Monday, January 22, 2018

NFL PLAYOFFS - AFC, NFC Championship Games Recap

It will be the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles squaring off in Super Bowl LII (52) in two weeks in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Patriots won a thrilling game, 24-20 over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game as they scored 14 fourth quarter points to overcome a ten-point deficit. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (pictured right) threw two scoring passes to wide receiver Danny Amendola (seven receptions for 84 yards) in the comeback win.
The Jaguars took a 14-3 lead in the second quarter when Leonard Fournette scored on a four-yard run, which followed Jags' QB Blake Bortles four-yard scoring pass to tight end Mercedes Lewis. But the Patriots cut the deficit to 14-10 at halftime when James White scored on a one-yard rushing touchdown.
With the win, it is the New England Patriots tenth trip to the Super Bowl and their eighth appearance since the 2001 season.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles crushed the Minnesota Vikings, 38-7 as QB Nick Foles (pictured left) threw for three touchdowns along with 352 passing yards to lead the way.
The Eagles defense limited the Vikings to just 70 rushing yards and forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble recovery), including a 50-yard "pick six" interception by cornerback Patrick Robinson that tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter. The Vikings had taken a 7-0 lead on their first drive of the game when QB Case Keenum connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph on a 25-yard TD pass.
The rest of the game was all Philadelphia as the Eagles scored 17 points in the second quarter as LeGarrette Blount scored on an 11-yard run and Foles threw a 53-yard scoring pass to WR Alshon Jeffery, who had two scoring receptions in the game.
As a result of the win, the Eagles are going back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2004 season and it will be a "re-match" of Super Bowl 39, which the Patriots won 24-21.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Trump "Presidency" - One Year Later

                           AMERICA HELD HOSTAGE -  DAY 366 

NFC Championship Game Preview

Two teams with solid defenses will square off in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday evening in Philadelphia as the Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings for the right to advance to the Super Bowl, which is being held in Minneapolis this time around.
The Vikings won a thrilling game last week (at home) 29-24 against the New Orleans Saints to advance as wide receiver Stefon Diggs broke away with the game winning 61-yard touchdown catch as time expired. It was indeed a finish for the ages.
The Eagles disposed of the Atlanta Falcons, 15-10 as their defense came up with a goal line stand in the closing minute of play to move into this game.
The Vikings led the NFL in defense this season, giving up just 275 yards per game (192 passing, 83 rushing) and allowed 252 points during the regular season, 15.6 points per game. Meanwhile, the Eagles defense led the NFL in rushing defense, giving up just 79 yards per game.
In addition, the Philadelphia defense has allowed just 26 total points in the last three games, including the playoff victory against Atlanta.
Philadelphia is going with Nick Foles at quarterback this post-season as Carson Wentz is out for the year with the knee injury suffered back on December 10 against the L.A. Rams. The Vikings are led by Case Keenum, who has had a dream season filling for injured Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater at the quarterback position.
This game will likely be a defensive struggle, but as we all know, things can play out totally different once the game starts. But expect a close game that may very well come down to the final possession for which ever team has the football.

              PREDICTION -   Minnesota 17, Philadelphia 13 

Friday, January 19, 2018

AFC Championship Game Preview

On paper, this game looks like a blowout as the New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game.
However, the Jags have that swagger that will do one of two things in this game on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. They either hang tough and take the Patriots to the brink (before losing a tight one) or they get blown out and the cameras catch several team members arguing and finger pointing at each other.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Head Coach Bill Belichick have been doing their thing in the post-season for roughly 17 years (five Super Bowl titles together in seven appearances) and now the Jaguars will attempt to disrupt that routine as the Pats go for back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
The past few days there have been rumblings of Brady having a bad throwing hand and he might even be listed as questionable to play in the game this Sunday.
Brady will be ready to go and he will do all he can to pick apart the excellent secondary the Jags feature.
The Jaguars have Blake Bortles at quarterback and he will rely on running back Leonard Fournette (three TD vs. Steelers last week) to carry the load once again this week against the increasingly tough New England defense.
All in all, this game should not be real close because the Patriots offense is far superior to that of Jacksonville. Defensively, the Jags rate a slight edge overall while the Patriots overwhelmingly have the edge in the coaching area.
If the Patriots get it rolling on offense early in the game, look for a blowout victory. If the Jags can hang in there, their confidence will get even stronger than it already is and they may have a slight chance to win this one.

PREDICTION -  New England 27, Jacksonville 13 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

NFL PLAYOFFS - Divisional Round Recap

Stefon Diggs scored the game winner for Vikings as time expired.
The Minnesota Vikings stunned the New Orleans Saints, 29-24 on an unbelievable play to end the game, that was second only in NFL history to the "Immaculate Reception" from the 1972 playoffs.
Vikings quarterback Case Keenum hit wide receiver Stefon Diggs on a 61-yard touchdown pass as time expired to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game next week in Philadelphia.
The Saints had taken a 24-23 lead with 25 seconds left when kicker Will Lutz made a 43-yard field goal. That followed Vikes' kicker Kai Forbath's 53-yard field goal with just over a minute to go in regulation that gave Minnesota a 23-21 lead.
Minnesota took a 17-0 lead into halftime as Jerick McKinnon (14 yards) and Latavius Murray (one yard) had scoring runs to go with a Forbath field goal.
The Saints stormed back in the second half (17 points in 4th quarter) as QB Drew Brees threw for two scores to WR Michael Thomas and another to running back Alvin Kamara to take a 21-20 lead in the final quarter.
Earlier on Sunday afternoon, the Jacksonville Jaguars bolted to a 21-0 lead in Pittsburgh en route to a 45-42 victory that sends them to the AFC Championship Game next week in New England.
Jags running back Leonard Fournette (109 rushing yards) scored three touchdowns, T.J. Yeldon added another scoring run and QB Blake Bortles had a scoring pass while the defense scored on a 50-yard fumble recovery by Telvin Smith as well to pace the win. Jags kicker Josh Lambo made a 45-yard field goal to give the Jags a ten-point cushion with just over two minutes left to play to help provide the final outcome.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (469 passing yards) threw five TD passes in the loss (two to WR Antonio Brown) but also had the fumble that Jacksonville scored on as well as an interception inside his own 20-yard line that led to Jacksonville getting the 21-0 lead.

On Saturday night, the New England Patriots throttled the visiting Tennessee Titans, 35-14 as QB Tom Brady (pictured left) had three touchdown passes to go with 337 passing yards to lead the way. In addition, the New England defense sacked Titans QB Marcus Mariota eight times as they gained only 267 yards in offense.
The Titans had a brief 7-0 lead when Mariota connected with WR Corey Davis on a 15-yard scoring pass. From there, Brady and company scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to make it 21-7 at the half. Brady threw a five-yard scoring pass to RB James White (who also scored on a six-yard run) and also had a four-yard strike to Chris Hogan.
Neither team turned the ball over as the Patriots will be making their seventh consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game at home against Jacksonville next Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles held off the Atlanta Falcons to earn a 15-10 home win as their defense made a goal line stand in the final minute of the fourth quarter to send the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game at home next Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott made three field goals (53 yards, 37, 21) and RB LeGarrette Blount scored on a one-yard run on fourth down to give Philly a 6-3 lead. Prior to that, Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant made a 33-yard field goal to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan threw a six-yard scoring pass to Devonta Freeman to give his team a 10-6 lead. Elliott made the 53-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to cut the Atlanta lead to 10-9. From there, Elliott drilled two field goals to account for all the scoring in the second half and provide the final score.

Philadelphia 15, Atlanta 10
New England 35, Tennessee 14
Jacksonville 45, Pittsburgh 42
Minnesota 29, New Orleans 24

Saturday, January 13, 2018

NFL PLAYOFFS - Divisional Round Preview

It's on to the divisional round of the 2017 NFL Playoffs as the Saturday games feature the Atlanta Falcons at the Philadelphia Eagles while the New England Patriots host the upstart Tennessee Titans. On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars are at the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints play at the Minnesota Vikings to conclude the weekend action.


Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots -  Tom Brady and the Patriots are gunning for their seventh consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance, but the Tennessee Titans won't be an easy opponent.
The Titans stunned the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend, coming back from 18-point deficit to defeat the host Chiefs, 22-21 as quarterback Marcus Mariota led the way on offense along with running back Derrick Henry, who will need another big rushing performance if the Titans are going to hang with the Pats.
New England has things clicking offensively lately as the running game with Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead  has been effective. In addition, tight end Rob Gronkowski is healthy and leading the receiving corps that has many options for Brady to throw to. If the Patriots get it rolling early, it could very well be a blowout win for them.
Each team's defense has stepped it up as well, especially the Patriots, who were getting lit up in the first five weeks of the season. The Titans made second half adjustments and shut out Kansas City last weekend after allowing 21 first half points.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers -  The Steelers were hammered by the Jaguars, 30-9 back in Week Five as QB Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted FIVE times, including two pick six interceptions.
But that was then and this is now so expect the Steelers to look like a completely different team this time around. Roethlisberger, along with running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receivers Antonio Brown (recovering from calf injury) and JuJu Smith -Schuster, will look to torch the vaunted Jacksonville defense, which has intercepted 21 passes to this point.
As long as the Steelers defense keeps the Jags' running game (led by rookie Leonard Fournette) in check it should be a much better outcome for them as they look forward to a rematch with the New England Patriots in the AFC title game next weekend. Plus the fact the weather will be totally different in mid-January than it was in early October in the Steel City will also be a factor that should benefit the Steelers.


Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles -  The Falcons knocked off the Los Angeles Rams rather easily last week and will look to win another one on the road this week against a Eagles team (13-3) that will not have All-Pro QB Carson Wentz (knee surgery) until next season.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan, WR Julio Jones and the running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will provide a stiff challenge to the Eagles defense, which has been very consistent all season long.
Reserve QB Nick Foles can do the job, but the Eagles know they have to be able to run the football with Jay Ajayi (5.8 ypc average) and LeGarrette Blount (4.4 ypc) looking to carry the load.
The Falcons have been erratic this season and if they fall into a hole early, it could be a long afternoon for them. However, they could also force the turnovers as they did last week against the Rams and that would be huge. The Eagles offense has struggled to score points since Wentz went out with the knee injury.

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings -  This game could very well be the best match up of the weekend and might go down to the wire.
The Saints feature a dynamic offensive attack while the Vikings defense has been stellar all year long and will present numerous challenges to Saints QB Drew Brees and company.  Something has to give.
Brees has running backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara along with wideouts Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, Jr. and they will look to solve the Vikes defense. Meanwhile, Minnesota went 11-1 after a 2-2 start and their defense has allowed just under 15 points per game during that stretch.
The Vikings offense has overcome many injuries and QB Case Keenum has enjoyed a dream season filling in for injured QBs Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater. Running backs Dalvin Cook (4.8 ypc average), Latavius Murray (3.9 ypc) and Jerick McKinnon (3.8 ypc) will be ready to pound the rock while receivers Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and (tight end) Kyle Rudolph provide solid targets for Keenum to pass the ball to.
Look for this one to possibly go down to the wire and whoever has the ball last could determine the final outcome.

The Heftyinfo predictions for the Divisional Round games  (Home teams listed in bold)

Atlanta over Philadelphia
New England over Tennessee
Pittsburgh over Jacksonville
Minnesota over New Orleans

Last week's Record -  3-1



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

College Football - FINAL Top Ten

The Heftyinfo College Football FINAL Top Ten                                          

1.  Alabama  (13-1)
2.  Georgia  (13-2)
3.  Oklahoma  (12-2)
4.  Clemson  (12-2)
5.  Ohio State (12-2)
6.  UCF  (13-0)
7.  Wisconsin  (13-1)
8.  Penn State  (11-2)
9.  TCU  (10-3)
10.  Auburn  (10-4)

Sunday, January 7, 2018

NFL PLAYOFFS - Wild Card Round Recap

Two home teams won and two lost this weekend in the NFL Playoff Wild Card Round.
On Saturday, the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons won road games to advance while on Sunday the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints both won home games to move forward to the Divisional Round next week.


Tennessee Titans 22, Kansas City Chiefs 21 - The host Chiefs blew an 18-point halftime lead and fell to the Titans as running back Derrick Henry (156 rushing yards) scored a touchdown and then quarterback Marcus Mariota connected on a 22-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Eric Decker to provide the final margin.
The Chiefs stormed out to a big lead in the first quarter as QB Alex Smith hit tight end Travis Kelce on a 13-yard scoring pass and rookie RB Kareem Hunt scored on a one-yard run.  The lead was 21-3 at halftime, but from there the Titans defense slammed the door on Kansas City.
One unusual scoring play for the Titans occurred when Mariota (pictured left) tossed a pass that was deflected back to himself and he broke the plane of the end zone for the touchdown to cut the Kansas City lead to 21-10 midway through the third quarter.

Jacksonville Jaguars 10, Buffalo Bills 3 - A throwback type of playoff game to the old days of running and defense took place in Jacksonville as the Jaguars topped the Bills behind solid defense that limited the Buffalo offense to 263 yards in total offense.
The only touchdown of the game came in the third quarter when Jags' QB Blake Bortles threw a one-yard scoring pass to tight end Ben Koyack. From there, it was defense on both sides of the field as Bortles actually ran (88 yards) for more yardage than he passed for (87 yards), which was only the third time in NFL playoff history that happened.


Atlanta Falcons 26, Los Angeles Rams 13 - The Falcons surprised the host Rams by bolting out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter as kicker Matt Bryant (four made field goals) hit a pair of kicks and RB Devonta Freeman scored on a three-yard run.
The Rams countered in the second quarter with a 14-yard scoring pass from QB Jared Goff to WR Cooper Kupp and then a 35-yard field goal at the end of the first half.
Bryant drilled a pair of field goals in the third quarter to give the Falcons a 19-10 lead entering the fourth quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Rams kicker Sam Ficken nailed a 35-yard field goal to trim the Atlanta lead to 19-13.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan threw an eight-yard TD pass to WR Julio Jones (nine receptions for 94 yards) with 5:48 remaining in regulation to provide the final outcome.

New Orleans Saints 31, Carolina Panthers 26 -  The Saints rode the arm of QB Drew Brees (376 yards passing with two TD and one interception) to victory as they outlasted the visiting Panthers in the final wild card playoff game of the weekend.
Brees (pictured right) hooked up with WR Ted Ginn, Jr. on an 80-yard scoring play and later with tight end Josh Hill to help give the Saints a 21-9 halftime lead. Panthers kicker Graham Gano made three field goals in the first half to keep it close.
In the second half, the Panthers and Saints exchanged third quarter field goals before Carolina QB Cam Newton had two TD passes in the final quarter, a 14-yard strike to tight end Greg Olson and a 56-yard scoring pass to RB Christian McCaffrey that made it 31-26 with just over four minutes remaining.
The Saints took a huge gamble with two minutes left in the game by going for it on fourth down (two yards to go) from midfield. Brees' pass was intercepted and the Panthers then drove down the field before an intentional grounding penalty call against Newton set up a third-and-23 situation. Following an incompletion, Newton was sacked on fourth down and the Saints are now marching onto the Divisional Round next week.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

NFL PLAYOFFS - Wild Card Round Preview

The 2017 NFL Playoffs will kick it off later today when the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs battle it out in the first of two AFC Wild Card games, followed by the Atlanta Falcons at the Los Angeles Rams in the first NFC Wild Card game.
The Sunday games feature the Buffalo Bills at Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC) and the Carolina Panthers at the New Orleans Saints in the NFC.
The games in the NFC seems to be causing a bigger buzz because the Falcons were the Super Bowl representative from the NFC last season and are facing the LA Rams - the surprise team of the NFC in the 2017 season.
Led by quarterback Jared Goff (28 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions) and running back Todd Gurley (1,305 rush yards with 19 total touchdowns), the Rams have a power packed offense similar to what the Falcons displayed last year when they led the NFL in scoring.
The Rams averaged 29.9 points per game this season and also have wide receivers Cooper Kupp (62 receptions for 869 yards and five touchdowns) and Robert Woods, who made 56 catches for 781 yards and five touchdowns.
Atlanta features QB Matt Ryan (20 TD and 12 INT) along with running backs Devonta Freeman (865 yards and seven TD) and Tevin Coleman (628 yards and five TD) along with receivers Julio Jones (88 grabs for 1,444 yards but just three TD) and Mohamed Sanu, who had 67 receptions with five touchdowns.
Each team's defense can get after the opposing quarterback as the Rams had 48 sacks while the Falcons registered 39 take downs. The Rams allowed roughly 21 points per game while Atlanta allowed just under 20 points per game.
The New Orleans Saints have QB Drew Brees, who had a somewhat "down" year statistically but he didn't have to put up the usual eye popping numbers this season because he is surrounded by so many weapons on offense.
All-purpose rookie running back Alvin Kamara was sensational, rushing for 728 yards (6.1 ypc average) with eight touchdowns and also caught 81 passes for 826 yards and five more scores while also returning a kickoff 106 yards for another touchdown, giving him 14 total for the season.
Mark Ingram ran for 1,124 yards (4.9 ypc) and scored 12 touchdowns while Michael Thomas led all receivers with 104 receptions for 1,245 yards and five scores. Ted Ginn, Jr. had 53 grabs for 787 yards and four scores.
The Panthers counter with QB Cam Newton (22 TD passes and 16 picks) who can pass and run as he amassed 754 yards on the ground and scored six times rushing the football. Tight end Greg Olson played just seven games (broken foot) and had 17 receptions and gives Newton another outlet in a potent arsenal.
Wide receiver Devin Funchess (63, 840, eight TD) but questionable after suffering injury, along with rookie RB-WR Christian McCaffrey (435 rush yards with two TD) and 80 receptions for 651 yards and five more touchdowns, are capable threats in the passing game.
Both these teams can sack the quarterback as well. New Orleans had 42 sacks while the Panthers dropped the opposing QB 50 times this season. They both allowed 20 points per game in the regular season.
As far as the AFC is concerned, the Buffalo Bills make their first playoff appearance in 18 years and will travel to face the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars, who haven't been to the playoffs in ten years.
Bills QB Tyrod Taylor is a dual threat (427 rush yards with four TD and 14 TD passes with just four INT) and relies on RB LeSean McCoy (1,158 rush yards, six TD and 59 receptions with two TD) to propel the offense.
But McCoy suffered a sever ankle injury last week and will most likely be a game time decision for Buffalo. Expect him to go if it's even remotely possible. After all, this IS the NFL Playoffs.
The Jaguars offense centers around rookie running back Leonard Fournette (1,040 rush yards with nine TD and 36 catches with one TD this season) while QB Blake Bortles relies on Marqise Lee (56, 702, three TD) and Keelan Cole (42, 748, three TD) at wide receiver. Veteran TE Mercedes Lewis snared five TD catches this season.
Jacksonville's vaunted defense was second in the entire league allowing points (268) and registered a league high 55 QB sacks, with Calais Campbell getting 14 1/2 of those sacks. Jacksonville also had 21 interceptions this year. Meanwhile, the Bills intercepted 18 passes while allowing just over 22 points per game.
The Kansas City Chiefs finished the season strong, winning their final four games to put away the AFC West division and will look for their offense to remain high flying (112 points scored the last four games) behind QB Alex Smith and company.
Smith the led the NFL in passer rating this season (104.7) and had 26 TD passes with only six picks thrown. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt also finished strong after a long dry spell in the middle of the season. Hunt finished with 1,327 rushing yards (4.9 ypc) and had eight touchdowns.
The passing game thrives with Smith getting the ball to TE Travis Kelce (83, 1,038, eight TD) and Tyreek Hill, who made 75 receptions for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns. Hill also had a kick return score this year.
The Titans are led by QB Marcus Mariota, who threw for 3,232 yards with pedestrian like numbers of 13 TD and 15 INT this season. Mariota is a good scrambler (5.2 ypc average with five TD) who can extend plays.
The running game is the bread and butter for the Titans, evidenced by their 18 rushing touchdowns this year. Rookie RB Derrick Henry ran for 744 yards and five scores while injured back DeMarco Murray had 659 rushing yards along with six touchdowns. Delanie Walker led Tennessee with 74 receptions for 807 yards and had three touchdowns. Rishard Matthews made 53 receptions for 795 yards and had four scoring receptions. Another weapon is Eric Decker, who had 54 receptions.
Both defenses create problems for the opposition as the Chiefs allowed just 21 points per game while the Titans gave up 22 points per contest. Kansas City had 31 sacks and made 16 interceptions. The Titans sacked the QB 42 times this year and just 88 yards per game rushing allowed while the secondary was led by Kevin Byard's eight picks.

Heftyinfo PREDICTIONS for Wild Card Round Games  (Home teams are listed in BOLD)

Kansas City over Tennessee
Atlanta over LA Rams 
Jacksonville over Buffalo
New Orleans over Carolina


Lock of the Week Record -  15-2

Monday, January 1, 2018

NFL - Week Seventeen Recap

The 2017 NFL regular season is now in the books and the teams in the playoffs include some expected teams and some big surprises considering the finishing records from last season.
The New England Patriots (13-3) rolled past the New York Jets, 26-6 as quarterback Tom Brady had a pair of touchdown passes.  The Pats will be the top seed in the AFC while the Pittsburgh Steelers (also 13-3) will be the number-two seed following their 28-24 win against the Cleveland Browns, who became just the second team in NFL history to finish the season with an 0-16 record.
Pittsburgh sat many starters in this one and still won the game as backup QB Landry Jones connected with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for a scoring pass. Smith-Schuster also took a kickoff back 96 yards for a score after the Browns had tied the game 21-21 in the third quarter.
The Buffalo Bills (9-7) are playoff bound for the first time since the 1999 season after they outlasted the host Miami Dolphins, 22-16 and got help when the Cincinnati Bengals stunned the Baltimore Ravens, 31-27 to knock Baltimore out of the playoff chase.
Buffalo used a balanced attack on offense and got three field goals from kicker Steven Hauschka to make the difference. Meanwhile, the Bengals squandered a 14-point lead and trailed the Ravens, 27-24 but QB Andy Dalton hooked up with WR Tyler Boyd on a 49-yard scoring pass with only 44 seconds remaining in the game to provide the excitement.
The Tennessee Titans (9-7) won a yawner game at home, 15-10 against AFC South division champion Jacksonville (10-6) to lock up a wild card spot as well. Titans kicker Ryan Succop made three field goals and running back Derrick Henry scored on a 66-yard screen pass to make the difference against the listless Jaguars, who wound up as the number-three seed in the AFC.
The Atlanta Falcons (10-6) clinched the sixth and final playoff spot in the NFC following their 22-10 win at home against the Carolina Panthers (11-5), who also are a wild card team (fifth seed) in the NFC.  Falcons kicker Matt Bryant made five field goals and QB Matt Ryan had a TD pass to provide the difference.

                                                 Around the NFL  . . . . . . . .    

The Minnesota Vikings (13-3) sewed up the second seed in the NFC with a 23-10 home win over the Chicago Bears, who, as expected, fired Head Coach John Fox this morning. Vikings RB Latavius Murray had two touchdown runs and the defense limited the Bears to just 201 yards in total offense . . .   The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stormed back in the fourth quarter to beat the visiting New Orleans Saints, 31-24 as QB Jameis Winston had a scoring pass and run to pace the offense. The Saints (11-5) are the NFC's fourth seed in the playoffs and all purpose back Alvin Kamara scored twice in the loss, including a 106-yard kickoff return . . . The Seattle Seahawks (9-7) were eliminated from the NFC playoff chase when the Atlanta Falcons won their game, but they lost 26-24 at home to the Arizona Cardinals (8-8) as kicker Blair Walsh missed a 48-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds. Seattle QB Russell Wilson had two TD passes in the loss . . .  The Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) throttled the Oakland Raiders, 30-10 as QB Philip Rivers (387 passing yards and three TD strikes) did all he could to get his team into the AFC playoffs, but they didn't get the help needed when Baltimore lost their game and the Tennessee Titans won to clinch a wild card spot. The Raiders fired Head Coach Jack Del Rio after the game . . . The San Francisco 49ers finished the season a five-game winning streak as they pounded the Los Angeles Rams (11-5), the NFC's third seed in the playoffs, 34-13. 49ers RB Carlos Hyde scored twice and QB Jimmy Garoppolo had two scoring passes to lead the way . . .  The New York Giants beat the Washington Redskins, 18-10 as QB Eli Manning threw a TD pass and RB Orleans Darkwa scored on a 75-yard run . . . Kansas City (10-6) won 27-24 on the road at Denver as kicker Harrison Butker drilled a 30-yard field goal as time expired . . .  The Indianapolis Colts beat the visiting Houston Texans, 22-13 as QB Jacoby Brissett had a TD pass. The Colts fire Head Coach Chuck Pagano following the game . . . The Detroit Lions (9-7) also fired their Head Coach Jim Caldwell following their 35-11 trouncing of the visiting Green Bay Packers. Lions QB Matthew Stafford had three TD passes to go with 323 passing yards . . .  The Dallas Cowboys won a 6-0 road game against the Philadelphia Eagles (13-3), the NFC's top seed in the playoffs. The Eagles rested their starters in this game.

                        Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week - Philip Rivers  (QB- Los Angeles Chargers)

New England 26, NY Jets 6
Pittsburgh 28, Cleveland 24
Minnesota 23, Chicago 10
Dallas 6, Philadelphia 0
NY Giants 18, Washington 10
Detroit 35, Green Bay 11
Indianapolis 22, Houston 13
San Francisco 34, LA Rams 13
LA Chargers 30, Oakland 10
Atlanta 22, Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 31, New Orleans 24
Tennessee 15, Jacksonville 10
Buffalo 22, Miami 16
Arizona 26, Seattle 24
Kansas City 27, Denver 24
Cincinnati 31, Baltimore 27