While the entire country was stuck in a deep freeze this weekend, the NFL playoff races were red hot. Wins by the Dolphins, Jets and Chargers assure fans of a continually interesting playoff race in the AFC, while injuries to Wes Welker, Tyrann-Mathieu, Adrian Peterson and Rob Gronkowski leave lineup questions for several NFL teams with less than a handful of games left to play.
Here's What Else We Learned:
Dolphins, Jets, Chargers Stay in AFC Wild Card Hunt With Huge Wins: Ryan Tannenhill led the 7-6 Dolphins with three TDs and the Miami defense (in spite of coughing up a 10-point lead) held on in a 34-28 win that ties them for the final wild card spot with the Baltimore Ravens. After being benched last week in favor of Matt Simms, Jets QB Geno Smith fired back with a two-TD performance and got help from RB Chris Ivory in a 37-27 win over the Raiders. Three TDs from Philip Rivers and 103 yards on the ground from Ryan Matthews helped earn the Chargers a win over the struggling Giants. A week after one of his best games of the season, Giants QB Eli Manning returned back to Earth with a 259-yard two-interception performance. Both 6-7 with three games left to play, the Jets and Chargers still have realistic hopes at postseason play.
Pats Lose Gronkowski, Sneak Past Browns: Tom Brady (418 yards passing) led the Patriots to a smooth 27-26 come from behind win over the Browns, but with Rob Gronkowski's possible ACL tear, New England will have questions that need to be addressed at the TE position the rest of the season.
Eagles Run All Over Lions in Snow-Covered Win: Nick Foles threw his first interception of the season, but LeSean McCoy supported him with a franchise record 217-yard day on the ground in a solid 34-20 win. With the win, Philadelphia has possession of first place in the NFC East, with the Cowboys scheduled for a Monday Night match-up with the Chicago Bears.
Prater, Manning Destroy Titans: Prater kicked an NFL record 64-yard FG in the second quarter and Manning added four TDs and 397 yards through the air. Like the Patriots, the Broncos lost a key facet of their offense, as Wes Welker went down with his second concussion in a month. Now 11-2, Denver has a one-game lead over the Chiefs in the AFC West.
Chiefs Reclaim Winning Ways in 45-10 Drubbing Over Skins: Jamaal Charles ran for 151 yards, Alex Smith threw for two TDs and the Chiefs defense limited the Skins offense to just 65 yards rushing. The game had polarizing effects on both teams. Now 10-3 the Chiefs stay atop the wild card chase, while at 3-10, the Redskins may be in the middle of a coaching change.
Dalton Outduels Luck in Bengals Win: Both Andy Dalton and Andrew Luck had four TDs, but the Bengals defense limited Trent Richardson to just 20 yards on the ground in a 42-28 win that keeps the Bengals perfect at home this season and in first place in the AFC North.
Abraham and Cardinals Flying High: Larry Fitzgerald had 12 catches and John Abraham had three sacks in a win that essentially ends the Rams season and keeps Arizona in NFC playoff contention. The Cardinals first win against an NFC West opponent since 2012's season opener, the team had little time to celebrate as rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu went down with a possible ACL injury.
Ravens Hold on to AFC Wild card Spot with Final Second Heroics: The Ravens sure do make things interesting. The reigning Super Bowl champions ended up victorious after the inconsistent Joe Flacco hurled a TD pass to undrafted rookie WR Marlon Brown with just four seconds left to beat the struggling Vikings 29-26, who lost star RB Adrian Peterson earlier in the game. At 7-6, the Ravens have been far from stellar, but have somehow found a way to hold on to the final wild card spot in the AFC.