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Muscle Sport Magazine

NFL Playoff Picture Set, But Many Questions Remain

When you get to the final few weeks of the NFL regular season, things begin to get a bit on the strange side. For instance, what appears to be a mismatch on paper becomes an upset because the favorite decides to rest a good portion of their starters, opening the door for the lesser of the two teams to grab a surprise victory in the process.

But that is not always the case and teams that do in fact have something to play for lay an egg on their way to the postseason. Many of the mighty have fallen, but can hold their heads up at the end of the day because they have earned the right to live another one.

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The New England Patriots, who already had the AFC East sewn up, also could have clinched the number three seed in the AFC with a win at Houston, but the Texans kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a 34-27 win. Unfortunately, wideout Wes Welker was lost for the season and quarterback Tom Brady is banged up.

The first-seeded Indianapolis Colts dropped their second straight after coming out of the gate with 14 consecutive victories, following up a home loss to the New York Jets with a 30-7 pasting at the hands of the Bills in Buffalo. San Diego, the number-two seed in the conference, held on to beat the hapless Redskins by a field goal.

The Baltimore Ravens clinched a berth in the next round by narrowly edging the Raiders in northern California, and the Jets closed out Giants Stadium with a blowout win over the Bengals, setting up another meeting of the two teams next weekend in Cincy.

In the NFC, New Orleans maintained the top seed even though they lost their third straight. Quite a difference from when they were challenging the unbeaten streak 13 weeks into the campaign. The Vikings also earned a bye with their 44-7 whitewashing of the New York Giants, who finished with only three wins in their last 11 games after a hot start.

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In a battle for the third seed and the NFC East crown, the Cowboys shout out the Eagles – who are going in as the final seed – in Dig D, and the Cardinals took a beating at the hands of their opponent next week, the fifth-seeded Green Bay Packers, when the rematch comes back to the desert.

Photo by William J. Hauser

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