Star quarterbacks led their respective teams to NFL postseason slots or division titles in the penultimate week of the NFL regular season.
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton led their respective squads to crucial wins Sunday, and they will use the final week to scout their probable playoff opponents going into Week 17— or their final games before the NFL postseason begins.
Brady passed for 172 yards and 1 touchdown to lead the New England Patriots in a 41-7 blowout win over the Baltimore Ravens on the road.
The win clinched the AFC East for the Patriots and could be costly for the Ravens, which is now outside the playoff picture tied with the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers with an 8-7 win loss card.
The Dolphins, which faces the New York Jets next Sunday holds the tiebreak edge over the Ravens (vs. Cincinnati Bengals) and the Chargers (vs. Kansas City Chiefs).
Meanwhile, Manning also gave the Denver Broncos the division crown. They defeated the Houston Texans, 37-to-13 on the road to clinch the AFC West. Manning set the new NFL record for total touchdowns in a regular season (51) in the game after finishing with four scores (400 passing yards, 32-of-51 attempts).
Also, Newton of the Carolina Panthers led his team with a close 17-13 win over rivals New Orleans Saints after delivering a late touchdown to clinch the playoff spot and the NFC South.
If the NFL Playoffs Started Today:
AFC Playoff Picture
(1) Denver Broncos
(2) New England Patriots
(3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. (6) Miami Dolphins
(4) Indianapolis Colts vs. (5) Kansas City Chiefs
NFC Playoff Picture
(1) Seattle Seahawks
(2) Carolina Panthers
(3) Philadelphia Eagles vs. (6) New Orleans Saints
(4) Chicago Bears vs. (5) San Francisco 49ers
Then again, Week 17 games still have major implications on not only playoff positioning but also who makes the final cast in the NFL postseason. Five teams-- Ravens, Chargers in the AFC and the Cardinals, Cowboys and Packers in the NFC are still in the hunt.
To contact the editor, e-mail: