Check out the top moments that helped define the outcomes of Sunday’s NFL matchups.
The penultimate week of the NFL schedule is nearly over, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to exaggerate some story lines this deep into the year.
Here are three overreactions from Week 16.
The MVP award is for quarterbacks
Carson Wentz is injured, Tom Brady has thrown interceptions in five consecutive games, and Russell Wilson is having an uneven December. Such developments have thrown the race for Most Valuable Player into chaos.
Nine of the last 10 MVP awards have gone to passers, with running back Adrian Peterson (2012) being the lone exception in that stretch.
But in the Rams’ NFC West-clinching victory against the Titans on Sunday, running back Todd Gurley bolstered his case, posting 276 yards from scrimmage and scoring two more touchdowns.
Following Sunday’s action, Gurley led the league in rushing (1,305 yards), rushing scores (13) and yards from scrimmage (2,093). His 19 touchdowns were seven more than any other player.
Most impressive has been Gurley’s strong finish. In his last three games, he has totaled 591 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns.
A strong season finale against the 49ers may be enough to vault Gurley past his quarterback competition.
Cowboys were a one-year wonder
A 21-12 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday eliminated Dallas from playoff contention, making last year’s 13-3 record and No. 1 NFC seed seem like a distant memory.
Though the Cowboys definitely need some tweaks, the roster is talented and young enough to compete for playoff spots for years to come.
The most important piece, quarterback Dak Prescott, is locked up for the next two seasons on a team-friendly rookie deal, and league rules won’t even permit extension talks to begin until 2019.
What became clear, however, during running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension was that Dallas needs more from Prescott and the passing game. During Elliott’s absence, Prescott completed 64.1% of his passes for 1,146 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Even with Elliott back against Seattle, it wasn’t much better. Prescott passed for just 182 yards and was picked off twice (one of those misfires returned for a TD) in Sunday’s loss.
Dallas needs to add a pass-catching tight end to eventually replace Jason Witten and another receiver. They need to bolster their defensive line, add a cornerback and even beef up the offensive line, especially left guard.
Still, with key offensive weapons in fold and defensive pieces like edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence ascending, the Cowboys can still become a playoff fixture in the immediate future.
The Bills lost because of that overturned TD
Buffalo absorbed a gut punch when a nifty toe-tapping touchdown by receiver Kelvin Benjamin just before halftime would’ve given it a lead over the Patriots headed into intermission Sunday. The score, though, was overturned after replay review.
Benjamin corralled the pass near the back pylon in the right side of the end zone and appeared to drag both feet inbounds. Referee Craig Wrolstad, however, said in a pool report that Benjamin’s “firm control did not occur until after he had one foot off the ground.”
The Bills settled for a field goal that tied the game 13-13.
But a troubling pattern continued.
Buffalo had scored only three second-half points over its previous three games. Against the Patriots, the Bills were outscored 24-3 in the second half and lost 37-16.
The Bills gained 198 yards in the first half. In the second, they mustered 70 fewer. They did not turn any of their four red zone trips into touchdowns.
Worst of all, Buffalo allowed New England to score on each of its four second-half possessions, with the exception of the kneeldown series to end the game.
If the Bills want to snap their infamous playoff drought — it dates to 1999, the longest in North American major pro team sports — they need to learn how to close.
PHOTOS: Week 16 NFL action
Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries: