The snow wasn’t the only thing falling across stadiums across the NFL this Sunday. An NFL record for touchdowns thrown in a day across the league was set, Matt Prater hit a 64-yard field goal and Drew Brees found himself in some very elite company. The only thing that didn’t happen, was the playoff picture looking any more clear. Instead, we have a lot of teams still left in it and other teams who failed to clinch on Sunday.
The Chiefs were able to stop their losing slide and do so in an impressive route of the Redskins. The 45-10 blowout of Washington might’ve been one of the last for Mike Shanahan as their head coach. Just before the game on Sunday, it was announced that Shanahan wanted to reevaluate Robert Griffin’s role as their starting quarterback. A request that was vehemently denied by owner Dan Snyder. But none of that mattered on Sunday, as Alex Smith was able to quiet down talks of the Chiefs being a team that is led completely by their defense. Smith went a productive 14-20 for only 137 yards but an important two touchdowns. He was helped out by Jamaal Charles, who had 151 yards on 19 carries. Charles and Knile Davis both had rushing touchdowns for the Chiefs. The Chiefs finally looked like a well-rounded team on Sunday, which is important with the playoffs right around the corner. They’ll play Oakland next weekend. The Redskins, with who knows what’ll happen with this team, faces an equally disappointing Atlanta squad.
The Ravens and Vikings game was a wild one that was highly criticized by Adrian Peterson after the Vikings 29-26 loss. Peterson complained on plenty of calls, including one that was part of the game winning drive by the Ravens. Also in this game, Peterson went out of the game with a knee injury, which could be even worse for the Vikings in the long run. There were talks earlier this season about the Vikings needing to rebuild by potentially trading Peterson. If he is injured, teams may be reserved to trade for his true value. But as for Sunday, the Ravens and Vikings played one of the most interesting final two minutes ever. With 2:05 left on the clock, Joe Flacco hit Dennis Pitta for the 15-12 lead. The Vikings would fire right back at 1:27 left for the 19-15 lead, only for Jacoby Jones to take back a 77-yard return for the 22-19 lead. Then, Matt Cassel hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a 79-yard pass for the 26-22 lead. But with :04 seconds left, Flacco hit Marlon Brown for the final 29-26 win. This was an otherwise slow-paced game, until the final two minutes. With the win, the Ravens stay in the AFC North race and will play the Lions next weekend. The Vikings will play red-hot Eagles.
For the second week in a row, the Patriots game was too close for comfort for New England’s liking. This time, it would take a 16-point fourth quarter, including two touchdowns in the final minute, for the Pats to edge the Browns 27-26. And while they can say that a win’s a win, there may be bad news for the future. After waiting majority of the season to get Rob Gronkowski back, he’ll get an MRI on Monday to find out the severity of a possible ACL injury. The Browns don’t have much to look forward to this season, but Josh Brown’s accomplishments shouldn’t go unnoticed. The receiver is having a career year and added 151-yards and a touchdown from ten targets on Sunday. Things won’t get much easier for the Patriots as they play the Dolphins next weekend, who have won three of their last four. And if they don’t have Gronk, that’ll be an even more difficult task. As for the Browns, they’ll play the Bears next Sunday.
The Jets were able to take a lead early on Sunday and keep it under control even when the Raiders pushed in the fourth quarter. Neither team has much to play for, but that didn’t stop both of these teams from putting up a bunch of points in the 37-27 final. Geno Smith threw an interception early but would rally to finish the game 16-25 for 219 yards. Matt McGloin got the start for the Raiders, but Terrelle Pryor would make an appearance during the raiders third drive. McGloin would finish the game 18-31 for 245-yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He was also sacked three times for a total of 32 yards. Neither team is likely to make the playoffs, but at least it was an entertaining game in East Rutherford.
Things didn’t get any better for Indianapolis this weekend. Although their positioning in the AFC South is pretty solid, they’ve been exposed quite a bit in recent weeks. That was on display again on Sunday when the Bengals beat them 42-28. It’s no doubt that Andrew Luck is a real threat. But the Colts are lacking a ground game and their defense can be described as abysmal. They’ll need to fill both of these gaps before the playoffs begin. Luckily, they’ll play Houston and Jacksonville in the final three weeks, where they can mix things up and hope to get things running well. As for the Bengals, maybe after Sundays win they deserve a bit more credit. Aside from two overtime loses, we’d be looking at the Bengals having a nine-game winning streak and be only a two loss team. But even with those two losses, they have won seven of their last nine and find themselves at 9-4 overall. The Ravens and Steelers are still sticking around and making things interesting, but it’s likely the Bengals are going to make the playoffs. And if they do, they certainly a team that anyone will want to take likely. The Bengals will play the Steelers next week, which will have huge implications on the AFC North.
If anyone questioned if Nick Foles and the Eagles were legit, they might’ve proved it on Sunday in a 34-20 win over the Lions. But while the Eagles have relied on the arm of Foles since he took over, they rode the back of LeSean McCoy as he set a franchise record of 217 yards on Sunday. The most impressive part may be that it was in a ton snow that made the conditions on Sunday extremely poor. Matt Stafford only went 10-25 for 148 yards. You know things are bad when Calvin Johnson only had three catches for 49-yards. Nonetheless, the Lions were up 14-6 going into the fourth quarter, until the Eagles would put up 28-points in the final 12-minutes. The final score of 34-20 proved that not only can the Eagles come back and win with the pressure on, not only that they could do it in adverse weather conditions, but also that they can do it in other ways than just Nick Foles. The Eagles have now won five in a row. And even though they find themselves in a tight race with the Cowboys in the AFC East, the Eagles have looked like a very dangerous team over the last few months. As for the Lions, they have lost three of the last four and look to be struggling quite a bit. They’ll try and turn it around on Monday Night Football next week against Baltimore.
Although the Steelers aren’t out of it mathematically, they continue to make things hard on themselves. The 34-28 loss on Sunday, which the Dolphins scored 10 in the final quarter, was
The Buccanneers remained one of the hottest teams in the league with their 27-6 route over the Bills. Although, despite winning four of their last five, the only thing they are likely to be playing for is head coach Greg Shiano’s job and possibly Mike Glennon’s starting spot for the future. Glennon had a horrible game, going 9-25 for only 90-yards. However, he did throw for two touchdowns that carried the Bucs to victory. And luckily for him, EJ Manuel threw four interceptions, as he too was far from stellar with an 18-33 effort. Another noteworthy accomplishment for the Bucs was that their score, a 80-yard reception by Bobby Rainey, was the fastest in Bus history, only 8-seconds into the game. Outside of that, there isn’t much to give back on this one. The Bucs are winning, but it’s too little too late. While the Bills recent struggles are erasing all of the effort they put in at the beginning of the year.
The Packers just barely avoided things getting even more ugly in Green Bay. It would take a touchdown with just three minutes left that gave the Packers a 22-21 lead. But they also needed a pair of field goals in the third quarter, to catch up to the Falcons who were up 21-10 at half. There was debate on whether or not Aaron Rodgers would play for Green Bay, but that idea was nixed and Matt Flynn was given the start. And while the Packers aren’t quite out of the playoff race yet, their fans were booing them all afternoon long in a slow and frustrating game. The scary part for the Packers is obviously their inability to close games without Rodgers, but you wouldn’t expect that they’d have this much trouble with a 3-10 Falcons team. As for the Falcons, this has to be a heartbreaking loss. Sure, the season is over for them and they are looking towards the off season. But when you have close ones like this, it stings even a bit more. The Packers are back at .500 with a 6-6 record and they’ll play the Cowboys next weekend. Both teams are vying for a playoff spot in the NFC, so that should be a good one. The Falcons will have another chance to notch their fourth win of the season against an equally disappointing Redskins squad.
The Broncos wanted to prove to everyone on Sunday that despite how cold it was in Denver, the Broncos can win in adverse weather conditions. And with their 51-28 blowout of the Titans, they might’ve sent a message to the rest of the league that it doesn’t matter where they play in the coming months. Peyton Manning had 397-yards and four touchdowns. And Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball both had a touchdown on 78 and 77 yards, respectively. And the person that got more recognition than any of those guys was Matt Prater, who hit a 64-yard field goal to break the NFL record. If that wasn’t enough for the fans in Denver, the sentimental moment of the game was the return of John Fox to the Broncos sideline for the first time since his heart surgery. Things started off competitively for the Titans, and the score was 21-20 at halftime. However they weren’t able to keep up with the well-rounded attack of the Broncos and Ryan Fitpatrick couldn’t get much going either. While the Broncos clinched a playoff birth on Sunday, the Titans are falling out of the picture more and more with each week. They have lost four of their last five and look to be a completely different team without Jake Locker leading them. Luckily for them, they play Arizona, Jacksonville and Houston in the coming weeks. If they could win all three, they might still have a shot. As for the Broncos, we’ll have to keep an eye out to see how much they try in the next few weeks. Now that they have made the playoffs, they certainly don’t want to risk any injuries. And their backups might get the chance for game time since they have games against San Diego, Houston and Oakland to finish off the season.
After losing last weekend, the Cardinals didn’t want to lose anymore ground in the NFC West. And with their 30-10 win over divisional St. Louis on Sunday, they remain in the picture. This was the Cardinals first win against the NFC in their last nine attempts, though it was also their fifth win in the last six games. Carson Palmer had 269-yards and a touchdown, but Arizona’s defense also accounted for nine-points with an interception returned and a safety, both in the third quarter. The Rams remaining schedule includes games against the Titans, the Seahawks and the 49ers, which is by no means a walk in the park. It should make for a great finish to the NFC West race.
Speaking of the NFC West, the 49ers got their revenge on the Seahawks on Sunday. After an embarrassing 29-3 loss at the beginning of the season, the 49ers will hope that their 19-17 win over the Seahawks at this time of year will prove to be more important as we head into he playoffs in just a few weeks. Needless to say, the 49ers also are getting a lot of pieces back, including Michael Crabtree. Sure, it’s likely that if these two teams meet again in the next month, it’ll be in Seattle, a place that nobody wants to be with the 12th man in the stands. But you can bet if these teams meet again, the 49ers will look to expose the same things they did on Sunday. As for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson had one of his less effective games of the season, going 15-25 for only 199 yards and a touchdown to match an interception.
After watching the NFC West nail biter showdown between the 49ers and Seahawks, we expected the NFC South showdown to be equally as exciting. Instead, the Saints rushed ahead to a 21-6 lead by halftime, and won with a final score of 31-10. This was the Panthers chance to prove that they are has hot as they hype, but with the Saints breaking the 8-game winning streak of the Panthers, Drew Brees also made a statement that they are the top team to beat in the NFC South. Part of Brees’ 313-yard effort on Sunday was enough to put him over 50,000 yards for his career. This is a milestone that only four other quarterbacks have been able to accomplish in their career. The 31-point effort is also the most that the Panthers defense has allowed all season. If it wasn’t going to be already, the December 22nd game between these two teams is going to be one for the ages. This time the Panthers will get a chance on their home field to get one back. But the Saints will still be looking for a late-season win that will put them into cruise control before finding out who, and where, they’ll be playing come January. Next week the Panthers will look to get things going again against the Jets, while the Saints will play the Rams.