The fix is in — and it's working.
Five seasons ago, confronted with the problem of playoff-bound teams resting starters and coasting into the postseason, the
And, after a Sunday when all the pieces fell in place, we're in for a few winner-take-all finishes.
Three titles are up for grabs: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh in the
The NFC West is still in play too, but Seattle, after Sunday night's 35-6 pounding of Arizona, has clinched at least a wild-card spot and has the inside track on the division title and top seeding in the conference.
Pittsburgh won at Cincinnati, 42-21, on Dec. 7, and has won the two games since. The Steelers clinched a playoff spot Sunday, ending their two-year postseason drought.
Detroit hasn't won in Green Bay since 1991, but the
Green Bay won at Tampa Bay, 20-3, even though quarterback
"We picked the worst possible time to play our worst [offensive] game," Tampa Bay Coach
Then again, even losers are winners in the NFC South. The
Setting the stage for this lowdown showdown were Sunday's results. Atlanta won at New Orleans, 30-14, and Carolina beat the visiting Browns, 17-13.
The only other NFL team to win its division with a losing record? It was the 2010
It wasn't a banner day numbers-wise for
Murray needs 29 yards to surpass
The Cowboys, who finish at Washington, clinched their first playoff berth and
Manziel left in the first half at Carolina with a hamstring injury, having absorbed a big hit from Luke Kuechly and
"It's frustrating," Manziel said. "I've never done anything like this, whether it's been playing since I was a kid in any sport, football, baseball, basketball. Never had anything like this so it was really new to me and really frustrating because I think I've put in two really good weeks of practice."
Rex, likely their ex
A year ago, after his team beat Miami in a finale,
There was no such announcement — and certainly no jubilation — for the Jets on Sunday, even though they played New England surprisingly tough in a 17-16 defeat at home. It was likely Ryan's last home game as coach, and his team dropped to 3-12, the first time since 2007 the club has lost at least a dozen games.
"It's tough because through this all, he's been the rock," guard
Fun while it lasted
For the first time in 12 seasons, the NFL will not have a team go from worst to first in its division in back-to-back years. Second-place Houston (8-7) came closest to pulling off the feat this season, but Indianapolis (10-5) won the AFC South.
Pittsburgh's defense frequently has been a liability this season, but the Steelers showed up in a big way against Kansas City, repeatedly stuffing the
"It was such a sense of urgency this week, knowing what was at stake," Steelers defensive end
Star rookie Odell Beckham Jr. of the
Several people were injured by a lightning strike in the Raymond James Stadium parking lot after Green Bay's game at Tampa Bay.
According to an Associated Press report, officials with Tampa Fire Rescue said seven people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. It did not appear anyone was directly struck by lightning; rather, the bolt kicked up rocks and gravel, and knocked a few people down.
Down and dirty
Dominic Raiola might be cheap, but his upcoming fine shouldn't be.
Cameras caught the Detroit center stomping on the lower leg of Chicago's Ego Ferguson, a rookie defensive lineman, late in the third quarter of Sunday's game. It's almost inconceivable the move was anything but intentional, although Raiola was not ejected.
After the game, Raiola claimed he stumbled, the stomp was unintentional, and that he apologized to Ferguson.
"I was stumbling out of the play, come on now, I'm not out here trying to step on people," he said.
Ferguson was unconvinced and angry, telling reporters, "You can't take away what happened with that play. You saw the play."
Last month, the NFL fined Raiola $10,000 for unnecessarily striking New England defensive end Zach Moore in the head. At the end of that game, on a meaningless snap when everyone else went half-speed, Raiola launched forward at the knees of the lineman in front of him.
Last year, in a game at Green Bay, Raiola was accused of yelling vulgarities at the University of
In the likely event the NFL punishes Raiola for the stomping, it has a road map. Lions defensive tackle
Even though the team will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, Joe Philbin is staying as coach, an announcement Dolphins owner
"We're building something great here," Ross told reporters in the locker room. "He's the right guy. . . . I believe in this team, I believe in the coach."
Philbin, who has a year remaining on his contract, is 23-24 in three seasons.
Players applauded the decision to retain him.
"That's exciting news for me, and I think everyone on the team," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "We believe in Coach Philbin and the program he has and everything he has set in place."