Key NFL matchups Sunday: Cowboys-Giants rematch, Texans-Colts showdown
The race for the playoffs remains predictably crowded at the dawn of the fourth quarter of this NFL season, bringing with it a complicated bundle of scenarios for the division crowns and wild-card spots available for the taking.
The Cowboys-Giants rematch on Sunday night will likely get the biggest ratings, but Dallas has a three-game lead in the NFC East and New York leads the wild-card pack.
So the game on Sunday with the biggest impact on the playoff picture might be, believe it or not, Houston vs. Indianapolis, considering their three-way tie with Tennessee among 6-6 teams in the underwhelming AFC South.
The Texans beat the Colts earlier this season. The Titans will have their hands full on Sunday with Denver. The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos are in third place in the AFC West, trying to stay ahead in the wild-card race.
Here is a look at who has a chance to clinch playoff spots, division titles and first-round byes in Week 14:
New England (10-2) vs. Baltimore (7-5), Monday night
Patriots clinch AFC East with:
— Win and Miami loss or tie, OR
— Tie and Miami loss
Patriots clinch first-round bye with:
— Win and Miami loss or tie and Pittsburgh loss or tie
CLINCHED: Dallas, playoff berth
Dallas (11-1) at N.Y. Giants (8-4), Sunday night
Cowboys clinch NFC East with:
Cowboys clinch first-round bye with:
— Win and Detroit loss or tie, OR
— Win and Seattle loss
— Win and Detroit loss or tie and Seattle loss
Seattle (8-3-1) at Green Bay (6-6), Sunday
Seahawks clinch NFC West with:
— Win and Arizona loss or tie, OR
— Tie and Arizona loss
News and notes around the league:
The Atlanta Falcons will be without receiver Mohamed Sanu for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams because of a groin injury. Receiver Julio Jones (turf toe) and left tackle Jake Matthews (knee) are questionable. … The New York Giants have activated halfback Shane Vereen off the injured reserve/designated for return list and terminated the contract of offensive lineman Adam Gettis. … Minnesota Vikings punt returner Marcus Sherels (ribs) has been downgraded to out for the game against Jacksonville on Sunday. … The Jaguars have placed tight end Julius Thomas (back) and defensive end Jared Odrick (shoulder) on injured reserve, ending their seasons. …
The Cleveland Browns have signed starting cornerback Jamar Taylor to a three-year contract extension. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately known. Taylor has made 10 starts, with two interceptions and 40 tackles, in his first season with Cleveland, which acquired him in a trade on draft day with Miami. … The San Francisco 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension Friday through the 2021 season. The 6-foot-4 McDonald has 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns this season. The former Rice star, drafted 55th overall in 2013, has 64 catches for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in 47 career games.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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