Posts Tagged ‘ Baltimore Ravens ’

NFL Divisional Playoff Recap

The Divisional Playoffs are over with, and we are now into the final four. Super Bowl trips to Miami will be on the line, and it is clear that three of the top four teams in the NFL showed up, and one team has gone back to their roots and decided to crash the party.

Arizona 14, New Orleans 45- All this talk about the Saints faltering was just that… talk. The Saints put on a show in their first ever game as the top seed in the NFC, and the magical run continued with Drew Brees picking apart the Arizona defense much like Aaron Rodgers did with the Green Bay Packers. The only difference in this game: The Saints had a defense to compliment the offense, and behind Brees’ three touchdown passes, and two Reggie Bush touchdowns (one run, one punt return). The Cardinals, the defending NFC East champions, appeared to have set the tone early for a shootout, scoring on the opening drive to go up 7-0, but the Saints responded with 21 unanswered points, and eventually outscored Arizona 45-7 the rest of the way. Arizona set a new NFL record for most points allowed in two playoff games (90), and it could be the end of a career for Kurt Warner, who according to a source, was retiring after the playoffs, but Warner will take time to think his decision through. The Saints will host the NFC Championship game, but against who?

Ravens 3, Colts 20- Peyton Manning went 30-44, for 246 yards, with two touchdowns, and the Colts defense shut down the rushing game of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and also forced four turnovers as well. Manning threw touchdown passes to Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne in the first half to cruise to a 17-3 halftime lead. The Ravens, whose only scoring came from a Billy Cundiff field goal, just could not get anything going, and a season removed from being a game from the Super Bowl, they get handed their eighth straight loss to Indianpolis, and with the Colts’ victory, Manning got his first win after a bye-week. He was 0-3 coming into the playoffs after a week of rest in his career.

Dallas 3, Minnesota 34- Brett Favre’s revival continues. The opportunity to play for a championship and a Super Bowl was what he wanted, and he had possibly the best game of his career in the postseason. Favre threw four touchdowns (three to Sidney Rice), and the Vikings defense sacked Dallas QB Tony Romo six times and forced him into three turnovers, and Minnesota punched a ticket to New Orleans to face the Saints for the NFC Championship. Favre went 15-24 for 234 yards, but created a stir among the Cowboys, with a late touchdown score. Dallas LB Keith Brooking took exception for that Minnesota was running up the score on his team. Expect a great game in the Duel at the Dome for a trip to the Super Bowl between the Vikings and Saints.

NY Jets 17, San Diego 14- The party crashers have arrived in the form of Gang Green. The New York Jets’ rookies came of age and are maturing in the two short weeks of the playoffs. Shonn Greene ran for 128 yards, including a 53 yard TD run that proved to be the difference, and created yet another San Diego jolt in the team’s recent run. This game reminded the Charger fans of the 14-2 season that led to Marty Schottenheimer’s firing. Philip Rivers threw for 298 yards on 27-40 passing, but he threw a costly interception which led to his counterpart, rookie Mark Sanchez to find Dustin Keller for a 3 yd pass to put New York up 10-7. Greene’s run put New York up 17-7. The Chargers scored on a Rivers’ QB sneak, but the Jets sealed the victory on 4th & 1 to move on and punch their ticket to Indianapolis.

Check back Saturday for the Conference Championhship picks and who will be going to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.

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Divisional Playoff Thoughts

Wild Card Weekend over, the Divisional Playoffs begin this weekend. The top teams in both conferences will take the field, and the usual question comes about: rest or rust? Let’s go straight to the games.

Cardinals/Saints- If there was any indication that this game would be like the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history yesterday, the advantage would definitely go to New Orleans. The Saints are an explosive offensive team, but three straight losses to close out the season is not really a good look. You could say the Carolina loss was b/c of reserves, but New Orleans did lose to Dallas and Tampa Bay. Arizona is the dark horse of the NFC, and they can definitely pull off the upset, and it was pretty much shown that they can match the Saints point for point, and there is no better time to do it then the playoffs. Anquan Boldin is a game-time decision, but Steve Breaston and Early Doucet did elevate their games, and the Cardinals have a stronger running game. The advantage goes to Arizona.

Ravens/Colts- These two teams met earlier in the season in Baltimore, with Indianapolis winning 17-15. One thing about the Ravens is that they have a great defense and a great running game. And with the playoff disappointments (except for 2006) that Peyton Manning has had over the years, you could say that the Ravens have the chance to win this game. The difference is that the Colts defense is underappreciated, and very efficient themselves. Also, despite the playoff failures, it is hard to go against Peyton Manning. The advantage definitely goes to Indy at the Big Oil Drum. If the Ravens win, it won’t be a surprise

Cowboys/Vikings- The Cowboys are the hottest and healthiest team in the playoffs. They are clicking on all cylinders. They proved that in two destructions of the Philadelphia Eagles in two weeks. But the Vikings are in the noisiest venues in the NFL. The Metrodome is going to be rocking, and Minnesota is 8-0 in 2009 at the Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome. The Vikings will win this game if Adrian Peterson takes care of the football, and Brett Favre continues his efficiency and mission to win a Super Bowl. Flozell Adams will definitely have his hands full with Jared Allen, and you can’t forget about that Williams’ Wall on the run defense. Advantage to Minnesota, but like the other games, it can go either way.

Jets/Chargers- The Jets defense against one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Chargers have won 11 in a row, but have experienced more playoff failures than the Colts, and the Jets who weren’t even supposed to be in the playoffs, let alone the divisional round are proving they belong. Mark Sanchez is home, so expect him to play with a lot of inspiration for his family, and he will manage the game. If Vincent Jackson can do what a lot of wide receivers could not do this season, and solve the problem of Darrelle Revis, the Chargers should pull it off. Either way San Diego has too many weapons on both sides of the ball for the Jets to handle. The Jets run should end.

So the final picks: Cardinals over Saints, Colts over Ravens, Vikings over Cowboys, and Chargers over Jets. Be back next Saturday for the Conference Championship previews. Until then, enjoy the games!

NFL Wild Card Weekend Recap

The Playoffs are here! And it is time to get into the nitty gritty. Starting out with Wild Card weekend. TSX gave you a preview of all the teams, and the picks turned out to be not bad at all. Some great games Sat., and a Wild finish to one on Sunday.

Saturday Night:

NY Jets 24, Cincinnati 14- Mark Sanchez didn’t have the best rookie season, he did not have the heralded praise that say, Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco had a year ago, but he came of age in the big stage. Sanchez went 12-15 for 182 yards with a touchdown, finishing with a QB rating of 139.4, and Gang Green’s rushing game took care of the rest. Rookie Shonn Greene ran for 135 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown, and Thomas Jones added another one, and the Jets got their first playoff win since 2004 by beating the Cincinnati Bengals for the second week in a row 24-14. Two good things happened for Cincinnati from their meeting at the Meadowlands last week. They ran the ball well, which was led by Cedric Benson, who ran for 169 yards (Bengals playoff record) and a 47 yard touchdown run (longest run in Bengals playoff history), and they also scored. Carson Palmer threw a touchdown pass to Laveranues Coles to put the Bengals up early. Chad Ochocinco, who was shut out last week by Darrelle Revis, was a non-factor again, with only two catches for 28 yards. The Bengals just never looked like the same team that dominated the AFC North after the passing of teammate Chris Henry. The Jets move on, and quite possibly can be a dark horse in the playoffs.

Philadelphia 14, Dallas 34- In another rematch from Week 17, the Dallas Cowboys did something that they havent done in 4,760 days: win a playoff game. Tony Romo went 23-35 for 244 yards, and threw a couple of touchdowns, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones ran for touchdowns, and for the second week in a row (and third time this season), the Dallas Cowboys destroyed the Philadelphia Eagles, sending the Eagles packing for the eighth time in the decade. Wade Phillips and Tony Romo finally got their wins in the playoffs, after Phillips was 0-4 as a head coach, and Romo was 0-2 as a starting quarterback. The Cowboys winning ways in December finally carry over in January, where the last win was in the 1996 NFC Wild Card round, and it took 13 years to just get a win, and the Dallas defense forced fumbles, and made things difficult for Donovan McNabb and Mike Vick. Both QBs did throw for touchdowns, but while Vick tied the game, McNabb’s came after the Eagles were down 34-7. The Cowboys look like the hottest team in the NFC right now, but they have to travel to the Metrodome to take on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. Sidenote: The Cowboys won the Super Bowl in Texas Stadium’s first year (1971), and Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009.

Sunday Afternoon:

Baltimore 33, New England 14- The team of the previous decade got dismantled in the first five minutes of the game. The Baltimore Ravens, who came in with the best win percentage on the road for any NFL team, went into Gillette Stadium (a place where New England has never lost in), and put up a 24-point first quarter led by Ray Rice’s two touchdowns, and the Ravens cruised to a 33-14 victory over the once-invincible Patriots. Rice finished the day with 22 carries for 159 yards, and the Ravens stifling defense forced New England into four turnovers, and forcing boos to reign over the team that was so dominant that it was widely assumed that they could not be beat in the playoffs. The Ravens proved that on Sunday that they can be stopped and executed the game plan to perfection. The Ravens will now travel to Indianapolis to face the four-time MVP Peyton Manning and the Colts, sending the New York Jets to San Diego to face the Chargers.

Green Bay 45, Arizona 51 (F/OT) The highest scoring game in NFL playoff history with two teams. A man on his last hurrah, against a man playing in his first playoff game. How does it end? On defense. Karlos Dansby returned an Aaron Rodgers fumble 17 yards for a touchdown and gave the Arizona Cardinals a dramatic 51-45 win over the Green Bay Packers. Kurt Warner, who, according to sources will retire after the playoffs, started his last hurrah by going 29-33 for 379 yards and five touchdowns, and Arizona jumped out to a 31-10 lead. The Packers bounced back and responded with Rodgers, bringing his team back to tie the game at 38. After trading points and a missed field goal by Neil Rackers, Rodgers and the Packers won the toss in overtime, and after a penalty, Michael Adams forced a fumble and the ball bounced off Rodgers’ foot, and into the hands of Dansby, sealing the win and setting off a wild celebration. No shame though in Rodgers’ performance, going 28-42 for 422 yards and 4 touchdowns, and he ran for one as well. The Cardinals now go to New Orleans, and with the way the Saints score points and this game, it could potentially be a shootout. Arizona is now 3-0 in postseason games at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Stay tuned to TSX for the Divisional Playoff Thoughts and Previews and Picks. Keep it locked here!

Wild Card Weekend Thoughts

The NFL Playoffs start Saturday when the New York Jets travel to the Jungle in Cincinnati to take on the Bengals, followed by part three of the 2009 chapter of the Eagles/Cowboys rivalry, which has been dominated by Dallas this season. The action continues Sunday when the Ravens take on the Patriots, followed by the Packers and the Cardinals.

Jets/Bengals- The Jets dominated the Bengals in their meeting a week ago, even when the Bengals first team was in the game for most of the first half, the Jets cruised, holding Carson Palmer to 1/11 passing for 0 yards. However, Bengals leading rusher Cedric Benson did not play, and that COULD make a difference. But the Jets have the #1 defense in the NFL, the #1 rushing attack in the NFL, and they have the right tools to win this game. However, this is the playoffs, and it is too hard to go against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati is a resilient bunch, and they will make this a game, and they will pull off the victory in a hard fought game. Bengals win.

Eagles/Cowboys- One thing in sports that should be put into consideration (just consideration). It is hard to beat a team three straight times in one year. The Eagles will not let the Cowboys beat them three straight times. There is too much pride in that team to let Dallas roll over them three straight times. However, if they want that to happen, they have to find a way to get DeSean Jackson going. In the two games this season, Jackson has been shut down, only having five catches for 76 yards in two games this season. Dallas dominated Philadelphia in the second game, and they have found the right chemistry at the right time, and it vaulted them from a road game to a home playoff game at Jerry’s Palace. With all the good things going their way, Dallas will win a much more competitive game and beat Philly for a third time.

Ravens/Patriots: The Ravens have the highest winning percentage on the road against teams in the playoffs (.714, 5-2 record). With the devastating injury to Wes Welker, the Ravens defense will force the Patriots running game, and secondary receivers to beat them. Joe Flacco has a year of playoff experience under his belt, and if the Ravens want to win, they need ball control, and they also need Mark Clayton to actually CATCH the ball if it’s thrown to him late in the game. New England is going to have to be disciplined in the run game to stop the two headed monster of Willis McGahee and Ray Rice, and although there won’t be no Hiram Eugene moments in this game, the Ravens will win this game, simply by wearing down the defense and take advantage of Welker’s absence.

Packers/Cardinals: Throw out the two games these two have played. The first game was a preseason game, and the second game, the Cardinals did not even play their starters the whole time due to Minnesota winning against the Giants. Green Bay wanted to show Arizona that they meant business regardless. Arizona is in a similar spot they were in last year regarding the run to the Super Bowl a year ago. The Packers think the Cardinals took them lightly last game, but it appears that after the dominant win, it could be the other way around. If Anquan Boldin can not go, Steve Breaston knows how to step up, and give Kurt Warner a good second option. Warner knows how to use all of his receivers and make things happen on offense. The Cards have a better running game which makes things easier for Warner to do his thing. The Packers are impressive, and Aaron Rodgers is ready for the big time. He can get the ball down the field, and is a great scrambler when the play breaks down. This game will be a lot closer, but unlike Dallas over Philadelphia, Arizona will prevail over Green Bay, and might just make another similar run to the Super Bowl as they did a year ago. Do not sleep on the Cardinals.

So the final picks: Cincinnati, Dallas, Baltimore, and Arizona. Be back next Friday for the Divisional Playoff preview. Sat. recaps on Sunday, Sunday recaps on Monday. Enjoy the Wild Card games everyone!

NFL Recap Week 17- The Finale

The last weekend of the NFL Regular Season, and this will be the last NFL Recap of the season. One of the sad times, but it is time for the playoffs. There were still things to sort out, like the NFC seeding picture for everyone 2-6, and the Wild Card in the AFC. Let’s go to the recap and see how the teams fared.

Indianapolis 7, Buffalo 30- From the snow off Lake Erie in a meaningless game for both teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick went 16-25 for 155 yards and three touchdowns, and the Buffalo Bills finished their season on a winning note by taking out the Indianapolis Colts in a game that the Colts once again rested their starters after the second drive, letting the second string not do too much. Fitzpatrick threw all three touchdowns in the first half, an 11 yard pass to Fred Jackson, a 21 yard pass to Lee Evans, and 41 yard pass to Terrell Owens. Peyton Manning went 14-18 for 95 yards and an interception, and Mike Hart scored the only touchdown for the Colts. The Colts go into the playoffs with a bye and two straight losses, but should be in good shape for the playoffs in two weeks in the divisional round. The Bills end the season on a winning not, but with a lot of questions, more importantly: who will be head coach? Bill Cowher maybe? Colts (14-2), Bills (6-10)

New Orleans 10, Carolina 23- The Saints rested Drew Brees, and it was not conducive to the team gaining any kind of momentum going into the playoffs. Jonathan Stewart ran for 125 yards,including a 67-yard run in the opening minutes of the game, and the Carolina Panthers finished exceptionally strong with their third straight win over the NFC South Champion Saints. Stewart’s performance gave him 1,133 yards, making him and DeAngelo Williams (who was inactive for the game with an ankle injury) the first running backs since the AFL-NFL Merger (1970) to run for 1,100+ yards in a single season. The Saints will be well-rested for their divisional round game, where they have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Panthers face an offseason of uncertainty, in which if John Fox will be around for another season (essentially a lame-duck season), will Julius Peppers return, and who will be the starting QB: Jake Delhomme, who had a horrible year of 2009 or the emerging young QB Matt Moore, who had a strong game, throwing for 162 yards and a touchdown, finishing this season 4-1 as the starting QB. Foggy road ahead for Carolina. Saints (13-3), Panthers (8-8)

Jacksonville 17, Cleveland 23- This might be crazy, but the Cleveland Browns really have something to build upon for 2010. Jerome Harrison ran for 127 yards, and a touchdown, Josh Cribbs also ran for a touchdown, and the Cleveland Browns closed a season on a winning note, eliminating the Jaguars, and giving them their first four game winning streak since 1994 and the first four-game win streak since being reactivated via expansion in 1999. The win was another notch in Eric Mangini’s campaign to stay retained as head coach of the Browns as new president Mike Holmgren takes over on Monday. The Jaguars did not get anything started until the second half, down 20-3 when David Garrard, who went 22-39 for 202 yards threw the first of two touchdowns to make it 20-10. After a Phil Dawson field goal, he threw another one to Zach Miller to pull Jacksonville within six. The Jaguars, who were in the drivers seat for a playoff spot, collapsed and finished below .500 yet again in a disappointing campaign. Head coach Jack del Rio has been under fire, but he is expected to be back, especially for a team that wasn’t supposed to do too much. Jaguars (7-9), Browns (5-11)

Chicago 37, Detroit 23- Jay Cutler had a great game, going 22-36 for 276 yards, and tying a career high with four touchdowns, and the Chicago Bears finished their season strong with a win over their NFC North rival Detroit. Cutler hooked up with Greg Olsen, Devin Aromashadu twice, and Desmond Clark. It was Cutler’s second straight game with four touchdowns, but after 26 interceptions (23 in the nine straight losses), the Bears were plagued for most of the season, and it could mean the end of the Lovie Smith era in Chicago, who has not reached the playoffs in three straight years after making the Super Bowl in 2006. The Lions were led by Daunte Culpepper, who possibly played for the last time in a Lions’ uniform, going 23-34 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Jim Schwartz has a lot of work to do, it won’t be easy to undo a decade of losing with a team that went 33-111 since 2001 and is the first NFL team to have 30 losses in a two season span. Bears (7-9), Lions (2-14)

New England 27, Houston 34- The Houston Texans wanted a playoff berth and a winning record for the first time in team history. They got one of the two. The Texans set a franchise record in wins with their ninth win of the season after coming back from 14 down to beat the New England Patriots 34-27. Houston was down 27-13 in the fourth quarter, but rookie running back Arian Foster ran for two late touchdowns from one and three yards out to give Houston. Matt Schaub went 24-39 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans did not clinch a spot in the playoffs due to the New York Jets win over Cincinnati. The Patriots will go into the playoffs as the #3 seed, but lost a HUGE part of their offense in Wes Welker, who is done for the season with a torn ACL & MCL after a tackle by Bernard Pollard, who also took out Tom Brady’s knee in 2008. The Patriots will play the Ravens next Sunday in Foxborough in the Wild Card round. Patriots (10-6), Texans (9-7)

Pittsburgh 30, Miami 24- The Steelers went out with a win, but they miss out on the playoffs. The Steelers dominated the Dolphins, taking out Chad Henne with an eye injury, and the Pat White with a head injury. Ben Roethlisberger went 18-27 for 220 yards and three touchdowns, but after the Texans win over New England, and later, the Ravens victory over the Raiders, the Steelers were eliminated from the playoff picture, as the Steelers needed the Jets, Ravens, and Texans to lose. However the Texans won, and sealed the fate of the defending champs, whose five game losing streak really hurt them. Not only did Houston’s win eliminate Pittsburgh, it eliminated Miami, who had a very distant shot to begin with, and the defending AFC East champions were in the playoff hunt at 7-6, but lost three straight to miss the playoffs. Davone Bess led Miami with five catches for 85 yards in the loss. Steelers (9-7), Dolphins (7-9)

NY Giants 7, Minnesota 44- After lackluster performances over the past few weeks, it appears as if the the Minnesota Vikings are back. At least for now. Brett Favre went 25-31 for 316 yards and threw four touchdowns, and the Vikings easily got the second seed and a first-round by annilhating a Giants defense that just quit a long time ago. In less than three quarters, Favre threw touchdown passes to Visanthe Shiancoe, Sidney Rice (twice), and Naufahu Tahi. Adrian Peterson ran nine times for 54 yards and scored a touchdown. The Giants just did not look like the team that got off to a 5-0 start and appeared like the team from New York that would make the playoffs. It’s going to be a long season and what will be the fate of this team. Danny Ware, a rookie out of Georgia starting for Brandon Jacobs, scored their only touchdown, and had five carries for 22 yards on the day. Giants (8-8), Vikings (12-4)

San Francisco 28, St. Louis 6- Vernon Davis tied the NFL record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end with 13, Frank Gore ran for 107 yards on 23 carries, and the San Francisco 49ers finished with a .500 record for the first time since 2002. The 49ers started out slow in the first half, but came on strong in the second half to obtain victory. Steven Jackson ran the ball 20 times for 63 yards, but the Rams finished the season winless at home, and 1-15 for the season, but they do get the #1 pick in the draft. Ndamukong Suh anyone? 49ers (8-8), Rams (1-15)

Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 10- Matt Ryan went 23-35 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, including the go ahead TD pass to Roddy White from 12 yards, and the Atlanta Falcons dispatched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 9-7 record, which gives them their first back-to-back winning seasons in the 44 year history of the franchise, which is a good consolation prize moving towards the future. Ryan also threw a two yard TD pass to Justin Peelle; Matt Bryant kicked two field goals for the Falcons. Josh Freeman had a rough day, going 16-32 for 174 yards with a touchdown to Antonio Bryant but he also threw two late interceptions that sealed the deal. Jason Snelling, filling in for the injured Michael Turner, ran 25 times for 147 yards, most of them coming off the Freeman turnovers. The Buccaneers started 0-8, but finished pretty strong at 3-13, and have something to look forward to in Freeman and he and the team will get better as the years go by. Falcons (9-7), Buccaneers (3-13)

Green Bay 33, Arizona 7- Two teams took two different directions in this game. The Arizona Cardinals decided to rest their starters early, and the Green Bay Packers were playing for seeding and momentum, the Cardinals were playing depending on the Vikings game. After the Vikings blew out the Giants, and killing any chance for a #2 seed and a first round by, the Cardinals played their reserves, and Green Bay took advantage. Aaron Rodgers went 21-26 for 235 yards and a touchdown (he also ran for one), Charles Woodson took a Matt Leinart interception 45 yards for a score, and the Green Bay Packers finished the season strong, and the Cardinals came more prepared for their rematch with Green Bay next week in Glendale with much more on the line. WR Anquan Boldin is questionable with an ankle injury for this weekend, so it could have an impact on the game next Sunday. Packers (11-5), Cardinals (10-6)

Philadelphia 0, Dallas 24- No Dallas December/January collapses this year, and by blanking the Eagles, the Cowboys get a home game at the Jones’ Palace. The Cowboys broke a nine year hex on season finales, had a winning December for the first time since 1996, and they exercised their demons of losing 44-6 last year to Philadelphia by posting their second straight shutout, something they never did in their 50 year history. Tony Romo went 24-34 for 311 yards and threw two touchdowns, Felix Jones ran for 91 yards, including a 49 yard run that put the nail in the coffin for the Cowboys to win the NFC East championship and host a playoff game at Cowboys Stadium against: The Eagles. Philadelphia will get a chance for revenge after they came into the game with the second spot and were trying for a first round bye, which all they needed was a victory. Instead they are on the road, and looking for answers. Brent Celek had seven catches for 96 yards, Donovan McNabb threw for 223 yards, but Dallas dominated from start to finish. Their late emergence makes is even more difficult to find out who truly will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Prepare for a rematch Saturday night in Arlington. Eagles (11-5), Cowboys (11-5)

Kansas City 44, Denver 24- From 6-0 to 8-8. Haven’t the Denver Broncos been in this scenario for the past few years. Another year where they started off fast, and faded just as quickly happened when the Chiefs got their first win in nine tries at Invesco Field. Jamaal Charles had a monster game, with 25 carries for 259 yards and two touchdowns, Derrick Johnson took two Kyle Orton interceptions back for two touchdowns, and not only did the Broncos lose the game, but lost any shot at a playoff berth. Kyle Orton threw for 431 yards passing, but three interceptions (and two of them run back for touchdowns) proved costly. The scratch of Brandon Marshall for this game was a big factor, and it could also mean the end of his time in Denver. The new year, same story occurs and leaves this team wonderingif they can keep the same intensity at the start of the season for the whole season. The Chiefs have the tools for the future, and it can only get better for this young team from here. Chiefs (4-12), Broncos (8-8)

Baltimore 21, Oakland 13- Willis McGahee may have lost his starting job at the start of the season, but he threw the Ravens on his back and carried them into the playoffs. McGahee ran for 167 yards on 16 carries, and the Baltimore Ravens grabbed the #6 seed and hung on to beat the Raiders. Baltimore now plays a New England team that they are 0-5 all time against. The Ravens out rushed the Raiders 240-51, Ray Rice had 89 total yards (70 rush, 19 rec) to give him 2,041 yards from scrimmage on the season. The Raiders were led by Charlie Frye, who went 18-25 for 180 yards and a touchdown that kept Oakland in the game, but after he left in the second half with an injured ankle and back, JaMarcus Russell came in and was ineffective again, going 9-14 for 102 yards with an interception and a fumble. Another disappointing season for him and the once-proud Raider franchise. Ravens (9-7), Raiders (5-11)

Washington 20, San Diego 23- The San Diego Chargers are the NFC East Champions. Okay, maybe not, but after their win over the Washington Redskins, they beat all four NFC East teams this season (Philadelphia, at NY Giants, at Dallas, Washington), but this last one didn’t include the usual suspects. Billy Volek led a late rally which was capped off by a two yard touchdown pass to Mike Tolbert with 35 seconds left to give San Diego their 11th straight win, and complete a successful 13-3 season, and a first round by in the playoffs. Volek went 19-30 for 216 yards, and it appeared that the Chargers were going to lose this game, but another loss was the final nail in the coffin in the Jim Zorn era in Washington. Jason Campbell also may have played his final game in a Redskin uniform, going 28-42 for 281 yards. Expect a lot of change in Washington, and can the Chargers be great deep in January? We will see. Redskins (4-12), Chargers (13-3)

Tennessee 17, Seattle 13- Chris Johnson became the sixth player in NFL history to run for 2,000+ yards in a season, joining Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, O.J. Simpson, and Jamal Lewis by rushing for 134 yards on 36 carries, and two touchdowns (including the game-winning one) and the Tennessee Titans bounced back from an 0-6 start to finish 8-8 for the season, and Johnson finished the season at 2,006 yards. he could have had more (and a shot at Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 yards), but a holding penalty negated a 62-yard touchdown run. Vince Young threw for 171 yards for Tennessee in the victory, and finished 8-2 since regaining the starter’s job for Tennessee. Matt Hasselbeck went 15-30 for 175 yards with a touchdown and interception, and the Seahawks are on their worst run in 16 years, only having nine wins in the past two season. The last time that happened was 1992-93. Titans (8-8), Seahawks (5-11)

Cincinnati 0, NY Jets 37- In the final NFL game at the Meadowlands (barring that Baltimore and the Jets play in the AFC Championship. Thomas Jones ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns, Brad Smith ran for 92 yards, and the New York Jets defense shut down the Cincinnati Bengals early and went on to shut them out to clinch the #5 seed and earn themselves a rematch with the Bengals next week in Cincinnati and Paul Brown Stadium. Mark Sanchez did not have a stellar game, but he was efficient in managing the offense, and did not turn the ball over. The Jets defense was stellar as well, as they held Carson Palmer to 1/11 passing for 0 yards. Chad Ochocinco, who said if Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis would shut him down, he would change his name back to Chad Johnson. Revis shut 85 down. These two teams will go at it again Saturday in Cincinnati in the first wild card game. Expect a different Cincinnati team. Jets (9-7), Bengals (10-6)

Stay tuned to TSX for final thoughts on the teams that did not make the playoffs. Great NFL Regular Season, See you in the playoffs!

NFL Recap Week 16

The season has flown by, but we are at the finish line and there is some more football betting to be had. The playoff picture has been set in one conference, but not fully set. The other conference still needs a lot of deciding in the final day of the season. Did the Colts stay perfect? To the recap….

Buffalo 3, Atlanta 31- Matt Ryan went 18-35 for 250 yards and three touchdowns (two to Roddy White), and the Atlanta Falcons made short work of the Buffalo Bills in a 31-3 victory. Atlanta scored on its opening drive when Ryan found White for a 42 yard pass, and the defense just never let up on the Bills, forcing them into 41 yards rushing, and 179 for the game. Ryan also hooked up with Marty Booker for a 12 yard pass, and rookie defensive end Lawrence Sidbury ran a fumble back for 11 yards, and gave the Falcons a 24-0 lead and led to a 24-3 halftime after Rian Lindell’s field goal gave Buffalo its only points of the game. Brian Brohm was the starting quarterback for Buffalo, since Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards both sat out with ankle injuries. He went 17-29 for 146 yards and two interceptions. The Bills long season is almost over, and the Falcons have a chance to post back to back winning seasons for the first time in their 44 year franchise history, which would be great for the organization and its fans. Bills (5-10), Falcons (8-7)

Kansas City 10, Cincinnati 17- Carson Palmer threw two touchdown passes, including the game-winning touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco on a 98 yard drive that gave the Cincinnati Bengals a hard-fought 17-10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, and gave them the AFC North division championship and reaching the playoffs for the second time in just 19 years. They still were carrying heavin hearts from the death of fallen teammate Chris Henry, who was laid to rest five days ago in his native Louisiana. Palmer first found Laveranues Coles for a 10 yard touchdown reception, and then the pass to Ochocinco in the fourth. Cedric Benson also had a good day, with 29 carries for 133 yards, setting a franchise record with his sixth straight 100-yard game. The Chiefs bright spot was Jamaal Charles, who ran for 102 yards on 24 carries on his birthday, and Matt Cassel went 22-37 for 180 yards with a 20 yd TD pass to running back Tim Castille to tie the game at 10 early in the fourth quarter. Larry Johnson, who had this game marked personally and was looking to show out against his former team, only settled for four carries for 11 yards, but he will see the postseason, while the Chiefs are heading to another four or fewer win season for the third year in a row. Chiefs (3-12), Bengals (10-5)

Oakland 9, Cleveland 23- Jerome Harrison ran for 148 yards on 39 carries, and a touchdown and Derek Anderson threw for 121 yards and a touchdown, and the Cleveland Browns won their third straight game and quite possibly may have saved Eric Mangini’s job (or at least improved his chances) with a 23-9 home victory over the Raiders. The Browns have found a new running back in Harrison, who had 125+ yards for the second straight game following a 286 yard, franchise record effort against the Kansas City Chiefs. Anderson, starting for the first time since November 1st, was efficient, and most importantly, did now turn the ball over. On the week where it was announced that Mike Holmgren was announced as the new Browns’ president, Mangini showed why he should at least get a chance to show what he can do with this team that has finally found themselves after wins over Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and now Oakland. The Browns will seek their first four-game win streak in the expansion era when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. The Raiders still are trying to find ways to beat the bad teams just like they can beat the good ones. Raiders (5-10), Browns (4-11)

Seattle 10, Green Bay 48- Brandon Jackson had three touchdowns, Ryan Grant had two, and the Green Bay Packers’ defense intercepted Matt Hasselbeck four times, and the Green Bay Packers dismantled the Seattle Seahawks and clinched a spot in the NFC playoffs. Green Bay will be a Wild Card team, it is yet to be determined what seed they will be (either 5 or 6). Aaron Rodgers, who went 12-23 for 237 yards started the day by finding Jackson, who then complimented his receiving touchdown with two rushing touchdowns in the third. Ryan Grant scored two touchdowns in the first half, the first one from three yards out and the second one from 56 yards which helped the Pack to a 21-3 lead. Ahman Green also scored for Green Bay, who really turned things around after the Brett Favre saga, and a disappointing 6-10 record and turned it into a playoff berth. The Seahawks did get a touchdown from Hasselbeck, as he found John Carlson for a 16 yard score, but the game was 48-3 and well out of reach. The question is now: Is the Hasselbeck era over in Seattle and is it time for a change at QB? Very disappointing season for Seattle after such high hopes that it would get back to the team that made the postseason six straight years from 02-07. Seahawks (5-10), Packers (10-5)

Houston 27, Miami 20- Matt Schaub went 20-31 for 286 yards and two touchdowns, and the Houston Texans opened up a 27-0 lead before halftime, and survived the Miami Dolphins’ comeback attempt with a 27-20 victory that kept them alive, and all but eliminated Miami from the AFC playoff picture. Schaub found Andre Johnson for a 10 yard touchdown in the first quarter, and then Jacoby Jones for a 44 yard connection in the second quarter. Arian Foster ran for 97 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter, which propelled the Texans to a 27-0 lead early and a 27-3 halftime lead. Over the final 31 minutes of the game, the Dolphins mounted a comeback with 20 unanswered points, but their upset bid fell short when Houston recovered an onside kick to seal the victory.

Jacksonville 7, New England 35- Tom Brady went 23-26 for 267 yards and four touchdowns (three to Randy Moss), and the New England Patriots clinched the AFC East division and a playoff spot, by outplaying a Jacksonville Jaguars team that was once in the drivers seat for the AFC Wild Card, but are virtually eliminated from contention. Wes Welker caught 13 passes for 138 yards, and Moss only had four catches for 45 yards, but three of them were for touchdowns (2, 6, 17), and the Patriots jumped out to a 35-0 lead. The Jaguars only touchdown came on a David Garrard two yard run in the fourth quarter. He went 19-25 for 185 yards with two interceptions, and Maurice Jones-Drew was only held to 63 yards rushing. The buzz on Twitter happened when Mike Sims-Walker responded to many fans questions on why he does not get the ball, which will create a “controversy”. Not much should be made, but Twitter is not a good place to vent if you’re an athlete. Jaguars (7-8), Patriots (10-5)

Tampa Bay 20, New Orleans 17 (F/OT)- The New Orleans Saints were on their way to a 14-1 start when Garrett Hartley kicked his field goal… that’s what the Superdome thought. They thought wrong. After blowing a 17-0 lead, The Saints gave up 17 points in regulation, and Connor Barth hit the game winning 47 yard field goal to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers an improbable 20-17 victory over the Saints at the Superdome, and raising questions on if the Saints are as unstoppable as they once were when they beat New England 38-17 in Week 12. Cadillac Williams ran for 129 yards on 24 carries, and Michael Spurlock’s 77 yard punt return tied the game at 17 that set up the drama for Hartley’s missed field goal and Barth’s game winner. Drew Brees went 32-37 for 258 yards and a touchdown to Robert Meachem. The Saints not only lost their shot at home-field advantage, but can still clinch if Minnesota loses to Chicago on Monday night, but set history as the first 13-win team to lose to a team coming into the game with two victories. Buccaneers (3-12), Saints (13-2)

Carolina 41, NY Giants 9- Jonathan Stewart ran for a franchise-record 206 yards, and Matt Moore went 15-20 for 171 yards and three touchdowns, and the Carolina Panthers closed out Giants’ Stadium with a 41-9 shelling of the New York Giants, and eliminating the Giants from playoff contention. The Panthers’ defense forced the Giants into four turnovers (two fumbles, and two interceptions from Eli Manning). and held the Giants to just 60 yards rushing the whole game. The bad news for the Panthers is that Steve Smith broke his arm after scoring a touchdown, and had successful surgery Monday morning, and is effectively done for the season. The Giants, meanwhile are wondering what happened after a 5-0 start how things could have gone south. Big Blue was a Super Bowl contender, but seven losses in the past 10 games have them not going to the playoffs for the first time in five years. Panthers (7-8), Giants (8-7)

Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 23- Ben Roethlisberger threw for 259 yards and a touchdown, Rashard Mendenhall ran for a touchdown, and Jeff Reed kicked three field goals, including the game-winning 38 yard field goal, and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were almost left for dead, came back alive in the playoff hunt and further complicated the AFC playoff picture. The teams were all field goals until Rashard Mendenhall ran for four yards for a touchdown and made it 13-3. After Joe Flacco found Todd Heap for a touchdown, Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes to make it 20-10. The third quarter included another Flacco to Heap touchdown and a field goal tied it at 20. The Ravens had a golden opportunity to go up by a touchdown, but Derrick Mason dropped a wide-open pass, which led eventually to Reed’s field goal. The Ravens need to win at Oakland to clinch a playoff spot, and Pittsburgh needs to win at Miami and the Ravens would lose at Oakland or the Jets lose at home against Cincinnati to make it to the playoffs. Ravens (8-7), Steelers (8-7)

St. Louis 10, Arizona 31- The Arizona Cardinals are legit, grabbing their first 10-win season in 33 years when the team was in St. Louis, and the got there by beating the team that is currently in their old city, the St. Louis Rams. Kurt Warner went 24-38 for 313 yards and threw two touchdowns, giving him 100 with Arizona and joining Fran Tarkenton as the only players w/ 100+ touchdowns for two different teams, and the Arizona Cardinals made easy work of the St. Louis Rams. Anquan Boldin finished with eight catches for 116 yards, (seven for 100 in the first half). Brandon Gibson had five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown which was ruled an incompletion but overturned after a Rams challenge. Keith Null, starting for the third straight game, going 20-31 for 171 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. The Rams loss has all but clinched them the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Ndamukong Suh anyone? Rams (1-14), Cardinals (10-5)

Detroit 6, San Francisco 20- Frank Gore scored on a one yard touchdown run, and topped the 1000 yard mark for the fourth straight year, and Alex Smith went 20-31 for 230 yards and a touchdown to Vernon Davis, and the San Francisco 49ers made easy work of the Detroit Lions in the second half and will be looking to finish the season at .500 with a win over St. Louis next week. The Lions’ QB carousel continued as Drew Stanton went 11-21 for 130 yards, but threw three interceptions, and was replaced by Daunte Culpepper, who went 7-12 for 51 yards. Neither QB threw a touchdown. The loss for Detroit was their 20th straight on the road, and for the second year, they went winless away from Ford Field. They appear headed for the #2 pick in the NFL Draft. Lions (2-13), 49ers (7-8)

NY Jets 29, Indianapolis 15- Apparently, perfection did not matter to Jim Caldwell and the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts benched their starters for most of the second half, and the Jets took advantage. Brad Smith scored on a 106 yard kickoff return, and Thomas Jones ran for 105 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, and the Jets snapped the Colts’ 23 game regular season win streak, and ended their perfect season. The win puts the Jets in the drivers seat for the fifth seed of the AFC, and if they win at home at the Meadowlands against Cincinnati, they are in the playoffs. The Colts will close out their season at Buffalo, and prepare for home-field throughout the playoffs. Peyton Manning went 14-21 for 192 yards before being pulled from the game. Joseph Addai & Donald Brown scored the two touchdown for the Colts in this one. Jim Caldwell has taken a lot of heat for pulling the starters, but he really should not. If the coaches and players were fine with it, then the media should be too. Jets (8-7), Colts (14-1)

Denver 27, Philadelphia 30- David Akers kicked a 28 yard field goal with four seconds left, and helped the Philadelphia Eagles keep their lead in the NFC East and set up a show down in Arlington at Cowboys Stadium with Dallas for not only the NFC East Championship, but for a first round bye (if Minnesota loses both of their final games). Donovan McNabb went 20-35 for 322 yards and three touchdowns, and the Eagles set a new franchise record in total points for the season, giving them 429 after 15 games, surpassing the old mark of 416 yards set just a season ago. Kyle Orton did a good job managing the game for Denver, leading a methodical come back and throwing three touchdowns to go with his 189 yards passing (two to Jabar Gaffney), and leading the Broncos back from a 17 point deficit to tie the game at 27. It was a huge catch by rookie WR Jeremy Maclin on the sidelines for the Eagles that set up the game-winning field goal for the Eagles. The Broncos, who were in the drivers seat for the Wild Card for the past two weeks are on the outside looking in and need to win and either the Jets, Baltimore or Pittsburgh to lose to make it in the playoffs. They host Kansas City next week. Broncos (8-7), Eagles (11-4)

Dallas 17, Washington 0- The December Depression has been detained in Dallas. Tony Romo threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, Marion Barber ran for a touchdown, and Shaun Suisham stuck it to the team that cut him by kicking a field goal from the same spot that costed him his job two weeks ago in the same stadium, and the Dallas Cowboys are back in the playoffs, but could potentially host a playoff game at Cowboys Stadium if they beat the Eagles next Sunday afternoon for the NFC East crown. Dallas has not won a game in January since 2000, and the last time they won a playoff game was 1996. The Redskins are a team in turmoil. They do have a GM in Bruce Allen, and Jim Zorn’s time is already up. The off-field distractions have led to on-field disasters, and a complete overhaul is demanded. Santana Moss had eight catches for 92 yards, and Jason Campbell did not have the best of days, going 24-39 for 199 yards and an interception. He was also sacked three times including a Madden-like sack from Orlando Scandrick. Too much uncertainty going into the offseason, but the ‘Skins need a ton of work. Cowboys (10-5), Redskins (4-11)

Week 16 concludes w/ the MNF Recap: Minnesota vs. Chicago

NFL Recap Week 15

Well, the NFL Recap is here for Sunday, and it looks like the playoff picture in the NFC is getting clearer by the weeks. The AFC however, is messier than before. During this recap, which features MANY wild finishes, we’ll sort all this out. To the recap we go…

New England 17, Buffalo 10- Many people thought Randy Moss quit. He has not, and he showed up against the Buffalo Bills. Moss had five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, and Laurence Maroney ran for 81 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, and the Patriots rolled to their 13th straight victory over the Buffalo Bills, and their first road win this season in the United States (the other one came in London against Tampa Bay). Tully Banta-Cain led the way for the Patriots defense with three sacks, and the defense for New England played so well, that interim head coach Perry Fewell benched Ryan Fitzpatrick for Trent Edwards, but Edwards injured his ankle three plays later, forcing Fitzpatrick to come back in and throw a touchdown pass to Lee Evans. The Patriots now have move a step closer to clinching the AFC East, and can clinch the division with a win next week vs. Jacksonville or with a Miami and NY Jets loss. Patriots (9-5), Bills (5-9)

Arizona 31, Detroit 24- The Arizona Cardinals jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but allowed the Lions to get back in the game in the third quarter to tie the game at 17, but Kurt Warner found Anquan Boldin with 1:54 left to break a 24-24 tie and gave the Cardinals a 31-24 victory to move a step closer to the NFC West championship. Warner went 23-37 for 233 yards, and Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower were effective on the Cards’ running game, each scoring a touchdown. The Lions were led by Maurice Morris’ 126 yards on 17 carries including a 64 yard touchdown runs. All the Lions’ 24 points came after Drew Stanton, the Lions backup quarterback entered the game for an ineffective Daunte Culpepper, but they just fall short of getting their third win of the season. Cardinals (9-5), Lions (2-12)

Cleveland 41, Kansas City 34- In another shootout against a team that is not as good on paper as they are, the Cleveland Browns went on an offensive explosion again. Joshua Cribbs had kickoff returns of 100 and 103 yards for touchdowns, tying the single game record for most returns in a game, and setting a new career record for returns (kickoff & punt) with eight, and Jerome Harrison put on a show of his own, setting the third best single game rushing performance in NFL history with 286 yards on 34 carries, and three touchdowns, and the Cleveland Browns held off the Kansas City Chiefs in a shootout. Matt Cassel went 22-40 for 331 yards and two touchdowns and Jamaal Charles ran for 154 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown, and the Chiefs just did not have enough to stop Cleveland from getting their second straight win. Browns (3-11), Chiefs (3-11)

Atlanta 10, NY Jets 7- The Atlanta Falcons’ shot at the playoffs were gone when Dallas beat New Orleans on Sat. night, but they decided to take the New York Jets down right along with them. Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for a six yard touchdown, and the Falcons knocked off the Jets in the Meadowlands. In a defensive battle, Ryan went 16-34 for 152 yards, but the Jets’ miscues killed themselves. Mark Sanchez threw for 226 yards, but had three interceptions, Jay Feely missed a field goal, and had another blocked, and Kellen Clemens botched a snap as well. The lone bright spot for New York was a 65 yard strike from Sanchez to Braylon Edwards (who finished with 105 yards on five catches). The Jets had a great opportunity to take control of the playoff picture, but are back in the middle of things. Facing the undefeated Colts next week is not going to help matters either. Falcons (7-7), Jets (7-7)

Houston 16, St. Louis 13- Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson had big games to keep Houston alive in the playoff picture. Schaub threw for 367 yards on 28-40 passing and a touchdown, and Johnson had nine catches for 196 yards, and the Texans used three field goals from Kris Brown to hold off the competitive Rams. The only touchdown from Houston came from Kevin Walter, and as a team, Houston only ran for 52 yards. In a game that was only attended by 46,256 people in the Edward Jones Dome (the lowest since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995), Keith Null passed for 173 yards in his second start, and threw a touchdown to Danny Amendola, and Steven Jackson had 123 yards from scrimmage (82 rush, 41 rec). Two more games and the long season will be over for the Rams. Texans (7-7), Rams (1-13)

Miami 24, Tennessee 27 (F/OT)- Rob Bironas kicked a 46 yard FG in overtime and lifted the Tennessee Titans to a huge victory over the Miami Dolphins and complicated the AFC playoff picture even more, as the Titans beat the Dolphins, but lost to the Jets, and the Dolphins beat the Jets twice. Vince Young came back from his strained hamstring, and threw for 236 yards on 14-27 passing and three touchdowns. Ricky Williams ran for 80 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, and Chad Henne threw for 349 yards and led the Dolphins back from an 18 point deficit to tie the game, but Henne threw an interception to Michael Griffin in overtime, and then a personal foul on Greg Camarillo for a late hit set up the field goal for the win. The Titans hopes are still alive, and the Dolphins first loss in December may have costed them the AFC East, and a possible Wild Card spot. Dolphins (7-7), Titans (7-7)

Oakland 20, Denver 19- JaMarcus Russell threw a 10 yard pass to Chaz Schilens with 35 seconds left for the game-winning touchdown, and the Oakland Raiders picked up a huge upset over the Denver Broncos, damaging the Broncos playoff hopes, and putting them just a game ahead of six teams in the playoff picture for the final wild card spot. Michael Bush led the Raiders with 133 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, and Charlie Frye was the starting quarterback before getting hurt in the fourth quarter. Denver could not capitalize inside their own five yard line leading 16-13, settling for a field goal by Matt Prater to make it 19-13, which led to the game winning TD pass by Russell. Kyle Orton went 19-34 for 278 yards and a touchdown to lead the Broncos in a losing effort. Raiders (5-9), Broncos (8-6)

Cincinnati 24, San Diego 27- With heavy hearts on their fallen teammate, Chris Henry, the Cincinnati Bengals played on. Playing inspired football, and playing hard pressing forward, as Henry has done before his death last Tuesday, the efforts just fell short and the San Diego Chargers won their 17th straight game in December with a dramatic field goal from Nate Kaeding with three seconds left to give the Bolts a 27-24 victory. The win, coupled with a Denver loss gave the Chargers the AFC West crown, and moved them closer to a first round bye in the AFC Playoffs. Phillip Rivers went 24-38 for 308 yards and three touchdowns, but he threw a couple of interceptions that allowed Cincinnati to get back in the game and tie it at 24. Carson Palmer went 27-40 for 314 yards and two touchdowns, including a 49 yard pass to Chad Ochocinco, who paid tribute to Henry in the endzone. The Bengals for the second straight week, failed to clinch the AFC North division, and will try again next week at home against Kansas City. The Chargers have won nine in a row, and nobody is really talking about them, which could mean a lot when January comes around. Bengals (9-5), Chargers (11-3)

Chicago 7, Baltimore 31- Joe Flacco had a career day, going 21-29 for 234 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, and the Ravens defense picked off Jay Cutler three times, increasing his league-high total to 25, and the Baltimore Ravens are back in the drivers seat with the top Wild Card spot with a huge 31-7 victory over the Chicago Bears. Flacco passed two touchdowns to Todd Heap, Demetrius Williams, and Derrick Mason caught one each. The Bears only touchdown came on special teams on a 49 yard punt return by Earl Bennett. Cutler went 10-27 for 94 yards, and is not having the season that he nor the Bears envisioned when he wanted the trade out of Denver to Chicago. Lovie Smith’s job is on the line even more now after this loss, and the Ravens are now a game behind the Bengals for first place in the AFC North. Bears (5-9), Ravens (8-6)

San Francisco 13, Philadelphia 27- Donovan McNabb went 21-36 for 306 yards, and had two touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush), and DeSean Jackson had six catches for 140 yards, and the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a playoff spot with a 27-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did the Eagles clinch a playoff spot, the 49ers loss put them out of contention for the NFC West championship, which went to the Arizona Cardinals for the second straight year. Alex Smith threw for 177 yards, and a touchdown pass to Josh Morgan, but he threw three interceptions that were costly for the 49ers. Frank Gore also had 107 yards rushing to lead the 49ers. The Eagles clinched a playoff spot for the eighth time this decade, and it was so routine that it wasn’t celebrated, as they have Super Bowl aspirations ahead of them. 49ers (6-8), Eagles (10-4)

Green Bay 36, Pittsburgh 37- Ben Roethlisberger threw for 503 yards on 29-46 passing, and three touchdowns, including the game winning 19 yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace as time expired, and the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped a five game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Green Bay Packers 37-36. The win also snapped Green Bay’s five game winning streak. Down 36-30 with three seconds left, Big Ben rolled left, and threw a desperate strike to Wallace, who did a great job keeping his feet in the endzone to give Pittsburgh the dramatic victory. Wallace also had a 60 yard reception at the beginning of the game for the Steelers, who also may have saved Mike Tomlin’s job as well. Aaron Rodgers went 26-48 for 383 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for one as well. The Packers are still in the top Wild Card spot in the NFC, and the loss clinched the NFC North for the Minnesota Vikings. Packers (9-5), Steelers (7-7)

Tampa Bay 24, Seattle 7- Josh Freeman went 16-26 for 205 yards and threw two touchdowns, and the Buccaneers defense forced the Seahawks into five turnovers by Matt Hasselbeck (four interceptions, one fumble), and the Buccaneers got a huge confidence boosting win and sent the Seahawks to probably their most demoralizing loss and really shown how far this team has fallen off after dominating the NFC West from 2002-2007, with a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. Freeman’s two touchdowns came in the third quarter after Tampa Bay was up 7-6, hooking up w/ Carnell Williams and Derrick Ward to put Tampa Bay up 21-7. Three field goals by Connor Barth kicked three field goals and the last one capped 24 unanswered points after Hasselbeck threw a 29 yd pass to John Carlson for a touchdown. The Buccaneers got a confidence boosting second win, and the Seahawks are just trying to figure out answers. Buccaneers (2-12), Seahawks (5-9)

Minnesota 7, Carolina 26- The Carolina Panthers made the most of their Sunday night appearance with their 5-8 record, and Matt Moore made the most of his opportunity as starter. Moore went 21-33 for 299 yards and three touchdowns (two in the fourth quarter) and the Carolina Panthers defense harassed Brett Favre so much, that head coach Brad Childress pondered taking him out of the game so Julius Peppers would not get to him so much. After Adrian Peterson put the Vikings up 7-6, the Panthers racked up 20 4th quarter points and took 26-7, Favre and Childress got into a “heated discussion”, and more importantly the Vikings may have given home-field advantage to the New Orleans Saints. The win also helped players in Carolina rally around John Fox, who has been on the hot seat all season long. Vikings (11-3), Panthers (6-8)