Article

Jaguars end NFL playoff drought, Packers in danger

18 December 2017 06:58

The Jacksonville Jaguars are back in the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2007 and the Green Bay Packers are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.

While not quite official, the Los Angeles Rams have all-but clinched their first division title since 2003 as reigning Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots and the Minnesota Vikings clinched their respective divisions on Sunday.

Jacksonville clinched a playoff spot with a dominating 45-7 win over the Houston Texans. The Jaguars (10-4) have double-digit wins for the first time since going 11-5 in 2007.

The Jaguars are also still in the hunt for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs thanks to New England's controversial 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

New England (11-3) rallied to take a late lead and then got the win after a Steelers touchdown in the final minute was overturned following a replay review. The Patriots clinched the AFC East for a record ninth straight season with the win.

Because the Jaguars beat the Steelers (11-3) earlier this season and own a tiebreaker over the Patriots, the Jags would be the top seed should all three finish 12-4. 

Jacksonville will close the season with two road games against the San Francisco 49ers (4-10) and the Tennessee Titans (8-6).

The 49ers beat the Titans 25-23 on Sunday to win their third successive game with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback.

Pittsburgh, who had already clinched the AFC North, finish up against the Texans and the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns (0-14) remain winless after a 27-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens (8-6), who are still in the mix for a playoff spot. 

New England's final two regular-season games are both at home against the Buffalo Bills (8-6) and the New York Jets (5-9). 

The Packers (7-7) got Aaron Rodgers back from injury on Sunday, but he threw three interceptions in a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

If the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) win at Tampa Bay (4-9) on Monday, the Packers will be eliminated from playoff contention.

Green Bay have won the NFC North in five of the last six seasons, but the Vikings (11-3) clinched the division with a thorough 34-7 beating of the Cincinnati Bengals (5-9).

The Vikings remain second in the NFC as the Philadelphia Eagles (12-2) got by the New York Giants (2-12) as Nick Foles threw four touchdown passes in a 34-29 victory.

Philadelphia sealed a first-round bye and can secure home-field advantage with wins over either the Oakland Raiders or the Dallas Cowboys in the next two weeks. The Rams, who lost to both the Vikings and the Eagles this season, are safely in third position.

The Rams (10-4) had perhaps the most impressive win on Sunday, going into Seattle and delivering a 42-7 whipping of the Seahawks (8-6). Los Angeles now have a two-game lead in the NFC West with two games remaining and can clinch a division title with a win over the Titans next week. A home game against the 49ers will close the regular season. 

The Panthers (10-4) and the New Orleans Saints (10-4) both won Sunday to remain tied atop the NFC South. Carolina would have to beat both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Falcons and hope that one of those teams beats the Saints to win the division. The Saints have the tiebreaker by virtue of their season sweep. 

 

MCCOY REACHES MILESTONE

Bills running back LeSean McCoy ran for 50 yards in Sunday's 24-16 win over the Miami Dolphins and became the 30th running back in NFL history with at least 10,000 career rushing yards.

On their way to a win over the Texans, the Jaguars held a 31-0 half-time lead. That margin marked the largest half-time lead in the franchise's 23-year history. The Jaguars also have six wins this season of 20 points or greater, which is more than their previous nine seasons combined. 

Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers got to Rodgers in the fourth quarter of Carolina's win to give him 10 for the season. Peppers is just the third player since stats became an official stat in 1982 to record at least 10 sacks at the age of 37.

Saints receiver Michael Thomas caught nine passes for 93 yards in the victory against the Jets to give him 94 receptions for the season. He joins Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as the only receivers in NFL history with at least 90 receptions in each of their first two seasons.

 

INGRAM STARS FOR NEW ORLEANS

Saints running back Mark Ingram had a big day in Sunday's win over the Jets. Ingram ran for 74 yards and caught five passes for 77 yards, including a 54-yard screen to set up the game's first score.

The Vikings defense led the way in a win over the Bengals. Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks got into the end zone with a 31-yard pick-six.

Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater entered the blowout win late and got a standing ovation from the home crowd.

Rodgers threw a trio of interceptions, but was able to make something out of nothing as he scrambled to find Randall Cobb for a 33-yard touchdown before half-time of Green Bay's loss to the Panthers.

 

RODGERS HAPPY WITH RETURN

Rodgers on his performance against the Panthers: "I felt pretty good. I just missed some throws... The shoulder felt fine. Felt good all week in practice."

Jaguars owner Shad Kahn on securing a playoff berth for the first time in 10 years: "It's unbelievable. To win it and win it the way we did, mind-blowing. Really, really grateful, obviously, and proud of the players, the football leadership and the fans. Especially, the last two games, have given us the energy, put it over the top. It's been awesome."

 

SUNDAY'S RESULTS

Buffalo Bills 24-16 Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers 31-24 Green Bay Packers
Baltimore Ravens 27-10 Cleveland Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars 45-7 Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings 34-7 Cincinnati Bengals
New Orleans Saints 31-19 New York Jets
Philadelphia Eagles 34-29 New York Giants
Washington Redskins 20-15 Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Rams 42-7 Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers 25-23 Tennessee Titans
New England Patriots 27-24 Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys 20-17 Oakland Raiders 

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