In an elimination game for both clubs, the visiting Seahawks spoiled Zeke Elliott's return by knocking the Cowboys out of the playoff race with a 21-12 victory.
Seattle will host Arizona next week and can still earn a wild-card berth with a win paired with a Falcons loss to the Panthers.
Russell Wilson totaled just 93 passing yards, but two touchdowns, to lead Seattle past the Cowboys one week after suffering the worst loss of the Pete Carroll era. Wilson's 'D,' buoyed by a Justin Coleman game-winning 30-yard pick-six early in the third quarter, responded with a big performance after letting the Todd Gurley and the Rams run roughshod en route to a 42-7 thrashing in Week 15.
Elliott was held to 97 rushing yards on 24 carries, and Seattle intercepted Dak Prescott twice and Byron Maxwell punched out a Dez Bryant fumble that likely took points off the board shortly before halftime, when Dallas led 9-7.
But Coleman's interception on an ill-advised Prescott throw gave Seattle a lead it wouldn't relinquish, sending Dallas to its seventh defeat and playoffs spent at home for the fifth time in seven seasons under Jason Garrett.
Seattle will host Arizona in Week 17. The Cardinals, led by a monster performance from Larry Fitzgerald and their defense, shut out the Giants, 23-0, Sunday.
· The Jaguars had the AFC South clinched within a few minutes of taking the field in San Francisco by virtue of a Titans loss to the Rams. They played like a club with its division title secure, not like a club amid one of its best seasons in franchise history, in a 44-33 loss to the NIners that clinches a first-round bye for the Patriots.
New England has won each of its five Super Bowls under Belichick and Brady after enjoying wild-card weekend of.
Jacksonville allowed a season-high 44 points to Jimmy Garoppolo's 49ers. The 'D' unraveled on and off the field, with Malik Jackson and Aaron Colvin exchanging words and shoves in the first half following a 49ers touchdown.
Blake Bortles' offense also did its share of melting down. A quarterback as hot as any in December entering Sunday, he threw for 382 yards but also three interceptions. Rookie breakout star Keelan Cole also had a sideline skirmish, with position coach Keenan McCardell, who was separated from Cole by Allen Hurns.
Jacksonville has earned the benefit of the doubt after fielding the best defense in the NFL through the first 15 weeks. This could just be a case of running into the buzz saw that is Garoppolo — though the dust-ups between teammates and coaches on the sideline are a bad look for a Doug Marrone club that'd been maturing rapidly of late.
Jacksonville can still potentially earn a first-round bye depending on what the Steelers do Monday night in Houston and in Week 17 vs. Cleveland. The Jaguars can also prevent the rival Titans from reaching the postseason by winning in Nashville on Sunday.
· We close with Garoppolo because what he's doing with the Niners is absurd. The 26-year-old improved to 4-0 as the Niners starter, running his total touchdown-to-turnover ratio to 6:3 and his passing yard average to 312.5 per start.
He's galvanized what was a one-win club and fanbase, and it's becoming increasingly likely he'll become one of the game's higher-paid quarterbacks despite having just seven NFL starts under his belt.
Kyle Shanahan's offense isn't easy to grasp — it took Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub and others until their second season to thrive. That Garoppolo is performing so well less than two months after his acquisition and with a roster that was only good enough to go 1-10 prior to his starting insertion is amazing.
And credit the Niners 'D' for its improvements. Yes, it allowed 33 points, but it limited its previous three opponents to 43 combined and Leonard Fournette to 48 rushing yards on 18 carries. Get ready to hear about the NIners as a potential sexy postseason pick next season. That's the power of a franchise quarterback — though it's worth mentioning how those projections look for clubs like the Titans and Raiders, both of whom thought their young passers were ready for super stardom.
Indeed, it's prudent to slow down the Garoppolo bandwagon but we can at least acknowledge that he's breathed life into the NIners. And unlike in Tennessee and Oakland, where coaching is largely to blame for broken offenses, the Shanahan-Garoppolo pairing has the potential for greatness.