Sunday 17 December 2017 / 07:50 AM

PLAYOFF RACE INTENSIFIES AFTER HALFWAY MARK

Via NFL Media

The second half of the NFL season is here and the race to the playoffs is in full swing.

Three teams have won a league-best seven games – Dallas (7-1), New England (7-1) and Oakland (7-2). Right behind them are three teams with six wins each – Kansas City (6-2), Atlanta (6-3) and Denver (6-3). The AFC West has three teams with at least six wins (Oakland, Kansas City and Denver) and the division has combined for 23 victories (Oakland 7-2, Kansas City 6-2, Denver 6-3 and San Diego 4-5), the most by any division in the NFL this season.

As the season moves into the second half, it’s all still to be decided, with plenty of football left to play. So don’t count anyone out. Since 2000, 40 teams have reached the halfway point of their season with a .500 or below winning percentage and advanced to the playoffs, including at least one in each season. Last year, there were five such teams: Houston (3-5), Kansas City (3-5), Washington (3-5), Seattle (4-4) and Pittsburgh (4-4).

On the field, the games continue to be close. Through the first nine weeks, 99 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season’s first nine weeks in NFL history.

For the fourth consecutive week, at least one game has gone to overtime. There have been seven overtime contests over the past four weeks. Last week, the Detroit Lions, who have overcome a fourth-quarter deficit in all five of the team’s victories this season, defeated the Minnesota Vikings 22-16 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Lions kicker MATT PRATER converted a 58-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter to force overtime and Detroit quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD threw the game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass to GOLDEN TATE in the extra session. Prater, who is now 23 of 23 in his career on game-tying or go-ahead field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter or overtime, now owns the two longest game-tying field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history (59 yards on December 11, 2011 with Denver).

Week 10 gets underway on Thursday night (8:25 PM ET, NFLN) with an AFC North matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. The Browns are looking to win in Baltimore for the second consecutive season. Last year in Week 5, Cleveland defeated the Ravens 33-30 in overtime behind quarterback JOSH MC COWN’s 457 passing yards and three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing). The Ravens knocked off Pittsburgh last week to move into a tie with the Steelers for first place in the division (4-4). Baltimore wide receiver MIKE WALLACE had four catches for 124 yards, including a 95-yard touchdown. Wallace is the only player in NFL history to have a 95+ yard touchdown catch with two different teams (Baltimore and Pittsburgh).

The week concludes with a pair of primetime contests. On Sunday night, the New England Patriots host the Seattle Seahawks in a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX (8:30 PM ET, NBC). On Monday night, the Cincinnati Bengals visit the New York Giants (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) in an important interconference contest featuring two teams in the middle of the playoff race.

 

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (6-2) at CAROLINA PANTHERS (3-5) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)                

  • The Chiefs have won four games in a row, including last week’s 19-14 home victory over Jacksonville. Kansas City has won 16 of its past 18 regular-season games.
  • Kansas City linebacker DEE FORD is tied for third in the NFL with a career-high nine sacks. Ford has 5.5 sacks in his past two games and aims for his third consecutive game with multiple sacks.
  • The defending NFC champion Panthers aim for their third consecutive win. Last week, Carolina defeated the Rams 13-10 at Los Angeles. Including the postseason, the Panthers have won 15 of their past 17 games at home.
  • Panthers linebacker THOMAS DAVIS had 11 tackles, an interception, a sack and a forced fumble in the victory over Los Angeles. The previous week against Arizona, Davis scored his first career touchdown by returning a fumble 46 yards.

ATLANTA FALCONS (6-3) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-4) (Sunday, FOX, 1:00 PM ET)

  • Falcons quarterback MATT RYAN leads the NFL with 2,980 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes. Last week in Atlanta’s 43-28 win at Tampa Bay, Ryan passed for 344 yards, four touchdowns and a 144.7 passer rating.
  • Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES leads the NFL with 970 receiving yards and has 51 receptions. Jones has 465 receptions in 74 career games, which is already the most in NFL history in a player’s first 75 games to begin a career.
  • The Eagles are 3-0 at home this season and have outscored opponents 84-23 in those contests.
  • Philadelphia rookie quarterback CARSON WENTZ has won all three career home starts and has a 94.8 passer rating in those contests, completing 61 of 96 passes (63.5 percent) for 717 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

 

MIAMI DOLPHINS (4-4) at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (4-5) (Sunday, CBS, 4:05 PM ET)                

  • The Dolphins have won three consecutive games, including last week’s 27-23 win over the New York Jets. Rookie KENYAN DRAKE scored the game-winning touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return with 5:15 remaining, the latest game-winning kickoff-return touchdown since 2003.
  • Miami running back JAY AJAYI has rushed for 529 yards (176.3 yards per game) and four touchdowns during the Dolphins’ three-game winning streak. Ajayi, who had consecutive 200-yard rushing games in Weeks 6 and 7, aims for his fourth 100-yard rushing game in a row.
  • The Chargers have won three of their past four games, including a 43-35 win over Tennessee last week. San Diego scored two defensive touchdowns against the Titans as safety DWIGHT LOWERY had a 36-yard fumble-return TD and cornerback BRANDON FLOWERS returned an interception 33 yards for a score.
  • San Diego running back MELVIN GORDON rushed for 196 yards with a touchdown and added four catches for 65 yards in last week’s victory. Gordon’s 261 scrimmage yards are the most by a Chargers player since LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON had 271 yards on December 1, 2002. Gordon leads the NFL with 11 total touchdowns (nine rushing, two receiving).

 

DALLAS COWBOYS (7-1) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (4-4) (Sunday, FOX, 4:25 PM ET)

  • The Cowboys have won seven consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NFL. Last week, Dallas won 35-10 in Cleveland as rookie quarterback DAK PRESCOTT threw three touchdown passes and rookie running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT rushed for two TDs. It marked only the second time in NFL history in which a team had a rookie pass for three touchdowns and a rookie rush for two touchdowns in the same game (1948 New York Giants).
  • Prescott is the first rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era to start and win seven of his team’s first eight games of a season. He is also the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to have six starts with a 100+ passer rating in his team’s first eight games. Elliott is one of three players in league annals (Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON and ADRIAN PETERSON) to rush for at least 875 yards (891) and seven touchdowns in his first eight games.
  • The Steelers have won seven of their past eight games at home, outscoring opponents 261-151 in those contests.
  • Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN leads the NFL with 430 catches, 5,708 receiving yards and 37 touchdown receptions since the start of the 2013 season. Over that same span, teammate LE’VEON BELL leads the league averaging 120.6 scrimmage yards per game (minimum 20 games).

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5-2-1) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (7-1) (Sunday, NBC, 8:30 PM ET)

  • Seattle tight end JIMMY GRAHAM had eight catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 31-25 win over Buffalo on Monday night. Since entering the NFL in 2010, Graham has 56 receiving touchdowns, the second-most by a tight end over that span.
  • Seahawks defensive end CLIFF AVRIL has eight sacks in his past five games, including at least one sack in all five contests. Avril was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month in October and leads the NFC with nine sacks.
  • The Patriots, who had a bye in Week 9, lead the AFC with a 7-1 record, tied with Dallas for the best mark in the league. New England faces Seattle for the first time since the Patriots’ 28-24 victory in Super Bowl XLIX (February 1, 2015).
  • New England has not thrown an interception this season and can become the first team since the 1960 Cleveland Browns to have zero interceptions in a team’s first nine games to start a season. The Patriots have attempted 249 passes by three different quarterbacks: TOM BRADY (134), JIMMY GAROPPOLO (60) and rookie JACOBY BRISSETT (55).

 

CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-4-1) at NEW YORK GIANTS (5-3) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)                

  • The Bengals return to action after a bye in Week 9. Cincinnati defeated Cleveland in Week 7 (31-17) and tied Washington in Week 8 (27-27) in a game played at London’s Wembley Stadium.
  • Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. GREEN leads the NFL with 59 receptions and his 112.0 yards per game average is the best mark in the league. Green, who has 896 receiving yards, needs 104 yards to join RANDY MOSS as the only players in NFL history to begin a career with six consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
  • The Giants have won three consecutive games, including last week’s 28-23 win over Philadelphia. New York quarterback ELI MANNING threw four touchdown passes, his fourth career game against the Eagles with at least four passing TDs.
  • Giants safety LANDON COLLINS had 12 tackles, an interception and a sack last week. In his past three games, he has 32 tackles, three interceptions (one touchdown) and two sacks. Collins leads the team in tackles (69), sacks (three) and interceptions (three), the only player to lead his club in all three categories.

2016 NFL STANDINGS

American Football Conference
East Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
New England Patriots710.8752171323-14-06-12-14W
Miami Dolphins440.5001731824-10-34-32-13W
Buffalo Bills450.4442372032-22-31-41-33L
New York Jets360.3331732351-22-43-41-11L
            
North Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Baltimore Ravens440.5001541532-22-24-22-01W
Pittsburgh Steelers440.5001841713-11-33-31-13L
Cincinnati Bengals341.4381671892-1-11-33-31-11T
Cleveland Browns090.0001682730-40-50-60-29L
            
South Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Houston Texans530.6251371675-00-33-22-01W
Indianapolis Colts450.4442392562-22-32-41-21W
Tennessee Titans450.4442172262-32-23-41-21L
Jacksonville Jaguars260.2501532151-31-31-51-13L
            
West Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Oakland Raiders720.7782452232-25-05-12-13W
Kansas City Chiefs620.7501851514-02-25-22-04W
Denver Broncos630.6672141664-12-24-21-21L
San Diego Chargers450.4442682473-11-43-41-31W
           

 

National Football Conference
East Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Dallas Cowboys710.8752231403-14-05-12-17W
New York Giants530.6251611643-12-24-32-13W
Washington Redskins431.5631861892-22-1-12-22-11T
Philadelphia Eagles440.5002021453-01-42-40-32L
            
North Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Minnesota Vikings530.6251551263-12-23-31-23L
Detroit Lions540.5562052063-12-34-21-21W
Green Bay Packers440.5001981873-21-23-32-12L
Chicago Bears260.2501311792-20-42-32-11W
            
South Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Atlanta Falcons630.6673052592-24-14-23-12W
New Orleans Saints440.5002422382-22-23-21-12W
Tampa Bay Buccaneers350.3751802320-43-13-32-12L
Carolina Panthers350.3752042062-21-33-40-32W
            
West Division
TeamWLTPctPFPAHomeAwayConfDivStreak
Seattle Seahawks521.6881621344-01-2-12-2-11-1-11W
Arizona Cardinals341.4381791402-2-11-22-2-11-1-11L
Los Angeles Rams350.3751301671-32-23-42-14L
San Francisco 49ers170.1251672601-40-31-61-27L

 

NFL WEEK 10 SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 13-14

(All times local)

Byes: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland

 

Thursday, November 10Sunday, November 13 (cont’d)
Cleveland at Baltimore, 8:25 PM (NFLN)Green Bay at Tennessee, 12:00 PM
 Minnesota at Washington, 1:00 PM
Sunday, November 13Miami at San Diego, 1:05 PM
Kansas City at Carolina, 1:00 PMSan Francisco at Arizona, 2:25 PM
Houston at Jacksonville, 1:00 PMDallas at Pittsburgh, 4:25 PM
Denver at New Orleans, 12:00 PMSeattle at New England, 8:30 PM (NBC)
Los Angeles at New York Jets, 1:00 PM
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM

Chicago at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

 

Monday, November 14

Cincinnati at New York Giants, 8:30 PM (ESPN)

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