This Sunday marks the final week of football's regular season, and the NFL has lined up each game as a divisional matchup. While 10 of the 12 coveted playoff spots are already locked up, there’s still plenty of interesting story lines to follow on what should be a dramatic conclusion to the regular season.
Here’s a look at Sunday’s top story lines, from coaches under fire and players chasing record to the endless playoff possibilities for seedings and matchups. Next
Record in sight
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a devastating left knee injury on Christmas Eve of last year, but is now on track to break the single-season record for rushing yards.
Peterson is aiming to pass Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 rushing yards for a single season, and needs 208 to pass Dickerson. The Vikings play the Packers this week, and the last time the teams faced each other in Week 13, Peterson rushed 210 yards.
Peterson and the Vikings (9-6) also have a chance to clinch an NFC wild card berth if they win on Sunday. They could also get in with a loss, but only if the Giants, Cowboys and Bears all lose as well. Next
Seahawks flying high
The Seattle Seahawks are on fire. They've won four games this month and are going for a perfect December when they face the Rams Sunday. So far, the Seahawks defeated the Bears 23-17, shut out the Cardinals 58-0, beat the Bills 50-17 and beat the 49ers 42-13.
The last time the Seahawks played the Rams, in Week 1, they lost 19-13. If the Seahawks win and the 49ers lose against the Cardinals, the Seahawks will take the top spot in the NFC West. Next
Jets circus continues
The New York Jets are out of the playoff picture, but nonetheless continue to generate headline after headline. In this final week of the season, who will be playing quarterback is again a hot topic.
After newly appointed starting QB Greg McElroy sustained a concussion during last week's game against San Diego, coach Rex Ryan decided against putting the team's other QB, Tim Tebow, in for the final game of the season. His decision? Give former starter Mark Sanchez another go.
Sanchez had one of his best games of the year during Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, who the Jets are set to play again this Sunday, when Sanchez threw for 266 and three touchdowns.
Tebow, however, was not happy with the decision and stated that he just wants to be a "regular quarterback." Ryan disagreed, saying Tebow would not be ready for the game this weekend and Sanchez, despite his shaky season, would be the better choice. Next
Slim chance for playoffs
The Giants and the Bears are two teams still alive with hopes to see the playoffs, but both need some help.
In order for the Giants to clinch a playoff berth, they not only have to beat Philly, but Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas all have to lose. The Bears have it a little easier. They can clinch if they beat the Lions and Minnesota loses to the Packers. Next
Coach in hot water
Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach Mike Mularkey is under fire for his team's poor performance this season. With a career winning percentage of 34 percent and only two wins under his belt this season, the Jaguars may opt for a coach who can help transform the team in the future.
Monday, known as Black Monday in the NFL because it is often when teams announce firings, could be the end for Mularkey after just one season as Jacksonville’s head coach. Next
End of Norv’s run?
Also in the hot seat is San Diego Chargers' coach Norv Turner. In his six years as head coach, the team has slowly declined, and is 6-9 this season. While they may be second in the AFC West, this is the third season in a row the Chargers have missed the playoffs and they've suffered three consecutive home game TV blackouts.
Reports that Turner will be fired at the end of the season began flying at the beginning of December. It may be that even a convincing victory over the Raiders on Sunday might not be enough to save Turner. Next
NFC East up for grabs
The NFC East divisional title comes down to Sunday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. The last time the Redskins won the division title was in 1999, but their rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III, or RG3, has been electrifying to watch this season and could lead them to their first title in 13 seasons.
Dallas has been up-and-down all season, and its only win over a playoffs-bound opponent was over Cincinnati in Week 14. However, the Cowboys rank sixth in offense and third in passing.
This game was flexed into the prime time Sunday night slot because the winner is guaranteed a playoff spot. The Redskins won the first matchup, 38-31 in Week 12. Next
Dolphins hope to ride their wave
The Miami Dolphins are surging at the end of their season, beating the Jaguars and Bills in their last two games.
The Dolphins are second to the Patriots in the AFC East with a 7-8 record, but they are 1-6 in Foxborough in their last seven December games and already lost to New England once this season, 23-16 in early December in Miami.
However, the Dolphins want to finish with a .500 record, and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel thinks it’s possible.
After being away for three months, Colts coach Chuck Pagano has returned for the final week of the regular season. Pagano took a leave to undergo treatments for leukemia, and he’s now in remission.
The Colts will host the Houston Texans this weekend in a game Patriots fans will watch closely because a Texans loss would position New England to claim a higher seed.
Since losing to the Patriots on Dec. 10, the Texans haven't looked as good as they did earlier in the season. However, when the Colts played Houston two weeks ago, the Texans were able to blow past them 29-17 and secure the AFC South title. Next
Broncos, Manning happy with current seed
A Houston loss and a Denver win would give the top seed in the league to the Broncos. However, if both teams lose and the Patriots win, the Broncos will tumble to third place behind the Patriots and the Texans and miss out on a first-round playoff bye.
Quarterback Peyton Manning said that he didn't care what seed the Broncos had, as long as they continue to improve and grow as a team: "The fact that we have a chance to improve is important to me ... This is another chance to work on something."
Few believe the Broncos will have trouble with the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, who are 2-13. Next
What about New England?
So where does this leave the Patriots for playoff seeding? They could be seeded anywhere from first to fourth.
The Patriots (11-4) would have the third seed behind Houston and Denver (both 12-3) if the season ended as is.
If the Patriots defeat Miami Sunday and Houston and Denver both lose, the Patriots would take the top seed in the AFC and receive home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Houston would be second, Denver third.
The Patriots would get a No. 2 seed if they win and either Denver or Houston wins and the other loses, and would be third if all three teams win Sunday.
If the Patriots lose and the Ravens win, New England will fall into fourth. Back to the beginning
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