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AFC North may qualify three teams

December 29, 2011
Times Leader

It figures to be a wild week 17 in the NFL.

Particularly in the AFC North Division where a number of interesting scenarios still exist.

It's not out of the question, Pittsburgh could win the division outright. The Steelers need a win at Cleveland in addition to a Bengals victory over Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium.

Not expected to challenge for playoff opportunity when the season kicked off in September, Marvin Lewis' Bengals are seeking their 10th win Sunday and a wild card entry which would be included.

Considering the Ravens have not played well away from home, a Bengals' victory appears possible. Pittsburgh, which struggled in a 14-3 first game meeting with Cleveland, is looking for a 12-4 regular season finish.

The AFC West and NFC East will also be decided Sunday while a handful of other teams must win and receive help in the process.

This column celebrated a season-best 14-2 outcome last weekend, including a rare upset special nod when Minnesota prevailed at Washington. Don't expect history to repeat.

SUNDAY GAMES

BUFFALO AT NEW ENGLAND. Yes, the Bills pulled off an early season upset at Orchard Park. But New England is playing for a No. 1 seed this time. Patriots, 31-20.

WASHINGTON AT PHILADELPHIA. All Philly can do is salvage a disappointing .500 season with a home field win. Our Upset Special thinks otherwise. Redskins, 24-20.

INDIANAPOLIS AT JACKSONVILLE. This one won't exactly fill the stadium. Indy and St. Louis vying for league's worst record. Jaguars, 27-20.

NEW YORK JETS AT MIAMI. Jets retain slim playoff hopes but could still be put out of their misery in south Florida. Jets, 23-21.

CAROLINA AT NEW ORLEANS. Potential shootout exists in Superdome with nod going to record-setting Drew Brees and company. Saints, 35-28.

SAN FRANCISCO AT ST. LOUIS. Niners can cap splendid 13-3 campaign with NFL's top-rated defense. 49ers, 24-6.

DETROIT AT GREEN BAY. Two postseason teams looking to get through four quarters without incurring serious injury. Packers, 30-20.

CHICAGO AT MINNESOTA. Bears once resembled one of league's finest. Now need road win to finish at .500. Vikings, 27-17.

TENNESSEE AT HOUSTON. Titans' postseason hopes depend on approximately 13 different scenarios playing out. They can end all doubt with a loss. Texans, 35-13.

PITTSBURGH AT CLEVELAND. Black & Gold should take care of business and finish off a 4-12 season for bad news Brownies. Steelers, 21-13.

BALTIMORE AT CINCINNATI. Ravens have been anything but reliable on road (3-4) while Bengals are one of NFL's best stories this season. Ravens, 20-17.

TAMPA BAY AT ATLANTA. Falcons were plucked badly at New Orleans and need bounce back win prior to postseason. Falcons, 38-17.

KANSAS CITY AT DENVER. Broncos figure to win at home to secure AFC West. Then expect a one-and-done at playoff time. Broncos, 23-13.

SEATTLE AT ARIZONA. Two 7-8 combines fight in out for .500 respectability. Cardinals 23-20.

SAN DIEGO AT OAKLAND. Neither of these imposters deserve admission to postseason play. Chargers, 24-21.

SUNDAY NIGHT

DALLAS AT NEW YORK GIANTS. Regular season ends with showdown for both NFC East title and playoff entry. Giants, 28-24.

LAST WEEK (14-2). SEASON (150-89). UPSET SPECIALS (3-13).

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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