By Jason Bryden
Elm Staff Writer
Minnesota (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4) – Sunday 1 p.m. (FOX Chs. 5 and 10)
An hotly contested NFC North rivalry is renewed on Sunday with a lot on the line as the Minnesota Vikings travel east to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. A win by the Vikings would put both teams at 7-5 and give Minnesota the upper hand on Green Bay in the race for the playoffs, while a Packers win would give them a two-game cushion on the Vikings and the breaker.
Minnesota dropped its third game in the last four with a 28-10 setback at Chicago to the Bears. The Vikings were without wide receiver Percy Harvin, who was out due to a left ankle sprain and has not played since Week 9 at Seattle. Harvin is one of the most versatile players in the game and gives the Vikings a home run threat to join running back Adrian Peterson.
Green Bay got drubbed by the host New York Giants, 38-10, on Sunday night in New Jersey. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak and dropped them out of first place, one game behind Chicago. The Packers have been hampered by injuries, most notably linebacker Clay Matthews, safety Charles Woodson, wide receiver Greg Jennings and tackle Bryan Bulaga. They hope to have Jennings back for Sunday.
The Packers lead the all-time series 53-47-1, while the Vikings have won the one playoff meeting, 31-17, in January 2005. The Packers have won the past four encounters.
Seattle (6-5) at Chicago (8-3) – Sunday 1 p.m.
Two teams with hopes of playing in January play on Sunday at Soldier Field as the Seattle Seahawks travel to play the Chicago Bears.
The Seahawks dropped a 24-21 decision at the Miami Dolphins on Sunday as star running back Marshawn Lynch was held to just 46 yards on the ground. The loss dropped the Seahawks to 1-5 on the road this season, while they are 5-0 at home. For Seattle to play in January, they will need to win away from Seattle and have a chance this week.
The Bears snapped a two-game losing streak this past Sunday with a 28-10 win over the Minnesota Vikings at home as quarterback Jay Cutler return from missing a game due to a concussion. A win by the Bears would assure that they stay in first place in the NFC North as they currently lead Green Bay by one game. After this week, the Bears will play three of their last four games on the road.
Seattle has won the past two regular season meetings in Chicago in each of the past two years and lead the all-time series 9-4 in the regular season. The playoffs are a different story however as the Bears have won both games, coming after the 2006 and 2010 seasons.
Tampa Bay (6-5) at Denver (8-3) – Sunday 4:05 p.m.
One team looking to stay in the NFC playoff hunt, while the other team is looking to improve its AFC seeding meet on Sunday in Denver at Sports Authority Field at Mile High as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit the Denver Broncos.
The Buccaneers had their four-game winning streak come to an end with a 24-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday in Tampa. The Buccaneers, who got two rushing touchdowns from running back Doug Martin, are just outside one of the six playoff spots. Tampa Bay is seeking to sweep the AFC West and would accomplish that with a win on Sunday.
The Broncos won their sixth straight game with a 17-9 win at the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in Missouri. A win by the Broncos would clinch the AFC West for the second straight season or a loss by the San Diego Chargers to the Cincinnati Bengals. Denver has not won back-to-back division titles since 1986 and 1987.
The Broncos lead the all-time series 5-2 and have won the last two meetings (2004 and 2008) by 16-13 scores. The last three meetings have all been by a field goal, the Buccaneers winning 13-10 in 1999.
Pittsburgh (6-5) at Baltimore (9-2) – Sunday 4:25 p.m. (CBS – Chs. 9, 13 and 16)
The NFL’s most intense rivalry could have a first on Sunday if the Baltimore Ravens can down the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. A win by the Ravens would give them their first-ever back-to-back season sweeps of the Steelers.
The Steelers dropped their second straight game on Sunday at the Cleveland Browns, 20-14, where Pittsburgh turned it over eight times. It was the second straight game without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger due to a shoulder and rib injury. There is a chance he could go this week and be a lift for the Steelers. Expected back for the Steelers is wide receiver Antonio Brown from an ankle injury.
The Ravens pulled out a 16-13 overtime win in San Diego on Sunday against the Chargers. Down 13-10 late in regulation, running back Ray Rice converted a 4th and 29 on a catch and run, getting the first down by less than a yard. Baltimore can clinch its second straight division crown, a franchise first, with a win and a Cincinnati Bengals loss to the Chargers.
Pittsburgh leads the regular season series 18-15, but the Ravens have won the past three meetings and five of the last seven.
New York Giants (7-4) at Washington (5-6) – Monday 8:30 p.m. (ESPN – Ch. 31)
A pivotal NFC East showdown takes place on Monday night as the New York Giants travel down I-95 to FedEx Field in suburban Washington, DC to play the Washington Redskins. A win by the Giants would put the Giants in great shape to win the NFC East, while a Redskins victory would tighten the NFC East race.
New York snapped a two-game losing streak with a dominating 38-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at home. The Giants got three touchdown passes from quarterback Eli Manning. New York did lose running back Andre Brown for the year with a broken leg. A win by the Giants would give them a season sweep of Washington after getting swept by them a season ago.
Washington downed the Dallas Cowboys, 38-31, on Thanksgiving getting four touchdown passes from quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Redskins have won both games since their bye and have scored 69 points in the two wins. The Redskins are seeking to beat the Giants at home in consecutive seasons since 2004-2005. Washington is tied with Dallas at 5-6, two games behind New York.
The Giants lead the all-time series 93-64-4 and won the first meeting of the season in Week 7, 27-23 at MetLife Stadium. The two teams have split a pair of playoff encounters.