Atlanta almost lost at home to Carolina, Oakland, and Arizona. Yes, the Falcons wound up winning those games. But those performances, coupled with Sunday's loss in Charlotte, don't inspire a lot of confidence for a deep playoff run.
Down to the wire
NFL sacks leader Aldon Smith of the 49ers picked up two more against the Dolphins to up his season total to 191/2, within three of Michael Strahan's season NFL record set in 2001 with the New York Giants.
This could be a bizarre season in which one player, Peyton Manning, wins both most valuable player and comeback player of the year, and when an interim coach, the Colts' Bruce Arians, wins coach of the year.
But the performance of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson cannot be overlooked. The Vikings star, whose knee was shredded last Christmas Eve, has been spectacular. He ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-14 victory over Chicago, the seventh consecutive game he's passed the 100-yard mark.
With three games to play, Peterson has 1,600 yards, so 2,000 is within reach. The Rams' Eric Dickerson holds the NFL record with 2,105 in a season.
The Vikings finish with games at St. Louis and Houston, and at home against Green Bay. Through 12 games, those teams ranked 13th, second, and 15th against the run.
"I think about it," Peterson said of 2,000 yards. "I don't try to think about it too much. I feel like it will happen. It's obvious we're going to continue to run the ball and the chips will fall where they may."
The chips will fall, as will the would-be tacklers.
"The guy's unbelievable," Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder said of Peterson. "I don't know if he's human or not."
SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL
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