By Jason Bryden
Elm Senior Writer
Green Bay (6-3) at Detroit (4-5) – Sunday 1 p.m.
A team looking to bolster its playoff positioning against a team looking to keep its playoff hopes alive meet on Sunday as the Packers travel to the Motor City to play the Lions.
Green Bay had a bye in Week 9 and currently holds the first wild card spot at 6-3 and trails the Chicago Bears by just one game in the NFC North, but they own the breaker on the Bears currently. The Packers have won four straight since dropping a 30-27 Week 5 game at Indianapolis where they lost a 21-3 lead. Green Bay has outscored its opponents 127-76 in the last four wins.
Detroit had its two game winning streak come to an end in a 34-24 setback to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis. The loss put the Lions at 0-3 in the NFC North and they were swept by the Vikings. A loss by the Lions would put them two games back of the Seattle Seahawks, who currently own the second wild card spot. However, Detroit does own the breaker on Seattle thanks to a 28-24 Week 8 win.
The Packers lead the all-time series 91-65-7 and won both playoff meetings. Green Bay has won 30 of the past 39 games in the regular season dating back to 1992.
San Diego (4-5) at Denver (6-3) – Sunday 4:25 p.m.
The AFC West race could be decided on Sunday or it could become a two-team race as the San Diego Chargers travel to Denver to play the Broncos on Sunday and the Chargers hope to make the AFC West a race, while the Broncos look to sweep the Chargers and take a firm grasp of the division.
The Chargers dropped back under .500 with a 34-24 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Tampa as San Diego allowed an interception return for a touchdown and a blocked punt for a touchdown, which cost them 14 points. San Diego looks to avenge a 35-24 loss in Week 6 to the Broncos in San Diego where the Chargers blew a 24-0 lead.
The Broncos cruised to their fourth straight win with a 36-14 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte. The Broncos got a touchdown from the offense, defense and special teams in the win and have scored 30 or more points during the winning streak. The Broncos are seeking their first sweep of the Chargers since 2005.
Denver leads the all-time series 56-48-1 and has won the last two encounters. Prior to that, San Diego had won nine of the prior 11.
Indianapolis (6-3) at New England (6-3) – Sunday 4:25 p.m. (CBS – Chs. 9, 13 and 16)
A rivalry that has been defined by the quarterbacks will have a twist on Sunday as it will be Tom Brady of the Patriots will be facing the new Colts’ signal caller Andrew Luck and not former Colt Peyton Manning as the Colts and the Patriots meet for the 10th straight year this Sunday in Foxboro.
The Colts improved to 6-3 with a convincing 27-10 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville last Thursday. Indianapolis never trailed in the game enters the game on a four-game winning streak, two of which are on the road. The Colts, who have tripled their win total from 2011, will seek to win in Foxboro for the first time since 2006.
The Patriots held off a comeback effort by the Bills in a 37-31 win on Sunday at home. New England cornerback Devon McCourty picked off a Buffalo pass with under a minute left to clinch the win. New England led by as many as 14 points in the game, but could not shake off the Bills. New England has won the last two games in the series, both at home, after losing five of the prior six to the Colts.
New England leads the all-time series 44-28 and has won two of the three playoff encounters.
Baltimore (7-2) at Pittsburgh (6-3) – Sunday 8:20 p.m. (NBC – Ch. 11)
The NFL’s most intense rivalry heats up again on Sunday Night Football as the Ravens travel to Western Pennsylvania to play the Steelers at Heinz Field. However, the matchup could have a backup quarterback going for the Steelers.
Baltimore improved to 7-2 with a 55-20 thumping of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday in Baltimore. The Ravens set a club record for points in a game with 55, breaking the previous high of 48 which they did in 2005 (Green Bay) and 2009 (Detroit). A win by the Ravens would give them three straight regular season wins in Pittsburgh, a two-game lead and a 4-0 AFC North record.
Pittsburgh had to go to overtime, but got the job done in a 16-13 win over the visiting Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night. An interception by linebacker Lawrence Timmons in overtime led to the game-winning field goal by kicker Shaun Suisham. However the win came at a huge cost as they could be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who sustained a sprained shoulder and a rib injury in the third quarter when he was sacked, has been ruled out of Sunday night’s game. Byron Leftwich will start in his place.
Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 18-14 and has taken all three playoff games.
Chicago (7-2) at San Francisco (6-2-1) – Monday 8:30 p.m. (ESPN – Ch. 31)
A game that could be started by the backup quarterbacks occurs on Monday night as the Chicago Bears travel to Candlestick Park to play the San Francisco 49ers in a game that could determine seeding in the NFC Playoffs. With the flux of the quarterback situation, could come down to which defense forces more turnovers in this contest.
Chicago had its six game win streak come to an end with a 13-6 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday night at home. Quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a concussion late in the first half and did not return for the second half. If he cannot go, Jason Campbell will be the starting quarterback for the Bears. Last year after Cutler went down with a broken thumb, Chicago went 1-5 and missed the playoffs. Chicago is hoping Campbell can avoid a repeat of that if Cutler cannot go.
San Francisco tied the St. Louis Rams at home last week 24-24. Kicker David Akers had a chance to win it in overtime, but his 41-yarder sailed wide left. The 49ers also lost their starting quarterback as Alex Smith suffered a concussion and his status for Monday is uncertain. If he cannot go, Colin Kaepernick will go. Kaepernick, was the Nevada quarterback in 2010 who spoiled Boise State’s Rose Bowl hopes, rushed for a touchdown.
Chicago leads the all-time regular season series 29-28-1, but San Francisco has won all three playoff meetings and went on to win three of its five Super Bowls at Chicago’s expense (1984, 1988 and 1994). The Bears have not won in San Francisco since a 26-10 win in 1985.