The NFL playoffs are on the horizon.
Division races are heating up as the race for the six coveted playoff spots intensifies.
Here’s a look at some of the top stories from an eventful week of action.
VIKINGS PLUNDER ON THANKSGIVING
Don’t look now but the Minnesota Vikings have the second-best record in the NFC and are tied for the second-best record in the NFL. Minnesota’s 9-2 record is improbable because they’re starting their third-string quarterback (Case Keenum), they traded their franchise runningback (Adrian Peterson), and their prized first-round pick at runningback was lost for the season with a knee injury (Dalvin Cook). Despite these challenges, the Vikings sit atop the NFC North on the strength of an impressive 30-23 victory on the road in Detroit. The Vikings have chemistry and a strong defense, so they will be a tough out in the playoffs, especially if they can secure a first-round bye.
CHARGERS SHOCK COWBOYS
The Dallas Cowboys are in free fall without star runningback Ezekiel Elliott. The team that finished 13-3 last year has now lost twice as many games and has failed to score in double digits in three straight games. The Cowboys might’ve hit rock bottom with a 28-6 loss to the Chargers on Thanksgiving. The Eagles have run away with the NFC East and the wildcard is a serious long shot for the Cowboys, but the challenges facing the Cowboys are bigger. There are grumblings the players are disgruntled with head coach Jason Garrett, and serious questions have emerged as to whether or not Dak Prescott is a true franchise quarterback.
L.A. RAMS NEW ORLEANS
The Rams made a big statement by cooling the red-hot New Orleans Saints 26-20. The win brings Los Angeles to 8-3, best in the West, and announces them as a legitimate NFC contender. With the development of quarterback Jared Goff, the Rams now have few weaknesses. Star runningback Todd Gurley is as good as ever, and the defense has improved under the tutelage of defensive guru Wade Phillips. With Seattle facing serious injury concerns to their vaunted “Legion Of Boom” secondary, the Rams are in prime position to seize the division crown from the Seahawks.
BILLS CIRCLE THE WAGONS
The Buffalo Bills averted last week’s crisis of rookie quarterback Nathan Peterman’s five-interception meltdown by returning to starting signal-caller Tyrod Taylor. The move paid off as Taylor led his team to a 16-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead. The victory keeps the Bills alive in the AFC wildcard race and sounds the alarm bells for the Chiefs. After a 5-0 start, Kansas City has now fallen to 6-5. The Chiefs are clinging to a lead in the AFC West, but the Raiders and the surging Chargers are nipping at their heels.
SILVER, BLACK, AND BLUE
The Denver Broncos have thrown in the towel on the season. The team that won the Super Bowl in 2015-16 has now fallen to 3-8 and they’re onto their third-string quarterback. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders might’ve salvaged their season with a 21-14 victory over their hated rivals. The win brings Oakland to 5-6, only one game back of the foundering Chiefs. But that wasn’t the main storyline from this game. An ugly brawl broke out and marred what was otherwise an appropriately intense game.
Broncos and Raiders get into a huge brawl, Crabtree and Talib have been ejected https://t.co/2JFGRCQTdF