, as they were completely dominated all day long.

    The embarrassing 38-10 loss eliminated San Diego from postseason contention, and almost assuredly ended the Norv Turner era in Southern California. 

Winner: Tennessee Titans

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    The Tennessee Titans have received little media coverage this year, but the team is now in a very good position to claim a wild card spot in the AFC.

    After a narrow 23-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Titans now sit at 8-7. The team overcame another subpar performance from Chris Johnson, thanks to a superb game from Matt Hasselbeck and a terrific showing from the defense. 

    Tennessee needs a win over the Texans, coupled with a Bengals loss to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

    Houston could rest their starters against Tennessee, as the team has already clinched the division title, and has no hope of getting a first round bye. 

Loser: Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings future looks very cloudy after a 33-26 win over the Washington Redskins this week.

    The Vikings put themselves out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes with the win, and they also lost their two most important starters.

    Star running back Adrian Peterson went down with an extremely scary leg injury in the second quarter of the win. Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier told reporters that All Day had a sprained knee after the game, and that he will undergo an MRI in Minneapolis.

    Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder was knocked out of the game with a concussion a few plays later.

    The franchise already has gaping holes across the roster, but the loss of their two most significant offensive starters brings even more question marks to Minnesota. 

Winner: San Francisco 49ers

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    The 49ers moved one step closer to a first round bye on Saturday, as they claimed a hard fought 19-17 win over the Seahawks

    San Francisco's defense struggled without Patrick Willis, as the team allowed Marshawn Lynch to rush for 100 yards, as well as a run for a touchdown. The game marked the first time this season an opposing running back reached those milestones against the 49ers. 

    However, the defense came through in the clutch, as they spoiled two potential game-winning drives by the Seahawks in the final minutes. 

    Alex Smith was sloppy in the first half, but he picked up his play late to lead the 49ers to a crucial win.

    Jim Harbaugh and company can now clinch a first round bye in the playoffs with a win over the lowly Rams next Sunday. 

Loser: Tim Tebow

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    Tim Tebow's resilience will now be questioned after a mistake filled outing in Buffalo this week.

    The polarizing quarterback threw four interceptions, including two pick-sixes, in an embarrassing 40-14 loss against the Bills.

    One week after a tough loss to the Patriots, the quarterback failed to silence critics. The Florida did not help his case in being the franchise quarterback in Denver.