It’s week 15. It’s time to find out which team will be on the NFL’s naughty list when the post-season comes around and which one’s on the nice list.

Seven things from last Sunday…

· Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell had 235 scrimmage yards (185 rushing, 50 receiving) and three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in the Steelers’ 42-21 win at Cincinnati. Bell, who had at least 200 scrimmage yards in each of the past two games, joins Pro Football Hall of Famer WALTER PAYTON (1977) as the only players in NFL history with 200+ scrimmage yards in three consecutive games.

Steelers rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant had four catches for 109 yards and one touchdown. Bryant, who has seven touchdown catches in seven career games, is one of four NFL players with at least seven TD receptions in his first seven career games, joining Harlon Hill (eight), Max McGee (seven) and Billy Howton (seven). Bryant is the first player to accomplish the feat since Hill and McGee in 1954.

· New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. had 11 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in the Giants’ 36-7 win at Tennessee. Beckham, who had at least 90 receiving yards in each of the previous five games, is the first rookie in NFL history to record at least 90 receiving yards in six consecutive games.

Beckham has 723 receiving yards in his past six games and joined Bill Groman (1960) as the only rookies in NFL history with at least 700 receiving yards in a six-game span.

· Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson had eight catches for 158 yards and a touchdown in the Lions’ 34-17 win over Tampa Bay. Johnson now has 43 career 100-yard receiving games, tied with Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt for the second-most in a player’s first eight NFL seasons. Only Randy Moss (45) has more.

· Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck passed for 294 yards and two touchdowns, including the one-yard game-winner to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton with 32 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, in the Colts’ 25-24 win at Cleveland. Luck now has 12,501 career passing yards, eclipsing Peyton Manning (12,287) for the most of any NFL player in his first three seasons.

• Carolina quarterback Cam Newton passed for 226 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 83 yards with one touchdown in the Panthers’ 41-10 win at New Orleans. Newton has four career games with at least 200 passing yards, multiple touchdown passes, 80+ rushing yards and a touchdown run. His four such games are the most in NFL history. Only two other players have accomplished the feat multiple times: Michael Vick (two) and Russell Wilson (two).

• Arizona defeated Kansas City 17-14 and improved to 7-0 at home. The Cardinals’ seven home wins are the most for the franchise in a single season since 1925, when the team won 11 of its 13 home games.

· St. Louis defeated Washington 24-0, the team’s second consecutive shutout win (52-0 vs. Oakland). The Rams have recorded back-to-back shutout wins for the first time since 1945 (September 30 and October 7). St. Louis is the first team to post consecutive shutout victories since 2009 (Dallas, December 27 and January 3).

Six teams (New York Jets, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Oakland, Washington and Tampa Bay) have been eliminated from post-season consideration and look to be Grinches and spoil the party for those that are in contention. (best to hide that who-hash if you’re a team in contention.)

YOUNG QBs: Quarterbacks Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) each led their respective teams to victory in Week 14. Wilson earned his 33rd career regular-season win on Sunday with a 24-14 victory at Philadelphia, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (33) and Matt Ryan (33) for the most regular-season wins by starting QBs in their first three seasons who began their careers in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

Luck, who also entered the NFL in 2012, earned his 31st career regular-season win on Sunday with a 25-24 victory at Cleveland, surpassing Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton (30) for sole possession of the fifth-most wins among Super Bowl-era starting QBs in their first three seasons.

The starting quarterbacks with the most wins through their first three seasons who began their careers in the Super Bowl era (since 1966):

QUARTERBACK – WINS
Russell Wilson – 33 *
Matt Ryan – 33
Dan Marino – 33
Joe Flacco – 32
Andrew Luck – 31 *
Andy Dalton – 30
* Entered NFL in

GREEN(ER) PASTURES: Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green had a career-high 224 receiving yards on 11 catches with one touchdown against Pittsburgh. Green, who entered the NFL in 2011, now has 4,743 career receiving yards and surpassed Larry Fitzgerald (4,544) and Anquan Boldin (4,605) for the fourth-most receiving yards by any player in his first four NFL seasons.

The players with the most receiving yards in their first four seasons:
PLAYER – RECEIVING YARDS
Randy Moss – 5,396
Torry Holt – 5,088
Jerry Rice – 4,881
A.J. Green – 4,743
Anquan Boldin – 4,605
Larry Fitzgerald – 4,544

ACTION JACKSON: Buffalo running back Fred Jackson had 72 scrimmage yards (35 rushing, 37 receiving) against Denver. Jackson now has 5,507 career rushing yards and 2,516 receiving yards and joins Priest Holmes and Clem Daniels as the only undrafted players in NFL history with at least 5,000 rushing yards and 2,500 receiving yards.

Jackson also joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas as the only players to accomplish the feat in franchise history, regardless of draft position.

There are some playoff scenarios in week 15 (playoffs? PLAYOFFS!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?)

2014 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 15

AFC

Denver at San Diego – Denver clinches AFC West division with:
1) Denver win or tie

Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
1) Denver win + Indianapolis loss + Cincinnati loss + Pittsburgh loss or tie OR
2) Denver win + Indianapolis loss + Cincinnati loss + Denver clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Pittsburgh

Denver clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Miami loss or tie + Houston loss or tie + Cincinnati loss + Pittsurgh loss OR
2) Miami loss or tie + Houston loss or tie + Baltimore loss + Cleveland loss or tie OR
3) Miami loss or tie + Houston loss or tie + Baltimore loss + Pittsburgh win

New England vs. Miami – New England clinches AFC East division with:
1) New England win or tie

New England clinches a first round bye with:
1) New England win + Indianapolis loss + Pittsburgh loss or tie + Cincinnati loss or tie OR
2) New England win + Indianapolis loss + Pittsburgh loss or tie + Denver loss

New England clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Buffalo loss or tie + Cincinnati loss + Pittsburgh loss + Baltimore loss + Houston loss or tie OR
2) Buffalo loss or tie + Cincinnati loss + Pittsburgh loss + Kansas City loss or tie + San Diego loss OR
3) Buffalo loss or tie + Houston loss or tie + Kansas City loss or tie + San Diego loss + Baltimore loss

Indianapolis vs. Houston – Indianapolis clinches AFC South division with:
1) Indianapolis win or tie

NFC

Green Bay at Buffalo – Green Bay clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Green Bay win + Dallas loss + Green Bay clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Dallas

Week 15 got underway in St. Louis as the Cardinals beat St. Louis 12-6 in a game that had no TDs scored, making it the first since Oakland beat Kansas City 15-0 in Oakland in 2012. In fact, this Sunday’s action will have 10 rematches from earlier this season, so there’s very little if any game planning (Houston-Indianapolis, Tampa Bay-Carolina, Cincinnati-Cleveland, Minnesota-Detroit, Oakland-Kansas City, Miami-New England, Washington-New York Giants, Denver-San Diego, San Francisco-Seattle and Dallas-Philadelphia). 10 rematches, including a rematch of a pair of teams that met on Thanksgiving day (San Francisco at Seattle and Dallas at Philadelphia) are on the docket for week 15. 11 rematches for week 15 makes for some really interesting football.

With three weeks remaining in the regular season, the suspense continues to build as teams make their final playoff push.

“In this league, it’s important how you finish,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll told KING-TV. “So we’re going to see if we can finish in great fashion here.”

No team has clinched a playoff berth leaving all 12 spots available with 24 clubs in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.

“There are a lot of teams that are fighting it out,” says New England head coach Bill Belichick, whose team is tied for the best record in the NFL at 10-3. “What happens this year will be determined by what happens in the next few weeks. This is where this team and every other team will define itself.”

In the AFC, Denver, Indianapolis and New England can each win its division this weekend. The Broncos will lock up the AFC West with a win or tie. The Colts will secure the AFC South with a win or tie. The Patriots will clinch the AFC East with a win or tie. New England and Denver can each clinch a first-round bye this weekend with a win and other scenarios.

In the NFC, no divisions can be clinched in Week 15. Arizona and Green Bay, who tie for the conference’s best record at 10-3 (tied with Denver and New England for the top mark in the NFL), can each clinch a playoff berth with a win and other scenarios. Arizona won their contest Thursday night against the Rams and needs the Dallas-Philadelphia game to NOT end in a tie.

“We have bigger goals ahead,” says Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald about the team reaching 10 wins. “We want to win our division and host playoff games. Those are our goals. This is just one step in that process.”

As for week 14… 7-9 was not a good week. It was more like a lump of coal and switches in our stockings. That was the bad news. The good news is that we’re still above the .500 mark for the year at 130-70. Hoping to do better, here are Sunday and Monday’s picks (be sure to leave some reindeer food out as well as the milk and cookies… Santa like 2 percent, so no skim please!)

Pittsburgh (8-5) at Atlanta (5-8), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 705) Georgia Dome. It’s an inter-conference showdown in the Big Peach as Atlanta returns to the Georgia Dome to take on the Steelers in an early Sunday afternoon affair.

Pittsburgh rallied from a 14-10 haltime deficit at Cincinnati to come away with a 42-21 win. The Steelers outscored Cincy in the second half 28-11 to take the win on the road, while holding the Bengals to 86 yards rushing (Pittsburgh had 193, with Le Devon Bell rushing for 185 and a pair of TDs). Steelers signal caller Ben Roethlisberger threw three TDs in the AFC North contest without an interception, while the Pittsburgh defense sacked Andy Dalton twice. Pittsurgh on third and fourth down tries went 8-16 (they did not have a fourth down try) and kept the ball for 32:45, while the Bengals were 3-11 and 0-1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 27:15.

Although they managed to outscore Green Bay 30-12 in the second half at Lambeau Field last Monday night, the Falcons fell short to the Packers, losing 43-36. Atlanta trailed 31-7 at the intermission before the huge rally that gave Packers and Falcons fans near heart attacks last Monday night. Atlanta was outrushed by Green Bay 179-91 but Matt Ryan outpassed Aaron Rodgers 375-327 with four TDs, including one to WR Julio Jones (who caught 11 passes for 259 yards and a TD, outdistancing his Green Bay counterpart Jordy Nelson, who wound up with 146 yards on eight catches; Rodgers threw three TDs in the win). Atlanta was 5-11 on third down tries (3-3 on fourth down) and held the ball in the frigid Wisconsin air for 26:59, while the Packers were 7-12 and 0-1 on third and fourth down conversions, holding the pigskin for 33:01.

The Steelers lead the series 12-2-1 and have outscored the Falcons 452-283. Pittsburgh won the last meeting with Atlanta in 2010 in the Steel City 15-9 in overtime (Atlanta’s last win in the series came in 2006 in the Big Peach by a 41-38 overtime final.) Pittsburgh’s favored by 1 and the over/under’s 52 1/2. Both Ryan and Roethlisberger are pretty good QBs and both teams are playoff contenders. The Falcons have been playing some really decent football of late and that trend continues. Atlanta covers the 1 and pulls the upset at home in the Big Peach.

Houston (7-6) at Indianapolis (9-4), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 708) Lucas Oil Stadium. A pair of AFC South foes square off in the Hoosier State as the Texans travel to Indy to take on the Colts in a week six rematch.

Houston has won two in a row, including last week’s 27-13 win over Jacksonville. Defensive end J.J. Watt had three sacks and became the fifth player to record at least 50 sacks (51) in his first four NFL seasons.

“We’re in a must-win situation now,” Watt told the Houston Chronicle. “We’ve strung two wins together and we need to continue to do it. We need to go on the road and try to do it again this week.” Houston rallied from a 13-10 first half deficit against their I-10 neighbors to take a 27-13 win. The Texans scored their 14 second half points in north Florida unchallenged and Texans RB Arian Foster ran for 127 of his team’s 169 yards in the game (Jacksonville was held to 74), while Watt and his teammates sacked Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles four times. Houston was 3-14 and 2-2 on third down tries, holding the pigskin for 32:29, while Jacksonville possessed the ball for 27:31 and was 5-15 and 0-2 on third and fourth down.

The Colts needed Luck (as in Andrew Luck) to engineer an 11-play, 90 yard drive late in their contest at Cleveland to come away from upstate Ohio with a 25-24 win last Sunday. Indy trailed 14-7 at the half and was behind 24-19 late in the contest when Luck and WR T.Y. Hilton connected on a one-yard pass with 32 seconds left to play to give them the lead. After a failed 2-point try, the Colts stopped three Brad Hoyer pass attempts, picking off the third one and taking the win on the road. Even though they were outrushed by Cleveland 111-93, Luck outpassed Hoyer 294-140 with a pair of TDs, despite throwing a pair of interceptions (Hoyer also had a pair of picks as well). The Colts were 5-16 and 1-1 on third and fourth down conversions in the contest and held the ball for 28:04, while Cleveland was 4-15, keeping the ball for 31:56. “Just glad we won,” says Luck, whose 12,501 passing yards are the most by any player in his first three NFL seasons. “It’s a big team victory.”

They met in week six in Houston and Indy survived a scare by the Texans, coming away with 33-27 win at Reliant/NRG Stadium. The Colts led 27-14 at half and then held off Houston in the second half, despite the Texans outscoring Indy 14-6 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Colts were outrushed by Houston 136-93 (with Texans RB Arian Foster rushing for 109 yards and a pair of TDs) and Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked five times. The Colts were 8-16 on third down tries in the Thursday night contest, keeping the ball for 36:49 to Houston’s 23:11 (the Texans were 1-8 and 0-1 on third and fourth down tries).
In the first contest, the Colts won by six, covering the 3 point spread and both teams scored 60 points, covering the 46 over/under. The Colts are favored in the Hoosier State in the second contest by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 49 1/2. Houston’s fighting for a playoff spot, while the Colts need only to win Sunday and they win the AFC South. Houston makes it intersting but Colts can celebrate the AFC South and wins, covering the 6 1/2.

Green Bay (10-3) at Buffalo (7-6) , 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 711) Ralph Wilson Stadium. A pair of teams that knows a little something about the cold and chill meet in upstate New York as the Packers travel to Orchard Park to see if the Bills can circle the wagons.

The Pack held off a furious Atlanta second half rally at Lambeau last Monday night, suriving to take a 43-36 win over the Falcons in snowy, cold Green Bay (how cold was it? A balmy 33 degrees). The Packers led 31-7 at the intermisson before Atlanta rallied in the second half to outscore them 30-12 in the final 30 minutes of action. Green Bay held Atlanta to 91 yards, while they rushed for 179 yards. That was the good news. The bad news? Aaron Rodgers was outpaced by Matt Ryan in passing yardage 375-327 and Ryan threw for four TDs, including one to Julio Jones (who wound up with 259 yards). Rodgers’ favorite target, Jordy Nelson caught eight Rodgers passes for 146 yards and a pair of TDs in the close win in prime time. Green Bay on third and fourth downs went 7-12 and 0-1, keeping the ball for 33:01, while Atlanta was 5-11 on third down (3-3 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:59.

A Bills’ rally at Denver fell short as Buffalo fell to Peyton Manning and the Broncos 24-14. Buffalo did manage to outscore Denver 14-10 and made the game close when QB Kyle Orton scored on a 1-yard run with 55 seconds left to play to pull to within seven. As expected, Buffalo, who trailed 14-3 at the half, tried an onside kick, which Denver quickly recovered and ran out the clock. The Bills were outrushed by Denver 133-74 and managed to pick Manning off twice in the contest, although they turned the ball over three times (a fumble and a pair of Orton interceptions). Buffalo was 9-16 and 2-3 on third and fourth down tries and held the ball for 33:29, while Denver was 4-10 on third down and kept the ball for 26:31.

Buffalo leads the series 7-4 and have outscored the Packers 237-199. They haven’t met since 2010, when the Packers took Buffalo to the Lambeau woodshed and won 34-7. Buffalo’s last win in the series came along the shore of Lake Erie in 2006 by a final of 24-10. The Packers are 6 point favorites in upstate New York and the over/under’s 49. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Green Bay survived a scare against Atlanta last Monday night, while the Bills are looking to recover from their loss to the Peytonicus and Denver last week. Green Bay takes this one but they might not cover the 6.

Tampa Bay (2-11) at Carolina (4-8-1), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 712) Bank of America Stadium. Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s a rematch between a pair of NFC South rivals as Tampa Bay, looking to just survive the 2014 campaign, travel to Charlotte to take on a Carolina team that will be Cam-less. As in Newton.

The Bucs were doubled up by Detroit in the Motor City 34-17 at Ford Field. Although they only trailed 17-10 at the half, the Lions roared to outpace Tampa Bay in the second half 17-7. Tampa Bay was held to 26 yards rushing, while Detroit ran for 113 and turned the ball over three times (a pair of Josh McCown interceptions and a fumble). Detroit’s Matthew Stafford burned the Tampa Bay secondary for 311 yards and three TD passes (including one to Megatron, aka Calvin Johnson) without an interceptions in the great indoors of Ford Field.

Third and fourth down tries? Not a lot to talk about last week (Tampa Bay was 4-14 and 0-1, Detroit 7-15 and 0-2) and the clock was the ally of Detroit, who held the ball for 36:35 to Tampa Bay’s 23:25.

As for the Panthers, they got some major revenge against New Orleans in the Big Easy after the Saints had beaten them in Charlotte in week nine. Taking a 24-3 lead over New Orleans with them to the half and fueled by a 1-yard TD run by Newton (in which a brawl ensued afteward), the Panthers came away with a 41-10 win. Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart ran for 155 yards in their wih, while holding the Saints to 92 and sacked Drew Brees twice and picked him off once (Newton had three TD passes without being picked off). Third down conversions in the second meeting? Carolina 7-15, while the Saints were 5-14 (1-2 on fourth down) and the clock was on the side of Carolina, who held the ball for 36 to New Orleans’ 24.

As far as Newton goes… he will be sidelined again against Tampa Bay after he was involved in an auto accident near Bank of America Stadium. Newton was taken to a Charlotte-area hospital with what doctors called transverse fracture of his lower back. After spending Tuesday night in the hospital, he went home a bit sore but in one piece. The Buccaneers will miss Newton again as Derek Anderson, who started against Tampa Bay in the first meeting, will get the nod again.

They met in Tampa in week one and Newton did not start that contest but the Panthers did manage to come away with the 20-14 win over the Buccaneers. Carolina outrushed Tampa Bay 113-102 and the Panthers forced three turnovers in the contest (a pair of Josh McCown interceptions and a fumble) in the season opener. Tampa Bay was 6-12 on third down tries in the first contest, keeping the ball for 24:48, while the Panthers were 6-15 on third down (1-1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:12.

In the first contest, Carolina won by 6, covering the 1 point spread (Tampa Bay was favored) and both clubs barely missed the 39 over/under, scoring 34 points. Carolina’s favored by 5 1/2 in the second meeting in the Tar Heel State and the over/under is 43. The Bucs are struggling and Carolina would like nothing more than to put them and their fans out of their misery, even without Cam. Carolina’s finer in Charlotte and takes the win, covering the 5 1/2.

Cincinnati (8-4-1) at Cleveland (7-6), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 707) FirstEnergy Stadium. A pair of instate rivals meet along the shores of Lake Erie as it’s Cincinnati’s turn to make the 3 hour and 30 minute, 249-miled drive up I-71 in an AFC North contest that could push one of these teams into the post-season party.

Cincinnati let a 14-10 lead at halftime at home against Pittsburgh get away from them as the Steelers’ LeVeon Bell ran for 185 yards and a pair of TDs in the 42-21 loss at home last Sunday. The Bengals were held to 86 yards rushing, while Pittsburgh wound up with 193 and Andy Dalton was sacked twice and the Bengals turned the ball over twice. The bright spot for Cincinnati on offense was WR A.J. Green, who had 11 catches for 224 yards and an 81-yard TD catch in the contest. The Bengals were 3-11 on third down tries and 0-1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for a mere 27:15, while the Steelers held the ball for 32:45, while going 8-16 on third down tries.

HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER’S Johnny! Rookie QB Johnny Manziel will make 1st career NFL start against the Bengals, becoming the 22nd starting quarterback to make his debut in a Browns uniform since the team returned to the NFL in 1999. The former Heisman winner scored his first NFL TD, an 11-yard run, in their loss to Buffalo last Sunday in upstate New York two weeks ago and gets the nod ahead of Brian Hoyer. The Browns come into the Buckeye State rematch with a 25-24 loss to Indianapolis last Sunday at home. Cleveland led the Andrew Luck-led Colts 24-19 late in the game before Indy marched down the field, using an 11-play, 90-yard drive that resulted with Luck and T.Y. Hilton connecting on a 1-yard pass with 32 seconds left to play. The Colts then tried a 2-point conversion, which failed and gave Cleveland one last chance to reclaim the lead and win the contest. Hoyer would throw three passes afte they got the ball and the third pass was not the charm for the Browns, as Todd Benjamin picked him off. Cleveland was outscored in the second half 18-10 after leading 14-7 at halftime and Hoyer was picked off twice. The Browns were 4-15 on third down tries and held the ball for 31:56, while the Colts went 5-16 and 1-1 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 28:04.

The Bengals would like to get some revenge from their week 10 loss to Cleveland at home by a 24-3 final. The Browns led Cincinnati 17-3 at half and held the Bengals to 3 first quarter points. Dalton was picked off three times and Cincinnati was held to 86 yards rushing, while Cleveland tallied 170 in the Thursday night affair in southern Ohio. Cincy was 3-17 on third down conversions (1-1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:11, while the Browns were 7-16 on third down tries and ruled the clock, keeping the ball away for 35:49. In the week 10 contest in Cincinnati, the Bengals were favored by 6 (Cleveland won by 21) and neither club reached the 45 over/under as they would score only 27 points. This time, it’s Cleveland’s turn to be favored and this time, it’s a point. As for the over/under? 43 1/2. There’s a lot on the line here. Both clubs are trying to make the post-season party and the Browns have Johnny Football under center, plus there’s the revenge factor for the Bengals. Revenge is a dish best served cold and Cincy will be going back for seconds. Bengals cover the 1 and win in upstate Ohio.

Oakland (2-11) at Kansas City (7-6), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 709) Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City looks for revenge at home against Oakland as they host the Raiders, who look to win their second game in a row in an otherwise dismal season for the Silver and Black.

Oakland picked up their second win of the season as rallied from a 13-10 deficit against their Bay Area neighbors from San Francisco as they scored their final 10 points of the game unchallenged to win 24-13. The Silver and Black scored their last two TDs on runs by RB Marcel Reece and TE Mychal Rivera to seal San Francisco’s fate. Although they were outrushed by the 49ers 97-85, Oakland did manage to sack Colin Kapernick (174 yards) five times and pick him off twice, while rookie QB David Carr threw for 254 yards and three TDs without an interception. The Raiders were 6-13 and 0-1 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 32:55, while San Francisco kept the ball for 27:05, while going 3-11 and 1-1 on third and fourth down conversions.

The Chiefs suffered their third loss in a row to Arizona last Sunday in Glendale 17-14. The Chiefs let a 14-6 halftime lead against the Desert Angry Birds slip from their grasp as their hosts went on to score their 11 second half points unchallenged. Cardinals WR Jaron Brown connected with QB Drew Stanton for a 26 yard TD pass with 3:26 left in the third quarter gave them the lead for keeps. Stanton then connected with TE John Carlson for the two-point try for the final score in the contest. RB Keith Williams led all rushers with 100 yards (Arizona had 141, while Kansas City had 126) and the Cardinals defense sacked Chiefs QB Alex Smith five times and picked him off once. Arizona was 6-15 on third down conversions and held the ball for 30:01, while Kansas City went 6-14 and 0-2 on fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 29:59.

Oakland and Kansas City met in Oakland in week 12 and it was the Silver and Black coming away with a 24-20 win to break their 10-game losing streak. Oakland outrushed Kansas City 179-96 (with Raiders RB Latavius Murray leading all rushers with 112 yards and a pair of TDs). Kansas City made the contest close and was driving to take the lead for themselves but Smith’s fourth down try fell short. Oakland, who almost lost the contest when they celebrated too soon on a sack (forcing them to burn a timeout) went 8-16 and 1-1 on third and fourth down tries and held the ball for 30:05, while the Chiefs were 2-14 and 0-1 on third and fourth down, keeping the ball for 29:55. In the second meeting in the Great Midwest, the Chiefs are favored by 10 and the over/under is 41 1/2 (Kansas City was favored by 7 and the over/under was 42; the Raiders won but did not cover the spread but both clubs managed to cover the over/under as they combined to score 44 points). After two wins, the Raiders are living charmed lives and the Chiefs are looking to even the score. Kansas City might not cover the 10 but they win at home.

Miami (7-6) at New England (10-3), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 710) Gillette Stadium. Miami travels to Foxoboro to take on a New England team that they have been trying to catch all season, while the Pats look to avenge their week one loss to the Dolphins in the Sunshine State.

Miami had a chance to improve its playoff chances last week at home against the Ravens and let a 10-7 halftime lead against Baltimore slip from their grasp, falling to the Ravens 28-13. Baltimore, who rushed for 183 yards, went on to outscore Miami in the second half 21-6 at Sun Life Stadium and held Miami to 63 yards on the ground in the 15-point loss. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (227 yards) was sacked six times in the loss but did manage to throw a TD pass without an interception, while Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards and a pair of TDs for the Ravens. Both clubs struggled on third down conversions (Baltimore was 5-12, Miami was 4-12) but the Ravens did well on fourth down tries in their only attempt, while Miami failed in their only fourth down try. As far as time, it was on the side of Baltimore at 30:18 to Miami’s 29:42.

The Pats trailed 14-13 in San Diego at the half before scoring 10 fourth quarter points unchallenged against the Chargers to take the 23-14 win last Sunday night. The Pats and Bolts failed to breach the 100 yard barrier rushing in the contest (New England had 87, San Diego 53) but it was Tom Brady (317 yards and a pair of TDs) that helped New England take the 9-point win on the West Coast, throwing a pair of TD passes (including a 14 yard strike to Rod Gronkowsk) and they would take the lead for good on a 38 yard field goal by K Stephen Gostkowski. The Pats were 7-16 on third down tries at Qualcomm, keeping the ball for 34:33, while the Chargers, who trail Denver in the AFC West, were 4-13 and 0-1 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 25:27.

Miami erased a 20-10 halftime deficit against New England in the Sunshine State in week one, taking a 33-20 win over the Pats. The Dolphins scored their 23 points in the second half to give them the win unchallenged and held New England to 89 yards, sacking Brady four times in the process. Miami, who rushed for 191 yards (RB Knowshown Moreno led all rushers with 134 yards and a TD), also got offensive help from Tannehill, who threw for 178 yards and a pair of TDs. Miami was 7-13 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 30:27, while New England was 5-17 and 2-4 on third and fourth down tries, holding the ball for 29:33. Miami covered the 5-point spread (New England was favored) and both clubs covered the 47 1/2 over/under by scoring 53. New England’s favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. The Pats are looking to be the top seed in the AFC, while the Dolphins are looking to try and get into the playoff party. Miami takes this one on the road but they may not cover the 7 1/2.

Washington (3-10) at New York Giants (4-9), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 714) MetLife Stadium. Eli vs. RGIII. They meet again in upstate New Jersey as a pair of struggling NFC East teams look to improve their seasons.

Washington found themselves on the short end of a 24-0 shutout at the hands of St. Louis last Sunday in Landover. The Rams used an 18-point third quarter to keep Washington in check last Sunday in Landover, as the Rams pitched their second shutout in a week, closing out the Redskins 24-0. Even though the Redskins defense sacked Sean Hill four times, Hill managed to throw a pair of TD passes in the win and the Rams defense held Washington to 27 yards rushing (they ran for 131) and sacked Colt McCoy six times, forcing the ‘Skins to replace him with Robert Griffin III. The Rams were 6-12 on third down tries in the shutout win, keeping the ball for 32:49, while Washington was 3-12 and 0-3 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 27:11. Washington allowed the Rams to record back-to-back shutout wins for the first time since 1945 when they were in Cleveland (September 30 and October 7) and St. Louis is the first team to post consecutive shutout victories since 2009 (Dallas, December 27 and January 3). The last points the Rams gave up? 27 in a three point loss to San Diego November 23. RGII could start this one or it could be Jake McCoy. The season for the Redskins has seen more drama than Congress.

Meanwhile, the Giants took Tennessee to the woodshed last Sunday in Nashville, taking a 36-7 win out of the Music City over the Titans. New York led 23-0 at the half and never looked back, holding Tennessee to their only points in the second half. Eli Manning was back in his old form, throwing for 260 yards and a TD in the 29-point win and New York held the Titans to 61 yards on the ground, while RB Andre Williams ran for 131 of his team’s 142 yards. New York, who forced three Tennessee turnovers, went 8-18 on third down tries and kept the ball for 34:43, while Tennessee held the pigskin for 25:17 and 2-13 and 1-3 on third and fourth down tries.

The G-Men won the week four Thursday night contest in Landover 45-14. New York led Washington 24-7 at the half and never looked back, outscoring the Redskins 21-7 in the final 30 minutes of play. New York outrushed Washington 154-86 and Manning threw for 300 yards and four TDs, while Kirk Cousins (in for RGIII) threw four interceptions as part of Washington’s six turnovers. Third down tries? New York outshined Washington, going 11-16, while the Redskins were 1-8 and time was on the side of the Giants at 37:17 to Washington’s 22:43. In the week four contest, New York won by 31, covering the 3 1/2 point spread (Washington was favored) and both clubs covered the 46 over/under with 59 points. The Giants are favored by 6 1/2 in the second contest in upstate New Jersey and the over/under is 46 1/2. These two teams aren’t bad, they just play that way sometimes. History has a way of repeating itself and the G-Men have actually been playing some decent football. New York might not cover the 6 1/2 but they will have Washington fans saying “HELL! IT’S THE REDSKINS” as they take the win in upstate New Jersey.

Jacksonville (2-11) at Baltimore (8-5), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 706) M&T Bank Stadium. Jacksonville makes the 750 mile drive up I-95 to Charm City to take on the Baltimore Ravens and the Jaguars would like nothing more than to knock the Ravens out of the post-season picture.

The Jaguars let a 13-10 lead against Houston in the Sunshine State slip away from them as they fell to the Texans at EverBank Field 27-13. Houston, led by Arian Foster’s 127 yards (Houston ran for 169, while holding Jacksonville to 74), scored their 17 second-half points unchallenged in the loss to the Texans, sacking rookie QB Blake Bortles four times. Jacksonville was 5-13 and 0-1 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 27:31, while the Texans went 3-14 and 2-2 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 32:29.

Baltimore erased a 10-7 deficit at halftime in Miami and beat the Dolphins 28-13, scoring their 21 second-half points without being challenged. The Ravens ran for 183, while holding their hosts to 83 yards and sacked Miami QB Ryan Tannehill six times in the contest. Baltimore in the 15-point victory in the Sunshine State was 5-12 on third down, 1-1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:18 to Miami’s 29:42, with the Dolphins going 4-12 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs.

Jacksonville leads the series 10-7 and have outscored the Ravenzs 380-335. Their last meeting was in 2011 in north Florida and the Jaguars came out on top 12-7, while Baltimore’s last win over Jacksonville came in Charm City in 2008 by a final of 27-7.

The Ravens are 13 1/2 point favorites in Charm City and the over/under’s 45. Jacksonville’s bad but they’re not 13 1/2 bad and have played some decent football of late. Still, they’re looking to derail the Ravens at home. Baltimore’s not going to let that happen, as they take the win at home in Charm City and could cover the 13 1/2.

New York Jets (2-11) at Tennessee (2-11), 4:05 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 716) LP Field. A pair of last place teams meet in Nashville when the Titans host Rex Ryan and the New York Jets.

GangGreen’s latest woes continued in the Land of 10,000 Lakes last SUnday when they rallied to tie Minnesota 24-24 on a 44-yard field goal by Nick Folk with 23 seconds left in regulation. After the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! failed to score in their possession in overtime, the Vikings needed only three plays, 92 yards and 1:39 to end the contest when WR Jarius Wright scored untouched on an 87 yard TD pass from Teddy Bridgewater with 10:21 left in the extra period. While GangGreen did outrush Minnesota 168-114, they were outpassed by the Purple Gang in the contest (Teddy Bridgewater with 309 yards and a pair of TDs, while Geno Smith had 254 and a TD and both men were sacked twice and threw an interception). GangGreen was 8-17 on third down tries and held the ball for 35:52, while the Vikings kept it for 28:47, going 6-12 on third down conversions.

Tennessee was held to seven second half points by the Giants in Nashville last Sunday, falling to New York and Eli Manning 36-7. The Titans trailed 23-0 at half and got their only score of the contest when DB Marqueston Huff picked off Manning and returned it 23 yards for a TD with 8:36 left in the third quarter. Tennessee, who turned the ball over three times, was outrushed by the Giants 142-61 (RB Andre Williams led all rushers with 131) and Manning outpassed Zach Mettenberger (who later left the game with a knee injury and is out for the rest of the year) 260-125. The Giants were 8-18 on third down conversions, while Tennessee was 2-13 on third down tries and 1-3 on fourth down. The clock was the ally of the Giants, who held the ball for 34:43 to Tennessee’s 25:17.

Tennessee leads the series 23-17-1 (which includes contests when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers and the Jets played their home games at Shea Stadium), have outscored New York 986-866 and have won the last two meetings, including a 38-13 win last year in the Music City. GangGreen’s last win over Tennessee/Houston came in 2009 in the Meadowlands by a 24-17 count. In the week four affair, Tennessee led 24-6 at halftime and never found themselves threatened by GangGreen, who would be outscored in the fourth quarter 14-7 after the two teams went scoreless in the third. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! did manage to outrush Tennessee 91-78 but Geno Smith was sacked five times in the loss, while throwing a pair of interceptions. Tennessee was 10-18 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:38, while GangGreen kept the ball for 29:22 and 4-13 and 0-1 on third and fourth down conversions. In the week four contest in Nashville, the Titans were 3 1/2 point favorites and covered that spread, winning by 25 and both teams easily covered the 39 over/under, combining for 51 points.

GangGreen’s favored by 1 and the over/under is 42 1/2. You might want to take a pass on this one (unless you’re a fan of either club) and watch that “Law & Order: SVU” marathon on USA (go on, admit it. You think Benson is sexy!) Jets make it interesting but Tennessee pushes Rex one day closer to getting the ax and takes the win at home.

Denver (10-3) at San Diego (8-5), 4:05 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 715) Qualcomm Stadium. They meet again and this time, it’s in southern California. Denver. Peyton. San Diego. Rivers. The Broncos lead the AFC West by two games over the Chargers but San Diego can cut the lead in half this Sunday.

Denver can clinch the division with a win. With a win and other scenarios, the Broncos can earn a first-round bye. The team has won three in a row, including last week’s 24-17 win over Buffalo. C.J. Anderson rushed for three touchdowns versus the Bills and has now scored five touchdowns during the club’s three-game winning streak.

“There is a lot of familiarity between the two teams and coaching staffs,” quarterback Peyton Manning told KUSA-TV about the upcoming game against San Diego. “We have to go to their place in a division game and it’ll be a big one.”

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has won 33 of his 40 career regular-season starts in December and January. With San Diego sitting at 8-5 in the competitive AFC playoff race, the Chargers will look for Rivers to once again guide them through the final month of the season.

“We’ve got the division leaders coming in this week and we know the challenges they present,” says Rivers. “We know how hard it is to beat them but we do know how to beat them. And it’s going to take our best to get that done.”

Denver held off a late Buffalo rally last Sunday afternoon in the Mile High City, coming away with a 24-17 win over the Bills. The Broncos led 14-3 at halftime before the Bills outscored them in the second half 14-10. Manning threw for 173 yards and a pair of interceptions in the contest, while Bills QB Kyle Orton threw for 355 yards and one TD (rushed for another) and was sacked four times. Orton’s TD run with 55 seconds left made the contest a lot closer than Broncos fans would have like but came away happy campers when they recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. Denver went 4-10 on third down conversions at Sports Authority Field, keeping the ball for a mere 26:31, while the Bills were 9-16 and 2-3 on third and fourth downs and played keep-away with the football, holding it for 33:29.

San Diego led the Patroits and Tom Brady 14-13 at the half last Sunday night at Qualcomm before New England rallied with 10 unchallenged fourth quarter points to take a 23-14 win. Neither club broke the 100-yard barrier (New England had 87, San Diego had 53) and Brady (2 TDs, including one to TE Ron Gronkowski) outpaced Philip Rivers in passing yardage 317-189 in the Sunday affair. Third and fourth down tries? Not much to get excited about (New England was 7-16 and did not have a fourth down try, while San Diego was 4-13 and 0-1) and the clock favored New England at 34:33 to San Diego’s 25:27.

They met in week eight in the Mile High City and Denver took a 35-21 win over the Bolts. In that contest, Manning threw for 286 yards and three TDs to WR Emanuel Sanders, while Denver rushed for 139 yards (RB Ronnie Hillman led all rushers with 109) and held San Diego to 61 and forced a pair of Rivers interceptions. The Broncos were 8-13 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 30:46, while the Chargers were 4-10 and 1-1 on third and fourth down conversions, holding the ball for 29:14. Denver won by 14, covering the 7 point spread and both clubs covered the 51 1/2 over/under, combining for 56 points. This time around, the Broncos are favored by 4 and the over/under’s 51. Denver’s the king of the AFC West mountain and San Diego’s looking to dethrone them. It’s good to be the king and Denver completes the sweep of the series, taking the Bolts to task, even though they might not cover the 4.

Minnesota (6-7) at Detroit (9-4), 4:25 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 713) Ford Field. A pair of NFC North (or NFC Norris, as Chris Berman says) get together in the Motor City as the Lions host Minnesota in Detroit.

The Vikings needed overtime to take down the NeW York Jets last Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities by a 30-24 final. The Vikings had led 24-21 with 23 seconds left in regulation before Jets K Nick Folk tied things up with a 44 yard try. New York then got the ball in overtime but could not score in their part of the extra period, getting as far as Minnesota’s 45 yard line before punting the ball away. With the Vikings deep in their own territory, QB Teddy Bridgewater and WR Jarius Wright connected on an 87-yard pass that allowed Wright to run down the sideline untouched for the game-winning score. Although they were outrushed by GangGreen 168-114, Bridgewater outpaced Geno Smith in passing yardage 309-254 (both were sacked three times and threw an interception) and Wright had 124 yards on three catches, including the game winner to pace the Purple Gang. The Vikings were 6-12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 28:47 (including the game winning play in overtime), while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 8-17 on third down and kept the ball in a holding pattern for 35:52.

Detroit took Tampa Bay to task last Sunday in the Motor City and came out on top of their former NFC North rivals 34-17. The Lions led 17-10 at the half and then proceeded to outscore the Buccaneers 17-7 in the final 30 minutes of play and outrushed Tampa Bay 113-26, while sacking Josh McCown six times and picked him off twice. Meanwhile, Megatron (aka Calvin Johnson) was the reciepient of eight Matthew Stafford passes for 158 yards and a TD. Stafford threw for 311 yards and four TDs in the contest, despite being sacked three times in the 17-point win. Detroit went 7-15 on third down conversions (0-2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 36:35, while Tampa Bay kept the ball for 23:25 and went 4-14 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs.

The Lions held Minnesota to three second-half points in their 17-3 win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes in week six. Detroit led 10-0 at halftime and never looked back in the 14-point win. Minnesota was held to 69 yards rushing, while the Lions ran for 100 in the contest and the Lions defense sacked Bridgewater eight times and picked him off three times. Stafford, who did not have Megatron (aka Calvin Johnson) to throw to, was sacked four times but did manage to throw a TD pass in the win. Neither club did anything to write home about on third down tries (Detroit was 1-13, Minnesota was 3-14) and the Lions on fourth down were 1-2, while Minneosta was 0-1. Time was the ally of the Lions, who held the ball for 32:21 to the Vikings’ 27:39.

Detroit covered the 1 1/2 point spread, winning by 14 in the first meeting. That’s the good news. The bad news? Neither team reached the 43 1/2 over/under, scoring only 20 points combined. This time, the Lions are favored again and it’s by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Both teams are a lot better than what they were last year and both are trying to catch Green Bay in the NFC North. Lions roar at home in the Motor City, even though they won’t cover the 7 1/2.

San Francisco (7-6) at Seattle (9-4), 4:25 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 717) CenturyLink Field. For the second time in the past three weeks, the 49ers and Seahawks will meet. It’s “What’s Your Deal?” Round VI. Harbaugh. Carroll. This time, it’s in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks. The defending Super Bowl champs look to gain some ground in the NFC West as they trail Arizona, while San Francisco remains alive in the NFC playoff chase and looks to stop a two-game losing streak.

“You never know what can happen,” says safety Antoine Bethea, who ranks second on the team in tackles (71) and interceptions (three). “We have three games left and we have to take them one game at a time. We have to get ready for Seattle.”

The 49ers were outscored in the second half by a struggling Oakland team 14-3 to fall to their neighbors across the Bay 24-13. Colin Kaepernick was sacked five times and picked off twice in the 11-point loss to the Raiders, who won for only the second time in the 2014 campaign and San Francisco was held to 97 yards rushing (which actually was better than Oakland, who rushed for 85). Kaepernick was outpaced by rookie QB David Carr 254-174 in passing yardage and Carr threw three TDs without being intercepted. Neither Bay Area team did anything to write home about on third down tries (San Francisco was 3-11, while Oakland was 6-13) but the 49ers were perfect on fourth down tries, going 1-1, while the Raiders were 0-1 and the clock was the ally of the Silver and Black, who kept the ball for 32:55 to San Francisco’s 27:05.

The Seahawks have won three in a row and are the first team since 2010 (New England) to have a three-game winning streak with all three victories over teams with a .600+ winning percentage and at least 10 games played (9-1 Arizona, 7-4 San Francisco and 9-3 Philadelphia).

“We’re playing disciplined, sound football,” cornerback Richard Sherman told KING-TV. Sherman, who had two interceptions in Seattle’s Week 13 win at San Francisco, said, “We’re having fun out there and enjoying each other.” The defending Super Bowl champs flexed some major muscle against Philadelphia last Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love, coming away with the 24-14 win. After trailing 7-0 after the first 15 minutes of play, Seattle, who held the Eagles to 57 yards rushing (the Seahawks had 188, with Marshawn Lynch leading the way with 86 yards) took the lead for keeps, outscoring Philadelphia 24-7 in the last three quarters to take the win. QB Russell Wilson outpaced Mark Sanchez in passing 263-96 and the Seahawk defense sacked Sanchez three times. Seattle was 7-16 and 0-1 on third and fourth down tries in the late afternoon contest on the East coast, keeping the ball for 41:56, while the Eagles were 2-11 and 1-1 on third and fourth down and held the ball for 18:04.

Seattle took a 13-0 lead at San Francisco in the week 13 Thanksgiving meeting in Santa Clara, coming away with the 19-3 win over the 49ers. Lynch ran for 104 of the Seahawks’ 104, as Seattle rushed for 157, holding San Francisco to 64. Kaepernick and Wilson were sacked four times, with Kaepernick throwing four interceptions. Neither club did much on third down tries (Seattle was 5-14, 0-1 on fourth down; San Francisco was 4-11) and time was an ally of Seattle at 35:19 to San Francisco’s 24:41. The Seahawks 16 point win covered the 1 point spread easily (San Francisco was favored) but neither club could combine for the 39 1/2 over/under, scoring only 22.

In the second meeting, this time in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, the Seahawks are favored by 9 1/2 and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Seattle’s fighting for a spot at the playoff table, while San Francisco’s trying to keep their heads above water in the NFC West. Seattle might not cover the 9 1/2 but they win in the Pacific Northwest.

Dallas (9-4) at Philadelphia (9-4), 8:30 p.m. (NBC) Lincoln Financial Field. They were feasted on the last time they met. Now it’s revenge time in the City of Brotherly Love as the Cowboys travel to Philly to take on the Eagles. It’s Romo vs. Sanchez, Round II.

Let’s get ready to rumble.

“We’re right in the hunt,” says head coach Jason Garrett. “We have challenges ahead and need to get ready for the next one in Philadelphia.”

Dallas took a 14-7 lead over Chicago with them to the intermission at Soldier Field last Thursday night, coming away with the 41-28 win over Da Bears. The Cowboys outscored Chicago 27-21 in the final 30 minutes of play and recovered an onside kick by Chicago late in the contest to seal the win. DeMarco Murray (1,606 rushing yards) ran for 179 of Dallas’ 194 rushing yards in the contest, while Da Bears were held to 35 (picking up only four rushing yards in the first half). With the win, Dallas is now 6-0 away from the Lone Star State and picked up their ninth win for the first time since 2009 season. Romo threw for 205 yards and three TDs without an interception and the Dallas defense forced a pair of turnovers (Matt Forte fumble, Jay Cutler inteception) in the chilly Chicago evening. Dallas was 7-14 on third down conversions (2-2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:28, while Chicago was 2-10 and 3-3 on third and fourth down tries and they kept the ball in hibernation for 27:32.

The Eagles can seize control of the division as a win will give them a one-game lead and a head-to-head sweep over the Cowboys. “Our attention has to go to Dallas and on winning the NFC East,” says head coach Chip Kelly. “We’re not concerned with anything else besides that. Control what you can control. And that’s what we can control right now.”

Philly let a 7-0 lead against the defending Super Bowl champs slip from them as they fell to Seattle 24-14 last Sunday. Seattle outscored the Eagles 24-7 in the final three quarters of play and held Philadelphia to 57 yards rushing, while the Seahawks tallied 188 (Marshawn Lynch led all rushers with 86). The Eagles struggled on third down conversions in the 10-point loss, going 2-11 (1-1 on fourth down tries) and kept the ball for a mere 18:04, while the defending Super Bowl champs were 7-16 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs, holding the ball for 41:56.

They met in Arlington on Thanksgiving Day and Philly took a 23-7 lead into the intermission and held Dallas in check, taking a 33-10 win over the Cowboys. LeSean McCoy ran for 159 yards (Philadelphia had 256, while holding Dallas to 93) and the Eagles held Romo in check, picking him off twice with no TD passes, breaking his streak of 41 games with at least one TD pass. Philly, who scored on four of their first five possessions in the first half was 8-15 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 30:25, while the Cowboys were 4-12 and 0-1 on third down conversions, holding the ball for 29:35. The Eagles were 3 point underdogs but won by 23, covering the spread but both clubs missed the 55 over/under by scoring only 43 points. The oddsmakers like the Eagles this time and have made them 3 1/2 point favorites with the over/under at 55 1/2. With a lot on the line, the fact that these two teams have faced each other two weeks ago and the winner of this contest all but controls their own destiny in the NFC East, to even say that this one is not “Drill Worthy” would be like saying Rudolph cheats at reindeer games. So with that, it’s “DRILL TIME!” (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?)

After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you!), head to your favorite store (a trip to Wal Mart, Target, K-Mart or Costco counts) and get the vittles and the beverages (soda, beer, wine, coffee, et al… if you live in a state that allows the purchase of the items in question) and invite the co-workers, the neighbors (including that really cute kindergarden teacher that knows what to do with a cover-2 defense) and your cousin Connie (remember her? She’s the one that’s been married twice that’s just turned 55 and dates a 40-year old ex-Marine, who’s now a football coach at the high school in your town. She’s also the one that ate an entire Oreo cheesecake, two bags of Cool Ranch Doritos, two bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and chugged two 2-liter Cokes at your Super Bowl party last year and didn’t gain a pound. You look at her and say to yourself, “what the hell?”

Dallas will have a better game against the Eagles and that would be a good thing for Cowboy fans. The bad thing is that they’re not going to win this one. Eagles take the series and cover the 3 1/2.

New Orleans (5-8) at Chicago (5-8), 8:30 p.m. Monday (ESPN) Soldier Field. Week 15 closes out in the Windy City as a pair of teams fighting for their playoff survival meet in Chicago in prime time when the Saints and Drew Brees take on Jay Cutler and Da Bears.

New Orleans found themselves in a hole against Cam Newton and Carolina last Sunday in the Big Easy, falling to the Panthers 41-10. Newton burned the Saints for three TD passes and a TD run in the contest, which the Saints trailed 24-3 at halftime. The Saints were held to 92 yards on the ground and Brees was sacked twice and threw an interception, while Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart ran for 155 of their 271 (Newton had 83) in the win.

Chicago struggled against Dallas last Thursday night at Soldier Field but managed to stay close to the Cowboys in the first half, trailing only by a 14-7 score. Dallas would then go on to outscore Da Bears 27-21 in the second half to fall 41-28. Chicago was held to 35 yards rushing in the entire contest (they had only four rushing yards in the first half), while Dallas’ DeMarco Murray ran for 179 yards in the game (Dallas wound up with 194). Chicago turned the ball over in the loss (Jay Cutler interception, Matt Forte fumble) but still had a chance to win the contest when their onside kick try after their last score of the game (a 10 yard TD run by Cutler with 6:09 left to play) failed and the Cowboys recovered. Chicago struggled on third down tries in the frosty Chicago air (game time temperature at kickoff was a balmy 35 with a wind chill of 31) as they went 2-10 (3-3 on third down) and the Monsters of the Midway kept the pigskin for 27:32, while Dallas was 7-14 and 2-2 on third and fourth down, holding the ball for 32:28.

The series with the Saints and Da Bears is tied at 13-13 and Chicago has outscored New Orleans 533-508. New Orleans has won the last two meetings between the two clubs, including last year in the Windy City by a final of 26-18. New Orleans led 20-6 at halftime in the week five contest at Soldier Field and then held off a late Chicago rally as they would outscore Da Bears 14-11 in the final 30 minutes of play. Neither club managed to breach the 100-yard barrier (Chicago won the rushing battle, outrushing the Saints 94-66) and both Brees and Cutler threw a pair of TDs each in the contest. Both teams also struggled on third and fourth down conversions in the contest (New Orleans was 6-11 and 1-1, while Chicago was 4-10 and 0-1) and the clock was the ally of New Orleans, who kept the ball for 36, while the Monsters of the Midway held it for 24. New Orleans covered the 1 point spread (Chicago was favored) and both clubs missed the 47 1/2 over/under, scoring only 44.

Da Bears are 27-35 all time on Monday night but did manage to win the two games they played last year, while the Saints are 17-19 after their Monday night loss to Baltimore in week 12. New Orleans is favored in the Windy City by 3 and the over/under’s 54 1/2. It’s possible that the over/under could be reached by the end of the third quarter. The Saints will know if they are ahead of the Falcons when they finish play Sunday afternoon in the Big Peach or further behind. Chicago would like nothing more than to finish off the NFC South in 2014. New Orleans plays a little better football than they did last week against Carolina but Da Bears win in their cave in the Windy City and covers the 3.

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