Momentum Myth: Week 16 'Statements' Written in Disappearing Ink
By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Momentum Myth-Buster
There’s going to be plenty of temptation to take “statement wins” by the Broncos, Patriots, Bengals, Colts and Panthers Sunday and make them more than what they are.
Momentum! Hot at the right time! Super Bowl or bust!
In truth, though, there’s really little rhyme or reason to what happens in Week 16 (or Week 17) as it relates to the playoffs.
The postseason is its own entity, separate from the regular season, and really, none of what transpires in December has any real meaning in January or February.
Did the Broncos and Bengals look sharp in destroying outmatched opponents? Sure they did. Congratulations to their fans, their stat sheets and their postgame plans to watch the replay. Did the Patriots and Panthers pull off great rivalry wins to put themselves in prime position for a home-field bye? Yes, and yes. Tip of the cap. Did the Colts keep their bye hopes alive by handling a playoff team on the road? Positivitationally. Congratsumundo.
And, conversely, are fans in Seattle and New Orleans going to be worried about their teams based on bad losses? Of course. Seahawks fans must still be in a state of shock after watching the Cardinals beat them -- but like we said in August, DON'T SLEEP ON THE REDBIRDS!
Ah, but it doesn't amount to a single, solitary thing, other than that check in the win column.
Momentum in Week 16? Doesn't exist.
A look at the Week 16 track records of the last decade worth of Super Bowl winners is pretty conclusive on this count.
- 49ers: Debilitating road loss to Seattle, 43-12.
- Ravens: Statement win, 33-14 over defending champion Giants.
- Patriots: Ugly home win over Miami, 27-24.
- Giants: Statement win, 29-14 at Jets team trying to reach playoffs
- Steelers: Solid win against a big-time opponent, 27-24 over Ravens at home
- Packers: Statement win, 45-17 over Giants in Lambeau Field
- Saints: Bad home loss to Tampa, keeping home-field advantage in NFC at risk
- Colts: Sat starters in 29-15 loss to Jets
- Steelers: 31-14 road loss to Titans that cost them the No. 1 seed in the AFC
- Cardinals: Awful 41-7 road loss in New England.
- Patriots: Statement! Dominating 28-7 home win over Miami
- Giants: Ugly win over bad Buffalo team despite four turnovers
- Bears: Ugly 26-21 win at a 3-13 Detroit team
- Colts: 27-24 loss at Houston that cost them a bye
- Steelers: Statement! 41-0 demolition of Browns in Cleveland.
- Seahawks: Solid 28-13 home win over the Jim Sorgi-led Colts
- Patriots: Statement! Dominating 23-7 road win over a Jets playoff team
- Eagles: With home field locked up, a 20-7 loss to the Rams behind the reserves
- Patriots: Ugly road win over a bad Jets team.
- Panthers: Solid win over bad Lions team (up 20-0 before garbage cover by Detroit).
The scoreboard, for the 20 games:
- Six statement wins
- Three solid wins
- Four ugly wins
- Two losses with starters sitting
- Five damaging losses
If you can find any rhyme or reason behind any of that, go to town – but the Cold, Hard Football Fact say that while these games certainly impact seeding (and in some cases in or out), they won’t amount to much when the “real season” starts. A Super Bowl team is as likely to lay an egg in Week 16 as it is to spin gold.
So, calm down, fans in New Orleans and Seattle. And don't get too high, Bengals, Colts, Patriots, Broncos, Panthers.
The season hasn't even started yet.
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