Week 16 losers: Cowboys road woes continue, Jaguars keep fading

With nearly all of the Week 16 games completed, let’s take a look at some of the losers from around the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys in road games: The Miami Dolphins can not beat good teams. The Dallas Cowboys can not win on the road. One of these teams was going to bust a narrative on Sunday afternoon, and it was not the Cowboys. 

By dropping a 22-20 decision in Miami on Sunday they not only dropped 3-5 away from AT&T Stadium this season, they increased their odds of having to open the playoffs away from home by dropping back into a wild-card spot. There is a complete difference between their home success and road success this season, and it is not going away.  

Jake Browning, QB, Cincinnati Bengals. Browning has been one of the NFL’s backup quarterback success stories this season as he tries to keep the Bengals in the playoff race following Joe Burrow’s injury, but he did not play a particularly good game in a 34-11 loss on Saturday in Pittsburgh. 

At least as it relates to his ability to protect the football. He threw three interceptions in the loss, including a crippling interception in the red zone that took points off the board and another on his own side of the field that helped set up a Steelers touchdown. 

He made some miracle throws through his first handful of starts, but there was also a lot of luck in some of those plays going his way. On Saturday, that luck ran out. 

Case Keenum, QB, Houston Texans. After leading the Texans to a huge win on the road in Tennessee a week ago, things went dramatically different for Keenum this week against Cleveland. 

He not only completed just 11-of-17 passes for only 62 yards, he was also intercepted twice and ultimately benched in favor of Davis Mills in the Texans’ 36-22 loss to the Cleveland Browns. 

The good news for Houston is that regular starter C.J. Stroud seems to be getting closer to a return following a concussion.

Ron Rivera, HC, Washington Commanders. While there has been no official announcement from Washington ownership, it seems almost impossible to believe that Rivera will be back as the team’s head coach next season. Not after four consecutive losing seasons, and not after a loss on Sunday to a New York Jets team playing Trevor Simien at quarterback. 

The Commanders trailed by as many as 20 points to a bad Jets team, and while they were able to come-from-behind and briefly take the lead late they still ended up losing because their defense could not stop Simien and the Jets. 

That is a bad look for Rivera and his defense that has consistently been one of the worst in the NFL this season.

Nick Mullens, QB, Minnesota Vikings. Mullens did a lot of good things for the Vikings on Sunday. He threw for 411 yards, he threw for two touchdowns and he helped their offense generate 24 points against a pretty good Detroit Lions team. And while the Vikings defense fell short — again — by allowing 30 points, they were not helped out by Mullens throwing four interceptions. 

Turnovers are one of the biggest game-changers in the NFL, and when you quarterback is responsible for four of them in a single game you have almost no chance of winning. 

Indianapolis Colts. After scoring a huge win at home a week ago and putting themselves in a great position for a playoff spot in the AFC, the Colts simply laid a massive egg on Sunday by getting absolutely bullied and dominated by the Atlanta Falcons. 

There were no positives to take away from this game for the Colts as their strong offense was kept in check, quarterback Gardner Minshew had an awful game, the running game was non-existent and the defense was completely pushed around. 

The Colts are still clinging to a playoff spot, but their 8-7 record has them in a three-way tie for the AFC South lead and at the same time a three-way tie for a wild-card spot. They had a chance to distance themselves against a mediocre team and blew it.

New Orleans Saints. The Saints playoff chances took a massive hit this week, not only thanks to their Thursday night loss to the Los Angeles Rams, but also the fact Tampa Bay and Atlanta were both winners on Sunday. 

That leaves the Saints (7-8) a game back in the NFC South race with two games to play and almost a non-factor in the NFC wild-card race. They would need to jump over both Tampa Bay and Atlanta to win the South, or jump over four teams to get a wild-card spot. 

Jacksonville Jaguars. Even if the Jaguars manage to get into the playoffs — which is far from a given at this point — they can not be confident about the way they are playing. Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay extended their losing streak to four consecutive games and dropped them to just 2-5 in the seven games since their bye week. 

The only good news to come out of Sunday is that Houston and Indianapolis also both lost, leaving them all in a three-way tie for the top spot in the AFC South. Jacksonville still wins that tiebreaker, but there is not much to like about this team right now. 

They do have a favorable schedule over the next two weeks (Carolina and Tennessee) but quarterback Trevor Lawrence clearly is not 100% healthy and the defense has allowed at least 21 points in six of the past seven games. 

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