Two weeks left in the season and anything can happen and we mean anything. As an extra Christmas present, the NFL is giving fans not one game on Saturday but two. Yes. It’s better to be nice than naughty.

While some teams are winding down their seasons, knowing that they will not make the post-season party, others are fighting to stay in the hunt. New England (AFC East), Denver (AFC West) and Indianapolis (AFC South) have already punched their playoff tickets, winning their respective divisions, while Arizona earned a playoff spot with their win last Thursday at St. Louis and the Dallas-Philadelphia game not ending in a tie. Detroit made it to the post-season party Saturday afternoon after Washington beat Philadelphia at home in Landover 27-24. All four divisions in the NFC and the AFC North are stil up for grabs and anything can happen in the last two weeks.

There are scenarios galore in week 16 (pay attention and take notes… there may be a quiz afterward)

2014 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 16

AFC

CLINCHED:
Denver – AFC West
Indianapolis – AFC South
New England – AFC East

New England at New York Jets
New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1) New England win + Denver loss

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

Denver at Cincinnati
Denver clinches a first-round bye with:
1) Denver win OR
2) Denver tie + Indianapolis loss or tie

Cincinnati vs. Denver
Cincinnati clinches AFC North division with:
1) Cincinnati win + Pittsburgh loss + Baltimore loss or tie

Cincinnati clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Cincinnati win OR
2) Cincinnati tie + Baltimore loss OR
3) Cincinnati tie + Kansas City loss or tie + San Diego loss or tie OR
4) Kansas City loss + San Diego loss + Buffalo loss or tie

Pittsbrugh vs. Kansas City
Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Pittsburgh win

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

NFC
CLINCHED: Arizona – playoff spot
Detroit – playoff spot

Arizona vs. Seattle

Arizona clinches NFC West division and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:
1) Arizona win

Detroit at Chicago

Detroit clinches NFC North division with:
1) Detroit win + Green Bay loss

Detroit clinches a first-round bye with:
1) Detroit win + Green Bay loss + Dallas loss

Dallas vs. Indianapolis

Dallas clinches NFC East division with:
1) Dallas win + Philadelphia loss or tie OR
2) Dallas tie + Philadelphia loss

Dallas clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Dallas win + Green Bay loss or tie + Detroit loss or tie as long as both don’t tie

Seattle at Arizona

Seattle clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Seattle win + Philadelphia loss or tie OR
2) Seattle win + Detroit loss or tie OR
3) Seattle win + Green Bay loss or tie OR
4) Seattle tie + Philadelphia loss OR
5) Seattle tie + Detroit loss + Green Bay loss OR
6) Philadelphia loss + Dallas win or tie

Green Bay at Tampa Bay
Green Bay clinches a playoff spot with:
1) Green Bay win + Philadelphia loss or tie OR
2) Green Bay win + Dallas win or tie OR
3) Greeen Bay tie + Philadelphia loss OR
4) Green Bay tie + Philadelphia tie + Dallas win or tie OR
5) Philadelphia loss + Dallas win or tie

New Orleans vs. Atlanta
New Orlenas clinches NFC South division with:
1) New Orleans win + Carolina loss

There were milestones galore in week 15, aside for the four teams clinching playoff spots…

· New England has have won six consecutive AFC East division titles (2009-present), which ties them for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only the Los Angeles Rams (seven, 1973-79) have posted a longer streak. The Patriots, who also won five consecutive division titles from 2003-2007, are the first team in NFL history to win 11 division championships in a 12-year span.

The teams with the most consecutive division titles:
TEAM, SEASONS (CONSECUTIVE DIVISION TITLES)
Los Angeles Rams, 1973-79 (7)
New England Patriots, 2009-present (6)*
Cleveland Browns, 1950-55 (6)
Dallas Cowboys, 1966-71 (6)
Minnesota Vikings, 1973-78 (6)
Pittsburgh Steelers, 1974-79 (6)
*Active

With the victory, head coach Bill Belichick earned his 229th career win, tying Pro Football Hall of Famer Curly Lambeau (229) for the fourth-most total victories by a head coach in NFL history.

· With Sunday’s 22-10 road victory at San Diego, Denver has won 12 consecutive divisional road games, tying San Francisco (12 from 1987-90) for the longest such streak in NFL history. The Broncos have not been defeated by an AFC West opponent on the road since December 19, 2010 (39-23 loss at Oakland).

The teams with the most consecutive divisional road wins in NFL history:
TEAM, SEASONS (CONSECUTIVE DIVISIONAL ROAD WINS)
Denver Broncos, 2011-14 (12)*
San Francisco 49ers,  1987-90 (12)
Carolina Panthers, 2004-07 (10)
Chicago Bears, 1983-86 (10)
Cleveland Browns, 1964-66 (10)
Cleveland Browns, 1950-52 (10)
*Active

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning passed for 233 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions for a 125.6 passer rating against the Chargers. He has 4,143 passing yards this year, his NFL-record 14th career 4,000-yard passing season.
· Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck and Seattle signal caller Russell Wilson each led their respective clubs to victory Sunday with both of their teams improving to 10-4. Luck and Wilson are the only starting quarterbacks to begin their careers in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to guide their team to at least 10 regular-season wins in each of their first three NFL seasons.

Wilson led the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks to a 17-7 win over San Francisco. In the regular season as a starting quarterback, Wilson’s 34 wins and 21 home victories are the most in the Super Bowl era in a quarterback’s first three seasons. He passed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (33) and Matt Ryan (33) in wins and Ryan (20) in home victories.
· New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. had 12 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the Giants’ 24-13 win over Washington. He is the first rookie in NFL history with at least 12 catches, 140 receiving yards and three touchdown catches in a game.

Over the past seven games, Beckham has 61 catches for 866 yards and six touchdowns. His 61 catches are the most by a rookie in a seven-game span and his 866 receiving yards are the second-most by a rookie over a seven-game span (920 yards, Bill Groman, 1960). Beckham now has at least 90 receiving yards in seven consecutive games, extending his NFL record streak for a rookie.

· Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had 10 catches for 123 yards in the Steelers’ 27-20 win at Atlanta. Brown, who leads the NFL with 115 receptions this season, is the fourth player in NFL history with consecutive 110-catch seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (1994-95) and Cris Carter (1994-95) and Wes Welker (2007-09, 2011-12). Brown’s 115 receptions are the most in a single season in Steelers history, surpassing Hines Ward (112 catches in 2002).

The players with consecutive 110-catch seasons in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM, SEASONS (CONSECUTIVE 110-CATCH SEASONS)
Wes Welker – New England, 2007-09 (3)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh, 2013-present (2)
Cris Carter – Minnesota, 1994-95 (2)*
Jerry Rice – San Francisco 1994-95 (2)*
Wes Welker – New England, 2011-12 (2)
*Pro Football Hall of Fame

THE NEW 30: In Week 16, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (29), Chicago’s Jay Cutler (28), Dallas’s Tony Romo (28), Atlanta’s Matt Ryan (27) and San Diego’s PHILIP RIVERS (27) can all reach 30 touchdown passes. If at least one quarterback reaches 30 touchdown passes on Sunday, 2014 will have the most quarterbacks with at least 30 TD passes of any season in NFL history (five in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013).

Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck (38), Denver’s Peyton Manning (37), Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (35), New England’s Tom Brady (32) and New Orleans’ Drew Brees (31) have thrown 30+ TD passes this season.

RECEPTION PARTY: Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 115 receptions (8.2 average) and Chicago running back Matt Forte ranks seventh with 88 receptions (6.3 average).

With nine catches on Sunday against Kansas City, Brown can surpass Herman Moore (123 in 1995) and Wes Welker (123 in 2009) for the second-most catches in a season in NFL history. Brown has eight or more catches in eight straight games, the longest streak in NFL history.

The most receptions in a season in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM, YEAR (RECEPTIONS)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis, 2002 (143)
Wes Welker – New England, 2009 (123)
Herman Moore – Detroit, 1995 (123)
Calvin Johnson – Detroit, 2012 (122)
Wes Welker – New England, 2011 (122)
Cris Carter – Minnesota, 1995 (122)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, 1995 (122)
Cris Carter – Minnesota, 1994 (122)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh, 2014 (115)*
*Through 14 games

With five catches on Sunday against Detroit, Forté can surpass Charlie Garner (91 in 2002) and Roger Craig (92 in 1985) for the fourth-most catches by a running back in a season in NFL history.

The most receptions in a single season by a running back:
PLAYER – TEAM, YEAR (RECEPTIONS)
Larry Centers – Arizona, 1995 (101)
LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego, 2003 (100)
Larry Centers – Arizona, 1996 (99)
Roger Craig – San Francisco, 1985 (92)
Charlie Garner – Oakland, 2002 (91)
Matt Forté – Chicago, 2014 (88)*
*Through 14 games

ROOKIE RECEIVERS: Four rookie wide receivers – the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. (972), Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin (952), Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans (948) and Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins (850) – are approaching the 1,000-yard receiving mark.

If at least three rookie wide receivers reach 1,000 yards this season, 2014 will have the most rookie wide receivers with 1,000+ receiving yards of any season in NFL history. The 1986 season is the only season in NFL history to have two rookie receivers reach the mark – Indianapolis’ Bill Brooks (1,131) and Houston Oilers’ Ernest Givins (1,062).

SACK ATTACK: Houston defensive end J.J. Watt ranks third in the NFL with 16.5 sacks this season and has 53.0 sacks since entering the league in 2011.

With a sack on Sunday against Baltimore, Watt can surpass De Marcus Ware (53.5, 2005-08) for the most sacks in a player’s first four seasons since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

The players with the most sacks in their first four seasons since 1982:

PLAYER – TEAM, YEARS (SACKS)
Reggie White – Philadelphia, 1985-88 (70.0)
Derrick Thomas – Kansas City, 1989-92 (58.0)
DeMarcus Ware – Dallas, 2005-08 (53.5)
J.J. Watt – Houston, 2011-14 (53.0)*
Dwight Freeney – Indianapolis, 2002-05 (51.0)
*Through 14 games

MILE-HIGH MONDAY: On Monday night, AFC West champion Denver (11-3) will travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The Broncos’ MNF appearance this week marks their 23rd consecutive season playing on MNF (1992-present), the longest current streak in the NFL. Oakland holds the record with 28 consecutive seasons appearing on Monday Night Football (1970-1997).

Denver (67) also ranks fourth for the most appearances on MNF among NFL teams.

TOP BILLING: Last week, New England (11-3) and head coach Bill Belichick clinched their sixth consecutive AFC East division title and the club’s 11th in the past 12 years.

Belichick has amassed 229 wins in his career and with a win at the New York Jets on Sunday, Belichick can surpass Curly Lambeau (229-134-22) for the fourth-most wins by a head coach in NFL history.

The head coaches with the most total wins in NFL history:
HEAD COACH – TEAMS (RECORD)
Don Shula – Baltimore Colts, Miami Dolphins (347-173-6)
George Halas – Chicago Bears (324-151-31)
Tom Landry – Dallas Cowboys (270-178-6)
Bill Belichick – Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots (229-117-0)*
Curly Lambeau – Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cardinals, Washington Redskins (229-134-22)
*Active

Week 16 started with Jacksonville suprising Tennessee at home 21-17 in the Sunshine State Thursday night and a pair of Saturday contests (Philadelphia at Washington and San Diego at San Francisco) taking over the airaves and concludes with Denver traveling to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.

Time is running out. With two weeks to go in the NFL regular season, it’s time for teams to make their final playoff push.

“We can’t really worry about how it all plays out,” says Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. “We have to handle our business and control what we can. At this point in the season, you know what you are playing for and it’s just one game at a time.”

With two weeks left, there are still 21 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX and there are eight playoff spots up for grabs, including five division titles.

“This is an amazing league,” says Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, whose team is in mix for the AFC North crown. “Everybody is so close and that’s what makes it great.”

In the AFC, both New England and Denver can secure first-round byes this week, and the Patriots can also clinch home-field advantage. Cincinnati has a chance to lock up a playoff berth and the AFC North title. And Pittsburgh and Baltimore can each secure a postseason spot.

In the NFC, Arizona can clinch the NFC West, a first-round bye and home-field advantage this week. Detroit can secure a playoff spot, the NFC North division and a first-round bye. Dallas has a chance to lock up a postseason berth and the NFC East title. New Orleans can win the NFC South. And Green Bay and Seattle can each clinch a playoff spot.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, nine NFC teams are still in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.

NFC DIVISIONS

All four divisions are still to be determined.

A breakdown of the NFC division races:

NFC EAST: Dallas (10-4) and Philadelphia (9-5) remain in contention for the NFC East division title. The Cowboys are in control in the division race. Dallas can clinch the NFC East this week with a win and a Philadelphia loss.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Dallas (10-4/3-2/7-4, .407/.444)
Philadelphia (9-5/3-1/5-5, .401/.503)

NFC NORTH: Detroit (10-4) and Green Bay (10-4) remain in contention for the NFC North division title. Both the Lions and Packers, who meet in Green Bay in Week 17, are in control in the division race. Detroit can clinch the division this week with a win and a Green Bay loss.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Detroit (10-4/4-0/8-2, .393/.462)
Green Bay (10-4/4-1/7-3, 446..492)

NFC SOUTH: New Orleans (6-8), Carolina (5-8-1) and Atlanta (5-9) remain in contention for the NFC South division title. Both the Saints and Falcons, who meet in Week 16, are in control in the division race. The Saints can clinch the NFC South this week with a win and a Carolina loss.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
New Orleans (6-8/2-2/5-5, .446/.513)
Carolina (5-8-1/3-2/5-6, .386/.503)
Atlanta (5-9/4-0/5-5, .379/.495)

NFC WEST: Arizona (11-3) and Seattle (10-4) remain in contention for the NFC West division title. Both the Cardinals and Seahawks, who meet in Arizona in Week 16, are in control in the division race. Arizona can clinch the division this week with a win over Seattle.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Arizona (11-3/3-1/8-2, .481/.510)
Seattle (10-4/3-1/8-2, .504/.523)

NFC WILD CARDS

Arizona has already clinched a playoff berth and currently leads the NFC West. Eight other teams remain in contention for a postseason spot.

Detroit, Dallas, Seattle and Green Bay are each in control for at least a Wild Card berth. All four teams can clinch at least a playoff berth this week.

A breakdown of the NFC Wild Card race:

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Arizona (11-3/8-2, .481/.510)*
Detroit (10-4/8-2, .393/.462)
Dallas (10-4/7-4, .407/.444)
Seattle (10-4/8-2, .504/.523)
Green Bay (10-4/7-3, .446/.492)
Philadelphia (9-5/5-5, .401/.503)

*Arizona has already clinched a playoff berth and currently leads the NFC West

NFC HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE AND FIRST-ROUND BYE

Five teams remain in contention for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Arizona, which has the conference’s best record at 11-3, is in control for home-field advantage. The Cardinals can clinch home-field advantage this week with a win.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Arizona (11-3/8-2, .481/.510)
Detroit (10-4/8-2, .393/.462)
Dallas (10-4/7-4, .407/.444)
Seattle (10-4/8-2, .504/.523)
Green Bay (10-4/7-3, .446/).492)

Six teams remain in contention for a first-round bye. Arizona, Detroit, Green Bay and Seattle are each in control for a first-round bye. The Cardinals can clinch a first-round bye this week with a win. The Lions can secure a first-round bye with a win combined with losses by Green Bay and Dallas.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Arizona (11-3/8-2, .481/.510)
Detroit (10-4/8-2, .393/.462)
Dallas (10-4/7-4, .407/.444)
Seattle (10-4/8-2, .504/.523)
Green Bay (10-4/7-3, .446/.492)
Philadelphia (9-5/5-5, .401/.503)

A breakdown of the AFC division races:

AFC EAST: New England (11-3) has clinched the AFC East division title.

AFC NORTH: Cincinnati (9-4-1), Baltimore (9-5) and Pittsburgh (9-5) remain in contention for the AFC North division title. The Bengals and Steelers, who meet in Week 17, are in control of their fate in the division race.

TEAM (OVERALL/DIVISION/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Cincinnati (9-4-1/3-2/6-4, .389/.467)
Pittsburgh (9-5/3-2/7-3, .452/.429)
Baltimore (9-5/2-3/5-5, .361/.467)

AFC SOUTH: Indianapolis (10-4) has clinched the AFC South division title.

AFC WEST: Denver (11-3) has clinched the AFC West division title.

A breakdown of the AFC Wild Card race:

Nine teams remain in contention for a Wild Card spot. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kansas City control their fate in the Wild Card race.

TEAM (OVERALL/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Cincinnati (9-4-1/6-4, .389/.467)*
Pittsburgh (9-5/7-3, .452/.429)
Baltimore (9-5/5-5, .361/.467)
Kansas City (8-6/6-4, .491/.505)
San Diego (8-6/6-5, .375/.515)
Buffalo (8-6/4-6, .455/.526)
Houston (7-7/6-4, .265/.452)
Miami (7-7/6-5, .398/.541)
Cleveland (7-7/4-7, .362/.459)

* Cincinnati is currently in first place in the AFC North

AFC HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE AND FIRST-ROUND BYE

Five teams remain in contention for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. New England is in control for home-field advantage.

TEAM (OVERALL/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
New England (11-3/8-2, .516/.533)
Denver (11-3/9-1. .519/.546)
Indianapolis (10-4/8-3, .382/.477)
Cincinnati (9-4-1/6-4, .389/.467)
Pittsburgh (9-5/7-3, .452/.429)

Five teams remain in contention for a first-round bye. New England and Denver are each in control for a first-round bye.

TEAM (OVERALL/CONFERENCE, STRENGTH OF VICTORY/STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
New England (11-3/8-2, .516/.533)
Denver (11-3/9-1, .519/.546)
Indianapolis (10-4/8-3, .382/.477)
Cincinnati (9-4-1/6-4, .389/.467)
Pittsburgh (9-5/7-3, .452/.429)

The remaining schedule for the 12 AFC teams still in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLIX:

AFC EAST

TEAM
NEW ENGLAND – at New York Jets, Buffalo
BUFFALO – at Oakland, at New England
MIAMI – Minnesota, New York Jets

AFC NORTH
CINCINNATI – Denver, at Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH – Kansas City, Cincinnati
BALTIMORE – at Houston, Cleveland
CLEVELAND – at Carolina, at Baltimore

AFC SOUTH
INDIANAPOLIS – at Baltimore, at Tennessee
HOUSTON – Baltimore, Jacksonville

AFC WEST
DENVER – at Cincinnati, Oakland
KANSAS CITY – at Pittsburgh, San Diego
SAN DIEGO – at San Francsico, at Kansas City

(Records are as of start of play on Thursday)

For week 15, we did a lot better than last week as in 9-7 (As for the year? 137-77). We’re back on the nice list and hope Santa likes the milk and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies we’re leaving him and the reindeer like the reindeer chow. Week 16 got underway last Thursday night in the Sunshine State as Jacksonville held off Tennessee, while Washington beat Philadelphia in Landover and San Diego needed overtime to beat San Francisco in Santa Clara Saturday and it ends in Cincinnati as Peyton Manning and Denver takes on Andy Dalton and the Bengals in the season’s final Monday night affair. Here are the week 16 contests for this weekend.

Sunday and Monday’s Games

Atlanta (5-9) at New Orleans (6-8), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 711) Mercedes-Benz Superdome. With everything on the line, a pair of Southern NFC rivals meet in New Orleans as the Falcons travel to the Big Easy to take on the Saints.

Atlanta fell out of first place in the wild and wacky NFC South after their 27-20 loss to the Steeler and Ben Roethilsberger. Even though they trailed Pittsburgh at home in the Big Peach 20-7 at the half, they did manage to outscore the Steelers in the final 30 minutes of play 13-7. Atlanta outrushed Pittsburgh 97-45 but were outpassed 360-310. Falcons QB Matt Ryan did manage to throw a pair of TDs (one to WR Roddy White and the other to WR/KR Devin Hester) but threw an interception for a TD when CB William Gay returned one 52 yards for the contest’s first TD. Both clubs were 6-11 on third down conversions and the Steelers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:43 to Atlanta’s 29:17. “We know what’s in front of us,” Ryan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wXIA-TV, WSB-TV and WCNN. “We know what we’ve got to do. It’s a playoff-type mentality. We’ve got to win next week. We’ve got to have the best week of practice that we’ve had this year and prepare as best we can.”

After a scoreless first quarter in the Windy City, New Orleans went on to take a 14-0 lead to the intermission against Da Bears and then outscored Chicago 17-15 in the second half to win 31-15. Although they were outrushed by the Monsters of the Midway at Soldier Field 125-83, New Orleans did manage to treat Bears QB like an red-haired step-child, sacking him seven times and picking him off three, Brees threw for 375 yards and three TDs in the lopsided Monday night win. The Saints, who vaulted over Carolina into first place in the NFC South with the win, went 4-11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:31, while Da Bears were 2-12 and 0-2 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 26:29. Saints quarterback Drew Brees passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns and he recorded his NFL-record ninth consecutive 4,000-yard season (4,358).

“It sets us up for no bigger game than what’s coming up next week against Atlanta,” Brees told the Times-Picayune and the Mobile Register. New Orleans (6-8), Carolina (5-8-1) and Atlanta (5-9) are in contention for the NFC South crown with two weeks to play. Both the Saints and Falcons – who face the Panthers in the Big Peach in Week 17 – are in control of the division. Win out and you’re in.

They met in week one in the Big Peach and Atlanta needed overtime to take down the Saints 37-34. Atlanta trailed 20-10 at the half and then managed to play their guests from the Big Easy even, 14-14. After Matt Bryant tied things up with a 51 yard field goal with four ticks left in regulation and the Saints went three and out in their part of the overtime, Atlanta went to work, needing only four plays and four yards, with Byrant sending the home crowd happy as he connected on a 52-yard field goal with 13:17 left in the extra period. Although New Orleans outrushed Atlanta 139-123, Matt Ryan outpaced Drew Brees 448-333 with three TDs and no interceptions. Atlanta was 6-11 on third down conversions in the Georgia Dome, holding the ball for 31:18 to New Orleans’ 30:25, with the Saints going 8-13 on third down tries.

In the first meeting to open the 2014 campaign, Atlanta covered the 3-point spread (New Orleans was favored by 3) and the 71 points scored by both clubs easily covered the 52 over/under. This time, the Saints are favored at home by 6 1/2 and the over/under’s 55 1/2. A lot is on the line here in a divison that has had none of its teams reach the .500 mark and there has not been a repeat winner in the NFC South in 12 years. The loser of this is out. Done. Kaput. Finished. Their season’s over. The winner has an almost clear shot to the divison and host in the first round of the playoffs. Atlanta’s been playing some pretty decent football of late, while the Saints have been struggling at home (Atlanta’s last win in New Orleans came in the 2010 season) and can’t afford any mistakes. History does have a funny way of repeating itself in this rivalry and the last time Atlanta swept the Saints was in 2005. History is on the side of Atlanta, who will take this one, even though they won’t cover the 6 1/2.

New England (11-3) at New York Jets (3-11), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 707) MetLife Stadium. Belichick vs. Ryan. Round 2. This time, it’s in upstate New Jersey and the Jets want to spoil the Patriots’ playoff party plans and get revenge from a week seven loss in Foxboro.

The Tom Brady-led Pats led Miami in Foxboro 14-13 at the half before running away with things by scoring 27 second half points unchallenged in the 41-14 win over the Dolphins. New England held Miami to 76 yards rushing, while tallying 108 yards themselves and sacked Miami QB Ryan Tannehill four times, picking him off twice. Brady threw for 287 yards and a pair of TDs (one to Josh Edleman, the other to Ron Gronkowski) and the Pats were never threatened in the second half, allowing them to clinch the AFC East. New England on third down tries was 8-13 and held the ball for 26:14, while the Dolphins, who kept the pigskin for 33:46 and went 3-16 and 3-3 on third and fourth downs.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! rallied from a 5-2 deficit at the half against Tennessee last Sunday in Nashville and came out on top 16-11. GangGreen outrushed Tennessee 114-89, outscored the Titans in the second half 13-6, with the game’s only TD coming when Geno Smith (who was sacked once) and WR Josh Conner connected on a 9-yard TD pass in the third quarter. GangGreen then held off a late Tenneesse rally when the Titans threw four passes, three of them laterals but the rally fell short. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 2-13 and 1-1 on third and fourth down tries, while the Titans, who are tied with Oakland, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville for the top draft pick, were 6-16 and 0-1 on third and fourth downs. As far as the clock? It favored GangGreen at 30:03 to Tennessee’s 29:57.

They met in week seven in Foxboro and the Pats held off GangGreen to take a 27-25 win. New England led 17-12 at the half before New York went on a tear, outscoring New England in the second half 13-10 to make the contest closer when Smith connected with TE Jeff Cumberland on an 10-yard pass play with 2:31 left to play. New York then tried and failed a 2-point conversion, then tried an onside kick, which failed. GangGreen then got the ball back one last time and marched down the field and attempted a 58-yard field goal by Nick Folk, which was blocked with five seconds left in the contest, which allowed the Pats to seal the win. New York outrushed New England 218-63 (Curtis Ivory led all rushers with 107) but Brady outpassed Smith 261-226 with three TDs. The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were 9-16 on third down conversions and kept the ball in a holding patter for 40:54, while the Pats kept the ball for 19:06 and went 6-13 on third down tries. Although the Pats won the contest, they did not cover the 9 1/2 point spread, winning by 2 but both clubs covered the 45 over/under, combining for 52 points. This time? New England’s favored again, this time by 10 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. GangGreen looks to somehow spoil New England’s party, while the Pats want the coveted top seed in the AFC. Pats might not cover the 10 but they win in upstate New Jersey.

Minnesota (6-8) at Miami (7-7), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 710) Sun Life Stadium. Minnesota travels south to the Sunshine State to take on Miami at Sun Life Stadium in a contest that the home team needs to win to keep pace in the AFC Wild Card race.

The Purple Gang let a 14-10 halfrtime lead against Detroit gat out of their hands as the Lions would rally with a pair of Matt Prater field goals to fall 16-14. Minneosta, trying to knock Detroit out of the playoff picture, had a chance to win the contest in regulation on a 68-yard field goal try by Brad Walsh as time expired. The try for the win went short and wide left, giving Detroit the win. Minnesota was outrushed by the Lions 80-76 and Teddy Bridgewater (who managed to throw a TD pass) was sacked four times and picked off twice in the contest at Ford Field. Third down conversions were hard to come by in the NFC North contest in the Motor City (Minnesota was 4-11, 1-2 on fourth down; Detroit was 2-11) and the clock was the ally of Minnesot at 34:43 to Detroit’s 25:17.

Miami trailed 14-13 against New England at Foxboro last Sunday before the wheels came off the Miami bus, as the Pats scored their final 27 points of the contest without a challenge to lose 41-14. Miami was held to 76 yards rushing (New England had 108), while QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times and picked off twice. New England did well on third down tries, going 8-13 and held the ball for 26:14, while the Dolphins, who kept the pigskin for 33:46 and went 3-16 and 3-3 on third and fourth downs.

Miami leads the series 6-4, have outscored Minnesota 193-177 and are winners of the last two contests, including a 2010 win in the Twin Cities by a final of 14-10. Minnesota’s last win in the series came in 2002 in the old Metrodome, coming out on top 20-17. Miami’s favored by 6 1/2 and the over/under is 42. While it’s not going to be the best game on Sunday, this one is worth watching. Dolphins win at home and cover the 6.

Cleveland (7-7) at Carolina (5-8-1), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 705) Bank of America Stadium. A pair of former Heisman winners meet in Charlotte when Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton take the field in key contest for both clubs.

Cleveland, with Manziel at the helm for his first start in the NFL, was shutout by Cincinnati 30-0 at home. The Browns could never come close to the Bengals in the second meeting, trailing 20-0 at half. Manziel had trouble with the Bengals, throwing a pair of interceptions and only 80 yards for his trouble. Cleveland would also find themselves outrushed 244-53 and Andy Dalton would throw for 117 yards in the shutout lopsided loss. The Browns on third down conversions were 1-10 (1-1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:08, while the Bengals kept the pigskin for 38:52 and went 7-14 and 2-2 on third and fourth downs.

Carolina didn’t have Newton at the helm (back) and rallied to come from behind against Tampa Bay, taking a 19-17 win in Charlotte. Although they were outrushed 151-121, the Panthers, with Derrick Anderson under center, managed to outpass the Bucs 277-154 in the win. Carolina trailed 10-9 at the half and then proceeded to outscore Tampa Bay 10-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. Carolina, who forced three Tampa Bay turnovers, went 5-13 on third down conversions (Tampa Bay was 5-12) and kept the ball for 37:31 to Tampa Bay’s 22:29.

Carolina leads the series 3-1 and have outscored the Browns 87-59. Cleveland won the last meeting with the Panthers in 2010 along the shores of Lake Erie by a final of 24-23, while the Panthers’ last win in the series (they won the first three contests) came in Charlotte in 2006 by a 20-12 final. Carolina’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under is 40 1/2. Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives and both will be doing some scoreboard watching as well. Cleveland plays a little better than they did against Cincinnati but Carolina comes out on top in the Tar Heel State and wins, covering the 2 1/2.

Detroit (10-4) at Chicago, 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 709) Soldier Field. A pair of NFC North rivals meet in the Windy City as Da Bears host Detroit and Megatron (aka Calvin Johnson) at Solider Field. The contest also features a change at QB for the home team. Cutler out for Da Bears. Clausen in for Da Bears.

The Lions rallied from a 14-10 deficit at Ford Field against Minnesota, scoring the final six points of the game unchallenged, thanks to a pair of Matt Prater FG’s to take the 16-14 win. Detroit outrushed Minnesota 80-76 but were outpassed by Teddy Bridgewater 315-153 (Stafford threw a TD without a sack or interception and Johnson had four catches for 53 yards in the win). Third down conversions? Detroit was 2-11, while the Vikings were 4-11 (1-2 on fourth down) and time was on the side of Minnesota, who kept the ball for 34:43, while Detroit had it for 25:17.

Chicago trailed the Saints 14-0 at halftime at Soldier Field last Monday night and then things went from bad to worse, as they would be outscored by the Saints in the second half 17-15 to lose 31-15. The loss assured Chicago of their first losing season since 2009, when they went 7-9 under Lovie Smith and have trailed 52-7 after three quarters in their last five contests. The bright side for the Chicago offense was that they did outrush the Saints 125-83 (Bears RB Matt Forte led all rushers with 78 yards). For Bears fans, that was the good news. The bad news? Jay Cutler (who is benched for this contest and replaced by Jimmy Clausen) was sacked seven times and picked off three in the loss, while Drew Brees threw for three TDs in the Windy City. Da Bears on third and fourth down tries? Dismal at 2-12 (0-2 on fourth down) and held the ball for 26:29, while the Saints were 4-11 on third down and kept the pigskin for 33:31.

Detroit won the week 13 meeting in the Motor City, rallying from a 14-3 first quarter deficit to take a 31-17 win Thanksgiving Day. The Lions went on to outscore Da Bears 31-3 to take the win and shutdown the Chicago rushing game, holding them to 13 yards on the ground, while Detroit tallied 91. Matt Stafford easily outpassed Jay Cutler 390-280 (each throwing a pair of TDs, with Cutler throwing an interception) and Calvin Johnson returned to his Pro Bowl form, catching 11 passes for 146 yards and a pair of TDs. Both clubs were 5-12 on third down conversions, with Detroit going 1-2 on fourth down conversions and the Lions ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 33:25, while Da Bears held the pigskin in hibernation for 26:35. Detroit covered the 7-point spread with their 17-point win and both teams covered the 48 over/under.  Detroit in the second meeting is favored  by 4 1/2 and the over/under’s 47 1/2. outside of Ford Field, Detroit tends to struggle and Chicago seems to play better against a divisonal rival.  Da Bears may not cover the 4 1/2 but they get their ducks in a row and win in the Windy City.

Baltimore (9-5) at Houston (7-7), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 706) Reliant/NRG Stadium. A pair of contending playoff teams meet in the Lone Star State as Houston hosts Baltimore at Reliant/NRG Stadium.

The Ravens used a blocked punt return by Kamar Aiken to open the scoring against Jacksonville last Sunday to push them to a 20-12 win over the Jaguars in Charm City. Baltimore trailed 12-10 at halftime before outscoring Jacksonville in the second half 10-0 and sealed the win when Jacksonville attemped to advance down the field late before an interception by Jeromy Miles ended the threat. Baltimore outrushed Jacksonville 93-82 and sacked Blake Bortles eight times in the contest, picking him off once, while Joe Flacco threw for 221 yards and a TD pass to TE Owen Daniels. Baltimore was 4-12 on third down conversions in the 8-point win in Charm City, keeping the ball for 28:18, while Jacksonville went 5-18 on third down tries (1-2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:42.

Houston fell at Indianapolis 17-10 but had chances to win the game and slow the Colts’ chances of winning the AFC South down. The Texans trailed 14-7 at halftime and made it a four-point game when K Randy Bullock connected on a 53 yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Colts would then answer with a 29-yarder by Adam Vinatieri with 2:11 left to play in the contest. Houston then had several tries at the endzone to take the lead for the first time and made it as far as their 39 yard line when Terry Savage’s pass was picked off by the Colts’ Vontae Davis to end the threat. (Savage took over for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who left the contest with an injury.) Houston did outrush Indy 137-110 (Arian Foster led all rushers with 99 yards) but they were outpassed 187-157 by the Colts and the Texans turned the ball over twice in the 7-point loss in the Hoosier State. Houston on third and fourth down conversions were 5-16 and 0-3, holding the ball for 31:05, while the Colts held the pigskin for 28:55, while going 2-12 on third down. Ryan Fitzpatrick exited the game with an injury and Case Keenum, who played for the Texans and played his college ball at the University of Houston, will be under center again.

The Ravens lead series 6-1, have outscored Houston 186-141 and won their last meeting last year in Charm City 30-9. Baltimore erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit by outscoring Houston 30-6 in the last 45 minutes of play. Houston did manage to outrush the Ravens 94-75 and Matt Schaub outpaced Joe Flacco 194-171 (Schaub was sacked three times and threw an interception, while Flacco was sacked twice). The Ravens went 8-16 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 29:24, while Houston was 3-12 and 0-2 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 30:36. Baltimore covered the 2 1/2-point spread, winning by 21 (Houston was favored) but both teams failed to cover the 45 over/under with 39 points. Baltimore’s a 4 1/2 point favorite and the over/under’s 41 1/2. The loser of this one? Done for 2014. The winner? They get to live at least another week. Houston will have a problem with the Ravens this week as Baltimore comes out of the Lone Star State with the win and covers the 4 1/2.

Kansas City (8-6) at Pittsburgh (9-5), 1 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 708) Heinz Field. The Chiefs and Steelers are right in the middle of the crowded AFC playoff picture. Kansas City is one game out of a Wild Card position, trailing Pittsburgh and Baltimore. And the Steelers are just a half-game behind Cincinnati in the division. With a win on Sunday, Pittsburgh will lock up a playoff berth. The two teams meet in the Steel City for the 29th time and playoff spots are on the line this week and possibly next week as well.

“It’s a big week coming up,” says Steelers cornerback William Gay, who had a 52-yard interception-return touchdown last week. “We’ve put ourselves in a playoff mindset. Every day counts.”

The Chiefs took Oakland to task last Sunday at Arrowhead, beating the Raiders 31-13. Kansas City led their AFC West rivals 10-3 at half and proceed to outscore the Silver and Black 21-10 in the second half to avenge a week 12 loss in Oakland. Kansas City outrushed Oakland 93-73, outpassed them 297-222 and picked off Raiders rookie QB David Carr once, while sacking him four times (Alex Smith threw for a pair of TDs without an interception). Both clubs struggled on third down tries in the second meeting in the Midwest (Oakland was 5-18 and 0-1 on fourth down, while Kansas City was 3-13) and both clubs held the ball for 30 minutes each.

Pittsburgh led from start to finish in Atlanta, coming away with a 27-20 win over the Falcons in the Big Peach. Pittsburgh led 20-7 at halftime and then held Atlanta off in the second half, as the Falcons outscored them 13-7 in the final 30 minutes of play in the Georgia Dome. Although they were outrushed by Atlanta 97-45, the Steelers and Ben Rothelisberger outpassed Matt Ryan 360-310 (Ryan did have a pair of TDs passes to WRs Roddy White and Devin Hester) and picked off Ryan for the game’s first TD (after Sean Suisham kicked a pair of 38 yard field goals), when CB William Gay picked Ryan off and returned the ball 52 yards for a TD. LeVeon Bell, despite being held to 47 yards, chipped in with a pair of short TDs in the contest, giving Pittsburgh their ninth win of the season. Both teams did well on third down tries, going 6-11 and the Steelers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:43 to Atlanta’s 29:17.

Pittsburgh holds a 19-9 lead in the series, have outscored Kansas City 668-514 and have taken the last two meetings with the Chiefs, including a 2012 16-13 overtime win in the Steel City, while Kansas City’s last win over Pittsburgh came in 2009 in overtime in Kansas City by a final of 27-24. The Steelers are a 3-point favorite at Heinz Field an the over/under’s 46 1/2. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Pittsburgh’s trying to make it into the post-season from a log-jammed AFC North, while the Chiefs are trying to catch Denver and keep San Diego in their rear-view mirror. Chiefs pull the upset in western Pennsylvania on the road and covers the 3.

Green Bay (10-4) at Tampa Bay (2-12), 1 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 712) Raymond James Stadium. It’s the battle of the Bays, as the old ESPN Monday Night Football once said, as Green Bay travels to Florida to take on Tampa Bay.

Buffalo held Green Bay in check last Sunday in Orchard Park and came away with 21-13 win over the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Buffalo broke a 10-10 tie at halftime, then went on to outscore Green Bay in the second half 11-3 to fall 21-13. The Packers’ lone TD came on a 1-yard run by Eddie Lacy (who would later be sacked in the endzone for a safety late in the contest) and while Green Bay did outrush Buffalo 158-113 and Rodgers outpassed Kyle Orton 185-158, the Bills managed to force a pair of Rodgers interceptions for the win. Green Bay went 4-14 on third down conversions, possessing the ball for 27:02, while the Bills kept the pigskin for 32:58 and went 4-16 on third down tries.

Tampa Bay’s latest woes came at the hands of their NFC South rivals in Charlotte as the Panthers rallied from a 10-9 deficit at halftime to fall 19-17. Even though Tampa Bay outrushed Carolina 151-121, they were outpassed by the Panthers, who played without Cam Newton (back) 277-154 (Josh McCown was sacked three times and threw an interception in the contest). Carolina forced three Buccaneer turnovers in the second contest between the two clubs and went 5-13 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 37:31. Tampa Bay on third down? 5-12 and they kept the ball for 22:29.

Green Bay leads the series of the Bays 30-21-1 and the Packers have outscored Tampa Bay 1,012-850. The Packers’ last win in the series came in the land of bratwurst, cheese and beer in 2011 by a 35-26 final, while Tampa Bay last beat the Packers in 2009 by a final of 38-28. The Pack is favored by 10 and the over/under’s 48 1/2. Tampa Bay would like nothing more than to knock Green Bay out of the playoff picture. Green Bay’s not going to let them. Packers may not cover the 10 but they do take the win in the Sunshine State.

New York Giants (5-9) at St. Louis (6-8), 4:05 p.m. (FOX and DirecTV 713) Edward Jones Dome. A pair of teams trying to finish their 2014 campaigns on a positive note meet in St. Louis Sunday afternoon as the Giants take on the Rams.

The Giants had a lot of things going for them in their 24-13 win over Washington in the Meadowlands last Sunday. First, they erased a 10-7 lead by the Redskins by outscoring them 17-3 in the second half. Next, they got WR Santana Moss tossed out of the game when he argued too long with officials after a Robert Griffin III rushing TD was reversed, earning him a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties and an early trip to the showers. Although they were outrushed by the ‘Skins 144-49, the Giants did manage to sack Griffin seven times in the contest, while Eli Manning threw three TDs passes in the win, all to rookie WR Odell Beckham, Jr. The Giants on third and fourth down conversions were 4-13 and 1-2, while holding the ball for 27:29. Washington on third and fourth down? 4-14 and 0-1, keeping the ball for 32:31.

St. Louis found themselves eliminated from the playoff race last Thursday night against Arizona with their 12-6 loss to the Cardinals at home. Arizona held the Rams to 69 yards, while the Desert Angry Birds ran for 143. On the bright side for the Rams, QB Sean Hill outpaced Drew Staton (who later left the game with a knee injury) 229-109 but was sacked twice and threw an interception in the 6-point loss. It was kickers that accounted for all the scoring in the Thursday night NFC West affair (Arizona’s Chandler Catanzaro with four FGs, St. Louis Greg Zuerlein with two), which marked the first game to be played without either team scoring a TD since Oakland shutout Kansas City 15-0 in 2012. Third down tries for both teams? Not a lot to cheer for in the contest (Arizona 5-17, St. Louis 4-15 and 0-1 on fourth down) and the clock was on the side of Arizona at 34:24 to St. Louis’ 25:36.

St. Louis leads the series 25-14 (which includes contests played when the Rams were in Cleveland and then Los Angeles before moving to the Great Midwest and have outscored the G-Men 900-727. New York has won the last five contests, however, with their last win coming in 2011 by a final of 28-16 in the Meadowlands (St. Louis’ last win in the series? 2001 in St. Louis by a final of 15-14.

The Rams are favored by 5 and the over/under is 43. It’s safe to say that neither club will make the post-season but they’re a lot better than what they were last year. Giants cover the 5 and win in St. Louis.

Indianapolis (10-4) at Dallas (10-4), 4:25 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 714) AT&T Stadium. Luck vs. Romo. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs meet in Arlington and while the Colts have already clinched their playoff spot last week, Dallas looks forward to punching their dance with a win at home this week.

The Colts clinched the AFC South with a 17-10 victory over Houston last week . It marks Indianapolis’ ninth division title in the past 12 seasons and second in a row. Quarterback Andrew Luck threw two touchdown passes and guided the Colts to the team’s 10th win of the season. Luck and Seattle’s Russell Wilson are the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to lead their teams to at least 10 wins in each of their first three seasons.

The Ravens beat Houston 17-10 in Indy but the Texans had chances to win the game and slow the Colts’ chances of winning the AFC South down. The Colts 14-7 at halftime and held off a late Houston rally when Vontae Davis picked off Terry Savage to end the threat. Houston did outrush Indy 137-110 (Arian Foster led all rushers with 99 yards) but the Colts outpassed Hoiuston 187-157 and forced a pair of Houston turnovers in the 7-point win in the Hoosier State. Houston on third and fourth down conversions were 5-16 and 0-3, holding the ball for 31:05, while the Colts held the pigskin for 28:55, while going 2-12 on third down.

“This feeling never gets old,” says Colts veteran receiver Reggie Wayne about winning the division. “Taking care of the division was our first goal so we’re now able to check that one off.”

Dallas rallied from a 1-point deficit late in the third quarter and came back to beat Philadelphia 38-27. The Cowboys led at half 21-10 at the half before the Eagles took their only lead in the contest on a 1-yard run by Darrell Sproles with 5:42 left in the third to give the home team a 24-21 lead. Dallas did not wait long to take the lead back as they would answer with a 2 yard run by DeMarco Murray (his second TD) with 38 seconds left in the third. That score gave Dallas the lead back for good and they would go on to win, avenging a loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas. Dallas forced five turnovers, including a fumble on the opening kickoff and picked off Mark Sanchez twice. Dallas, who saw Romo throw three TD passes to WR Dez Bryant, held the Eagles to 75 yards rushing in the contest, while Dallas tallied 115. Philadelphia went 5-11 on third down tries and kept the ball for 18:05, while the Cowboys were 5-13 on third down and kept the pigskin for 41:55.

Dallas leads the series 9-5 (including contests when the Colts were in Baltimore), have outscored Indy 336-252 and have won the last two contests, including taking a 38-35 overtime win in the Hoosier State. Indy’s last win over the Cowboys also came back home again in Indiana in 2002 by a 20-3 count. Dallas is favored by 3 and the over/under’s 55 1/2. Could these two meet in Glendale in February? Hard to say and as Chris Berman once said, “that’s why they play the games.” Colts flex some muscle in the Lone Star State with the win and covers the 3.

Buffalo (8-6) at Oakland (2-12), 4:25 p.m. (CBS and DirecTV 715) O.co Coliseum. A much improved Buffalo Bills team travels west to take on a Raiders squad on the Left Coast that is trying to find their way back to prominence.

Buffalo held Green Bay in check last Sunday in Orchard Park and came away with 21-13 win over the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Breaking a 10-10 tie at halftime, Buffalo went on to outscore Green Bay in the second half 11-3 and sealed the Packers’ fate when RB Eddie Lacy was sacked in the end zone for a safety with 1:51 left to play in the contest. Even though Green Bay did outrush Buffalo 158-113 and Rodgers outpassed Kyle Orton 185-158, the Bills managed to force a pair of Rodgers interceptions for the win. Green Bay went 4-14 on third down conversions, possessing the ball for 27:02, while the Bills kept the pigskin for 32:58 and went 4-16 on third down tries.

Oakland’s woes continued last Sunday at Arrowhead as the Chiefs got revenge from their week 12 loss to fall 31-13 to Kansas City. The Silver and Black were outrushed 93-78, outpassed 297-222 and rookie QB David Carr was the unlucky recipient of four Chiefs sacks in the 18-point loss. Although they trailed at the half 10-3, the wheels on the Raider bus fell off as Kansas City would outscored them in the final 30 minutes of action 21-10 to seal their fate. Both team held the ball for 30 minutes each, with Kansas City going 3-13 on third down tries, while the Raiders were 5-18 and 0-1 on third and fourth down conversions.

Including contests played when the Silver and Black played their home games in Los Angeles, Oakland has a 19-17 lead in the series and have outscored the Bills 829-754. Buffalo has won the last two meetings with the Raiders, taking a 38-35 win in 2011 in upstate New York, while the Raiders’ last win over the Bills came in Oakland in 2005 by a 38-17 count. The Bills are favored by 5 1/2 with a 39 over/under. The Raiders are bad but not 5 1/2 bad and they have been playing some decent if not great football of late. The Bills are much better than what they were last year and even if they don’t make the playoff party, their fan base will have something to look forward to in 2015. Bills circle the wagon in Cali and cover the 5 1/2.

Seattle (10-4) at Arizona (11-3), 8:30 p.m. (NBC) University of Phoenix Stadium. The Seahawks and Cardinals will meet on Sunday night at University of Phoenix Stadium – the site of Super Bowl XLIX – in a key NFC West showdown. Both teams are currently in control for the division and can clinch the title by winning out.

Seattle has won seven of its past eight games, including a Week 12 win over Arizona (19-3). A victory this week would give the Seahawks the head-to-head sweep against the Cardinals and put Seattle in position to claim the division for the second year in a row.

“We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us,” says Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who won his 34th start last week, the most by a quarterback in his first three seasons during the Super Bowl era. “Hopefully we can keep winning and keep finding ways to win,” he told KING-TV and KIRO-TV.

The Cardinals are the first team in the NFC to clinch a playoff berth. And with a win over Seattle, Arizona would lock up the NFC West, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

“It’s hard to get to 11 wins in a season,” says Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell. “It’s beautiful. But now we have to get to 12.”

Seattle rallied from a 7-3 deficit at half in the Pacific Northwest against San Francisco, shutting out the 49ers in the second half with a pair of TDs (a 4-yard run by RB Marshawn Lynch and a 10-yard TD pass from Russell Wilson to WR Paul Richardson) to give them the 17-7 win. Seattle outrushed San Francisco at CenturyLink Field 152-140, outpassed them 168-141 and made life for Colin Kaepernick miserable by sacking him six times (Wilson was sacked five times and threw an interception to end the first half). Third down was good to the Seahawks, as they went 8-14 and kept the ball for a mere 28:58, while the 49ers were 6-15 and 2-4 on third and fourth down tries, keeping the ball for 31:02.

The Desert Angry Birds held St. Louis to a pair of field goals in their 12-6 win over the Rams last Thursday night in the Gateway City. Arizona led 6-3 at the break and then outscored St. Louis 6-3 in the second half for the win. The contest marked the first time that there were no TDs scored since Oakland beat Kansas City in 2012 in Oakland in week 12, shutting out the Chiefs 15-0. Chandler Cantanzaro accounted for all of Arizona’s scoring with four FGs in the contest (longest was 51 yards) and the Desert Angry Birds held St. Louis to 69 yards rushing, while they ran for 143. Both Arizona and St. Louis struggled on third down tries (Arizona 5-17, St. Louis 4-15 and 0-1 on fourth down) and the clock was on the side of Arizona at 34:24 to St. Louis’ 25:36.

They met in week 12 in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks and the defending Super Bowl champions and took a 9-3 lead with them to the intermission and shut out the Desert Angry Birds in the second half for the 19-3 win. Arizona was outrushed by Seattle 124-64 but Arizona did manage to sack Russell Wilson seven times in the game (wilson led all rushers with 73 yards). Wilson did manage to outpass Drew Stanton 211-149 and had a TD pass in the contest without an interception, while Stanton was picked off once and sacked three times. Third down conversions in the first meeting? Arizona was 3-12, while the Seahawks were 5-13 and the clock was the ally of the Seahawks at 35:27 to Arizona’s 24:33. Seattle covered the 6 1/2 with their 16-point win at CenturyLink Field but both the Seahawks and Cardinals failed to reach the 41 1/2 over/under, scoring only 22 points. This time, in the desert, in a contest for all the chips and salsa, Seattle’s favored by 7 1/2 and the over/under’s 37. Is this one “Drill Worthy?” We think so. Having said that… (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?”

Seattle already knocked the 49ers out of the playoffs last Sunday in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, while Arizona sent Arizona away from the post-season party with nothing more than a lump of coal and maybe a switch. Arizona’s looking for revenge from week 12, Seattle’s looking to run the table in the NFC West. Even though they won’t cover the 7 1/2, Seattle wins this one in the desert.

Denver (11-3) at Cincinnati (9-4-1), 8:30 p.m. Monday (ESPN) Paul Brown Stadium. Peyton Manning and Andy Dalton meet in Cincy in the final Monday night game of the 2014 season. While the Broncos have clinched the AFC West, Cinicnnnati is holding out hope that they win the AFC North. Week 16 concludes on Monday night with a matchup of division leaders.

Last Sunday at Qualcomm, Manning battled the flu and the Chargers, coming away with the 22-10 win over San Diego. Denver, completing the sweep over San Diego, led 9-3 at the half and went on to outscore San Diego 13-7 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Broncos outrushed San Diego 111-56 and Manning barely outpaced Philip Rivers in passing 233-232 (Mannning had one TD pass ot DeMaryus Thomas, while Rivers was picked off twice). Neither club did anything exciting to write home about on third down tries (Denver was 3-12, San Diego was 6-13) but the clock was on the side of the Broncos, who held the ball for 32:44 to San Diego’s 27:16. The Broncos have already clinched the AFC West and can lock up a first-round bye with a win. “All that really matters now is winning,” Thomas told the Rocky Mountain News and KUSA-TV.

The Bengals kept Johnny Manziel in check in his first NFL start, shutting out Cleveland 30-0 along the shores of Lake Erie. Cleveland never came close in the contest, trailing 20-0 at halftime and could never recover from the deficit. Manziel had trouble with the Bengals, throwing a pair of interceptions and only 80 yards for his trouble. Cleveland would also find themselves outrushed 244-53 and Andy Dalton would throw for 117 yards in the shutout lopsided loss. Last week, rookie running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns in Cincinnati’s 30-0 win. Hill is the first rookie since 2005 with three 140+ yard rushing performances (Cadillac Williams). The Browns on third down conversions were 1-10 (1-1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 21:08, while the Bengals kept the pigskin for 38:52 and went 7-14 and 2-2 on third and fourth downs.

With two weeks to play, the Bengals (9-4-1) hold a half-game lead over Pittsburgh (9-5) and Baltimore (9-5) in the AFC North. Cincinnati will visit Pittsburgh in the season finale in a game that could decide the division. With a win on Monday, the Bengals clinch a playoff spot. A Cincinnati win combined with losses by both Pittsburgh and Baltimore will give the Bengals the division.

“We’re still in control of everything,” says Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. “We know these next two games are going to be big. The way our division is going, everyone keeps winning. We know what we’re facing.”

Denver leads the series with Cincy 19-8, have outscored the Bengals 578-494 and have won the last four contests, including a win in Cincy in 2012 by a final of 31-23, while the Bengals’ last win over Denver came in 2004 in Cincy by a 23-10 count. On Monday night, the Bengals are 10-20, while Denver’s 29-36-1.  Denver’s a 3 1/2 point favorite and the over/under is 48. It’s possible that the over/under could be reached by halftime. Broncos may not cover the 3 1/2 but they win in the Buckeye state.

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