(Thursday Night Football Dallas 17, Minnesota 15 - The Dallas Cowboys are enjoying their franchise best 11-game win streak after having eked out a tough win at Minnesota. The 'Boys are just on a roll, and this win, coupled with the Giants loss at Pittsburgh, almost assures them of the NFC East title, and most likely, a playoff bye (if not home field advantage). For the Vikings, it was yet another disappointing and very costly loss, as they seem to be getting squeezed out of the playoff picture. Unless they turn it around, and very quickly, their season will be over before you know it, and memories of that magical 5-0 start will be a tormenting reminder of what might have been.
Detroit 28, New Orleans 13 - The Lions really look for real this season, although they have been in this position before, being up by two or so games and seeming to have the division locked up, only to blow it. But that was the past, and this Detroit team looks like they are much better! The Lions handed the hometown Saints a convincing defeat at the Superdome, which is not usually an easy thing to manage to do. By virtue of this big win, the Lions now have a two game cushion over both the Packers and the Vikings. Next weekend, Da Bears visit Detroit, which figures to be a win for the home team. However, the remaining season gets tough the rest of the way, with Lions visiting the Giants and then the Cowboys, before returning home for a potential winner takes all clash against the Pack. So, Detroit absolutely needed this one, and they got it.
New England 26, Los Angeles 10 - About what you could expect in this game, right? New England took care of the Rams in about the manner that could be expected. They did not explode and awe with an avalanche of points, and they did not disappoint and lose in a shocking upset. Just your regular, run of the mill home win as expected by Brady and Belichik, as they inch their way closer to yet another division title, and likely another playoff bye. Possibly home field advantage throughout. For the Rams, their season has effectively been done for some time now.
Denver 20, Jacksonville 10 - This was about the result that everyone expected from this game, right? Denver's defense took care of Jacksonville, roughing them up, and the Broncos offense essentially did just enough to secure the win. The Jaguars are, once again, horrible, while Denver needed this one badly, as they have some tough games coming up, and need some help if they hope to overcome their two-game deficit to come back and win the division.
Chicago 26, San Francisco 6 - The 49ers lost their 11th straight game with the loss to Da Bears at Soldier Field yesterday. It was an impressive and convincing win for Chicago, although the two teams entered the game with a combined record of 3-19, and both teams have been effectively eliminated from the playoffs for a very long time now. This likely assures that the 49ers will be the worst team in the NFC this season, while the Bears will just be the cellar dwellers in their division.
Green Bay 21, Houston 13 - The Pack is back! They seem to have found their mojo again, and thus, it really is not surprising that the Texans, a truly awful road team, were their victims up at Lambeau Field. Green Bay has now won two straight, and they appear to be on the verge of being right back in the playoff picture, although they need to keep winning, and could use some help. As for the Texans, they are not helping themselves to win a weak division, but that is because they themselves are just not that strong of a team, either.
Cincinnati 32, Philadelphia 14 - Well, this was the kind of game we would have expected the Bengals to win in recent seasons, although Cincy has not been their usual selves so far this year. They took care of business against Philly, though, and even though it is unlikely that they actually will recover in time to make the playoffs, this allows them to keep their hopes alive, and certainly must feel good for them. As for the Eagles, their season is most likely done, after the surprising 3-0 start. Since then, this team has gone 2-7.
Baltimore 38, Miami 6 - The Dolphins entered this game with a six-game winning streak that had them thinking of possibly stealing the division title away from the Patriots, but this was a sobering reminder that such a scenario was not very likely. Miami got pummeled, as the Ravens continued to get hotter this season. Baltimore finds themselves in a first place tie with Pittsburgh. However, the Ravens have tough road games at New England, at Pittsburgh, and at Cincinnati left. As for Miami, this one simple game, a blowout loss as it were, threatens to take them out of the playoff picture if they do not bounce back, as the AFC has some tough teams fighting for those playoff spots, especially out west. With this loss, the Dolphins would right now be very much on the outside of the playoff picture, looking in.
Kansas City 29, Atlanta 28 - Don't look now, but Kansas City really has a chance at going somewhere this season. They went into Atlanta and were able to muster a tough road win, placing themselves in position to take control of first place next week should they beat the Raiders at home. They already won the first meeting between the two out in Oakland. In fact, KC has won every game against their AFC West rivals, and with two home games against Oakland and Denver, and one at San Diego, as well as a home game against Tennessee, left in their schedule, you have to like the Chiefs chances of winning the division outright. This was a good, solid victory for them. As for the Falcons, their inconsistency is costing them, as they are now in a first place tie with suddenly hot Tampa Bay.
Oakland 38, Buffalo 24 - Both of these teams have suffered through long droughts of not making the playoffs, but one of these teams clearly is determined to decisively qualify this season. The other team is wavering and seemingly too inconsistent to be a serious playoff contender. Obviously, the Raiders are going to the playoffs, and it is largely through games like this one, where they are completely outplayed for most of it, only to come storming back when it counts the most. This game also summed up the Bills season so far pretty adequately, as well, as they started off promisingly enough, only to falter and disappoint at the end, once again.
Arizona 31, Washington 23 - The Cardinals kept their thin playoff hopes alive by beating Washington in this critical game. Had they lost, their season would have been over. However, the loss instead throws Washington into the mix of uncertain teams on the fringe, as they now are vulnerable to losing that last playoff spot. In fact, if the season ended right now, they would not even be in it, so this loss proved costly for them.
Tampa Bay 28, San Diego 21 - Tampa Bay is just red hot right now, having won four in a row after that crushing loss to Atlanta. Now, they are back in a first place tie with the Falcons, and the only team remaining on Tampa's schedule with a winning record would be the Cowboys. The Bucs could seriously win the division title! As for San Diego, they were pretty hot coming in, but this loss could have been expected. They are playing merely for pride now.
Pittsburgh 24, NY Giants 14 - The Steelers snapped New York's six game winning streak. Mostly, the Giants had a chance in the first half, as they were close to scoring. But a bad, untimely turnover provided a huge swing, as what could have been a touchdown, or at least a field goal, for New York, instead wound up as a Pittsburgh touchdown following the pick six. Ball game. For the Steelers, this was their third straight win, while for New York, they now find themselves three games behind Dallas, with four games left. But they have to prepare for the 'Boys in a big showdown next Sunday Night!
(Sunday Night Football) Seattle 40, Carolina 7 - Wow! This was revenge in a big way, as the Seahawks made the Panthers pay dearly for eliminating them in last year's playoffs. Carolina has suffered through a miserable, hugely disappointing season, especially since they entered it as relative favorites to make it back to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks, in the meantime, have been a solid team for many years now, and are looking to get back to elite status, where they can seriously think about making it back to the Super Bowl. This win last night seems to suggest that they indeed could seriously think like that, and get back their swagger. Impressive!