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Kaz's Korner

NFL season down to final two weeks before playoffs

 

Last updated 12/27/2022 at 7:40pm

Last week’s frigid weather didn’t stop many of the National Football League teams whose playoff future is still up in the air from playing sizzling football.

Even our two Lone Star State franchises came up with upset victories with the Dallas Cowboys outlasting the NFL’s best team Philadelphia Eagles 40-36 while the NFL’s worst team Houston Texans surprised the AFC South Division-leading Tennessee Titans 19-14.

Although upset victories are great for the morale, in real time both starting quarterbacks-- Jalen Hurts of the Eagles and Titans veteran Ryan Tannehill of the Titans--missed last week’s contest due to injury.

The Cowboys have made it a habit of beating the tough teams and losing to the dogs. They are 7-1 so far this season against teams with winning records.

The Pokes still have a mathematical chance of overtaking the Eagles, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Dallas finishes the regular season on the road at Tennessee tomorrow and at Washington next week while the Eagles enjoy the homefield advantage this week against the New Orleans Saints and finish the season at home against the New York Giants.

The Texans have a slim outside chance of blowing their No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL draft by winning out this season with games against division rivals Jacksonville at home and at Indianapolis, finishing the season with a 4-12-1 record and perhaps losing the lousiest team award to either Chicago (3-12), Arizona (4-11) or Denver (4-11).

But in the real world of playoff hopefuls, two of the most seasoned quarterbacks in the league have an opportunity of getting their respective teams into the playoffs—Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady. All NFL teams fear these two graybeards when it comes to playoff time.

If both teams win their final two games, they should make the NFL playoffs. Brady’s Buccaneers would win the NFC South Division with a pair of victories, while the Packers may need a little help because of their 23-21 loss to Washington in Game 8.

The Commanders currently stand at 7-7-1 and with two wins would finish 9-7-1 while the Packers would finish 9-8 with two final victories.

Neither Rodgers nor Brady had anywhere near their best games of the season, but rallied their respective teams to victory last weekend after falling behind late in the game.

Rodgers brought his team from a 20-13 halftime deficit with a tying touchdown in the third period and then drove his team to a pair of field goals late in the game after Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw three straight interceptions.

Veteran kicker Mason Crosby calmly booted field goals of 28 and 26 yards for the 26-20 upset Green Bay victory. He was playing in his 257th consecutive game, which broke the tie with Brett Favre for most in Packers’ history. Neither player had ever missed a game.

Tampa Bay had fallen behind 16-6 in the fourth quarter and Brady came to life driving his team to a touchdown and a field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.

Brady once again connected on some pin-point throws, got his team into scoring position for the winning field goal and kept his team in the playoff hunt, 19-16.

Teams that have already clinched division championships include Kansas City, Buffalo, Minnesota and San Francisco while playoff berths have been secured by Dallas, Cincinnati, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

That leaves just five playoff spots remaining for teams not officially eliminated including Miami, New York Jets, New England, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, New York Giants, Washington, Tampa Bay, Carolina, New Orleans, Detroit, Green Bay and Seattle.

Teams that have been mathematically eliminated include the Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals and the defending world champion Los Angeles Rams.

KWICKIES…Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson, who beat Missouri 27-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl last week, has won 10 or more games in a single season and a conference championship at four different schools in his college coaching career.

The Cincinnati Bengals held on for dear life in their 22-18 victory at New England Friday after jumping off to a 22-0 lead at halftime. The 11-4 Bengals, who have already clinched a playoff berth, still have an outside chance of overtaking Kansas City and Buffalo—who both stand at 12-3—and getting a first-round bye and homefield advantage for the entire playoffs.

The Chicago Bears’ current eight-game losing skein has tied the longest streak in franchise history and is the second longest in the NFL this season, right behind our Houston Texans, who lost nine games in a row before upsetting the Tennessee Titans 19-14 on Friday.

The world of women’s golf is mourning the loss of Kathy Whitworth, whose 88 tour victories are the most by any player on a single professional tour, including Tiger Woods, Sam Snead, Mickey Wright or Annika Sorenstam.

ESPN, on its “First Take” show Monday morning, predicted that Carolina would overtake Tampa Bay and win the NFC South Division after upsetting the Bucs this Sunday.

ESPN also reported Sunday that former Houston Rockets star James Harden is considering a return to the Rockets which would serve as a veteran piece of the team’s rebuilding project.

JUST BETWEEN US…The College Football Playoffs will have both semifinal games Friday when TCU (12-1) takes on undefeated Michigan (13-0) in the Fiesta Bowl which kicks off at 3 p.m. on ESPN. It will be followed by the 7 p.m. Peach Bowl also on ESPN which features No.1 Georgia (13-0) against No. 4 Ohio State (13-1) who should feel fortunate to even be in the game. It would make for a really good national championship game which I hope happens.

 

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