By: Michael Mills, Assistant Sports Editor
Featured image courtesy of sportslogos.net
Playoff races around the NFL are heating up as the season comes to a close. A Washington Redskins win over the Dallas Cowboys Thursday night would clinch the NFC East for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are coming off another dominant win, defeating the Bears 31-3. That marks five straight games where the Eagles have scored 30 points or more. The Eagles lead the NFL in points per game with 31.9.
Once again, the Pittsburgh Steelers let a below average team hang around and almost defeat them. The Green Bay Packers and quarterback Brett Hundley went toe-to-toe with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday Night Football. For a second straight week, wide receiver Antonio Brown could not be stopped. Brown recorded 10 receptions for over 100 yards for the second consecutive week, and the fifth time this season. In his last two games, Brown has scored five touchdowns. With only 17 seconds left in the game, Roethlisberger delivered a 23-yard strike to Brown along the sideline. Brown miraculously got both feet in bounds before he tumbled into the Steelers’ sideline. Another sideline catch by Brown put the Steelers in field goal range. Kicker Chris Boswell split the uprights from 53 yards as time expired to give Pittsburgh a 31-28 victory.
Something incredibly unlikely happened in one of the late afternoon games Sunday. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert led the Arizona Cardinals to a victory over his former team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. To add to the oddities, 42-year-old kicker Phil Dawson made a game-winning 57-yard field goal as time expired. That was Dawson’s longest made field goal in his 19-year career. With the loss, the Jaguars slipped to 7-4, and fall to the fifth seed in the AFC. The Tennessee Titans now sit atop the AFC South.
In week 13, two red hot teams clash in Atlanta as the Minnesota Vikings visit the Falcons. After a slow start to the season, the Falcons have won three straight games with an average margin of victory of 12 points. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum continues to be one of the league’s best stories. Keenum has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards, and is 7-2 as a starter this season. It’s too hard to pick against Keenum and the Vikings stellar defense.
Score: Vikings 27 Falcons 23
In New Orleans, the Saints and Carolina Panthers will battle for first place in the NFC South. The Saints are coming off a tough loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and the Panthers barely escaped the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara is proving to be one of the steals of the 2017 draft class. Kamara has over 1,000 all-purpose yards along with 9 touchdowns. Kamara and the Saints prove to be the team to beat in the NFC South.
Score: Saints 28 Panthers 20
On Sunday Night Football, the Seattle Seahawks face a huge challenge in welcoming the Philadelphia Eagles to CenturyLink Field. At 7-4, the Seahawks still remain on the outside looking in at the NFC playoff picture. If the Seahawks want to stay in the playoff race, a win against Philadelphia is essential. Three out of the Seahawks’ final five opponents would be playoff teams, if the playoffs started after week 12. Quarterback Russell Wilson will find a way to pull out a huge victory for Seattle.
Score: Seahawks 26 Eagles 23