The NFC playoff picture couldn't be more muddied. Thanks to the Chicago Bears mid-to-late season collapse, they have opened the door for a host of teams to remain in contention.
The Bears lost again on Sunday as the Green Bay Packers claimed another NFC North division title. The Packers' win was just one of the statement-making victories of Week 15. That triumph, and the rest of the week's big wins are a part of the week's top stories.
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Packers Continue to Own the Bears
Lovie Smith said from the moment he took the Chicago Bears head coaching job that he would beat the Green Bay Packers, per Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Despite how dumb and misplaced that goal was, he did just that at first.
Lately—as in the last four years—he and the Bears haven't had much success against the Packers. On Sunday, the Bears suffered their latest, and perhaps Smith's last defeat at the hands of their neighbors to the north.
The Bears have completely fallen apart for the second year in a row. Despite starting the season 7-1, they have dropped five or their last six, including Sunday's 21-13 loss. The team is in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.
If that happens, Smith deserves to lose his job.
The Bears may have to win out against the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions if they hope to make the playoffs.
since 2008, the #bears spent 2 first-round picks on left tackle's of the future. in 2012, they have nothing to show for it.— dan durkin (@djdurkin) December 16, 2012
Falcons Answer Critics: Anymore Questions?
I was one of the writers that doubted the Atlanta Falcons membership amongst the NFL's elite, but they made perhaps the biggest statement of the year on Sunday. The Falcons beat the New York Giants in every aspect of the game.
The final score was 34-0, and that properly demonstrates the Falcons' domination. Matt Ryan thoroughly out-played Eli Manning. Ryan threw for 270 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Manning was picked off twice and generated a QB rating of just 40.7.
The vaunted Giants' pass rush couldn't stop the Falcons on third down. The Dirty Birds converted nine of 13 opportunities to control the game.
Consider this segment my formal apology to the Falcons. They are at least one of the top three teams in the NFC.
Huge win for the #Falcons. Critics won't give them credit for this, but it's a big, defining win after rough Week 14.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 16, 2012
All the Redskins' Rookie Quarterbacks Are Good
With Robert Griffin III out with a knee injury, another Washington Redskins rookie quarterback stepped up nicely. Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception in the Redskins 38-21 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Thanks to the Bears and Giants losses, the Redskins are one of the team's that gained ground in the NFC playoff picture.
The Redskins' fifth straight win puts them in first place in the NFC East.
Peyton and Broncos Pound the Ravens
Every week the Denver Broncos make another statement. This week they easily took down the fading Baltimore Ravens 34-17. The Broncos have won nine games in a row.
Peyton Manning stepped aside to allow the running game to shine in Week 15. Knowshon Moreno had his best game of the season with 118 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Flacco's pick-six inside the Broncos' five-yard line right before the half killed any hopes the Ravens would have. It was possibly one of the worst turnovers this NFL season.
Joe Flacco only completed 50 percent of his passes while throwing one interception. Can you say mediocre? #Ravens— Tony Santorsa (@TonySantorsa) December 16, 2012
Texans Show Who the Kings of the South Are
The Houston Texans were destroyed by the New England Patriots on Monday night, but they are still the best team in the AFC South.
By beating the Indianapolis Colts 29-17 on Sunday, they won their second-straight AFC South title. The Texans' Big Three were all on point in this one.
Matt Schaub threw for 261 yards and a touchdown. Arian Foster ran for 165 yards and Andre Johnson had 11 receptions for 151 yards and a score. Now they just have to find a way to beat other Super Bowl contenders.
Break Up the Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are on a serious run. Sure, their last two games haven't come against top-notch competition, but the margin of victory is still impressive.
For the second straight week, the Seahawks scored 50 points in a game. They blew out their second straight miserable team by downing the Buffalo Bills 50-17. Over the last two weeks, they have outscored teams 108-17.
Russell Wilson ran for three touchdowns and threw for another.
Sweet lord…no one wants to play the #Seahawks right now. Downright scary.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 16, 2012
might be a good idea for people to pay attention the #seahawks.— tim hasselbeck (@tthasselbeck) December 16, 2012
Cardinals 38, Lions 10
Panthers 31, Chargers 7
#Panthers WR Steve Smith w/ 1000+ yards this season. 7th career 1,000-yard receiving season.— Panthers PR Dept. (@Panthers_PR) December 16, 2012
Cowboys 27, Steelers 24 OT
Raiders 15, Chiefs 0
There are more words in this tweet than the #Chiefs had yards of offense in the first half.— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) December 16, 2012
Vikings 36, Rams 22
Adrian peterson is a freak..— Montee Ball (@M_Ball28) December 16, 2012
Dolphins 24, Jaguars 3
Saints 41, Buccaneers 0
#Buccaneers fans,hang in there,very bleak now,big picture here is building, not ready yet,despite today,team has 2 find somethin to build on— Derrick Brooks (@DBrooks55) December 16, 2012
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