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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Crucial NFL Games set Sunday; National Championship Monday


Last updated 1/3/2023 at 7:14pm

In the next five days both the National Football League playoff schedule and the College National Championship will be decided as the regular 17-game season and the final college game unfolds.

Not only will the NFL playoff schedule be set but also the top seed in each conference will be determined which gives a bye in the first round and homefield advantage for the entire playoffs up to next month’s Super Bowl.

In the AFC, Buffalo needed to win Monday night at Cincinnati combined with a Kansas City loss Sunday at Las Vegas or win Sunday with both Kansas City and Cincinnati losing Sunday to grab the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Kansas City will earn the top seed with a win Sunday and a Buffalo loss either in week 17 or 18 or a Buffalo loss Monday night and a Buffalo loss Sunday and a Cincinnati loss Sunday.

Cincinnati’s path to the top seed is less confusing but probably more difficult. The Bengals needed a win Monday night and win Sunday with a Kansas City loss.

The No. 1 seed in the NFC is not so complicated. Philadelphia just needs to win or Dallas and San Francisco lose Sunday.

Our Cowboys need to win Sunday and the Eagles and San Francisco must both lose to be the NFC’s top dog.

The 49ers need to win Sunday at home against Arizona and Philadelphia must lose at home to the New York Giants, who were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday despite a resounding 38-10 victory over hapless Indianapolis.

Several teams qualified for the playoffs last month with just three teams (Seattle, Detroit and Green Bay) competing Sunday for the final wild card berth in the NFC, where all but one division champions are already decided. The Philadelphia Eagles need to win Sunday against the New York Giants to assure the NFC East Division championship.

However, in the AFC only two division champions have already been crowned (Buffalo in the East Division and Kansas City in the West Division). The AFC South champion will be known after the Tennessee at Jacksonville game on Sunday has a winner. The same is true in the North Division where the Baltimore at Cincinnati fiasco takes place.

This was the first year ever that the College Football Playoffs appeared to have had the correct teams in the top four places as far as Saturday’s results in the semifinal round was concerned.

The four-team playoff has had more lop-sided games than not, but Saturday fans were treated to two of the most exciting games ever. In fact, by the time Ohio State missed its attempt at the game-winning field goal over Georgia, the big ball in New York City already had dropped and 2023 had arrived.

The fourth-seeded Buckeyes’ attempt to upset Georgia failed when the long field goal sailed wide left, giving the Bulldogs their 42-41 narrow victory in the Peach Bowl.

No. 3-seeded TCU, the team most college football buffs thought didn’t belong, came up with an astounding 51-45 upset over previously undefeated Michigan in the first semifinal game. Much like the Wolverines, the Horned Frogs won all 12 regular-season games, losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.

Now TCU is wearing the Cinderella Team tag put on the Frogs by the media just to make next Monday’s game more interesting against defending national champion and No. 1 seed Georgia (14-0), which is looking for its second straight title.

Alabama’s long-time head coach Nick Saban has been miffed ever since TCU got into the College Football Playoff and his Crimson Tide had to settle for a game against

Kansas State—the team that defeated TCU—in the Sugar Bowl.

Saban fired his team up during the entire practice period before the Sugar Bowl and then turned them loose to drub Kansas State, which they did to the tune of 45-20.

All of Saban’s ire and vindictiveness went out the window after his team’s resounding victory when the two semifinal games kept the audience at the edge of their seats and said they were the best playoff games ever.

As much as I would like to see the Horned Frogs come up with another upset, my heart and my wallet are clashing, with my wallet always winning—Georgia in a high-scoring game to remain as national champions.

KWICKIES…The Minnesota Vikings proved to be the best team in NFL history by winning 11 one-score games so far this season. The 2019 Seattle Seahawks and the 1978 Houston Oilers are next with 10 wins.

Retired New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees is the only signal-caller in NFL history with five 5,000-yard passing seasons. He is followed by 45-year-old Tom Brady and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes with two each.

I thought that the Dallas Cowboys overpowering the Tennessee Titans 27-13 Thursday night was a great accomplishment until I found out that six starters were held out of the game by the Titans to rest them for the big game Sunday against Jacksonville for the AFC South Division championship. And the Cowboys had to scramble in the fourth period to pull off the victory.

The 2022 Miami Dolphins have been ruled the NFL’s “Most Disappointing Team in 2022” for having a respectable 8-3 record in the first 11 games and them going 0-5 in Weeks 13-17. The last time the Dolphins made the playoffs was in 2016.

JUST BETWEEN US…It’s almost inevitable that the Houston Texans will be crowned as the NFL’s Lousiest Team for 2022 and will once again get their trophy for ineptness by winning the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL draft. If there was any doubt going into Sunday’s game with Jacksonville—and in front of the loyal fans in NRG Stadium Sunday—it got confirmed when quarterback Davis Mills was unable to get his team into the end zone at least once and were on the wrong end of a 31-3 blowout by the visiting Jaguars. It will probably result in Head Coach Lovie Smith getting canned, but it’s hard to win when you don’t have the hosses to do so. Hopefully the gurus in their ivory towers at NRG won’t just jump on the bandwagon and take Ohio State’s quarterback C.J. Stroud without at least considering TCU’s Max Duggan, who loves to run with the football when he can’t find an open receiver and is a Texas boy.


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