Saints clinch NFC top spot, Patriots, Cowboys win divisions
For a decade now, the New England Patriots have owned the AFC East.
The Patriots clinched their 10th straight division title Sunday when they beat Buffalo 24-12. They got an added bonus when Houston fell at Philadelphia 32-30 to drop out of the second seed in the conference, which New England grabbed.
Dallas took the NFC East crown when it defeated Tampa Bay 27-20.
New Orleans secured home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs by beating Pittsburgh 31-28, dropping the Steelers into second place behind Baltimore in the AFC North.
Here’s how things look with one week remaining. The Monday night game between Denver and Oakland has no playoff implications.
It was a double treat for the Patriots, who probably need to be home in the postseason considering they are 7-0 in Foxboro — the league’s only undefeated team in its own building — and 3-5 on the road.
“We didn’t have our best day in the passing game. But it felt good to win. At this time of year, whatever it takes to win, that’s what you’ve got to do,” Tom Brady said.
Baltimore (9-6), fresh off its victory at the Chargers on Saturday night, has a half-game lead on Pittsburgh (8-6-1), which has lost four of five. The Ravens will take the North with a home win against Cleveland next week. The Steelers host Cincinnati and need help to get into the postseason.
“We’re playing pretty good football, but it might not matter,” Ben Roethlisberger said. “Obviously we don’t control our destiny any more. We have to take care of business next week.
“You can be as skillful as you want on both sides of the ball and special teams, but there is still a small element of luck involved in football. A play here, a play there. If that’s what it is, I don’t know, but it’s the game of football.”
In the South, Houston (10-5) is leading Indianapolis and Tennessee, both 9-6. The Colts and Titans face off in Nashville next Sunday night, and the winner there will be in. The Texans host Jacksonville (5-10).
The Chiefs (11-4) and Chargers (11-4) already are in the postseason from the West. That takes up one wild card, and KC holds the tiebreaker for the division crown.
Dallas (9-6) grabbed the East and will host a wild-card game.
“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Dak Prescott said. “This is something that we set out, wanted to do way back in the offseason, and this is giving us a chance to go and get the greater goal.”
If Minnesota (8-6-1) wins next week at home against North winner Chicago, it will get a wild card. Seattle (9-6) is in after the victory against Kansas City. Philadelphia (8-7) needs to beat Washington and have Minnesota lose to be assured of a return to the playoffs.
New Orleans (13-2) has the league’s best mark and owns the South crown.
“Knowing that we’ve done it, knowing that the road comes through New Orleans, that gives us a lot of confidence,” Drew Brees said. “Obviously we love playing in the dome. … We have goals throughout the season and this is one of them.”
- AFC East
- Dallas Cowboys
- Kansas City Chiefs
- New England Patriots
- New Orleans Saints
- NFC East
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Pittsburgh Steelers