Archives for category: 2017 NFL Season

There were two winners at Super Bowl LII.

Winner number one?

The Philadelphia Eagles, who took home the Lombardi Trophy by holding off the New England Patriots at US Bank Stadium in a Super Bowl that wll be talked about for years.

The second winner?

The environment as well as soup kitchens and youth sports programs.

The NFL, in partnership with PepsiCo, Aramark, U.S. Bank Stadium, SMG and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, scored a zero-waste legacy project at Super Bowl LII, with 91 percent[ii] of all trash generated on gameday from 67,612 fans responsibly recovered through composting, recycling and reuse. The landmark project marks the highest diversion rate achieved at U.S. Bank Stadium and at any previous Super Bowl and aims to serve as the benchmark for future large-scale events.

The results are in following the big game: nearly 63 tons of the 69 tons of gameday waste were recovered through recycling or donation for reuse (62 percent) and composting (29 percent). Recovering waste through composting and recycling reduces waste disposal costs and provides several environmental benefits including reduction of landfill use and reduction of the greenhouse gas generated by the landfill process, gasses which contribute significantly to global warming.

“The zero-waste legacy project is a testament to teamwork, with multiple partners coming together to achieve an ambitious environmental goal,” Jack Groh, Director of the NFL’s Environmental Program told USA Today. “The NFL is proud that this program was not only successful at Super Bowl LII but will also serve as a permanent installation at the stadium and leave a lasting impact on the community.”

U.S. Bank Stadium partners, including the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, stadium operator SMG and Aramark, kicked off the effort to achieve a zero-waste operation in 2017 and were joined by the NFL and PepsiCo in the lead-up to Super Bowl LII.

“SMG is always striving to raise industry standards through our operation at U.S. Bank Stadium and our commitment to sustainability is no different. In our first season, we produced a waste diversion rate of 20 percent. Over the course of our second season our team increased that diversion rate to 91 percent,” says Patrick Talty, SMG General Manager at U.S. Bank Stadium. “Developing a successful and long-term zero-waste program has always been our goal. The diversion improvement we have seen to date is rare in the world of facility management and is a testament to the dedication of all of our stadium partners.”

“U.S. Bank Stadium’s journey to the zero-waste threshold has been demanding and we couldn’t have gotten here without the commitment of our stadium partners,” Michael Vekich, chair of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, owner of U.S. Bank Stadium told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We look forward to sharing our experiences with other facilities who are interested in this important sustainability program.”

Ahead of gameday, PepsiCo launched the Rush2Recycle campaign to show fans how to make recycling fun and easy in the stadium and at in-home Super Bowl parties across the country. Fans attending the Super Bowl were greeted by a team of uniformed zero-waste ambassadors who helped identify the correct bins for recycling, composting and waste-to-energy. Super Bowl XL MVP and Pittsburgh Steelers Legend Hines Ward helped lucky fans recycle with his own end zone dance, the Rush2Recyle Shuffle, available at http://www.Rush2Recycle.com, along with tips and resources.

“To tackle waste and boost recycling rates, each of us needs to do our part,” said Roberta Barbieri, PepsiCo’s vice president global environmental sustainability. “While we’re working to make PepsiCo’s packaging increasingly sustainable and investing in recycling programs in communities around the world, we also want to find new ways to make it fun and simple for consumers to participate—like Rush2Recycle.”

Critical to hitting the initiative’s goals was removing items from stadium inventory that could not be either recycled or composted. Aramark, the food and beverage partner for U.S. Bank Stadium, replaced nearly its entire inventory of food vessels, service products and utensils handed to fans with compostable alternatives.

“The successful implementation and results of this historic waste reduction project reflect the partners’ collective commitment to delivering innovative sustainable solutions that will endure beyond Super Bowl LII,” said Carl Mittleman, President of Aramark’s Sports and Entertainment division. “Aramark is incredibly proud to have contributed to this milestone and we look forward to utilizing our insights from this effort to further reduce the environmental impact of our operations at U.S. Bank Stadium and across all the venues we serve.”

Other pre-game steps were essential to achieving the zero-waste goal. U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, working with Recycle Across America, designed all illustrated signs for the stadium’s new three-bin waste stations to show fans exactly how to sort items. Recycling and compost bins were made larger and more accessible, while trash bins were made much smaller, encouraging fans to make the right choices for disposing items. In addition, a comprehensive LEED-certification level waste audit was performed in October 2017 to identify specific materials for recovery in the stadium waste stream. A “zero-waste trial run” was performed at a December 2017 Minnesota Vikings home game to encourage fans to properly dispose of waste and to refine gameday practices for Super Bowl LII.

Post-game steps to achieve the 91% resource recovery rate at Super Bowl LII were led by SMG and the NFL. The SMG team sorted all fan-generated waste into the correct waste compactors. The waste hauling partners then collected and provided weight-tickets at each destination including the recycling facility, the composting facility and the waste-to-energy facility. This data was reviewed by SMG and combined with the reuse and donation data collected by the NFL from their community partners. When the recycling, composting and donation/reuse data is combined, the total resource recovery rate for gameday waste is 91%.

For more than 25 years, the NFL has been the leader in sports event sustainability; creating the first significant stadium solid waste recycling project in America at Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta in 1994. The NFL and the Minnesota Super Bowl LII Host Committee developed a series of initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of Super Bowl LII activities and leave a “green” legacy throughout the area. Through the NFL Environmental Program, leftover décor and construction materials from Super Bowl was donated to local organizations for reuse and repurposing. More than 150 thousand pounds of unserved, prepared food and beverages from Super Bowl events was distributed to local shelters and community kitchens. U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LII and several other major NFL Super Bowl event venues were powered using “green energy” to reduce the climate impact of Super Bowl events. A Super Bowl E-waste event held in October 2017, diverted 42,081 pounds of E-waste from the landfill for responsible recycling. The NFL’s Super Bowl urban forestry program planted more than 12,000 trees, 4,000 native plants and 8 pollinator gardens in Minnesota. On Thursday, January 18, more than 100 local schools and YMCAs joined in a community initiative called Super Kids-Super Sharing which put 46,000 donated items (books, sports equipment and school supplies) into the hands of local children in need.

About the NFL Environmental Program: As a leader in the community, the NFL is a responsible steward of the environment in all business areas, using resources efficiently and minimizing waste. The NFL Environmental Program focuses on greening NFL tentpole events and facilities and provides resources for NFL clubs to help them operate their business in sustainable, eco-friendly ways. The NFL was the first professional sports organization to take on full programming for environmental impact at large-scale sporting events such as Super Bowl.

About PepsiCo: PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers more than one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated approximately $63.5 billion in net revenue in 2017, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales. At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around us. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world is what enable PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders. For more information, visit http://www.pepsico.com.

About U.S. Bank Stadium: U.S. Bank Stadium, owned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, is a multi-purpose stadium and home to the Minnesota Vikings. The 66,400+ seat stadium is located in the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This state-of-the-art facility hosts prominent national and international programming including the Minnesota Vikings, concerts, family shows, college and high school sporting events, conventions, trade/consumer shows and corporate or private meetings and other community events. U.S. Bank Stadium opened on July 22, 2016 and has been chosen as the site of the Summer X Games (2017 and 2018), Super Bowl LII (2018) and the NCAA Men’s Final Four (2019).

U.S. Bank Stadium is an SMG managed facility. M Hospitality, a division of Aramark, is the official food and beverage provider for U.S. Bank Stadium. For More Information: http://www.usbankstadium.com.

About Aramark: Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) proudly serves Fortune 500 companies, world champion sports teams, state-of-the-art healthcare providers, the world’s leading educational institutions, iconic destinations and cultural attractions and numerous municipalities in 19 countries around the world. Our 270,000 team members deliver experiences that enrich and nourish millions of lives every day through innovative services in food, facilities management and uniforms. We operate our business with social responsibility, focusing on initiatives that support our diverse workforce, advance consumer health and wellness, protect our environment, and strengthen our communities. Aramark is recognized as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE, as well as an employer of choice by the Human Rights Campaign and Diversity Inc. Learn more at http://www.aramark.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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New England (13-3) vs. Philadelphia (13-3), 6:30 p.m. on NBC

And there were two.

The last two teams standing meet in the Twin Cities.

New England vs. Philadelphia.

The hunter vs. the hunted.

It’s the last football game that will be played until the pre-season (the regular season starts September 6th, so mark those calendars now).

one team will be going home with a trophy, while the otner team will be second-guessed from now until they kick off in the Fall. All the work of OTA’s, mini-camp, preseason and regular season comes to an end.

Sweating, fighting rookies and free agents for your job, sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, having a coach or ball boy come to you saying “coach wants to see you and bring your playbook,” which means you’re being cut.

17 weeks and 16 games. Travel, dealing with the media and coaches comes to an end in the Twin Cities in the great indoors. In three hours or so, the 2017 season will draw its final breath.

Super Bowl LII in the Twin Cities. While the other 30 teams will be at home wishing they were preparing to win the Lombardi, the New England Patriots will have a chance to defend their title, while the Philadelphia Eagles will look to win their first. A pair of top seeds meet to decide who will win it all.

The defending Super Bowl champions erased a 20-10 deficit in the final 15 minutes of play, using a pair of TD passes from Brady to WR Danny Amendola to win the AFC crown by a final of 24-20 over Jacksonville at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. The Jaguars led 14-10 at the intermission and could have made it a 14-point game going into the half had they not picked up two penalties that stalled their drive. The Jaguars then took a 17-10 lead into the start of the fourth quarter before Brady and Amendola did their magic, first scoring on a 9-yard pass with 8:44 left and then took the lead with 2:48 when the duo connected on a 4-yard toss with 2:48 left.

Jacksonville then had one last chance to reclaim the lead late in the contest when they got the ball back with 2:48 left at their own 25-yard line. After the two-minute warning, the Jaguars would get as close as New England’s 43-yard line when Blake Bortle’s pass to WR Dede Westbrook was swatted away by Stephon Gilmore. Jacksonville outrushed New England 101-46, with rookie RB Leonard Fournette leading all rushers with 76 yards and a TD, while Bortles threw for 293 yards and a TD, while Brady threw for 290 yards and the two Amendola TDs. Jacksonville on third down was 6 of 15 and kept the ball for 35:08 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down), while New England was 3 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 24:52.

Philadelphia erased a 7-0 first quarter deficit and scored their 38 points in the NFC Championship Game unchallenged in their 38-7 win over Minnesota at Lincoln Financial Field last Sunday afternoon. Minnesota opened the scoring and led 7-0 with 10:14 left in the quarter when Case Keenum and WR Kyle Rudolph connected on a 25-yard pass. The Eagles then went to work and tied the contest when Keenum was picked off by CB Patrick Robinson with 6:26 left in the first and things would go downhill from there for Minnesota as the Vikings would go into the intermission, trailing 24-7. Philly would then go on to score two more times in the second half, sealing the Vikings’ fate. Nick Foles threw for 352 yards and three TDs, two of them to WR Alshon Jeffery as the Eagles outrushed Minnesota 110-70, while Keenum threw for 271 yards with a pair of interceptions. The Eagles were 10 of 14 on third down tries and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 34:04, while the Vikings were 6 of 13 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the pigskin for 25:56.

For New England, it will be their 10th trip to the big game and they’re 5-4, while the Eagles will make their third trip with an 0-2 record under their belts. It will be their first meeting since George Walker Bush was in the White House and John Paul II was on the throne of St. Peter in the Vatican.

The Eagles, led by second-year head coach Doug Pederson, tied a franchise record with 13 regular-season wins (2004) and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the fourth time since 2002. The Eagles, who completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround, are the first team since the 2009 New Orleans Saints to win its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place and advance to the Super Bowl.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to be going to the Super Bowl,” Pederson told USA Today and ESPN. “I love coaching this football team. I love coaching these players. The thing about this team is that despite all the adversity that surrounds the team, these guys don’t listen to that. I don’t listen to that. They come to work and practice hard every day. They love being around each other. One of our goals was to be the NFC champions and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. And now we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’re going to the Super Bowl and we still have some unfinished business ahead of us.”

Patriots head coach Bill Bellichick and quarterback Tom Brady will be making their eighth Super Bowl appearance together, the most NFL title games for any head coach and starting quarterback duo in league history. Belichick and Brady have won five Super Bowls together, the most by a head coach and starting quarterback combination.

“You cherish these moments and opportunities,” Brady told the Boston Globe and Boston Herald. “I know we’ve had quite a few of them, which we’ve been very blessed to do. It’s just been an unbelievable run and I think everyone should be really proud of what we’ve accomplished. I’m proud of our team. It’s been a great year and it would be really great if we can take care of business in the next game.”

“We have great players and coaches in this locker room and I knew we’d be able to compete for this,” Eagles defensive end Chris Long told ESPN. “We’ve earned this opportunity but that’s all it is. We still have a lot of work to do.”

“We all believe in each other,” says Patriots safety Devin McCourty. “This team is battle tested. We’ve gone through ups and downs. We’ve gone through adversity. You just have to keep playing. When you have a foundation that you can lean on, you don’t panic. You understand and believe in each other and you just give yourself a chance to win.”

In regular season action, the Eagles lead the series 7-5 and have outscored the Pats 283-269. Their last regular season meeting took place in 2015 in Foxboro and the Eagles wer 35-28 winners, while New England’s last win in the series came in the City of Brotherly Love by a final of 31-10 in 2003.

Their only post-season meeting took place in 2004 in Super Bowl XXXIX and the Pats came away witt the 24-21 win at what was then Alltel Stadium (now Ever Bank Field). After a scoreless first quarter, the teams took a 7-7 tie with them to the intermission and were tied 14-14 at the end of the third quarter before New England went to work, scoring the first ten points of the period when RB Cory Dillon scored from 2 yards out with 13:44 left in the contest and added a 22-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri with 8:40 left to play. The Eagles would pull to within 3 with 1:48 left when WR Greg Lewis connected with QB Donovan McNabb on a 30 yard TD toss. Dillon led all rushers with 75 yards as the Pats outrushed Phialdelphia 112-45 and McNabb threw for 357 yards and three TDs, while Brady threw for 236 yard and a pair of TDs (McNabb was sacked four times, Brady was sacked twice and McNabb three three interceptions) and each team lost a fumble in the contest. New England on third down tries went 4 of 12 and held on to the ball for 31:37, while the Eagles kept the pigskin for 28:23, going 9 of 16 on third down tries.

In the final football game of the 2017 campaign, the oddsmakers in Vegas like the Patriots and the powers that be have made them 5 point favorites with the over/under at 48. Since this is the last game of the season, this is the LAST chance to make THE DRILL a reality until September. With that… (For those of you that know what The Drill is, you are excused. Everyone else, pay attention. We don’t want any rookie mistakes here, k?) After you go to the 9:30 mass on Sunday (the 4:30 vigil mass on Saturday counts as a mass attended, people! Don’t make us send the nuns after you! 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 57 last June and dates a 42-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?”

Two teams.

One game.

One mission.

It all comes down to this.

Win and you’re World Champions.

Lose and you’ll be second-guessed from now until the start of next season.

Each player on the winning team will get $112,000; as for the losing team, they’ll be getting $56,000 to each member of the losing, which comes out to a little more than $8 million total for the personnel of the two competing clubs. The winners will get rings, be on talk shows and perhaps make a trip to the White House. There’s a lot at stake. There will be winners on the field and winners in the ad battle that will ensue. Could there be overtime? It’s possible. Could there be a shutout? Maybe but there’s never been a shutout in all of the Super Bowls.

While the Pats are the darlings of the football world for now, there’s always a chance for an upset. That chance is coming Sunday in the Twin Cities. Philly pulls off the upset in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and takes the win, even though New England could make things closer than 5 points.

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter)WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Boomer Esiason, Mike Holmgren, Tony Boselli, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Philadelphia), 82 (New England);| XM: 88 (WestW1ood), 83 (Philadelphia), 82 (New England)

Referee: Gene Steratore

Injury Report

New England – New England reports no injuries

Philadelphia – Philadelphia reports no injuries

Weather Information: Game indoors

Sunday Broadcast Information (All Times Listed are Eastern)

Jacksonville at New England, 3:05 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter), Jay Feely (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Dan Fouts, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWwood1), 83 (Jacksonville), 82 (New England); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Jacksonville), 82 (New England)

Minnesota at Philadelphia, 6:40 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Chris Myers (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Minnesota), 82 (Philadelphia);| XM: 88 (WestWwood1), 83 (Minnesota), 82 (Philadelphia)

Sunday’s Officials
Jacksonville at New England, 3:05 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
Minnesota at Philadelphia, 6:40 p.m.: Ed Hochuli

Sunday Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)
Favorite           Spread      Underdog         O/U
NEW ENGLAND        –  9        Jacksonville     46
Minnesota          –  3        PHILADELPHIA     39

Sunday Injury Report

Jacksonville at New England, 3:05 p.m.

Jacksonville

QUESTIONABLE: S Tashaun Gipson (Foot)

New England

QUESTIONABLE: QB Tom Brady (Right Hand), T LaAdrian Waddle (Knee), DT Alan Branch (Knee), RB Michael Burkhead (Knee), RB Mike Gillslee (Knee)

Minnesota at Philadelphia, 6:40 p.m.

Minnesota

OUT: DT Shamar Stephen (Knee)

QUESTIONABLE: CB Mackensie Alexander (Rib), S Andrew Sendejo (Concussion), WR Adam Thielen (Back)

Philadelphia

QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (Hamstring)

Sunday Weather

Jacksonville at New England, 3:05 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 46 degrees
Minnesota at Philadelphia, 6:40 p.m.: Overcast and 46 degrees

Broadcast Information, Officials and Injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel

 

Saturday and Sunday Broadcast Information (All times listed are Eastern, Records are regular season)

ATLANTA (10-6) at Philadelphia (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: John Sadak, Tony Boselli, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Atlanta), 82 (Philadelphia); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Atlanta), 82 (Philadelphia)

Tennessee (9-7) at New England (13-3), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter), Jay Feely (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Tennessee), 82 (New England); XM: 88 (Westwood1), 83 (Tenneessee), 82 (New England)

Jacksonville (10-6) at Pittsburgh (13-3), 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Tom McCarthy, Ross Tucker, Steve Tasker; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Jacksonville), 82 (Pittsburgh); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (Jacksonville), 82 (Pittsburgh)

New Orleans (11-5) at Minnesota (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Sunday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Chris Myers (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Trent Green, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (New Orleans), 82 (Minnesota); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 83 (New Orleans), 82 (Minnesota)

Saturday and Sunday Officials
ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Bill Vinovich
Tennessee at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Ronald Torbert
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Brad Allen
New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:35 Sunday: Gene Steratore

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite          Spread     Underdog               O/U
Atlanta           –  3       PHILADELPHIA           41 1/2
NEW ENGLAND       – 13 1/2   Tennessee              48

Sunday’s Games
Favorite          Spread     Underdog               O/U
PITTSBURGH        –  7       Jacksonville           41
MINNESOTA         –  5       New Orleans            44 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. Saturday

ATLANTA – Atlanta reports no injuries

Philadelphia
QUESTIONABLE: LB Dannell Ellerbe (Hamstring), CB Sidney Jones (Hamstring)

Tennessee at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Tennessee
OUT: RB DeMarco Murray (Knee)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: DT Alan Branch (Knee), RB Michael Burkhead (Knee), LB Marquis Flowers (Illness), RB Mike Gillslee (Knee), DE Eric Lee (Ankle), RB James White (Ankle)

Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday

Jacksonville
QUESTIONABLE: LB Blair Brown (Ankle), WR Jaydon Mickens (Hamstring)

Pittsburgh
QUESTIONABLE: WR Antonio Brown (Calf)

New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:40 p.m. Sunday

New Orleans
OUT: WR Brandon Coleman (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Taysom Hill (Illness), LB Michael Mauti (Illness)

Minnesota
QUESTIONABLE: CB Terrance Newman (Foot)

Saturday and Sunday Weather
ATLANTA at Philadelphia, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Sunny and 31 degrees
Tennessee at New England, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Mostly clear and 24 degrees
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Sunny and 15 degrees
New Orleans at Minnesota, 4:35 p.m. Sunday: Game Indoors

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel

 

And then there were eight. The NFL heads into the Divisional Playoffs with a slate of four key games on tap.

Among the final eight are the Eagles and Jaguars, who both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. Half of the remaining eight clubs – Eagles, Vikings, Saints and Jaguars – finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year. And with the addition of the Titans, five of the final eight clubs are new teams in this year’s playoff field.

It’s round 2.

The second season of the 2017 NFL season (also known as the playoffs) gets underway in earnest as the four teams that got byes in the first round will be at home. New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota return to play after a week off and now they know who they will play and when.

It’s Divisional Playoff time!

Like we said before, it’s not like the regular season where you lose this week you play next week.

Win this week, you’re in the championship round.

Lose and your next game is next year.

When the 2017 season got underway, 32 teams had hopes and dreams of winning the Lombardi Trophy. Now we’re down to eight teams and when the dust settles Sunday in Minneapolis, we’ll be down to the Final Four.

There are NO do-overs. Mistakes kill.

Bringing your A game is important to the teams that are still in the hunt is a good idea. In fact, it’s a GREAT idea.

For Kansas City, the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo and Carolina, they’ll have an entire off season to second-guess themselves as will their fan base. Let’s not forget the 20 teams that didn’t make the playoff party at all. They’ll be playing the “what if” game as well.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: FROM “WORST TO FIRST”: Philadelphia and Jacksonville both advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after completing “worst-to-first” turnarounds this season. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

In the previous 14 seasons, four teams that went from “worst-to-first” in their divisions have advanced to the conference championship game and two earned Super Bowl berths – the 2003 Carolina Panthers (Super Bowl XXXVIII) and the 2009 New Orleans Saints, who won Super Bowl XLIV.

The teams to go from “worst-to-first” in their divisions and advance to at least the conference championship game since 2003:

SEASON – TEAM (RECORD/PRIOR SEASON RECORD, ADVANCED TO)
2003 – Carolina (11-5/7-9, Super Bowl XXXVIII)
2004 – ATLANTA (11-5/5-11, NFC Championship)
2006 – New Orleans (10-6/3-13, NFC Championship)
2009 – New Orleans (13-3/8-8, Won Super Bowl XLIV)
2017 – Jacksonville (10-6/3-13, ???)
2017 – Philadelphia (13-3/7-9, ???)

Five of the remaining eight clubs – the Eagles, Saints and Vikings in the NFC and the Jaguars and Titans in the AFC – missed the postseason in 2016, marking the fifth time since 1990 – and the first since 2000 – that five teams advanced to the Divisional Playoffs after missing the postseason in the previous year.

The seasons which had five teams advance to the Divisional Playoffs after missing the postseason in the previous season since 1990:

SEASON – TEAMS TO ADVANCE TO DIVISIONAL ROUND WHO MISSED PLAYOFFS IN PREVIOUS SEASON
1990 – 5 (Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles Raiders, Miami, Washington)
1992 – 5 (Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco)
1999 – 5 (Indianapolis, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Washington)
2000 – 5 (Baltimore, New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland, Philadelphia)
2017 – 5 (Jacksonville, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Tennessee)

TOP BILLING: New England’s Bill Belichick has appeared in 36 postseason games as a head coach and has 26 career playoff wins, the most wins all-time by a head coach.

Belichick, who coaches against Tennessee on Saturday night, will surpass Pro Football Hall of Famers Tom Landry (36) and Don Shula (36) for the most postseason games as a head coach in league history.

The most postseason games as a head coach in NFL history:

HEAD COACH – TEAMS (PLAYOFF GAMES)
Bill Belichick – Cleveland and New England (36)
Tom Landry – Dallas (36)^
Don Shula – Baltimore Colts and Mimai (36)^
Joe Gibbs – Washington (24)^
Mike Holmgren – Green Bay and Seattle (24)
Chuck Noll – Pittsburgh (24)^
Andy Reid – Philadelphia and Kansas City (24)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

WHEN IT COUNTS: New England quarterback Tom Brady has 25 career postseason victories, the most playoff wins all-time by a starting quarterback, while Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is tied for sixth with 13 career postseason wins.

Roethlisberger, who plays against Jacksonville on Sunday, can tie Pro Football Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and John Elway and Peyton Manning for the third-most playoff victories by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Brady can also extend his NFL record on Saturday.

The starting quarterbacks with the most career playoff wins in NFL history:

QUARTERBACK – TEAMS (PLAYOFF WINS)
Tom Brady – New England (25)
Joe Montana – San Francisco and Kansas City (16)^
Terry Bradshaw – Pittsburgh (14)^
John Elway – Denver (14)^
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (14)
Brett Favre – Green Bay and Minnesota (13)^
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh (13)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: New England’s Tom Brady (40 years, 163 days old on Saturday) and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota (24 years, 75 days old) will face off in the Divisional Playoffs on Saturday.

Brady and Mariota have an age difference of 16 years and 88 days, the largest age difference between opposing starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history. ​

The largest age differences between opposing starting quarterbacks in a postseason game:

DATE – OLDEST (TEAM)/YOUNGEST (TEAM)(AGE DIFFERENCE; RESULT)
January 13, 2018 – Tom Brady (New England)/Marcus Mariota (Tennessee)(16 years, 88 days; ???)
December 28, 1991 – Steve DeBerg (Kansas City)/Todd Marinovich (Los Angeles Raiders)(15 years, 166 days; Kansas City, 10-6)
December 31, 1972 – Earl Morrall (Miami)/Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburgh)(14 years, 108 days; Miami, 21-17)^
January 3, 2009 – Kurt Warner (Arizona)/Matt Ryan (Atlanta)(13 years, 329 days; Arizona, 30-24)^
December 24, 1972 – Earl Morrall (Miami)/Mike Phipps (Cleveland)(13 years, 186 days; Miami, 20-14)
^Morrall, Bradshaw and Warners are Pro Football Hall of Famers

MATTY ICE IN THE POSTSEASON: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 218 yards and a touchdown for a 101.8 passer rating in the Falcons’ 26-13 win at the Los Angeles Rams on Wild Card Weekend.

Ryan, who plays at Philadelphia on Saturday, has recorded a passer rating of at least 100 in five consecutive postseason games, tied for the second-longest streak in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Joe Montana (eight) has a longer such streak.

The most consecutive postseason games with a 100+ passer rating:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS; CONSECUTIVE PLAYOFF GAMES WITH 100+ RATING)
Joe Montana – San Francisco (1988-1990; 8)^
Matt Ryan – ATLANTA (2012, 2016-17; 5)*
Joe Flacco – Baltimore (2012, 2014; 5)
Troy Aikman – Dallas (1992-93; 5)^
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Ryan has completed at least 70 percent of his passes in five consecutive postseason games and can tie Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman (six) for the longest streak in postseason annals.

The most consecutive postseason games with a 70+ completion percentage:

PLAYER – TEAM (SEASONS; CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH 70+ COMPLETION PERCENTAGE)
Troy Aikman – Dallas (1992-94; 6)^
Matt Ryan – Atlanta (2012, 2016-17; 5)*
Warren Moon – Houston Oilers (1991-93; 4)^
Joe Montana – San Francisco (1989-1990; 4)^
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

BIG-GAME BREES: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 376 yards and two touchdowns for a 115.2 passer rating in the Saints’ 31-26 Wild Card Weekend win over Carolina.

Brees, who plays at Minnesota on Sunday, has thrown for at least 375 yards in four career postseason games and can tie Peyton Manning (five) for the most such games in NFL history.

The players with the most career postseason games with at least 375 passing yards:

PLAYER – TEAMS (PLAYOFF GAMES WITH 375+ PASS YARDS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (5)
Drew Brees – New Orleans (4)
Kurt Warner – St. Louis, Arizona (4)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

HUSTLING HENRY: Tennessee running back DERRICK HENRY rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown in the Titans’ 22-21 win at Kansas City on Wild Card Weekend. Henry, who will appear in his second career postseason game on Saturday, can join some elite company with another strong performance.

The players with the most rushing yards in their first two postseason games:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS; RUSHING YARDS)
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh (2016; 337)
Arian Foster, Houston (2011; 285)
Duane Thomas, Dallas (1970; 278)
Terrell Davis, Denver (1996-97; 275)^
Eddie George, Tennessee (1999; 268)
Derrick Henry, Tennessee (2017; 156)*
*Entering second game
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

As was the case last week, every game this week and throughout the playoffs and the Super Bowl are automatically “DRILL WORTHY!” (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 57 last June and dates a 42-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?”

Of the four matchups this weekend, two are rematches from the 2017 regular season (New Orleans at Minnesota – Week 1; Jacksonville at Pittsburgh – Week 5).

As for last week… 2-2 wasn’t great but it was better than nothing and for the season, we’re 156-105. Four games are in the books, four more are on the docket for this weekend. Here are the Saturday and Sunday picks for Divisional Playoff weekend.

ATLANTA (10-6) at Philadelphia (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC. The 6th-seeded Falcons travel to the City of Brotherly Love to open the second round of the playoffs as they take on the top-seeded Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

Atlanta enters the contest with a 26-13 first round win over the Los Angeles Rams last Saturday night on the West Coast. The defending NFC champs used a pair of Matt Bryant field goals and a 3-yard run by DaVonta Freeman to take an early lead before the Rams stormed back in the second quarter as WR Cooper Kupp and QB Jarred Goff connected on a 14-yard strike and K Scott Ficken connected on a 35-yard field goal with 3 seconds left before intermission.

Leading 13-10 at the half, the Falcons proceeded to keep Los Angeles in check, holding the Rams to a fourth-quarter field goal by Ficken, using two more Bryant field goals and an 8-yard TD strike from Matt Ryan to WR Julio Jones to seal Los Angeles’ fate. Atlanta outrushed the Rams 124-115, with Rams RB Todd Gurley leading all rushers with 101 yards on 14 carries. Ryan threw for 218 for Atlanta, while Goff threw for 259 for Los Angeles (each man was sacked three times but did not throw an interception). Atlanta was 5 of 15 on third down but found success on fourth down, going 1 of 1 and kept the ball for 37:35, while the Rams were 5 of 14 and 1 of 3 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 22:25.

The Eagles limp into the post-season after their 6-0 loss to Dallas to close out the regular season. The two teams went scoreless for the first 45 minutes of action before Dallas’ Brice Butler and QB Dak Prescott connected on a 20-yard TD pass with 12:19 left in regulation. Philadelphia had one last chance to either tie things up or take the win at home but could do nothing to make that a possibilty. Dallas, who went 5 of 16 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, outrushed the Eagles, who had already won the NFC East title, 129-70, as Ezekiel Elliott led all rushers with 103 yards. As for the Eagles, they were 2 of 11 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down tries in the loss in the city of Brotherly Love. Dallas ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:05, while the Eagles kept the pigskin for 29:55.

Atlanta had two players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: wide receiver Julio Jones and center Alex Mack, while the Eagles tied a franchise record with 13 wins (2004) and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the fourth time since 2002  and had six players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: guard Brandon Brooks, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, tight end Zach Ertz, safety Malcom Jenkins, tackle Lane Johnson and quarterback Carson Wentz.

As far as regular season games go, the Eagles lead the series 16-13-1 and have outscored Atlanta 652-562. In the post-season, the Eagles lead that series 2-1, outscoring Atlanta 60-50. Philly’s last regular season win over Atlanta came in 2016 in the City of Brotherly Love by a final of 24-16, while Atlanta’s last win in regular season action came in 2015 in the Big Peach by a 26-24 final.

Philly’s last win in the post-season against Atlanta came in 2004, as they were 27-10 winners in the NFC Championship Game in the City of Brotherly Love, while Atlanta’s last post-season win against Philly came in the Big Peach in 1978 at Fulton County Stadium by a 14-13 final in the Wild Card Round.

In that week 10 contest, the Eagles led 7-6 at the intermission before they pulled away from Atlanta in the second half. Atlanta led briefly at 15-13 with 13:15 left in the contest when Ryan and Taylor Gabriel connected on a 76-yard TD pass before the Eagles took the lead back for keeps when RB Ryan Matthews picked up his second TD and scored on a 5-yard run with 6:49 left. The Eagles were then successful on their two-point try and added a Caleb Sturgis field goal to take the win. Philadelphia outrushed Atlanta 208-48 and Matthews led all rushers with 109 yards in the contest. Ryan threw for 267 yards for Atlanta, while Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz threw for 231 yards (both were sacked twice and Ryan threw an interception). Atlanta on third down went 2 of 11 and held the ball for 21:50, while the Eagles ruled the clock and kept the ball for 38:10, going 5 of 14 on third down (both clubs were 0 of 1 on fourth down).

Philadelphia covered the 1-point spread in the week 10 matchup, winning by 8 but both clubs missed the 50 over/under, scoring only 40 points. This time around, the oddsmakers like the Falcons and they are favored by 3, with the over/under at 41 1/2. There’s a lot at stake here. The Falcons would like to play their next game in a dome, even if it’s not theirs, while the Eagles would like to stay in the great outdoors. Atlanta takes this one but expect the Eagles to make it closer than the 2 1/2.

Tennessee (9-7) at New England (13-3), 8:15 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Tennessee makes their way to Foxboro for a AFC Divisonal contest with the defending Super Bowl champions at Gillette Stadium.

The Titans scored 19 second half points unchallenged, erasing a 21-3 deficit at Arrowhead to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in the AFC Wild Card game in the Show-Me State. Kansas City opened the scoring in the contest in the first quarter when rookie RB Kareem Hunt scored on a 1-yard run with 7:25 left in the first, then added a second TD in the quarter when TE Travis Kelce and QB Alex Smith connected on a 13-yard TD strike.

Tennessee ended Kansas City’s bid for a shutout when K Ryan Succop connected on a 49-yard field goal with 1:55 left before halftime. Trailing 17-3 at the intermission, things started to go the Titans’ way in the final 30 minutes when Marcus Mariota attempted a pass on third down deep in Chiefs’ territory that was blocked by Derrell Revis. The ball then fell into Mariota’s hands and he would run it back to the end zone for a 6-yard TD pass to himself. Tennessee would strike again with 14:08 left to play when Derrick Henry scored on a 35-yard TD run but the Titans missed the two-point conversion and then take the lead for good with 6:06 left when Mariota threw a TD pass to someone other than himself when he and WR Eric Decker connected on a 22-yard toss. Tennessee then proceeded to hold off the Chiefs and stopped a late Kansas City rally that would have given the home team the win. Mariota is the only player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass to himself in a postseason game.

Henry ran for 156 yards to lead all rushers as the Titans outrushed Kansas City 202-69, sacking Smith (264 yards) four times, while Mariota threw for 205 yards for the road win. Tennessee went 8 of 13 on third down tries at Arrowhead Stadium, keeping the ball for 32:28, while the Chiefs, who held the ball for 27:32, went 4 of 11 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

The defending champions held the New York Jets to a pair of field goals in Foxboro as they came away 26-6 winners at Gillette Stadium to close out the regular season. New England led 21-3 at the break and held GangGreen in check in the final 30 minutes of play. New England outrushed the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! 147-40 and sacked Bryce Petty (232 yards) four times, including a sack for a safety, while Tom Brady threw for 190 yards with a pair of TDs. New England was 4 of 15 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 34:49, while the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were a dismal 0 of 12 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the pigskin for 25:11.

The Pats in regular season play lead the series 23-15-1, outscoring Tennessee 993-778, which includes contests that were played when the Titans were in Houston and known as the Oilers and the Patriots played their home games at Fenway Park. Their last regular season meeting took place in 2015 in Foxboro and the Patriots were 33-16 winners, while Tennessee’s last regular season win came in the Music City in 2002 by a final of 24-7 at Nissan Stadium.

In the post-season, the series is even at 1-1 and the Titans have outscored New England 45-31. Both meetings took place in Foxboro and both were AFC Divisional Playoff contests. The Pats took a 17-14 win in 2003, while the Titans were 31-14 winners in 1978, when they were known as the Houston Oilers.

Tennessee had three players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, punter Brett Kern and tackle Taylor Lewan. The Patriots had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: Brady, fullback James Develin, tight end Rob Gronkowski and special teamer Matthew Slater.

Vegas likes the Patriots in this one, making them 13 1/2 point favorites with a 48 over/under. The 47 makes sense. The 13 1/2 is a little steep, even though this is a playoff game. Tennessee’s a lot better than people think they are but the Pats right now are kings of the NFL mountain. The Titans could make it closer than 13 1/2 but New England comes through in Foxboro to take the win.

Jacksonville (10-6) at Pittsburgh (13-3), 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS. They meet again in the Steel City. Jacksonville and Pittsburgh square off at Heinz Field in a week five rematch in Sunday’s AFC Divisonal Playoff action.

The Jaguars survived a scare from Buffalo last Sunday at EverBank Field, taking a 10-3 win over the Bills in the Sunshine State in the AFC Wild Card round. After a scoreless first quarter, the second quarter was a battle of field goals as Buffalo opened the scoring with a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Hauschka with 1:49 left before the half. Jacksonville then mounted their own drive, using a 6-play, 27-yard drive that used only 38 second of clock and the legs of starting QB Blake Bortles, who had two runs of 10 yards or more in that drive, to tie things up on a 44 yard field goal by Josh Lambo with two seconds left.

Taking the 3-3 tie into the locker room, the Jaguars took the lead for keeps with 42 seconds left in the third when Bortles and TE Ben Koyack connected on a 1-yard TD pass for the 10-3 lead. Things would stay that way into the fourth quarter and Buffalo threatened twice in the period to tie things up but could do nothing to change things and the Jaguars held off a final Bills’ rally when first they knocked QB Tyrod Taylor out of the contest with a head injury, which forced them to use backup QB Nathan Peterman for the final drive. Jacksonville then sealed Buffalo’s fate with 26 seconds left when CB Jalen Ramsey picked Peterman off. Jacksonville then ran out the clock and took the win at home.

Jacksonville outrushed Buffalo 155-130 and Bortles accounted for 88 of those yards to lead all rushers, while throwing for 87 yards passing. Taylor threw for 134 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception, while LeSean McCoy led Buffalo with 75 yards on the ground. Jacksonville was 2 of 12 on third down and held the ball for 27:23, while the Bills ruled the clock and held the pigskin for 32:37, going 7 of 18 on third down tries (both clubs were 1 of 1 on fourth down).

Pittsburgh comes back to action after they survived a 28-24 scare from Cleveland in the regular season finale for both clubs. The Steelers led 21-14 at the intermission at Heinz Field before Cleveland stormed back in the third quarter to make the contest closer than Steeler fans wanted, outscoring Pittsburgh 10-7 in the quarter (the teams played a scoreless fourth quarter). Pittsburgh outrushed Cleveland 124-102, with Steelers RB Sean Ridley leading everyone with 80 yards and a TD, while Landry Jones, who took over for Ben Roethlisberger, threw for 239 yards and a TD to rookie WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steeler defense sacked DeShone Kizer (314 yards, 2 TDs) six times and picked him off once. Pittsburgh went 3 of 10 on third down tries, 0 of 2 on fourth down in snowy Pittsburgh (game time temp? 11 degrees with a wind chill of 5) and kept the ball for 29:05, while the Browns, who went 0 for the 2017 campaign, went 7 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:55.

The Jaguars had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, defensive end Calais Campbell and defensive tackle Malik Jackson. The Steelers had an NFL-best eight players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: running back Le’Veon Bell, kicker Chris Boswell, wide receiver Brown, guard David de Castro, center Maurice Pouncey, Roethlisberger, linebacker Ryan Shazier and tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

In the post-season, they’ve met only once and the Jaguars won that contest, coming away 31-29 winners in the 2007 AFC Wild Card Game at Heinz Field.

Jacksonville and Pittsburgh met in week five in Pittsburgh and the Jaguars won 30-9. Jacksonville led 7-6 at halftime, then outscored the Steelers 23-3 in the final 30 minutes of play. Fournette ran for 181 yards and a pair of TDs, Jaguars outrushed Pittsburgh 231-70, picked off Roethlisberger (312 yards, 2 sacks) five times. Jacksonville was 6 of 12 on third down and kept the ball for 28:52, while the Steelers held the pigskin for 31:08, going 7 of 15 on third down conversions.

Although Jacksonville was an 8 1/2 point underdog in the week five contest in the Steel City, they covered the spread, winning by 21. Both clubs combined for 39 points, missing the 44 over/under by 5. In the revenge match, the Steelrs are once again favored, this time by 7 and the over/under’s 41. For Pittsburgh, it’s revenge; for Jacksonville, it’s a chance to prove that the first time was not a fluke. Revenge wins out. Steelers advance in the Steel City and covers the 7.

New Orleans (11-5) at Minnesota (13-3), 4:35 p.m. Sunday on FOX. Divisional weekend closes out in the Land of 10,000 Lakes as the Minnesota Vikings welcome the New Orleans Saints to US Bank Stadium.

The Saints survived a last-second scare from Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at home last Sunday in an NFC South rematch, taking a 31-26 win in the Big Easy. New Orleans took a 21-9 lead with them to the break before the Panthers roared back in the final 30 minutes of action, making it a 6-point contest with 4:09 left in regulation when Newton and TE Collin MCCaffery connected on a 58-yard TD pass. The Saints then got the ball back and got as far as Carolina’s 47 yard line before Drew Brees (349 yards, TD) was picked off by S Matt Adams, who brought the ball back to their 31 yard line. Carolina then proceeded to move the ball and got as close as the Saints’ 21 yard line, when Newton (349 yards, four sacks) was called for intentional ground, much to the anger and chagrin of Panther fans. Newton then threw an interception that was intended for WR Darren Funches and then ended Carolina’s hopes of avenging the two earlier losses when Newton was sacked by Vonn Bell. New Orleans ran out the clock and took the win at home.

Carolina actually outrushed New Orleans 107-51 and went 8 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down, while ruling the clock and keeping the ball for 33:49. The Saints on third down? 2 of 8. Fourth down? They were 0 of 1 and kept the ball for 26:11.

Minnesota returns from their bye week, shutting down Chicago 23-10 in the NFC North season finale. Minnesota led Da Bears 16-3 at the break and never looked back, sacking Mitch Trubisky (178 yards) in the end zone for a safety late in the second quarter. Vikings RB Latavius Murray set the tone in the contest, scoring a pair of TDs in the first half and WR Stefon Diggs chipped in with a catch from Case Keenum to send Vikings fans home happy. Minnesota outrushed Chicago 147-30 and Murray led all rushers with 111 yards and the two TDs on the ground, while Keenum threw for 189 yards in the win. The Vikings were 5 of 13 on third down and held on to the ball for 35:55, while Da Bears were a dismal 1 of 12 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 24:05.

New Orleans had six players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: Brees, running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, defensive end Cameron Jordan, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and wide receiver Thomas. The Vikings had four players selected to the 2018 Pro Bowl: linebacker Anthony Barr, defensive end Everson Griffen, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Adam Thielen.

They met in week one in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the Vikings were 29-19 winners at US Bank Stadium. Minnesota led 16-6 at the half and were never threatened, using four Kai Horbath field goals for the win. Minnesota outrushed New Orleans 129-60 in the contest that saw Adrian Peterson return to face his old team (Peterson was held to 18 yards rushing and traded to Arizona the following week), while rookie RB Dalvin Cook led all rushers with 127 yards, while Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three TDs, two to Diggs (Brees threw for 291 yards and a TD; both men were sacked once and neither threw an interception). The Vikings were 9 of 14 on third down tries in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and kept the ball for 31:16, while New Orleans kept the ball for 28:44, going 4 of 11 on third down (neither club had a fourth down try).

As far as the post season goes… they’ve met three times and the Vikings hold a 2-1 lead there, outscoring the Saints 106-57. The last time they met in post-season was in 2009 in the Big Easy in the NFC Championship Game, which was later known as “Bountygate” and the Saints were 31-28 overtime winners; as for Minnesota, their last playoff win over New Orleans came in the Twin Cities in 2000 in the NFC Divisional Playoffs by a final of 34-16.

Minnesota covered the 3-point spread in the Monday night opener with the 10-point win and the two teams covered the 48 over/under exactly (the Vikings were favored in that contest). In the last game of Divisional Weekend, the oddsmakers like the Vikings again, this time as 5 point favorites at US Bank Stadium and the over/under this time around is 46 1/2. Whoever wins this game will have the upper hand toward Super Bowl LII; as for the loser, they will have an entire year to think about what happened and what they could have done to prevent it. Vikings cover the 3 1/2 at home and wins in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Sunday Broadcast Information (All times listed are Eastern)

Carolina at ATLANTA, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 113 (Carolina), 82 (Atlanta); XM: 389 (Carolina), 82 (Atlanta)

Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 132 (Houston, 157 (Indianpolis); XM: 382 (Houston), 226 (Indianpois)

New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 133 (New York Jets), 82 (New England); XM: 380 (New York Jets), 82 (New England)

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta; SIRIUS: 119 (Cleveland), 93 (Pittsburgh); XM: 384 (Cleveland), 225 (Pittsburgh)

Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 112 (Green Bay), 137 (Detroit); XM: 381 (Green Bay), 227 (Detroit)

Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 121 (Chicago), 83 (Minnesota); XM: 386 (Chicago), 83 (Minnesota)

Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714: Sam Rosen, Matt Millen, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Washington), 146 (New York Giants); XM: 383 (Washington), 228 (New York Giants)

Dallas at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 135 (Dallas), 81 (Philadelphia); XM: 385 (Dallas), 81 (Philadelphia)

Cincinnati at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Cincinnati), 108 (Baltimore); XM: 383 (Cincinnati), 229 (Baltimore)

Buffalo at Miami, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton; SIRIUS: 133 (Buffalo), 137 (Miami); XM: 380 (Buffalo), 227 (Miami)

Jacksonville at Tennessee, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 135 (Jacksonville), 81 (Tennessee); XM: 385 (Jacksonville), 81 (Tennessee)

New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager (Field reporter)
SIRIUS: 119 (New Orleans), 93 (Tampa Bay); XM: 384 (New Orleans), 225 (Tampa Bay)

Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717: Beth Mowins, Jay Feely; SIRIUS: 112 (Kansas City), 157 (Denver); XM: 381 (Kansas City), 226 (Denver)

Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 718: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon; SIRIUS: 132 (Oakland), 136 (Los Angeles Chargers); XM: 382 (Oakland), 231 (Los Angeles Chargers)

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 719: Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Jenny Taft (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 138 (San Francisco), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 387 (San Francsico), 83 (Los Angeles Rams)

Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 720: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 145 (Arizona), 98 (Seattle); XM: 388 (Arizona), 230 (Seattle)

Sunday Officials
Carolina at ATLANTA, 4:25 p.m.: Bill Vinovich
Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Gene Steratore
New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m.: Brad Allen
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Pete Morelli
Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m.: Craig Wrolstad
Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m.: John Hussey
Dallas at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.: John Parry
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.: Ronald Torbert
Buffalo at Miami, 4:25 p.m.: Jeff Triplette
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 4:25 p.m.: Tony Corrente
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Walt Anderson
Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.: Ed Hochuli
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: Terry McAulay
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.: Walt Coleman

Sunday Odds (Home teams in CAPS)

Sunday’s Games
Favorite               Spread     Underdog          O/U
ATLANTA                –  3 1/2   Carolina          46
INDIANAPOLIS           –  3 1/2   Houston           41
NEW ENGLAND            – 15       New York Jets     45
PITTSBURGH             – 13       Cleveland         39 1/2
DETROIT                –  7       Green Bay         43
MINNESOTA              – 11       Chicago           39 1/2
Washington             –  3 1/2   NEW YORK GIANTS   38
TENNESSEE              –  5 1/2   Jacksonville      41
Buffalo                –  3       MIAMI             42 1/2
BALTIMORE              –  9 1/2   Cincinnati        40 1/2
Dallas                 –  2 1/2   PHILADELPHIA      41
New Orleans            –  7       TAMPA BAY         50 1/2
DENVER                 –  3 1/2   Kansas City       38
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS   –  7 1/2   Oakland           43 1/2
LOS ANGELES RAMS       –  4 1/2   San Francsico     45 1/2
SEATTLE                –  8       Arizona           38 1/2

Sunday Injury Report

Carolina at ATLANTA, 4:25 p.m.

Carolina
QUESTIONABLE: S Kurtis Coleman (Ankle), G Trai Turner (Concussion)

ATLANTA
OUT: Levine Toilolo (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: C Alex Mack (Calf)

Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.

Green Bay
OUT: WR Davante Adams (Concussion), G Jahri Evans (Knee), RB Aaron Jones (Knee), WR Jordy Nelson (Shoulder), LB Nicholas Perry (Ankle), TE Richard Rodgers (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Geronimo Allison (Illness), LB William Matthews (Hamstring) CB Damarious Randall (Knee)

Detroit
OUT: CB Nevin Lawson (Concussion)

Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: T Bobby Massie (Knee), G Josh Sitton (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: S DeAndre Houston-Carson (Back), TE Adam Shaheen (Chest)

Minnesota
OUT: CB Tramaine Brock (Foot), C Patrick Elflein (Shoulder), LS Kevin McDermott (Shoulder), DT Shamar Stephen (Ankle)

New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m.

New York Jets
OUT: T Brandon Shell (Concussion)
DOUBTFUL: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Matt Forte (Knee)

New England
OUT: DT Alan Branch (Knee), RB Michael Burkhead (Knee), RB Mike Gillislee (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Chris Hogan (Shoulder), DE Eric Lee (Ankle), S Devin McCourty (Shoulder), WR Matt Slater (Hamstring), LB Kyle Van Noy (Calf), T LaAdrian Waddle (Ankle), RB James White (Ankle)

Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m.

Washington
OUT: LB Orlando Anderson (Knee), LB Zach Brown (Illness), DT Evander Hood (Elbow)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Patrick Kerrigan (Calf), LB Martrell Spaight (Illness), WR Robert Davis (Concussion), WR Maurice Harris (Back), G Kyle Kalis (Ankle), TE Terrell McClain (Toe)

New York Giants
OUT: TE Evan Engram (Rib), WR Tavarres King (Concussion), WR Sterling Shepard (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Finger), T Ereck Flowers (Groin), T Bobby Hart (Ankle)

Dallas at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Dallas
OUT: DE David Irving (Concussion), DE Benson Mayowa (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Cole Beasley (Illness), RB Rob Smith (Back), DT Richard Ash (Shoulder), T La’el Collins (Back)

Philadelphia
OUT: DE Brandon Graham (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Jalen Mills (Ankle)

Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.

Cleveland
OUT: RB Dan Vitale (Groin)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun (Knee), S Derron Smith (Hip), CB Jamar Taylor (Foot)

Pittsburgh
OUT: WR Antonio Brown (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: C LaShawn Pouncey (Hip)

Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.

Houston
OUT: G Jeffery Allen (Concussion), WR DeAndre Hopkins (Calf), RB Jordan Todman (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: T Kendall Lamm (Concussion), LB LaTroy Lewis (Shoulder)

Indianapolis
OUT: T Denzelle Good (Knee), DT Johnathan Hankins (Ankle), TE Jason Vander Lann (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Donte Moncrief (Ankle)

Cincinnati at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.

Cincinnati
OUT: T Cedric Ogbuehi (Shoulder)
DOUBTFUL: LB Vontaze Burfict (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: CB William Jackson (Knee), RB Joe Mixon (Ankle)

Baltimore
DOUBTFUL: WR Jeremy Maclin (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Mike Wallace (Knee), G Jermaine Eluemunor (Shoulder), T Austin Howard (Knee), DT Patrick Ricard (Neck), DT Brandon Williams (Back)

Buffalo at Miami, 4:25 p.m.

Buffalo
OUT: CB Shareece Wright (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: G Ryan Groy (Illness), WR Deonte Thompson (Back)

Miami
DOUBTFUL: T Laremy Tunsil (Ankle), QB Matt Moore (Foot), RB Damien Williams (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: S Michael Thomas (Not Injury Related), LB Neville Hewitt (Hamstring), WR DeVante Parker (Ankle), CB Alterraun Verner (Hamstring), DE Derek Wake (Illness), TE MarQueis Gray (Hip), DE Charles Harris (Thigh), S Tim McDonald (Shoulder)

New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m.

New Orleans
OUT: T Terron Armstead (Thigh), DE Collins Hendrickson (Ankle), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (Concussion)

Tampa Bay
DOUBTFUL: LB Devante Bond (Ankle), DE Robert Ayers (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Rod Godwin (Ankle), DE Ryan Russell (Shoulder), TE Cameron Brate (Hip), WR DeSean Jackson (Ankle)

Jacksonville at Tennessee, 4:25 p.m.

Jacksonville
OUT: WR Marqise Lee (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Abry Jones (Back), LB Blair Brown (Concussion), T Cameron Robinson (Abdomen)

Tennessee
OUT: RB DeMarco Murray (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Logan Ryan (Ankle)

Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 p.m.

Kansas City
DOUBTFUL: DT Bennie Logan (Knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Kenneth Acker (Illness), LB Tamba Hali (Knee), DE Rakeem Nunez-Roches (Illness), RB Charcandrick West (Illness), RB Akeem Hunt (Shoulder), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (Shoulder)

Denver
OUT: DE Zachariah Kerr (Ankle), WR Cody Latimer (Thigh), WR Emmanuel Sanders (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: T Donald Stephenson (Hand)

Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.

Oakland
OUT: DT Treyvon Hester (Ankle)
DOUBTFUL: T Vadal Alexander (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: CB David Amerson (Foot), CB Dexter McDonald (Knee)

Los Angeles Chargers
QUESTIONABLE: RB Melvin Gordon (Ankle), DT Corey Liuget (Knee), T Russell Okung (Groin), LB Denzel Perryman (Hamstring)

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.

San Francisco – San Francisco reported no injuries

Los Angeles Rams
DOUBTFUL: LB Mark Barron (Achilles)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Cooper Kupp (Knee)

Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Arizona
QUESTIONABLE: LB Joshua Bynes (Ankle), TE Troy Niklas (Ankle), RB Elijhaa Penny (Hand), G Earl Watford (Ankle), RB Kerwynn Williams (Quadricep)

Seattle
OUT: LB Donell Alexander (Concussion), DT Nazar Jones (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: G Luke Joeckel (Foot), LB Bobby Wagner (Hamstring), TE Luke Wilson (Ankle)

Sunday Weather
Carolina at ATLANTA, 4:25 p.m.: Game indoors
Houston at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 14 degrees
Cleveland at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.: Cloudy and 15 degrees
Green Bay at Detroit, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Chicago at Minnesota, 1 p.m.: Game indoors
Washington at New York Giants, 1 p.m.: Sunny and 18 degrees
Dallas at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 20 degrees
Cincinnati at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 23 degrees
Buffalo at Miami, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 72 degrees
Jacksonville at Tennessee, 4:25 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 25 degrees
New Orleans at Tampa Bay, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 69 degrees
Kansas City at Denver, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 24 degrees
Oakland at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 67 degrees
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 67 degrees
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 41 degrees

Broadcast information, officials and injury report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel

 

The end is near.

The 2017 NFL regular season comes to an end and for those teams that will not be in the post-season, it’s a chance to regroup, evaluate where they are as a team, where they need to be and the talent that they have on the field and on their coaching staffs. This coming Sunday could be a chance to ruin playoff chances for those teams that still have a shot.

For those that are moving on, their journey starts Janaury 6th with the AFC and NFC Wild Card games as they march to Minneapolis and Super Bowl LII on February 4th. For those 12 teams, it’s their second season and things are a little different.

Win. Advance.

Lose. Kickoff is next year.

It’s a concept that is so easy even a five-year old could figure it out.

SEVEN FROM SUNDAY IN WEEK 16: New England has already won the AFC East and defeated Buffalo 37-16, secured a first-round bye with Sunday’s win combined with Jacksonville’s loss at San Francisco.

The Los Angeles Rams, who defeated Tennessee 27-23 in Nashville, clinched the NFC West division title for the first time since 2003.

Kansas City, who knocked off Miami 29-13 at Arrowhead, secured the AFC West division title for the second consecutive season.

Jacksonvile, who had already clinched a playoff berth, locked up the AFC South division title with Tennessee’s loss to the Rams. It marks Jacksonville’s first division title since 1999 (AFC Central).

New Orleans, who defeated Atlanta 23-13 and the Carolina, who knocked off Tampa Bay 22-19, both clinched a playoff berth.

Philadelphia, who defeated Oakland Monday night, have already won the NFC East and secured a first-round bye and earned themselves home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Pittsburgh defeated Houston Monday afternoon, clinched a first-round bye with the win. The Steelers have have already won the AFC North division title.

New England improved to 12-3 with today’s win over Buffalo. The Patriots have won at least 12 games in eight consecutive seasons (2010-17), surpassing the 2003-09 Indianapolis Colts for the longest such streak in NFL history.

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley had 118 rushing yards, 158 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the Rams’ win at Tennessee. Gurley is the third player in NFL history to have at least 100 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Ollie Matson (1954) and Herschel Walker (1986).

Gurley, who has 2,093 scrimmage yards, 13 rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns this season, is the third different player in NFL history to have at least 2,000 scrimmage yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and more than five touchdown catches in a single season. The other two players to accomplish the feat are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: O.J. Simpson (1975) and Marshall Faulk (2000 and 2001).

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 239 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ win over Atlanta. Brees has 70,200 career passing yards and joined Peyton Manning (71,940) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Farve (71,838) as the only players in NFL history to reach 70,000 passing yards. Brees reached the milestone in his 248th career game and is the fastest in league history to accomplish the feat.

Brees, who has 4,089 passing yards this season, reached 4,000 passing yards for a 12th consecutive season, extending his NFL record.

Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce, wide receiver Tyreek Hill had 109 receiving yards and rookie running back Kareem Hunt rushed for a score in the Chiefs’ win against Miami.

The Chiefs are the second team in NFL history with a 4,000-yard passer (Smith, 4,042), 1,000-yard rusher (Hunt, 1,292) and both a wide receiver (Hill, 1,183) and tight end (Kelce, 1,038) with at least 1,000 receiving yards each in a single season.

The 1981 San Diego Chargers – with Pro Football Hall of Famers Dan Fouts (4,802 passing yards), Charlie Joiner (1,188 receiving yards) and Kellen Winslow (1,075 receiving yards) and Chuck Muncie (1,144 rushing yards) – are the only other team to accomplish the feat.

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 23-0 win against the New York Giants in Glendale. This season, Fitzgerald has 101 catches for 1,101 yards and six touchdowns.

Fitzgerald has five seasons with at least 100 catches, tied for the second-most in NFL history. Only Brandon Marshall (six) has more such seasons.

Fitzgerald has nine seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards, tied for the third-most in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (14) and Randy Moss (10) have more such seasons.

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen had five catches for 63 yards and added an interception in the team’s 14-7 win at the New York Jets. Allen, who has 93 catches for 1,260 yards this season, is the first player in NFL history to record at least 90 catches and an interception in the same season. He is also the third player in NFL history to have at least 1,000 receiving yards and an interception in the same season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Hutson (1942) and Randy Moss (2009).

THE WEEK THAT WAS WEEK 16: TERRIFIC TURNAROUNDS: Jacksonville clinched the AFC South division title and joined the Philadelphia (NFC East, home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs) as teams to go from “worst-to-first” this season. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

If Carolina, who has already clinched a playoff berth, wins the NFC South, 2017 would tie the 2005 and 2006 seasons for the most such “worst-to-first” clubs in NFL history.

Carolina (playoff berth), the Los Angeles Rams (NFC West), Minnesota (NFC North) and New Orleans (playoff berth) have clinched at least a playoff berth. All four teams finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year and missed the postseason.

Entering Week 17, five of the eight divisions have a team either in or tied for first place that finished in third or fourth place in the division last season.

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. This season, six teams – Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans and Philadelphia – have all qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason last year.

This weekend, four clubs – Baltimore, Buffalo, the Los Angeles Changers and Tennessee – are vying for the final two playoff spots in the AFC. In total, eight teams will clinch a playoff spot after not qualifying for the postseason in 2016, tied with the 2003 season for the most such teams since 1990.

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 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 – 6 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia)*

*Two of Baltimore, Buffalo, Los Angeles Chargers & Tennessee will qualify for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2016

GURLEY DOES IT ALL: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley totaled a career-high 276 scrimmage yards (158 receiving yards, 118 rushing yards) and had two touchdown receptions in the team’s 27-23 win over Tennessee in Week 16.

Gurley is the third player in NFL history to have at least 100 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards in a single game, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Ollie Matson (November 28, 1954) and Herschel Walker (December 14, 1986).

The players with at least 100 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards in a single game in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATE; RUSHING YARDS/RECEIVING YARDS)
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (December 24, 2017; 118/158)
Herschel Walker, Dallas (December 14, 1986; 122/170)
Ollie Matson, Chicago Cardinals (November 28, 1954; 115/161)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Gurley, who has 2,093 scrimmage yards, 13 rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns this season, is the third different player in NFL history to have at least 2,000 scrimmage yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and more than five touchdown catches in a single season. The other two players to accomplish the feat are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: O.J. Simpson (1975) and Marshall Faulk (2000 and 2001).

The players with at least 2,000 scrimmage yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and more than five touchdown catches in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(SCRIMMAGE YARDS/RUSHING TDS/RECIEVEING TDS)
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (2017) (2,093/13/6)*
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams (2001) (2,147/12/9)^
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams (2000) (2,189/18/8)^
O.J. Simpson, Buffalo (1975) (2,243/16/7)^
*Through Week 16
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PROLIFIC PASSERS: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 239 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ 23-13 win over Atlanta last week.

Brees, who has 70,200 career passing yards, joined Peyton Manning (71,940) and Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre (71,838) as the only players in NFL history with at least 70,000 career passing yards.

PLAYER – TEAMS (CCAREER PASSING YARDS)
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (71,940)
Brett Favre – Green Bay, New York Jets and Minnesota (71,838)^
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (70,200)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Brees, who ranks fifth in the NFL with 4,089 passing yards, extended his NFL-record streak to 12 consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, who leads the NFC with 4,123 passing yards, surpassed 4,000 passing yards for the seventh consecutive season, the second-longest streak in NFL history.

The quarterbacks with the most consecutive seasons with at least 4,000 passing yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (SEASONS)(SEASONS WITH 4,000+ PASS YARDS)
Drew Brees – New Orleans (2006-17)(12)*
Matthew Stafford – Detroit (2011-17)(7)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis (1999-2004)(6)
Matt Ryan – ATLANTA (2011-16)(6)*
*Active streak (Ryan has 3,778 yards in 2017)

Ryan, who has 3,778 passing yards this season, has recorded at least 4,000 passing yards in each of the past six seasons and can extend his streak to seven consecutive seasons with 222 passing yards against Carolina in Week 17.

PHENOMENAL FITZ: Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had nine receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 23-0 win over the New York Giants in Week 16.

Fitzgerald, who ties for second in the league with 101 receptions, has five career seasons with at least 100 catches, tied for the second-most in NFL history. Only Brandon Marshall (six) has more such seasons.

The players with the most 100-catch seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (SEASONS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS)
Brandon Marshall – Denver, Chicago and New York Jets (6)
Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh (5)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (5)
Andre Johnson – Houston (5)
Wes Welker – New England (5)

Fitzgerald, who ranks fourth in the NFC with 1,101 receiving yards, registered his ninth season with at least 1,000 receiving yards, tied for the third-most in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (14) and RANDY MOSS (10) have more such seasons.

The players with the most seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (SEASONS WITH 1,000+ REC. YARDS)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco and Oakland (14)^^
Randy Moss – Minnesota, Oakland and New England (10)
Tim Brown – Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders (9)^
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (9)
Terrell Owens – San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas (9)
Jimmy Smith – Jacksonville (9)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

LUCKY NUMBER 13: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith passed for 304 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ 29-13 victory over Miami last week.

Smith, a 13-year NFL veteran, has a career-high 4,024 passing yards and is the third quarterback in NFL history to reach 4,000 passing yards for the first time in his career in his 13th season or later.

The players to record their first season with at least 4,000 passing yards in their 13th career season or later:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(EXPERIENCE – PASSING YARDS)
Alex Smith, Kansas City (2017)(13 – 4,024)*
Rich Gannon, Oakland (2002)(14 – 4,689)
Steve Beuerlein, Carolina (1999)(13 – 4,436)
*Through Week 16

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 17: TERRIFIC TURNAROUNDS: Carolna – who enters the weekend with an 11-4 record and play at Atlanta on Sunday – have clinched a playoff berth and can win the NFC South division title with a win combined with a New Orleans loss at Tampa Bay.

If the Panthers win the NFC South, they would join Philadelphia (NFC East) and Jacksonville (AFC South) as teams to go from “worst-to-first” this season. With three “worst-to-first” teams, 2017 would tie the 2005 and 2006 seasons for the most such clubs in NFL history. At least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons.

The Panthers (playoff berth), Los Angeles Rams (NFC West), Minnesota (NFC North) and New Orleans (playoff berth) have clinched at least a playoff berth. All four teams finished in either third or fourth place in their divisions last year and missed the postseason.

With either Carolina or New Orleans winning the NFC South, five of the eight divisions will be won by a team that finished in third or fourth place in the division last season.

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. This season, six teams – Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans and Philadelphia – have all qualified for the playoffs after missing the postseason last year.

This weekend, four clubs who missed the postseason in 2016 – Baltimore, Buffalo, the Los Angeles Chargers and Tennessee – are vying for the final two playoff spots in the AFC. In total, eight teams will clinch a playoff spot after not qualifying for the postseason in 2016, tied with the 2003 season for the most such teams since 1990.

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 – 4 (Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Washington)
2016 – 6 (ATLANTA, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, Oakland)
2017 – 8 (Carolina, Jacksonville, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia)*

*Two of Baltimore, Buffalo, Los Angeles Chargers & Tennessee will qualify for the playoffs after missing the postseason in 2016

SHINING STEELERS: Entering Week 17, Pittsburgh Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the NFL with 1,533 receiving yards and Steelers Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell ranks third in the league with 1,291 rushing yards, only 14 yards behind the league-leader Todd Gurley (1,305).

The Steelers are looking to join the 1999 Indianapolis Colts and the 1991 Dallas Cowboys as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to finish the year with the league’s leading rusher and receiver.

The teams to finish a season with the league’s leading rusher and receiver in the Super Bowl era:

TEAM – SEASON (RUSHER – RUSHING YARDS)(RECEIVER – RECIEVING YARDS)
Indianapolis – 1999 (Edgerrin James – 1,553)(Marvin Harrison – 1,663)^
Dallas – 1991 (Emmitt Smith – 1,563)(Michael Irvin – 1,523)^
Pittsburgh – 2017 (Le’Veon Bell – 1,291)(Antonio Brown – 1,533)*
*Through Week 16
^Harrison, Smith and Irvin are Pro Football Hall of Famers

LARRY LEGEND: Arizona Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald ties for second in the NFL with 101 catches and has recorded at least one reception in 210 consecutive games.

Fitzgerald, who plays at Seattle on Sunday, can tie Tony Gonzalez (211) for the second-longest streak of consecutive games with a catch in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (274) has a longer such streak in league annals.

The players to record at least one catch in the most consecutive games in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAMS (SEASONS, MOST CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH A CATCH)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco and Oakland (1985-2004, 274)^
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City and Atlanta (2000-2013, 211)
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (2004-Present, 210)*
*Active streak
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Fitzgerald, who ranks eighth in NFL history with 110 career touchdown catches, can tie Gonzalez (111) for seventh-most touchdown receptions in league annals.

The players with the most touchdown catches in NFL history:

PLAYER – TEAMS (TOUCHDOWN CATCHES)
Jerry Rice – San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle (197)^
Randy Moss – Minnesota, Oakland, New England, Tennessee and San Francisco (156)
Terrell Owens – San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Buffalo and Cincinnati (153)
Cris Carter – Philadelphia, Minnesota and Miami (130)^
Marvin Harrison – Indianapolis (128)^
Antonio Gates – San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (114)*
Tony Gonzalez – Kansas City and Atlanta (111)
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona (110)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

PRECISION PASSER: New Orleans Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees has completed 364 of 506 passes for a league-leading 71.9 completion percentage this season.

Brees, who plays at Tampa Bay on Sunday, can surpass SAM BRADFORD (71.6 percent in 2016) for the highest single-season completion percentage in NFL history. Entering the season, Brees held two of the top three single-season completion percentages in league annals.

The quarterbacks with the highest single-season completion percentages in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(COMPLETIONS-ATTEMPTS, COMPLETION PERCENTAGE)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2017)(364-506, 71.9)*
Sam Bradford, Minnesota (2016)(395-552, 71.6)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2011)(468-657, 71.2)
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2009)(363-514, 70.6)
*Through Week 16

GURLEY DOES IT ALL: Los Angeles Rams Pro Bowl running back TODD GURLEY leads the NFL with 2,093 scrimmage yards (1,305 rushing, 788 receiving) and 19 total touchdowns this season.

Gurley, who plays against San Francisco on Sunday, can become the second player in NFL history with at least 1,300 rushing yards, 800 receiving yards and 20 total touchdowns in a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (2000). Faulk was named the Associated Press Most Valuable Player that season.

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON)(RUSHING YARDS)(RECEIVING YARDS)(TOTAL TDS)
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis (2000)(1,359)(830)(26)^
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (2017)(1,305)(788)(19)*
*Through Week 16
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

STREAKING STARS: Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has a career-high 4,042 passing yards and 26 touchdown passes with five interceptions this season.

Smith has thrown for at least 3,000 yards and had fewer than 10 interceptions in each of the past four seasons and can become the first quarterback in NFL history to accomplish the feat in five consecutive seasons.

New England quarterback Tom Brady, who leads the NFL with 4,387 passing yards and has 30 touchdown passes with eight interceptions this season, can record his fourth consecutive season with at least 3,000 passing yards and fewer than 10 interceptions.

The quarterbacks with the most consecutive seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards and fewer than 10 interceptions:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, CONSECUTIVE SEASONS WITH 3,000+ PASS YARDS AND FEWER THAN 10 INTERCEPTIONS)
Alex Smith, Kansas City (2013-16, 4)*
Tom Brady, New England (2014-16, 3)*
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2014-16, 3)
Russell Wilson, Seattle (2013-15, 3)
*Active streak

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PHENOM: Houston Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL with 13 touchdown receptions, ranks second with 1,378 receiving yards and is fifth with 96 catches this season.

Hopkins, who plays at Indianapolis on Sunday, can become the fourth player in NFL history to record at least 100 catches, 1,500 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (1995) and Marvin Harrison (2001) and Randy Moss (2003).

The players in NFL history with at least 100 catches, 1,500 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches in a single season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON; RECEPTIONS – RECEIVING YARDS, TD CATCHES)

Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1995; 122 – 1,848, 15)^
Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (2001; 109 – 1,524, 15)^
Randy Moss, Minnesota (2003; 111 – 1,632, 17)
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston (2017; 96 – 1,378, 13)*
*Through Week 16
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

SENSATIONAL SOPHOMORE: New Orleans Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas ranks fourth in the NFL with 98 catches this season and is one of two players in league annals (Odell Beckham, Jr.) with 90+ catches in each of his first two seasons.

With five catches at Tampa Bay on Sunday, Thomas, who has 190 catches since entering the league in 2016, can surpass Jarvis Landry (194) for the most catches by a player in his first two seasons in NFL history.

The players with the most catches in their first two seasons in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, RECEPTIONS IN 1ST 2 SEASONS)
Jarvis Landry, Miami (2014-15, 194)
Michael Thomas, New Orleans (2016-17, 190)*
Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (2014-15, 187)
*In second season

ROOKIES ON A ROLL: New Orleans Pro Bowl running back Alvin Kamara and Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey are tied for the league-lead among rookies with 75 catches each.

Kamara and McCaffrey can become the second pair of rookies in NFL history to each record 80 catches in the same season, joining Odell Beckham, Jr. (91 catches) and Jarvis Landry (84) in 2014.

With five catches each on Sunday, Kamara and McCaffrey can join Reggie Bush (88 catches in 2006) and Earl Cooper (83 in 1980) as the only rookie running backs in NFL history with at least 80 catches.

The rookie running backs with the most receptions in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RECEPTIONS)
Reggie Bush, New Orleans (2006 – 88)
Earl Cooper, San Francisco (1980 – 83)
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans (2017 – 75)*
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina (2017 – 75)*
Terry Kirby, Miami (1993 – 75)
*Through Week 16

ELECTRIC EVANS: Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans leads the Buccaneers with 946 receiving yards this season.

Evans, who plays against New Orleans on Sunday, can join Randy Moss and A.J. Green as the only players in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first four seasons. Moss accomplished the feat in each of his first six seasons in the NFL while Green had five such seasons to begin his career.

The players with the most consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards to start their careers:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASONS, CONSECUTIVE 1,000+ RECEIVING YARD SEASONS TO BEGIN CAREER)

Randy Moss, Minnesota (1998-2003, 6)
A.J. Green, Cincinnati (2011-15, 5)
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (2014-16, 3)*
*Has 946 receiving yards in fourth season

In case you didn’t look at the schedule when it came out in April, week 17 is all divisional games and all are rematches. There are no secrets hid, as the Book of Common Prayer says in Rite one and there is no Monday night game in week 17.

Week 17 gets underway in Indy as the Colts host the Texans and concludes in the Pacific Northwest as the Seattle Seahawks welcome Arizona to the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks. Since this is the final week of the regular season, as a combined Christmas/New Year’s gift, we’re going to make every game this Sunday “DRILL WORTHY!” (yes, you read that right. All 16 games, including the Browns) (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 57 last June and dates a 42-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?”

That’s it in a nutshell. At the end of the day on Sunday, 12 teams will have playoff spots sealed up and the top two teams in the AFC and NFC will get byes and play in the Divisonal Round. For the other 20 teams that will not be going, they’ll be cleaing out the lockers, assessing what they had for this season and what they need and there may be some coaching changes as well. The playoffs start January 6 and end in Minneapolis with Super Bowl LII on February 3.

Nine of the 12 playoff teams have been determined. Seven of the eight divisions have been clinched. And there’s still plenty to play for in Week 17.

In the AFC, four teams have already punched their ticket to the postseason by winning their division: New England (12-3, AFC East), Pittsburgh (12-3, AFC North), Jacksonville (10-5, AFC South) and Kansas City (9-6, AFC West). The Patriots have clinched a first-round bye and can secure home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs with a win or a Pittsburgh loss. The Steelers, who have locked up a first-round bye, can earn the AFC’s No. 1 seed with a win combined with a New England loss.

Four teams are battling for the AFC’s two Wild Card spots: Baltimore (9-6), Tennessee (8-7), Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) and Buffalo (8-7). The Ravens and Titans are in control for their postseason berths and can each clinch with a win.

In the NFC, five teams have locked up playoff spots, including three division winners: Philadelphia (13-2, NFC East), Minnesota (12-3, NFC North), Los Angeles Rams (11-4, NFC West), New Orleans (11-4) and Carolina (11-4). The Eagles have secured home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The Vikings can earn the conference’s other first-round bye with a win or a Carolina loss or a win by either New Orleans or the Rams. The Saints are in control in the NFC South and can lock up the division title with a win or a Carolina loss. The Panthers can win the NFC South with a win combined with a New Orleans loss. Carolina can also secure a first-round bye with a win combined with losses by New Orleans, Minnesota and the Rams.

Two teams remain alive for the NFC’s final playoff berth: Atlanta (9-6) and Seattle (9-6). The Falcons, who defeated the Seahawks 34-31 in Week 11, can clinch a playoff spot with a win or Seattle loss. The Seahawks can qualify for the postseason with a win combined with an Atlanta loss.

The Eagles and Jaguars have both completed “worst-to-first” turnarounds and at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in or tied for last place in 14 of the past 15 seasons. If the Panthers win the NFC South, 2017 would tie the 2005 and 2006 seasons for the most such “worst-to-first” clubs in NFL history.

In case you’ve been asleep, here are some playoff scenarios for week 17. Some of these are simple, others could cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show (apologies to Foghorn Leghorn!). Here are the week 17 scenarios.

AFC

CLINCHED: New England – AFC East division title and first-round bye; Pittsburgh – AFC North division title and first-round bye
Jacksonville – AFC South division title; Kansas City – AFC West division title

New England vs. New York Jets (5-10), 1 p.m.

New England clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1) New England win OR

2) Pittsburgh loss OR

3) New England tie + Pittsburgh tie

Pittsburgh (12-3) vs. Cleveland (0-15), 1 p.m.

Pittsburgh clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:

1) Pittsburgh win + New England loss or tie OR

2) Pittsburgh tie + New England loss

Baltimore (9-6) vs. Cincinnati (6-9), 4:25 p.m.

Baltimore clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Baltimore win or tie OR

2) Buffalo loss or tie OR

3) Tennessee loss or tie

Tennessee (8-7) vs. Jacksonville (10-5), 4:25 p.m.

Tennessee clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Tennessee win OR

2) Tennessee tie + Buffalo loss or tie + Los Angeles Chargers loss or tie OR

3) Buffalo loss + Los Angeles Chargers loss

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) vs. Oakland (6-9), 4:25 p.m.

Los Angeles Chargers clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Los Angeles Chargers win + Tennessee loss or tie + Buffalo loss or tie OR

2) Los Angeles Chargers win + Tennessee loss or tie + Baltimore win or tie OR

3) Los Angeles Chargers tie + Tennessee loss + Buffalo loss or tie

Buffalo (8-7) (at Miami (6-9), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

Buffalo clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Buffalo win + Baltimore loss OR

2) Buffalo win + Los Angeles Chargers loss or tie + Tennessee loss or tie OR

3) Buffalo tie + Los Angeles Chargers loss + Tennessee loss

NFC

CLINCHED: Philadelphia – NFC East division title and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs; Minnesota – NFC North division title
Los Angeles Rams – NFC West division title; New Orleans – playoff berth; Carolina – playoff berth

Minnesota (12-3) vs. Chicago (5-10), 1 p.m.

Minnesota clinches a first-round bye with:

1) Minnesota win or tie OR

2) Carolina loss or tie OR

3) New Orleans win OR

4) Los Angeles Rams win

New Orleans (11-4) at Tampa Bay (4-11), 4:25 p.m.

New Orleans clinches NFC South division title with:

1) New Orleans win OR

2) Carolina loss OR

3) NO tie + Carolina tie

Carolina (11-4) at Atlanta (9-6), 4:25 p.m.

Carolina clinches NFC South division title with:

1) Carolina win + NO loss or tie OR

2) Carolina tie + NO loss

Carolina clinches a first-round bye with:

1) Carolina win + NO loss or tie + Minnesota loss + Los Angeles Rams loss or tie

ATLANTA (9-6) vs. Carolina (11-4), 4:25 p.m.

Atlanta clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Atlanta win OR

2) Seattle loss OR

3) Atlanta tie + Seattle tie

Seattle (9-6) vs. Arizona (7-8), 4:25 p.m.

Seattle clinches a playoff berth with:

1) Seattle win + Atlanta loss or tie OR

2) Seattle tie + Atlanta loss

Next week, it’s a totally diferent mindset and a totally different season.

Win. Move on.

Lose. Your next game’s kickoff is next year.

As for last week, we went 11-5 again (which wasn’t bad) and for the season, we’re 146-95.

Everything this week is on a Sunday and there are no Sunday or Monday night games on the docket, so when the Arizona-Seattle game comes to an end, the 2017 regular season comes to an end and the curtain will fall. The season comes to an end and for 20 teams that don’t make the post-season, they’ll be clearing out their lockers and teams will make changes in their coaching staffs and preparing for the draft. With that in mind, here are the week 17 picks.

Carolina (11-4) at ATLANTA (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. Cam Newton vs. Matt Ryan, Round 2. This time, it’s Carolina that will make the trip down I-85 for an important NFC South meeting that could decide the fates of both clubs. Both clubs won the division the last two seasons and look to make their mark in the post-season.

Carolina comes into the late-afternoon contest after they took care of Tampa Bay 22-19 in Charlotte last Sunday. The Panthers led Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston 12-9 at the half in the battle of former Heisman QBs before the Bucs took a 16-12 lead with 10:27 left in the third when Winston and WR Bobo Wilson relived their FSU days and connected on a 18-yard TD pass in the contest. After Carolina’s Graham Gano pulled his club to within one with a 30-yard field goal at the 4:49 mark of the third quarter, Patrick Murray would put Tampa Bay back to a four-point lead with a 26-yard field with 14:57 left in regulation. That lead would stay that way until Newton engineered a 10-play, 59-yard drive that took 2:25 of clock, staring with three minutes left after Murray missed a 51-yard field goal and ended with Newton scoring on a three-yard TD run with 39 seconds left.

Carolina then had their fans crossing their fingers and holding their breaths as the Bucs got the ball back but took victory away from the Bucs as they would fumble and Julius Peppers would recover the ball at Tampa Bay’s 18-yard line. At than point, Winston was not a happy camper and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, making the penalty a half-the-distance foul and put the ball on the 9-yard line, where Carolina ran out the clock. Carolina outrushed Tampa Bay 115-66 and Newton threw for 160 with an interception, while Winston threw for 367 yards and a TD (Newton was sacked twice, while Winston was sacked six times). Carolina on third down tries went 4 of 13 but went 1 of 1 on fourth down at Bank of America Stadium and kept the ball for 30:30, while the Bucs were 6 of 11 third down wise, keeping the ball for 29:30.

Atlanta could never get on track against New Orleans last Sunday in the Big Easy, falling to the Saints 23-13. NeW Orleans led 13-0 at the intermission before the Falcons finally got on the board with 9:34 left in the third on a 37-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 9:34. The Falcons later on thought they finally got into the end zone when Ryan and WR Julio Jones conntected on what they thought was a 5-yard TD pass but it would be later reversed after it was determined that Jones did not break the plain. Atlanta then got the ball on New Orleans’ 1-yard line but could not get into the end zone. After a second Bryant field goal, Tevin Coleman and Ryan connected on a 14-yard strike with 2:40 left in the contest to make it a 10-point affair. New Orleans then ran the clock out and took the win, avenging their week 15 loss in the Big Peach. Neither club breached the 100-yard rushing barrier and the Saints outrushed Atlanta 86-67 and Ryan threw for 288 yards and was sacked five times and picked off once, while Drew Brees threw for 239 yards and an interception with a sack (each man threw a TD pass). Atlanta went 2 of 13 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and held the ball for 26:12, while the Saints ruled the clock and held the ball for 33:48, going 3 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Carolina and Atlanta met in Charlotte in week nine and the Panthers held on for a 20-17 win at Bank of America Stadium. Atlanta led 10-7 going into halftime before Newton gave Carolina the lead for good, scoring on a 5-yard run with 23 seconds left. Leading 14-10 at the half, Carolina added two more Gano field goals in the third quarter before the Falcons made it a 7-point contest with 3:25 left when Coleman and Ryan connected on a 19-yard TD pass but that would as close as Atlanta would get. Carolina outrushed the defending NFC champs 201-53 and Newton threw for 137 yards and a sack, while Ryan threw for 313 yards with the two TDs and an interception, while being sacked twice. Carolina on third down? The Panthers were 4 of 13 (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:52, while the Falcons were 4 of 12 on third down (0 of 3 on fourth down) and held the pigskin for 27:08.

Atlanta was favored by 2 in the week nine contest in the Tar Heel State and Carolina covered, winning by 3. The 42 over/under was untouched, as both clubs accounted for 37 points in the first meeting. The oddsmakers like the Falcons again, this time as 3 1/2 point favorites and the over/under’s 46. Both numbers make a lot of sense. Carolina would like to ruin the Falcons’ party, while the Falcons would like nothing more than to defend their NFC title. The Dirty Birds will get their wish. Falcons cover the 3 1/2 and win in the Big Peach.

Houston (4-11) at Indianapolis (3-12), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706. A pair of AFC South cellar-dwellers meet in the Hoosier State in the season finale as the Texans take on the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Texans wound up on Pittsburgh’s naughty list Christmas Day afternoon and dropped a 34-6 decision to the Steelers at NRG Stadium. Pittsburgh, leading from start to finish, led 20-0 at the intermission and held the Texans to a 3-yard TD pass from T.J. Yates to DeAndre Hopkins with 12:30 left in the contest. Pittsburgh, who got a first-round bye with the win, got 226 yards of passing from Ben Roethlisberger with a pair of TDs, while the Steeler defense held T.J. Yates in check, holding him to 83 yards with six sacks and an interception. Houston did outrush Pittsburgh 176-104, with Houston’s Alfred Blue leading the way with 108 yards. The struggling Texans were 3 of 12 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs at NRG Stadium and kept the ball for 29:04, while the Steelers, led by LeVeon Bell’s 69 yards rushing (TD), kept the ball for 30:56, going 7 of 12 on third down conversions in the Lone Star State.

Indianapolis almost damaged Baltimore’s playoff hopes but the Ravens prevailed in Charm City, coming away 23-16 winners last Saturday afternoon. Baltimore led 13-7 at the half at M&T Bank Stadium before the Colts managed to keep things close, thanks to three second half field goals by Adam Vinatieri and held off a late Colts rally in the final minutes of the contest. Baltimore outrushed Indy 103-93 and Joe Flacco threw for 237 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 215 yards and a TD (Brissett was sacked twice, Flacco was sacked once and neither threw an interception). Baltimore was 6 of 14 on third down tries (the Ravens were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:48, while the Colts were 24:12 in time of possession, going 5 of 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

They met in week nine in the Lone Star State and the Colts prevailed 20-14 at NRG Stadium in that contest. WR T.Y. Hilton scored on a pair of Brissett TD passes as the Colts led 10-7 at the half and took control in the contest. Houston did outrush Indy 94-92 but Brissett threw for 308 yards and the two TD passes, while Tom Savage threw for for 219 yards and a TD to Hopkins (Brissett was sacked three times, while Savage was sacked twice). Both clubs were 4 of 14 on third down tries, the Texans were 0 of 1 on fourth down and Houston kept the ball for 29:01, while the Colts ruled the clock and held the ball for 30:59.

Houston was a 7-point favorite in the week nine contest at NRG Stadium and the Colts came away with the win but only by 6 points. As for the 45 1/2 over/under? It was safe, as both teams combined for only 39 points. The Colts are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 41. You might want to take a pass on this one and watch that “Mythbusters” marathon on Science Channel. This could very well be Chuck Pagano’s last game but the Colts will make it a good one. Indy covers the 3 1/2 back home again in Indiana and takes the win.

New York Jets (5-10) at New England (12-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. A pair of AFL/AFC East rivals meet again, this tim in Foxboro as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots welcome the New York Jets to Gillette Stadium in the regular season finale.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! saw the Los Angeles Chargers improve their slim playoff chances last Sunday at Met Life Stadium, coming out on the short end of a 14-7 loss. After a scoreless first quarter, GangGreen trailed 7-0 at the half when Philip Rivers and TE Antonio Gates connected on a 3-yard TD pass halfway through the second quarter. NeW York would tie things up at 7-7 with 10:00 left in the third when Bilal Powell ran 57 yards yards untouched for his team’s firat and only score of the contest. The Bolts would take the lead back and for good in the third quarter when RB Melvin Gordon scored from one yard out with 4:57 left. GangGreen outrushed Los Angeles 197-89, with Powell leading everyone with 145 yards, while Rivers threw for 290 yards and Bryce Petty threw for 119 yards for the Jets. New York on third down tries at Met Life Stadium went 3 of 14 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:02, while the Chargers held the ball for 32:58, going 5 of 16 on third down conversions.

The Pats and Brady took care of Buffalo 37-16 at Gillette Stadium last Sunday afternoon. Erasing a 3-0 deficit after the first 15 minutes, New England went to work and took a 13-13 tie with them to the intermision, then proceeded to outscore the Bills 24-3 in the final 30 minutes of action. New England outrushed Buffalo 193-84 and Pats RB Dion Lewis led all rushers with 129 yards on the ground, while Brady threw for 224 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with Lewis and All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski on the two tosses. As for the Bills, Tyrod Taylor threw for 281 yards but was sacked six times in the loss. New England was 5 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:44, while the Bills, who kept the pigskin for 28:16, went 8 of 17 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down tries in eastern Massachusetts.

New England and GangGreen went into halftime tied at 14-14 before the Pats pulled away and took a 24-17 win at Met Life Stadium in week six. Brady (257 yards) and Gronkowski connected on a pair of TDs in the game as the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! would pull to within seven with 3:40 on a 28-yard field goal by Chris Catanzaro but could come no closer as the Pats ran out the clock and took the win. New England outrushed GangGreen 118-74, while Josh McGown threw for 354 yards with a pair of TDs and a pair of interceptions. Both clubs did reasonably well on third down conversions (the Pats were 7 of 13, the Jets were 9 of 17 and 1 of 3 on fourth down) and the clock was on the side of the Jets, who held the ball for 33:40, while the Pats kept it for 26:20.

In the week six contest in upstate New Jersey, New England came away 7-point winners, missing the 9 1/2-point spread. The 47 1/2 over/under was untouched, as both teams merged for only 41 points. The odds makers New England a 15 point favorite in Foxboro and the over/under’s 45. The 45 makes sense. The 15 is a bit steep. GangGreen’s played some decent football and while they’re not going to the post-season, they’re not 15 points bad. New England wins this one but expect the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! to make life hard for Brady and the Pats in Foxboro.

Cleveland (0-15) at Pittsburgh (12-3), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. The winless Browns travel to the Steel City for a Sunday afternoon date with the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.

Heartbreak continued for Browns fans last Sunday along the shore of Lake Michigan as they lost to Chicago 20-3 at Solider Field. Cleveland trailed 6-3 at the half, thanks to a 48-yard field goal by Zeke Gonzalez with one second left before the intermission, then saw Da Bears pull away from Cleveland in the second half, getting rushing TDs from Jordan Howard, who already had one TD and Mitch Trubisky in the second half to put the contest away. Chicago outrushed Cleveland 97-75 and DeShon Kizer threw for 182 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Trubisky threw for 193 yards and five sacks. Cleveland was 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs in the Windy City, keeping the ball for 26:46, while Da Bears kept the ball in hibernation for 33:14, going 7 of 16 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Pittsburgh put Houston on their naughty list Christmas Day afternoon as they took care of the Texans 34-6 at NRG Stadium. Pittsburgh, who already won the AFC North, led from start to finish, taking a 20-0 lead at the intermission and held the Texans to a 3-yard TD pass from T.J. Yates to DeAndre Hopkins with 12:30 left in the contest. Pittsburgh, who got a first-round bye with the win, got 226 yards of passing from Ben Roethlisberger with a pair of TDs, while the Steeler defense held T.J. Yates in check, holding him to 83 yards with six sacks and an interception. Houston did outrush Pittsburgh 176-104, with Houston’s Alfred Blue leading the way with 108 yards. The struggling Texans were 3 of 12 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs at NRG Stadium and kept the ball for 29:04, while the Steelers, led by LeVeon Bell’s 69 yards rushing (TD), kept the ball for 30:56, going 7 of 12 on third down conversions in the Lone Star State.

The two clubs opened the 2017 campaign along the shores of Lake Erie and the Steelers were 21-18 winners at FirstEnergy Field. Pittsburgh led 14-7 at the half, then held off the Browns in the final 30 minutes of action as Cleveland would pull to within 3 with 3:36 left in the contest when Kizer and WR Corey Coleman connected on a 3-yard TD strike. Cleveland would come no closer and failed on their onside kick attempt, allowing the Steelers to take the ball and run out the clock. The Browns did manage to outrush Pittsburgh 57-35 but Roethlisberger threw for 263 yards and a pair of TDs to TE Jesse James, while Kizer threw for 222 yards with seven sacks.

Pittsburgh, favored by 9 1/2 in the season opener, won by 3 along the shores of Lake Erie and the 46 1/2 over/under was intact, as both clubs combined for 39 points. Pittsburgh’s favored again, this time by 13 and the over/under’s 39 1/2. The Browns are just bad and Browns coach Hugh Jackson made a promise that if his team goes 0 for the season, he’d jump in Lake Erie. Pittsburgh may not cover the 13 but they take the win in the Steel City and Jackson takes the plunge.

Green Bay (7-8) at Detroit (8-7), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC North teams that saw their playoff hopes come crashing down meet in the Motor City as Green Bay travels to Detroit to face off against the Detroit Lions.

With their playoff hopes dashed last Monday night by Atlanta in Tampa Bay, Green Bay watched Minnesota score all of their 16 points unchallenged last Saturday night at Lambeau as the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers were shut out 16-0 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst. WR Stefon Diggs scored the game’s only TD when he caught a 4-yard TD pass from Case Keenum with 56 seconds left in the opening frame, then got a pair of Kai Horbath field goals in the final 30 minutes of action to seal Green Bay’s fate. Green Bay did manage to outrush the Purple Gang 113-112 and Keenum threw for 139 yards, while Brett Hundley threw for 130 yards and a pair of interceptions. Both clubs were 4 of 15 on third down and the Packers were 0 of 4 on fourth down tries and the Vikings ruled the clock, holding the ball for 31:37 to Green Bay’s 28:23.

Detroit saw their playoff hopes die in Cincinnati last Sunday afternoon after their 26-17 loss to Andy Dalton and the Bengals along the shores of the Ohio River. The Lions let a 7-6 halftime lead get away from them as the Bengals pulled away in the final 30 minutes of action, outscoring Detroit 20-10 in that time. Cincy outrushed Detroit 142-87, Giovani Bernard ran for 116 yards and a TD and Dalton threw for 238 yards, while Matthew Stafford threw for 203 yards (both men threw a TD and an interception, Dalton was sacked three times, while Stafford was sacked twice). The Bengals were 7 of 14 on third down and held the ball for 32:29, while Detroit on third down was 6 of 15 (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:31.

Detroit and Green Bay met at Lambeau in week nine and the Lions left the land of cheese, beer and Bratwurst 30-17 winners. The Lions led 14-3 at the intermission and took control from that point onward. Green Bay did outrush Detroit 78-64 and Stafford threw for 361 yards and a pair of TDs, while Hundley threw for 245 yards with a pair of sacks (Hundley did have a rushing TD in the contest). Green Bay went 2 of 9 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 23:05, while the Lions were 8 of 13 on third down conversions, keepin the ball for 36:55.

In the week nine contest at Lambeau, the Lions were favored by 2 1/2 and covered the spread, winning by 13 and both clubs covered the 43 1/2 over/under, scoring 47 points. Detroit’s favored again, this time by 7 with a 43 over/under. Green Bay’s looking for revenge and they’ll get it. Packers cover the 7 and win in the Motor City.

Chicago (5-10) at Minnesota (12-3), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. Chicago travels to the Twin Cities for an NFC North matchup with the Minnesota Vikings in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Da Bears gave Clevland fans even more heartache last Sunday at snowy Soldier Field, coming away 20-3 winners in the Windy City. Chicago led 6-3 at the half, then pulled away from Cleveland in the second half, getting rushing TDs from Jordan Howard, who already had one TD and Mitch Trubisky in the second half to put the contest away. Chicago outrushed Cleveland 97-75 and DeShon Kizer threw for 182 yards with a pair of interceptions, while Trubisky threw for 193 yards and five sacks. Cleveland was 4 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs in the Windy City, keeping the ball for 26:46, while Da Bears kept the ball in hibernation for 33:14, going 7 of 16 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Minnesota scored all of their 16 points against Green Bay unchallenged last Saturday night at Lambeau as they shut out the Aaron Rodgers-less Packers 16-0 in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst. WR Stefon Diggs scored the game’s only TD when he caught a 4-yard TD pass from Case Keenum with 56 seconds left in the opening frame, then got a pair of Kai Horbath field goals in the final 30 minutes of action to seal Green Bay’s fate. Green Bay did manage to outrush the Purple Gang 113-112 and Keenum threw for 139 yards, while Brett Hundley threw for 130 yards and a pair of interceptions. Both clubs were 4 of 15 on third down and the Packers were 0 of 4 on fourth down tries and the Vikings ruled the clock, holding the ball for 31:37 to Green Bay’s 28:23.

Da Bears and Minnesota met in the Windy City in week five and the Vikings were 20-17 winners. After taking a score of 3-2 that resembled a Twins-White Sox game (Minnesota had the lead), Minnesota and Chicago played a close second half but the Vikings prevailed in the final 30 minutes of action to take the win. Minnesota outrushed Chicago 159-115 and after taking over for Sam Bradford, Keenum threw for 140 yards, while Trubisky threw for 128 yards (each had a TD pass). Chicago was 3 of 12 on third down (Da Bears were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 28:36, while the Vikings ruled the clock and held on to the pigskin for 31:24, going 6 of 15 on third down.

In the week five contest in the Windy City on a Monday night, the Vikings were 2 1/2-point favorites and won by 3. Both teams barely missed the 40 over/under, as they combined for 37 points. Minnesota’s favored by 11 1/2 in the rematch and the over/under’s 39 1/2. Da Bears at times have played some decent football this year and while they’re going to miss the playoffs again, they’ll give the Vikings all they can handle to help John Fox keep his job but Minnesota prevails at home and takes the win, even though they’re not going to cover the 11 1/2.

Washington (7-8) at New York Giants (2-13), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins travel to upstate New Jersey for an early afternoon meeting with Eli Manning and the New York Giants at Met Life Stadium.

The Redskins moved to within one game of the .500 mark after they defeated Denver 27-11 at FedEx Field in the home finale in Landover. Cousins threw three TDs passes in the contest as Washington erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit, led 10-3 at the intermission and proceeded to corral the Broncos in the second half. While the Broncos outrushed Washington 159-87, Cousins threw for 299 yards and the three TDs, while Brock Osweiler threw for 193 yards and four sacks (each threw an interception). Washington was 5 of 13 on third down tries in northern Maryland and kept the ball for 29:33, while Denver ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 30:27, going 5 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

The dismal and somewhat disappointing season for the Giants continued in the desert last Sunday as New York and Eli were shutout by the Desert Angry Birds 23-0 in Glendale. Held to 43 yards rushing, the Giants saw Arizona score all of their points in the contest unchallenged and trailed 10-0 at the half, while rushing for 74 yards of their own. Manning threw for 263 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions, while Arizona’s Drew Stanton threw for 209 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald on one of those tosses. The Giants on third down were a somewhat dismal 1 of 14 on third down and 1 of 4 on fourth down in the desert, keeping the ball for 26:47, while the Desert Angry Birds were 5 of 14 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 33:13.

They met in Landover in week 12 and Washington came away 20-10 winners at FedEX Field. Washington broke a 10-10 tie after three quarters of play (the teams were tied 3-3 at the half) and scored their final 10 points in the fourth quarter without a challenge from the Giants. Washington’s Samaje Perine led all rushers with 100 yards, as the Redskins outrushed the Giants 122-84 and Cousins threw for 242 yards and a pair of TDs with six sacks, while Manning threw for 113 yards with four sacks (each man threw an interception). Washington was 4 of 15 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 34:37, while the Giants kept the ball for 25:23, going 2 of 14 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Washington covered the 7-point spread in the week 12 contest that was played on Thanksgiving night but the 44 over/under was safe as both teams combined for 30 points. Washington’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 38. Both numbers make sense. The Giants have been football’s answer to Mrs. Fletcher (and we’re not talking the character on “Murder, She Wrote”). Redskins fans have been singing “Hail To The Redskins” the last two weeks after their wins. Better warm up those pipes, kids. “Hail To The Redskins!” Washington covers the 3 1/2 and takes the win in upstate New Jersey.

Dallas (8-7) at Philadelphia (13-2), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. The Cowboys limp into the City of Brotherly Love, hoping to do some damage to the Eagles’ march to the playoffs.

Dallas saw their playoff hopes come to an end in Arlington last Sunday afternoon as they would fall to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks 21-12. Dallas took a 9-7 halftime lead with them to the intermission before Seattle woke up and took control of things in the second half to take a win in what some called an elimination game. Seattle got TDs from CB Josh Coleman (interception) and WR Doug Baldwin (TD pass from Russell Wilson) in the second half as they held the Cowboys to four Dan Bailey field goals and Ezekiel Elliot to 97 yards rushing. Dallas would have made the contest a 3-point affair late in the game but Bailey missed a pair of key field goals that could have made things closer. Dallas outrushed Seattle 128-76 and Dak Prescott threw for 182 yards, while Wilson threw for 93 yards with two TDs (Wilson connected with TE Jimmy Graham for the other TD strike). Dallas was 6 of 13 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 32:50, while Seattle kept the ball for 27:10, going 4 of 11 on third down.

The Eagles clinched home field advantage last Monday night as they defeated Oakland 19-10 in the City of Brotherly Love. After going to the half tied at 7-7, Oakland took a 10-7 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio with 10:50 left in the third. That would be the last time Oaklahd would lead, as the Eagles got a pair of Josh Elliott field goals and closed things out when DE Derek Barnett lived a linesman’s dream and returned a Raiders’ fumble 23 yards for a game-ending TD. While the Eagles were held to 78 yards rushing and Oakland ran for 137 (Marshawn Lynch led all rushers with 95 yards), Philadelphia managed to force Oakland to turn the ball over five times, including the final turnover of the contest and Nick Foles threw for 163 yards, while Derek Carr threw for 140 (each threw a TD pass, Carr was picked off twice, Foles was picked off once). While the Eagles went 1 of 14 on third down tries, there were successful on fourth down tries, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 25:39, while the Raiders were 34:21 in time of possession, going 3 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Dallas and Philadelphia squared off in Arlington in week 11 and the Eagles took control of things AT&T Stadium, after they trailed 9-6 at the break. The Eagles then went on to score 30 second half points unchallenged to take the 37-9 NFC East win in the Lone Star State. Philly outrushed Dallas 215-112 and Carson Wentz threw for 168 yards and a pair of TDs, while Prescott threw for 145 yards with three interceptions and four sacks in the Sunday night contest. Philly was 5 of 14 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:29, while the Cowboys were 3 of 14, 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs, with the Cowboys keeping the ball for 30:31.

Philadelphia covered the 4-point spread in the contest that took place the Sunday before Thanksgiving, winning by 28 but both clubs missed the 48 1/2 over/under, scoring 46 points. Dallas is favored by 2 in the City of Brotherly Love and the over/under’s 41. The Eagles rule the NFC East and they’ve got a bye in the first round, while the Cowboys want to make things harder for them. Eagles soar in the City of Brotherly Love and cover the 2 with the win at home.

Jacksonville (10-5) at Tennessee (8-7), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710. Jacksonville travels to the Music City for a rematch with the Tennesee Titans in a contest that could decide the fate of the host team. Both teams enter Sunday’s contest with losses under their belts.

The Jaguars, who won the AFC South title with Tennessee’s loss to the Rams, went into the half in their contest tied with San Francisco at 16-16, only to see the 49ers break the tie and take a 44-33 win at Levis’ Stadium in Santa Clara last Sunday. Blake Bortles threw for 382 yards and a pair of TDs but was picked off twice, as Jacksonville was outrushed by the resurging 49ers 131-92, while the 49ers Jimmy Garaffalo threw for 242 yards with a pair of passing TDs and had a rushing TD of his own. San Francisco, who led 23-19 after three quarters of play, only needed to keep the ball for 29:11 while going 10 of 15 on third down tries. Jacksonville went 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:49.

Tennessee’s hopes of winning the AFC South title were dashes as the Los Angeles Rams left Nissan Stadium with the NFC West crown and a 27-23 win in Nashville last Sunday. Tennessee was outscored by the Rams 14-13 in the second half, as they broke a 13-13 tie at the intermission to take the win and the divisional title for the first time since 2003 when they were in St. Louis. Los Angeles outrushed Tennessee 116-97 and Todd Gurley led all rushers with 118 yards, catching a pair of Jared Goff TD passes in the win. Goff threw for 301 yards and four TDs in the win, while Tennessee Marcus Mariota threw for 275 yards with a sack and an interception. The Rams were 6 of 14 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:04, while Tennessee went 29:56 in time of possession, going 3 of 12 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Titans flexed some muscle in Jacksonville in their week two meeting at EverBank Field, taking a 37-16 win in the Sunshine State. Tennessee led 6-3 at the break, then broke away from the Jaguars in the final 30 minutes of action, outscoring the Jaguars 31-13 in that frame. Tennessee outrushed Jacksonville 179-99, Mariota threw for 215 yards and Blake Bortles threw for 223 yards (each man threw a TD pass, Mariota was sacked once and threw an interception, while Bortles was sacked twice and threw a pair of picks). Both clubs were 6 of 13 on third down in the home opener for Jacksonville, who kept the ball for 29:14, while the Titans held the pigskin for 30:46.

In the week two contest in the Sunshine State, the Titans covered the 1 1/2-point spread, winning by 21 and both clubs covered the 48 1/2 over/under by tallying 53 points. The Titans are favored by 5 1/2 in the rematch and the over/under’s 41. Jacksonville is set as the 3 seed in the AFC, while Tennessee is trying to crash the party. Jaguars get their revenge on Tennessee in the Music City and cover the 5 1/2 on the road.

Buffalo (8-7) at Miami (6-9), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. A pair of AFC East foes meet in the Sunshine State as Miami hopes to ruin Buffalo’s playoff chances as they host the Bills at Hard Rock Stadium. Both teams enter the AFC East finale with road losses under their belts.

Buffalo’s playoff hopes took a hit at New England a the Bills fell to Tom Brady and the Pats 37-16 at Gillette Stadium last Sunday afternoon. Erasing a 3-0 deficit after the first 15 minutes, New England went to work and took a 13-13 tie with them to the intermision, then proceeded to outscore the Bills 24-3 in the final 30 minutes of action. New England outrushed Buffalo 193-84 and Pats RB Dion Lewis led all rushers with 129 yards on the ground, while Brady threw for 224 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with Lewis and All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski on the two tosses. As for the Bills, Tyrod Taylor threw for 281 yards but was sacked six times in the loss. New England was 5 of 11 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 31:44, while the Bills, who kept the pigskin for 28:16, went 8 of 17 on third down, 0 of 2 on fourth down tries in eastern Massachusetts.

Miami would watch Kansas City take the AFC West as they lost to the Chiefs 29-13 at Arrowhead. The Dolphins trailed 17-13 at the intermission in the Show-Me State before the Chiefs scored their final nine points of the contest without a challenge, thanks to three Hank Butker in the final 30 minutes of action. Kansas City outrushed Miami 103-59 and Alex Smith threw for 304 yards, while Miami’s 286 (both men threw a TD pass without an interception, while Smith was sacked once). Miami was 0 of 8 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs and held on to the ball for 22:07, while Kansas City held on to the ball for 37:53, going 8 of 16 on third down.

They met two weeks ago in upstate New York and the Bills escacped with a 24-16 win in Orchard Park. Trailing 21-6 after the first 30 minutes of action, the Dolphins would eventually pull to within eight with 39 seconds left in regulation when K Chris Parkey connected on a 23-yard field goal to make it 24-16. Miami then tried the onside kick and failed, allowing the Bills to recover the ball and run out the clock. Buffalo outrushed Miami 116-100 and LeSean McCoy scored a pair of TDs in the contest, one rushing and one on a 16-yard TD pass from Tyrod Taylor in the second quarter. Taylor threw for 224 yards and the lone TD pass, while Jay Cutler threw for 274 yards but was picked off three times and sacked three times. Miami went 5 of 16 on third down (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 32:25, while the Bills possessed the pigskin for 27:35, going 7 of 15, 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Bills covered the 3 1/2-point spread last week in upstate New York, winning by 8 but both teams barely missed the 42 over/under by 2 points. In the Sunshine State rematch, the Bills are favored by 3 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. The Dolphins figure if they can’t go to the playoffs, Buffalo’s not going either. Misery loves company and the Dolphins take revenge on the Bills and cover the 3 with the win at home.

Cincinnati (6-9) at Baltimore (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. If nothing else, Cincinnati comes to Charm City to face off against the Ravens for a chance to do some damage to Baltimore’s playoff plans.

Cincinnati put an end to Detroit’s playoff hopes last Sunday afternoon as they came away 26-17 winners along the shores of the Ohio River. The Lions let a 7-6 halftime lead get away from them as the Bengals pulled away in the final 30 minutes of action, outscoring Detroit 20-10 in that time. Cincy outrushed Detroit 142-87, Giovani Bernard ran for 116 yards and a TD and Dalton threw for 238 yards, while Matthew Stafford threw for 203 yards (both men threw a TD and an interception, Andy Dalton was sacked three times, while Stafford was sacked twice). The Bengals were 7 of 14 on third down and held the ball for 32:29, while Detroit on third down was 6 of 15 (they were 1 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:31.

The Ravens kept their playoff hopes alive in Charm City, coming away 23-16 winners last Saturday afternoon against Indianapolis. Baltimore led 13-7 at the half at M&T Bank Stadium before the Colts managed to keep things close, thanks to three second half field goals by Adam Vinatieri and held off a late Colts rally in the final minutes of the contest. Baltimore outrushed Indy 103-93 and Joe Flacco threw for 237 yards and a pair of TDs, while Jacoby Brissett threw for 215 yards and a TD (Brissett was sacked twice, Flacco was sacked once and neither threw an interception). Baltimore was 6 of 14 on third down tries (the Ravens were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:48, while the Colts were 24:12 in time of possession, going 5 of 13 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Cincinnati and Baltimore opened the 2017 campaign at Paul Brown Stadium and the Ravens scored all 20 of their points unchallenged, shutting out the Bengals 20-0. Baltimore led 17-0 at the break and never looked back to take the season opener. Cincy was outrushed 157-77 and Dalton threw for 170 yards with five sacks and four interceptions, while Flacco threw for 121 yards and a TD. The Ravens on third down went 6 of 14 and kept the ball for 34 minutes, while the Bengals held the pigskin for 26 minutes, going 4 of 13 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down.

Although they were the underdogs, the Ravens covered the 3-point spread, winning by 20 but both teams missed the 42 over/under, tallying only 20 points. The odds makers like Baltimore again, this time as 9 1/2 point favorites and the over/under coming in at 40 1/2. History has a way of repeating itself and that will be the case for the Ravens. They may or may not make the post-season but they’ll make life miserable for Marvin Lewis in what could be his last game in Cincy. Ravens may not cover the 9 1/2 but they’ll take the win.

New Orleans (11-4) at Tampa Bay (4-11), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716. Drew Brees vs. Jameis Winston. They meet in the Sunshine State in a late afternoon affair as the Saints travel to Tampa Bay for a showdown with the Bucaneers.

Brees and the Saints manhandled Atlanta 23-13 in the Big Easy last Sunday. NeW Orleans led 13-0 at the intermission before the Falcons finally got on the board with 9:34 left in the third on a 37-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 9:34. The Falcons later on thought they finally got into the end zone when Ryan and WR Julio Jones conntected on what they thought was a 5-yard TD pass but it would be later reversed after it was determined that Jones did not break the plain. Atlanta then got the ball on New Orleans’ 1-yard line but could not get into the end zone. After a second Bryant field goal, Tevin Coleman and Ryan connected on a 14-yard strike with 2:40 left in the contest to make it a 10-point affair. New Orleans then ran the clock out and took the win, avenging their week 15 loss in the Big Peach. Neither club breached the 100-yard rushing barrier and the Saints outrushed Atlanta 86-67 and Ryan threw for 288 yards and was sacked five times and picked off once, while Drew Brees threw for 239 yards and an interception with a sack (each man threw a TD pass). Atlanta went 2 of 13 on third down, 2 of 3 on fourth down and held the ball for 26:12, while the Saints ruled the clock and held the ball for 33:48, going 3 of 13 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Tampa Bay fans had their hearts broken as they lost to Carolina 22-19 in Charlotte last Sunday. The Panthers led Tampa Bay and Jameis Winston 12-9 at the half in the battle of former Heisman QBs before the Bucs took a 16-12 lead with 10:27 left in the third when Winston and WR Bobo Wilson relived their FSU days and connected on a 18-yard TD pass in the contest. After Carolina’s Graham Gano pulled his club to within one with a 30-yard field goal at the 4:49 mark of the third quarter, Patrick Murray would put Tampa Bay back to a four-point lead with a 26-yard field with 14:57 left in regulation. That lead would stay that way until Newton engineered a 10-play, 59-yard drive that took 2:25 of clock, staring with three minutes left after Murray missed a 51-yard field goal and ended with Newton scoring on a three-yard TD run with 39 seconds left.

Tampa Bay fans had their hopes of an upset snatched away from them faster than a kid going after a Christmas cookie as the Bucs got the ball back on the ensuing kick off, only to see Winston fumble and Julius Peppers recover the ball at Tampa Bay’s 18-yard line. At than point, Winston was not a happy camper and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, making the penalty a half-the-distance foul and put the ball on the 9-yard line, where Carolina ran out the clock. Carolina outrushed Tampa Bay 115-66 and Newton threw for 160 with an interception, while Winston threw for 367 yards and a TD (Newton was sacked twice, while Winston was sacked six times). Carolina on third down tries went 4 of 13 but went 1 of 1 on fourth down at Bank of America Stadium and kept the ball for 30:30, while the Bucs were 6 of 11 third down wise, keeping the ball for 29:30.

They met in week nine in the Big Easy and the Saints took a 16-3 lead with them to the intermission and came away 30-10 winners. Brees threw for 263 yards and a pair of TDs, while Winston tallied 67 yards of passing before leaving the contest in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had 68 yards and a TD pass (both Winston and Fitzpatrick were sacked twice)) in a contest that saw things get chippy when there was some pushing and shoving going on on the Tampa Bay sideline. New Orleans went 7 of 13 on third down and kept the ball for 32:18, while the Bucs, who held the ball for 27:42, went 4 of 13 on third down.

In the week nine contest in the Big Easy, New Orleans covered the 7-point spread, winning by 20 and both teams missed the 52 over/under, scoring only 40 points. New Orleans is favored by 7 and the over/under’s 50 1/2. This one’s for all the chips in the NFC South and Tampa Bay would like nothing more than to turn the tables on the Saints. Tampa Bay wins this one in an upset and could cover the 7 in the process.

Kansas City (9-6) at Denver (5-10), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 717. Kansas City travels westward to Mile High for an late afternoon contest with the Denver Broncos in an AFC West game that means nothing to either club.

Kansas City took the AFC West as they took down Miami 29-13 at Arrowhead. The Dolphins trailed 17-13 at the intermission in the Show-Me State, then watched the Chiefs score their final nine points of the contest without a challenge, thanks to three Harrison Butker in the final 30 minutes of action. Kansas City outrushed Miami 103-59 and Alex Smith threw for 304 yards, while Miami’s 286 (both men threw a TD pass without an interception, while Smith was sacked once). Miami was 0 of 8 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs and held on to the ball for 22:07, while Kansas City held on to the ball for 37:53, going 8 of 16 on third down. Smith will take a break this week and Patrick Mahomes will start under center for Kansas City.

Denver was taken to task by Washington 27-11 at FedEx Field in Landover. Redskins QB Kirk Cousins threw three TDs passes in the contest as Washington erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit, led 10-3 at the intermission and proceeded to corral the Broncos in the second half. While the Broncos outrushed Washington 159-87, Cousins threw for 299 yards and the three TDs, while Brock Osweiler threw for 193 yards and four sacks (each threw an interception). Washington was 5 of 13 on third down tries in northern Maryland and kept the ball for 29:33, while Denver ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 30:27, going 5 of 17 on third down, 1 of 2 on fourth down.

Meeting in Arrowhead on a Monday night in week eight, the Chiefs were 29-19 winners in the first meeting. Although Denver outscored the Chiefs 16-9 in the final 30 minutes of play, Kansas City led 17-3 at the break and held off the Broncos for the win. While Denver outrushed Kansas City 177-79, Alex Smith burned Denver for 202 yards, while Trevor Siemian threw for 196 for Denver (both men threw a TD pass, Smith connecting with TE Travis Kelce; Siemian threw three intercaptions with three sacks). Denver was 5 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth down tries and held the ball for 31:23, while the Chiefs, who were 2 of 12 on third down, held the ball for 28:37.

In the Monday night contest at Arrowhead, the Chiefs won by 10, allowing them to cover the 7 1/2-point spread and the 43 over/under was also covered, as both clubs tallied 48 points. Denver’s favored by 3 1/2 in the Mile High City and the over/under’s 38. Both numbers make a lot of sense. The Chiefs are repeating as AFC West champs for the first time in history and will play at home in the first round as the four seed, while the Broncos want to derail the KC train. Chiefs pull the upset and takes the win in the Mile High City.

Oakland (6-9) at Los Angeles Chargers (8-7), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 718. Oakland makes their way down I-5 for an AFC West matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers in hope of damaging the Chargers’ playoff hopes at StubHub Center.

Oakland watched Philadelphia clinch home field advantage last Monday night as they defeated Oakland 19-10 in the City of Brotherly Love. After going to the half tied at 7-7, Oakland took a 10-7 lead on a 25-yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio with 10:50 left in the third. That would be the last time Oaklahd would lead, as the Eagles got a pair of Josh Elliott field goals and closed things out when DE Derek Barnett lived a linesman’s dream and returned a Raiders’ fumble 23 yards for a game-ending TD. While the Eagles were held to 78 yards rushing and Oakland ran for 137 (Marshawn Lynch led all rushers with 95 yards), Philadelphia managed to force Oakland to turn the ball over five times, including the final turnover of the contest and Nick Foles threw for 163 yards, while Derek Carr threw for 140 (each threw a TD pass, Carr was picked off twice, Foles was picked off once). While the Eagles went 1 of 14 on third down tries, there were successful on fourth down tries, going 2 of 2 and kept the ball for 25:39, while the Raiders were 34:21 in time of possession, going 3 of 13 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Chargers improved their slim playoff chances last Sunday at Met Life Stadium, coming away from upstate New Jersey with a 14-7 win at Met Lief Stadium. After both clubs had a scoreless first quarter, GangGreen trailed 7-0 at the half when Philip Rivers and TE Antonio Gates connected on a 3-yard TD pass halfway through the second quarter. NeW York would tie things up at 7-7 with 10:00 left in the third when Bilal Powell ran 57 yards yards untouched for his team’s firat and only score of the contest. The Bolts would take the lead back and for good in the third quarter when RB Melvin Gordon scored from one yard out with 4:57 left. GangGreen outrushed Los Angeles 197-89, with Powell leading everyone with 145 yards, while Rivers threw for 290 yards and Bryce Petty threw for 119 yards for the Jets. New York on third down tries at Met Life Stadium went 3 of 14 (they were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:02, while the Chargers held the ball for 32:58, going 5 of 16 on third down conversions.

They met in Oakland in week six and the Bolts left Oakland with a 17-16 come-from-behind win as Nick Novak connected on a 32-yard field goal as time expired. The Silver and Black took a 10-3 lead into the final 15 minutes of play (they led by that score at the half and the two teams went scoreless in the third quarter) before Los Angeles came away 1-point winners at the end of the contest. Oakland outrushed Los Angeles 109-90 and Carr threw for 171 yards, while Rivers threw for 268 yards in the AFC West showdown in northern California (each threw a TD pass and was sacked once, with Carr throwing two interceptions). Third down tries? Los Angeles was 6 of 14, Oakland was 6 of 12 (the Chargers were 1 of 2 on fourth down, Oakland went 0 for 1) and the Chargers ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:03 to Oakland’s 27:57.

In the week six contest, Oakland was favored by 3 1/2 at home and the Chargers came away 1-point winners and the 53 1/2 over/under stayed untouched as both teams merged for 33 points. The Chargers are favored by 7 1/2 in Tinseltown and the over/under’s 43 1/2. Oakland’s out of the playoff hunt, while the Chargers are holding on for dear life and hope. Chargers may not cover the 7 1/2 or make the post-season but they’ll make their fans happy and take the win over Oakland at home.

San Francisco (5-10) at Los Angeles Rams (11-4), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 719. An improved San Francisco 49ers team makes its way down I-5 to face off against the Los Angeles Rams in Tinseltown. Both teams took huge wins last win in Sunday’s action, the 49ers winning at home in wine country, while the Rams were victors in the Music City.

San Francisco erased a 16-16 tie with Jacksonville and came away with a 44-33 win at Levis’ Stadium in Santa Clara last Sunday. Blake Bortles threw for 382 yards and a pair of TDs but was picked off twice, as Jacksonville was outrushed by the resurging 49ers 131-92, while the 49ers Jimmy Garaffalo threw for 242 yards with a pair of passing TDs and had a rushing TD of his own. San Francisco, who led 23-19 after three quarters of play, only needed to keep the ball for 29:11 while going 10 of 15 on third down tries. Jacksonville went 5 of 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 30:49.

The Rams ended Tennessee’s hope of winning the AFC South title and claimed the NFC West crown with a 27-23 win in Nashville last Sunday. Outscoring the Titans 14-13 in the second half, the Rams broke a 13-13 tie at the intermission to take the win and the divisional title for the first time since 2003 when they were in St. Louis. Los Angeles outrushed Tennessee 116-97 and Todd Gurley led all rushers with 118 yards, catching a pair of Jared Goff TD passes in the win. Goff threw for 301 yards and four TDs in the win, while Tennessee Marcus Mariota threw for 275 yards with a sack and an interception. The Rams were 6 of 14 on third down and 1 of 2 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 30:04, while Tennessee went 29:56 in time of possession, going 3 of 12 and 0 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

Los Angeles survived a 41-39 nailbiter at Levis Stadium in week three to take the win over their instate and NFC West rivals in the first meeting. The Rams led 24-13 at the intermission in the Thursday night contest but would be outscored by San Francisco 26-17 in the final 30 minutes of action to make things close. Gurley ran for 113 yards and had three TDs in the contest, while the 49ers Carlos Hyde accounted for two rushing TDs in the loss (Hyde ran for 84 yards), as the Rams outrushed San Francisco 126-133 in the win. Goff threw for 292 yards with three TDs, connecting with Gurley on one and WR Sammy Watkins on the other two, while Blaine Hoyer threw for 332 yards with a pair of TDs, four sacks and an interception. Both clubs did reasonably well on third down tries in the Thursday night contest; the Rams were 8 of 12, San Francisco went 9 of 18 (the 49ers were 2 of 3 on fourth down) and time favored the 49ers, who held on to the ball for 30:17, while the Rams kept it for 29:43.

The 49ers were favored by 3 in the week three contest in wine country but the Rams were only able to win by two in that first meeting. Both teams combined for 80 points, allowing them to shatter the 40 1/2 over/under. The Rams are favored this time an the odds makers like them as 4 1/2 point favorites with a 45 1/2 over/under. The 49ers have actually played some decent football of late but that comes to an end. Rams cover the 4 1/2 and takes the win at home.

Arizona (7-8) at Seattle (9-6), 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 720. A pair of NFC West rivals meet in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks as Seattle hosts Arizona at Century Link Field in the final game of the week 17 docket.

New York and Eli Manning were shutout by the Desert Angry Birds 23-0 in Glendale. Arizona held the Giants to 43 yards rushing, as the Giants saw Arizona score all of their points in the contest unchallenged and trailed 10-0 at the half, while rushing for 74 yards of their own. Manning threw for 263 yards with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions, while Arizona’s Drew Stanton threw for 209 yards and a pair of TDs, connecting with All-Pro WR Larry Fitzgerald on one of those tosses. The Giants on third down were a somewhat dismal 1 of 14 on third down and 1 of 4 on fourth down in the desert, keeping the ball for 26:47, while the Desert Angry Birds were 5 of 14 on third down, keeping the pigskin for 33:13.

Seattle kept their slim playoff hopes alive and ended Dallas’ hopes in Arlington, taking a 21-12 win out of Arlington in the process. Dallas took a 9-7 halftime lead with them to the intermission before Seattle woke up and took control of things in the second half to take a win in what some called an elimination game. Seattle got TDs from CB Josh Coleman (interception) and WR Doug Baldwin (TD pass from Russell Wilson) in the second half as they held the Cowboys to four Dan Bailey field goals and Ezekiel Elliot to 97 yards rushing. Dallas would have made the contest a 3-point affair late in the game but Bailey missed a pair of key field goals that could have made things closer. Dallas outrushed Seattle 128-76 and Dak Prescott threw for 182 yards, while Wilson threw for 93 yards with two TDs (Wilson connected with TE Jimmy Graham for the other TD strike). Dallas was 6 of 13 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down and held on to the ball for 32:50, while Seattle kept the ball for 27:10, going 4 of 11 on third down.

They met in the desert in week 10 at University of Phoenix Stadium and the Seahawks were 22-16 winners on a Thursday night. Seattle led 15-7 at the half, then held off a late Arizona rally to take the win. Seattle outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 75-34 and Wilson threw for 238 yards and a pair of TDs to Graham, while Arizona’s Drew Stanton threw for 273 yards and a TD (wilson was sacked five times, while Stanton was sacked twice; neither threw an interception). Seattle was 3 of 13 on third down tries in the desert and held on to the ball for 30:53, while the Desert Angry Birds were 6 of 15 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 29:07.

While Seattle covered the 6-point spread in the desert with the 6-point win, both clubs missed the 41 1/2 over/under with 38 points. The powers that be like Seattle again, this time as 8 point favorites and the over/under’s 38 1/2. Seattle will have one eye on their game and one eye on the Carolina-Atlanta game. Arizona makes it closer than the 8 but Seattle prevails in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks.