Is the AFC playoff picture any clearer? Just a little.
Nine teams went into Week 13 within one game of each other in the race for the second conference wild card. That number is down to seven. Baltimore at 6-6 is the leader in the clubhouse ahead of Miami (6-6) on the basis of a head-to-head win over the Dolphins.
Next come four teams at 5-7 – the New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and San Diego, all Week 13 losers. Off the bubble for now are the Bills and Cleveland Browns, who both dropped to 4-8 with losses Sunday.
In the NFC, Philadelphia and Dallas are still tied for the East Division lead while Chicago fell a game behind Detroit in the North with an overtime loss at Minnesota. Carolina or New Orleans out of the South and San Francisco in the West lead the NFC wild-card race, so it looks like only one team each from the NFC East and NFC North will make the postseason.
Game of the day
Broncos 35, Chiefs 28
The scoop: Peyton Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, four of them to Eric Decker, and Denver (10-2) held off a furious rally by Kansas City (9-3) to take the lead in the AFC West. Decker had eight catches for a career-high 174 yards. Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs, and capped a 17-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game to close within a touchdown. KC’s last threat ended when Alex Smith’s pass to Dwayne Bowe on fourth and 4 with 1:45 left was broken up in the end zone.
Why the Broncos won: After Kansas City built a 21-7 lead, it went five straight series without scoring again, sure trouble against Manning & Co.
On the bubble
Eagles 24, Cardinals 21
The scoop: Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and the Eagles held on for their fourth straight victory and tied Dallas for first place. Arizona’s Carson Palmer threw for 302 yards and three TDs, but also had two interceptions and lost a fumble as the Cardinals had their four-game winning streak snapped. Foles finished 21 of 34 for 237 yards and set a team record for most passes without an interception (233), breaking Michael Vick’s mark of 224 set in 2010. He also moved within one TD pass of tying Peyton Manning’s mark of 20 and zero interceptions to start a season.
Why the Eagles won: Philadelphia never trailed and had a 3-0 advantage in turnovers.
Vikings 23, Bears 20 (OT)
The scoop: Blair Walsh’s 34-yard field goal with 1:43 left in overtime won it after each side missed kicks in the extra period. Adrian Peterson (35 carries,, 211 yards) had two 11-yard runs on the final drive to get Walsh within range.
Why the Vikings won: Chicago led, 20-10, late in the third quarter but couldn’t score again.
Colts 22, Titans 14
The scoop: Adam Vinatieri tied his career high with five field goals, including a 49-yarder to give the Colts the lead for good late in the third quarter. Donald Brown scored on a 4-yard run with 1:56 left, giving Indianapolis a three-game lead in the AFC South with four to play. Vinatieri, the league’s oldest kicker (40), also made field goals of 47, 48, 45 and 37 yards.
Why the Colts won: Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick had four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble) in Tennessee territory, leading to six points by the Colts.
Off the bubble
Giants 24, Redskins 17
The scoop: Eli Manning completed 22 of 28 passes for 235 yards, and Justin Tuck had four sacks to help shut down Robert Griffin III in the second half of the New York victory. Andre Brown had a pair of touchdown runs, including a 1-yarder early in the fourth quarter that put the Giants ahead for good. Griffin was 16 for 17 at halftime, but he went 8 for 15 in the second half.
Why the Giants won: The Redskins managed only 95 total yards after halftime.
Bengals 17, Chargers 10
The scoop: Andy Dalton threw a go-ahead, 21-yard touchdown pass to wide-open A.J. Green late in the third quarter for AFC North-leading Cincinnati. The Bengals (8-4), coming off their bye, kept a two-game lead over Baltimore.
Why the Bengals won: They twice took the ball away after the Chargers had driven into at least field-goal range, once in each half.
Panthers 27, Buccaneers 6
The scoop: Cam Newton threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in the Panthers’ franchise-record eighth straight regular-season victory. The Panthers outgained the Buccaneers, 426-206. The victory sets up a huge showdown next Sunday night against New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line. Carolina sacked rookie Mike Glennon four times as it snapped the Bucs’ three-game winning streak.
Why the Panthers won: Tampa Bay converted only 1 of 10 third downs. The Bucs were driving for the lead when they lost a fumble at the Carolina 4 in the second quarter. Carolina scored 17 points on its next three two possessions to take charge.
Patriots 34, Texans 31
The scoop: Tom Brady threw for 371 yards and two scores, and Stephen Gostkowski made two long field goals in the fourth quarter for New England as the Texans’ franchise-record skid reached 10 games. Gary Kubiak coached from the sideline for the first time since suffering a mini-stroke Nov. 3. He missed one game before working the last two games from the booth. The Patriots trailed by 10 at halftime and the lead changed five times in a wild second half. New England tied it with a 53-yard field goal and took a 34-31 lead with another one from 53 with about three minutes left. Ben Tate ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns for the Texans.
Why the Patriots won: New England had zero penalties and touchdown drives of 78, 73 and 81 yards in the second half.
Jaguars 32, Browns 28
The scoop: Cecil Shorts caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne with 40 seconds left to win it. On third and 9, Henne lofted a perfect pass to the left corner for Shorts, who had beaten cornerback Joe Haden. It was a dream moment for Shorts, who grew up in Cleveland. Henne drove the Jaguars (3-9) 80 yards in nine plays for the winning TD. The Browns had taken a 28-25 lead on Brandon Weeden’s 95-yard TD pass to Josh Gordon with 3:55 remaining. Gordon returned from a head injury and finished with 10 catches for a team-record 261 yards. Gordon is the first player in NFL history to have consecutive 200-yard games. He had 237 in a loss last week against Pittsburgh.
Why the Jaguars won: Jacksonville converted three Browns turnovers into 13 points in the second quarter.
49ers 23, Rams 13
The scoop: Anquan Boldin caught nine passes from Colin Kaepernick, who went 19 of 28 for 275 yards for the Niners. Michael Crabtree had a 60-yard catch in his first game back after Achilles surgery.
Why the 49ers won: The Rams managed only 73 total yards in the first half.
Dog of the day
Dolphins 23, Jets 3
The scoop: Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns for Miami, which played with more of a sense of urgency while sending the Jets to their third straight loss. New York quarterback Geno Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms after a dismal first half. Smith was 4 for 10 for 29 yards with an interception and an 8.3 quarterback rating before being replaced.
Why the Dolphins won: They limited New York to 10 first downs and only 2 conversions in 12 third-downs.
News wire services contributed to this report.