Teams seek play­off berth, let Gi­ants’ loss be a les­son

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK:

The New York Gi­ants have given teams chas­ing play­off berths a fresh re­minder to take no­body for granted, es­pe­cially divi­sion ri­vals. As a re­sult, the Dal­las Cow­boys’ only chal­lenge now as the NFC East champs and the NFC’s top seed is han­dling the fi­nal two reg­u­larsea­son games be­fore a first-round bye.

The Gi­ants only had to beat Philadel­phia on Thurs­day night to clinch at least a wild-card berth, yet Eli Man­ning was in­ter­cepted three times in a 24-19 loss . That started a big cel­e­bra­tion by the Cow­boys’ faith­ful with Dal­las now as­sured of stay­ing in Texas through­out the post­sea­son. Five divi­sion ti­tles re­main up for grabs with two weeks left in the sea­son.

Dal­las can help out the Gi­ants, the only team to beat the Cow­boys all sea­son, by de­feat­ing Detroit on Mon­day night, which would clinch a wild-card berth for New York. The Gi­ants also clinch a spot if Green Bay, Tampa Bay or At­lanta loses. New Eng­land, AFC East ti­tle in hand, needs a lit­tle help to claim home-field ad­van­tage through­out the AFC play­offs this week. The Patriots first must beat the Jets, then wait to see if the Colts can win in Oak­land. The Raiders can win the AFC West ti­tle and grab their own first-round bye by beat­ing the Colts with Denver beat­ing Kansas City on Sun­day night.

Seat­tle is try­ing to earn the NFC’s other first-round bye. The NFC West champs must beat Ari­zona and also need At­lanta to lose or tie and then wait to see if Detroit can win in Dal­las on Mon­day night. Three divi­sion ti­tles have been clinched, with eight play­off berths still up for grabs, and the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers can wrap up the AFC North ti­tle by beat­ing Bal­ti­more on Christ­mas.

Clinch the crown

The Hous­ton Texans will know be­fore kick­ing off tonight if a vic­tory over Cincin­nati will give them their sec­ond straight AFC South cham­pi­onship. They need Ten­nessee to lose ear­lier to­day to Jack­sonville to avoid play­ing the Ti­tans on Jan. 1 for the divi­sion ti­tle. At­lanta heads to Carolina try­ing to clinch both a play­off berth and the NFC South ti­tle, need­ing both a win and a New Or­leans vic­tory over Tampa Bay to win the divi­sion. If they don’t get that, the Fal­cons could still clinch at least a wild card this week­end.

Green Bay needs a win over Min­nesota and help to clinch a play­off berth to­day. But the Pack­ers only need to win their fi­nal two games to take the NFC North ti­tle. The Lions are try­ing to hang on in that divi­sion, and they can clinch the crown Mon­day night if Green Bay loses to Min­nesota. The Lions could have a play­off berth in hand if Wash­ing­ton and Tampa Bay al­ready have lost and At­lanta wins at Carolina. If not, the Saints beat­ing Tampa Bay can al­low Detroit to clinch at least a wild-card spot with a win or a tie in Dal­las. — AP

PHILADEL­PHIA: Philadel­phia Ea­gles’ Car­son Wentz (11) scram­bles away from New York Gi­ants’ Romeo Ok­wara (78) dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game. — AP

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