Kansas City 20, Carolina 17 - The Panthers looked like they were back in Super Bowl form early in this game, riding high from a two-game winning streak, and looking like they were going to extend it, as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead. The home crowd was going nuts, and with Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans all struggling this season, there was every reason to believe that Carolina could jump right back not only into contention, but right back into first place in a weak division. However, the Chiefs, a pretty hot team in their own right, battle back. It did not seem like much at first, as they only managed a field goal before halftime. But they rallied furiously in the fourth quarter to score 17 points, to pull off a major comeback on the road, winning it outright with a field goal right at the end, so that they keep pace with the first place Raiders, and stay ahead of Denver in the AFC West. Very impressive win for KC, very disappointing, heartbreaking loss (again) for Carolina.
Los Angeles Rams 9, New York Jets 6 - The Jets and Rams have both struggled this season, but they have both particularly struggled offensively. If you needed any proof, this game served as exhibit A. There was exactly one touchdown in this contest, and that was followed by a missed extra point. Plus, the team that scored the touchdown did not even win the game! That's right, the Rams won with a total production of three field goals form their offense, in what was really a snooze fest for most people, unless you are a big fan of solid defense and sloppy offense. I was watching this with my son, and he asked me to turn it off, and kept saying it was a boring game. Indeed, even though I actually like defensive struggles as throwbacks to the era that I grew up under, this game was a little hard to stomach, and indeed, we turned on the Falcons-Eagles game, which was much more entertaining.
Washington 26, Minnesota 20 - Now, this was really a back and forth contest. Minnesota looked like they might get blown out early on, but they came storming back and took a lead, and for a while, they looked capable of winnuing convincingly. But it was not to be. back and forth these teams went, but when the smoke settled, Washington had survived a tough challenge to win a home game that keeps them very relevant in the NFC East race and the playoff picture. A good, solid win for them, and yet another disappointing loss in what is a streak that is growing out of hand for the Vikings.
Tennessee 47, Green Bay 25 - Tennessee looked hot in this game, and their offense looked incredibly precise and downright explosive. The Packers, in the meantime, proved that their recent struggles were no fluke, as they continued to look subpar on both the offensive and defensive ends, being completely outclassed and, frankly, blown out, by the Titans. Aaron Rodgers still can put up some solid numbers, but he clearly cannot do this alone, and he is not receiving enough help from his teammates. This was their fourth straight defeat, and they appear to be losing their way out of the playoff picture altogether. The Titans, in the meantime, just keep getting better, as this impressive win underscores.
Denver 25, New Orleans 23 - Who would have guessed that a failed two-point conversion would go such a long way towards deciding this particular contest? Yet, that is exactly what happened in what appeared at first to be a srprisingly easy Broncos win, but wound up being a tight contest that really was anyone's game. In the end, however, Denver's defense proved just a little too tough, and the defending champions earn a tough road win to remain relevant in the AFC West race. For the Saints, this was a missed opportunity, given the Falcons loss to the Eagles.
Tampa Bay 36, Chicago 10 - Not much of a game here. The Bears predictably could not keep up with a rising Buccaneers team on the road, and Tampa Bay had their way in a blowout win over Chicago. There used to be a time when Chicago would win these blowout games between these two franchises, but times have obviously changed. The loss solidifies still further Chicago's position at the bottom of the NFC North, while Tampa Bay was the only winner in the NFC South this week, allowing them to remain relevant.
Houston 24 Jacksonville 21 - The Texans could not have picked a better time to finally earn their first road win of the season. This was an important divisional game that they absolutely had to have, and could not afford to lose. Still, it was a tough one, as Jacksonville fought hard in a close contest, but Houston pulled it out in the end to stay on top in the AFC South. A disappointing loss for Jax, and they probably can be counted out of the division race and, thus, the playoff race, for yet one more season. Wait 'til next year (again)!
Philadelphia 24, Atlanta 15 - This also looked like a slow, mostly defensive struggle for three quarters, until the game grew intense and exciting in the final quarter, with lead changes and pushes from both teams to take this particular contest. The Falcons lost the lead with a Philly touchdown, but they responded almost immediately, as Matt Ryan hooked up with Taylor Gabriel for a 76-yard touchdown, and Atlanta's offense suddenly appeared dangerous again, as if the sleeping monster finally had awakended. However, the Eagles responded back with another touchdown of their own, then added a field goal to secure the victory. For the Falcons, who entered this game averaging over 33 points per game, this was a horrible game, as they uncharacteristically could not score, and failed to capitalize on what could have been a golden opportunity, with almost every other team in the NFC South struggling this weekend, as well. Carson Wentz had a big game for Philadelphia, as the Eagles pull off a big win to keep pace in the NFC East.
Miami 31, San Diego 24 - This was a hard to pick contest between two dangerous teams in the AFC. Both teams had looked very impressive over the last three or four weeks, following some disappointing, early season losses. And sure enough, it was a back and forth contest, and pretty much always close. Both teams answered the call when the other team produced, and it was unclear who would win until the Dolphins actually finally won, holding onto their 31-24 lead when time expired in the final quarter to earn yet another impressive win. They now have a winning record, while the Chargers, who were looking to get back into the playoff race, have the misfortune of being in the AFC West, where some of the best teams in the AFC play.
Arizona 23, San Francisco 20 - You got the feeling that the Cardinals got away with one here. They looked like they were going to win fairly easily early on, but then, they let the 49ers get right back into it in the second half. The 49ers came alive late in the game, with Kapernick leading his team to a touchdown drive late in the game to tie it, using his legs to run it in. However, the Cardinals did answer with a scoring drive of their own, putting themselves in field goal position for the win right at the end of the game. The Cardinals had missed two previous times in similar situations that could have won them games earlier in the season, although this particular field goal attempt was very solid, as Arizona managed to just barely avoid what could have been a potentially disastrous upset loss at home to a weaker division rival. The win keeps the Cardinals relevant, while it hands the 49ers their eighth straight loss.
Dallas 35, Pittsburgh 30 - This was probably the best game of the week! There were seven lead changes, and the game remained close and exciting throughout. Both teams showed a bit of what they are capable of, but it was the Dallas Cowboys who, in the end, proved to have just the right stuff, with not just one, but two seeming game winning drives late in the fourth quarter. They left too much time on the clock the first time, with just under two minutes to play, allowing Pittsburgh to rush the ball down the field en route to a touchdown that seemed to have won the game for them. However, the Cowboys answered with an amazing, last minute drive of their own to pull off a tough road win, and to keep their active winning streak at 8 - the longest winning steak for Dallas since 1977! With New England losing, the Cowboys now own the best record in the NFL, at 8-1. The Steelers, in the meantime, lost their fourth straight contest, and drop to 4-5 on the year.
Sunday Night Football - Seattle 31, New England 24 - The rematch of the famous Super Bowl went in favor of the team that lost that contest. Yes, this probably will not exactly erase the stinging memories of the 2nd and 1 decision, but it was nonetheless a hard-earned road win for the Seahawks, who have now positioned themselves to essentially coast to a division crown the rest of the way, and they are in good position to fight for at least a playoff bye, if not perhaps challenge Dallas for home field advantage outright. For New England, this was their only loss so far this season with Brady at the helm, and drops them to 7-2, although they remain comfortably ahead in the AFC East race.