What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 16 – The New York Times, The New York Times

What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 16 – The New York Times, The New York Times

The Ravens clinched the top spot in the AFC, the Eagles beat the Cowboys, the Cardinals beat the Seahawks and Michael Thomas broke a celebrated record.

**********************************************The Titans had two defenders trying to cover Michael Thomas when he broke. Marvin Harrison’s single-season receptions record. You will have to trust us, as neither player was close enough to Thomas to make it into the picture.
(************** Credit …) **************************************** Mark Zaleski / Associated Press
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    It was hard for Sunday to live up to

    Saturday’s thrilling action, but another huge Baltimore victory, an enormous upset in Seattle, multiple games that went to overtime, a change at the top of the NFC East standings, and a major receiving record being broken gave the second day of Week a massive impact.Here’s what we learned from Sunday’s games:****************************************************** (Michael Thomas has a perfect Twitter handle.) *************************************** The superstar wide receiver goes by@ Cantguardmike************** (online, and he proves

  • ************** the accuracy of that nameon nearly a weekly basis. In the Saints’ 43 – victory over Tennessee on Sunday, Thomas had (catches for yards and a touchdown – his ninth game this season with or more catches. More important, his 13 th catch of the day broke Marvin Harrison’s – year-old record of catches in a season. The Most Valuable Player Award is Lamar Jackson’s to lose, but Thomas, who did not slow down even when Drew Brees missed five games, could be the first wide receiver to receive votes for the award since Randy Moss in (********************************************************************************. ****************************

    Lamar Jackson can take the next few weeks off.

    with their th consecutive win, the Ravens clinched the top seed in the AFC, earning a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Their next meaningful game will not come until Jan. 14, which could lead to some rest for Jackson, who has virtually sewn up the MVP with 3, 143 passing yards, 1, 195 rushing yards and total touchdowns. In his postgame news conference on Sunday, Jacksonsaid he would leave the decision of whether he plays against Pittsburgh in Week 17 to Coach John HarbaughWhen asked for his plans, Harbaugh said he would meet with the team’s player leadership council this week to determine if Jackson, or any other starters, will sit in a game that has no importance to Baltimore but is crucial for Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes.Regardless of what happens with Jackson, the 22 – day wait for another meaningful game could be hugely beneficial to running back Mark Ingram II, who left Sunday’s game with a calf injury.
    ************************** The future looks bright in the NFC East (we promise).The NFL’s worst divisionwill end up with a “champion” that goes 9-7, at best, and depending on how things go for the Giants next week, it could have two teams with 14 or more losses. But nothing in the N.F.L. is more important than having a good quarterback, and there is plenty of reason to believe that all four teams are solid in that regard. The Cowboys are trying to lock Dak Prescott into a contract extension, and the Eagles,who took the division lead on Sunday, believe Carson Wentz can get back to superstardom. At the bottom of the division, an overtime game this week between the Giants and the Redskins showed that those teams’ rookie quarterbacks, Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins, might have a lot of good football ahead of them, as well.******************

    ************Exciting does not equal good. Circled on the schedule remarkably early this season as a game to avoid at all costs, Sunday’s matchup between the Dolphins and the Bengals turned into something of a thriller. Miami took a huge lead only for Cincinnati to fight its way to overtime with points in the final 31 seconds of the fourth quarter by way of a touchdown and 2-point conversion, a successful onside kick, and another touchdown and 2-point conversion. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Dalton combined for passing yards and eight touchdowns , and the Dolphins ended up winning, 43 – (**********************************************************************************************************************. But don’t let the gaudy statistics fool you: They came as a result of poor defense, and the only thing that mattered on either side was the Bengals ’loss guaranteeing them the No. 1 pick in the (draft, which will likely be used on Louisiana State’s Joe Burrow.******************

    ************The playoff field is nearly set – but Week is huge for Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Dallas. Ten of spots have been claimed, with mostly seeding to be decided in the season’s final week. But the Titans, who moved into the A.F.C.’s second wild-card spot despite losing to New Orleans on Sunday, will have what amounts to a play-in game against the Texans, as they hold a tiebreaker over Pittsburgh. Dallas, meanwhile,

    in the NFC East by losing to Philadelphia, 20 – 9, and the Cowboys will need to beat the Redskins, and have the Eagles lose to the Giants, in Week to squeak into the playoffs.

    Top Passer: Daniel Jones****************************When we last saw Jones he was following up a 2-0 start to his career with an eight-game losing streak in which he threw touchdown passes and committedturnovers. In hisfirst game back from an ankle injury he was terrific, putting up huge numbers during regulation and removing all the drama from overtime by finishing off a smooth – yard drive with a 3-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Kaden Smith.**************

    Top Runner: Kenyan Drake ********************************************* The Air Raid offense places an extreme emphasis on passing the ball in an attempt to maximize efficiency. With that in mind it makes perfect sense for Coach Kliff Kingsbury to abandon his preferred style and pound the ball on the ground, as Drake is averaging an absurd 6.6 yards a carry over his last two games. If Drake and Kyler Murray can keep up their stellar play of the last two weeks, the ultracompetitive N.F.C. West is going to be a free-for-all over the next few years.

    Top Receiver: Michael Thomas Julio Jones had more yards, and Tyler Boyd had more touchdowns, but when a receiver breaks a major record that stood for 17 years, and still has a week left to add to it, that puts him ahead of the pack. The NFL’s first single-season record for receptions was set by Ray Flaherty, who had catches for the Giants in – the first season the league tracked nonscoring plays and a year before a rule change created what is known as the forward-pass era. The record has been broken times since and Harrison’s reign was the second-longest to Charley Hennigan , who pulled down 96 catches for the Houston Oilers in 1984 – a record that stood for years before Art Monk of the Redskins topped him with 106 in (********************************************************************************.

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