After week 15 of the NFL season, the playoff picture, once speculative, becomes clearer. Three AFC teams (New England, Indianapolis, Denver) and one NFC team (Arizona) have clinched playoff berths or divisional titles. More teams are eliminated by 4pm each Sunday as the season winds to a close.
Sunday night’s national broadcast featured NFC East divisional rivals Philadelphia and Dallas, both tied for the division lead entering the contest. The Cowboys made a strong showing, defeating the Eagles 38-27 in the city of brotherly love. After blowing a 21-0 early lead and falling behind 24-21, Dallas outscored Philadelphia 17-3 led by the performance of star wide-out Dez Bryant (114 receiving yards, three touchdowns). The Cowboys have a one game lead in the division at 10-4.
After stumbling to a 3-3 start, the Seattle Seahawks are now 10-4 thanks to their 17-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks scored 14 unanswered points in the second half, holding the Niners scoreless after the intermission. Seattle’s next game is against the Arizona Cardinals, a game that will likely determine the NFC West Division winner.
The New England Patriots have become a model organization since winning their first Super Bowl in 2001. Their 41-13 home win against Miami wrapped up another division title, quarterback Tom Brady’s twelfth time finishing atop the AFC East. To put that in perspective, the New York Jets have only won two division titles in their franchise’s history.
After being named the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback last Monday, Johnny Manziel began his NFL career with a lackluster performance. The Browns were embarrassed by the Cincinnati Bengals 30-0 with Manziel throwing for a paltry 80 yards and two interceptions. At 7-7, Cleveland has been eliminated from postseason contention.
All scores from Sunday’s games:
Pittsburgh def. ATLANTA: 27-20
NEW YORK GIANTS def. Washington: 27-13
NEW ENGLAND def. Miami: 41-13
KANSAS CITY def. Oakland: 31-13
INDIANAPOLIS def. Houston: 17-10
BALTIMORE def. Jacksonville: 20-12
BUFFALO def. Green Bay: 21-13
CAROLINA def. Tampa Bay: 19-17
Cincinnati def. CLEVELAND: 30-0
New York Jets def. TENNESSEE: 16-11
Denver def. SAN DIEGO: 22-10
DETROIT def. Minnesota: 16-14
SEATTLE def. San Francisco: 17-7
Dallas def. PHILADELPHIA: 38-27
By Kyle Edwards
Watch the Chicago Bears take on the New Orleans Saints on ESPN’s Monday Night Football tonight at 8:30.