The Baltimore Ravens took a big stride towards the Super Bowl with their 11th win in a row ensuring they will finish as the top seed in the AFC and have home field advantage throughout the play-offs.
The AFC road to the Super Bowl will go through Baltimore after big MVP favourite Lamar Jackson starred in the Ravens’ 31-15 victory over the Cleveland Browns – throwing for three touchdowns to set a team record for passing touchdowns in a season.
It’s the first time in the 24-year history of the Baltimore Ravens, who were previously the Cleveland Browns before relocating, have been crowned as the top seeds in the AFC. A number one seed in the play-offs has also won five of the last six Super Bowls, so grabbing top spot has really counted recently.
A further outcome from the result is that the likes of superstar QB Jackson and other top players may not even feature in next week’s final regular season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jackson has transformed the Ravens into the surprise package of the season, with his running and passing ability having him almost certain to be crowned the league’s MVP ahead of the Super Bowl – which his team could well be playing in.
As a result of moving to 13-2 for the season, John Harbaugh’s side will now enjoy a week off in the play-offs and will play both games, if they get that far, at home in Baltimore, which makes them a much tougher prospect.
They’ve already beaten the New England Patriots at home and that, at the moment, looks a distinct possibility to be the AFC title match in January.
Saints still chasing top spot
The New Orleans Saints are still hoping to finish as the top seed over in the NFC as they responded to going 14-0 down by scoring 24 straight points during their 38-28 win over the Tennessee Titans.
After the San Francisco 49ers won on Saturday, Drew Brees and his side needed to win to keep pace and their quarterback responded with 279 yards passing and three touchdowns. One of those went to receiver Michael Thomas who set a new NFL record for the most catches in a season.
At 12-3 the Saints matched the 49ers ahead of the final round of games next week, when New Orleans will fancy beating struggling divisional rivals Carolina as they look to at least try and finish in the top two to earn first round bye.
The Superdome in New Orleans, though, is one of the best home field advantages in the league, and if they were to beat out the likes of San Francisco, Seattle and Green Bay for top NFC seed then that would make them a tough side to beat.
Beaten Bengals bag first pick
In contrast to the Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals have won the race to be the worst team in the NFL, which comes with it the prize of having the first pick in the Draft next year, after losing to another contender Miami.
The Bengals at least showed some signs of wanting to win a game by taking the Dolphins to overtime, but Miami prevailed 38-35 and it’s Cincinnati who will benefit from the “if you’re going to be bad, be really bad” mantra of poor NFL teams who want to pick the cream of the college crop.
That seems like exactly what the Bengals will do as they’re likely to use that top draft pick on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who recently won the Heisman Trophy as the best player in college football. Burrow is also an Ohio native.
NFL WEEK 16 RESULTS
Saturday, December 21, 2019
- Buffalo Bills 17-24 New England Patriots
- Los Angeles Rams 31-34 San Francisco 49ers
- Houston Texans 23-20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, December 22, 2019
- Jacksonville Jaguars 12-24 Atlanta Falcons
- Baltimore Ravens 31-15 Cleveland Browns
- Carolina Panthers 6-38 Indianapolis Colts
- Cincinnati Bengals 35-38 Miami Dolphins
- Pittsburgh Steelers 10-16 New York Jets
- New Orleans Saints 38-28 Tennessee Titans
- New York Giants 41-35 Washington Redskins
- Dallas Cowboys 9-17 Philadelphia Eagles
- Arizona Cardinals 27-13 Seattle Seahawks
- Detroit Lions 17-27 Denver Broncos
- Oakland Raiders 24-17 Los Angeles Chargers
- Kansas City Chiefs 26-3 Chicago Bears
Monday, December 23, 2019
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
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