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NFL Review – Vikings Clinch NFC North in Green Bay

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Week 17 saw 16 divisional clashes, with some games important towards the playoffs, while others were helping to reduce damaged pride. The Vikings won the big match-up on Sunday Night Football to take the NFC North title, while the Houston Texans clinched the AFC South. The Panthers continued their run to the Super Bowl with their 15th win of the season, while the Chiefs have now won 11 straight games.

Five Talking Points from Week 17:

  • Vikings clinch NFC North title and #3 seed in NFC
  • Patriots lose to give Broncos #1 seed in AFC
  • Broncos also win AFC West title
  • Texans take AFC South title
  • Steelers and Bengals to meet in AFC North match-up on Wild Card Weekend


Sunday Early Games (6pm):

New Orleans Saints 20 – 17 Atlanta Falcons

The Saints took a first quarter lead through a Tim Hightower rushing score from the 1yd line. Two second quarter TDs from the right arm of Falcons QB, Matt Ryan, gave Atlanta the lead at the half. He first found Tony Moeaki, before finding Devonta Freeman in the end zone. Drew Brees through a TD pass to Ben Watson in between. There were only two FGs scored in the second half, with Kai Forbath putting the Saints in from with the decisive FG, to give the Saints the sweep over the Falcons in 2015.


New York Jets 17 – 22 Buffalo Bills

The Bills went 13-0 in front thanks to an 18yd run from Tyrod Taylor, before Karlos Williams ran in from 2yds. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the first of his two TD scores to Brandon Marshall in the second quarter, before finding Eric Decker from 21yds in the third quarter. However, three interceptions put pay to the Jets chances of playoff football, with three Dan Carpenter FGs giving the Bills a five-point victory in this AFC East clash.


Detroit Lions 24 – 20 Chicago Bears

The Lions shut out the Bears in the first half, taking a 10-0 lead into the interval. That was thanks to a 9yd TD pass from Matthew Stafford to Timothy Wright and a Matt Prater FG. The Bears came back into the game in the third quarter, with Josh Bellamy catching a Jay Cutler pass in the end zone. Calvin Johnson scored on a 36yd pass from Stafford to give the Lions the lead once more, before Matt Forte went in to level the game again. Eric Ebron scored the game winning TD on a 1yd reception from Stafford as the Lions finished third in the NFC North, ahead of the Bears.


Baltimore Ravens 16 – 24 Cincinnati Bengals

After a scoreless first quarter, Justin Tucker scored two FGs to put the Ravens ahead, before AJ McCarron threw a 22yd TD pass to Tyler Eifert, before Tucker hit his third FG to put the Ravens back in front before the half. Two third quarter scores for the Bengals put them in the driving seat, as McCarron found AJ Green in the end zone before Jeremy Hill ran in for a 38yd TD. A Mike Nugent FG put the game out of reach, with the Ravens scoring on a 2yd TD pass from Ryan Mallett to Kyle Juszczyk late on for a consolation. With victory, could the Bengals take the #1 seed in the AFC?

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The Steelers will travel to Cincinnati next week in an all-AFC North match-up on Wild Card Weekend.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 – 12 Cleveland Browns

Ben Roethlisberger threw three TDs as the Steelers did what they needed to do in the race for the AFC playoffs. The first hit Heath Miller, before he found Antonio Brown in the end zone in the second quarter. A third TD throw to Marcus Wheaton was more than enough to give Pittsburgh the victory, as the Browns could only muster four FGs from Travis Coons as they slumped to a 3-13 record.


Washington Redskins 34 – 23 Dallas Cowboys

The Redskins finished the regular season on a high with victory in Dallas. Three first quarter TDs saw Washington take a 24 point lead, thanks to Kirk Cousins’ right arm. Ryan Grant was the first man in the end zone before Pierre Garcon scored on a 39yd reception. Jamison Crowder made it three with a 3yd reception. Kellen Moore threw two second quarter TDs, the first to Jason Witten, before finding Cole Beasley in the end zone. Rashad Ross then caught a pass from Colt McCoy to extend the Redskins lead before Moore threw a consolation TD to Beasley at the end of the game. The Redskins took the #4 seed in the NFC.


Jacksonville Jaguars 6 – 30 Houston Texans

The Texans clinched the AFC South division title with a solid victory over the Jaguars. Brian Hoyer threw his only TD of the game in the first quarter, hitting Jonathan Grimes from 12yds for the score. Another Grimes TD, this time along the ground, along with two FG from Nick Novak, put the Texnas ahead by 17 at the half time interval. The Jags never got going on offense, scoring only two FGs, before giving up an INT which Kareem Jackson took to the house. An easy win for the Texans saw them seal the #4 seed in the AFC.


Tennessee Titans 24 – 30 Indianapolis Colts

The Colts did what they needed to do to win the AFC South, but Houston were too good over the season for them. After intercepting the ball, the Titans only needed one Zach Mettenberger run to get into the end zone in the first quarter. They were quickly behind, however, when Josh Freeman hit Coby Fleener for a 57yd score. The Titans went back in front when David Cobb ran in from a yard, but Indianapolis had the lead at the half when Ryan Lindley threw a TD to Andre Johnson. Jerrell Freeman then returned an INT for 6 to extend the Colts’ lead, before Alex Tanney threw a TD to Dorial Green-Beckham for a consolation score. The Colts finish 8-8, but only made 2nd in the division, while the Texans clinched the No.1 pick in the 2016 draft by finishing with a 3-13 record.


New England Patriots 10 – 20 Miami Dolphins

The Patriots failed to clinch the #1 AFC seed with defeat away in Miami. After exchanging FGs either side of the first quarter ending, Ryan Tannehill fired a pass to DeVante Parker to take the lead. Steven Jackson then levelled the scoring for the Pats in the third with a 2yd run. The Dolphins would end on a high, though, scoring on another TD throw from Tannehill, this time to Jordan Cameron, before Andrew Franks sealed the win with a late FG. The Patriots have to settle for the #2 seed in the AFC with defeat.


Philadelphia Eagles 35 – 30 New York Giants

This victory for the Eagles ended the reign of Tom Coughlin as the Giants Head Coach. DeMarco Murray opened the scoring with a 57yd TD run, before running partner Darren Sproles went in from 6yds to make it 14-3. Eli Manning found Will Tye and Rashard Jennings rushed for a score in the second quarter, but a Sam Bradford TD pass to Jordan Matthews meant they had the lead at half time. Manning threw his second TD, this time to Reuben Randle, but a fumble by the Giants on offense, recovered and taken back 83yds for a TD by Walter Thurmond, was enough to put the Eagles in the driving seat. A second TD reception for Jordan Matthews put the game beyond doubt, with both sides having to go into the offseason looking for a new Head Coach.


Sunday Late Games (9pm):

Seattle Seahawks 36 – 6 Arizona Cardinals

Despite losing in this one, the Cardinals had already secured the #2 seed in the NFC, while Seattle claim the #6 with victory. Bobby Brown ran in from a yard to open the scoring, before three second quarter TDs from Russell Wilson put the game out of sight. He threw TD passes to Will Tukuafu, Chase Coffman and Jermaine Kearse. A Carson Palmer TD throw to Larry Fitzgerald was the only highlight on a gum day for Arizona, who brought their star QB out at half time. Both sides go through to the playoffs, with the Cardinals advancing to the Divisional Weekend.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 – 38 Carolina Panthers

After losing their perfect record last week, the Panthers came back strongly to end with a 15-1 record. Cam Newton ran in for two TD scores in the game, equalling the all-time NFL record for QB TD runs set by Steve Young at 45. Newton has taken less than 5 seasons compared to Young’s 15! Cameron Artis-Payne also ran in for a score, before Newton hit Jericho Cotchery for a 31yd TD reception in a 24-point quarter for the Panthers. Jameis Winston ran in for a score, but a 16yd TD throw from Newton to Devin Funchess rounded off a big win for the #1 NFC seeds.


San Diego Chargers 20 – 27 Denver Broncos

With victory in this AFC West clash, the Broncos sealed the division title, and the #1 seed in the AFC. Brock Osweiler threw a 72yd TD pass to Demaryius Thomas to open the scoring before the Chargers came back. Josh Lambo kicked to FGs, before Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates combined, once again, for a TD score. CJ Anderson then ran in from a yard to give the Broncos the lead at half time. Peyton Manning replaced Osweiler in the third quarter, and took the Broncos to victory, with Ronnie Hillman scoring the all important TD on the ground. Denver take the #1 seed and clinch home-field advantage in two weeks’ time, while the Charge lose what could be their last ever game in San Diego.


Oakland Raiders 17 – 23 Kansas City Chiefs

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The Chiefs have now won ten straight games and go into the playoffs on a great run of form.

The Chiefs won in their quest for the AFC West title, but have to settle for the #5 seed in the AFC. They scored two TDs in the first quarter. Alex Smith found Jeremy Maclin, before Spencer Ware ran in from two yards to make it 14-0. David Amerson then picked off Smith and took it back for 6 to get the Raiders back in the game, but a third quarter TD for KC from Smith to Demetrius Harris ended the game for Oakland. Derek Carr found Michael Crabtree for a fourth quarter score, but it was just a consolation. The Chiefs have no won a franchise-record 10 straight games going into the postseason, while Charles Woodson played his last NFL game, retiring from football after this defeat.


St Louis Rams 16 – 19 San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers sealed only their fifth victory of the season in OT to send the Rams to their with defeat of the season. Blaine Gabbert threw a 33yd TD pass to Anquan Boldin to put San Francisco ifront, before the Rams scored 13 unanswered points late in the second quarter. Two FGs from Greg Zuerlein and a 4yd TD run from Tre Mason made it 16-10. However, the Rams were shut out in the second half, as Phil Dawson levelled the game with two FGs for the 49ers. The game went to OT, where it was Dawson again who scored the winning points, taking the 49ers to 5-11 for the season.


Sunday Night Football:

Minnesota Vikings 20 – 13 Green Bay Packers

The biggest game of the week, and arguably the season, saw the Vikings take the NFC North title, and the #3 seed in the NFC. There were just three FGs in the first half, with the score 6-3 Minnesota at the interval. The third quarter saw Adrian Peterson, the league’s leading rusher for the second time in this career, run in for a score from 3yds. Captain Munnerlyn then recovered a fumble and returned it 55yds for the score. Richard Rodgers caught a TD pass from namesake Aaron for the Packers, but the Viking held on to take the division title away from Green Bay for the first time in five years.




Divisional – Broncos (12-4), Patriots (12-4), Bengals (12-4), Texans (9-7)

Wild Card – Chiefs (11-5), Steelers (10-6)


Wild Card Weekend Games:

Steelers @ Bengals

Chiefs @ Texans



Divisional – Panthers (15-1), Cardinals (13-3), Vikings (11-5), Redskins (9-7)

Wild Card – Packers (10-6), Seahawks (10-6)


Wild Card Weekend Games:

Seahawks @ Vikings

Packers @ Redskins

Arizona Cardinals Atlanta Falcons Baltimore Ravens Buffalo Bills Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos detroit lions Green Bay Packers Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Kansas City Chiefs Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots New Orleans Saints New York Giants New York Jets Oakland Raiders Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh Steelers San Diego Chargers San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks St Louis Rams Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tennessee Titans Washington Redskins

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