By Tony McClean
Updated: December 20, 2007
NEW HAVEN, Ct. — With two weeks to go, the battle for playoff berths is still full-tilt. Entering Thursday’s game, seven clubs have made the playoffs, all by winning their divisions.
Nine teams are vying for the remaining five playoff spots. All told, 16 clubs are in contention for Super Bowl XLII with two weeks to go.
Of course, a team that has done just that — win every week — can add to that string this week. Team Tivo (aka the 14-0 New England Patriots) can become the first team in history to win the first 15 games of a season when they host the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots also can tie the NFL record they set in 2003-04 of 18 consecutive regular-season victories. New England won its final three games of 2006.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK
The Patriots (7-0) and Cowboys (6-0) are undefeated and untied on the road this season. With three victories (Cowboys at Carolina, 12/22 and at Washington, 12/30; Patriots at N.Y. Giants, 12/29), it would mark only the fourth time in history that two teams went undefeated and untied on the road and the first time since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.
The 523 points the Patriots have scored through the first 15 weeks have come on 67 touchdowns, the third highest total in NFL history. What team holds the record for the most TD’s in a single season?
A. 1998 Vikings
B. 1994 49ers
C. 1984 Dolphins
D. 2000 Rams
(The answer comes at the end of this column).
LAST WEEK: 9-6 (124-79 overall)
While we took a hit with the Cowboys, Cardinals, and Giants, but we did warn you about the Jags and we might have been the only place in the country that had the Dolphins’ first win. Overall, not a bad week as we head down the stretch. I can’t complain and I won’t.
COWBOYS at PANTHERS
So Tony Romo may have a boo-boo on his thumb and Roy Williams will be out because of his Urban Cowboy impersonation, but the Dallas media is all hot and bothered about the “feud” between T.O. and Jessica Simpson?? Way to focus on the major issues, fellas!! You wanna talk about Wade Phillips’ hair while we’re at it? The clueless media folks in Big D may wanna focus on the field Saturday night because the Panthers are mathematically still in the playoff hunt. A loss in Charlotte Saturday night could lead to the road of the NFC title game to Lambeau. Will Dallas win? They should, but not without a fight.
GIANTS at BILLS
While there are several playoff implications in this “Battle Of New York”, the real story in Buffalo on Sunday will be before the game. Bills tight end Kevin Everett is slated to make an appearance at Ralph Wilson Stadium in what should be a very emotional day for fans and players alike. Everett’s incredible recovery from an severe Week One injury in arguably one of the biggest stories (sports or otherwise) ever witnessed. You don’t need me to tell you that this is bigger than any game, however given the backdrop of the contest, we have to pick a winner. While the Giants need to stay in the playoff race with a win, I think the Bills will be inspired by No. 85.
EAGLES at SAINTS
What a difference a few months can make. When these two teams met at the Dome back in January, the Saints were riding the wave of a magical season while Philly was trying figure out if Jeff Garcia was going to be the heir apparent to Donovan McNabb. On Sunday, the now playoff eliminated Eagles are looking to knock the Saints out of the playoff picture. New Orleans bounced back from an 0-4 start with four straight wins before losing three of their next four. They’ve rebounded with a three-game winning streak heading into Sunday. Can they keep it up. Sniff, sniff. I smell an upset.
REDSKINS at VIKINGS
For those of you won’t be knee deep in wraping presents on Sunday night, a pretty decent game will be played at the Metrodome on NBC. With a win, the Purple Gang can they eliminate the Redskins (and Carolina) from postseason play, making their path to the playoffs much easier. Also, if the Saints lose to Philly earlier Sunday, the Vikings would clinch a playoff spot with a victory. If the Redskins win, both teams still have a shot, but the Redskins would have the upper hand. Sorry about that, but that’s a simple as I can put it. As for the game, I’ve got to go with the home team.
BRONCOS at CHARGERS
Needing to win their final two games to secure the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs and the chance to avoid New England until the conference championship game, the Bolts go for their fifth straight victory when they host Denver on Monday night. While they’ve been up and down most of the season, San Diego seems to be peaking at the right time. After a 1-3 start, a 41-3 win at Denver in October got them started with their turnaround. San Diego has won eight of 10, including a 51-14 rout of Detroit last week that gave them (9-5) their third AFC West title in the last four seasons. Denver may keep it close, but I think San Diego will pull it out.
Patriots over Dolphins: By the way, the over-under for when the Tuna takes over as Miami’s head coach is Week 7 of the 2009 season.
Browns over Bengals: Cincy’s just getting the way of Cleveland’s incredible ride.
Colts over Texans: If this were in Texas, Indy would be in jail for child abuse.
Titans over Jets: Tennessee needs to win out and lots of help to get that last playoff spot.
Packers over Bears: As a public service, Dallas fans are giving Jessica Simpson a ticket to Soldier Field and a pink No. 4 jersey.
Jaguars over Raiders: The Silver and Black will keep in close, but in the end they’ll just be black and blue.
Chiefs over Lions: Oh, well……So much for that 10-win season in Motown.
Cardinals over Falcons: Because someone has to win.
Bucs over 49ers: Is Tampa the league’s most unappreciated division champion this season?
Seahawks over Ravens: Seattle bounces back against this bad and beaten up club.
C. With four touchdowns Sunday, the Patriots can surpass the 1984 Dolphins (70) for the most touchdowns in a season all-time.