It’s the end of the regular season for some teams in the National Football League. While some teams know they’re going to play more football in the post-season, other teams are waiting to see if their seasons will be extended a little longer. For those other teams that struggled through the 2015 campaign, when play ends Sunday, their seasons will be over, lockers will be cleaned out and teams will prepare for the draft, while making roster and coaching changes.

For all the games this week, they are rematches from earlier this season. That means for some teams, it’s their last chance to get revenge, while others will look to finish off rivals. There are no secrets this time around. Everyone knows everyone. For those teams that have already clinched a playoff spot, they don’t have to worry, aside from preparing for the post-season, while the others that find themselves in the chase are hoping to win and have luck on their side. One play could make the difference in making the playoff and not being in the post-season party at all.

This time of year, it’s football’s answer to musical chairs. As long as the music plays and there are chairs, everyone has a chance. It’s when the music stops that the chaos begins. Sunday’s action will be the last chance for teams needing to get into the post-season. When action draws its last breath in the late games Sunday afternoon, 12 teams (6 from both the AFC and NFC) will have spots in the post-season party and 20 will go home with lovely parting gifts.

RECEPTION PARTY I: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had nine catches for 178 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 20-13 win over Carolina. Jones, who leads the league with 127 receptions, surpassed Herman Moore (123 in 1995) and Wes Welker (123 in 2009) for the third-most catches in a season in NFL history.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown recorded seven catches for 61 yards against Baltimore, bringing his catch total to 123 this season, which is tied for fourth-most in a season in NFL history. Brown, who recorded 129 receptions last season, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (1994-95) as the only players in NFL history with back-to-back 120-catch seasons.

The most receptions in a season in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAM (YEAR, RECEPTIONS)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (2002, 143)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2014, 129)
Julio Jones – Atlanta (2015, 127)*
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2015, 123)*
Wes Welker – New England (2009, 123)
Herman Moore – Detroit (1995, 123)

*Through 15 games

RECEPTION PARTY II: New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall caught eight passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets’ 26-20 overtime win against New England. Marshall now has a franchise-record 101 catches this season and became the first player in NFL history with six 100-catch seasons.

The most seasons with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:
PLAYER – MOST 100+ CATCH SEASONS
Brandon Marshall – 6
Andre Johnson – 5
Wes Welker – 5

RECEPTION PARTY III: San Francisco wide receiver Anquan Boldin had five catches for 27 yards at Detroit and became the 13th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions (1,004). Boldin, who played in his 185th career game, surpassed ReggieWayne (195) for the fifth-fewest games in NFL history to reach the milestone.

The players to reach 1,000 receptions in the fewest games in NFL history:
PLAYER – FEWEST GAMES TO REACH 1,000 CATCHES
Marvin Harrison – 167
Andre Johnson – 168
Jerry Rice – 181
Larry Fitzgerald – 182
Anquan Boldin – 185

ROOKIE PASS YARDS: Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 295 yards against Chicago, bringing his season total to 3,717. With one game remaining this season, Winston’s 3,717 passing yards are already the fourth-most passing yards by a rookie in NFL history.

The rookie quarterbacks with the most passing yards in NFL history:
MOST PASSING YARDS BY ROOKIE QB
PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR; YARDS)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (2012; 4,374)
Cam Newton, Carolina (2011; 4,051)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998; 3,739)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (2015; 3,717)*
Sam Bradford, St. Louis (2010, 3,512)
*Through 15 games

Kansas City, who defeated Cleveland 17-13, clinched a playoff berth. The Chiefs have won nine consecutive games and joined the 1986 New York Jets as the only teams in NFL history with a nine-game winning streak and a five-game losing streak in the same season. Cincinnati clinched the AFC North division title, while Denver, who beat Cincinnati in overtime Monday night, clinched a playoff spot.

Arizona has already won the NFC West division title and with their 38-8 win over Green Bay in the desert, clinched a first-round bye, while Washington clinched the NFC East division title and the fourth seed Saturday night with a 38-24 win at Philadelphia.

•New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed 25 of 36 passes (69.4 percent) for 412 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 135.4 passer rating in the Saints’ 38-27 win over Jacksonville. The performance marked Brees’ 13th career 400-yard passing game, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the second-most such games in NFL history and one shy of the NFL record held by Peyton Manning (14).

In Sunday’s victory over Jacksonville, Brees threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks, Brees’ 16th career 70+ yard touchdown pass. That is tied for the most 70+ yard touchdown passes by a player in NFL history with Manning and Aaron Rodgers.

•Carolina quarterback Cam Newton rushed for a touchdown – his eighth of the season – in the Panthers’ loss at Atlanta. Newton, who has thrown 33 touchdown passes this year, is the first player in NFL history with at least 30 touchdown passes and eight rushing touchdowns in a single season.

•Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown had seven catches in the Steelers’ 20-17 loss at Baltimore. Brown ranks second in the NFL with 123 catches this season and joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (1994-95) as the only players with back-to-back 120-catch seasons in NFL history.

•San Francisco wide receiver Anquan Boldin had five catches in the 49ers’ 32-17 loss at Detroit. Boldin (1,004) reached 1,000 career receptions and is the 13th player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Boldin, along with Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (Week 13) and Dallas’ Jason Witten (Week 13) all reached the 1,000-catch mark this season, marking the first time in NFL history three players recorded their 1,000th career reception in the same season.

While some teams will call it a season at the end of the day, those that are in the playoffs are waiting to see who they’re playing, where they’re playing and most importantly, when. There are some best-case scenarios for the post-season party and some worst-case scenarios. In any case, there will be a second season for 12 teams.

2015 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 17

AFC

CLINCHED: New England – AFC East and a first-round bye; Cincinnati – AFC North; Denver – playoff berth; Kansas City – playoff berth

New England at Miami – New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
1. New England win or tie OR
2. Denver loss or tie

Denver vs. San Diego – Denver clinches AFC West division with:

1. Denver win or tie OR

2. Kansas City loss or tie

Denver clinches a first-round bye with:

1. Denver win OR

2. Denver tie + Cincinnati loss or tie OR

3. Kansas City loss or tie + Cincinnati loss

Denver clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs:
1. Denver win + New England loss

Cincinnati vs. Baltimore – Cincinnati clinches a first-round bye with:

1. Cincinnati win + Denver loss or tie OR

2. Cincinnati tie + Denver loss OR

3. Denver loss + Kansas City win

Kansas City vs. Oakland – Kansas City clinches AFC West division with:

1.Kansas City win + Denver loss

New York Jets at Buffalo – The New York Jets clinch a playoff spot with:

1. New York Jets win or tie OR

2. Pittsburgh loss or tie

Pittsburgh at Cleveland – Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot with:

1. Pittsburgh win + New York Jets loss

Houston vs. Jacksonville – Houston clinches AFC South division with:

1. Houston win or tie OR

2. Indianapolis loss or tie OR

3. Houston clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Indianapolis or clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over Indianapolis

Note: Houston clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over IND if one of the following teams wins or ties: Cincinnati, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets or San Diego

Houston clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over Indianapolis if Kansas City wins or ties and Baltimore wins or ties as long as both teams don’t tie

Indianapolis vs. Tennessee – Indianapolis clinches AFC South division with:
1.Indianapolis win + Houston loss + Indianapolis ties Houston in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over Houston

Note: Indianapolis ties Houston in strength of victory tiebreaker and clinches strength of schedule tiebreaker over HOU if BOTH of the following occurs:
1. All of the following teams win: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Denver, Miami
2. Oakland win or tie + Pittsburgh win or tie as long as both teams don’t tie

If Houston and Indianapolis end up tied in strength of victory and tied in strength of schedule, the teams would then go to the next tiebreaker, which is best combined ranking among AFC teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.

NFC

CLINCHED: Carolina – NFC South and a first-round bye; Arizona – NFC West and a first-round bye; Washington – NFC East; Green Bay – playoff berth; Minnesota – playoff berth; Seattle – playoff berth

Carolina vs. Tampa Bay – Carolina clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

1. Carolina win or tie OR

2. Arizona loss or tie

Arizona vs. Seattle – Arizona clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:

1. Arizona win + Carolina loss

Green Bay vs. Minnesota – Green Bay clinches NFC North division with:

1.Green Bay win or tie

Minnesota at Green Bay – Minnesota clinches NFC North division with:

1. Minnesota win

Entering the final week of the regular season, all six playoff spots in the NFC have been clinched. But there’s still a lot on the line in Week 17.

NFC DIVISIONS

​Three of the four divisions have been determined: Carolina (NFC South), Arizona (NFC West) and Washington (NFC East).

The NFC North division title will be won on Sunday night (8:30 PM ET, NBC) when Green Bay hosts Minnesota.

A breakdown of the NFC division races:

NFC NORTH: The Green Bay Packers (10-5) and Minnesota Vikings (10-5) will meet in Week 17 at Lambeau Field. Both teams have clinched a playoff berth and the winner will secure the NFC North division title.

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION, CONFERENCE; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Green Bay (10-5, 3-2, 7-4; .447, .518)
Minnesota (10-5, 4-1, 7-4, .440, .500)

NFC SOUTH: The Carolina Panthers (14-1) have clinched the division and secured a first-round bye.

NFC WEST: The Arizona Cardinals (13-2) have clinched the division and secured a first-round bye.

NFC EAST: The Washington Redskins (8-7) have clinched the division.

NFC WILD CARDS

​The Green Bay Packers (10-5), Minnesota Vikings (10-5) and Seattle Seahawks (9-6) have all secured a playoff berth. The loser of the Minnesota-Green Bay game in Week 17 and Seattle will be the two Wild Card teams.

The Packers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks. Seattle holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Minnesota.

A breakdown of the NFC Wild Card race:

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION, CONFERENCE; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Green Bay (10-5, 3-2; .447, .518)*
Minnesota (10-5, 4-1; .440, .500)*
Seattle (9-6, 6-5; .378, .504)
*The winner of Minnesota-Green Bay will clinch the NFC North

NFC HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE AND FIRST-ROUND BYE

The Carolina Panthers (14-1) and Arizona Cardinals (13-2) have secured first-round byes. Carolina is in control for home-field advantage and can clinch the NFC’s top seed with a win or an Arizona loss.

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Carolina (14-1, 10-1; .438, .444)
Arizona (13-2, 10-1; .448, .460)

NFC PLAYOFF FIELD

Here is a look at the possible seeds for each of the six NFC playoff teams:
Carolina (14-1): Clinched NFC South and first-round bye. In control for Number 1 seed. Can be either the Number 1 or 2 seed.
Arizona (13-2): Clinched NFC West and first-round bye. Can be either the Number 1 or 2 seed.
Green Bay (10-5): In control of NFC North and No. 3 seed. Can be either the Number 3 or 5 seed.
Minnesota (10-5): In control of NFC North and No. 3 seed. Can be the Number 3, 5 or 6 seed.
Washington (8-7): Clinched NFC East. Will be the Number 4 seed.
Seattle (9-6): Can be the Number 5 or 6 seed

While the NFC is settled (aside from seeding), the AFC is a little more confusing. How confusing? This is going to cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show.

Pay attention and take notes. There will be a quiz afterward.

Entering the final week of the regular season, four of the six AFC playoff participants have been determined and eight AFC clubs remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl 50.

AFC DIVISIONS

​Two of the four divisions have been determined: New England (AFC East) and Cincinnati (AFC North).

A breakdown of the AFC division races:

AFC EAST: The New England Patriots (12-3) have clinched the division and secured a first-round bye.

AFC WEST: The Denver Broncos (11-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) have both clinched a playoff berth. The Broncos can clinch the division title with a win or a Chiefs loss. Kansas City can clinch the division with a win and a Denver loss.

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION, CONFERENCE; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Denver (11-4, 3-2, 7-4; .509, .520)
Kansas City (10-5, 4-1, 9-2, .427, .498)

AFC NORTH: The Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) have clinched the division.

AFC SOUTH: The Houston Texans (8-7) and Indianapolis Colts (7-8) are in contention for the division title. Houston can clinch the AFC South with a win or an Indianapolis loss or if they clinch the Strength of Victory of Strength of Schedule tiebreaker over the Colts.

If Houston and Indianapolis end up tied in Strength of Victory and tied in Strength of Schedule, the teams would then go to the next tiebreaker, which is best combined ranking among AFC teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION, CONFERENCE; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Houston (8-7, 4-1, 6-5; .425, .507)
Indianapolis (7-8, 3-2, 5-6; .438, .520)

AFC WILD CARDS

The Denver Broncos (11-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (10-5) have each secured a playoff berth. One of those teams will win the AFC West and the other will be a Wild Card entrant.

The New York Jets (10-5) can earn the other Wild Card spot with a win or a Pittsburgh loss. The Steelers (9-6) can qualify for the postseason with a win and a Jets loss.

A breakdown of the AFC Wild Card race:

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
Denver (11-4, 7-4; .509, .520)*
Kansas City (10-5, 9-2; .427, 498)*
New York Jets (10-5, 7-4; .387, .436)
Pittsburgh (9-6, 6-5; .496, .529)
*In contention for AFC West Division title

AFC HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE AND FIRST-ROUND BYE

​The New England Patriots (12-3) have secured a first-round bye. The Denver Broncos (11-4) remain in contention for home-field advantage and a first-round bye, while the Cincinnati Bengals (11-4) could still secure a first-round bye.

New England is in control for home-field advantage and can clinch the AFC’s number 1 seed with a win or Denver loss.

Denver is in control for a first-round bye and can clinch at least the number 2 seed with a win or losses by Cincinnati and Kansas City. Cincinnati can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a Denver loss or a loss by Denver combined with a Kansas City win.

TEAM (OVERALL, DIVISION; STRENGTH OF VICTORY, STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE)
New England (12-3, 9-2; .439, .471)
Denver (11-4, 7-4; .509, .520)
Cincinnati (11-4, 8-3; .412, .484)

AFC PLAYOFF FIELD

Here is a look at the possible seeds for each of the eight AFC teams who have either clinched a playoff berth or remain in contention:

New England (12-3): Clinched AFC East and first-round bye. In control for number 1 seed. Can be either the number 1 or 2 seed.
Denver (11-4): In control of AFC West and number 2 seed. Can be the number 1, 2, 3, 5 or 6 seed.
Cincinnati (11-4): Clinched AFC North. Can be either the number 2 or 3 seed.
Houston (8-7): In control of AFC South and number 4 seed. If Texans qualify, can only be the number 4 seed.
Indianapolis (7-8): In contention for AFC South title. If Colts qualify, can only be the number 4 seed.
Kansas City (10-5): Clinched playoff berth. Can be the number 3, 5 or 6 seed.
New York Jets (10-5): In control of playoff berth. If Jets qualify, can be either the number 5 or 6 seed.
Pittsburgh (9-6): In contention for playoff berth. If Steelers qualify, can only be the number 6 seed.

Got all that? Remember, there’s gonna be a quiz afterward.

OVERTIME EXCITEMENT: Week 16 continued the trend of close games, as three games were decided in overtime. Twenty games have gone to overtime this season, already the fifth-most in a season since overtime was instituted in 1974.

The most overtime games in a season since 1974:
SEASON – MOST OVERTIME GAMES IN A SEASON
2002 – 25
2003 – 23
2012 – 22
1995 – 21
2015 – 20*
*Through Week 16

WORST TO FIRST: Washington (8-7) clinched the NFC East division title with a 38-24 win at Philadelphia on Saturday night. It marks the 12th time in the past 13 seasons that one or more teams went from last or tied for last place to a division championship the following year.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their division since 2003:
SEASON – TEAM (RECORD; PRIOR SEASON RECORD)
2003 – Carolina (11-5; 7-9)
2003 – Kansas City (13-3; 8-8)*
2004 – Atlanta (11-5; 5-11)
2004 – San Diego (12-4, 4-12)*
2005 – Chicago (11-5, 5-11)
2005 – New York Giants (11-5, 6-10)*
2005 – Tampa Bay (11-5, 5-11)
2006 – Baltimore (13-3, 6-10)*
2006 – New Orleans (10-6, 3-13)
2006 – Philadelphia (10-6, 6-10)
2007 – Tampa Bay (9-7, 4-12)
2008 – Miami (11-5, 1-15)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3, 8-8)**
2010 – Kansas City (10-6, 4-12)
2011 – Denver (8-8, 4-12)
2011 – Houston (10-6, 6-10)*
2012 – Washington (10-6, 5-11)
2013 – Carolina (12-4, 7-9)*
2013 – Philadelphia (10-6, 4-12)
2015 – Washington (8-7, 4-12)
* Tied for last place
** Won Super Bowl

TDs GALORE: There have been 795 touchdown passes this season, the most through the first 16 weeks in NFL history (768 in 2014).

New Orleans’ Drew Brees (31), Seattle’s Russell Wilson (31) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (30) all reached 30 touchdown passes over the weekend, bringing the season total to nine quarterbacks to reach the mark. 2015 is now tied for the most quarterbacks (nine) with at least 30 TD passes of any season in NFL history (nine in 2014).

New England’s Tom Brady (36), Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles (35), Arizona’s Carson Palmer (34), the New York Giants’ Eli Manning (33), Carolina’s Cam Newton (33) and Oakland’s Derek Carr (31) have also thrown 30+ TD passes this season.

DOMINANT DREW: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees completed 25 of 36 passes (69.4 percent) for 412 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 135.4 passer rating in the Saints’ 38-27 win over Jacksonville. The performance marked Brees’ 13th career 400-yard passing game, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the second-most such games in NFL history.

The players with the most 400-yard passing games in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM(S)(MOST 400-YARD PASSING GAMES)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (14)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (13)
Dan Marino – Miami (13)*
Carson Palmer – Cincinnati, Oakland and Arizona (8)
Philip Rivers – San Diego (8)
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (8)
*Pro Football Hall of Fame

RECEIVER RECORDS: Below is a sampling of the wide receiver milestones that were reached in Week 16:

•San Francisco wide receiver Anquan Boldin had five catches against Detroit. Boldin (1,004) reached 1,000 career receptions and is the 13th player in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

Boldin, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (Week 13) and Dallas’ Jason Witten (Week 13) all reached the 1,000-catch mark this season, marking the first time in NFL history three players recorded their 1,000th career reception in the same season.

•Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN had seven catches against Baltimore and ranks second in the NFL with 123 catches this season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter (1994-95) as the only players with back-to-back 120-catch seasons in NFL history.

•Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had nine catches for 178 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 20-13 victory over Carolina. Jones has 127 catches and 1,722 receiving yards this season and is only the second player in NFL history with at least 125 catches and 1,700 receiving yards in a season (Marvin Harrison, 2002).

Jones, who leads the league with 127 receptions, surpassed Herman Moore (123 in 1995) and Wes Welker (123 in 2009) for the third-most catches in a season in NFL history.

The most receptions in a season in NFL history:
PLAYER, TEAM (YEAR, RECEPTIONS)
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (2002, 143)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2014, 129)
Julio Jones – Atlanta (2015, 127)*
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (2015, 123)*
Wes Welker – New England (2009, 123)
Herman Moore – Detroit (1995, 123)
*Through 15 games

KICKING RECORD: Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri converted his only field goal attempt in the Colts’ 18-12 victory over Miami and now has 500 career made field goals, joining Morten Andersen (565) and Gary Anderson (538) as the only players to accomplish the feat.

The players with the most field goals in NFL history:
PLAYER (FIELD GOALS – FIELD GOALS ATTEMPTED, FIELD GOAL PCT.)
Morten Andersen (565 – 709, .797)
Gary Anderson (538 – 672, .801)
Adam Vinatieri (500 – 595, .840)

UNPREDICTABLE NFL: With one week remaining in the 2015 regular season, at least three teams will advance to the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2014 – Kansas City (10-5), Minnesota (10-5) and Washgington (8-7). Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

Two additional teams that missed the playoffs last season are still in contention for a trip to Super Bowl 50 – Houston (8-7) and the New York Jets (10-5).

The teams since 1990 to make the playoffs a season after failing to qualify:
SEASON  – PLAYOFF TEAMS NOT IN PREVIOUS SEASON’S PLAYOFFS
1990 – 7 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, New Orleans, Washington)
1991 – 5 (Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York Jets)
1992 – 6 (Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1993 – 5 (Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles Raiders, New York Giants)
1994 – 5 (Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New England, San Diego)
1995 – 4 (Atlanta, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Philadelphia)
1996 – 5 (Carolina, Denver, Jacksonville, Minnesota, New England)
1997 – 5 (Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York Giants, Tampa Bay)
1998 – 5 (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Dallas, New York Jets)
1999 – 7 (Detroit, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 6 (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2001 – 6 (Chicago, Green Bay, New England, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco)
2002 – 5 (Atlanta, Cleveland, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Tennessee)
2003 – 8 (Baltimore, Carolina, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New England, St. Louis, Seattle)
2004 – 5 (Atlanta, Minnesota, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Diego)
2005 – 7 (Carolina, Chicago, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, New York Giants, Tampa Bay, Washington)
2006 – 7 (Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2007 – 6 (Green Bay, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2008 – 7 (Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia)
2009 – 6 (Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, New England, New Orleans, New York Jets)
2010 – 5 (Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle)
2011 – 6 (Cincinnati, Denver, Detroit, Houston, New York Giants, San Francisco)
2012 – 4 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington)
2013 – 5 (Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Diego)
2014 – 5 (Arizona, Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Pittsburgh)
2015 – 3 (Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)*
*Through Week 16

HIGH SCORES: Through Week 16, NFL teams have combined to score 10,993 points (45.8 points per game).

With 658 points (41.1 points per game) in Week 17, the 2015 season will surpass 2012 (11,651) for the second-most points scored in a single season in NFL history (11,985 in 2013).

The most combined points scored in a single season in NFL history:
SEASON – MOST COMBINED POINTS SCORED
2013 – 11,985
2012 – 11,651
2014 – 11,565
2011 – 11,356
2010 – 11,283
2015 – 10,993*
*Through Week 16

30 CLUB: Nine different quarterbacks have passed for 30 or more touchdowns in 2015, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history (2014).

With one touchdown pass on Sunday by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford (29) at Chicago or New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (29) at Buffalo, this season would surpass 2014 for the most quarterbacks to throw at least 30 touchdown passes in a single season.

The quarterbacks to throw at least 30 touchdown passes this season:
PLAYER – TEAM (TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Tom Brady – New England (36)
Blake Bortles – Jacksonville (35)
Carson Palmer – Arizona (34)
Eli Manning – New York Giants (33)
Cam Newton – Carolina (33)
Drew Brees – New Orleans (31)
Derek Carr – Oakland (31)
Russell Wilson – Seattle (31)
Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay (30)
Ryan Fitzpatrick – New York Jets (29)
Matthew Stafford – Detroit (29)

FANTASTIC FALCON: Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones leads the league with 127 receptions and 1,722 receiving yards this season.

With 127 receiving yards on Sunday against New Orleans, Jones would surpass Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,848 yards in 1995) for the second-most receiving yards in a season in NFL history.

The players with the most receiving yards in a season in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM (YEAR; RECEIVING YARDS)
Calvin Johnson – Detroit (2012; 1,964)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco (1995; 1,848)
Isaac Bruce – St. Louis (1995; 1,781)
Charley Hennigan – Houston Oilers (1961; 1,746)
Julio Jones – Atlanta (2015; 1,722)*
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (2002; 1,722)
*Through Week 16

DOMINANT DREW: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 412 yards and three touchdowns in the Saints’ 38-27 win over Jacksonville. The performance marked Brees’ 13th career game with at least 400 passing yards.

With at least 400 passing yards on Sunday at Atlanta, Brees would tie Peyton Manning (14) for the most 400-yard passing performances in NFL history.

The players with the most 400-yard passing games in NFL history:
PLAYER – TEAM(S); MOST 400-YARD PASSING GAMES
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver; 14
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans; 13
Dan Marino – Miami; 13*
Carson Palmer – Cincinnati, Oakland and Arizona; 8
Philip Rivers – San Diego; 8
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh; 8
*Pro Football Hall of Famer

GALLOPING GORE: With 109 rushing yards on Sunday against Tennessee, Indianapolis running back Frank Gore would join Pro Football Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (11), Curtis Martin (10), Walter Payton (10) and Barry Sanders (10) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in at least nine different seasons.

The players to rush for 1,000 yards in at least nine different seasons:
PLAYER – SEASONS WITH 1,000 RUSHING YARDS
Emmitt Smith – 11
Curtis Martin – 10
Walter Payton – 10
Barry Sanders – 10
Frank Gore – 8*
*891 yards through Week 16

KICKING THE RECORD BOOKS: Below is a sampling of kicking milestones that can be reached Sunday.

•With a 50-yard field goal on Sunday at Kansas City, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who has converted 52 career kicks of at least 50 yards, would surpass Jason Hanson (52) for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.

•New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who currently leads the NFL in scoring (147 points) and has previously done so four times in his career, can join Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Huston (five) and Gino Cappelletti (five) as the only players to lead the league in points scored at least five times.

Gostkowski is tied with Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh for the most field goals made this season with 32 and can join Pro Football Hall of Famer Lou Groza (five), Ward Cuff (four) and Jack Manders (four) as the only players to lead the league in field goals at least four times.

It’s the final push for NFL teams as the regular season ends on Sunday, January 3. All 16 games are division contests and with one week to go, there are still 14 teams in contention for a trip to Super Bowl 50. Entering Week 17, 11 of the 16 games have playoff implications for at least one of the teams involved.

“This is what football is all about,” says New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Jets’ overtime win over New England. “We control our own destiny now. If you take care of business, you allow yourself to keep playing into January.”

In the AFC, New England (12-3) has clinched a first-round bye and can secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win or a Denver loss. The Broncos (11-4) can earn the No. 1 seed with a win and a Patriots loss. Denver can secure a first-round bye with a win or losses by Cincinnati and Kansas City. The Bengals (11-4) can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a Denver loss or a loss by Denver combined with a Kansas City win.

Two AFC division winners have been determined: New England (AFC East) and Cincinnati (AFC North). Denver can lock up the AFC West with a win or a Kansas City loss. The Chiefs (10-5) can clinch the division title with a win and a Denver loss. In the AFC South, Houston (8-7) can secure the division title with a win or an Indianapolis loss or by clinching the Strength of Victory or Strength of Schedule tiebreaker over the Colts. In order to win the division, Indianapolis (7-8) needs a win and a Houston loss and to tie the Strength of Victory tiebreaker with the Texans and clinch the Strength of Schedule tiebreaker over Houston.

Denver and Kansas City have both clinched at least a playoff spot. One of those teams will win the AFC West and the other will be a Wild Card entrant. The New York Jets (10-5) can earn the other Wild Card spot with a win or a Pittsburgh loss. The Steelers (9-6) can advance to the postseason with a win and a Jets loss.

In the NFC, Carolina (14-1) and Arizona (13-2) have clinched first-round byes. The Panthers can secure home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a win or a Cardinals loss. Arizona can earn the No. 1 seed with a win and a Carolina loss.

Three of the four NFC division winners have been determined: Carolina (NFC South), Arizona (NFC West) and Washington (NFC East). The NFC North will be determined on Sunday night in primetime (8:30 PM ET, NBC) at Lambeau Field when Green Bay (10-5) hosts Minnesota (10-5). The NFC North winner will be the No. 3 seed and Washington is locked in as the No. 4 seed.

The two Wild Card teams in the NFC will be the loser of Sunday night’s Minnesota-Green Bay game and Seattle (9-6), who has already clinched a playoff berth. The Seahawks can end up as either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed.

“Late in the season, you want to control your destiny,” Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “You don’t want to rely on other teams. You want to be able to control your destiny and do it yourself. Now we have a chance to take another step forward and hopefully we can take care of business.”

As for last week? 8-8. Not good but not bad. For the season, that’s 146-80. There are key games that many will watch and some games that are nothing more than scrimmages, especially for those teams that are out of the post-season loop. With that, here are the games for Week 17.

New Orleans (6-9) at ATLANTA (8-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 705. They meet again. A pair of NFC South rivals square off in the Big Peach as New Orleans travels to Atlanta for a matchup with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.

New Orleans closed out the home half of their season with a 38-27 win over Jacksonville last Sunday. Despite being outscored by the Jaguars in the second half 21-14, New Orleans never trailed in the contest, taking a 24-6 lead at the half. Tim Hightower ran for 122 yards and a pair of TDs, while Drew Brees threw for 412 yards in the air with four TDs and no interceptions. New Orleans outrushed the Jaguars 135-65 and sacked Blake Bortles (368 yards, 2 TDs) twice and picked him off twice. The Saints were 8 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 37:53, while the Jaguars were 6 of 9 on third down tries (Jacksonville did not have a fourth down try) and held on to the ball for 22:07.

Atlanta shocked the football world last Sunday in the Big Peach, taking down Cam Newton and the previously unbeaten Carolina Panthers 20-13. The Falcons trailed 7-0 late in the first quarter when Newton scored on an 8-yard run, as part of a long Panther opening drive that took 11 plays and 80 yards, burning 5:42 off the clock. That lead would be short-lived as the Falcons evened the score with a 16-play, 80-yard drive of their own, which took 9:23 of clock and they would stay tied at the end of the first half.

After Panthers K Greg Gano gave his team the lead with a 33-yard field, Atlanta took the lead back and for good when Ryan and WR Julio Jones connected on a 70 yard TD pass for a 14-10 lead. Gano made it a 1-point game before Sean Graham connected on a pair of FGs in the final quarter, the second one coming from 54 yards to seal the deal and Carolina’s fate. The Panthers would get the ball one last time but Carolina’s dreams of an unbeaten season were “Gone With The Wind” when Newton fumbled and Adrian Clayborn recoved the ball in Carolina territory. Atlanta would then go on to run out the clock and Carolina’s dreams were shattered. The Panthers outrushed Atlanta 155-77, with Freeman leading all rushers with 73 yards on 22 carries, while Ryan outpaced Newton 306-142 (each man was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). Atlanta was 9 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 35:38, while the Panthers kept the pigskin for 24:22, going 4 of 10 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

They met in week six in the Big Easy and it was New Orleans coming away 31-21 winners over Atlanta. The Saints led 14-7 at the break and then held off a late Atlanta rally to knock the Falcons out of the ranks of the unbeatens. DeVonta Freeman ran for 100 of Atlanta’s 150 yards in the Thursday night affair (they outrushed the Saints, who tallied 81) and Ryan threw for 295 yards and a pair of TDs, although he was sacked five times. while Brees for his part threw for 312 yards and a TD in the 10-point win in the Superdome. The Falcons, who fumbled the ball three times, went 3 of 12 on third down tries (3 of 4 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:30, while the Saints were 8 of 16, 1 of 1 on third and fourth down, keeping the pigskin for 32:30.

Atlanta in the week six contest was favored by 3 and the Saints covered the spread, winning by 10. Both NFC South clubs also passed the 50 1/2 over/under with 52 points. The oddsmakers like the Falcons again this time, as 4 point favorites in the Big Peach and the over/under this time is 53. The Falcons know they’ll finish second in the NFC South, even if they lose, while the Saints would like to sweep the Falcons for the first time since the 2009 season. Atlanta’s won two in a row, they’re coming off a huge win against another NFC South rival in Carolina. The Saints would like to forget this season. Falcons close out the 2015 campaign on a three-game win streak as they take this one in the Big Peach and covers the 4.

New York Jets (10-5) at Buffalo (7-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. It’s round two of the “Rex Bowl” as the Bills circle the wagons in upstate New York as Ryan’s former team travels to Orchard Park for a second meeting with a playoff spot at stake for GangGreen.

Buffallo gave Dallas their third loss in a row, taking down the Cowboys 16-6 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Even though they found themselves tied with Dallas at 6-6 at halftime in Orchard Park, Buffalo shut out the Romo-less Cowboys 10-0 in the final 30 minutes of play. Buffalo outrushed Dallas 236-121, forced a pair of Cowboys turn overs and all over twice, while backup QB Kellen Moore threw for 186 yards. Dallas, who had Darren McFadden lead all rushers with 99 yards, went 7 of 14 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 28:30, while the Bills, with Mike Gillislee rushing for 96 yards, kept the pigskin for 31:30, going 6 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries in upstate New York.

The Jets are in with a win. New York defeated New England 26-20 in overtime last week and the Jets are now in control for a postseason berth. New York can clinch a playoff berth with a win or a loss by Pittsburgh. GangGreen needed overtime to come away 26-20 overtime winners over New England. The teams were tied 20-20 after 60 minutes of play, with hthe Jets used the overtime to come away 26-20 winners. New England trailed 10-3 at halftime before outscoring the Jets 17-10 in regulation and tied things up when RB James White and Brady connected on a 9-yard TD pass with 1:56 left to play in regulation. Then things got a bit on the strange side for the Pats as they won the coin toss to start the overtime but chose to go on defense. Pats fans thought that was the worst move ever as the Jets needed only 5 plays, 80 yards and 2:37 of the overtime to take the win as Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Eric Decker hooked up on a 6-yard game-winning TD pass, sending Jets fans home happy and Pats fans into a less-than-celebratory mood. The Jets outrushed New England 143-63 and Brady was outpassed by Ryan Fitzpatrick 296-231 (Fitzpatrick threw three TDs to Brady’s one and Brady was sacked twice, while Fitzpatrick was sacked only once). New England was 1 of 10 on third down tries but struck paydirt on fourth down, going 3 of 3 and kept the ball for 28:33. As for the Jets? They kept the ball for 34:04, while going 5 of 13 on third down conversions in the Meadowlands.

“It’s great that we are in this position,” says Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. “But we have to win this game. I’m excited that we do control our own destiny but we have to take care of business.”

They met in week ten in the Meadowlands and Buffalo shocked the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 22-17 to open play in that week. The Bills erased a 3-0 first quarter lead and led 12-3 at the break before GangGreen managed to outscore them in the second half 14-10. Fitzpatrick in the loss did manage to toss a pair of TD passes, one to WR Brandon Marshall, the other to Decker to make the game a 5-point contest. GangGreen tried one last time to take the lead and the win at home but Fitzpatrick’s pass was picked off by S Bacarri Rambo, ending the drive and any hopes of a Jets win. LeSean McCoy of the Bills led all rushers with 112 yards, while the Jets’ Curtis Ivory rushed for 99 (Buffalo outrushed New York 148-128). Fitzpatrick did manage to outpass Tyrod Taylor in the Thursday night contest 193-158, with Taylor being sacked four times, while Fitzpatrick was sacked once. Buffalo was 5 of 16 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down conversions and kept the ball for 33:16, while GangGreen went 3 of 13, 1 of 3 third and fourth down-wise, keeping the ball for 26:44.

In the week 10 contest in New Jersey, the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were favored by 3 1/2 and Buffalo covered that, winning by 5. The 44 1/2 over/under in that contest was intact, as both clubs combined for 39 points. GangGreen is favored by 3 this time in upstate New York and the over/under this time is 42 1/2. The Bills would like to finish .500 and ruin the playoff party for GangGreen, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! look to take a playoff spot away from Pittsburgh. GangGreen wins this one and covers the 3.

New England (12-3) at Miami (5-10), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714. In search of home field throughout the playoffs, the defending Super Bowl champs travel south to take on the struggling Miami Dolphins in the Sunshine State.

The defending Super Bowl champs managed to pull even with the New York Jets 20-20 after 60 minutes of play before the Jets used the overtime to come away 26-20 winners. New England trailed 10-3 at halftime before outscoring the Jets 17-10 in regulation and tied things up when RB James White and Brady connected on a 9-yard TD pass with 1:56 left to play in regulation. Then things got a bit on the strange side for the Pats as they won the coin toss to start the overtime but chose to go on defense. Pats fans thought that was the worst move ever as the Jets needed only 5 plays, 80 yards and 2:37 of the overtime to take the win as Ryan Fitzpatrick and WR Eric Decker hooked up on a 6-yard game-winning TD pass, sending Jets fans home happy and Pats fans into a less-than-celebratory mood. The Jets outrushed New England 143-63 and Brady was outpassed by Ryan Fitzpatrick 296-231 (Fitzpatrick threw three TDs to Brady’s one and Brady was sacked twice, while Fitzpatrick was sacked only once). New England was 1 of 10 on third down tries but struck paydirt on fourth down, going 3 of 3 and kept the ball for 28:33. As for the Jets? They kept the ball for 34:04, while going 5 of 13 on third down conversions in the Meadowlands.

Miami’s miserable season last Sunday in the Sunshine State got even worse as they Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins fell to Indianapolis 18-12 at Sun Life Stadium. Miami trailed the Colts at the half 15-6 before rallying to make the contest closer, outscoring Indy 6-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. Miami was held to 82 yards on the ground while Indy RB Frank Gore accounted for 84 of his team’s 100 yards, scoring on a pair of rushing TDs in the close contest, with his longest run coming from 37 yards out. The Indy defense sacked Tannehill (329 yards, interception) six times, with the last sack coming in Colts’ territory late in the contest. Both Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst, taking over for Andrew Luck, were knocked out of the contest and are out for this Sunday’s contest and Josh Freeman, who played for Tampa Bay, will take over for the Colts. Indy went 6 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:11, while the Dolphins were 6 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 32:49.

The Patriots are in control for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. New England has already clinched the AFC East division title and a first-round bye. With a win or a Denver loss, the Patriots will earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

They met in Foxboro in week eight and Miami was held to a second-half TD by the Pats, as New England came away 36-7 winners. New England led 19-0 at the half and scored those 19 points unchallenged, giving up the single tally in the third when RB Lamar Miller punched it in from a yard out. Brady and the Pats took control back the rest of the way, scoring their final 21 points of the contest without being threatened by Miami. While neither club breached the 100-yard barrier, New England did manage to run for 95 yards in the game, while holding the Dolphins to 15 yards on the ground and Brady threw for 356 yards and four TDs, while Tannehill was sacked five times and picked off twice. New England was 3 of 12 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down) and the defending Super Bowl champs kept the ball for 32:37, while the Dolphins, who held the ball for 27:23, went 2 of 11 and 1 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

In the week eight contest in Foxboro, the Pats covered the 8-point spread by 29 points but the 43 points scored by both clubs did not cover the 51 1/2 over/under. This time, with nothing on the line for the Dolphins and home field for the Pats, the oddsmakers like the Pats as 9-point favorites and the over/under’s 48. The Dolphins have gone through two coaching changes (Dan Campbell taking over for Joe Philbin after their loss in London) and ‘Fins fans want to start over from square one. New England has a chance to be at home as the top dog in the AFC and have another chance to get another Lombardi Trophy. You might want to avoid this one and watch that “Mythbusters” marathon on Science Channel (we think that Kari shooting at Buster is pretty darn sexy). New England covers the 9 and wins in the Sunshine State.

Baltimore (5-10) at Cincinnati (11-4), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709. A 5-10 Baltimore team looks to slow down, if not stop, a Cincinnati team that will make another trip to the post-season party.

The Ravens completed their sweep of Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger, taking down the Steelers 20-17 in Charm City. Baltimore led 13-3 at the half and then held off the Steelers in the second half to take the win over their AFC North rivals. Pittsburgh’s DeAngelo Williams led all rushers with 100 yards and a pair of TDs, while his team ran for 110 and Baltimore ran for 121. Roethlisberger threw for 215 yards in the game but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Ryan Mallett, playing for his third NFL team in the 2015 campaign, was almost as good as the man he replaced (Joe Flacco), threw for 274 yards and a TD in the win. Baltimore was 50 percent on third down conversions at 9 of 18 and kept the ball for 34:20, while the Steelers were 2 of 8 on third down tries (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 25:40.

The Bengals have clinched the AFC North division title and can secure a first-round bye with a win and a Denver loss or a loss by Denver combined with a Kansas City win. Cincinnati let a 14-3 lead over Denver get away from them last Monday night in the Mile High City and came out on the short end of a 20-17 overtime loss at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Denver led 17-14 in the fourth quarter before Bengals K Matt Nunget connected on a 52-yard field goal with 6:46 left in regulation. For a moment, Cincy fans had hope as Denver K Brandon McManus attempted a 42-yard field goal that would have given the home team the win in regulation but the kicked sailed wide to the left. McManus made up for the mistake with a 37-yarder with 10 minutes left in the overtime to take the lead. The Denver defense then took over after that and broke Bengals fans hearts as they forced a A.J. McCarron fumble, recovered by DeMarcus Ware to seal the win. Denver outrushed Cincinnati 113-108 and Brock Osweiler outpassed McCarron 299-208 (each man threw a TD pass without being picked off) despite being sacked three times. Neither club had a fourth down attempt in the chilly mountain air (temp at kickoff time, you ask? A balmy 16 degrees with a wind chill of 7 that would have made Olaf of “Frozen” happy) and Denver was 4 of 11 on third down tries, while the Bengals were 10 of 17. Even with the overtime loss, the Bengals did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 37:28 to Denver’s 27:50.

Meeting in week three in Charm City, the Bengals held off Baltimore 28-24 at M&T Bank Stadium. Cincinnati led 14-0 at the half and then held off a late Ravens’ rally, as Baltimore outscored the Bengals in the second half 24-14. The contest was defense-driven, as neither club rushed for 100 yards (the Bengals came the closest, rushing for 86, outpacing Baltimore, who ran for 36) and Andy Dalton (383, 3 TDs) and Joe Flacco (362, 2 TDs), both healthy at the time, combined for 745 yards passing and five TDs. Although the Bengals turned the ball over twice, they did quite well on third down tries, going 8 of 15 (1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 30:08, while Baltimore held on to the pigskin for 29:52, going 7 of 16 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

In the week three contest in Baltimore, the Ravens were favored by 2 1/2 and the Bengals covered the spread, winning by 4 and both clubs covered the 44 1/2 over/under, scoring 52 points. Cincy’s favored by 7 and the over/under in the second meeting is 42 1/2. It’s been a dismal season for the Ravens, while the Bengals would like to put the Ravens in their rear view mirror and out of their misery. Quote the Bengals… Cincy cover the 7 and wins at home in the Buckeye State.

Pittsburgh (9-6) at Cleveland (3-12), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 711. A Pittsburgh Steelers team, needing to win and help, travel to the shores of Lake Erie to face a Browns team that would like to spoil the Steelers’ plans for the post-season.

The Steelers are still alive for a playoff berth. For Pittsburgh fans, that’s the good news. The bad news? They are not in control of their own destiny. Pittsburgh needs a win and a loss by the New York Jets to clinch a postseason spot. The Steelers were swept by Baltimore in their series with the Ravens, losing to Baltimore 20-17 in Charm City. The Steelers trailed 13-3 at the half and then rallied in the second half but fell short in the loss over their AFC North rivals. The Steelers did have one bright spot and that was DeAngelo Williams, who led all rushers with 100 yards and a pair of TDs, while his team ran for 110 and Baltimore ran for 121. Roethlisberger threw for 215 yards in the game but was sacked three times and picked off twice, while Ryan Mallett did his best Joe Flacco impression, throwing for 274 yards and a TD in the win. Baltimore was 50 percent on third down conversions at 9 of 18 and kept the ball for 34:20, while the Steelers were 2 of 8 on third down tries (0 of 2 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 25:40.

Cleveland fell to the Chiefs in Kansas City 17-13 at Arrowhead. Kansas City scored their 17 points in the first half and then held off the Browns, who shut them out in the second half. Cleveland could have walked away from Kansas City with the win if they had time on their side late in the contest, as Johnny Manziel (concussion protocol) and WR Darius Jennings connected on a fourth down play with 15 seconds left. The pass was good for 14 yards, which was good. The bad news? They were out of time outs and scrambled to get lined up but could not get a play off as the clock ran out. Manziel ran for 108 yards in the contest to lead all rushers and threw for 136 (the Browns ran for 232, while Kansas City tallied 136), while Kansas City’s Alex Smtih threw for 125 yards and a pair of TDs, one to TE Travis Kelce, the other to WR Jeremy Maclin. Kansas City was 4 of 12 on third down, holding the ball for 28:56, while the Browns were 6 of 15 on third down, keeping the ball for 31:04 (both teams did quite well on fourth down; Cleveland going 3 of 4, while Kansas City was perfect in their only fourth down try in the game).

Pittsburgh and Cleveland met in week 10 in the Steel City and held Manziel and the Browns in check, winning 30-9 at Heinz Field. Roethlisbeger, throwing for 379 yards, riddled Cleveland with three TD passes as the Steelers held Cleveland to 15 yards on the ground, while rushing for 60. While Manziel did have a TD pass in the contest, he was also picked off once and sacked six times. Although Cleveland ruled the clock, holding the ball for 32:43 to Pittsburgh’s 27:17, they had trouble on third down conversions, going 5 of 13 (1 of 3 on fourth down), while the Steelers were 3 of 10 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Pittsburgh won by 21 points in the week 10 contest in the Steel City, allowing them to cover the 4 1/2 with ease but both clubs barely missed the 41 over/under by 2. The Steelers are favored along the shores of Lake Erie by 9 1/2 and the over/under is 47 1/2. Cleveland looks to ruin the Steelers playoff hopes but Pittsburgh’s not having any of it. Steelers may not cover the 9 1/2 but they put Cleveland in their place and come away with the win.

Jacksonville (5-10) at Houston (8-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712. Jacksonville makes the 872-mile journey westward to face the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in an attempt to knock the the home team out of the playoff race.

Jacksonville fell 38-27 to New Orleans in the Big Easy last Sunday. Although they did outscored the Saints in the second half 21-14, the Jaguars never led in the contest, trailing 24-6 at the half. Jacksonville was outrushed 135-16, with Tim Hightower running for 122 yards and a pair of TDs, while Drew Brees threw for 412 yards in the air with four TDs and no interceptions. New Orleans outrushed the Jaguars 135-65 and sacked Blake Bortles (368 yards, 2 TDs) twice and picked him off twice. The Saints were 8 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth down conversions, keeping the ball for 37:53, while the Jaguars were 6 of 9 on third down tries (Jacksonville did not have a fourth down try) and held on to the ball for 22:07.

Houston maintained its lead in the AFC South with a 34-6 win over Tennessee last Sunday in Nashville. The Texans led scored their 34 points in the contest unchallenged by the Titans, giving up Tennessee’s only points in the fourth quarter when rookie WR Tre McBride and Zach Mettenberger connected on an 8-yard TD pass with 91 seconds left to play in the contest. Houston outrushed Tennessee 128-30 and forced four Titan turnvoers in the blowout in the Music City. The Texans on third down tries went 7 of 16 and held the ball for 36:13, while the Titans were 4 of 16 on third down but struck paydirt in their only fourth down try and kept the pigskin for 23:47.

The week six meeting in north Florida saw the Texans come away 31-20 winners at EverBank Field. After leading 10-7 at the half, the Texans trailed 14-10 after three quarters of play and took the lead back for keeps when WR DeAndre Hopkins and Brian Hoyer connected on a 9-yard pass for a 17-14 lead early in the fourth. Hopkins and Hoyer connected again on a 26-yard pass to seal the deal for Houston with 8:07 and CB Andre Hal picked off Blake Bortles and returned it 31 yard for their final points of the day. Houston outrushed Jacksonville 95-83, with Arian Foster leading all rushers with 53 yards, while both Bortles and Hoyer threw three TD passes (Botles threw three interceptions and was sacked three times, while Hoyer did not turn the ball over) in the lopsided affair in Jacksonville. The Texans on third and fourth downs were 50 percent at 7 of 14 and 1 of 2, keeping the ball for 30:02, while Jacksonville was 5 of 15 on third down tries but 2 of 2 on fourth down, holding the ball for 29:58.

Houston in the week six contest in the Sunshine State won by 17, covering the 1 1/2 spread with ease. Both clubs also covered the 43 over/under by two touchdowns (57). The Texans can clinch the AFC South with a win or an Indianapolis loss. Houston can also claim the division title if the Texans clinch the Strength of Victory or Strength of Schedule tiebreaker over the Colts. The Texans in the Lone Star rematch are favored by 6 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. History has a way of repeating itself. The Texans may not win the AFC South and may not get into the postseason but they sweep the series with Jacksonville and do it in the Lone Star State.

Washington (8-7) at Dallas (4-11), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 707. Toss the records with these two. They STILL don’t like each other.

Don’t expect any Christmas or New Year’s greetings.

Washington, fresh off their NFC East-clincher against Philadelphia, travels to the Lone Star State for a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys in what some could call a scrimmage game for the ‘Skins.

Washington clinched the NFC East title Saturday night in Philadelphia, taking the Eagles to the woodshed by a final of 38-24 at Lincoln Financial Field. Washington led 16-10 at the half and then floored the gas, as they would be outscore Philly 22-14 in the final 30 minutes of action in the City of Brotherly Love. The contest in the City of Brotherly Love was not exactly a rushing affair, as neither club breached the 100-yards barrier. Washington did manage to come close to that mark, rushing for 67 yards, while holding Philadelphia to 45 yards on the ground, with Kirk Cousins burning them for 365 yards and four TDs. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford was sacked five times but did manage to throw for 380 yards in the loss. Philadelphia went 7 of 19 on third down conversions (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:45, while the Redskins, who won the NFC East, ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:15, going 5 of 14 on third down tries.

For Dallas, if it weren’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all, as they fell to Buffallo 16-6. Although they were tied with the Bills 6-6 at the half in Orchard Park, Buffalo shut out the Romo-less Cowboys 10-0 in the final 30 minutes of play to lose for the third time in a row. Outrushed by the Bills 236-121, the Cowboys turned the ball over twice, while backup QB Kellen Moore threw for 186 yards. There were two bright spots coming out of the game for Dallas. One was Darren McFadden, who led all rushers with 99 yards and the other bright spot for Dallas was third down conversions, as they were 7 of 14 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 28:30, while the Bills kept the pigskin for 31:30, going 6 of 14 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries in upstate New York.

They met in week 13 in Landover and it was a classic Monday night matchup between the two rivals as Dallas came away 19-16 winners. After a scoreless first quarter, tied at 3-3 at halftime and tied at 6-6 after three quarters, Dallas took the lead for the first time when McFadden scored on a 6-yard run run 74 seconds left in regulation. Washington would then even things  back up when De Sean Jackson, who had fumbled a punt return earlier in the quarter, connected with Cousins on a 28-yard TD pass with 44 seconds left. That tie would last as long as a Congressman at work when the Cowboys marched down the field and took the lead back for good when they used a 5-play, 20-yard drive that used only 35 seconds when Dan Bailey connected on a 54-yard field goal with nine seconds left. Washington then tried a hook-and-ladder play on the ensuing kickoff but that failed and Dallas took the win.

In the week 13 contest, Washington was favored by five and Dallas took the victory on Monday night, winning by 6, allowing them to cover the spread. Both teams combined for 35 points, missing the 42 over/under by a touchdown. This time, the Cowboys are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 39.

For Dallas, they want this season to be over and done with. For Washington, it’s a chance to prepare for next week’s playoff action at FedEx Field. Hail to the Redskins! Washington gets revenge in their prep for the post-season and sends Cowboys fans into further misery in the process.

Philadelphia (6-9) at New York Giants (6-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708. A pair of 6-9s meet in upstate New Jersey as a pair of struggling teams look to close out their fan base’s misery.

For the Eagles, the end came for Philadelphia as they fell to Washington 38-24 at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday night. They trailed Washington 16-10 at the half and then saw the wheels come off the bus, as they would be outscored by the Redskins 22-14 in the final 30 minutes of action in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia was held to 45 yards on the ground, while Washington ran for 67, with Kirk Cousins burning them for 365 yards and four TDs. Meanwhile, Sam Bradford was sacked five times but did manage to throw for 380 yards in the loss. Philadelphia went 7 of 19 on third down conversions (2 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 25:45, while the Redskins, who won the NFC East, ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 34:15, going 5 of 14 on third down tries.

To add insult to injury, the Eagles will not have Chip Kelly on the sidelines this Sunday. The team on Tuesday announced that the game against Washington last Sunday would be his last, as he was given his release and Pat Shurmur, the team’s offensive coordinator will be calling the plays for the season finale.

The Giants were their own worst enemy against Minnesota last Sunday night, as Eli Manning (234 yards, TD) threw three interceptions and the Giants fell to the Vikings 49-17 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. In conditions that would have made the Batman villan Mr. Freeze giddy (the temperature at kickoff? A balmy 14 with a wind chill of 2), New York trailed 19-3 at the half and then saw the Vikings pull away in the second half, outscoring them 30-14 in the final 30 minutes of action. Held to 91 yards on the ground, the Vikings running game went amok on the Giants defense, tallying 218, with Adrian Peterson accounting for 104 yards and a rushing TD. Minnesota, with Teddy Bridgewater throwing for 168 yards and a TD (sacked three times) played turnover-free football, went 6 of 18 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 34:57, while the Giants were a dismal 1 of 11 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 25:03.

They met in week six in the City of Brotherly Love and the Eagles were 27-7 winners in a Monday night contest at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia led 17-7 at the half and then proceeded to shutout the Giants in the second half for the win. DeMarco Murray ran for 112 of his team’s 158 yards, while Bradford threw for 280 yards and a TD, despite getting picked off three times (Manning threw for 189 yards with a pair of picks and was sacked three times). The Eagles were 6 of 16 on third down and kept the ball for 30:24, while New York held on for 29:36, going 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

In the week six affair in the City of Brotherly Love, the Eagles were favored by 4 and won by 20, covering the spread with ease. As for the over/under of 50? Safe and sound, as both clubs combined for 34 points. In this second meeting, which bascially is nothing more than a scrimmage, the Giants at home are favored by 3 and the over/under comes in at 52 1/2. One of these teams will finish a somewhat distant second to Washington in the NFC East, while the other will at least be ahead of Dallas for the third spot. Giants get some revenge in upstate New Jersey and covers the 3 in the Meadowlands.

Detroit (6-9) at Chicago (6-9), 1 p.m. on FOx and DirecTV 706. A pair of NFC North foes, out of the post-season race, meet in the Windy City as the Lions travel to Chicago to face Da Bears.

Detroit wiped away a 7-3 first quarter deficit against San Francsico last Sunday in the Motor City and came away 32-17 winners at Ford Field. The Lions went on to outscore the 49ers 29-10 in the final 45 minutes of play in their home finale, shutting them out in the second half. San Francisco did manage to outrush Detroit 121-87 but Matthew Stafford outpassed Blaine Gabbert 301-225 with each throwing a pair of TD passes. The Lions were 4 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 36:30, while San Francisco held the pigskin for 23:30, going 1 of 9 on third down. Detroit ruled fourth down tries, hitting paydirt in their only try, while San Francisco went 0 for 2.

Da Bears won the “Lovie Smith Bowl” in Tampa last Sunday, coming away 26-21 winners over their former coach. Chicago erased a 7-0 first quarter lead and took a 13-7 lead to the locker room at the half. Tampa Bay did manage to outscore Chicago in the second half and made a game of it when rookie QB Jameis Winston and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins connected on a 43-yard TD with one second left to play in the contest. Chicago outrushed Tampa Bay 174-104 but Winston managed to outpass Jay Cutler 295-156, with Winston tossing a pair of TD passes to Cutler’s one. Chicago, forcing three Tampa Bay turnovers in the win, ruled the clock, holding the ball for 37:03 to Tampa Bay’s 22:57, while going 6 of 15 on third down, while Tampa Bay was 2 of 8.

They met in week six in the Motor City and the Lions needed overtime to take the 37-34 win over Da Bears. Detroit led 21-13 at the break before Chicago rallied in the second half to even things up when Robbie Gould connected on a 29-yard field goal as the clock struck :00. Both teams had chances in overtime but produced nothing in the extra period until the Lions marched down the field after Chicago punted the ball back to them with 6:23 left. That was all that Detroit would need, as they pushed their way down to the Bears’ 9-yard line when they would set up for a 27-yard field goal attempt by Matt Prater. Chicago at the very least was not going quietly into the good night and burned a timeout in an attempt to ice Prater. That attempt at freezing Prater failed as he connected on that 27-yard try to send Lions fans home happy. Detroit outrushed Chicago 155-91 and Stafford outpaced Cutler 405-353 and Stafford threw four TDs, connecting with Johnson, Golden Tate, Lance Moore and Torry wright. Detroit in the overtime was 9 of 17 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 38:57, while Da Bears kept the ball in hibernation for 33:34, going 6 of 14 on third down tries.

In the week six Motor City affair, Detroit won by 3 but barely missed the 3 1/2-point spread and both clubs covered the 44 over/under with ease, scoring 71 points. Chicago is favored by 1 in the Windy City and the over/under’s 45. Even though they’re both 6-9, this one might be worth your time. Da Bears close out the 2015 season with the win and covers the 1 in the Windy City.

Tennessee (3-12) at Indianapolis (7-8), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713. The Titans and Colts meet in the Hoosier State as Tennesee is in the race for the number one draft pick in Chicago in 2016, while the Colts and Chuck Pagano look to win the AFC South title.

Tennessee was taken to the woodshed by Houston 34-6. Houston scored their 34 points in the contest unchallenged by the Titans, who scored their only points in the fourth quarter when rookie WR Tre McBride and Zach Mettenberger connected on an 8-yard TD pass with 91 seconds left to play in the contest. Houston outrushed Tennessee 128-30 and forced four Titan turnvoers in the blowout in the Music City. The Texans on third down tries went 7 of 16 and held the ball for 36:13, while the Titans were 4 of 16 on third down but struck paydirt in their only fourth down try and kept the pigskin for 23:47.

Indy added more misery to Miami’s season last Sunday in the Sunshine State as they beat the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill 18-12. The Colts led 15-6 at halftime before holding off the Dolphins in the second half, as they somehow managed to outscore the Colts 6-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. Indy RB Frank Gore, accounting for 84 of the Colts’ 100 yards, scored on a pair of rushing TDs in the close contest, with his longest run coming from 37 yards out. The Indy defense sacked Tannehill (329 yards, interception) six times, with the last sack coming in Colts’ territory late in the contest. Both Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst, taking over for Andrew Luck, were knocked out of the contest and are out for this Sunday’s contest and Josh Freeman, who played for Tampa Bay, will take over for the Colts. Indy went 6 of 12 on third down tries and kept the ball for 27:11, while the Dolphins were 6 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 32:49.

They met in week three in Nashville and the Colts survived that contest, coming away 35-33 winners. The Colts led 14-10 at the intermission and then held off the Titans in the final 30 minutes of play, even though they were outscored 23-21. Gore ran for 86 of the Colts’ 133 yards in the contest, while Tennessee was held to 88 yards. Mariota outpaced Luck in passing yardage 367-260, with each throwing a pair of TDs and both were picked off twice and sacked three times. The Colts were 4 of 11 on third down tries in the contest in the Volunteer State and kept the ball for 25:01, while the Titans ruled the clock, holding the ball for 34:59 and were 4 of 13 on third down (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Although the Colts did win the contest in week three in Nashville, they won by 2, which meant they did not cover the 4 1/2 point spread and that was the bad news. The good news was that both clubs covered the 48 over/under by 20 points at 68. This time, the Colts are favored by 6 and the over/under is 45 1/2.

The Titans will be playing for the first pick in the 2016 Draft, while the Colts will be doing some scoreboard watching as the Texans host Jacksonville but they also need to worry about things in Indy. Colts, in what will probably be Chuck Pagano’s last game as head coach, wins this one in Indy and could win the AFC South if they get some help from the Jaguars.

Oakland (7-8) at Kansas City (10-5), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717. They meet again and while there’s not a lot at stake, a pair of old AFC foes combat in the Show-Me State as the Raiders travel to Kansas City for a contest with the Chiefs.

Oakland got an early Christmas present in Charles Woodson’s final home game in the Silver and Black, taking a 23-20 overtime win over San Diego Christmas Eve night. The Raiders trailed 17-10 at halftime and led 20-17 with 4:42 left when David Carr and Michael Crabtree connected on a 3-yard pass TD pass before San Diego rallied to send the game into overtime when Josh Lambo connected on a 45-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in regulation. Oakland got the ball first in the overtime and marched down the field but the drive stalled and they would settle for a 31-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski. San Diego got the ball back but the Raiders held them off and came away with the win. San Diego was outrushed by Oakland 106-72 but the Chargers’ Philip Rivers outpassed Carr 277-204 (Rivers was sacked once in the contest, resulting in a Raiders’ safety, while Carr was sacked three times and picked off once). Oakland was 4 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:21, while the Chargers were 5 of 16 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 35:04.

Kansas City held off a late Cleveland rally and came away 17-13 winners at Arrowhead. The Chiefs scored their 17 points in the first half and then held off the Browns, who shut them out in the second half. Cleveland could have walked away from Kansas City with the win if they had time on their side late in the contest, as Johnny Manziel (concussion protocol) and WR Darius Jennings connected on a fourth down play with 15 seconds left. The pass was good for 14 yards, which was good. The bad news? They were out of time outs and scrambled to get lined up but could not get a play off as the clock ran out. Manziel ran for 108 yards in the contest to lead all rushers and threw for 136 (the Browns ran for 232, while Kansas City tallied 136), while Kansas City’s Alex Smtih threw for 125 yards and a pair of TDs, one to TE Travis Kelce, the other to WR Jeremy Maclin. Kansas City was 4 of 12 on third down, holding the ball for 28:56, while the Browns were 6 of 15 on third down, keeping the ball for 31:04 (both teams did quite well on fourth down; Cleveland going 3 of 4, while Kansas City was perfect in their only fourth down try in the game).

Meeting in week 13 in Oakland, Kansas City came away 34-26 winners in northern California. Trailing 14-7 at the half, the Chiefs’ offense came to life in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Raiders 27-6. Even though they did come away with the win, the Chiefs were outrushed by Oakland 99-89 and Carr outpassed Smith 283-162 (each were sacked four times, Carr was picked off three times) in the 6-point win on the West Coast. Kansas City was 3 of 8 on third down tries and kept the ball for 25:32, while the Raiders ruled the clock, keeping the pigskin for 34:28 and went 6 of 14 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs.

In the week 13 affair, the Chiefs covered the 3-point spread, winning by 6 and both clubs took care of the 44 over/under, scoring a combined 60 points. Kansas City’s favored again in the season finale, this time by 7 and the over/under is 43 1/2. The Raiders are a decent team but not quite a great team, while the Chiefs know that if somehow the Chargers beat the Peyton-less Broncos, they’re AFC West champions. In any case, everything’s up to date in Kansas City and the Chiefs come away with the win, even though they may not cover the 7.

San Diego (4-11) at Denver (11-4), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715. It’s a battle of teams with opposite records as the Chargers travel to the Rocky Mountains for a rematch with the Denver Broncos.

San Diego fell to Oakland 23-20 in overtime Christmas Eve night. The Bolts led 17-10 at halftime and trailed 20-17 with 4:42 left before San Diego rallied to send the game into overtime when Josh Lambo connected on a 45-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in regulation. Oakland got the ball first in the overtime and marched down the field but the drive stalled and they would settle for a 31-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski. The Chargers got the ball back to try and either tie things up or take the win on the road but the Raiders held them off and came away with the win. San Diego was outrushed by Oakland 106-72 but the Chargers’ Philip Rivers outpassed Carr 277-204 (Rivers was sacked once in the contest, resulting in a Raiders’ safety, while Carr was sacked three times and picked off once). Oakland was 4 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:21, while the Chargers were 5 of 16 (0 of 1 on fourth down) and held on to the ball for 35:04.

The Broncos have secured a playoff berth and can clinch the AFC West division title with a win or a Kansas City loss. Denver can lock up a first-round bye with a win or losses by both Kansas City and Cincinnati and the Broncos can earn home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win and a New England loss. The Chiefs have secured a playoff berth and can clinch the AFC West division title with a win and a Denver loss.

Speaking of Cincinnati, the Broncos rallied from a 14-3 deficit against the Bengals last Monday night and came away 20-17 overtime winners at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos led 17-14 in the fourth quarter before Bengals K Matt Nunget connected on a 52-yard field goal with 6:46 left in regulation. Denver K Brandon McManus attempted a 42-yard field goal that would have given the home team the win in regulation but the kicked sailed wide to the left. McManus made up for the mistake with a 37-yarder with 10 minutes left in the overtime to take the lead. The Denver defense then took over after that and forced a A.J. McCarron fumble, recovered by DeMarcus Ware to seal the win. Denver outrushed Cincinnati 113-108 and Brock Osweiler outpassed McCarron 299-208 (each man threw a TD pass without being picked off) despite being sacked three times. Neither club had a fourth down attempt in the chilly mountain air (temp at kickoff time, you ask? A balmy 16 degrees with a wind chill of 7 that would have made Olaf of “Frozen” happy) and Denver was 4 of 11 on third down tries, while the Bengals were 10 of 17. Even with the overtime loss, the Bengals did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 37:28 to Denver’s 27:50.

Denver and San Diego met in southern California in week 13 and Osweiler led the Broncos to a 17-3 win over the Bolts at Qualcomm Staduim. The Broncos led by that 17-3 score at the half as both teams played scoreless football in the final 30 minutes of play. Denver held San Diego to 94 yards rushing, while running for 134 yards of their own and sacked Rivers four times, picking him off twice. The Broncos, who forced a pair of Charger turnovers, went 6 of 13 on third down conversions in southern California and kept the ball for 32:57l, while the Bolts were 5 of 14 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down and kept the pigskin for 27:03.

In the week 13 contest in San Diego, Denver covered the 4 1/2-point spread with the 14-point win. That was the good news. The bad news? The 20 points combined did not come close to the 43 1/2 over/under that was given to the contest. Denver’s favored again, this time by 8 and the over/under’s 41 1/2. The Chargers are bad but they’re not 8 points bad. Denver’s been playing with house money since Peyton went on the shelf. Denver’s will be doing scoreboard watching while the Chargers would like to ruin the playoff party in the Mile High City. Denver may not cover the 8 but they do win at home.

Seattle (9-6) at Arizona (13-2), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 719. A pair of NFC West foes meet in the desert as the defending NFC champs travel to the desert for a contest with the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale.

Seattle has clinched a Wild Card spot and will be either the number 5 or 6 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks struggled against St. Louis last Sunday in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, losing to the Rams 23-17 at Century Link Field. Seattle trailed the Rams 16-3 at the half and made the AFC West contest closer when WR Jermaine Kearse and Russell Wilson connected on a 18-yard TD pass with 17 seconds left. Seattle, in the rainy and wet conditions in the Pacific Northwest, then tried an onside kick, which went out of bounds, allowing the Rams to take take the ball and run out the clock. Seattle was outrushed 104-60 by St. Louis, with Todd Gurley leading all rushers with 85 yards on 19 carries and a TD. Wilson for his part threw for 289 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times with an interception, while St. Louis’ Case Keenum threw for 103. Seattle was 8 of 17 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down), keeping the ball for 32:06, while the Rams were 5 of 12, holding the ball for 27:54.

Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals took down Green Bay 38-8 in Glendale. After a scoreless first quarter, the Cards hung 31 unchallenged points on the Packers before they did respond when Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy connected on a 28-yard TD pass with 6:31 left in the third quarter. It would be the only points Green Bay would tally in the contest, as Jerraud Powers would put the nail in the Packer coffin, scoring on a 7- yard fumble recovery. The two teams played scoreless football in the fourth but by then, it was too little, too late for Green Bay. Lacy ran for 60 yards on 12 carries to lead all rushers, as the Packers to rush for 101 yards, while Arizona tallied 121. On the passing side, Rodgers did throw for 151 yards and the lone TD but was sacked five times and picked off once, while Palmer threw for 265 yards and a pair of TDs, one to Pro Bowl WR Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona on third down tries was 50 percent at 5 of 10 and kept the ball for 30:16, while the Packers held on to the pigskin for 29:44, going 5 of 17 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs. Arizona has already clinched the NFC West division title and a first-round bye. With a win and a Carolina loss, the Cardinals will earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. “We’re playing really good football at the right time,” Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told the Arizona Republic. “This is the time of season you want to be playing well. That’s a good feeling.”

They met in week 10 in the Pacific Northwest and Arizona ruled the roost on that Sunday night, winning 39-32 at Century Link Field. After a scoreless first quarter, the Desert Angry Birds scored the first 19 points of the game unchallenged as WR Michael Floyd and Palmer connected on a pair of TD passes and Wilson was sacked in the endzone for a safety before Seattle ended Arizona’s bid for a shutout when RB Wil Tukuafu scored on a 1-yard plunge with 1:52 left before halftime. Marshawn Lynch (abdomen) also chipped in the scoring for Seattle with a 3-yard run to open the scoring in the fourth quarter for Seattle, who made the game a 7-point contest late when Stephen Hauschka drilled a 46-yard field goal with 58 seconds left to play. Arizona barely outrushed the defending NFC champs 117-115 and Wilson threw for 240 yards but was sacked twice and picked off once, while Palmer threw for 363 and three TDs, two of them to Floyd. Seattle on third down conversions were a somewhat dismal 1 of 8 (they were perfect in their only fourth down try) and kept the ball for 21:08, while the Desert Angry Birds not only won the game, they ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 38:52 while going 8 of 17 on third down conversions.

Seattle was favored by 3 1/2 in the week 10 contest in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks and Arizona covered the spread with their 7-point win. The 71 combined points by both clubs was more than enough to cover the 45 over/under. This time, the oddsmakers in Vegas like the Desert Angry Birds as 4-point favorites and the over/under is 42. The 42 makes sense and so does the 4-point spread. Both teams know they’re in the post-season and Arizona would like to be the top seed and spend their time in the post season at home, while Seattle wants to help the Carolina Panthers and knock the Desert Angry Birds down a notch and get some revenge in the process for what happened in week 10. Seattle goes “Angry Bird” on Arizona in the desert and pulls the upset, taking the win and covering the 4.

St. Louis (7-8) at San Francisco (4-11), 4:25 p.m on FOX and DirecTV 716. With nothing left to play for other than pride and a draft pick, the Rams head westward to northern California for a meeting with the 49ers in Santa Clara.

St. Louis took down Seattle last Sunday in the land of grunge, salmon and Starbucks, beating the Seahawks 23-17 at Century Link Field. The Rams were 16-3 leaders at the half and held off a late Seattle rally when Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse and Russell Wilson connected on a 18-yard TD pass with 17 seconds left. Seattle, in the rainy and wet conditions in the Pacific Northwest, then tried an onside kick, which went out of bounds, allowing the Rams to take take the ball and run out the clock. Seattle was outrushed 104-60 by St. Louis, with Todd Gurley leading all rushers with 85 yards on 19 carries and a TD. Wilson for his part threw for 289 yards and a pair of TDs but was sacked four times with an interception, while St. Louis’ Case Keenum threw for 103. Seattle did manage to rule the clock, keeping the ball for 32:06, going 8 of 17 on third down conversions (1 of 1 on fourth down), while the Rams were 5 of 12, holding the ball for 27:54.

The 49ers let a 7-3 first quarter lead against Detroit get away from them in the Motor City and came away on the short end of a 32-17 loss at Ford Field. San Francisco was outscored by Detroit 49ers 29-10 in the final 45 minutes of play in the Lions’ home finale, shutting them out in the second half. San Francisco did manage to outrush Detroit 121-87 but Matthew Stafford outpassed Blaine Gabbert 301-225 with each throwing a pair of TD passes. The Lions were 4 of 12 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 36:30, while San Francisco held the pigskin for 23:30, going 1 of 9 on third down. Detroit ruled fourth down tries, hitting paydirt in their only try, while San Francisco went 0 for 2.

They faced each other in week eight in the Gateway City and the Rams were 27-6 winners. St. Louis 20-6 at the half and shutout San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick in the second half. Rookie RB Todd Gurley ran for 133 of St. Louis’ 197 yards in the blowout, while San Francisco was held to 38 on the ground (Kaepernick was sacked three times but did not have an interception or throw a TD). Third down tries in the week eight meeting was nothing to write home about for either club. In fact, neither club came anywhere near the 50 percent barrier (St. Louis was a somewhat dismal 1 of 12… you read that correctly, while the 49ers were a little better but not much at 3 of 17, 0 of 1 on fourth down) but the Rams did rule the clock, keeping the ball for 31:58, while San Francisco kept it for 28:02.

St. Louis covered the 7 1/2-point spread, winning by 21 at home but both clubs missed the 39 over/under by a touchdown at 36. The Rams are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 37. It’s been a somewhat dismal season for the 49ers as they will host Super Bowl 50 but not play in it. For St. Louis, they’re looking to finish .500. San Francisco will make this one interesting but the Rams come away with the win in northern California and finish .500 in the process.

Tampa Bay (6-9) at Carolina (14-1), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 718. A pair of NFC South foes square off in the Tar Heel State as Tampa Bay looks to add another loss to the Panthers’ ledger, while playoff-bound Carolina looks to right its ship after suffering their first loss in the 2015 campaign.

Lovie Smith and Tampa Bay lost to his former team, as the Bucs fell to Chicago 26-21 in Tampa. Chicago erased a 7-0 first quarter lead and took a 13-7 lead to the locker room at the half. Tampa Bay did manage to outscore Chicago in the second half and made a game of it when rookie QB Jameis Winston and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins connected on a 43-yard TD with one second left to play in the contest. Chicago outrushed Tampa Bay 174-104 but Winston managed to outpass Jay Cutler 295-156, with Winston tossing a pair of TD passes to Cutler’s one. Chicago, forcing three Tampa Bay turnovers in the win, ruled the clock, holding the ball for 37:03 to Tampa Bay’s 22:57, while going 6 of 15 on third down, while Tampa Bay was 2 of 8.

Carolina is in control for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Panthers have already clinched the NFC South division title and a first-round bye. With a win or an Arizona loss, Carolina will earn the top seed in the NFC. Carolina saw their dreams of an unbeaten season vanish like the last Christmas cookie in Atlanta, losing to the Falcons 20-13 in the Big Peach. Newton and the Panthers led 7-0 late in the first quarter when he scored on an 8-yard run, as part of a long Panther opening drive that took 11 plays and 80 yards, burning 5:42 off the clock. That lead would be short-lived as the Falcons evened the score with a 16-play, 80-yard drive of their own, which took 9:23 of clock and they would stay tied at the end of the first half.

After Greg Gano gave Carolina the lead with a 33-yard field, the Falcons took the lead back and for good when Ryan and WR Julio Jones connected on a 70 yard TD pass for a 14-10 lead. Gano made it a 1-point game before Sean Graham connected on a pair of FGs in the final quarter, the second one coming from 54 yards to seal the deal and Carolina’s fate. The Panthers would get the ball one last time but Carolina’s dreams of an unbeaten season were “Gone With The Wind” when Newton fumbled and Adrian Clayborn recoved the ball in Carolina territory. Atlanta would then go on to run out the clock and Carolina’s dreams were shattered. Carolina outrushed Atlanta 155-77, with Freeman leading all rushers with 73 yards on 22 carries, while Ryan outpaced Newton 306-142 (each man was sacked twice but did not throw an interception). Atlanta was 9 of 15 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 35:38, while the Panthers kept the pigskin for 24:22, going 4 of 10 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries.

They met in week three in the Sunshine State and Carolina took a 37-23 win home to Charlotte. Carolina led 17-10 at halftime before pulling away in the second half, outscoring the Bucs 20-13. Newton and WR Ted Ginn connected on a pair of TD passes in the contest and the Panther running game ran for 133 yards, even though they were outrushed by Tampa Bay, who had 141 (Doug Martin led all rushers with 106 yards). Winston and Newton each threw a pair of TDs in the battle of Heisman QBs, winston throwing for 287 yards and four interceptions, while Newton threw for 124 yards without an interception (each was sacked twice). Carolina was 3 of 11 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 27:52, while Tampa Bay ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 32:08, while going 8 of 16 on third down and 2 of 2 on fourth down.

Carolina won by 5 in the week three contest in Tampa, allowing them to cover the 3-point spread and the 40 over/under was easily covered as both clubs joined to score 60 points. Carolina, favored in the first meeting, is favored in the second contest by 10 1/2 and the over/under this time is 46 1/2. It’ll be closer than 10 1/2 this time around. For Tampa Bay, they would love nothing more than to do some damage to Carolina’s hope for being the top seed in the NFC Playoffs. Carolina? They’d love nothing more than to be home for the playoffs. Tampa Bay makes this one closer than 10 1/2 but Carolina’s finer in the Tar Heel State and wins the top seed in the post-season.

Minnesota at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. on NBC. It’s Winner-Take-All.

Vikings.

Packers.

The final game of the 2015 regular season will decide the NFC North division.

“We are exactly where we want to be, in position to win the NFC North,” says Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who leads the league in rushing with 1,418 yards. “They flexed this game so it’s going to be in primetime. This is what we envisioned for ourselves at the beginning of the season. The opportunity is right here in front of us.”

Minnesota closed out the home half of their season with a 49-17 win over Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Manning had 234 yards of passing with a TD but threw three interceptions at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. It wasn’t the Ice Bowl but the conditions would have made the Batman villan Mr. Freeze giddy, with  the temperature at kickoff a balmy 14 with a wind chill of 2. Minnesota led 19-3 at the half and then pulled away in the second half, outscoring them 30-14 in the final 30 minutes of action. Held to 91 yards on the ground, the Vikings running game went amok on the Giants defense, tallying 218, with Adrian Peterson accounting for 104 yards and a rushing TD. Minnesota, with Teddy Bridgewater throwing for 168 yards and a TD (sacked three times) played turnover-free football, went 6 of 18 on third down conversions, keeping the ball for 34:57, while the Giants were a dismal 1 of 11 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 25:03.

Both the Vikings and Packers have already clinched a playoff berth. But the division title and a home playoff game are at stake.

“Everything is in front of us as far as winning the division,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I know what we’re capable of. We have guys who have played in big games and in the playoffs and you have to rely on that. We’ve won a lot of games. I have confidence in those guys and myself. That’s the beauty of the NFL.”

The Packers come back to the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst after they were manhandled by Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals 38-8 in Glendale. After a scoreless first quarter, the Cards hung 31 unchallenged points on the Packers before they did respond when Rodgers and Eddie Lacy connected on a 28-yard TD pass with 6:31 left in the third quarter. It would be the only points Green Bay would tally in the contest, as Jerraud Powers would put the nail in the Packer coffin, scoring on a 7- yard fumble recovery. The two teams played scoreless football in the fourth but by then, it was too little, too late for Green Bay. Lacy ran for 60 yards on 12 carries to lead all rushers, as the Packers to rush for 101 yards, while Arizona tallied 121. On the passing side, Rodgers did throw for 151 yards and the lone TD but was sacked five times and picked off once, while Palmer threw for 265 yards and a pair of TDs, one to Pro Bowl WR Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona on third down tries was 50 percent at 5 of 10 and kept the ball for 30:16, while the Packers held on to the pigskin for 29:44, going 5 of 17 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs.

With all that at stake, to not call this one “Drill Worthy” would be like saying Katy Perry can’t sing. It would be like saying Colonel Sanders doesn’t like chicken, Popeye not liking spinach. With that being said and this being the last regular season game, this is the last regular season version of “THE DRILL!” (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! If we do, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OVER!), 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 56 last June and dates a 41-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?”

They met in week 11 in the Twin Cities and the Packers took the Vikings to the woodshed by a final of 30-13. Green Bay led 16-6 at the half and never looked back against Minnesota, holding them to 94 yards on the ground (Peterson had 45 of those yards), while the Packers ran for 124 (Lacy had 100). Rodgers threw for 212 yards and a pair of TDs without being picked off, while Bridgewater threw for 296 yards but was sacked six times. Green Bay was 6 of 16 on third down tries and kept the ball for 30:22, while the Vikings were 5 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 29:38,

In the week 11 contest in the Twin Cities, the Vikings were 1-point favorites and Green Bay covered the spread with their 17-point win but both clubs barely missed the 45 over/under. In this “Winner-Take-All” contest, the Packers are a 3-point favorite at Lambeau and the over/under is 46 1/2. The winner? NFC North champ. The loser? Wild Card. It’s not rocket science. Minnesota wants revenge from their week 11 drubbing in the Twin Cities, while the Packers would like to at least host in the first round of the post-season. Get the cheese ready. Packers take this one but it will be closer than the 3.

 

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