With about six games to go for the majority of the NFL's teams, each division's playoff wars are heating up. While the Bengals, Patriots and Seahawks have their respective divisions in firm standing, there's plenty of intrigue in the rest of the league. The NFC East may be mediocre, but it's made the best story this season.The Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and even the 3-7 Redskins still have a chance to get into the playoffs. The NFC North is also an interesting saga, as the Lions, Bears and Packers are in the middle of a nasty playoff chase. With plenty of football left to be played, the eventual playoff picture is still an unclear one.
Here's What Else We Learned:
Broncos End Chiefs Undefeated Reign: Peyton Manning continued his stellar play with his customary 300-plus yards passing and a touchdown, but it was the usually inconsistent Denver defense that sparkled in a 27-17 win. With three sacks and eight passes defensed, the Shaun Phillips-led Broncos defense was all over Alex Smith and his receiving core.
Big Ben Turns Back the Clock Against Lions: With trade rumors continuing to swirl around him, Ben Roethlisberger threw for four TDs for the second consecutive week in a stunning 37-27 win over the Detroit Lions. Down 27-20 at the half, Big Ben rallied the Steelers for 14 points in the fourth quarter.
The Tale of Two Genos: In the Jets' five wins this season, rookie QB Geno Smith has seven TDs, four interceptions and averages 226.8 yards a game. In the team's five losses, Smith has 12 interceptions and only one TD. This week, Gang Green apparently had enough, as Matt Simms finished the game in the team's 37-14 loss to E.J. Manuel and the Bills. With Mark Sanchez on the shelf and an inconsistent Smith, do the Jets give Simms the ball next week against the Baltimore Ravens?
Schaub and Johnson Squabble in Texans Loss: Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak raised some eyebrows when he replaced stud rookie QB Case Keenum for recently ousted Matt Schaub after Keenum went 13/24 with a TD and INT against the mediocre Raiders. The move didn't exactly inspire the team and by the end of the game, Texans star WR Andre Johnson and Schaub got into a verbal altercation on the sidelines. Kubiak definitely had some explaining to do after the game.
"We had to make a lot of changes from a protection standpoint to handle some of the things they were doing, trying to create some tempo," Kubiak explained after the game. "It made it very tough on Case, in my opinion, being a young player, so I knew Matt could get done some of the things I wanted to get done real fast, and to give us a chance to win the football game. So that's why I did it."
Eagles lead NFC West: Nick Foles threw for 298 yards and LeSean McCoy scored a pair of TDs in a 24-16 win over the Redskins. Now 6-5, the Eagles stand on top of a weak NFC East. But with the Giants surging and Dallas on their tails, how long can Philly hover in first place?
Waiver Pickup Drives Bucs to Win Over Falcons: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two wins this season and RB Bobby Rainey, a cast-off from the Cleveland Browns the team picked up on waivers a few weeks ago, has played a key role in both. After a TD in his debut with the team last week - a 22-19 win over Miami, Rainey had three TDs and 163 yards rushing in a 41-28 win over the slumping Falcons - with star RB Doug Martin injured, Rainey has gone from the practice squad to first string and doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
The Giants Stay Hot: Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers were easy pickings for a Giants defense that continues to make big plays. Jason Pierre-Paul's 24-yard interception for a TD in the fourth quarter capped a 27-13 win that put them right back in the NFC East playoff hunt. Although questions remain in regards to their offense, especially Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs, the Giants continue to find ways to win.