So much on the line in the early games, especially as far as the AFC playoff picture was concerned, could Miami get in? Would the Pittsburgh Steelers manage their revival and sneak in?
Lions at Vikings
This NFC North game was a dead rubber as far as playoffs go but there was still some pride to be gained. Matt Cassel outduelled Matt Stafford, just, to lead Minnesota to a 14-13 win over Detroit. The Lions who were looking so good at the halfway point of the season fell away badly and despite some marquee names on their roster miss out on the postseason.
Jets at Dolphins
Miami went into this game needing a win and help from elsewhere. They failed at the first of the two as New York came away with a shock 20-7 win. Miami went in first but after that is was all Jets as Geno Smith had another solid game at quarterback, throwing for 190 yards off of 17 complete passes. A chance blown for the Dolphins but they can build on this decent campaign next year.
Panthers at Falcons
Carolina wrapped up a bye week as the fought back from a slow start to beat Atlanta 21-20. Matt Ryan started fast for the Falcons, on his way to a 280 yard performance with two touchdowns. It was ultimately, once again, Cam Newton’s day as he bought his team back with two touchdown passes of his own, he also ran for 72 yards. A great run through the middle part of the year has given the Panthers a legit shot at competing throughout the postseason.
Jaguars at Colts
Indianapolis have found their early season form again, and even though it was just Jacksonville on this occasion they still went about their business effectively and thoroughly in a 30-10 win. The Colts will now host the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild card match they will feel confident about their chances in. Andrew Luck was 26 of 37 passing for 282 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars lost their third straight game in a season which started so poorly they ended up with a 4-12 record.
Texans at Titans
Houston are officially now the worst team in football, having lost in Tennessee 16-10 it was their fourteenth straight loss, to finish 2-14. Chris Johnson was the highlight of the day gaining 127 yards on the ground for the Titans. Tennessee showed some promise this year and lost some ball games they feel that could have been won. Both teams need to dig deep though for a fresh approach in 2014.
Ravens at Bengals
Baltimore’s reign as Champions is over after this 34-17 loss in “the Jungle”. Cincinnati finish the campaign unbeaten at home and again had to overcome multiple turnovers to claim the win, something they will have to keep under control in the postseason. No doubting their collective talent and many experts preseason favourites could be hitting form at the right time.
Redskins at Giants
It was New York who claimed this dead NFC East match 20-6, again some sloppy play was involved but the Giants did enough to beat off Washington. A mixed bag for both teams this year but both will be thankful its over. Washington ended with eight consecutive losses and the Giants went 7-3 after a 0-6 start to the year. Both head coaches have come under some intense pressure this year, Shanahan and Coughlin could well be looking for new jobs this summer.
Browns at Steelers
Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards in a big win in terms of the playoffs are concerned for Pittsburgh. The 20-7 win over Cleveland gives them slight hope in the wild card chase. They already saw two of the three teams that needed to lose to help get them in, but have to wait for the Chargers late game to see if after a 0-4 start they have done enough to get the last AFC spot in the tournament. If they do get in they could be one to watch as the hard core veterans will want one more shot, just like the Ravens ones did last year.