The Huddle: NFL Weeks 16 & 17

A season-ending potpourri this week in The Huddle!

Happy New Year, Place to Be Nation! After taking a holiday break to send time with friends and family, give and receive wonderful gifts, and watch a bunch of gridiron greatness, our panel is back to offer some final thoughts on the 2016 NFL regular season, checking out a little bit of Week 16, the rest of Week 17, and what’s still to come in the playoffs.

Thank you all so much for reading this season. Now, let’s get inside The Huddle!

NFL Week 16 Kickoff Questions:

1. Wins by the Ravens, Steelers, and Packers, but a tough loss for the Lions: Which of those four teams is least likely to see the playoffs?

2. Both the Pats and Steelers are on five-game winning streaks; which is more legit?

3. Name a team happiest to see the season winding to a close … Cleveland doesn’t count.

As usual, the road to the Super Bowl runs through Foxboro and Tom Brady.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

1. The Ravens have to travel to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and look least likely to get in out of those four teams, with Detroit a close second, as Aaron Rodgers looks like he has shaken off his early season woes and appears unstoppable.

2. The road to the Super Bowl in the AFC goes through New England as Pittsburgh has too many soft spots on defense. The Steelers were fortunate to get by the Bengals, as they trailed most of the game and their go-ahead touchdown drive was aided by four consecutive penalties on the Bengals’ defense. Typical Marvin Lewis leadership.

3. All the talk out of Buffalo is firing Rex Ryan and dropping Tyron Taylor. As usual, no talk about making the playoffs.

An underwhelming 15-16 record in just under two full seasons with Buffalo cost Rex Ryan his job.

Flash forward to Week 17…

Kickoff Questions:

1. Which team is the favorite for a SB win as things stand?

2. Does the Carr injury kill the Raiders’ chances? 3.

Can the Lions top Green Bay and make the playoffs?

4. The Browns finally won! Surprised that it took them this long, or that they won at all?

Ezekiel Elliot has helped the Dallas Cowboys stand out as Super Bowl favorites this year.

J Arsenio D’Amato:

Obviously, New England and Dallas are heavy favorites to clash in the Super Bowl. It will take a major upset to stop that matchup from happening.

It’s difficult to see Matt McGloin driving the Raiders to a deep playoff run.

Aaron Rodgers looks unstoppable right now and the Lions are fading against stiffer competition.

A few weeks ago, all the talk was about what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers, and firing Mike McCarthy, but Green Bay has pulled it together for another playoff run.

Cleveland lost a lot of close games early and continued to play hard under Hugh Jackson and probably put the nail in the coffin of Mike McCoy’s coaching tenure in San Diego.

Roger Morrissette:

Agreed on New England and Dallas. If I had to pick the teams in each conference most likely to derail either train, I would say Pittsburgh in the AFC and Green Bay in the NFC.

Rodgers is just on another level right now and the Cowboys’ D can be had. On paper, Pitt should have a decent chance against the Pats, but their difficulties over the past 15 years against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady make me think this is a long shot.

As for the Raiders, I think the Carr injury kills them. Their D isn’t good enough to carry them with a weak quarterback.

I don’t think the Lions have much of a chance,even at home. Rodgers is playing at the highest level he has in a long time and the Lions have been doing it with smoke and mirrors all year.

Aaron Rodgers has been hot lately, and looks to lead the Packers past the Lions this weekend.

Joel Barnhart:

How about some final thoughts on the regular season?

Brian Bayless:

1. At this point, I’d say the Patriots are the Super Bowl favorites. Dallas is up there too but having a rookie at quarterback is going to be tough in the playoffs. Both of these teams can be had though.

The Chiefs’ defense is legit and Tyreek Hill is a real home-run hitter for that time. The Steelers also are a tough out with Roethlisberger and their offense. In the NFC, The Giants have already beaten Dallas twice and the Seahawks are a team I’d never want to face under any circumstances.

2. The Raiders’ offense had been out of sync the past two weeks, but without Carr, they’re not going to have a chance.

3. The Lions have a chance but, with the way Green Bay has been playing, it’s not that much of one.

Can Eric Ebron (85) and the Detroit Lions pull off another comeback to secure a playoff spot on Saturday night?

JT Rozzero:

If the Pats don’t make the Super Bowl, something really went wrong. Once Carr went down, the AFC opened right up. I want to say KC could give [the Patriots] a game, but I just can’t see it. If the Steelers can click offensively, they can beat the Pats, but they struggle in Foxboro.

The Raiders are cooked.

I called this exact predicament for Detroit a few weeks ago and here we are. I think the Packers run them out of the building.

While Dallas is the favorite in the NFC, I don’t see them as a threat to the Pats. The teams that are dangerous for New England are the teams that can a) hit Tom Brady, b) are in the Pats’ heads a bit, and c) have a quarterback that can sling it no matter the situation. With that said, I would say the top three true threats to the Pats are the Seahawks, the Giants, and the Packers.

The Browns are idiots. Way to risk that No. 1 pick. Make history* and go winless!

*The 2008 Lions are not amused.

And with that, enjoy the final regular season week and beyond the fun of the playoffs, Nation!