With one week to go, there are still 3 spots available in this season's playoffs. The Patriots and Packers are the only two teams guaranteed a first-round bye so far. Two of the playoff spots will go to the winners of the AFC West and NFC East while the Cincinnati Bengals have the front running for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. Let's get to this week's recaps!
Games of the Week
New York Giants 29 defeated New York Jets 14
The battle for New York held great implications for the 2012 postseason as the Giants fight for the division lead in the NFC East and the Jets contend with the Bengals and Raiders for the final Wild Card playoff spot in the AFC.
The Jets got off to an ideal start when Mark Sanchez found Josh Baker in the end zone to lead 7-0. The Giants had their first lead of the game after Eli Manning threw a pass to Victor Cruz from his own 1-yard line for a 99 yard touchdown.
The Giants put on 10 more points before Sanchez rushed in a touchdown in the fourth quarter to cut the Giants' lead to 6. However, Sanchez took a safety to push the deficit to 8 and Ahmad Bradshaw's second touchdown of the night crowned the Giants king of New York.
New England Patriots 27 defeated Miami Dolphins 24
After results last week set the Patriots up perfectly to seize homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, it was just a matter of knocking off two struggling divisional rivals at home to make the road to Indianapolis go through Foxborough. Miami started the season disappointingly, but have finished the season strong and with a high draft pick this coming draft, should be set up for a good season next year.
When the game started, it looked like Miami was the team with all to play for and the Patriots were just cruising through to the end of the season. Miami kicked a field goal on its opening drive and then set about putting enormous pressure on the Patriots offense as they were able to hit Tom Brady who's patched-up offensive line provided little protection. Just about everything went wrong for New England in the first half and the Dolphins led 17-0 behind strong performances by Matt Moore, Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall.
The Patriots got back to their winning football ways in the third and fourth quarters as they peeled off 27 straight points. If the whole QB thing doesn't work out for Tom Brady, he could try his hand at running back as he scored two rushing touchdowns to give the Patriots the win.
Minnesota Vikings 33 defeated Washington Redskins 26
Now, these two teams aren't playing beyond next week, but that doesn't mean this wasn't an exciting game to follow. Minnesota's draft position strengthened after the Colts win earlier in the week, but that didn't stop the Vikings overcoming two key injuries to down the Redskins.
The Vikings jumped out to a 10-0 lead after an Adrian Peterson touchdown. Washington, looking to build some late-season momentum for next season, tied the game by halftime. After losing starting QB Christian Ponder, the Vikings scored two touchdowns in the third quarter lead by 3 going into the final quarter.
Minnesota broke a 23 all tie when Joe Webb threw his second touchdown pass of the night (Joe Webb threw 5 passes all night, and two were touchdowns). Washington got within 7, but couldn't force overtime in the final minutes.
Upset of the Week
Indianapolis Colts 19 defeated Houston Texans 16
Even after stumbling against the Carolina Panthers last week, the Texans still had a shot at homefield advantage in the AFC. The odds were pretty good facing the 1-13 Colts as no 1 win team had ever beaten a 10 win team in 18 tries in NFL history. Indianapolis recorded their first win last week, but had the prospect of the number one pick in next year's draft.
The Colts started like a 1 win team when QB Dan Orlovsky fumbled his first possession. Houston made the Colts pay when Arian Foster gave the Texans a 7 point lead. After that the Colts really started getting on top of the division-leading Colts, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard as they trailed 10-6 at halftime.
Houston led 16-12 late in the fourth quarter, but Orlovsky drove his team all the way to Houston's 1-yard line, thanks in part to some penalties by the Texans' defense, and found Reggie Wayne in the end zone for the 3 point win.
Blowout of the Week
New Orleans Saints 45 defeated Atlanta Falcons 16
All the attention in this game was on Drew Brees' imminent achievement of breaking Dan Marino's 27 year record for passing yards in a season. With a first-round bye still available, the Saints had a great incentive to turn Brees' record-breaking day into a win as well.
The Falcons skipped out to a 10-7 lead after the first quarter, but the Saints proceeded to score 38 points to the Falcons' 6. Drew Brees was the story of the day as he threw 307 yards and four touchdown passes as he now sits at 5,087 passing yards which moves him past Marino's mark of 5,084 with one game still to play.
Rest of this week's action:Baltimore Ravens 20 defeated Cleveland Browns 14 Buffalo Bills 40 defeated Denver Broncos 14 Carolina Panthers 48 defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 Cincinnati Bengals 23 defeated Arizona Cardinals 16 Oakland Raiders 16 defeated Kansas City Chiefs 13 (OT) Pittsburgh Steelers 27 defeated St Louis Rams 0 Tennessee Titans 23 defeated Jacksonville Jaguars 17 Detroit Lions 38 defeated San Diego Chargers 10 Philadelphia Eagles 20 defeated Dallas Cowboys 7 San Francisco 49ers 19 defeated Seattle Seahawks 17 Green Bay Packers 35 defeated Chicago Bears 21