NFL: Wild finish ahead as teams fight for playoff spots

Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:03pm EST
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - The National Football League's playoff picture will come into sharper focus following the penultimate weekend of the regular season where 19 teams remain in the hunt for a postseason berth.

The playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts (9-5) have secured a division title while the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs have also secured postseason spots, leaving eight berths available.

Everything else is up for grabs in an action-packed Week 16 that ends on Monday with the San Francisco 49ers (10-4) looking to clinch a trip to the postseason with a win over the visiting Atlanta Falcons (4-10).

Nowhere is the race for the playoffs tighter than in the NFC North where the Chicago Bears (8-6), Green Bay Packers (7-6-1) and Detroit Lions (7-7) are battling for a division crown that is likely to go down to the wire.

Chicago can clinch the division and secure a playoff berth with a road win over the Philadelphia Eagles combined with losses by Detroit and Green Bay.

The Lions host a New York Giants (5-9) team that cannot make the postseason while the Pittsburgh Steelers, clinging to ever-so faint playoff hopes, visit the Packers.

Green Bay's playoff push would receive a massive boost if All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers can return to the lineup after missing six games with a broken collarbone.

With Rodgers looking on from the sidelines last Sunday, the Packers rallied from a 23-point halftime deficit behind four touchdown passes from backup Matt Flynn to defeat Dallas 37-36 and remain in the post-season chase.   Continued...

Dec 15, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) catches the ball for a touchdown during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports