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And there were two.

The Los Angeles Rams.

The New England Patriots.

The last two in the 2018 National Football League’s version of “Survivor.” While the other 30 teams are at home after having their torches put out, they are the last two standing. They’ve out-witted the other 30 teams, they’ve outlasted the other 30. Sunday will be a chance to see who can out-survive the other.

Both the Rams and Patriots started their seasons like everyone else, with OTAs, the draft, mini-camp, preseason and a 17-week schedule where they both played 16 games. At the end of the day in Atlanta, one team will be holding the Lombardi Trophy again, sort of like Raftiki holding baby Simba in “The Lion King.” The other team? They will be picked apart like a Thanksgiving Turkey, second-guessed by everyone that can draw a breath.

This Sunday is not just any Sunday. This is Super Bowl Sunday. This is the Sunday that some of these players have been dreaming about since they were kids, playing pretend football in the backyard and hoping that their time will come. Their time is here. It’s the final game on the 2018 NFL schedule and when the clock strikes :00, the confetti flies around and the on-field interviews are taking place, it will come to an end. No more regular season football until September 5th. The winner? They get to take home the Lombardi Trophy and each player will take home $118,000, which comes out to $29,500 a quarter and they get to pick last in the upcoming draft. As for the losing team? No trophy, they get to pick 31st and each player will get $59,000 (or $14,750 per quarter).

What else is at stake, you ask?

With a New England victory…
•The Patriots will have captured their sixth Super Bowl championship, tied with Pittsburgh (six) for most in NFL history.
•New England will have won its 37th postseason game, surpassing Pittsburgh (36) for the most all-time.
•Head coach Bill Belichick joins George Halas and Curly Lambeau as the only coaches ever to win six NFL championships.
•Quarterback Tom Brady has now won six Super Bowls, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Charles Haley (five) for the most of any player. His Rams counterpart Jared Goff was 7 years old when Brady won his first Lombardi.

With a Los Angeles win…
•The Rams will celebrate the second Super Bowl victory in the history of their franchise (SB XXXIV) and their first in Los Angeles.
•At age 33, head coach Sean McVay becomes the youngest coach ever to win the Super Bowl. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin held the previous mark at age 36.
•Quarterback Jared Goff becomes the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory within his first three seasons.

Belichick and Brady will be making their ninth 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.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who turns 33 years and 10 days old on Super Bowl Sunday, is the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl. In each of the past two seasons under McVay, the Rams have ranked first or second in points per game. His counterpart on the other side of the field? Bill Belichick is 66 and turns 67 in April.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, is the first quarterback selected number 1 overall to reach the Super Bowl within his first three seasons. Four quarterbacks (Pro Football Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and John Elway, Drew Bledsoe and Eli Manning) each reached the Super Bowl in their fourth season.

Brady vs. Goff. Two QBs with a huge age difference led their teams to this point in time. Both clubs won their divisions, both were two seeds in their respective conferences and both won their last games on the road in overtime and both teams beat the top seeds. The bigger picture? Brady won his first Super Bowl the last time the two met in the post season. When Sunday’s game kicks off, Brady will be 42 years old, while Goff is 25 (Goff was seven years old when the Brady-Bilichick duo won their first Lombardi).

The Rams fought their way back against New Orleans in the NFC Championship game at the Mercedes Benz Superdome and came away with a 26-23 overtime win over Drew Brees and the Saints. Los Angeles trailed 13-10 at the half after the Saints rushed out to a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter as the Saints used a pair of Wil Lutz field goals and a Brees TD pass to TE Garrett Griffin to open the scoring in the contest. Los Angeles shut out the Saints in the second quarter, thanks to a 6-yard TD run by Todd Gurley III and a Greg Zuerlein field goal to tally their first points of the game. New Orleans would push the lead back to 10 with 8:34 left in the third when backup QB Taysom Hill and Brees connected on a 2-yard toss before the Rams would even things up when TE Tyler Higbee and Goff connected with 3:06 left in the third and Zuerlin booted a 24-yard field goal with 5:03 left in the contest.

New Orleans was not going quietly and got the ball back with 5:03 left in regulation and started the drive they thought would give them the win and there was some controversy in that drive when Saints WR Michael Thomas and Rams CB Michael Roby-Coleman collided on a pass attempt that many Saints fans and players thought was pass interference but was not called and the pass was ruled incomplete, much to the anger of Saints fans and head coach Sean Payton. (Roby-Coleman was eventually fined by the league for the helmet to helmet hit). The Saints had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Lutz with 1:41 left before the Rams stormed back with 15 seconds left in regulation to re-tie the contest and send the contest into the extra period after Brees knelt the ball down. New Orleans would win the toss in the overtime and got the ball first in the overtime and kept the ball for only four plays, getting as close as their own 36-yard line when Brees was picked off by S John Johnson II inside Saints territory. The Rams wasted very little time or distance, using a 5-play, 15-yard drive that took 2:12 for them to set up a 57-yard field goal try. After the Saints burned a timeout to ice the kicker, Zeurlein connected on that 57-yard try to send the Rams into the Super Bowl.

The Rams outrushed New Orleans 77-48 and Goff threw for 297 yards and a TD with an interception and a sack, while Rams WR Brandon Cooks burned his former team for 107 yards on seven catches. Brees threw for 249 yards with the two TD tosses, while being sacked twice and throwing the interception that ended New Orleans’ hopes of coming to Atlanta. Los Angeles went 6 of 16 on third down (they were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and ruled the clock as they kept the ball for 32:36 (including the overtime), while the Saints went 6 for 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 30:41.

New England took a 14-0 lead with them to the intermission against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead in the AFC Championship game, only to see the Chiefs rally in the final 15 minutes of play and Brady and the Patriots would need overtime to take the 37-31 win on the road. Rookie RB Sony Michel and WR Phillip Dorsett would open the scoring for New England; Michel scoring on a 1-yard run early in the first quarter and Dorsett catching a 29-yard pass from Brady to take the 14-point lead at the break. Kansas City would respond in the third quarter as Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce connected on a 12-yard TD toss in the third to end New England’s bid for a shutout before Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski would push the lead back to 10 with a 47-yard field goal late in the quarter.

The Chiefs would then go to work in the final quarter of regulation, using a pair of Damien Williams TD runs to eventually take a 21-17 lead with 7:45 left in the contest. That lead would not last long as Michel scored on a 10-yard romp with 3:32 left. Kansas City then responded and took the lead back with 2:03 left when Williams scored from two yards out. The Chiefs’ lead did not last very long as New England’s Rex Burkhead gave his team a 31-28 lead back with 39 seconds left. Kansas City roared back again with 8 seconds left in regulation as Harrison Butker connected on a 39 yard field goal to tie things up at 31-31.

The Butker field goal would be the last time the Chiefs would see the ball as New England would win the coin toss in overtime and played ball control in the extra period, using a 13-play, 75-yard drive that used 4:52 of clock and sent Chiefs fans home in a less than good mood when Burkhead gave his team the win, scoring from two yards out to take the win. Michel rushed for 113 yards with the two TDs as the Patriots outrushed Kansas City 176-41. Brady threw for 348 yards with the TD toss and one interception (he was not sacked), while Mahomes threw for 295 yards with three TDs and four sacks but no interceptions. Kansas City, who saw their hopes dashed when DE Dee Ford lined up in the neutral zone, erasing a potential Brady interception in the final quarter, went 4 for 9 on third down and kept the ball for 20:53, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 43:59 (including the 4:52 in overtime), while going 13 of 19 on third down, 1 for 2 on fourth down.

They met in Foxoboro in the 2016 season in week 13 and the Patriots were 26-10 winners at Gillette Stadium. New England scored their first 17 points of the contest uncontested before the Rams rallied in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring New England 10-9. The Rams were held to 36 rushing yards, while New England tallied 133, with LeGarrett Blount leading the way with 88 yards and a rushing TD, while Brady threw for 269 yards without a sack or interception (Goff threw for 161 yards with a pair of interceptions and four sacks; both Goff and Brady each had a TD pass). The Rams were a dismal 1 of 12 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and they would keep the ball for 22:03, while New England ruled the clock and kept the ball for 37:57, while going 4 of 16 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week 13 contest in Foxboro, the Pats covered the 13 1/2-point spread, winning by 16 but both clubs missed the 44 1/2 over/under as they combined for 36 points.

The Rams and Patriots met once in post-season play and that was in Super Bowl XXXVI, which New England won in the final seconds 20-17 in New Orleans, when the Rams were in St. Louis. That contest was the start of the Brady-Bill Belichick era as the Rams, who were in St. Louis, won the Lombardi Trophy the year before in Atlanta. New England erased a 3-0 first quarter deficit and took a 14-3 lead with them to the break in the Big Easy. The Pats then added an Adam Vinatieri field goal in the third quarter to lead by 14 before the Rams scored a pair of TDs in the fourth, one with Kurt Warner using his legs to score from two yards out, then Warner used his arm, connecting with WR Ricky Proehl with 90 seconds left in regulation. New England would use all of the 90 seconds that was left and made their way down the field, using a 9-play, 53-yard drive that ended with Vinatieri connecting on a 48-yard field goal as time expired. In picking up his first Super Bowl win, Brady threw for 145 yards and a TD with a sack but no interceptions, while Warner threw for 365 yards and the game-tying TD with three sacks and a pair of interceptions. New England outrushed the Rams 133-90 and went 2 for 11 on third down and kept the ball for 26:30 (including the final 90 seconds of the contest), while the Rams were 5 for 13 on third down and kept the ball for 33:30.

Yes, this is the last game of the year. When next Sunday rolls around, most of America will be forced to wait for baseball and watch golf, basketball or those gosh-awful Lifetime movies on Sunday. It’s also the last Sunday of “THE DRILL” 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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”)

New England, according to the boys and girls in Vegas, are favored by 2 1/2 with a 56 1/2 over/under. Both numbers make a lot of sense. For the winners, they get to go to Disney World and the Lombardi Trophy. As for the loser? Let’s just say that sports talk shows will be second-guessing them over and over and over until the draft. For the championship week, we went 1-1 and for the season, we are now 150-112. The end is nigh for the 2018 season. No more NFL until pre-season. It’s time to pick a winner, Jimmy, to paraphrase Robert Redford from “The Natural.” Jimmy’s from LA and he’s going with the Rams. We are too. Rams win and cover the 2 1/2.

Broadcast Information – 6:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Mike Holmgren, Tony Boselli, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WestWood1), 82 (New England), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WestWood1), 226 (New England), 225 (Los Angeles Rams)

Referee: John Parry

Injury Report

New England – New England reports no injuries

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

Weather: Game indoors; if roof is open, partly cloudy and 55 degrees.

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

Sunday Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m. on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter), Chris Myers (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Los Angeles Rams), 82 (New Orleans); XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Los Angeles Rams), 82 (New Orleans)

AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m. on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Tony Boselli, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (New England ), 83 (Kansas City); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (New England ), 225 (Kansas City)

Sunday Officials
NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m.: Bill Vinovich
AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m.: Clete Blakeman

Sunday’s Odds (Home teams listed in CAPS)

Sunday’s Games
Favorite         Spread   Underdog                 O/U
NEW ORLEANS      – 3 1/2  Los Angeles Rams         57 1/2
KANSAS CITY      – 3      New England              56
Sunday’s Injury Report

NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams – Los Angeles Rams report no injuries

New Orleans
OUT: WR Keith Kirkwood (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Ben Watson (Illness)

AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m.

New England – New England reports no injuries
OUT: LB Dorian O’Daniel (Ankle)

Sunday Weather
NFC – Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans, 3:05 p.m.: Game indoors
AFC – New England at Kansas City, 6:40 p.m.: Cloudy and 26 degrees

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

And then there were four.

It’s the NFL’s Final Four. The last four teams standing before Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta in two weeks. These are the survivors and at the end of the day, there will be two teams making their way toward the Big Peach, while the other two teams will be clearing out their lockers come Monday. While the other 28 teams are getting ready for the Senior Bowl, the 2019 NFL draft and OTA’s, the remaining four teams are playing a meaningful football game and these games are important.

The formula stays pretty much the same and it’s so easy, even a five-year old gets it.

You win… you get to go to Atlanta.

Lose… your next game is next year.

32 teams started the year fighting for the Lombardi Trophy, fighting heat, bugs, sweat, sleeping in dorms for the first time since college, reading playbooks that make War and Peace look like the Sunday funnies. Four pre-seaason games, 16 regular season games and the postseason. All that comes to an end in two weeks. When Super Bowl LIII comes to an end in Atlanta, someone’s going to be holding the Lombardi Trophy and yelling into a camera “I’m going to Disney World!” The losers? They’re going to be second-guessed and picked apart like a turkey at Thanksgiving the entire off-season. Second meetings are all about revenge for the losers and a chance for the winners to make a statement.

What’s at stake, you ask? Trophies and cash, for openers, as well as a chance to go to Atlanta. The AFC winner will be the American Football Conference Championship and the Lamar Hunt Trophy, while the NFC winner will be the proud owners of the George Halas Trophy. Each player will be paid $54,000 (which breaks down to $13,500 a quarter) for their participation in the championship games.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

HIGH OCTANE OFFENSES: On Championship Sunday, the Super Bowl LIII participants will be decided. In the NFC, the Los Angeles Rams take on New Orleans at 3:05 p.m. on FOX, while New England travels to Arrowhead Stadium to face Kansas City at 6:40 p.m. on CBS in the AFC. The Conference Championships feature the four highest-scoring teams from the regular season for the first time in the Super Bowl era.

With victories by the Rams and Chiefs on Sunday, the Super Bowl would feature the two highest-scoring teams from the regular season for the fifth time since 1970 and the first time since 1997.

The Super Bowls featuring the two highest-scoring teams from the regular season since 1970:

SEASON: NO. 1 OFFENSE – NO. 2 OFFENSE (SUPER BOWL)
1997: Denver – Green Bay (XXXII)
1996: Green Bay – New England (XXXI)
1991: Washington – Buffalo (XXVI)
1984: Miami – San Francisco (XIX)

THE PATRIOT WAY: The New England Patriots have reached the Super Bowl in each of the past two seasons. With a win against Kansas City on Sunday, the Patriots would join the Buffalo Bills (1990-93) and Miami Dolphins (1971-73) as the only teams in the Super Bowl era to appear in three consecutive Super Bowls.

The teams to appear in at least three consecutive Super Bowls in the Super Bowl era:

TEAM (SEASONS / CONSECUTIVE SUPER BOWLS; SUPER BOWLS)
Buffalo (1990-93 / 4; XXV-XXVIII)
Miami (1971-73 / 3; VI-VIII)
New England (2016-17 / 2; LI-LII)*
*Active streak

HIGH SEED ADVANTAGE: With victories by top seeds Kansas City (AFC) and New Orleans (NFC) on Sunday, it would mark the 14th time since the NFL began seeding teams in 1975 that both top seeds faced off in the Super Bowl and the fifth time in the past six seasons (2013-15, 2017).

With wins on Sunday by both the Chiefs and Saints, it would mark the fifth time since 1975 that consecutive seasons have featured a Super Bowl matchup of the No. 1 seeds.

The Super Bowls featuring both No. 1 seeds in consecutive seasons since the NFL began seeding teams in 1975:

SEASONS: SUPER BOWLS
2013-15: XLVIII-50
1983-84: XVIII-XIX
1976-77: XI-XII​

With a win, the Chiefs can become the sixth consecutive number seed to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, surpassing five consecutive Super Bowls featuring the AFC’s number one seed (1987-1991) for the longest streak by the conference since 1975.

A victory by Kansas City would also mark the second time that either conference has had a streak of six consecutive seasons with a Super Bowl featuring their number one seed since 1975 (NFC – six consecutive seasons from 1981-86).

MAGICAL MAHOMES: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes passed for 278 yards in his postseason debut last weekend and ranked second in passing yards (5,097) during the regular season.

With a Chiefs victory against New England, Mahomes would become the fourth quarterback to pass for at least 5,000 yards and reach the Super Bowl in the same season.

The quarterbacks to pass for at least 5,000 yards and reach the Super Bowl in the same season:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON: PASSING YARDS – SUPER BOWL)
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013: 5,477 – XLVIII)
Tom Brady, New England (2011: 5,235 – XLVI)
Dan Marino, Miami (1984: 5,084 – XIX)^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

EASY BREESY: New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees passed for 301 yards with two touchdowns in the Saints’ Divisional Playoffs win against Philadelphia.

With 300 passing yards on Sunday, Brees would tie Peyton Mannign (nine games) for the second-most playoff games with at least 300 passing yards.

The players with the most postseason games with at least 300 passing yards:

PLAYER – TEAM(S) (POSTSEASON GAMES WITH 300+ PASS YARDS)
Tom Brady – New England (15)*
Peyton Manning – Indianapolis and Denver (9)
Drew Brees – San Diego and New Orleans (8)*
*Active in Conference Championships

GREAT GURLEY: Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ Divisional round victory against Dallas.

Gurley, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of his first two postseason appearances, can join Arian Foster as the only players in postseason history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of their first three playoff games.

The players with at least 100 rushing yards in each of their first three postseason games:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATES)(GAMES)
Arian Foster, Houston (1/7/12-1/5/13)(3)
Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (1/6/18-1/12/19)(2)*
*Active streak

CATCH & RUN: New England running back JAMES WHITE had 15 receptions in the Divisional Playoffs, tied with Darren Sproles  (January 14, 2012 with New Orleans) for the most receptions by a player in a single postseason game in the Super Bowl era.

With at least 10 receptions on Sunday at Kansas City, White would become the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to record consecutive postseason games with at least 10 catches.

The players with consecutive postseason games with at least 10 receptions in the Super Bowl era:

PLAYER, TEAM (DATES)(CONSECUTIVE GAMES)
Tony Nathan, Miami (1/20/85-1/4/86)(2)
Jerry Rice, San Francisco (1/29/95-1/6-96)(2)^
Steve Smith, Sr., Carolina (1/8/06-1/15/06 (2)
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

Patriots running back Sony Michel rushed for 129 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s Divisional Playoffs victory. With one rushing touchdown on Sunday, Michel can tie the postseason record for the most rushing touchdowns by a rookie.

The rookies with the most rushing touchdowns in a single postseason:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RUSH TDS)
Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville (2017 – 4)
Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (2000 – 4)
William Floyd, San Francisco (1994 – 4)
Tony Dorsett, Dallas (1997 – 4)^
Norm Standlee, Chicago (1941 – 4)
Sony Michel, New England (2018 – 3)*
*Active
^Pro Football Hall of Famer

As was the case for the entire playoffs and the Super Bowl, everything is going to be “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”)

We struggled in the Wild Card round, going 1-3 but bounced back in the Divisional round, going 3-1, which for the year makes us 149-111. Both games are rematches from the 2018 regular season schedule (New England and Kansas City met in Foxboro in week six, the Rams and Saints met in New Orleans in week nine), which means that there are no secrets. One seeds playing at home against two seeds. Playoff football at its finest. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script.

Two games left in the post-season. We can’t say it enough but it bears repeating.

Win… you go to Atlanta in two weeks.

Lose… your next game is next year.

With that, here are the Sunday championship picks.

NFC – Los Angeles Rams (13-3, 2nd seed) at New Orleans (13-3, 1st seed), 3:05 p.m. on FOX. Championship Sunday gets underway in the Big Easy as the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints meet in a week nine rematch to decide who will be the NFC’s representative to Super Bowl LIII. Both teams were at home last week after their first round byes and both clubs had close wins at home.

The Rams, winners of the NFC West, held off a late Dallas rally last Saturday night in Los Angeles as they came away with the 30-22 win at the Coliseum in the NFC Divisional Game. Los Angeles erased a 7-3 deficit at the end of the first 15 minutes of play, took a 20-7 lead with them to the intermission and held off a late Cowboys rally in the second half that saw Dallas outscore the Rams 15-10 in the final 30 minutes of action. The Rams outrushed Dallas 273-50 and Rams’ running backs Todd Gurley (115 yards, TD) and C.J. Anderson (123 yards, 2 TDS) each tallied 100 yards for their team, while Jared Goff threw for 186 yards with no sacks (Dallas’ Dak Prescott threw for 266 yards with a TD to Amari Cooper with a sack; neither Goff or Presscott threw an interception). The Rams were 5 of 11 on third down (they were 2 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:13, while the Cowboys held on to the ball for 23:47, going 1 for 10 on third down, 3 for 4 on fourth down.

New Orleans trailed Philadelphia 14-0 early in their contest at the Mercedes Benz Superdome, then rallied to take a 20-14 win over the Eagles to advance to the championship round. The Saints proceeded to chip away at Philadelphia’s lead and trailed 14-10 at the half before scoring their final 10 points of the contest unchallenged, taking the lead for keeps with 1:40 left in the third when Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas connected on a 2-yard TD pass, part of an 18-play, 92-yard drive that took 11:29 of playing time (17 minutes of actual time). Saints K Wil Lutz would add a 39-yard field goal early in the final 15 minutes of play to make the contest a 6-point affair. Philadelphia would later get the ball back in the final minutes of the game and got as close as the Saints’ 27-yard line when Nick Foles’ pass intended for Alshon Jeffery deflected off Jeffery’s hands and was intercepted by Marshawn Lattimore, The Saints then proceeded to run out the clock and take the win in front of the home folks. New Orleans outrushed Philadelphia 137-49, with Saints RB Alvin Kamara leading all rushers with 71 yards and Brees throwing for 301 yards with a pair of TDs to go with a pair of sacks and an interception, while Foles threw for 201 yards with a TD and two sacks. New Orleans went 8 for 15 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down (including a fake punt run by backup QB Taysom Hill) and kept the ball for 37:50, while the Eagles were 2 of 7 on third downs, holding on to the ball for 22:10.

In the week nine contest in the Big Easy, New Orleans broke a 35-35 fourth quarter tie in the Big Easy and took a 45-35 decision against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday afternoon to end the Rams’ 8-game win streak. New Orleans led 35-14 going into the intermission before the Rams would pull themselves to within 11 as K Greg Zuerlein connected on a 56-yard field goal as time expired. Los Angeles then scored 10 third quarter points without a challenge, then opened the fourth quarter, tying things up at 35-35 thanks to a pair of TD passes from Jared Goff (one to RB Malcon Brown, the other to WR Cooper Kupp) and a Zuerlein field goal before New Orleans took control in the fourth quarter to take the lead back and for keeps. New Orleans outrushed the Rams 141-92 and Goff threw for 391 yards with three TDs an an interception, while Brees threw for 346 yards and four TDs, including a TD that drew the ire of the game officials when WR Michael Thomas pulled out a cell phone from underneath the goal post padding, paying homage to former Saints player Joe Horn (neither man was sacked, Goff threw the only interception in the contest). The Rams were 3 for 8 on third down conversions (they were 0 of 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 26:19, while the Saints ruled the clock and held on to the ball for 33:41, going 7 of 12 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down.

In the week nine contest in the Big Easy, the Saints were a 1-point favorite and they covered, winning by 10 and both teams took care of the 60 1/2 over/under, as both teams combined for 80 points. This time, the Saints are favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 56. There’s a good chance the over/under could be reached by halftime. The Saints want to prove that the first meeting was not a fluke while the Rams are seeking revenge. Revenge wins out here. Hooray for Hollywood! Rams pull the upset in the Big Easy and covers the 3 1/2.

AFC – New England (11-5, 2nd seed) at Kansas City (12-4, 1st seed), 6:40 p.m. on CBS. Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes. They meet again, this time in central America. The Chiefs host the Patriots in a week six rematch at Arrownhead to become the AFC’s representative to Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Both teams were winners at home in last week’s action.

New England led the Los Angeles Chargers 35-7 at the break at Foxboro and came out on top 41-28 at Gillette Stadium. New England broke a 7-7 tie early in the first quarter as rookie RB Sony Michel would give the Patriots the lead back for keeps, scoring the first of his three rushing TDs late in the period (Michel would then add a second rushing score before halftime). New England outrushed the Bolts 155-19, with Michel leading the eay with 129 yards and Brady threw for 343 yards and a TD without being sacked or picked off, while Philip Rivers threw for 331 yards and three TDs (two of the passes coming late in the contest) and was scked twice and picked off once. While New England was 50 percent on third down tries (the Pats were 7 of 14), they were perfect on fourth down tries, going 1 for 1 and held the ball for 38:20, while the Chargers kept the pigskin for 21:40, going 5 of 13 on third down, 1 for 1 on fourth down.

The Chiefs opened Divisonal Weekend in chilly snowy Kansas City and took care of Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts 31-13 at Arrowhead Saturday afternoon. Kansas City led 17-0 early in the contest before the Colts got their first score thanks to a Chiefs’ special teams blunder when Zeke Pascal recoveed a blocked punt in the end zone to put themselves on the scoreboard. Mahomes then took matters into his own feet, scoring on a four-yard romp late in the second quarter to take a 24-7 lead with them to the intermission. Luck and T.Y. Hilton would pull the Colts to within 11 late in the fourth quarter before Kansas City would seal Indianapolis’ fate when RB Damien Williams, who opened the game’s scoring, closed it out with a six-yard run to take the win. Williams accounted for 129 yards to lead all rushers as the Chiefs outrushed the Colts 180-87 and Mahomes threw for 278 yards and despite being sacked four times, did not throw an interception, while Luck threw for 203 yards with three sacks and the lone TD toss to Hilton. While Kansas City floundered on third down tries at 4 of 14, they struck oil on fourth down, going 3 of 4 and ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 39:49, while the Colts were a dismal 0 for 9 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 20:11.

The Patriots knocked Kansas City out of the ranks of the unbeatens in the week six Sunday night contest in Foxboro, coming away 43-40 last second winners over the Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. Brady and New England led 24-13 at the intermission before the Chiefs would rally in the second half, outscoring New England 31-19 in the final 30 minutes of action. Kansas City took a 33-30 lead with 8:38 left when Tyreek Hill and Mahomes (352 yards, four TDs, two interceptions) connected on a 1-yard TD pass. That lead would not last long as Brady took matters into his own hands and feet, scoring from 4 yards out and the Pats would add to that lead when Stephen Gostkowski booted a 52-yarder to lead 40-33. The Chiefs were not going away quietly as Hill and Mahomes hooked up again with 3:03 left to re-tie the contest. New England went into a surgeon-like mode in the final 3:03, using a 7-play, 65-yard drive that used all the available time left in regulation when Gostkowski booted a 28-yard field goal as time expired. Brady threw for 340 yards with a TD toss to Josh Edelman as New England outrushed Kansas City 173-94 (New England rookie RB Sony Michel led everyone with 106 yards on the ground with a pair of TDs). New England was 7 of 13 on third down (the Pats were 0 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 36:09 (including the final drive), while the Chiefs were 4 of 10 on third down (1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 23:51.

New England in the week six Sunday night contest was favored by 3 1/2 but won by 3. Both clubs manged to wipe the 60 over/under off the face of the Earth, combining to score 83 points in Foxboro. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Chiefs as a 3-point favorite with a 56 over/under. For the Pats, they look to go back to the Super Bowl and erase the memory of what happened to them in Minneapolis; for the Chiefs, it will be their first trip to the big game since Hank Stram wore that blazer as he and Len Dawson took Minnesota to task in New Orleans. Everything’s up to date in Kansas City and so are the Chiefs. Pats make this one close but Chiefs prevail at Arrowhead.

Saturday and Sunday Broadcast Information (All Times Eastern)

AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Ryan Radtke, Trent Green, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Indianapolis), 83 (Kansas City); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Indianapolis), 225 (Kansas City)

NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Kurt Warner, Scott Kaplan; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Dallas), 83 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Dallas), 225 (Los Angeles Rams)

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (New England) | XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Los Angeles Chargers), 225 (New England)

NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday on FOX: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver, Peter Schrager; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, James Lofton, Ross Tucker; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Philadelphia), 83 (New Orleans); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Philadelphia), 225 (New Orleans)

Saturday and Sunday Officials
AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: John Hussey
NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: John Parry
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Ron Torbert
NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Carl Cheffers

Saturday and Sunday Odds (Home Teams in CAPS)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite          Spread    Underdog           O/U
KANSAS CITY       –  6      Indianapolis       57
LA RAMS           –  7      Dallas             49 1/2

Sunday’s Games
Favorite          Spread    Underdog           O/U
NEW ENGLAND       –  4 1/2  LA Chaargers       48
NEW ORLEANS       –  9      Philadelphia       51 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report

AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday

Indianapolis
DOUBTFUL: DE Tyquan Lewis (Knee)
OUT: WR Ryan Grant (Toe)
QUESTIONABLE: S Malik Hooker (Foot), DT Denico Autry (Shoulder)

Kansas City
DOUBTFUL: LB Dorian O’Daniel (Calf)
QUESTIONABLE: S James Berry (Heel), RB Spencer Ware (Hamstring), WR Sammy Watkins (Foot)

NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday

Dallas
OUT: DE David Irving (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Cole Beasley (Ankle), TE Blake Jarwin (Anke), DT Maliek Collins (Illness), G Xavier Su’a-Filo (Ankle), S Darian Thompson (Groin)

Los Angeles Rams
QUESTIONABLE: DT Ethan Westbrooks (Thigh)

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday

Los Angeles Chargers
QUESTIONABLE: CB Brandon Facyson (Concussion), TE Hunter Henry (Knee), RB Derek Watt (Shoulder), LB Kyle Wilson (Concussion)

New England
QUESTIONABLE: DE Deatrich Wise (Ankle)

NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday
Sunday, January 13th

Philadelphia
OUT: QB Carson Wentz (Back)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Donell Alexander (Hamstring), CB Sidney Jones (Hamstring), DE Michael Bennett (Foot), WR Shelton Gibson (Hamstring), T Jason Peters (Quadricep), WR Mike Wallace (Ankle)

New Orleans
OUT: WR Simmie Cobbs (Knee)

Saturday and Sunday Weather
AFC – Indianapolis at Kansas City, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Overcast with a 40 percent chance of snow and 31 degrees
NFC – Dallas at Los Angeles Rams, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Partly cloudy and 58 degrees
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at New England, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Partly cloudy and 27 degrees
NFC – Philadelphia at New Orleans, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Game indoors

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

 

Wild Card Weekend Broadcast Information (All times Eastern)

AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday on ESPN/ABC: Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Adam Schefter, Lisa Salters; WESTWOOD ONE: Mike Tirico, Brian Griese, Hub Arkush; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Indianapolis), 83 (Houston); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Indianapolis), 225 (Houston)

NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday on FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews, Chris Myers; WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor, Ed Werder; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Seattle), 83 (Dallas); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Seattle), 225 (Dallas)

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday on CBS: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson, Jay Feely, Gene Steratore; WESTWOOD ONE: Ian Eagle, Tony Boselli, Ben Leber; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Los Angeles Chargers), 83 (Baltimore); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Los Angeles Chargers), 225 (Baltimore)

NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); WESTWOOD ONE: Kevin Harlan, James Lofton, Laura Okmin; SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 82 (Philadelphia), 83 (Chicago); XM: 88 (WW1), 226 (Philadelphia), 225 (Chicago)

Wild Card Officals
AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Bill Vinovich
NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Walt Anderson
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Clete Blakeman
NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Tony Corrente

Wild Card Odds (Home Teams in Caps)

Saturday’s Games
Favorite         Spread    Underdog             O/U
HOUSTON          –  2 1/2  Indianapolis         47 1/2
DALLAS           –  2 1/2  Seattle              43

Sunday’s Games
Favorite         Spread    Underdog             O/U
BALTIMORE        –  2      Los Angeles Chargers 41 1/2
CHICAGO          –  5 1/2  Philadelphia         41 1/2

Saturday and Sunday Injury Report
AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Indianapolis and Houston report no injuries

NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Seattle and Dallas report no injuries

AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Los Angeles Chargers and Baltimore report no injuries

NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Philadelphia and Chicago report no injuries

Saturday and Sunday Weather
AFC – Indianapolis at Houston, 4:35 p.m. Saturday: Roof Closed
NFC – Seattle at Dallas, 8:15 p.m. Saturday: Roof Closed
AFC – Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. Sunday: Sunny and 50 degrees
NFC – Philadelphia at Chicago, 4:40 p.m. Sunday: Overcast and 38 degrees

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

Sunday’s Broadcast Information (All times listed Eastern)

ATLANTA at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 708: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Atlanta), 105 (Tampa Bay); XM: 381 (Atlanta), 234 (Tampa Bay)

Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 709: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 106 (Carolina), 83 (New Orleans); XM: 386 (Carolina), 225 (New Orleans)

Dallas at New York Giants, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 111 (Dallas), 94 (New York Giants); XM: 385 (Dallas), 230 (New York Giants)

Detroit at Green Bay, 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711: Justin Kutcher, Robert Smith, Pat McAfee, Sarah Kustok (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 99 (Detroit), 135 (Green Bay); XM: 380 (Detroit), 229 (Green Bay)

Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705: Andrew Catalon, James Lofton, Jay Feely (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 125 (Jacksonville), 82 (Houston); XM: 383 (Jacksonville), 227 (Houston)

Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 706: Beth Mowins, Steve Beuerlein (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 127 (Miami), 108 (Buffalo); XM: 384 (Miami), 228 (Buffalo)

New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 710: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 133 (New York Jets), 81 (New England); XM: 382 (New York Jets), 226 (New England)

Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 716: Sam Rosen, Brady Quinn, Lisa Byington (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 78 (Arizona), 126 (Seattle); XM: 388 (Arizona ), 232 (Sea)

Chicago at Minnesota, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 717: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 134 (Chicago), 113 (Minnesota); XM: 381 (Chicago), 231 (Minnesota)

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 712: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Steve Tasker (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 99 (Cincinnati), 81 (Pittsburgh); XM: 380 (Cincinnati), 226 (Pittsburgh)

Oakland at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 715: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Bruce Arians, Melanie Collins (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 103 (Oakland), 146 (Kansas City); XM: 391 (Oakland), 233 (Kansas City)

Cleveland at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 713: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 98 (Cleveland), 82 (Baltimore); XM: 390 (Cleveland), 227 (Baltimore)

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 714: Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 136 (Los Angeles Chargers), 108 (Denver); XM: 389 (Los Angeles Chargers), 228 (Denver)

Philadelphia at Washington, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 718: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 121 (Philadelphia), 83 (Washington); XM: 387 (Philadelphia), 225 (Washington)

San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 719: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (Field reporter); SIRIUS: 133 (San Francisco), 119 (Los Angeles Rams); XM: 382 (San Francisco), 235 (Los Angeles Rams)

Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m. on NBC: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (Field reporter); NATIONAL RADIO: Westwood One: Kevin Kugler, Jason Taylor; SIRIUS: 81 (Indianapolis), 83 (Tennessee) | XM: 226 (Indianapolis), 225 (Tennessee)

Sunday’s Officials
ATLANTA at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.: Brad Allen
Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m.: Bill Vinovich
Dallas at New York Giants, 1 p.m.: Clay Martin
Detroit at Green Bay, 1 p.m.: Alex Kemp
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.: Pete Morelli
Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: John Hussey
New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m.: Walt Coleman
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.: Ron Torbert
Chicago at Minnesota, 4:25 p.m.: Clete Blakeman
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.: Carl Cheffers
Oakland at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.: Shawn Hochuli
Cleveland at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.: Shawn Smith
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 4:25 p.m.: John Parry
Philadelphia at Washington, 4:25 p.m.: Craig Wrolstad
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: Jerome Boger
Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m.: Walt Anderson

Sunday’s Odds (Home teams in CAPS)

Favorite             Spread    Underdog        O/U
TAMPA BAY            –  1      Atlanta         51 1/2
NEW ORLEANS          –  9      Carolina        45
NEW YORK GIANTS      –  6 1/2  Dallas          42 1/2
GREEN BAY            –  7 1/2  Detroit         45
HOUSTON              –  7      Jacksonville    40 1/2
BUFFALO              –  3 1/2  Miami           38 1/2
NEW ENGLAND          – 13 1/2  New York Jets   45 1/2
SEATTLE              – 13 1/2  Arizona         38 1/2
MINNESOTA            –  5      Chicago         41
PITTSBURGH           – 14 1/2  Cincinnati      45 1/2
KANSAS CITY          – 13 1/2  Oakland         54
BALTIMORE            –  6      Cleveland       41
Los Angeles Chargers –  6 1/2  DENVER          41 1/2
Philadelphia         –  6 1/2  WASHINGTON      42
LOS ANGELES RAMS     – 10      San Francisco   50
Indianapolis         –  3      TENNESSEE       43 1/2

Sunday’s Injury Report

ATLANTA at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.

ATLANTA
OUT: C Weston Schweitzer (Back)

Tampa Bay
DOUBTFUL: WR DeSean Jackson (Achilles), DE Carl Nassib (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Devante Bond (Illness), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Knee)

Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m.

Miami
DOUBTFUL: S Tim McDonald (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Kristian Alonso (Knee), DE Orlandus Branch (Knee), DE Evander Hood (Hamstring), CB Xavien Howard (Knee)

Buffalo
OUT: LB Julian Stanford (Ankle), WR Deonte Thompson (Toe)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Chris Ivory (Shoulder), CB Ryan Lewis (Concussion)

Detroit at Green Bay, 1 p.m.

Detroit
OUT: DT A’Shawn Robinson (Knee), CB DeShawn Shead (Knee), TE Luke Willson (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Jamal Agnew (Knee), RB LeGarrette Blount (Knee), S Quandre Diggs (Back), WR Kenny Golladay (Chest), DT Damon Harrison (Ankle)

Green Bay
DOUBTFUL: WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Concussion), T Jason Spriggs (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Davante Adams (Knee), CB Jaire Alexander (Groin), T David Bakhtiari (Hip), S Kentrell Brice (Ankle), DE Fadol Brown (Toe), G Lucas Patrick (Abdomen), G Lane Taylor (Knee)

Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.

Jacksonville
DOUBTFUL: RB Leonard Fournette (Ankle)
OUT: CB Arlandus Bouye (Toe), K Josh Lambo (Right Groin), T Josh Wells (Concussion)

Houston
QUESTIONABLE: WR Key’vantanie Coutee (Hamstring), DT Brandon Dunn (Ankle), CB Johnathan Joesph (Neck)

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

New York Jets
OUT: CB Morris Claiborne (Shoulder), WR Onochie Enunwa (Ankle), WR Jermaine Kearse (Achilles), LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jordan Jenkins (Ankle)

New England
OUT: TE Jacob Hollister (Hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Brandon King (Knee), WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Knee)

Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m.

Carolina
OUT: QB Cam Newton (Right Shoulder), DT Kawann Short (Calf), G Trai Turner (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Kenjon Barner (Knee), T Marshall Newhouse (Hip)

New Orleans
OUT: T Terron Armstead (Pectoral), G Jermon Bushrod (Hamstring), G Lawrence Warford (Knee)

Dallas at New York Giants, 1 p.m.

Dallas
OUT: DE Tyrone Crawford (Neck), DE David Irving (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: T Tyron Smith (Neck), CB Anthony Brown (Back), LB Sean Lee (Hamstring), G Zach Martin (Knee)

New York Giants
OUT: WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Quadricep), DE Mario Edwards (Calf), TE Rhett Ellison (Concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (Concussion), WR Russell Shepard (Ankle)

Cleveland at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.

Cleveland
OUT: CB Denzel Ward (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: C Joe Tretter (Ankle)

Baltimore
QUESTIONABLE: LB Terrell Suggs (Hamstring), G Alex Lewis (Shoulder), WR John Brown (Hamstring), LB Anthony Levine (Toe), CB Tavon Young (Groin)

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

Oakland
OUT: CB Montrel Meander (Quadricep)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Gareon Conley (Concussion), DT Maurice Hurst (Ankle)

Kansas City
OUT: WR Sammy Watkins (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: S James Berry (Heel), CB Kendall Fuller (Thumb), RB Spencer Ware (Hamstring), RB Darrel Williams (Hamstring)

Chicago at Minnesota, 4:25 p.m.

Chicago
DOUBTFUL: S Eddie Jackson (Ankle), LB Aaron Lynch (Elbow), WR Allen Robinson (Ribs)
QUESTIONABLE: DT Bilal Nichols (Knee)

Minnesota
OUT: WR Chad Beebe (Hamstring), RB Cortez Ham (Elbow), LB Eric-Nathan Kendricks (Hamstring), CB Marcus Sherels (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Xavier Rhodes (Groin), G Thomas Compton (Shoulder)

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.

Cincinnati
OUT: LB Vontaze Burfict (Concussion), CB Tony McRae (Hamstring)

Pittsburgh
DOUBTFUL: LB Vince Williams (Toe)
Antonio Brown WR Not Injury Related Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable
Sean Davis S Quadricep Did Not Participate In Practice Questionable
James Conner RB Ankle Full Participation in Practice Questionable

Philadelphia at Washington, 4:25 p.m.

Philadelphia
OUT: CB Sidney Jones (Hamstring), QB Carson Wentz (Back), LB Donell Alexander (Hamstring), G Isaac Seumalo (Pectoral), WR Mike Wallace (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Michael Bennett (Foot), LB Jordan Hicks (Calf), C Jason Kelce (Knee), T Jason Peters (Quadricep)

Washington
DOUBTFUL: TE Vernon Davis (Concussion)
OUT: T Attauyo Nsekhe (Knee), WR Maurice Harris (Concussion)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Josh Doctson (Illness), DE Matt Ioannidis (Hamstring), LB Orlando Anderson (Hamstring), G Anthony Bergstrom (Knee), G Zach Kerin (Knee)

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

Los Angeles Chargers
QUESTIONABLE: TE Sean Culkin (Back)

Denver – Denver reports no injuries

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

San Francisco
OUT: RB Matthew Breida (Ankle), WR Marquise Goodwin (Calf), WR Dante Pettis (Knee), TE Garrett Celek (Concussion)

Los Angeles Rams
OUT: RB Todd Gurley (Knee), S Lamarcus Joyner (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: RB Justin Davis (Shoulder)

Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Arizona
OUT: TE Roderick Seals-Jones (Shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Markus Golden (Ankle), DE Benson Mayowa (Back)

Seattle
DOUBTFUL: G Justin Sweezy (Foot)
QUESTIONABLE: G Danny Fluker (Hamstring), DE Dion Jordan (Knee), S Bradley McDougald (Knee), S Tedric Thompson (Ankle), RB Rashaad Penny (Knee)

Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m.

Indianapolis
OUT: WR Daurice Fountain (Ankle), C Ryan Kelly (Neck)
QUESTIONABLE: S Clayton Geathers (Knee), WR Eugene Hilton (Ankle), WR Zach Pascal (Knee), TE Eric Ebron (Concussion), CB Nathan Hairston (Hip), WR Dontrelle Inman (Shoulder), DB Jaball Sheard (Teeth)

Tennessee
OUT: LB Brian Orakpo (Elbow)
QUESTIONABLE: QB Marcus Mariota (Neck)

Sunday’s Weather
ATLANTA at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 80 degrees
Carolina at New Orleans, 1 p.m.: Game Indoors
Dallas at New York Giants, 1 p.m.: Mostly cloudy and 41 degrees
Detroit at Green Bay, 1 p.m.: Mostly cloudy and 30 degrees
Jacksonville at Houston, 1 p.m.: Game Indoors
Miami at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: Overcast and 33 degrees
New York Jets at New England, 1 p.m.: Mostly sunny and 35 degrees
Arizona at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 45 degrees
Chicago at Minnesota, 4:25 p.m.: Game Indoors
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 42 degrees
Oakland at Kansas City, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 46 degrees
Cleveland at Baltimore, 4:25 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 46 degrees
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver, 4:25 p.m.: Mostly cloudy and 52 degrees
Philadelphia at Washington, 4:25 p.m.: Partly cloudy and 46 degrees
San Francisco at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m.: Sunny and 64 degrees
Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:20 p.m.: Overcast with a 40 percent chance of showers and 48 degrees

Broadcast Information and Injury Report courtesy the National Football League, odds courtesy Don Best, weather information courtesy The Weather Channel. (Note: Weather information is based on kickoff local time)

Two weeks left. Five playoff spots have been claimed. Seven more spots are open and come the end of play on Christmas Eve night, those spots could very well be filled. Football’s answer to the kid’s party game Musicial Chairs continues and for those that are still in contention, as long as the music plays and there are chairs, you have a chance. It’s when the music stops and there’s scrambling for a chair that presents a problem. The winner gets to stay, the loser gets the somewhat unfair task of sitting out and watching the others have fun.

When the 2018 NFL regular season comes to an end December 30, 12 teams will be on the NFL nice list, which means that they’ll be in the post-season party. For the other 20 teams that didn’t make the post-season? They’re on the naughty list.

SEVEN FROM LAST SUNDAY: Chicago defeated Green Bay, 24-17 to clinch the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010.

The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place.

The Los Angeles Chargers, who defeated Kansas City 29-28 on Thursday night, clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2013.

•Tennessee running back Derrick Henry rushed for 170 yards and two touchdowns in the Titans’ 17-0 victory over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Henry rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns in Week 14, became the fifth player since 2002 to record at least 170 rushing yards and two touchdown runs in consecutive games, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer La Dainian Tomlinson (2006), Deuce Mc Allister (2003), Clinton Portis (2003) and Ricky Williams (2002).

Henry’s 408 rushing yards since Week 14 are the most by a player over a two-game span in franchise history, surpassing the previous high of 405 yards set by Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell in Weeks 7-8 for the 1980 Houston Oilers. His six rushing touchdowns are the most by a player in team history over any two-game span.

•Chicago quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed 20 of 28 passes (71.4 percent) for 235 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 120.4 passer rating in the Bears’ 24-17 victory over Green Bay.

Trubisky has recorded a passer rating of at least 120 (minimum 15 attempts) in four games this season, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer Sid Luckman (three games in 1943), Rudy Bukich (three in 1965) and Erik Kramer (three in 1995) for the most such games by a quarterback in a single season in franchise history.

•Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones had 82 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 40-14 victory over Arizona.

Jones, who leads the NFL with 1,511 receiving yards, is the fifth player in NFL history with at least three career seasons with 1,500+ receiving yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (four seasons) and Marvin Harrison (three), Antonio Brown (three) and Andre Johnson (three). Jones also has 100 receptions this season, joining Harrison (three), Brown (three) and Johnson (three) as the only players in NFL history with at least 100 catches and 1,500 receiving yards in three career seasons.

•Baltimore, led by rookie running back Gus Edwards (104 rushing yards) and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson (95 rushing yards), recorded 242 rushing yards in the Ravens’ 20-12 victory over Tampa Bay. Baltimore has rushed for at least 190 yards in five consecutive games and is the first team to accomplish the feat since the 1976 Pittsburgh Steeler, who had five consecutive games from October 17 to November 14.

•Indianapolis running back Marlon Mack rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ 23-0 victory over Dallas.

Mack, who also rushed for 132 yards and two scores in the Colts’ Week 8 victory over Oakland, is the third player in franchise history to record multiple games with at least 125 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson (two games in 1987) and Edgerrin James (two games in both 1999 and 2005).

•Minnesota recorded nine sacks, including two sacks each from defensive end Dannielle Hunter and linebacker Anthony Barr, in the team’s 41-17 victory over Miami. The Vikings, who recorded 10 sacks in the team’s Week 9 victory over Detroit, are the second team since 1990 to register at least nine sacks in multiple games in a single season, joining the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars (two games). The Vikings are the seventh team since the 1970 merger to record multiple such games in a single season.

As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one team still alive in the race to Atlanta.

Two teams – Chicago (NFC North) and the Los Angeles Chargers (playoff berth) – clinched a berth in the 2018 NFL postseason last week. Da Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

In the AFC, Houston (10-4) can clinch the AFC South division title with a victory, while New England (9-5) can secure their 10th consecutive AFC East division title with a win. The Patriots have advanced to the postseason in nine consecutive seasons (2009-2017), tied with Dallas (nine from 1975-1983) and Indianapolis (nine from 2002-2010) for the most consecutive seasons in NFL history with a playoff berth.

Kansas City (11-3) and the Los Angeles Chargers (11-3) are tied atop with the AFC West and continue to battle for position in the AFC playoff picture. Pittsburgh (8-5-1) can secure the AFC North title with a victory coupled with a Baltimore loss. Additionally, Baltimore (8-6), Cleveland (6-7-1), Indianapolis (8-6), Miami (7-7) and Tennessee (8-6) all look to remain in the hunt.

In the NFC, three divisions have been clinched – the NFC North (Chicago), NFC South (New Orleans) and NFC West (Los Angeles Rams). The battle for the NFC East continues, as Dallas (8-6) can secure the division title with a victory this week but  Philadelphia (7-7) and Washington (7-7) remain in the thick of the race.

With a win in Week 16, New Orleans (12-2) would clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. The race for the two Wild Card positions in the NFC remains competitive, with Carolina (6-8), Minnesota (7-6-1) and Seattle (8-6) fighting for a position in the playoff picture. The scenarios for week 16 can either so clear even a five-year old could understand or cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show (apologies to Foghorn Leghorn!). Below are the scenarios for week 16. Pay attention and take notes… there will be a quiz afterward.

2018 NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS FOR WEEK 16

NFC

CLINCHED: Los Angeles Rams – NFC West division title, New Orleans – NFC South division title, Chicago – NFC North division title

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (12-2) vs. Pittsburgh (8-5-1), Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on CBS

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with:
New Orleans win OR
New Orleans tie + Los Angeles Rams loss or tie OR
CHI loss or tie + Los Angeles Rams loss

New Orleans clinches a first-round bye with:
New Orleans tie OR
Chicago loss or tie OR
Los Angeles Rams loss

Los Angeles Rams (11-3) at Arizona (3-11), Sunday at 4:05 p.m. on FOX

Los Angeles clinches a first-round bye with:
Los Angeles Rams win + Chicago loss or tie OR
Los Angeles Rams tie + Chicago loss

Dallas (8-6) vs. Tampa Bay (5-9), Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX

Dallas clinches NFC East division title with:
Dallas win OR
Dallas tie + Philadelphia loss or tie + Washington loss or tie OR
Philadelphia loss + Washington loss

Dallas clinches a playoff berth with:
Dallas tie + Minnesota loss

Seattle (8-6) vs. Kansas City (11-3), Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Seattle clinches a playoff berth with:
Seattle win + Washington loss or tie OR
Seattle win or tie + Minnesota loss OR
Seattle win + Seattle clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Washington OR
Seattle win + Minnesota tie + Seattle clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Minnesota OR
Seattle tie + Washington loss + Philadelphia loss or tie

Minnesota (7-6-1) at Detroit (5-9), Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX

Minnesota clinches a playoff berth with:
Minnesota win+ Philadelphia loss or tie + Washington loss

AFC

CLINCHED: Kansas City Chiefs – Playoff berth, Los Angeles Chargers – Playoff berth

Kansas City (11-3) at Seattle (8-6), Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. on NBC

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title and a first-round bye with:
Kansas City win + Los Angeles Chargers loss

Kansas City clinches home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with:
Kansas City win + Los Angeles Chargers loss + Houston loss or tie OR
Kansas City win + Los Angeles Chargers loss + Kansas City clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Houston

Houston (10-4) at Philadelphia (7-7), Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

Houston clinches AFC South division title with:
Houston win or tie OR
Indianapolis  loss or tie + TEN loss or tie

Houston clinches a first-round bye with:
Houston win + New England loss or tie OR
Houston tie + New England loss

Houston clinches a playoff berth with:
Baltimore loss or tie OR
Pittsburgh loss OR
Tennessee loss or tie + Houston clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over Baltimore

New England (9-5) vs. Buffalo (5-9), Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS

New England clinches AFC East division title with:
New England win or tie OR
Miami loss or tie

Pittsburgh (8-5-1) at New Orleans (12-2), Sunday at 4:25 p.m. on CBS

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:
Pittsburgh win + Baltimore loss or tie OR
Pittsburgh tie + Baltimore loss

Pittsburgh clinches a playoff berth with:
Pittsburgh win + Indianapolis loss + Tennessee loss

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN WEEK 16:

WORST TO FIRST: As the NFL enters Week 16, five postseason berths have been clinched and seven remain up for grabs. Nineteen of the league’s 32 teams remain in contention for a trip to Super Bowl LIII and 14 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule feature at least one team still alive in the race to Atlanta.

Two teams – Chicago Bears (NFC North) and the Los Angeles Chargers (playoff berth) – clinched a berth in the 2018 NFL postseason last week. The Bears, who finished in fourth place in the NFC North last season, completed a “worst-to-first” turnaround in 2018. The Houston Texans (10-4), who finished in last in the AFC South in 2017, can clinch the division title at Philadelphia at 1 p.m. on CBS with a win or tie or if both Indianapolis and Tennessee lose or tie.

In 15 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs in every season that were not in the postseason the year before.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING: Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the NFL with 45 touchdown passes this season.

On Sunday night at Seattle at 8:20 p.m. on NBC, Mahomes can continue his climb up the NFL’s single season touchdown pass leaderboard.

The players with the most touchdown passes in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – TOUCHDOWN PASSES)
Peyton Manning, Denver (2013 – 55)#
Tom Brady, New England (2007 – 50)#
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (2004 – 49)#
Dan Marino, Miami (1984 – 48)^#
Drew Brees, New Orleans (2011 – 46)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (2018 – 45)*
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (2011 – 45)#
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
#Named Associated Press Most Valuable Player
*Entering Week 16

SHAKE & BAKER: Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, selected first overall by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft, leads all rookies with 21 touchdown passes this season.

With three touchdown passes on Sunday at home against Cincinnati at 1 p.m. on CBS, Mayfield would surpass Andrew Luck (23 touchdown passes in 2012) for the second-most touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era.

The most touchdown passes by a rookie selected No. 1 overall in the common draft era:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – PASSING TOUCHDOWNS)
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (1998 – 26)
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (2012 – 23)
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay (2015 – 22)
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland (2018 – 21)*
Cam Newton, Carolina (2011 – 21)#
#Named Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year
*Entering Week 16

RUN & CATCH: Carolina running back Chrstian McCaffrey leads all running backs with 94 receptions in 2018.

With nine receptions on Sunday at home against Atlanta at 1 p.m. on FOX, McCaffrey would surpass Matt Forté (102 receptions in 2014) for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history.

The running backs with the most receptions in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RECEPTIONS)
Matt Forté, Chicago (2014 – 102)
Larry Centers, Arizona (1995 – 101)
LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (2003 – 100)^
Larry Centers, Arizona (1996 – 99)
Chrstian McCaffrey, Carolina (2018 – 94)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Entering Week 16

New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley leads all rookies with 82 receptions and needs seven catches at Indianapolis at 1 p.m. on CBS to surpass Reggie Bush (88 in 2006) for the most receptions by a rookie running back in league annals.

The rookie running backs with the most receptions in league annals:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RECEPTIONS)
Reggie Bush, New Orleans (2006 – 88)
Earl Cooper, San Francisco (1980 – 83)
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (2018 – 82)*
*Entering Week 16

RECORD-SETTING TIGHT ENDS: Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce leads all tight ends with a career-high 1,220 receiving yards in 2018.

With 108 receiving yards against Seattle on Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. on NBC, Kelce would surpass Rob Gronkowski (1,327 receiving yards in 2011) for the most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season in NFL history.

The tight ends with the most receiving yards in a single season in NFL history:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RECIEVING YARDS)
Rob Gronkowski, New England (2011 – 1,327)
Jimmy Graham, New Orleans (2011 – 1,310)
Kellen Winslow, San Diego (1980 – 1,290)^
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (2004 – 1,258)
Todd Christensen, Los Angeles Raiders (1983 – 1,247)
Travis Kelce, Kansas City (2018 – 1,220)*
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Entering Week 16

Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz, who ranks third in the NFL with 101 receptions, needs 10 catches against Houston on Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS to surpass Jason Witten (110 receptions in 2012) for the most receptions by a tight end in a single season in league annals.

The tight ends with the most receptions in a single season in league annals:

PLAYER, TEAM (SEASON – RECEPTIONS)
Jason Witten, Dallas (2012 – 110)
Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (2004 – 102)
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia (2018 – 101)*
*Entering Week 16

KEEP IT 100: Five players – New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas (109 receptions), Minnesota wide receiver Adam Thielen (105), Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz (101), Atlanta wide receiver Julio Jones (100) and Green Bay wide receiver Davante Adams (100) – have recorded at least 100 receptions this season.

Entering Week 16, six additional players – Pittsburgh wide receivers Juju Smith-Schuster (95 receptions) and Antonio Brown (90), Houston wide receiver De Andre Hopkins (94), Carolina running back Chrstian McCaffrey (94), Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce (93) and Minnesota wide receiver Stefon Diggs (92) – currently have at least 90 receptions.

With 10 players recording at least 100 catches this season, the 2018 season would surpass the 1995 season (nine) for the most players with at least 100 catches in a single season.

The seasons with the most players with at least 100 receptions in NFL history:

SEASON – PLAYERS WITH 100+ RECEPTIONS

1995 – 9
2015 – 7
Many tied with 6
2018 – 5*
*Entering Week 16

Week 16 got underway with a Saturday doubleheader starting in Nashville as Tennessee held off Washington 26-15 in Nashville in the first contest of the day and Baltimore edged the Los Angeles Chargers 22-10 at Stub Hub Centre in the second Saturday contest. Week 16 concludes in Oakland on Christmas Eve as the Raiders and Broncos meet in an AFC West/AFC contest.

As for last week… a lot better than we had hoped, going 8-8 for the week, 124-96 for the year. We hear that Santa likes Monday night football, so be sure to leave some football-shaped cookies for him and hay for the reindeer Monday night. Having said that, here are the Sunday and Monday picks for week 16.

ATLANTA (5-9) at Carolina (6-8), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 710. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons make the 245-mile trip up I-85 for a rematch with NFC South rival Carolina in Charlotte. The Panthers will be without QB Cam Newton because of a lingering shoulder injury, which means that Taylor Heinicke will be under center for the remainder of the season.

The Falcons trailed Arizona 7-0 early in the first quarter, then proceeded to score 40 points unchallenged in their home finale, breaking their five-game losing streak and came away with the 40-14 win in the Big Peach. Atlanta led 26-7 at the intermission, then floored the gas in the second half, using a 43-yard run from RB Tevin Coleman and a 5-yard TD toss from Ryan to WR Justin Hardy to all but seal Arizona’s fate. Atlanta outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 215-60 with Coleman leadng the way on the ground with 145 yards on 11 carries, Ryan threw for 231 yards with a pair of TDs (one to WR Julio Jones) and had a rushing TD of his own, while Arizona’s Josh Rosen threw for 132 yards in the lopsided loss, throwing a pair of interceptions to go with six sacks. Atlanta went 5 of 13 on third down tries in the home finale and ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 30:40, while the Cardinals were 3 for 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 29:20.

Carolina dropped their sixth contest in a row, losing in Charlotte to New Orleans 12-9 last Monday night. The Panthers led 7-6 at the intermission at Bank of America Stadium before the Saints would take the lead away from the Panthers when Alvin Kamara scored on a 16-yard run with 12:12 left in the contest. New Orleans then attempted a 2-point conversion to make the contest a five-point affair but Drew Brees’ 2-point attempt to WR Michael Thomas was picked off by Dante Jackson, who ran the ball back for a defensive two point conversion to keep the Panthers close. Carolina would later get the ball back after New Orleans fumbled it out of the endzone, creating a touchback and giving the Panthers the ball on their 20-yard line. Newton and the Panthers would eventually get as close as their 39-yard line but could not get any closer as Newton’s fourth-down pass attempt was incomplete, which gave the Saints the ball back and New Orleans would run the clock out and take the win. New Orleans outrushed Carolina 155-98 and Newton threw for 131 yards with four sacks, while Brees threw for 203 yards (both men threw an interception, Newton was sacked four times, Brees twice). Carolina was 7 of 15 on third down (the Panther were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:51, while the Saints ruled the clock, holding the ball for 35:09, going 4 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

They met in the Big Peach in week 2 and the Falcons came away with the 31-24 win. Atlanta took a 17-10 halftime lead against Cam Newton and the Panthers in the Big Peach to take the win, as Ryan threw a pair of TD passes (the first to rookie WR Calvin Ridley, the second to TE Austin Hooper) but Ryan also contributed with a pair of rushing TDs inside the red zone. Atlanta outrushed Carolina 170-121, with Falcons RB Tevin Coleman leading all rushers with 107 yards in the contest. Newton threw for 335 yards and three TDs, while Ryan threw for 272 yards (both Ryan and Newton were picked off once). Atlanta would go on to hold off a late Carolina rally that would have tied things up in the final seconds of the fourth quarter when Newton’s final pass attempt fell short of its mark and went incomplete. Carolina was 5 of 11 on third down (the Panthers were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and held the ball for 30:18, while Atlanta was 6 of 11 on third down tries, keeping the ball for 29:42.

The Falcons covered the 5 1/2-point spread with their 7-point win in the Big Peach in the week two contest and both teams took care of and covered the 44 over/under, combining for 55 points. The rematch in the Tar Heel State has Carolina as a 3-point favorite with a 48 over/under. Carolina’s trying to get themselves into the post-season party. Atlanta would love nothing more than to crash Carolina’s hopes.

Cincinnati (6-8) at Cleveland (6-7-1), 1 p.m. on CBS  and DirecTV 706. It’s round two of the Buckeye State War as the Bengals make the 248-mile trip up I–77 to face off against the Cleveland Browns in an AFC North rematch along the shores of Lake Erie. Both teams were winners in last week’s action.

The Bengals broke a five-game losing streak as they came away with a 30-16 win over Oakland 33:19at Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday. Cincinnati led 20-7 at the intermission, even though they would be outscored 13-10 in the final 30 minutes of play. Bengals HB Joe Mixon led all rushers with 129 yards and a pair of TDs as the Bengals outrushed the Silver and Black 171-68 and the Cincinnati defense sacked Derek Carr (263 yards, TD) five times, while Josh Driskell threw for 130 yards with a TD to TE Travis Boyd, a sack and an interception. The Bengals were 8 for 19 on third down conversions (they were 2 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:19, while the Raiders went 3 for 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 26:41.

The suddenly resurging Browns erased a 13-10 deficit at the end of the third quarter at Denver last Saturday night and came away 17-16 winners at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Cleveland and Denver entered halftime tied at 10-10 before the Broncos took the 13-10 lead with 1:41 left in the third on a Brandon McManus field goal to go into the fourth quarter on top. That would not be the case as the Browns would take the lead with 11:44 left in regulation when rookie QB Baker Mayfield and rookie WR Antonio Callaway connected on a 2-yard TD strike to take a four-point lead. McMannus would pull the Broncos to within one with 4:35 left thanks to a 29-yard field goal and Denver would eventually get the ball back after Cleveland punted with 1:49. The Broncos would get as close as midfield as Denver QB Case Keenum would throw three interceptions and was sacked by CB Jabril Peppers to end any hopes of Denver winning the contest. Cleveland outrushed Denver 134-32, with rookie RB Nick Chubb leading the way with 100 yards on the ground, Mayfield threw for 188 yards and a pair of TDs for the Broncos, while Keenum threw for 257 yards with a rushing TD, while throwing a pair of interceptions (both Mayfield and Keenum were sacked twice). Cleveland was 5 of 12 on third down, Denver was 5 of 14 and the Broncos actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:39, while the Browns kept it for 27:21 (both clubs went 1 of 2 on fourth down).

The two Ohio/AFC North rivals met along the shores of the Ohio River in week 12 and it would be the Browns that would prevail that afternoon, taking a 35-20 out of Cincinnati that afternoon. Cincinnati trailed 28-7 at the intermission and could never get things on track at home. While Cincinnati outrushed Cleveland 129-84, Andy Dalton threw for only 100 yards with a TD and an interception before he left the contest with a thumb injury that will have him sidelined for the rest of the season, while Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield burned their instate rivals for 258 yards and four TDs, including a TD toss to Nick Chubb. The Bengals were 4 for 12 on third down (they were 2 for 4 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:56, while the Browns kept the pigskin for 32:04, going 5 of 10 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Cincinnati was favored by 3 and the Browns covered the 3, winning by 15. Both teams took care of the 47 1/2 over/under, merging for 55 points. This time, it’s Cleveland’s turn to be favored and the boys and girls in Vegas like them as 7-point favorites with a 45 over/under. For the Browns, they want to get one step closer to the post-season; for the Bengals, it’s about revenge and bursting Cleveland’s bubble. Browns fans, it was fun while it lasted but the carriage is about to turn back into a football. Bengals get their revenge on their instate rivals and covers the 7.

Tampa Bay (5-9) at Dallas (8-6), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 711. A pair of future Hall of Fame QBs meet in the Lone Star State as Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay travels to Arlington for a Sunday afternoon contest with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams took road losses in last week’s action.

Winston faced another Heisman winner in as many weeks as Baltimore and Lamar Jackson kept their playoff hopes alive in Charm City after they came away 20-12 winners over Tampa Bay last Sunday. After a scoreless first quarter, the Ravens took a 10-9 lead with them to the intermission thanks to a 24-yard field goal by Jeff Tucker with nine seconds left before the break, then got 10 more points in the second half, courtesy of a 10-yard TD run by RB Gino Edwards and a second Tucker field goal to close out the Baltimore scoring plays. Edwards led all rushers with 104 yards as Baltimore outrushed Tampa Bay 242-85 and Jackson threw for 131 yards and a TD, while Jameis Winston threw for 157 yards with an interception and a sack (Jackson was sacked twice but was interception-free). Baltimore went 9 of 16 on third down (the Ravens were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 37:10, while the Buccaneers kept the ball for 22:50, going 3 of 10 on third down and 0 for 1 on fourth down.

Dallas’ bid to win the NFC East were put on hold in the Hoosier State as Indianapolis would shut out the Cowboys 23-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was the Adam Vinatieri and Marlon Mack show for the Colts, as Mack would score on touchdown runs of one and six yards, while Vinatieri chipped in with three field goals, the longest coming from 44 yards out as time expired in the first 30 minutes of play. The Colts, scoring all of their points unchallenged, outrushed Dallas 178-112, with Mack leading the way with 139 yards on the ground, while Ezekiel Elliott led Dallas with 87. Luck threw for 192 yards with no sacks or interceptions, while Prescott threw for 206 yards with three sacks and an interception. The Colts were 8 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 31:48, while the Cowboys were 28:12 in time of possession, going a somewhat dismal 4 for 12 on third down and 1 of 5 on fourth down.

Dallas leads the series 12-4 and the Cowboys have outscored the Buccaneers 300-228. Dallas’ last win in the series came in 2016 in Arlington as they would come out on top by a final of 26-20, while Tampa Bay’s last win came in the Sunshine State by a final of 10-9 in 2015. Dallas is favored by 7 in Arlington and the over/under’s 46 1/2. Dallas would love nothing more than to get back on track and win the NFC East in front of the home crowd at AT&T Stadium but Tampa Bay’s in their way and in their crosshairs. Dallas is not having any of that. Cowboys will act like Scrooge at home and take the win and the NFC East, covering the 7 in Arlington.

Minnesota (7-6-1) at Detroit (5-9), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 712. A pair of NFC North (NFC Norris, as ESPN’s Chris Berman calls it) meet in the Motor City as Minnesota and Detroit meet at Ford Field. Minnesota looks to claim the sixth and final spot in the NFC playoffs, while the Lions look to derail Minnesota’s hopes.

The Purple Gang manhandled Miami, taking the Dolphins to task 41-17. Minnesota took a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, then watched the Dolphis score 10 second quarter points without a challenge to lead 21-10 at the break. Minnesota then took control of things in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring Miami 20-7 to seal the win. Minnesota outrushed Miami 220-156 and both clubs had 100-yard rushers (Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook led all rushers with 136 yards and a pair of TDs, while Miami’s Kalen Ballage tallied 123 yards with a TD), Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 215 yards with a pair of TDs (Cousins was sacked once and threw an interception), while Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw for 108 yards with a season-high nine sacks.
Minnesota was 5 of 13 on third down tries in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, keeping the ball for 33:16, while the Dolphins, keeping the ball for 26:44, went 2 for 12 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.

Detroit saw Buffalo take a win away from them in Orchard Park as the Bills erased a 13-7 deficit at the half to come away 14-13 winners in upstate New York. The Bills took the lead for keeps with 10:26 left in the contest when WR Robert Foster caught a 42-yard TD pass from Josh Allen to erase the deficit and take the win, holding off the Lions in the final period of play. Detroit was outrushed by Buffalo 117-105, with Matthew Stafford throwing for 208 yards and Allen throwing for 204 yards (each threw a TD pass without an interception and Allen was sacked once) for the Bills. Buffalo was 3 for 12 on third down but had some success on fourth down tries, going 1 for 2 and kept the ball for 31:06, while Detroit kept the ball for 28:54 and went 5 for 13 on third down.

They met in the Twin Cities in week nine and the Lions were held in check that Sunday in Minneapolis, falling to Minnesota 24-9 at US Bank Stadium. The Lions trailed 17-6 at the break and could never get on track in the NFC North contest in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Minnesota outrushed the Lions 128-66 and Matthew Stafford was sacked 10 times by the Purple Gang, despite throwing for 199 yards, while Kirk Cousins threw for 164 yards with a TD to WR Adam Thielen. Minnesota would put the nail in Detroit’s coffin in the fourth quarter when Vikings DE Danielle Hunter fulfilled a defensive lineman’s dream and took a fumble and returned it 32 yards untouched for a TD. Detroit was 4 for 15 on third down tries, 3 of 3 on fourth down and held on to the pigskin for 36:45, while the Vikings needed only 23:15 of clock to keep the ball, while going 3 for 8 on third down, 1 of 1 on fourth down.

In the week nine contest in the Twin Cities, the Vikings easily covered the 5 1/2-point spread with the 15-point win in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The 50 1/2 over/under? It went untouched, as the two NFC North teams combined for 33 points. The Vikings are favored by 5 1/2 again in the rematch in the Motor City but the over/under this time’s 43 1/2. For the Vikings, it’s a chance to get themselves into position for a possible post-season spot. For the Lions, it’s another season of hope that has been dashed like a child’s toy at Christmas. Vikings win in the Motor City and covers the 5 1/2.

New York Giants (5-9) at Indianapolis (8-6), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 709. Eli Manning vs. Andrew Luck. They will meet in the Hoosier State as the Colts look to improve their playoff hopes, while the Giants look to restore some sembilance of order in the NFC East.

Eli and the Giants were taken to task by Tennessee in the Meadowlands last Sunday, as they were shut out by the Titans and Marcus Mariota 17-0 at Met Life Stadium. The Giants trailed 7-0 at to the intermission, then watched Tennesee score their last 10 points of the contest unchallenged, with Titans RB Derek Henry and Ryan Succop accounting for all of their scoring (Henry with a pair of 1-yard runs, Succop booting a 22-yard field goal in the fourth), The Titans outrushed the Giants 215-47, Mariota threw for 88 yards in the contest, while Manning threw for 229 yards with three sacks and an interception (Mariota was sacked once but did not throw an interception). Tennessee went 5 for 14 on third down (the Titans were 1 for 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 35:21, while the Giants, who were eliminated from the post-season with the loss, went 3 of 16 and 2 of 3 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 24:39.

Luck and the Colts stopped Dallas’ bid to win the NFC East as Indianapolis would shut out the Cowboys 23-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was the Adam Vinatieri and Marlon Mack show for the Colts, as Mack would score on touchdown runs of one and six yards, while Vinatieri chipped in with three field goals, the longest coming from 44 yards out as time expired in the first 30 minutes of play. The Colts, scoring all of their points unchallenged, outrushed Dallas 178-112, with Mack leading the way with 139 yards on the ground, while Ezekiel Elliott led Dallas, who was shutout for the first time since 2003, with 87. Luck threw for 192 yards with no sacks or interceptions, while Prescott threw for 206 yards with three sacks and an interception. The Colts were 8 for 12 on third down and ruled the clock, holding the ball for 31:48, while the Cowboys were 28:12 in time of possession, going a somewhat dismal 4 for 12 on third down and 1 of 5 on fourth down.

Including games that were played in Baltimore, as well as the Yale Bowl and Yankee Stadium, the Colts lead  the series 9-6 and they’ve outscored Big Blue 356-272. The Colts have won the last three meetings in the series, with their last win coming in 2014 in the Meadowlands by a final of 40-24, while the Giants’ last win in the series came in the Hoosier State in 2002, as they would come away 44-27 winners. Indy’s favored by 9 1/2 in the Hoosier State and the over/under’s 46 1/2. For the Giants, it’s been a season that their fan base would love to forget like Scrooge forgetting about the three ghosts. For the Colts, a win would mean they keep themselves in the AFC playoff hunt. Colts win in the Hoosier State and covers the 9 1/2.

Jacksonville (4-10) at Miami (7-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 705. A pair of Sunshine State AFC rivals meet in south Florida as Jacksonville makes the 331-mile trip down the coast on I-95 to face off against the Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium. Both teams took losses in last week’s action.

Jacksonville watched Washington use a late-contest rally in the Sunshine State last Sunday afternoon and watched their playoff hopes come to an end as they fell to the Redskins 16-13 at TIAA Stadium. Jacksonville led the Redskins 10-3 at the break and took a 10-6 lead at the end of the third quarter before Washington they stormed back in the final 15 minutes of play at TIAA Stadium. After a Kai Forbath field goal that gave Jacksonville a 13-6 lead with 7:32 left in the third, Washington would storm back in the fourth quarter, tying the contest with 5:47 left in regulation when backup QB Josh Johnson and TE Jeremy Sprinkle connected on a 6-yard TD toss. Washington would later get the ball back when CB Fabian Moreau picked off Jacksonville QB Cody Keesler, giving Washington excelent field position.

The Redskins would then proceed to use all of the 2:31 left in the contest, using an 8-play, 36-yard drive to set up Dustin Hopkins, who gave the Redskins the win with a 36-yard field goal as time expired. Jacksonville outrushed Washington 172-109 and Johnson threw for 151 yards with the lone TD toss (Johnson was sacked three times without throwing an interception), while Keesler threw for 57 yards with six sacks and an interception (Keesler led all rushers with 68 yards). Washington was 7 of 15 on third down tries and kept the ball for 33:06 (including the final 2:31 of the contest), while the Jaguars kept the ball for 26:54 and went 5 for 13 on third down conversions.

Miami saw their AFC playoff hopes somewhat damaged as Minnesota took them to task 41-17 in the Twin Cities. After Minnesota took a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Dolphis would score 10 second quarter points without a challenge to trail 21-10 at the break. Miamm then watched Minnesota control things in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring them 20-7 to seal the win. Minnesota outrushed Miami 220-156 and both clubs had 100-yard rushers (Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook led all rushers with 136 yards and a pair of TDs, while Miami’s Kalen Ballage tallied 123 yards with a TD), Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins threw for 215 yards with a pair of TDs (Cousins was sacked once and threw an interception), while Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw for 108 yards with a season-high nine sacks. Minnesota was 5 of 13 on third down tries in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, keeping the ball for 33:16, while the Dolphins, keeping the ball for 26:44, went 2 for 12 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.

Miami leads the Sunshine State series 4-3 and the ‘Fins have outscored Jacksonville 140-111. Jacksonville won the last meeting, which took place in north Florida by a final of 23-20 in 2015, while the Dolphins’ last win also came along the shores of the St. John’s River by a final of 27-13 in 2014. Miami’s favored by 4 and the over/under’s 93. For the Jaguars, it’s about restoring some order in an otherwise dismal season; for Miami, it’s a chance to keep their hopes for a playoff spot alive for another week. Miami keeps hope alive for another Sunday and takes the win at Hard Rock, covering the 4.

Buffalo (5-9) at New England (9-5), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 707. New England returns home from a two-game road trip to face off against AFC East rival Buffalo in Foxboro. The Pats limp back to western Massachusetts with losses in Miami and Pittsburgh under their belts, while the Bills look to damage New England’s playoff hopes at Gillette Stadium in the Sunday afternoon rematch.

The Bills erased a 13-7 deficit at the half against Detroit in Orchard Park and would come away 14-13 winners in upstate New York. The Bills took the lead for keeps with 10:26 left in the contest when WR Robert Foster caught a 42-yard TD pass from Josh Allen to erase the deficit and take the win, holding off the Lions in the final period of play. Detroit was outrushed by Buffalo 117-105, with Matthew Stafford throwing for 208 yards and Allen throwing for 204 yards (each threw a TD pass without an interception and Allen was sacked once) for the Bills. Buffalo was 3 for 12 on third down but had some success on fourth down tries, going 1 for 2 and kept the ball for 31:06, while Detroit kept the ball for 28:54 and went 5 for 13 on third down.

New England saw their hopes of a winning rally fall short in Pittsburgh as the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger held off Tom Brady and the Patriots 17-10 at Heinz Field. New England trailed 14-7 at the half, then narrowed the gap to four with 17 seconds left in the third when Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 33-yard field goal before Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell restored order in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard field goal with 2:30 left in regulation. New England had one last chance to tie the contest up in regulation late and that chance would die when Brady’s pass attempt to Josh Edleman sailed incomplete, giving the Steelers the win in western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh outrushed New England 158-96, with Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels leading the way with 142 yards on the ground. Brady threw for 279 yards with a TD, an interception and a sack, while Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with a pair of TDs (one to Antonio Brown), while throwing a pair of interceptions and was sacked twice. New England was 3 for 10 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 29:11, while the Steelers ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 30:49, while going 4 for 9 on third down tries.

Buffalo and New England would meet in upstate New York in week eight and for the first 30 minutes of play against New England, the Bills held Tom Brady and the Patriots in sight, trailing 9-3 at the half in Orchard Park Monday night. Buffalo then saw the wheels fall off their bus and the Pats came away 25-6 winners at New Era Field. The contest was an all-field goal affair in the first half as the two Stephens (Gostkowski for New England, Hauschka for Buffalo) gave their teams their first half points. New England then outscored Buffalo 16-3 in the final 30 minutes of action, using a 1-yard TD run from RB James White and an 84-yard interception return by CB Devin McCourty in the fourth quarter to seal Buffalo’s fate. The Bills thought they had a TD that would have made the contest closer than the final score when Buffalo QB Derek Anderson (290 yards, interception, three sacks) and TE Jason Croom connected on a 25-yard TD pass with 6:14 left in regulation. Buffalo fans then saw their hopes shattered when the play was review and the call on the field was reversed. Buffalo was outrushed by the Pats 76-46 and Brady threw for 324 yards with no interceptions or sacks, as New England went 5 of 14 on third down conversions and kept the ball for 31:50, while the Bills were 4 of 14 and 0 of 2 on third and fourth downs, keeping the ball for 28:10.

In the week eight contest in upstate New York, New England covered the 14-point spread, coming away 19-point winners but the 44 1/2 over/under was untouched, as both teams merged for 31 points. In the rematch in Foxboro, the Pats are favored by 12 1/2 and the over/under’s 44 1/2. That’s a bit steep for a spread… the 44 1/2 makes sense. The Bills are bad but not 12 1/2 bad. They’ll give New England problems but the Pats and Brady prevail in Foxboro with the win.

Green Bay (5-8-1) at New York Jets (4-10), 1 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 713. A pair of teams that will not be in the post-season meet in the Meadowlands as Green Bay travels to Met Life Stadium for an early afternoon contest with the New York Jets.

Chicago knocked Green Bay out of the playoff party and took the NFC North title at Soldier Field, holding off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 24-17 in the Windy City last Sunday. Da Bears led 14-3 at the intermission before the Packers would rally in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Monsters of the Midway 14-10 and the Packers would pull to within 3 with 11 seconds left when Packers K Mason Crosby connected on a 45-yard field goal. Green Bay would try the onside kick, which Chicago recovered and Da Bears would run the clock out, taking the win at home. Da Bears outrushed Green Bay 97-88 and the Monsters of the Midway sacked Aaron Rodgers five times and picked him off once, while Mitchell Trubisky threw for 235 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions. Chicago was 3 of 10 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:23, while the struggling Packers were 5 for 14 on third down, 1 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:37.

The J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! were officialy eliminated from the post-season as Houston held off GangGreen 29-22 at Met Life Stadium last Saturday afternoon. Houston broke a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter, took a 16-3 lead with them to the intermission and held off the Jets in the second half after they took a 22-19 lead with five minutes left in the contest as Jets RB Elijah McGuire scored on a 2-yard run. Houston then took the lead back and for good with 2:15 left when WR DeAndre Hopkins scored from 14 yards out, catching a TD pass from QB DeSean Watson. After a 40-yard field goal by Kai Fairbairn with 54 seconds left in regulation, Houston then held off a late Jets rally that would have given New York the win in the Meadowlands. Although they were outrushed by the Jets 90-47, Watson would lead all passers with 294 yards, while Sam Darnold led New York with 253 yards (both men threw a pair of TDs; Watson was sacked six times and Darnold sacked twice and neither threw an interception). The Texans were a dismal 1 of 9 on third down and held on to the ball for 24:56, while the Jets kept the ball for 35:04 and went 9 of 17 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

While GangGreen leads the series 8-4 and the J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! have outscored the Packers 254-180, Green Bay has won the last two meetings, including taking a 31-24 win at Lambeau in 2014, while New York’s last win also came in the land of beer, cheese and Bratwurst, leaving upstate Wisconsin 38-10 winners in 2006. Green Bay’s favored by 2 1/2 with the over/under at 46. Take a pass on this one and watch that “Mythbusters” marathon on Science Chanel. Trust us, you’ll be a lot better and a lot smarter. Packers recover in the Meadowlands and cover the 2 1/2 in upstate New Jersey.

Houston (10-4) at Philadelphia (7-7), 1 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 708. It’s brisket vs. Cheesesteak as the Houston Texans travel to the City of Brotherly Love to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Both teams were winners on the road in last week’s contests and both were close contests.

Houston pulled themselves closer to winning the AFC South title after their 29-22 win over the New York Jets at Met Life Stadium last Saturday afternoon. Houston broke a 3-3 tie at the end of the first quarter, took a 16-3 lead with them to the intermission and held off the Jets in the second half after they took a 22-19 lead with five minutes left in the contest as Jets RB Elijah McGuire scored on a 2-yard run. Houston then took the lead back and for good with 2:15 left when WR DeAndre Hopkins scored from 14 yards out, catching a TD pass from QB DeSean Watson. After a 40-yard field goal by Kai Fairbairn with 54 seconds left in regulation, Houston then held off a late Jets rally that would have given New York the win in the Meadowlands. Although they were outrushed by the Jets 90-47, Watson would lead all passers with 294 yards, while Sam Darnold led New York with 253 yards (both men threw a pair of TDs; Watson was sacked six times and Darnold sacked twice and neither threw an interception). The Texans were a dismal 1 of 9 on third down and held on to the ball for 24:56, while the Jets kept the ball for 35:04 and went 9 of 17 on third down, 1 of 3 on fourth down.

The defending Super Bowl champs held off a late Los Angeles Rams rally as the Eagles would break a 13-13 tie at the intermission, outscoring the Rams 17-10 in the last 30 minutes of play to come away 30-23 winners at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last Sunday night. Eagles fans heaved a sigh of relief as Los Angeles had a final chance in the closing seconds of the prime time contest but Jared Goff’s pass attempt to Josh Reynolds went incomplete. The Eagles, who scored 17 third quarter points unchallenged, outrushed Los Angeles 111-82 (Los Angeles’ Todd Gurley and Philadelphia’s Wendell Smallwood each had 48 yards of rushing with a pair of TDs) and Goff threw for 339 yards with a sack and a pair of interceptions, while Nick Foles (who took over for Carson Wentz) threw for 270 yards (Goff and Foles did not throw a TD pass and Foles threw an interception but was not sacked). The Rams were 4 for 12 on third down and held the ball for 28:24, while the Eagles kept the ball for 31:36, going 4 of 13 on third down conversions (both teams were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

Houston and Philadelphia have met four times and the Eagles have won all four meetings, outscoring the Texans 124-72. Philadelphia’s last win in the series came in 2014 in the Lone Star State by a final of 31-21 at NRG Stadium. The Eagles are favored by 1 and the over/under’s 45 1/2. There’s a lot at stake for both teams; the Eagles are trying to get into the playoffs and possibly repeat as Super Bowl champs, while the Texans want to clinch the AFC South. Houston pulls the upset on the road and covers the 1 in the City of Brotherly Love.

Los Angeles Rams (11-3) at Arizona (3-11), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 714. A pair of NFC West teams meet in the desert as the struggling Rams travel to Glendale for a late-afternoon contest with the Arizona Cardinals, with both teams coming away with losses in their last contests.

The Rams watched the defending Super Bowl champs break a 13-13 tie at the intermission as the Eagles would outscore Los Angeles 17-10 in the last 30 minutes of play to fall 30-23 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last Sunday night. Los Angeles had a final chance in the closing seconds of the prime time contest but Jared Goff’s pass attempt to Josh Reynolds went incomplete. The Eagles, who scored 17 third quarter points unchallenged, outrushed Los Angeles 111-82 (Los Angeles’ Todd Gurley and Philadelphia’s Wendell Smallwood each had 48 yards of rushing with a pair of TDs) and Goff threw for 339 yards with a sack and a pair of interceptions, while Nick Foles (who took over for Carson Wentz) threw for 270 yards (Goff and Foles did not throw a TD pass and Foles threw an interception but was not sacked). The Rams were 4 for 12 on third down and held the ball for 28:24, while the Eagles kept the ball for 31:36, going 4 of 13 on third down conversions (both teams were 0 for 1 on fourth down).

Arizona watched an 7-0 lead early in the first quarter against Atlanta, then watched the Falcons proceed to score 40 points unchallenged in heir home finale, breaking their five-game losing streak and came away with the 40-14 win in the Big Peach. Atlanta led 26-7 at the intermission, then floored the gas in the second half, using a 43-yard run from RB Tevin Coleman and a 5-yard TD toss from Ryan to WR Justin Hardy to all but seal Arizona’s fate. Atlanta outrushed the Desert Angry Birds 215-60 with Coleman leadng the way on the ground with 145 yards on 11 carries, Ryan threw for 231 yards with a pair of TDs (one to WR Julio Jones) and had a rushing TD of his own, while Arizona’s Josh Rosen threw for 132 yards in the lopsided loss, throwing a pair of interceptions to go with six sacks. Atlanta went 5 of 13 on third down tries in the home finale and ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 30:40, while the Cardinals were 3 for 13 on third down, 2 of 2 on fourth down and held the ball for 29:20.

The two NFC West clubs met in week two and Arizona was taken to the woodshed by the Rams, watching the defending NFC West champs score 34 points in their contest with the Desert Angry Birds unchalleged and shutting them out 34-0. Todd Gurley was good for three TDs in the contest as the Rams led 19-0 at the break, then floored the gas in the final 30 minutes of play, keeping Arizona in check. The Rams outrushed Arizona 90-54 and held Sam Bradford to 90 yards passing, while Jeff Goff threw for 354 yards and a TD for Los Angeles. The Rams on third down 8 of 15 on third down (they were 1 of 3 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 34:08, while Arizona kept the pigskin for 25:52, going 3 of 12 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs. Los Angeles covered the 12 1/2-point spread, winning easily by 34 points but the 46 over/under stayed intact. This time in the desert, the Rams are 14-point favorites and the over/under’s 47 1/2. Granted, the Desert Angry Birds have struggled of late and while they’re bad, they’re not 14 points bad. Los Angeles will prevail in this one to complete the series sweep but expect Arizona to make things closer than 14 points.

Chicago (10-4) at San Francisco (4-10), 4:05 p.m. on FOX and DirecTV 715. A pair of teams going in opposite directions face off in northern California as Chicago makes its way to Santa Clara for a late-after contest with the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams took wins at home in their last contests.

Chicago knocked Green Bay out of the playoff party and took the NFC North title at Soldier Field, holding off Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 24-17 in the Windy City last Sunday. Da Bears led 14-3 at the intermission before the Packers would rally in the final 30 minutes of play, outscoring the Monsters of the Midway 14-10 and the Packers would pull to within 3 with 11 seconds left when Packers K Mason Crosby connected on a 45-yard field goal. Green Bay would try the onside kick, which Chicago recovered and Da Bears would run the clock out, taking the win at home. Da Bears outrushed Green Bay 97-88 and the Monsters of the Midway sacked Aaron Rodgers five times and picked him off once, while Mitchell Trubisky threw for 235 yards with a pair of TDs and no interceptions. Chicago was 3 of 10 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 30:23, while the struggling Packers were 5 for 14 on third down, 1 for 1 on fourth down and kept the ball for 29:37.

San Francsico put a dent in the playoff plans for Seattle as the 49ers needed overtime to come away 26-23 winners at Levis’ Stadium last Sunday afternoon, breaking a 10-game losing streak to the Seahawks in the process. San Francisco led 17-13 at the half, then took a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter before Seattle rallied in the final 15 minutes of regulation, tying things up when RB Chris Carson scored on a 1-yard TD run with 13:51 left. Robbie Gould would give San Francisco the lead back with 9:51 on a 45-yard field goal but that lead would not last long as Seahawks K Sebastian Janikowski booted a 48-yard field to tie things back up at 23-23 with 5:21 left in regulation. The two clubs would go into the overtime and Seattle would win the toss and get the ball first in the extra period. The Seahawks’ attempt to score first failed as they would only get to their 18-yard line. After a Seattle punt, it would be San Francisco’s turn, knowing if they scored, they would win. The 49ers would go on a 7-play, 44-yard drive that stopped at Seattle’s 18-yard line, where Gould sent 49ers fans home happy with a 36-yard game-winning field goal. Seattle outrushed San Francisco 168-94 and Carson led the way with 119 yards on the ground. Russell Wilson threw for 237 yards for the Seahawks and Nate Mullins threw for 275 for the 49ers (Wilson threw a pair of TD passes to Doug Baldwin, while Mullens threw a TD pass to TE Garrett Celek; both men were sacked three times but neither threw an interception). San Francisco went 3 for 10 on third down and kept the ball for 29:40 (including the overtime), while Seattle, plauged by 14 penalties for 148 yards, went 9 of 19 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Seahawks actually ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 37:14.

Including games played at Wrigley Field, Keezar Stadium, the University of Illinois-Champaign and Soldier Field, the series is tied 31-31-1 and the 49ers have outscored Da Bears 1,386-1,289. Their last meeting was last year in the Windy City and the 49ers would prevail 15-14 (Chicago’s last win came in 2016 in the Windy City by a final of 26-6).

They met at Soldier Field in week 13 and the 49ers erased a 14-9 deficit at the break, scoring the final six points of the contest unchalleged, as Robbie Gould kicked a pair of second-half field goals, with the game-winner coming from 24 yards away with four seconds left. San Francisco outrushed Chicago 110-62 and Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 293 yards with a pair of sacks and an interception, while Trubisky threw for 102 yards and a TD pass with a pair of sacks but no interceptions. San Franciso was 10 of 18 on third down tries and held on to the ball for 38:47, while Da Bears kept the ball for 21:13, going 5 for 10 on third down conversions.

In the week 13 contest at Soldier Field, Chicago was a 3 1/2-point favorite but San Francisco came away winning by 1. The 40 over/under was untouched as both teams scored only 29 points. Chicago’s favored by 3 1/2 and the over/under’s 42 1/2. Da  Bears have nothing to prove, having won the NFC North title; as for the 49ers, they’re playing with house money and would like to add another feather in their caps if they beat Chicago. 49ers fans are going to be heart-broken. Da Bears win on the road and cover the 3 1/2.

Pittsburgh (8-5-1) at New Orleans (12-2), 4:25 p.m. on CBS and DirecTV 716. A pair of playoff contenders that could meet in Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII meet in the Big Easy as Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees square off. Both teams were close winners in last week’s contests.

Pittsburgh stopped a last second New England rally at Heinz Field as the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger held off Tom Brady and the Patriots 17-10. New England trailed 14-7 at the half, then narrowed the gap to four with 17 seconds left in the third when Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 33-yard field goal before Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell restored order in the fourth quarter with a 48-yard field goal with 2:30 left in regulation. New England had one last chance to tie the contest up in regulation late and that chance would die when Brady’s pass attempt to Josh Edleman sailed incomplete, giving the Steelers the win in western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh outrushed New England 158-96, with Steelers RB Jaylen Samuels leading the way with 142 yards on the ground. Brady threw for 279 yards with a TD, an interception and a sack, while Roethlisberger threw for 235 yards with a pair of TDs (one to Antonio Brown), while throwing a pair of interceptions and was sacked twice. New England was 3 for 10 on third down, 0 for 1 on fourth down and held the ball for 29:11, while the Steelers ruled the clock and kept the pigskin for 30:49, while going 4 for 9 on third down tries.

New Orleans survived a 12-9 scare from NFC South foe Carolina last Monday night in Charlotte. The Panthers led 7-6 at the intermission at Bank of America Stadium before the Saints would take the lead away from the Panthers when Alvin Kamara scored on a 16-yard run with 12:12 left in the contest. New Orleans then attempted a 2-point conversion to make the contest a five-point affair but Drew Brees’ 2-point attempt to WR Michael Thomas was picked off by Dante Jackson, who ran the ball back for a defensive two point conversion to keep the Panthers close. Carolina would later get the ball back after New Orleans fumbled it out of the endzone, creating a touchback and giving the Panthers the ball on their 20-yard line. Newton and the Panthers would eventually get as close as their 39-yard line but could not get any closer as Newton’s fourth-down pass attempt was incomplete, which gave the Saints the ball back and New Orleans would run the clock out and take the win. New Orleans outrushed Carolina 155-98 and Newton threw for 131 yards with four sacks, while Brees threw for 203 yards (both men threw an interception, Newton was sacked four times, Brees twice). Carolina was 7 of 15 on third down (the Panther were 1 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 24:51, while the Saints ruled the clock, holding the ball for 35:09, going 4 of 13 and 1 of 1 on third and fourth downs.

The Saints lead the series 8-7, while the Steelers have outscored New Orleans 327-289. New Orleans won the last two contests, taking a 35-32 win in the Steel City, while Pittsburgh’s last win in the series came in 2006 at Heinz Field by a final of 38-31. New Orleans is favored by 5 1/2 in the Big Easy and the over/under’s 54. Because there are two future Hall of Fame QBs involved in this one, we think that this one is “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 58 last June and dates a 43-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?”)

New Orleans is already in the post-season party, taking the NFC South for the second straight year. The Steelers are looking to restore some order in the AFC North. The winner will make lives for themselves a little easier, while the loser will get a lump of coal and switches in their stocking. Steelers take the upset in the Big Easy and covers the 5 1/2.

Kansas City (11-3) at Seattle (8-6), 8:20 p.m. on NBC. Patrick Mahomes vs. Russell Wilson. A pair of up and coming QBs meet in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks as Kansas City and Seattle meet in prime time in the Pacific Northwest. Both clubs took heart-breaking losses in last week’s contests.

The Chiefs watched the Los Angeles Chargers erase a 14-7 deficit at the break at Arrowhead last Thursday night as the Chargers took a 29-28 come-from-behind AFC West win, clinching a playoff spot in the process. Los Angeles proceeded to chip away at that deficit, outscoring the Chiefs (who got a pair of rushing TDs from RB Damien Williams) 22-14 in the final 30 minutes of action. Chargers WR Mike Williams had a pair of TDs in the second half, one rushing from 19 yards out with 4:57 left in the third and the second a 1-yard toss from Phililp Rivers that would pull the Chargers to within one with four seconds left. Williams and Rivers would then connect on the two-point try to take the road win and pull themselves even with the Chiefs at 11-3.

Seattle’s plans for a playoff spot took a hit in Santa Clara as the 49ers needed overtime to come away 26-23 winners at Levis’ Stadium last Sunday afternoon. San Francisco led 17-13 at the half, then took a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter before Seattle rallied in the final 15 minutes of regulation, tying things up when RB Chris Carson scored on a 1-yard TD run with 13:51 left. Robbie Gould would give San Francisco the lead back with 9:51 on a 45-yard field goal but that lead would not last long as Seahawks K Sebastian Janikowski booted a 48-yard field to tie things back up at 23-23 with 5:21 left in regulation. The two clubs would go into the overtime and Seattle would win the toss and get the ball first in the extra period. The Seahawks’ attempt to score first failed as they would only get to their 18-yard line. After a Seattle punt, it would be San Francisco’s turn, knowing if they scored, they would win. The 49ers would go on a 7-play, 44-yard drive that stopped at Seattle’s 18-yard line, where Gould sent 49ers fans home happy with a 36-yard game-winning field goal. Seattle outrushed San Francisco 168-94 and Carson led the way with 119 yards on the ground. Russell Wilson threw for 237 yards for the Seahawks and Nate Mullins threw for 275 for the 49ers (Wilson threw a pair of TD passes to Doug Baldwin, while Mullens threw a TD pass to TE Garrett Celek; both men were sacked three times but neither threw an interception). San Francisco went 3 for 10 on third down and kept the ball for 29:40 (including the overtime), while Seattle, plauged by 14 penalties for 148 yards, went 9 of 19 on third down (they were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and the Seahawks actually ruled the clock, holding on to the ball for 37:14.

Los Angeles outrushed the Chiefs 119-60 and Rivers threw for 313 yards and a pair of TDs, including the game-winner, while Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes threw for 243 with a pair TDs as well (Rivers was sacked five times and threw a pair of interceptions, while Mahomes was sacked twice but did not throw a pick). Both teams went 6 for 10 on third down, the Chargers were 1 of 1 on fourth down and they held the ball for 33:16, while the Chiefs kept the pigskin for 26:44. Kansas City’s favored by 2 1/2 and the over/under’s 53 1/2. The Chiefs look to take the AFC West, while the Seahawks look to right their ship and get themselves into the post-season. Seattle may have to wait a week. Chiefs rebound from their heart-breaking loss at home to the Chargers and cover the 2 1/2, taking the win in the land of Grunge, Salmon and Starbucks.

Denver (6-8) at Oakland (3-11), 8:15 p.m. Monday on ESPN. The final Monday night game of the 2018 season takes place on the East side of San Francsico Bay as a pair of AFC West/AFL foes meet in Oakland. While most of America will be getting ready for Midnight Mass, the Raiders host the Denver Broncos in a contest that really has no bearing on the AFC playoffs.

Denver watched the Cleveland Browns erase a 13-10 deficit at the end of the third quarter at Denver last Saturday night and came away 17-16 winners at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, ending Denver’s slim hopes for a playoff bid. Cleveland and Denver entered halftime tied at 10-10 before the Broncos took the 13-10 lead with 1:41 left in the third on a Brandon McManus field goal to go into the fourth quarter on top. That would not be the case as the Browns would take the lead with 11:44 left in regulation when rookie QB Baker Mayfield and rookie WR Antonio Callaway connected on a 2-yard TD strike to take a four-point lead. McMannus would pull the Broncos to within one with 4:35 left thanks to a 29-yard field goal and Denver would eventually get the ball back after Cleveland punted with 1:49. The Broncos would get as close as midfield as Denver QB Case Keenum would throw three interceptions and was sacked by CB Jabril Peppers to end any hopes of Denver winning the contest. Cleveland outrushed Denver 134-32, with rookie RB Nick Chubb leading the way with 100 yards on the ground, Mayfield threw for 188 yards and a pair of TDs for the Broncos, while Keenum threw for 257 yards with a rushing TD, while throwing a pair of interceptions (both Mayfield and Keenum were sacked twice). Cleveland was 5 of 12 on third down, Denver was 5 of 14 and the Broncos actually ruled the clock, keeping the ball for 32:39, while the Browns kept it for 27:21 (both clubs went 1 of 2 on fourth down).

The Silver and Black watched Cincinnati break a five-game losing streak as they fell to the Bengals 30-16 at Paul Brown Stadium last Sunday. Although they would outscore the Bengals 13-10 in the second half, Oakland would find themselves trailing 20-7 at the intermission. Bengals HB Joe Mixon led all rushers with 129 yards and a pair of TDs as the Bengals outrushed the Silver and Black 171-68 and the Cincinnati defense sacked Derek Carr (263 yards, TD) five times, while Josh Driskell threw for 130 yards with a TD to TE Travis Boyd, a sack and an interception. The Bengals were 8 for 19 on third down conversions (they were 2 for 2 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 33:19, while the Raiders went 3 for 14 on third down, keeping the ball for 26:41.

Oakland saw AFC West rival Denver go on a scoring binge in the final 15 minutes of play and watched the Broncons come away 20-19 winners at Broncos Stadium at Mile High in their week two matchup. The Silver and Black, dropping their second in a row, led 12-0 at the break and took a 19-7 lead late into the third quarter before Denver took control of things in the final few minutes of the game. Denver’s winning points came with 6 seconds left when K Brian McMannus connected on a 36-yard field goal to give the home team the lead for the first time and for good. Denver outrushed Oakland 168-92 (Denver’s Patrick Lindsey led all rushers with 107 yards, while Oakland was led by Marshawn Lynch wtih 65 yards and a TD) and Case Keenum threw for 222 yards in the contest, while Derek Carr threw for 288 yards and a TD (each was sacked once). Denver was 8 of 16 on third down (the Broncos were 1 of 1 on fourth down) and kept the ball for 27:04, while the Raiders, who had a final rally come to an end in the closing seconds, went 3 of 10 on third down, 0 of 1 on fourth down, keeping the ball for 32:56.

Both teams have done reasonably well on Monday night; Denver’s record is 32-38-1 (they went 1 of 1 in their two 2017 contests), while the Raiders are 38-28-1 and lost their only MNF contest last year. Denver was a 6-point favorite in the week two contest in the Rocky Mountains and while Denver did win the contest, they did not cover, as they would win by only a point and the 45 over/under was untouched as both teams combined to score 39 points in that first meeting. The boys and girls in Vegas like the Broncos again, this time making them 2 1/2-point favorites with a 44 over/under. Skip this one and go to Midnight Mass (be sure to slip an extra $20 in the collection plate!). Broncos put Oakland fans out of their misery and covers the 2 1/2 with the win.