With one week left in the regular season, here’s the way the AFC is shaping up…
The New England Patriots have clinched the East and a first-round bye. If they beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, they’ll wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
In the North, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have both clinched playoff spots. One of them will win the division; the other will be a wild card. Baltimore owns the tiebreaker by virtue of beating Pittsburgh twice. The Ravens will travel to Cincinnati, while the Steelers play at Cleveland.
The Houston Texans have won the South, and are locked into the No. 3 seed.
The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders are tied atop of the West. If they’re still tied after next week, Denver owns the tiebreaker. Those two teams face the Chiefs and Chargers, respectively. Whoever doesn’t win the division will be out.
That leaves one card spot open. The “win and you’re in” team is Cincinnati. All the Bengals have to do is beat the Ravens at home, in one of the marquee games of the final weekend. If Cincy stumbles, the Raiders, Titans and Jets can all sneak in, but they’ll also need help from the respective squads.
Sunday was a wild day across the NFL, but now, literally hours after all the lights have been turned off, and fans have marched home, I, Matt Noonan have a few things to say about one of the most wackiest days in professional football, so here we go…
* The Chiefs-Packers game was quite intriguing, but so was watching the Colts earn their first win against the Titans. It was also nice to see Jim Isray smile too, as well as announce that Peyton Manningwon’t play for the remainder of the season. Hmm… I think that was an obvious, right?
* The Oakland Raiders celebrated Louis Murphy’s first score of the year, but sadly, they couldn’t control their exuberant emotions, which allowed Detroit the opportunity to rally and win their ninth game of the season, 28-27.
* In case you didn’t know, both New York teams, the Giants and Jets, lost. Yep, those losses will come back to haunt Big Blue and Gang Green at some point, but in the meantime, the city that never sleeps still has the Knicks and Rangers to follow.
* What’s the matter with Ryan Fitzpatrick? After signing a rather lucrative contract a few weeks ago, he hasn’t won a game. Doesn’t that bother Buffalo Bills fans?
* As mentioned above, I did find the Chiefs-Packers game intriguing, but also a great moment for interim head coach Romeo Crennel, who spoke rather highly of his team’s effort and performance against Green Bay. Yet, after this particular win, I have to ask the following… Should he be considered for the head-coaching job for next year? My answer… YES!
* The St. Louis Rams are in a world of hurt, and according to reports on Monday; head coach Steve Spagnuolo’s job is in serious jeopardy. He may not be coaching the men dressed in blue and yellow next year, but overall, I think it’s safe to say, he gave it his best shot.
* So, where have the San Diego Chargers been the past few weeks? Suddenly, they want to win? They’ll need a lot of help these next two weeks, but overall, their affair against Baltimore proved that the Ravens might not be the best squad in the AFC.
The last unbeaten has fallen. The last winless team is winless no more.
Welcome to “Upset Sunday” in the NFL.
With all the hype surrounding the Patriots/Broncos epic matchup in Denver, the first big headline of the day came from Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs, who fired head coach Todd Haley less than a week ago, pulled off the shocker of the year: a 19-14 victory over the previously undefeated Packers.
Kyle Orton threw for 299 yards – 64 more than Aaron Rodgers. Jackie Battlescored Kansas City’s lone touchdown of the game to seal the deal. Rodgers pulled Green Bay to within five in the closing minutes, but the Chiefs were able to run out the clock. The end result: the Packers’ first loss since Dec. 19, 2010, and a Gatorade bath for interim Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel.
The Packers still have the inside track to the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but Sunday’s result gives other teams hope.
Meanwhile, at Lucas Oil Stadium, another long streak ended. The Indianapolis Colts finally won a game. With a 27-13 victory over the Titans, Indianapolis avoided becoming the second 0-16 team in NFL history, (Detroit is alone in that regard). The Colts’ defense forced three turnovers, and Donald Brown rushed for 161 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that sealed the deal.
Indy’s defense held Chris Johnson to just 55 yards on the ground.
While those were the most notable upsets of the day, they weren’t the only ones.
The Panthers beat the Texans. Houston was one of four teams that came into the day tied for the No.1 seed in the AFC.
The Seahawks beat the Bears at Soldier Field. Chicago hasn’t won since losing quarterback Jay Cutler to an injury.
The Redskins walked into the Meadowlands and put a dent in the Giants’ playoff hopes.