NFL Week 16 Primer Late Games

Here’s a quick Week 16 preview for all of the late games with playoff implications in the NFL this week:

Tarvaris JacksonFalcons at Vikings, 4:15PM ET
Who would have thought this game would have so much meaning when the season started? Minnesota needs just one more victory to win the NFC North and put the Chicago Bears out of their misery. They’ll start Tarvaris Jackson again at quarterback this week as Gus Frerotte continues to recovery from a back injury. With a lot of help from Adrian Peterson and the running game, Jackson has been absolutely outstanding since subbing for Frerotte two weeks ago and has thrown five touchdown passes in the last six quarters. The Vikings’ defense took a hit this week when it was discovered that run-stuffer Pat Williams would miss the next 2-6 weeks due to injury. That should help Michael Turner and the Falcons’ dynamic running game stay on track, although they’ll still need a huge contribution from rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, who struggled last week against Tampa. Atlanta needs to win out and hope Dallas or Tampa lose one of their two remaining games. And considering they host the Rams next week, their playoff hopes may reside in beating the Vikings. Can the Falcons’ defense contain Peterson and force Jackson to beat them through the air? Or will the Vikings continue to build momentum as they make a playoff push?

Jets at Seahawks, 4:05PM ET CBS
The Jets are clinging to a slim lead in the AFC East as they currently hold tie-breakers over the Dolphins and Patriots in the division. However, they’re 0-3 on the West Coast this year and a trip to Seattle is never fun for any team come December. This game will also mark Mike Holmgren’s final home game, so you can expect the Seahawks to be ready to play. Still, this is a team the Jets should beat, especially if they consider themselves a legit playoff squad. Seattle’s defense has been brutal this year and as long as Brett Favre can keep from turning the ball over, NY should come up with a big road win.

Bills at Broncos, 4:05PM ET CBS
All the Broncos have to do is win and they clinch the AFC West crown. They won’t have the fortune of facing J.P. Losman, though, as Trent Edwards will resume his starting quarterback duties after missing the past couple weeks due to injury. Denver has been consistently inconsistent this season, especially at home where they currently post a 4-3 record. Buffalo is a disaster, but they did give the Jets a game last week at the Meadowlands and Edwards might (emphasis on might) give the offense a boost. But as long as Denver’s run defense can contain Marshawn Lynch, they should (emphasis on should) be fine.

Eagles at Redskins, 4:15PM ET FOX
The Redskins were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week after an embarrassing loss to the Bengals but you’re crazy if you don’t think they would love to play spoiler. Led by quarterback Donovan McNabb and a stingy defense, the Eagles have played inspired football over the past month and proved two weeks ago in New York that they could win a huge road game. Philly needs to win their final two games to have a shot at a postseason berth and it won’t come easy. After playing in Washington this Sunday, they host the Cowboys next week, who will also be fighting for their playoff lives. If Jim Zorn continues to play things tight to the vest with his play calling, Philly defensive coordinator Jim Johnson might have a field day calling blitzes and confusing quarterback Jason Campbell. But first and foremost, the Eagles have to stop the run or else the passing game will open up and it might allow Zorn to get more creative than he has been of late. Washington’s defense has been solid all year but can anyone slow down McNabb and Brian Westbrook? As long as the Redskins are motivated to ruin the Eagles’ postseason dreams, this should be a great game.

Panthers at Giants, 8:15PM NBC
The battle for the No. 1 seed in the NFC is on the line this week in East Rutherford as the G-Men host the suddenly Super Bowl-caliber Panthers. These are two teams heading in opposite directions as the Giants have lost two straight while Carolina is winners of two in a row. The Panthers have been dominating opponents with their running game over the past two weeks, but they’ll get a huge test this Sunday against a stingy New York front seven. Still, the Giants’ offense has struggled without Plaxico Burress and a healthy Brandon Jacobs, so losing three in a row isn’t out of the question. They need to do a better job of protecting Eli Manning or else the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will run through Carolina this year. Jacobs is expected to play so that should help, but it remains to be seen how effective he’ll be. And can anyone stop the Panthers’ Steve Smith?

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

And your AFC East winner is…

Matt CasselThanks to Abram Elam, Shaun Ellis and a lot of J.P. Losman’s crap play, the Jets hung onto their first place grasp of the AFC East in Week 15. But the Dolphins also beat the 49ers (albeit in unconvincing fashion) and the Patriots topped the Raiders (in convincing fashion) to stay right in the mix. All three teams currently sit at 9-5 on the season.

Here’s what the three teams have left on their schedule:

Jets: at Seahawks, vs. Dolphins
Dolphins: at Chiefs, at Jets
Patriots: vs. Cardinals, at Bills

If you’re a Jets fan you can’t be feeling to good about things. Not only have the J.E.T.S dropped two of their last three games, but they’re also 0-3 on the West Coast this year and heading to Seattle on Sunday.

The Dolphins are in pretty good shape this week as they face a Chiefs team that is trying to run out the clock on the rest of the season, but their finale in New York is a doozy – especially if the Jets lose this weekend in Seattle. Miami has won just once in its last six trips to the Meadowlands. And while the Dolphin defense has been outstanding of late, the offense has struggled to put up points on against weaker opponents the past three weeks.

Which leads us to the Patriots. A little over a week ago I predicted New England to win the AFC East and I won’t back down now – especially not after they just gorilla-smacked the hapless Raiders in a rainstorm on Sunday. There’s no way Arizona goes into Foxboro this weekend and beats the Patriots. Zero chance. Will not happen. The Cardinals haven’t beaten a quality opponent on the road this year and their defense just allowed Tarvaris Jackson to throw four touchdowns on them at home last week. Believe it or not, Buffalo might turn out to be a tougher game than ‘Zona, only because of the elements. And considering the Pats will likely be playing for the division (and the Bills will still be starting J.P. Losman), I wouldn’t bet against them.

So here is my official prediction: Jets lose in Seattle, Dolphins beat the Chiefs, Patriots beat the Cardinals. Jets beat Miami, but Patriots beat the Bills and claim the AFC East.

Comment fodder: Who do you have winning the AFC East?

J.P. Losman single handily keeps Jets in first place

J.P. LosmanI realize Trent Edwards is hurt and the Bills aren’t playing for much these days, but how is J.P. Losman still starting in the NFL? I certainly don’t have the talent to play one of the toughest leagues in the world, but after watching him over the past three weeks, I struggle to fathom how this guy was ever a first round pick. And not only that, how he’s still getting the opportunity to start. A moist towelette might be more productive under center than Losman is.

Losman gift-wrapped a 31-27 victory for the Jets on Sunday by throwing three interceptions (only two were his fault) and losing a fumble after being stripped deep in New York territory. Defensive end Shaun Ellis returned the fumble for a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the game, which essentially gave the Jets’ their game-winning score.

Losman wasn’t a complete waste – he did run for a touchdown and threw for a score on a nice slant pass to Steve Johnson right before half – but I can’t see how the Bills don’t rid themselves of this guy after the season. He’s just bad. And just like Joey Harrington, what makes him even more nauseating is that once in a while he’ll show you something to make you believe he can play (only to make you puke the next week).

This was a huge win for the Jets because it keeps them in first place in the AFC East on a day when both the Dolphins and Patriots also won. But this wasn’t a very impressive performance, especially considering the Losman-led Bills had scored a total of just six points the past two weeks. Regardless, a win is a win and at this point in the season, it doesn’t matter how a team gets them.

The Jets still control their own destiny from here on out, although they have to travel to the West Coast again next week (they’re 0-3 out West this season) to play the Seahawks and then host divisional rival Miami in their season finale.

NFL Week 5 Quick Recaps: Ocho Cinco fails to kiss Dallas star

Chad Johnson– Chad “Ocho Cinco” Johnson said earlier this week that he would kiss the Dallas star if/when he scores a touchdown against the Cowboys on Sunday. But Dallas held him to only 43 yards on three catches in their 31-22 win over the Bengals, so the only kiss he got to plant was on head coach Marvin Lewis’s face. You know that kid at a birthday party who does a couple of funny things, gets people’s attention, but then eventually becomes annoying? That’s where I’m at right now with Ocho Cinco.

– After getting destroyed by the Jets last Sunday, the Cardinals had one hell of a bounce back this week, beating the previously undefeated Bills 41-17. But ‘Zona has got to do something about its secondary. They gave up 56 points and allowed Brett Favre to throw six touchdown passes last week, and then proceeded to allow J.P. Losman to complete 15 of 21 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown today. That’s brutal. Losman hasn’t played in over a year and even when he did he was downright atrocious in most of his games. When J.P. Losman shreds you through the air, something’s up.

– Seven carries, two yards. That’s what Carolina held Chiefs’ RB Larry Johnson to in its 34-0 win Sunday. This coming just one week after LJ rushed for nearly 200 yards against Denver. Rightfully so, everyone talks about the Vikings’ run defense being so good, but take a look at what the Panthers have done against some of the best running backs the past couple of weeks: LaDainian Tomlinson – 97 yards. Adrian Peterson – 77 yards. Michael Turner – 56 yards. Larry Johnson – 2 yards. Wow.

Jay Cutler– Out of their three victories this season, the Broncos can be most proud of their 16-13 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday. They beat a quality opponent (unlike their Week 1 win over the Raiders), they didn’t need a controversial call to go in their favor (unlike their Week 2 win over the Chargers) and for the first time all year, they didn’t surrender 30-plus points defensively.

– So…who’s the real J.T. O’Sullivan? The one that threw for over 300 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in a win over Seattle or the one that played Sunday and threw three picks against New England? (Although in O’Sullivan’s defense, he did throw three touchdowns in the Niners’ 30-21 loss to the Pats, too.)

– Did Laurence Maroney kick Bill Belichick’s cat one time at a team barbecue or something one time? For the life of me I can’t figure out why Sammy Morris continues to get more carries than Maroney.

– Gutsy, gutsy performance by Big Ben on Sunday night. The Jags couldn’t get any pressure on him early on, but when they started to get to him in second half, he hung in tough and delivered a huge win the Steelers. Just when you think Pittsburgh is going to crash with so many injuries in the backfield and along the offensive line, they step up and play a complete game like they did in Week 5. The final score wasn’t a good indicator of how much the Steelers actually dominated the Jaguars.

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