NFC Worst, er, East up for grabs
Dallas (7-7), a two-point favorite, can wrap up the NFC East title with a win at Philadelphia (7-7). The Cowboys have won four straight against the Eagles. Coach Jason Garrett is 5-2 against Doug Pederson. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is shooting for his 10th straight 100-plus passer rating within the division.
Texans can claim AFC South in Tampa
With a win at Tampa Bay (7-7) the Texans (9-5) would clinch the AFC South and join Kansas City and New England as the only teams to win four of five divisions titles since 2015. Bucs QB Jameis Winston has thrown 24 INTs with two games to go. If he throws four more, he’d finish tied for 14th-worst all-time.
Steelers have leg up on sixth seed
After all the injuries and upheaval the past two years, the Steelers (8-6) have the inside track on a return to the playoffs. They’re a three-point favorite on the road against a Jets team with nothing to play for. Meanwhile, their main competition for the AFC’s sixth seed, Tennessee (8-6), is a home underdog against a Saints team that’s still playing for home-field advantage in the NFC.
100 NFL SEASONS A LOOK BACK at 1972
Dec. 23, 1972: When this writer was to help NFL Films select the 100 greatest plays in NFL history, No. 1 was the easiest choice of all.
That’s how iconic the “Immaculate Reception” was in the league’s first 100 years and will remain for as long as there is an NFL.
On Dec. 23, 1972, Pittsburgh hosted Oakland in an AFC Divisional playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium. The Steelers won 13-7 on the final play when Franco Harris made a catch that will be forever debated and immortalized because of the controversial elements of the play and the fact there isn’t, to this day, film footage of whether the ball touched the ground before Harris scooped and scored down the left sideline.
Fifteen years before replay review was used in a regular-season game, Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw dropped back and fired the ball toward “Frenchy” Fuqua on fourth-and-10 with only 22 seconds left.
Raiders safety Jack Tatum and Fuqua arrived at the ball simultaneously. Without HD TV, it’s not clear which player the ball hit first. At the time, rules prohibited a forward pass from being caught by an offensive player immediately after it was touched by another offensive player.
The ball shot backward. And in the ensuing footage that’s been shown probably millions of times, Harris bends down to catch the ball. But the camera doesn’t capture whether the ball hits the ground.
The play gave the Steelers their first playoff victory in their 40th season. And although they didn’t reach the Super Bowl that year, the play jump-started a run in which the Steelers won four Super Bowls as the NFL’s Team of the Decade in the 1970s.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
The Ravens are the NFL’s best team. Lamar Jackson is the MVP. But neither is immune from the inevitable NFL pothole. Baltimore has won 10 straight since losing to the Browns at home. It’s favored by 9½ points at Cleveland this week. But the Browns win 31-28 in one of those makes-no-sense NFL games. Last week: Redskins 23, Eagles 16. Result: Eagles 37, Redskins 27. Record: 5-10.