Edmonton Journal

NFL playo picture taking shape

- BARRY WILNER The Associated Press

Green Bay’s franchise quarterbac­k is limping into the playoffs with a smile. Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes to Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy gashed Detroit’s defence for 100 yards, and the Packers celebrated another division championsh­ip with a 30-20 victory Sunday.

“It’s clearly an MVP performanc­e — another MVP performanc­e — by Aaron Rodgers,” coach Mike McCarthy said. Rodgers won the award in 2011.

Green Bay earned the No. 2 seed in the conference and a bye. Both the Packers and Seahawks finished 12-4, with the tiebreaker Seattle’s opening victory against Green Bay.

Detroit (11-5) will play at NFC East champ Dallas (124) in the wild-card round.

“It was just on our part, self-inflicted wounds, and we know that,” Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis said. “But kudos to them, they did make plays — enough plays to win this ball game.”

Defending Super Bowl champion Seattle beat St. Louis 20-6. The Seahawks, winners of the NFC West, were 7-1 at home at the intimidati­ng CenturyLin­k Field, and have a bye next week

Carolina (7-8-1) became the second division champion with a losing record in NFL history. Its 34-3 rout at Atlanta earned the NFC South title. “It feels great,” Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart said. “I mean, it’s a blessing and you just have to cherish these moments right now. ... We just believed and played our hearts out and this is where we are.”

The Panthers will host injury-ravaged Arizona (11-5), which fell to San Francisco 20-17 but got the other NFC wild card.

AFC East champion New England (12-4) owns homefield advantage in the conference and will be off next weekend. Denver (12-4), the West winner, also will have a bye after defeating Oakland, 47-14.

After the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick met with trainers about his own health.

“I had to spend a few minutes in the training room after the game, nothing serious, just a couple things to look at with the trainers and the doctor,” Belichick said in a conference call after skipping his usual post-game news conference.

“It was no big deal. I don’t want to get into it,” he continued.

Baltimore earned the sixth seed and an AFC wild card berth with a 20-10 victory over Cleveland.

The AFC North champion was determined in the Sunday night game, with Pittsburgh (11-5) beating Cincinnati (10-5-1) 27-17. The Bengals get a wild-card berth and play at South champion Indianapol­is (11-5). The Steelers host the Ravens.

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 ?? Jim Slosiarek/ the ass ociated press ?? Packers QB Aaron Rodgers acknowledg­es the crowd after Green Bay beat the Detroit Lions 30-20 on Sunday.
Jim Slosiarek/ the ass ociated press Packers QB Aaron Rodgers acknowledg­es the crowd after Green Bay beat the Detroit Lions 30-20 on Sunday.

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