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From the 25, Michael Vick gets seven on a pass to Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy can't convert on consecutive runs, and David Akers comes on, and misses from 34 yards.
The Green Bay Packers take over at the 24 yard line, and James Starks runs for three, and gets another four. On third and three, Aaron odgers finds Donald Driver for 11 yards. He wals off hurting after, and Starks runs twice, for nine yards, John Kuhn loses three, and Green Bay will punt. Tim Masthay kicks it out of bounds around the 27, and the Eagles will go to work.
DeSean Jackson finds a lane and gets 19 yards on a run and catch. A screen to LeSean McCoy goes for 11. a run and an incomplete and it's third and five from the Packers 40 finds Jason Avant falling over the line for the first. Vick has too scramble and he underthrows brad Celek. But he finds McCoy, who picks up a first the the Packers 18. He gets sacked, but finds Celek and it's first and goal from the three. A quarterback draw goes for naught, and an incomplete and the Vick is inches away on fourth down. Andy Reid wants a timeout.
Michael Vick sneaks it in, and the Eagles will go for two. Brad Celek reels it in, but stepped out of bounds first, and the try is no good. After some confusion by the officials, they'll retry from the 12 yard line. But the Packers hold, and Vick limps off the field.
With 4:02 left, the Eagles kick deep, and the Packers will start from their 22, Aaron Rodgers hands off to James Stark, who gets three, and the Eagles use their second timeout. Starks gets a big first down, running for 12 yards, and the Eagles use their last timeout.
First and ten from the 38, and Starks get stacked up at the line of scrimmage, and loses one yard on the next play. It's a big third and long, and Rodgers from the shotgun, is sacked on the blitz., The two minute warning stops action, before the Packers punt.
DeSean Jackson is cajoling the crowd as he goes back for the punt.
The punt goes to the 30, and Jackson runs it up to the 43, but the Eagles get called for holding.
Vick is back out there, and he'll start from the 34, with 1:45 left. He hits DeSean jackson, who turns upfield to the Packers 37. Brad Celek is hurt, on a brutal hit on an incomplete pass. There's no call, and the officials call timeout and a ten second runoff
It's second and ten, third and ten following the incomplete to McCoy. They get the first down, and Vick rushes the play. Tramon Williams intercepts him in the end zone, with under a minute left.
21-16 Packers final.
The Philadelphia eagles will kick to the Green Bay Packers to start the second half. sam Shields is back, but the Eagles smother him behind the 20 yard line. from the 17, Aaron Rodgers gives to James Stark for eight, an incomplete to Donald Driver, and Rodgers, looking at the eagles defense, takes a timeout with third and two.
After the timeout, Rodgers loses the ball again, and Philadelphia recovers. they'll have first down at the 29 yard line. two plays later, Michael Vick finds Jason avant in the end zone.
They kickoff and James Starks goes to the 20. He gets the first two carries for little gain, and on third and five, Rodgers takes a hit, butb gets it off to Donald driver, who hangs on. They get the first, and after two quick incompletes, it's third and 10. But the Packers always seem to manage to hang on just long enough, and rodgers finds Driver again to keep the chains moving. A follow up run of 19 yards for James Starks, brings them to the Philadelphia 30 yard line. a five yard run, and a 16 yard completion to a lonely John Kuhn gives Green Bay first and goal.
A holding call backs them up to the 16, but Brandon Jackson plows to the end zone on thre next play. The Eagles have given up a touchdown, every time the Packers have reached the red zone.
Green Bay kicks off, and Philadelphia will start at the 28 yard line, Michael Vick goes long for DeSean Jackson, but overthrows him. jeremy Maclin gets just enough for the first on the next play. A run by LeSean McCoy gets five, and Maclin gets 18, as the Packers get burned on thr blitz twice on this drive.
From the Green Bay 37, Vick scrambles for two, Jason Avant can't hold on, and it's third and eight, Avant drops another one he should have held on to, and the Eagles will punt. They pin the Packers at the two yard line.
James Starks gets two, and John Kuhn, gets three. Third and five is a familiar place for the Packers today, but this time the Eagles make the stop. The Packers will punt from their end zone/
Chad Hall pulssd it in at the Eagles 48. They start off with a false start, making it first and 15. A hold and an illegal formation penalty, and it's first and 25. They get 11 back, on a desperation pass to Avant, an incomplete and it's third and 14.
Avant gets hit hard, but hangs on and gets 21 yards, and a first down. LeSean McCoy runs for nearly another ten yards, and puts his head down and gets the rest.
They'll have a first down, and the wind at their backs to start the fourth quarter.
LeSean McCoy runs again , and Michael Vick runs forward for the first down. DeSean Jackson goes into the locker room before the second quarter starts, no word on if he'll be back. Clay Matthews buries Vick back to the 20 yard line, and the eagles will punt.
Truman Williams returns it nine yards to the 43 Packers 43 yard line. James starks continues to get the carries. The give to John Kuhn results in a fumble, and the Packers recover, and get the first. he redeems himself by taking a screen pass eight yards, near the Eagles 38. The Eagles can't corral Rodgers, or his dump off receiverm and they get another first.. Green Bay takes their first time out, with first down, at the eagles 35 yard line.
Good news for Eagles fans, as DeSean Jackson comes back out to the sideline.
With 8:22 left in the quarter, Rodgers finds Donald Driver for seven yards, and James Starks gets the first on the next down. From the 27, Rodgers loses the ball, but recovers it for a loss of two yards. Greg Jennings picks up seven, and Aaron Rodgers gwets eight scrambling. The Packers have first and goal, and James jones picks up the touchdown on the next play.
So far the Eagles are showing no signs of life, and they'll receive with 5:21 left in the half. Gerard Lawson takes it out to the 25, Michael Vick provides a charge by hitting Jeremy Maclin, who brings it to the Packers 30 yard line. They lose five yards on a false start, and on first and 15, they get the five yards back. Second down is a batted pass, Third and ten, and Vick runs for 13.
A run gets three, and DeSean Jackson can't find the handle. Third down and seven, after the two minute warning. The Eagles need to come away with somepoints on this possession, if they're going to stay in this game. The Packers will open with the ball in the second half.
they get to the 11 yard line, and will have to kick the field goal. David Akers is good from 29 yards.
With a little over a minute left, the Packers will start at their own 20 yard line. The Packers get a first down, and they take a timeout. Rodgers finds James Jones and lays it up perfectly, but Jones lets it bounce out of his hands. That was a touchdown, if he holds on. Green Bay follows up with a delay of game penalty. Brandon jackson Spins for ten, and the Packers let time expire.
Welcome to our coverage of the Green Bay Packers Vs. Philadelphia Eagles. Two teams that seem very evenly matched. Green Bay won their regular season contest, 27-20 in week one, when Kevin Kolb was the Eagles' starting quarterback.
Green Bay kicks to Philadelphia, who will start at their 14 yard line. Michael Vick is sacked on first down by Desmond Bishop, but they get 18 yards on second and 19. Third and one, and Michael Vick tries to roll out, but can't convert. The eagles go three and out.
Brandon Underwood hits the live ball and the Eagles get the ball back at the Green Bay 41 yard line.
Vick scrambles for 11 yards, and they have the ball on the 30. A couple of runs, and an incomplete and the Philadelphia Eagles will kick a field goal 41 yards into the wind. It goes wide right, and the Packers take over.
From the 31 Aaron Rodgers hits Andrew Quarless for a 14, and then Donald Driver for 12. He goes for broke, throwing downfield incomplete, they get three yards, and another overthrow, Green Bay will punt.Tim Mathay skies the ball, and the Eagles call for a fair catch at the nine.
Clay Matthews comes across and the Eagles get a free play, that goes for nine yards, they get the first on the next play. Vick airs one out, to Jeremy Maclin incomplete, and they get called for holding on the next play. They get that ten back on the next play, and Vick calls timeout at third and ten at the 21 yard line. LeSean McCoy fumbles but Philly frecovers, and will punt into the wind.
Traman Williams returns it to the Packer 32 yard line. Aaron Rodgers gives to James Starks for a long run into Eagles territory. The drive is kept alive by an offsides penalty. Starks is the Packers horse for this drive, and he brings a screen pass through tacklers into the red zone, for a first down. John Kuhn pulls one in to make it first and goal, and Andy Reid calls the Eagles second timeout.
Aaron Rodgers lobs a lazy floater to Tom Crabtree for the touchdown, with eight seconds left in the first quarter
The touchback gives the ball to the Eagles at their 20, they handoff to Desean McCoy for six, to end the quarter.
The Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles meet in Philadelphia for wildcard weeknd's final match-up. When this one is over, we'll have next weekends schedule in hand.
Aaron Rodgers, owner of the NFL's lamest celebration dance, goes head-to head against Michael Vick, the NFL's poster boy of personal redemption. A Green Bay win, would send the Seattle Seahawks to Soldier Field next Sunday, to mface the NFC North champion Bears, but a Philadelphia win would bring the Eagles back to Chicago, and the Seahawks to Atlanta, to play the Falcons.
In the AFC, the New York Jets will play their arch-nemisis the New England Patriots. The Baltimore Ravens will also be seeing some familiar faces, in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So stay tuned football fans, the game is ready to begin.
At the beginning of the fourth the Chiefs are at the 49, but commit a holding penalty. They punt the ball away and Baltimore takes over at their 20. Todd Heap has been Joe Flacco's bread and butter all day, and he gets another third down conversion. Ray Rice is grinding away at a Kansas City defense that's showing signs of fatigue. Another first down results in a prolonged shoving match between the linemen. hey get to midfield, and will punt the ball away.
The Chiefs get called for offsides on the punt, and Baltimore gets a new set of downs, from the Chiefs 45. Willis Mcgahee keeps getting the call, as the Ravens are eating up chunks of time.
The referees are cautioning the head coaches, because of the amount of scrums after the whistle. Ejections will follow the next mix-up.
Anquan Boldin converts third down, bringing the Ravens to the 34. The Ravens have run 70 plays today, with about five minutes left. They're going for it on fourth and inches, to kill more time, but Willis McGahee finds a hole and runs it into the end zone.
The stands are empty in Kansas City, as the Baltimore kickoff goes out of bounds. Matt Cassel and the Chiefs take over at the 40, with 4:30 left, and he's sacked by Terrell Suggs. Ray Lewis gets him on third down, and he's intercepted on fourth and 23. It's just a question of running out of clock, at this point.
Flacco and the Ravens start from the their 34 yard line with 3:30 left. They keep the ball on the ground. McGahee gets a first down at the two minute warning, and the Ravens will just run the clock out.
30-7 Ravens final.
Although the score is close, the Baltimore Ravens kept the ball for 20:00 minutes in the first half. They've kept their offense on the field.The Kansas City Chiefs will get the ball first in the third quarter.
They'll start from their 20, and we'll see what Matt Cassel and the Chiefs have schemed for the second half.. They send everybody out, but Cassel throws incomplete short to Jamaal Charles. They'll lose a yard on the next play, a screen pass that was slow to develop, and fooled no one.
Third down, is a play to forget, Cassel hits Moeaki, who lets it bounce off his hands, it's intercepted, fumbled and recovered by K.C. for a first down at the 32. Charles seems to be Cassel's go-to receiver today, and Thomas Jones is getting good yards on his few touches as the change-up back. He takes the ball into ravens territory, and the Chiefs are getting yards on the ground that most teams don't against Baltimore. Fourth and one, from the 32, and K.C. goes for it,but a pitch to Charles loses yards and they'll give the ball up on downs.
The Ravens take over from the 38, and a first down pass gets a 15 yard boost, on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the Ravens are suddenly at the Chiefs 36. A Ray Rice run, and an Anquan Boldin catch for 13 and Baltimore is working in the red zone. Rice runs and Flacco scrambles, but the hiefs stiffen, and baltimore brings out the field goal unit.
With 6:36 left, the Chiefs will start from their 23 yard line. dwayne Bowe hasn't been thrown to yet today, and on first down Cassel is called for intentional grounding. Loss of down and they are backed up ten yards Terrel Suggs sacks him for six more lost yards on second down. On third and 26, Jamaal Charles catches the dump off, and ray Lewis knocks the ball out, Baltimore recovers.
On the Ravens first play, Eric Berry is called for contact. The Chiefs are self-destructing, and Baltimore is looking to make some hay off the short field. The Chiefs are all over Joe Flacco, whose sacked once, and has his arm hit while throwing. So the Ravens settle for the chip-shot field goal.
Jamaal Charles drops the kickoff in the end zone, and is forced to take a kknee, so Kansas City will start at the 20 yard line.
Even though Matt cassel has all the time in the world, he's still intercepted when he finally releases, and the route is on.
Baltimore takes over at the K.C. 31 yard line. and Willis McGaheebrings them in to the red zone. Flacco hits Todd Heap at the five yard line, and the Ravens call timeout on second and goal from the four. With 32 seconds left in the third quarter, Anquan Boldin pulls in the pass for a touchdown.
They kick with 27 seconds left in the quarter, and the Chiefs will start from their own 46 yard line.
On first down, Matt Cassel is hit, he fumbles and it's recovered by Baltimore. The call is being challenged, as to whether it should be an incomplete pass. It is ruled an incomplete and the Chiefs get a momentary reprieve, with 19 seconds left. Time expires after one play.
Eric Berry is giving Joe Flacco trouble, and he breaks up another pass to open the second quarter. The Ravens punt to the 14, and Matt Cassel pitches to Jamaal Charles. He's getting good yards on every rush, and the Chiefs keep sending him through the line. Thomas Jones gets a pass for eight yards and that's cassel's first completion. Jones taes the ball over midfield, for a first down on the next play.
From the 48 Jamaal Charles gets stripped and Baltimore will take over from around their own 42. But Baltimore goes three and out, and they punt out of bounds at the 13.
Their drive stalls near midfield, and the punt goes for a touchback. Yards and receivers have been hard to find for Flacco in this half, he's had to scramble a lot, he's fumbled twice, and he's been sacked three times. He manages two nice first down yardage completions to Todd Heap before the two minute warning halts play.
The Ravens have the ball at the Chiefs 34 yard line, and on first down, Flacco has to slide for six, and Heap gets 12 more to bring the Ravens inside the 18 yard line. They take a timeout, and Flacco gets another six with his feet. Under a minute at the 11 yard line they send Ray Rice up the middle, for two. On third down, Rice gets open over the middle, and walks the ball in.
With 19 seconds left Baltimore's squib kick rolls to the 4 yard line , the Chiefs take it to the 15 yard line, and take a knee to end the half.
When the fans in K.C. aren't doing a cartoonish 'Indian Chant', they're being serenaded by Journey songs. I can't decide which offends more.
Welcome to our coverage of the Baltimore Ravens Vs. Kansas City Chiefs playoff game.
Kansas City kickedoff, and the Ravens bring the ball out to the 30 yard line. The Ravens first drive goes over midfield on a bubble screen to Anquan Boldin that he stretches out for 27 yards, Todd Heap keeps the chains moving, And a couple dinks and dunks to Ray Rice and Heap give the Ravens first down at the K.C. 15 yard line. On first and goal from about the one yard line, Joe Flacco tries to sneak it in, and they lose a yard on a run on second down. A hurried pass to Heap goes incomplete, and they send out the field goal unit. Billy Cundiff connects from 19 yards out. The drive was 19 plays and took 5:59 seconds off the clock.
Kansas City will take over at their own 25, with just under nine minutes left in the first quarter. Matt Cassel drops back to pass, and can't find an open man, he scrambles for two. They go three and out on their first series.
The punt pins Baltimore deep, and they're momentarily stalled, until a Ray Rice run gets a seeming first down. Kansas City challenges the spot of the ball. They lose the challenge and the Ravens move the chains.
At the 25 yard line it's first and ten with 6:26 left in the quarter, they continue to chip away with small yardage plays. Kansas City hasn't thought up an answer to the Ravens screens yet. They cross midfield, but on third down Flacco is stripped and the fumble recovered by Tamba Hali. and two plays later Jamaal Charles breaks past the Ravens defense and scores from the 44 yard line.
The kickoff is downed in the end zone, and the Ravens start from their 20. Flacco finds T.J. Houshmanzadeh who brings the ball into Chiefs territory. The Ravens are chewing up yards as time runs out in the first quarter.
Good morning and welcome to the Sunday edition of wild card weekend. Upsets were the order of the day yesterday, with the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch and Matt Hasselbeck giving performances that will be shown on playoff highlight reels for years to come.
Bears fans are caught in the conundrum of having to choose between rooting for the Eagles, and seeing their high-powered offense return to Chicago, and rooting for the Green Bay Packers; an unnatural act, but a Packers victory would bring the Seahawks to Soldier Field next Sunday.
Seattle beat the Bears in Chicago in Week 6, 23-20, but the Bears have been a different team since their bye week. They’ve also beaten the Eagles in Week 12, 31-26.
So pick your poison, and settle in, we’ll be here all day, giving you updates on the quarters and all the playoff news you need.
Mark Sanchez gets a first down on a shovel pass, to start the quarter. Even as the Colts secondary loses more starters, they keep giving to LaDanian Tomlinson, and it's working. The Jets have a first down at the Colts 16. They've gone to the wildcat with Brad Smith a couple of times, and Dustin Keller gets a short pass and takes it to the three yard line. Shonn Greene makes it second and one, and Tomlinson can't get over on second, but goes in standing on third down.
The Jets took almost ten minutes off the clock with that drive, and there's less than ten minutes left in regulation. Peyton Manning will have the ball for only the second time this half.. He'll have his work cut out for him, as they'll start from the 19 yard line.
Joeseph Addai gets them into midfield, with one Pierre Garcon catch to keep the drive moving. A draw and handoff to Dominic Rhodes gets the first down, but the Jets are keeping Manning from airing it out. He hits Garcon on a slant for another first, he's Manning's go-to today. And they're in the red zone, but it's quickly third and seven. They're stopped and Vinatieri comes in for three.
The Jets will start atntheir 20 after the touchback, there's 4:37 left on the clock. They seem to have decided to make the Colts stop them on the ground, something they haven't done this half. Two runs and a Santonio Holmes drop and they punt, but a running into the kicker penalty gives the Jets a fresh set of downs.
With under three minutes left, the Colts have to start using timeouts.
The Jets go to the wildcat, and the Colts use another timeout at hird and five. This could be the game. Rex Ryan's achilles heel is going for the kill shot, and he does it here by sending sanchez out for the long bomb, that goes incomplete.
After the punt goes into the end zone, Peyton Manning takes over from the 20 with 2:36. he promptly throws for two first downs. Joseph Addai takes it on the draw and it's second and four at the 48 with just under two minutes left.
Blair White pulls in the pass over the middle, and thee Colts are just chipping away at the yardage into field goal range. The Jets take a timeout, then break up a pass on third down.
Adam Vinatieri comes in and calmly kicks the 50 yard field goal.
The Jets Antonio Cromartie runs the ball back to the 46. First down is a catch, drop, recovery, that's being reviewed. There's 40 seconds left on the clock. If it's confirmed, it's second and one. It's confirmed, but the Jets also used a timeout.
Santonio Holmes gets the first and goes out of bounds at the 36. Tomlinson goes two yards, and the Colts call timeout. It's second and eight with :29 left. Sanchez hits Braylon Edwards at about the 14 and Nick Folk comes out to kick a 32 yarder.
It's good. Jets win 17-16.
The Jets have the ball to open the second half, they're feeding it to Shonn Greene, and thety find their way to mid-field quickly. and that opens up a lane for Dustin Keller for about 15, and LaDanian Tomlinson brings them near the ten, he then gets them first and goal from the one yard line, and they score on an LT push. It's a 65 yard opening drive.
7-7 tie game
The Colts take the kickoff near the 25 and Peyton Manning and the Colts will have the ball for the first time in the third quarter. He mixes tosses to Joseph Addai with a nice over the middle pass to Blair White. The Jets secondary is blanketing receivers, but it's leaving nice holes for Addai. They get to the Jets 30 and no further, and Adam Vinatieri gives the Colts a three point lead.
Brad Smith is back deep for the Jets, he takes the ball out and gets hammered near the 14. They play fake and bull their way past the 50 and into Colts territory and they'll have third and seven at the 40 to start the fourth quarter.
The Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning come to life a little bit to start the second quarter, and have moved the ball into New York territory, but the Jet's hold and they punt from the 40, and the Jets will have to start from the around the ten yard line.
Brad Smith is questionable to return to the game, and that could really effect the Jets return capabilites. On offense, Mark Sanchez dug himself out of the hole with long connections to LaDanian Tomlinson and Braylon Edwards. They commit a delay of game penalty , and a near sack of Sanchez stall the drive, and they punt from their 45, for a touchback.
Peyton Manning patiently picks at what the Jets are giving, and with 5:35 left in the first half he finds a hole in the defense and lands one in Pierre Garcon's hands for 57 yard touchdown.
The Colts kick off and the Jets run the ball back to the 21 , where Mark Sanchez will take over and fight to move the chains, but he hits Santonio Holmes to get to midfield at the two minute warning. Tomlinson keeps the drive moving with an end around for a first down.
With just over a minute left in the half, the Jets take a timeout after Holmes gets them into the red zone. Sanchez tries to hit Dustin Keller twice, and on the third try, Justin Tryon picks him off at the goal line.
Manning and the Colts run a couple of plays, and let the clock run out.
After the incredible game in Seattle early, we immediately move to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapoplis.
The Colts receive the kickoff and begin at their 20 yard line, and Peyton Manning hits the ground throwing, but the Jets hold and the Colts will punt. The punt rolls through Santonio Holmes legs, and the Colts pick up the ball. The referee says that Holmes never touched the ball, but Indianaplois challenges.
Mrk Sanchez and the Jets will begin at the 27. LaDanian Tomlinson makes a nice run, but the Jets punt from near midfield for a touchback.
So far, Manning is taking the short passes the Jets are allowing him, but he's not getting the first down yardage. Likewise the Colts defense is attacking, and they've already gotten to Sanchez. Jerricho Cotchery gets the second first down of the game. They can't get anywhere, but they're keeping the game near the Colts sode of the field. They kick their second touchback on their second punt.
The Jets get caught with 12 men on the field. It's not Ed The Fireman, but he's in the stands, doubtlessly representing everything these Hoosiers surrounding him despise about New York.
So far it's a defensive battle; six punts and both squads are flying to the ball carrier. The Colts get their only first done so far at the 2:38 mark.
The offenses have each gotten two first downs, and at the end of the first there's no score
Julius Jones opens the fourth down with a run, a screen pass from Drew Brees gets him a couple more, but a hit out of bounds gets them half the distance to the goal and first down. Two plays later the Saints score, and you can almost feel the momentum changing hands.
After another kick to Leon washington, the saints wrap him about near the 24, and the Seahawks, who can't seem to move the ball at all anymore. go three and out for the second time in a row.
After the punt, the saints will start at their own 44. Reggie Bush has gone to the New Oreleans locker room. Brees is his hard and the crowd gerts back into it, but on the next paly Julius Jones takes a screen pass 33 yards. Pete Carroll calls timeout, possibly just to get his defense a chance to regroup.
Brees continues to lean on Jones, and they're second and five, at the six yard line. Jones gets two more and this is a big play, and seattle's defense clamps down on a screen. The Saints settle for three.
With 9:13 left in the game the saints corner kick to washington, who takes it to the 29. Matt Hasselbeck gives to Marshawn Lynch who goes nowhere, and then underthrows his receiver. It's third and eight and N.O. takes a timeout.
Hasselbeck hits Brandon Stokely on a slant, and gets the first. He had eight incompletions in a row before that. A run for loss, and a sack and it's third and 17. A pass underneath isn't nearly enough, and they'll punt with 6:05 on the clock.
A punt to the 13, and two flags against the Saints, and the ball is on the six yard line. A bubble screen to Jones gets them enough for a first down, and Seattle LB Lofa Ttupu is helped off. Another false start penalty and the Saints are backed up again. It\s second and 15 from the 12 yard line and time is getting short. A dump off pass and a run out of bounds, third and eight and the saints take a timeout.
Drew Brees tries to force it, it's incomplete and they'll punt. The Seahawks will take over at their own 33 yard line, and they may have taken the saints hopes with them. Lynch is wrapped up in first down, but on second down Marshawn Lynch lives up to the 'Beast, nickname he gave himself, and refuses to be tackled!
He goes 67 yards for a touchdown, and that looks like the final nail in the Saints coffin.
The Saints take the kickoff to the 30, and Brees is incomplete on first down. There's 3:12 on the clock, and Brees finds Henderson for 17 yards on the sideline. he follows up with a go-for-broke lauch downfield that's nearly picked off, and a left handed shovel pass for seven. They're inside the 40 and the clock is ticking, another pass to the 20, and the two minute warning stops play.
The Saints score by sheer force of will, try for the two-point conversion and fail.
They line up for the onside kick, but it's too hard and John carlson pulls it in, and instantly falls down. There's 1:29 left, and Marshawn Lynch gets close to the first down, that would end the game. New Orleans uses it's last time out. Lynch gets the ball again and goes nowhere. Hasselbeck takes a knee and undoubtedly the biggest upset in playoff history is complete.
This is the first time since the 1994 playoffs that both teams have scored 20+ points in the first half. The Saints kickoff and don't avoid kicking it to Leon Washington, and he can't break past the 25. But Matt Hasselbeck is playing like the Hasselbeck of old, and he continues to pick apart the Saints secondary. He finds Mike Williams in double coverage and puts it in the end zone to lead 31-20.
The Saints start again from behind the 20, and now the crowd noise is overwhelming and drew Brees and the saints offense can't get anything started. They punt and Leon Washington returns it for 11 yards and the Seahawks will start with good field position from their 45. marshawn Lynch gets big yards and crosses mid-field. Pete Carroll's offense has the Saints on their heels. Brandon Stokely pulls the ball in with a defender draped across his back. He gets the first, but is hurt on the play. Seattle has already used two timeouts.
The Seahawks get to the 24 before they're stopped and they convert the field goal.
The saints bring the kick out of the end zone, and only make it to the 17 yard line, but a Seattle offsides means they'll kick it again. They bring it back to around the 27. The Seahawks defense is smothering New Orleans, and they're struggling for every yard. They get fourth and inches on the 38, and Drew Brees refuses to let the punt team come on. And immediately pays the price as Julius Jones can't get across theline, and thee Seahawks take over on downs.
The Seahawks are cooling off, at least momentarily. Hasselbeck is hitting his receivers, but they're not hanging on to the ball. They line up for a 53 yard field goal, but are called for delay of game, and they're forced to punt.
The saints will take over from about the 14, an area they've become very familiar with. Two incompletions, and a dump off to Reggie Bush gets them a rare second half first down. Brees dinks and dunks for another first down, the running game abandoned, at least for now. As time expires in the third, he avoids the blitz and hits Lance Moore at the Seattle 40 yard line.
A pass to Jeremy Shockey opens the second quarter, and he gets the first down yardage. Reggie Bush and Julius Jones continue to chew up chunks of yardage. The New Orleans Saints take their first timeout on third and short from the Seattle five yard line. On the next play Julius Jones scores up the gut on his former team. Let's see if Sean Payton continues to give the Seahawks the short field on kickoff.
A squib kick to the ten, is returned to the 30 yard line, and matt Hasselbeck hits Benjamin Obamanu for a first down. Litte shoving matches are breaking out after tackles. A pass interference call keeps Seattle's drive alive and into New Orleans territory. After a timeout, Hasselbeck tosses a rainbow to Cameron Morrah for 35 yards, and follows up with a touchdown strike to Obamanu.
Seattle's special teams have given the Saints a starting point from behind their 20, and an incomplete and another false start, and Drew Brees is working form a deep hole. The saints have their first three and out of the game.
After the punt the Seahawks will start from their 38. Matt Hasselbeck throws his first incompletions of the day and with 9:08 in the second quarter Seattle punts to the Saints 19 yard line.
Julius Jones fumbles on first down, and Seattle recovers at the 16. A huge turnover, and the Seahawks give it to Marshawn Lynch three straight times, but can't convert. Olindo Mare ties it up with 7;03 on the clock.
Devery Henderson fights to return the ball to the 32, and gets four more on the next play. A short pass is followed by a Brees sack, and the saints will punt again.
Seattle has the ball at their own 24 yard line, with a little over five minutes to work with. they get one first down and take their second timeout with 3:34 left, and a pass gives them third and one. Hasselbeck doesn't like what he sees in the Saints defense, and uses his last timeout. They near mid-field and get the first. They line up and try to draw the Saints offsides, but it's no go, and the two minute warning stops play.
Hasselbeck can't find a receiver downfield and his dump off pass goes incomplete, they get across midfield and on third down hasselbeck rears back and launches a 45 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokely. Hasselbeck is down after the play, but jumps back up. That's 17 unanswered points by seattle and they take the lead.
Once again, Henderson can't get to the 20, but on first down he gets 40 on a long pass from Drew Brees and the Saints are on the Seahawks 40 yard line. New Orleans has to use their last timeout as Henderson stays down after the catch. Brees throws for 11, and the receiver gets out of bounds. Jeremy Shockey can't hold onto a laser strike, and Marques colston can't pull in the second down pass. Lance moore hauls one in past the 20 for the first down, And Brees spikes it, then hits Reggie bush for five. A scramble and headfirst dive gets him the first, and a spike with nine seconds. there's some question about the play clock, but the Saints can't convert and they have to settle for a field goal.
At the end of the first half, it's 24-20 Seahawks.
It seems odd to to consider the New Orleans Saints the seasoned playoff veterans, but in the 2010 Playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks, that's what they are. The defending Super Bowl Champs against the first 7-9 to ever make the post-season.
The Seahawks started the game by kicking off out of bounds, and didn't offer much resistance in the first Saints drive that culminated in a chip shot field goal with 11:43 on the clock.
The Saints return the favor by short kicking away from Leon Washington, and the Seahawks start from their 35. But Matt Hasselbeck is intercepted by Jabari Greer on third down, and after an offsides penalty, the Saints start from around the 30 yard line. New Orleans are riding Reggie Bush and Julius Jones early. A third and three pass interference call on the 5 yard line, sets the Saints up for an easy touchdown on the next play, a pass to Heath Evans.
Kicking away from Washington gives the Seahawks another short field, and they start their second drive from their own 43. hasselbeck gets two quick first downs, and has crossed into Saints territory, but WR Benjamin Obamanu stays down holding his wrist. The next Marshawn Lynch runs for ten, bringing them in to the red zone. A defensive hold gives them a first at the 11, and Matt Hasselbeck hits John Carlson for a touchdown on the next play.
the Seahawks TD has the crowd fired up, and only (another) first down penalty on Seattle gets the Saints past their own 20, but once Drew Brees has a little breathing room he quickly moves his team to mid-field. With the first quarter drawing to a close, the crowd gets it first false start penalty, and a first and fifteen pass in the middle of the field goes incomplete.
At the end of the firat quarter it's 10-7 Saints
Greetings football fans!
With less than 15 minutes until the first kickoff of wildcard weekend, the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints are ready to go. Matt Hasselbeck will start for Seattle, and the 12th Man has spent the last few hours lubricating their vocal cords. Drew Brees and the Saints on the sidelines waiting for the game to begin.
I’m in the SB Nation Chicago Playoff Bunker , with all the necessary provisions to bring you updates throughout the weekends action.
Are you in a state or preparedness for some football?
Do you love football, but can't take Terry Bradshaw's increasingly demented analysis? Maybe you'd like to know if the Eagles are healthy, but you just don't have time to listen to Deion Sanders talk about Deion Sanders for five minutes first? If you want to be in the know, but can't be in front of your TV all weekend SB Nation Chicago has you covered.
Get timely updates, in-game reports and all the NFL news you crave right here. I'll be here all weekend long bringing you quarterly reports of all four wild card weekend contests, plus all the news and updates from the field and the sidelines. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter, @sbnchicago, and @BabylonDon1.
Hasselbeck To Play: Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll announced that Matt Hasselbeck will start at quarterback on Saturday against the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. The announcement came after practice Thursday. Hasselbeck is the only QB ever to lead the Seahawks to an NFC Championship. Many people believe Charlie Whitehurst, who defeated the Rams in the final game of the regular season, to be the better choice. He's younger and more mobile, but Hasselbeck has the experience and poise that Seattle wants, for their playoff run.
Jet Fool: New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan will never be asked to join the U.S. diplomatic corps. Even when he's being complimentary, he's being insulting. This is what he had to say, in response to a question about Peyton Manning:
It’s not just a coach on the field. You give the coaching community too much credit. This guy is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. He is one of the smartest guys. It’s not just a coach dialing up plays, he dials his own plays up. Each play has three options. He comes up and takes option one. Whatever it is. Forget those options, I’m going to go to option four. This is who he is. The guy is tremendous. There is no one else like this guy in the league. Nobody studies like him. I know Brady thinks he does. I think there’s probably a little more help from Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.
Now, should the Jets prevail this weekend over Peyton and the Indianapolis Colts, as the sixth seed, who do you suppose they'd play? Of course, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. On their last meeting Brady beat the Jets convincingly 45-3. What would you bet that the Pats are rooting for New York this week, just to run another score up on them?
Sunday's playoff games offer some pretty interesting contests. Baltimore and Kansas City compare pretty evenly, and for my money Green Bay and Philadelphia look like the two most evenly matched teams in the post-season. Intense, physical football is the order of the day.
AFC Wildcard- Baltimore Ravens(5) Vs. Kansas City Chiefs(4) Noon CST: Matt Cassel and the Chiefs surprised a lot of people by ousting the perennially division leading San Diego Chargers from first place in the West this year. A solid running game and Dwayne Bowe's breakout receiving year, have put the Chiefs in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. They look like a team that's going to get better in the coming seasons, which is good because I think their 2010 season ends this weekend.
The Baltimore Ravens have the kind of defense that any Black & Blue Division historian can appreciate. In fact, the AFC North with Baltimore and the Pittsburgh Steelers could be considered it's modern day equivalent. Even the teams colors resemble bruised flesh. Ray Lewis is a force of nature, and his influence on this Ravens defense can't be overstated.
On offense, Joe Flacco has Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin, and all their combined playoff experience should be enough to run over a K.C. team that has to be a little awestruck to have made the post-season at all. This weekend at least, Baltimore will be the angriest, hungriest team in the NFL.
NFC Wildcard-Green Bay Packers(6) Vs. Philadelphia Eagles(3) 3:30 CST: As previously stated, these two teams look awfully similar in several ways. They both feature offenses that can score a lot of points, and make you pay if they catch you on your heels. Their defenses both feature secondaries that punish receivers for going up for the football. And of course, both teams have been racked with injuries all season.
These two teams met in Week 1 of the regular season, and the Packers won by a touchdown, 27-20. The more important outcome of that game was that Green Bay knocked out then starting quarterback Kevin Kolb. Michael Vick came into that game and threw for 170 yards, ran for 103, and very nearly stole the game late. It was the Pack's man-handling of Kolb that brought Vick's career into it's present resurgence.
The Green Bay Packers were a lot of the "experts"' preseason pick for Super Bowl champion this year. As a further testament to their inability to recalibrate their conclusions based on empirical evidence, they are once again holding up the Pack as the 'most dangerous team' in the NFC playoffs.
This is, of course, nonsense.
The Green Bay Packers are a very good football team, but that's all they are. They are a 3-5 road team, that would play on the road, for as long as they could remain in the tournament. But I don't think they'll get past Andy Reid's Eagles this weekend.
Although it seems like nobody wants to say it, because it veers from the accepted script, let me assure you; Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs because the Chicago Bears let them in.
Yes, Lovie Smith and the Bears said all the right things going into week 17, they were playing to win, they didn't want such a dangerous team in the playoffs, etc. And make no mistake, the Bears defense played it like a playoff game, allowing only 10 points.
But take a look at the offense; 18 rushing plays to 39 pass plays. That's right, Matt Forte only ran the ball 15 times, even though he was averaging 6.1 yards a run. Yes, Jay Cutler stayed in the whole game, and yes indeed the plays they ran were unsuccessful, but it looks to me like Mike Martz and the Bears offense were basically tinkering with the offense.
It's almost funny, but it's getting a little boring, that most of the media (particularly the local dailies) keep missing the forest for the trees. But since the Bears came back from their bye week, they've been among the most balanced offensive team in the league. The run/pass ratio has been very near 50%, and going into the Packers game, they had only lost to the Patriots since the bye week.
Don't you suppose they got the message?
If last Sunday's game was truly that important to the Bears, they would have game-planned an offense similar to the one that led them into the playoffs as the number two seed. Instead Lovie Smith let his coordinators prepare their units to play a meaningless game, as they saw fit. Rod Marinelli played his defense all out, and they held the high-powered Green Bay offense (that had it's post-season aspirations on the line, by the way) to one touchdown.
Mike Martz chose to use this time before the bye week to try out some ideas, that might only have made sense to Mike Martz. That's how it looked to me, anyhow.
You have your choice, as far as what you'd like to believe. Did Lovie Smith desperately want to win this game, but then choose to stray from the formula that helped the Bears to their previous seven victories? Or did the Bears decide to use a game that had no meaning to them, as a tune-up before getting a week off before the playoffs?
The first weekend of NFL Playoff action begins this weekend, and we'll be previewing all the games throughout the tournament, beginning today with Saturday's matchups.
AFC wild card - New York Jets (6) vs. Indianapolis Colts (3) 7:00 CST: Peyton Manning and the Colts have struggled this year, and didn't qualify for the playoffs until the last week of the season. The usually dominant Indy had been struck hard by the injury bug, and Manning was forced to throw to a lot of unfamiliar targets. But the Colts quarterback is no stranger to the post-season, and won't be shaken by the Jets blitzes. And he won't shy away from throwing towards Darrelle Revis.
The New York Jets haven't flown under anyone's radar this year, they're more media friendly than Broadway Joe and Hollywood Henderson combined. Between their training camp reality show, their penchant for smack-talk, and all their well-publicized sexual peccadilloes, it seems like the Jets are fueled by testosterone and fly on hot air. They're a good road team, but look for Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne to eliminate New York on Saturday.
NFC wild card - New Orleans (5) vs. Seattle Seahawks (4) 3:30 CST: The defending Super Bowl Champion Saints have had some setbacks this year, but overall have played well, even with injuries in the running game. Those injuries compounded with the news that Chris Ivory has been placed on IR.
But for one or two plays in the regular season, the Saints could easily have been the number one seed in the NFC.Their defense is swarming and relentless, and their dominance is one of the chief reasons that Drew Brees can take the chances he does. New Orleans is favored by 11 points, and it's easy to see why.
The Seattle Seahawks hosting a playoff game after going 7-9 in the regular season is an anomaly that has never occurred before. Some people are outraged enough to suggest changing the playoff format altogether. The Seahawks do have a '12th Man' in the noise generated by their fans, but unfortunately their 12th man is also their MVP. Seattle is going into the playoffs with a losing record and questions about who will start at quarterback. Neither Charlie Whitehurst or Matt Hasselbeck give the Seahawks enough to put them over the top against a quality opponent, and the Saints should have little trouble quieting their best player.
Tomorrow - We'll break down Sunday's games.
Earlier this evening, the NFL released the schedule and game times for the first round games which will take place next weekend. The Bears, with their division championship and 11-5 record, earned the second seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.
Via the NFL website, we now have game times and potential matchups for the following weekend, the one the NFL terms "divisional playoffs."
The Bears are scheduled to play Sunday, Jan. 16 at noon, televised on Fox. Their opponent will be either the Seahawks, Eagles or Saints. They can't play the Packers until the NFC Championship game, if both get that far. The opponents are seeded again after next week's games.
Other second weekend matchups, game times and TV network:
Saturday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., Fox: Seahawks or Saints or Packers at Falcons
All times listed here are Central Standard Time.
With one team still to be determined — the winner of tonight’s game between the Rams and Seahawks will win the NFC West and be seeded fourth — the matchups have, otherwise, been set for next Saturday, Jan. 8 and Sunday, Jan. 9 for the first round of the NFC and AFC playoffs.
NBC has two games next Saturday as part of their deal covering the NFL. At 3:30 p.m., the Saints, who are the No. 5 seed, play at either St. Louis or Seattle, depending on who wins tonight. Even though the Saints have a better record than both teams, they have to play on the road because they are a wild card and the Rams or Seahawks will be division champions. Unfair? Maybe, but that’s the way the system is set up.
The Sunday matchups are as follows:
At noon on CBS, the fifth-seeded Ravens will travel to Kansas City to play the fourth-seeded Chiefs. Then, at 3:30 p.m. on Fox, the NFC sixth-seed Packers will be at Philadelphia to face the No. 3 seeded Eagles.
All times listed here are Central Standard Time.
The NFC playoffs are now shaping up — there’s only one spot left to be determined after the Falcons’ 41-9 win over the Panthers. That victory clinched the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs for Atlanta.
That makes the Saints, who had a shot at the top spot, a wild card — and they lost, 23-13 to the Buccaneers — the No. 5 seed. The No. 6 seed will either be the Packers, if they beat the Bears, or the Giants, if Green Bay loses and New York beats Washington. If the Bears win, the Packers can still get in if the Giants lose. If both teams lose, the Bucs get the No. 6 seed by virtue of their win.
In the AFC, the Steelers’ blowout of the Browns clinched the No. 2 seed for them and a bye week. The only remaining slot in the AFC goes to the AFC South champion, which will be the Colts if they win their game. If the Colts lose, the Jaguars win the division if they defeat the Texans. If both lose, the Colts are the winner by tiebreaker.
Clear? Enjoy the late games and go Bears!
Outraged football fans, take heart; The winner of the NFC West division will lose their playoff game and be eliminated. Whether it's the Seattle Seahawks or St. Louis Rams, they will have their one opportunity to represent the division and be gone. The West is weak this year, and hasn't offered much in the way of competition to anyone. That won't change on Sunday.
You have to take a longer view of the situation. There is one team in the NFC West that is trending upwards, the Rams. The rest of the division is in total disarray, and the Seahawks have an aging quarterback and no one on the horizon to replace him.
The Rams however, only managed one win last year and are on the verge of an impressive +7 game turnaround. They have a young quarterback who already has passed Peyton Manning's record for completions in a rookie season with 335, and still has one more game to go. Between Sam Bradford and Pro-Bowl running back Steven Jackson, this young Rams team is going places.
So, if St. Louis does become the NFC West representatives in the playoffs, think of it as their coming-out party. Even if it's a short one.
Tuesday night, Joe Webb and the Minnesota Vikings gave the Chicago Bears the nicest gift they have since last Monday. The NFC playoff scenario got a little clearer and quite a bit brighter if you're a Bears fan.
Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles came out disjointed and sloppy, and it cost them a chance to get the second seed, and a bye week. Maybe that's best for them, as the extra two days they had to prepare for this game did not serve them well. High snaps, bad routes, and poor execution in every phase made Andy Reid's Eagles look overmatched by a Vikings squad with nothing but pride at stake.
Vick was sacked six times, and had a noticable limp as early as the Eagles first series. He gave up fumbles, and threw into the arms of the defense several times. The Vikings defense dropped three balls, that kept the Eagles close in a game they were never really in.
Zygi Wilf, the owner of the Minnesota Vikings should consider locking Joe Webb into the starting QB spot for the foreseeable future. And under no circumstances should he undermine the rookie's confidence or game-time experience by allowing Brett Favre another curtain call.
Another thing to consider is that Leslie Frazier managed to field an offense that kept Vick in check, despite being snowbound in a Philadelphia hotel since Saturday. Frazier has a great defensive mind, and must have formidable motivational skills to keep the famously dysfunctional Vikings on message in a meaningless game after extra days off.
You have to think he deserves a chance to take that 'interim' off his head coach title.
Last night the New Orleans Saints put the rest of the NFC contenders on notice; any playoff scenario you envision requires you to prepare to play the defending NFL champions. The current wisdom had the Atlanta Falcons unbeatable in the Georgia Dome, and that Matt Ryan can win any game in the final minutes.
Both of those notions have been put to rest by Drew Brees and an unrelenting Saints defense. Brees has patience, poise, and moves like a waterbug, evading defenders who could get ahold of him, but could seldom wrap him up.
Drew Brees showed a lot of confidence, even after being intercepted on consecutive possessions. A rushed dump off pass that he should have thrown into the cheap seats was returned for a touchdown that accounted for half of Atlanta's points on the evening.
Their defense kept 'Matty Ice' to a very tepid 77.9 quarterback rating, with 148 passing yards.
With the Falcons closing out their season in the Georgia Dome against the 2-13 Carolina Panthers, they're still a pretty safe bet to retain the number one seed, but if they were to lose and N.O. beat the Buccaneers they'd trade seeds and New Orleans would be well positioned to repeat as NFC champions, at the very least.
Tonight the postponed Minnesota Vikings - Philadelphia Eagles game takes place. The Eagles won the NFC East this week, by virtue of the New York Giants being dismantled by the Green Bay Packers, the Bears final regular season opponent.
With a Vikings win, the Bears would be assured of having no worse than the second seed. Adrian Peterson is probable for this game, but don't expect the Vikes and rookie quarterback Joe Webb to do Chicago's heavy lifting tonight.
With their season for all intents over, it may seem that forcing the Minnesota Vikings to stay in their Philadelphia hotel rooms two extra days is a hardship. But don't forget these are pampered professional athletes. The news out of the Vikings camp is that each player has been treated to two, that's right, TWO in-room movies, courtesy of the organization.
We'll have more updates to the playoff picture in Week 16, assuming that it ever ends. Keep looking here for all your playoff and Bears news and updates.
We didn't learn much about the 2010 NFC playoff scenarios, that we didn't maybe already know going into week 16. Although maybe we'll learn more when week 16 finally ends, which won't happen until late Tuesday night. But we can review what we have learned, while we wait for later results.
The Bears won an unexpected shootout with the New York Jets (who still secured an AFC playoff berth, thanks to the Jaguars loss). They lead the Philadelphia Eagles in the race for the number two seed in the NFC. They play the Green Bay Packers to close out the regular season Sunday. The Packers gave the other New York team, the football Giants a beating in Lambeau Field yesterday, 45-17.
Fox has elected to move this game to 3:15 P.M. with flex scheduling, to take advantage of the match-up. Aside from the rivalry between these two teams, which generally provides plenty of excitement on it's own, both teams have something on the line for this game. The Bears would like to seal the deal on the number two spot. The number one seed is technically possible, but depends on the Atlanta Falcons losing to the Carolina Panthers in week 17, and the Packers need a win to guarantee themselves a berth.
Tonight's Monday Night Football match-up between the Falcons and the New Orleans Saints is mainly important for the Saints and where they end up in the seedings. The sixth playoff seed will have to travel to either Philly or Chicago to take on the East or North division leader, while the fifth seed will travel to either Seattle to meet the Seahawks, or St. Louis to take on the Rams.
Speaking of the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers were officially eliminated from playoff contention yesterday. The anemic West has some people shouting for an overhaul of yet another NFL system. People don't find it fair that a poor quality team, like whoever does end up winning the division, should get to host a wildcard team with a better record.
While the NFL seems poised to do handsprings to show their willingness to please all the people all of the time, they should leave this particular system alone. It works far more often than it does not, and it's important to the NFL and it's broadcast partners to engage all its regions. The West for instance, is already far more spread out than it's counterparts that it can lead fans to feel somewhat isolated. The last thing the league needs to do is make a rule change that further removes those fans from the excitement.
Sure the West is weak, but by taking a playoff home game from them (or eliminating the teams from contention altogether) would be a knee-jerk reaction to a fan base (or more correctly, society) that places undue emphasis on the situational concept of 'fairness'. The regional divisions is part of what makes the playoffs great. If all the teams came from one or two areas, it would disengage a great deal of the national audience.
Having the superior Saints travel to take on the Seahawks, for example, is the price you occasionally have to pay to keep everybody involved.
Tuesday night, the postponed Vikings-Eagles game takes place. After that game ends, putting week 16 in the books for good, we'll know better what to look for in the final week of regular season play.
We'll keep updating this stream as the results come in.
This week's power rankings are part of the NFL playoff scenarios StoryStream™ because the Bears have now clinched a playoff spot and are maneuvering for playoff positioning rather than trying to get in. It's the Bears' first playoff spot (and division title) since the Super Bowl year of 2006 and likely has saved the jobs of both coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo (if you're one of the torches and pitchforks group that wanted them both fired, you may still want that, although the playoff spot probably has you happy at least for now).
As usual in this space, we examine the Bears' spot both on SB Nation Atlanta's Unbiased Power Rankings, a favorite since they rank teams strictly numerically, and also SI.com's Peter King's Fine Fifteen, which is posted before the Monday Night Football game.
The Unbiased Power Rankings rank the Bears seventh, and also at the present time give them the third seed in the NFC playoffs. That would have them hosting a game on wild-card weekend; according to SB Nation Atlanta, their opponent would be the wild card Giants. The Bears still do have a chance to be the No. 2 seed, which would give them a needed weekend off and have them hosting a game on the divisional playoff weekend, either Jan. 15 or 16. They cannot have the No. 1 seed; even if they finish with the same record as the Falcons, currently at the top, Atlanta has the tiebreaker (conference record).
The bumps in the road are the Jets and Packers. Playing the Packers is always tough, especially in Green Bay, but on Jan. 2, the season's final day, the Packers might be playing for their playoff lives. And the Jets are coming into Soldier Field off a huge upset of the Steelers in Pittsburgh, as well as knowing that by beating the Bears, they would clinch a playoff spot of their own.
King's Fine Fifteen ranks the Bears ninth, and I suspect after the win over the Vikings last night, he'd probably move them ahead of the Chargers into eighth place. Of the Bears, King wrote (before Monday's game):
Great job on the NFL Matchup show Sunday morning, detailing how offensive coordinator Mike Martz is building solid pockets and quick throws for Jay Cutler to prosper in. He'll have to do that tonight, with wind-chill temps around zero, to beat the Vikes.
That's exactly what they did, in one of the more convincing wins of the year. The Bears can't let up, either, in their last two regular season games. They have to keep up the pressure, both to be playoff-ready and to possibly improve their playoff seed.
The Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings last night, and became the second team in the NFC to secure a spot in the playoffs, and the first to win their division. The NFC playoff scenarios begin to cement themselves, but there’s still plenty to watch for.
The convincing 40-14 victory on Monday Night Football should finally silence critics, as least for the rest of the week. After a short week, they play the New York Jets at Soldier Field. They’re going to be neck and neck with Philadelphia, for a bye week, so the plan is to win out.
The Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South are still surging, and given their remaining schedule, are all but guaranteed home field throughout the playoffs. Elsewhere in the South, the New Orleans Saints suffered a setback in Baltimore Sunday. Their 30-24 loss to the Ravens was setback, but they’re still in the running for a wildcard spot.
The San Francisco 49ers lost on Thursday night, and are 5-9 with two weeks left in the regular season, yet they are still in the running for the NFC West crown, as the rest of the division lost last week, as well. The Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams are both 6-8. All three teams may be 6-9 after this Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are the story, going into week 16. Tom Coughlin will tell you that you cannot sit on a lead against the Eagles. They host the floundering Vikings Sunday, but the game of the week, the one that matters is the Giants in Lambeau against the Green Bay Packers. These two teams are both struggling to stay relevant, and whoever loses is going to find themselves on the brink of elimination.
Stay on the good list through the week, and let your loved ones know you care. That way Sunday, they won’t be mad at you for spending the day watching some really good football.
Happy Holidays, spoil yourself and everyone around you.
One of the NFL’s all time biggest comebacks gave the Philadelphia Eagles a one game lead in the NFC East today. With under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the New York Giants held a 13-10 lead, at home. A surprise onside kick, and some amazing play and the score was tied at 31-31, with less than 20 seconds left on the clock the Giants punted to DeSean Jackson, who returned it for a touchdown as time expired to give Philly the win 38-31.
The Green Bay Packers played the New England Patriots tough, with backup Matt Flynn playing a solid game, but ended up losing 31-27. That loss means that a win against the Minnesota Vikings, will give the Chicago Bears first place in the NFC North, and a guaranteed playoff berth.
Pity the Minnesota Vikings. For them, and for their fans, December is the cruelest month.Once considered a lock for the the NFC North crown, the end of the regular season finds them homeless, Favreless, and they will probably be the win that clinches playoff spots for two division races, on consecutive national night-game broadcasts.
In the East: The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles both have 9-4 records, and face each other in the Meadowlands Sunday. The next week finds the Giants in Green Bay facing the Packers, who should regain the services of Aaron Rodgers by then. They finish their season against the Washington Redskins.
The Eagles, would follow up their game with New York, at home Sunday night against the Vikings. They'll end their regular season in Dallas. A win in New York, coupled with a win over the Vikings should give Philly the NFC East crown. At the same time, it's possible that Giants and Packers will be battling for that last wild card spot two weeks from now.
In the North: This week the Chicago Bears will win the NFC North. There it is. The Green Bay Packers are going to lose to the New England Patriots in Foxboro, and the Bears will beat the Minnesota Vikings...somewhere, on Monday Night Football.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, will probably miss this next game. But it won't matter if he plays or not. As long as the Patriots still have home field to clinch, they'll continue their frightening dominance over all comers.
Rodgers suffered what was termed a concussion, earlier in the season, but he somehow didn't miss a game. I would expect that he won't be cleared for this weekend, which again, will have no effect on the outcome.
Brett Favre's streak of consecutive starts is over. But like Rodgers, it will not matter if Favre plays Monday night. Sure, it will matter to the people at Monday Night Football, as the montage they've no doubt been compiling of Brett's highlights will lose some of it's resonance if he's on the sidelines. But they'll show it anyway.
The NFL is expected to announce where the Monday night game will take place, later today. A Bears taem that was humiliated by the Patriots last week, will be eager to make a statement on national tv.
Today we'll take a look at the NFC playoff picture, in the very different South and West divisions. Tomorrow, after the postponed Giants and Vikings game, we'll talk about the East and North.
In the South: The Atlanta Falcons (11-2) beat the Carolina Panthers yesterday, to nobodies surprise. The Falcons are a lock for #1 seed in the NFC. They're on a league leading seven game winning streak, and the rest of their schedule is pretty soft.
Pretty soft, except for when they host the New Orleans Saints (10-3) who are on a six game hot streak, The Saints were dismissed early, but they look to be in as fine a form, as when they won the Super Bowl last year. They currently have the second-best record in the NFC. They also have the toughest remaining schedule, at least in my opinion; Away games against the Baltimore Ravens (8-4), and the Falcons, then home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5).
In the West: After yesterday's action, every team is below .500, in the mild, mild West. The San Francisco 49ers, (5-8) took the Seattle Seahawks (6-7) to the woodshed yesterday beating them 40-21, and keeping their playoff hopes alive. The St. Louis Rams (6-7), were convincingly defeated 31-13 by the Saints. The remaining schedules for these three teams, is a sort of round robin where whichever team loses the least, will take the division.
Tomorrow: We'll see how the New York Giants fare, after a crazy weekend in airports and hotels. And we'll talk about the North where the two leaders had decidedly bad days.
Week 14 is upon us, and the biggest story is currently the weather. In Minnesota, the weather has forced the postponment of The Vikings vs. NY Giants game. And that's in an indoor stadium. At present, it looks like that game will be played in Detroit's Ford Field on Monday night. The layover in Kansas city, might work to New York's advantage, especially if the extra day's rest convinces Vikings coach Leslie Frazier that it's good idea to start serially wounded quarterback Brett Favre.
The weather will also be a factor in today's Chicago Bears Vs New England Patriots game. It's going to be wet with snow in Soldier Field, making the freshly sodded playing surface even more treacherous. But the 45 m.p.h. gusting winds are going to make a heavy dose of run plays a necessity. The Hawk, (a nickname for Chicago's cold winter wind) may be able to do what few NFL defenses have managed; negating Tom Brady's big-play ability. If this game is played on the ground? The Bears run defense comes out on top. For more on this match-up, go to our Bears/Patriots StoryStream right here.
The Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, seems like a chip-shot for the Pack. The Lions at 2-10, have had their moments, but quite simply don't have 60 minutes of game in them. With as much as the Packers (8-4) have on the line in this game, look for them to come out and take care of business.
All the ‘experts’ were surprised when the Bears beat the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago. Of course these are the same experts that picked the Vikings and Packers to be the teams to beat in the NFC. Not just the NFC North, but the entire NFC. They will be stunned once again, when the Bears win the North, and enter the playoffs as the number two seed.
In the West, The Rams and Seahawks both have 6-6 records, and the 49ers are actually still in contention at 4-8. One of these teams will get a playoff spot, regardless of how little they may deserve one. This division may be won with an 8-8, or even 7-9 record. Whoever wins it will even enjoy home-field advantage, for their first and almost certainly last game. Sure it’s not fair to other, better, teams, but that’s the way it works.
In the North, the Bears (9-3) lead the Packers (8-4). During the bye week, I wrote that the Bears and Packers might be playing for the NFC North title, in the last game of the season, on Jan 2. And that remains a likely scenario. But although the Bears remaining games are against tough opponents, they could conceivably run the table.
Yes, I saw MNF last night, with the Patriots destroying the NY Jets 45-3. But even the best teams have to lose once in a while. I have more to say on the subject, in our Bears Vs. Patriots StoryStream.
And the Jets, while also (9-3), have beaten only one team with a record over .500, the Patriots, earlier in the year. The Bears should be able to beat them in Chicago.
Between those two games, they’ll travel to Minnesota to play Brett Favre and the Vikings. If he’s still able to stand, this game will mark Favre’s 300th consecutive start. Chicago fans can expect yet another annoying retrospective on all things Brett. They can also expect a win.
Meanwhile the Packers will travel to Detroit, host the NY Giants, and go to New England. All prior to their showdown with the Bears, in the season finale.
The Packers remain a very good team, even with all the injuries they’ve overcome. They have depth that will serve them even better in seasons to come. They should be able to beat the Lions, who still haven’t figured out how to close a game. A victory against the Giants, is a less sure thing, even in Lambaugh.
And then of course, they have the Patriots, in Foxboro. Where Tom Brady hasn’t lost a game since 2006.
So, if the Bears take care of business at home, there’s a possibility, they’ll already have control of the NFC North.
Here's a link to a projected playoff preview chart, put together by the experts.
Some great thinker, who understood that brevity is wit once said, "Winners win". And that's exactly what happened in the NFC in week 13. The first and second place teams in week 12, all won this week.
In the East, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants both won, and have identical records of 8-4. Meanwhile the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys are 5-7 and 4-8, repectively. Aside from their showdown on Dec.19, Philly has the Vikings at home and Dallas twice. The Giants have to travel to Minnesota, Green Bay, and Washington.
The 'prevailing wisdom' among the shouting heads on the sports channels, is that the second place winners in the NFC East and NFC South will be the wild cards. And looking at the remaining schedules for the Eagles and Giants, you don't see many challenges, except their head to head game in the Meadowlands. It's reasonable to expect both teams to go 3-1 to close out the season.
In the South, the Atlanta Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday, to go to a league best 10-2. Tampa Bay was the only team above .500, that lost in the NFC this week. Second-place New Orleans Saints won their fifth consecutive game and have the same record as the Chicago Bears, at 9-3. Both of these teams won tough, come from behind games Sunday, and both are streaking. They face each other on Monday Night Football, Dec 27 in Atlanta.
The Saints have a much tougher schedule, with all their opponents being .500 or above, and having to travel to frigid Baltimore in december. By contrast, Atlanta sees the abysmal Carolina Panthers twice, and travel to Seattle to take on the 6-6 Seahawks. It's almost certain that Atlanta will be the number one seed in the NFC playoffs.
Tomorrow : We'll take an in depth look at the Bears and Packers race for the NFC North, and discuss why the rules demand that someone has to win the NFC West.
There are five weeks left in the NFL season, and just about anything can happen, especially in this oddball year where there are no truly dominant teams ("On Any Given Sunday", yada yada). The Bears seem in the driver's seat, leading the NFC North by a game over the Packers, but where will they end up and who's going where?
Let's start by playing "If The Season Ended Today". The current NFC division leaders are the Falcons, Bears, Eagles and Rams, and the Saints and Giants are the wild cards. Yes, that's right -- the Rams, at 5-6, would be NFC West champions if there were no more games. The Seahawks, at 5-6, and the 49ers, believe it or not, at 4-7, still have a shot at winning that woeful division.
In the AFC, the Jets, Ravens, Chiefs and Jaguars (another mediocre team at 6-5) are the division leaders and the Patriots and Steelers currently lead the wild card -- that gives us the bizarre possibility that a 9-2 team might be the visitor to a 6-5 team in the first round.
The Bears, obviously, will qualify for the playoffs if they win out, but that's not necessarily an easy task. They have games against the Jets and Patriots, both 9-2; those are both at Soldier Field, but those teams appear better than the Eagles. The Bears play the Packers to finish the season on Jan. 2, and that could wind up deciding a couple of playoff positions -- both the NFC North and a wild card. The Packers and Giants are both 7-4, but the Giants currently hold the tiebreaker.
As of now, 28 teams are technically "still alive" -- only the Bills, Bengals, Lions and Panthers are officially eliminated. Stick with this SB Nation Chicago StoryStream™ through the NFL regular season's last five weeks for updates on playoff positioning for the Bears and other teams.
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