|Tom Brady and Pats clinched another division title.|
The Arizona Cardinals (11-3) are the first NFC team to clinch a playoff spot as they topped the host St. Louis Rams, 12-6 in a Thursday night game that had all field goals accounting for the scoring.
The Broncos (11-3) went into San Diego and earned a 22-10 win against a listless Chargers team that now faces an uphill battle to get a wild card spot in the AFC with the loss. Peyton Manning had a TD pass and Broncos kicker Conner Barth nailed five field goals to provide the final margin as Denver wrapped up their fourth consecutive AFC West title.
San Diego QB Philip Rivers threw for a score but had two costly interceptions, including one in the Denver end zone late in the fourth quarter as the Chargers (8-6) attempted to rally back.
The New England Patriots (11-3) drilled the visiting Miami Dolphins, 41-13 as they clinched the AFC East by dominating the second half with Tom Brady throwing for two touchdowns and the defense shutting out the Dolphins after a close first half.
Indianapolis (10-4) beat visiting Houston, 17-10 despite being outgained by the Texans as QB Andrew Luck threw for two scores in the defensive struggle to wrap up their second consecutive AFC South title.
Several other games saw teams take a step closer to a post-season spot . . . . .
The Dallas Cowboys (10-4) won on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-27 as Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week Dez Bryant (pictured right) caught six passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Dallas blew an early 21-0 lead as the Eagles fought back and took a 24-21 lead in the third quarter before the Cowboys turned it around to win the game. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray scored two touchdowns, but suffered a broken bone in his hand and may not play in Week 16 against Indianapolis.
The Detroit Lions (10-4) won a struggle at home against Minnesota, 16-14 as kicker Matt Prater drilled three field goals, including the game-winner from 33 yards late in the fourth quarter. The usually reliable Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed three field goals in the game, including having a 26-yard try blocked.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore (both 9-5) made strides in the AFC North with wins as the Steelers beat Atlanta, 27-20 as RB Le'Veon Bell scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and DB William Gay took an interception back for another score to offset a pair of TD passes by Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
Meanwhile, the Ravens had their hands full with visiting Jacksonville, but did get a 20-12 win as their defense limited the Jaguars to four field goals while getting a blocked punt for a touchdown. In the second half, the Ravens shut out the Jags and QB Joe Flacco had a TD pass to help clinch the win.
Cincinnati (9-4-1) crushed the host Cleveland Browns, 30-0 to avenge a loss last month as they roughed up rookie QB Johnny Manziel (80 yards passing with two INT and sacked three times) while RB Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards and scored twice to pace the rout.
The Seattle Seahawks (10-4) won for the seventh time in eight games as they limited the San Francisco 49ers to 245 yards in offense in a 17-7 home win that also eliminated the 49ers from playoff contention. Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw a TD pass and RB Marshawn Lynch ran for another touchdown in the win.
The New Orleans Saints (6-8) whipped the host Chicago Bears, 31-15 on Monday Night Football as QB Drew Brees threw for three scores and had 375 yards passing while Bears QB Jay Cutler was sacked seven times and threw three interceptions.
Elsewhere around the NFL . . . . . . .
The Buffalo Bills (8-6) surprised the visiting Green Bay Packers, 21-13 without scoring an offensive touchdown. Marcus Thigpen took a punt back 75 yards for a touchdown while the defense got a safety and kicker Dan Carpenter made four field goals. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers suffered through a miserable game, completing just 17 of 42 passes and was intercepted twice in the loss, which dropped Green Bay (10-4) behind Detroit in the NFC North race . . . The New York Giants knocked off the Washington Redskins, 24-13 with Eli Manning throwing three TD passes to Odell Beckham, Jr. for the win . . . The New York Jets held off the Tennessee Titans, 16-11 as QB Geno Smith threw for a score and Chris Ivory added a TD run . . . The Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) kept alive their fading playoff hopes with a 31-13 rout of the visiting Oakland Raiders behind two TD passes from QB Alex Smith and a 81-yard punt return for score by De'Anthony Thomas . . . The Carolina Panthers won for the second straight week with a 19-17 home win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as kicker Graham Gano made four field goals to go with a TD pass by backup QB Derek Anderson, who was starting in place of Cam Newton, who was injured in a car accident earlier in the week.