The regular season is finally over and the twelve playoff teams are set. The Green Bay Packers will be the popular pick to win consecutive Lombardis, but with the worst ranked defense even the Packers appear beatable. New England and New Orleans enter the playoffs as the hottest teams with 8 consecutive wins each. Finally, we say goodbye to a few disappointing teams from 2011. There will be no New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles or San Diego Chargers in the upcoming postseason and each have long offseasons ahead. Let's get to this week's action!
Game of the Week
New York Giants 31 defeated Dallas Cowboys 14
With the NFC East on the line, Dallas set about trying to avenge their loss earlier in the season to the Giants. For what was at stake, the Cowboys were overwhelmed by their divisional rival. Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes in the first half and Ahmad Bradshaw rushed in an additional touchdown as the Giants' defense held the Cowboys scoreless in the first half.
Cowboys' QB Tony Romo threw consecutive touchdown passes in the second half to bring the desperate Cowboys within a touchdown. New York responded with a Lawrence Tynes' field goal before Manning's third touchdown pass of the night sealed the division for the Giants.
Upset of the Week
Green Bay Packers 45 defeated Detroit Lions 41
Whilst it's hard to call any win by a 14 win side an 'upset', this game had special circumstances. Detroit had everything to play for as they sought to avoid a first round playoff date with the red hot Saints in New Orleans, but the Packers chose to rest a number of key starters including MVP favourite Aaron Rodgers with a first round bye and homefield advantage through the NFC locked up.
The Lions skipped out to a 9-0 lead after their defense recorded a safety before the Packers took a 10-9 lead at the end of the first quarter in a shootout between two high powered offenses. Both sides traded points in the second quarter as both QBs enjoyed career days. Detroit's Matt Stafford threw 520 yards and 5 touchdowns while Matt Flynn, filling in for Rodgers, threw 480 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Lions took a three point lead into the final quarter, but the Packers were able to secure the win with a 14-7 final quarter as the Superbowl favourites head into the postseason with 15 regular season wins.
Blowout of the Week
New England Patriots 49 defeated Buffalo Bills 21
After a very good start to the season, the Buffalo Bills really fell apart in the middle of the season before breaking their losing streak last week against the visiting Denver Broncos. New England have been on fire over the second half of the season and enter the playoffs on an eight game winning streak.
The Patriots were the only team with something to play for as the number one seed in the AFC was not yet guaranteed to New England, however, Buffalo had the Foxborough crowd stunned at the end of the first quarter as they led 21-0 as their offense destroyed the Patriots secondary and their defense prevented the Patriots from getting into a rhythm.
Just as they did last week against the Dolphins, the Patriots roared back after the Bills' quick start. The Patriots trailed by 7 at halftime, but continued to pile on the points as they scored 49 straight as they enter the bye week full of confidence in their explosive offense.
Rest of the week's action:Miami Dolphins 19 defeated New York Jets 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 19 defeated Indianapolis Colts 13 Philadelphia Eagles 34 defeated Washington Redskins 10 Chicago Bears 17 defeated Minnesota Vikings 13 New Orleans Saints 45 defeated Carolina Panthers 17 San Francisco 49ers 34 defeated St Louis Rams 27 Tennessee Titans 23 defeated Houston Texans 22 Baltimore Ravens 24 defeated Cincinnati Bengals 16 Kansas City Chiefs 7 defeated Denver Broncos 3 Arizona Cardinals 23 defeated Seattle Seahawks 20 San Diego Chargers 38 defeated Oakland Raiders 26 Atlanta Falcons 45 defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 13 defeated Cleveland Browns 9