By Matt Staub
This past week in the NFL featured several close games that had major impacts on the playoff races.
Games started Thursday with the traditional Thanksgiving games.
The Lions defeated the Vikings in a close-fought game. Lions kicker Matt Prater knocked in the game-winning field goal as time expired. The 16-13 victory gave the Lions the lead in the NFC North division.
While some may have been eating Thanksgiving dinner, the Cowboys defeated the Redskins, 31-26. The Cowboys’ offense seemed to dominate all game. In the first half, Ezekiel Elliott, the league’s leading rusher, was mostly held in check. In the second half, he was able to reel off a 21-yard run and a 19-yard catch. The Redskins’ offense also came to life in the second half. Quarterback Kirk Cousins spread the ball around to his various weapons and nearly led the Redskins back to victory. In the end, the Redskins’ defense could not stop the Cowboys when they needed to.
In the Thursday night game, the Steelers defeated an Indianapolis Colts team without its superstar quarterback, Andrew Luck, due to injury. The win has the Steelers tied with the Ravens for the lead in the AFC North division. However, the Ravens own the tiebreaker with a head-to-head win over the Steelers.
Another key victory was the Chiefs’ Sunday night overtime win against the Broncos. The Chiefs won after Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak chose to have his kicker try a 62-yard field goal. The kick was missed and the Chiefs were given a short field, which they took advantage of and kicked the game-winning field goal.
The win improved the Chiefs to 8-3 on the season and dropped the Broncos to 7-4. The victory also moves the Chiefs to second place in the AFC West division behind the Raiders, who stand at 9-2 on the season. There is a chance that all three teams could wind up in the playoffs.
The current division leaders in the AFC are the Patriots, Raiders, Ravens and Texans. If the playoffs started today, the two wild card teams would be the Chiefs and the Dolphins. In the NFC, the division leaders are the Cowboys, Seahawks, Lions and Falcons.
The two wild card teams would be the Giants and Redskins.
This coming weekend will feature several key matchups between teams in the playoff hunt.
One of the most anticipated games will be the Steelers hosting the Giants. Both teams will be battling for a playoff spot, and the game will feature two of the league’s best wide receivers, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr.
Another game to watch is the Chiefs taking on the Falcons in Atlanta. The Chiefs’ solid defense will try and slow down the Falcons’ high-powered offense led by MVP-candidate quarterback Matt Ryan.
With the playoff contenders starting to emerge, the season is getting more exciting and games are becoming even more meaningful.