Five teams booked their places in the NFL play-offs on Sunday leaving just four spots up for grabs as the Buffalo Bills secured their best campaign for 20 years while the New England Patriots booked their annual trip to the post-season.
A tough 17-10 victory at the Pittsburgh Steelers gave the Bills their first 10-win season since 1999, but more importantly saw them qualify for the play-offs for the second time in three years.
Quarterback Josh Allen capped an impressive fourth-quarter drive with a touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft, and the Bills defence did the rest to move them on to 10-4 for the season.
They’re also not totally out of the running for what would be a shock AFC East title as they face the Patriots next week with still a slim hope of pipping Tom Brady’s men to the division.
The Patriots had suffered successive defeats but bounced back with a dominant 34-13 victory at the lowly Cincinnati Bengals to seal their now regular trip to the play-offs. The reigning Super Bowl champions have now made the post-season a remarkable 11 straight seasons.
Brady has been under the microscope of late but he also responded with two touchdown passes, taking him to within one of the NFL career record.
This now famed Patriots defence, which is reaching almost historic levels, also filled their boots, notably cornerback Stephon Gilmore who had two interceptions – one of which he took all the way to the house for a 64-yard score.
The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers both made it to the play-offs despite differing results – as the Seahawks beat Carolina 30-24 while the Niners slipped to a shock 29-22 defeat against Atlanta.
Seattle and San Francisco are now both on 11-3 for the season, will play in what looks like being a monumental clash in the final week of the season with the NFC West title likely on the line.
Winning that game could be the difference between being the top seed in the NFC (a spot Seattle now surprisingly holds), which comes with a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the play-offs and finishing fifth or sixth.
Fifth or sixth seeds in the play-offs have to play an extra game, in the wildcard round, and most likely three games away from home to make it all the way to the Super Bowl.
The Green Bay Packers booked their play-off spot with a 21-13 victory over divisional rivals Chicago at Lambeau Field, and that win over the Bears moves them a step closer to the NFC North title.
Aaron Jones ran in two touchdowns and Davante Adams caught one from Aaron Rodgers as Green Bay start to look strong again heading into the crucial part of the season.
Home field advantage at Lambeau would be a significant boost.
NFL Week 15 results
- New York Jets 21-42 Baltimore Ravens
- Seattle Seahawks 30-24 Carolina Panthers
- New England Patriots 34-13 Cincinnati Bengals
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38-17 Detroit Lions
- Chicago Bears 13-21 Green Bay Packers
- Denver Broncos 3-23 Kansas City Chiefs
- Miami Dolphins 20-36 New York Giants
- Buffalo Bills 17-10 Pittsburgh Steelers
- Houston Texans 24-21 Tennessee Titans
- Philadelphia Eagles 37-27 Washington Redskins
- Cleveland Browns 24-38 Arizona Cardinals
- Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16 Oakland Raiders
- Los Angeles Rams 21-44 Dallas Cowboys
- Atlanta Falcons 29-22 San Francisco 49ers
- Minnesota Vikings 39-10 Los Angeles Chargers
Monday December 16
- Indianapolis Colts @ New orleans Saints
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