AFC playoff lineup all set

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AFC playoff lineup all set

All set in the AFC, except for the matchups.

As for the NFC playoff race, there's still plenty of intrigue.

Indianapolis finished off its remarkable one-year turnaround by beating Kansas City 20-13 Sunday to grab an AFC wild card. The Colts went 2-14 in 2011, drafted Andrew Luck first overall and now are 10-5.

``We were a confident locker room from Day 1,'' Luck said. ``I remember going in trying to gauge the feel of what it would be like, and guys were confident. There are guys on this team who have never missed a playoff, those guys know how to win, and I think they imparted that on the younger guys in the locker room, and I think it worked out.''

Cincinnati made the playoffs for the second straight year, the first time the Bengals managed that since 1982. They beat archrival Pittsburgh 13-10 on Josh Brown's 43-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining.

The Bengals have been around since 1968. This is the first time they'll make the postseason in two straight non-strike years.

``I know they just think that there's some complex; there's no complex, you've just got to come play and win,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``This group in there has very little history of anything.''

Baltimore clinched the AFC North by routing the New York Giants 33-14. Houston owns the South even though it lost to Minnesota 23-6. Denver has the West and won its 10th in a row by romping over Cleveland 34-12. New England is the East champion and beat Jacksonville 23-16.

As for the NFC, Seattle's 42-13 victory over San Francisco muddled the West, but earned the Seahawks at least a wild card. The 49ers lead the division by a half-game and have clinched a postseason berth.

North winner Green Bay's 55-7 rout of Tennessee moved it up to the second seed behind South champion Atlanta. The Falcons have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs after defeating Detroit 31-18 on Saturday night.

The East lead belongs to Washington thanks to a 27-20 win at Philadelphia, while the Giants fell to the Ravens and Dallas was beaten 34-31 in overtime by New Orleans. The Redskins and Cowboys meet next Sunday, with the winner taking the division.

Washington also can get a wild card, as can New York, but the defending Super Bowl champion Giants need lots of help.

Chicago's 28-13 victory at Arizona kept it in the wild-card chase.

Also Sunday, it was St. Louis 28, Tampa Bay 13; Miami 24, Buffalo 10; San Diego 27, the New York Jets 17; and Carolina 17, Oakland 6.

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COLTS 20, CHIEFS 13

At Kansas City, Mo., Luck threw for 205 yards to break the single-season rookie record, and his touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne late in the fourth quarter put Indianapolis in the playoffs.

Luck surpassed Cam Newton's year-old record of 4,051 yards passing by a rookie in the second quarter, and then came through in the closing minutes. He marched Indy to the Chiefs 7, then found Wayne in the back of the end zone on third-and-goal for the go-ahead score.

It was the seventh time Luck has rallied his team to victory in the fourth quarter.

Darius Butler returned an interception 32 yards for a TD in helping the Colts (10-5) join the 2008 Miami Dolphins as the only NFL teams to win at least 10 games after losing 14 or more the previous season. The Chiefs are 2-13.

BENGALS 13, STEELERS 10

At Pittsburgh, Brown missed a 56-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter, but earned a second chance when Reggie Nelson picked off Ben Roethlisberger and returned it to the Pittsburgh 46 with 14 seconds remaining. Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green for 21 yards on the next play, setting up Brown's winner.

Dalton completed 24 of 41 for 278 yards and two interceptions for the Bengals (9-6), who snapped a five-game losing streak to Pittsburgh (7-8).

SEAHAWKS 42, 49ERS 13

At Seattle, Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes to move into second place for TD passes by a rookie. Marshawn Lynch scored twice in front of Seattle's rocking crowd.

Wilson threw TDs to Lynch, Anthony McCoy and two in the second half to Doug Baldwin to give him 25 for the season, one shy of Peyton Manning's record of 26. Lynch added 111 yards rushing and a 24-yard TD run on Seattle's opening drive that set the tone.

Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a touchdown and added an interception for the Seahawks (10-5).

Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers (10-4-1) struggled with the deafening noise echoing around CenturyLink Field, making for a miserable 49th birthday for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.

REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 20

At Philadelphia, the Redskins are on the brink of their first division title in 13 years.

Rookie Robert Griffin III threw two touchdown passes in his first game back from a knee injury and Kai Forbath set the NFL record for consecutive field goals to begin a career.

Nick Foles drove the Eagles to the Washington 5 before his intentional grounding penalty ended the game.

The Redskins (9-6) have won six in a row. They haven't reached the playoffs since 2007.

Trying to play spoiler, the Eagles (4-11) fell short in what could've been Andy Reid's last game coaching the team at home. Reid is unlikely to return to Philadelphia for his 15th season next year.

SAINTS 34, COWBOYS 31, OT

At Arlington, Texas, Garrett Hartley kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime. Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three touchdowns and led a drive to the winning kick. The Saints lucked out before the winning kick when a fumble by Marques Colston rolled forward about 20 yards to the Dallas 2. Jimmy Graham recovered.

The Cowboys (8-7) lost despite rallying for two touchdowns in the final 3:35 of regulation. Tony Romo, who threw for 416 yards and four scores, hit Miles Austin for the tying touchdown with 15 seconds left in regulation.

The playoff hopes for the Saints (7-8) ended with Minnesota's win against Houston.

RAVENS 33, GIANTS 14

At Baltimore, Joe Flacco threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns as Baltimore won the AFC North.

The Ravens (10-5) led 24-7 at halftime and cruised to the finish behind a short-handed defense that harassed quarterback Eli Manning and limited New York (8-7) to 186 yards.

Baltimore amassed a season-high 533 yards, 289 in the first half. The victory ended a three-game skid for the Ravens.

VIKINGS 23, TEXANS 6

At Houston, Adrian Peterson rushed for 86 yards, falling far short of the 2,000-yard mark.

Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass, Toby Gerhart added a score and Blair Walsh kicked three field goals for Minnesota (9-6).

The loss kept the Texans (12-3) from clinching home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. They failed to score a TD for the first time in six years.

Peterson had his lowest rushing total since getting 79 yards on Oct. 14 in a loss at Washington. He has 1,898 this season and needs 208 yards to break the NFL single-season rushing record held by Eric Dickerson.

BRONCOS 34, BROWNS 12

At Denver, Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes for the 72nd time of his career. Manning finished with 339 yards on 30-for-43 passing.

Von Miller was in on two sacks for the Broncos (12-3), the second of which knocked Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden out of the game with a right shoulder injury.

If Denver defeats Kansas City at home next week and Houston loses at Indianapolis, the Broncos would be the AFC's top seed.

PACKERS 55, TITANS 7

At Green Bay, Wis., Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, Ryan Grant scored twice and Randall Cobb set a single-season franchise record for net yardage.

The victory ensured the Packers (11-4) will at least be the NFC's No. 3 seed, but currently are No. 2. It was the first time the Packers have scored more than 50 points since 2005.

Jake Locker was sacked seven times and picked off twice, and Tennessee (5-10) scored with 1:39 left to avoid the shutout.

BEARS 28, CARDINALS 13

At Glendale, Ariz., Chicago's defense scored two touchdowns.

Charles Tillman returned an interception 10 yards for a score, the third pick he's brought back for a touchdown this season and the eighth overall by Chicago, one shy of the NFL record. Zack Bowman returned a fumble 1 yard for another Bears score.

Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 68 yards and a TD, breaking the franchise record for yards receiving in a season.

Chicago (9-6) snapped a three-game slide and won for just the second time in seven tries. The Cardinals (5-10) lost for the 10th time in 11 games.

PATRIOTS 23, JAGUARS 16

At Jacksonville, Fla., Tom Brady overcame a rough start by throwing two touchdown passes. Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter, the second helping the Jaguars (2-13) build a 10-0 lead.

But the Jaguars faded in the third quarter for the fourth consecutive week, lost for the 11th time in the last 12 games and set a franchise record for defeats in a season.

Brady hooked up with Wes Welker for a 2-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots (11-4) ahead 23-13.

FALCONS 31, LIONS 18

At Detroit on Saturday night, Matt Ryan matched a career high with four touchdown passes, two to Roddy White.

The Falcons (13-2) pulled away with Ryan's fourth TD pass to Michael Palmer in the fourth quarter.

Detroit (4-11) dropped its seventh straight game.

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's NFL single-season yards receiving mark of 1,848. He also became the first player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and the first with 10 receptions in four games in a row.

RAMS 28, BUCCANEERS 13

At Tampa, Sam Bradford tossed a pair of touchdown passes and rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins scored his fourth TD of the season.

Bradford connected with Lance Kendricks on an 80-yard scoring play and the Rams (7-7-1) intercepted Josh Freeman four times, turning three of the turnovers into TDs. Jenkins' pick and 41-yard return came in the second quarter.

Steven Jackson rushed for 81 yards and one TD, moving within 10 yards of reaching 1,000 for the eighth consecutive season for the Rams. Tampa Bay fell to 6-9 after its fifth straight loss.

DOLPHINS 24, BILLS 10

At Miami, Reggie Bush caught two touchdown passes and scored on a short run.

Six minutes after they won, the Dolphins (7-8) were eliminated from playoff contention when Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh.

The Bills (5-10) came into the game assured of missing the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year.

Bush's first TD catches of the season covered 17 and 12 yards.

CHARGERS 27, JETS 17

At East Rutherford, N.J., San Diego sacked Greg McElroy 11 times, ruining the quarterback's first NFL start, and Philip Rivers threw two touchdown passes.

McElroy, the third-stringer starting for the benched Mark Sanchez, moved the offense for the Jets (6-9) early but faced pressure all game.

With a chance to get New York back into it with less than 5 minutes remaining, McElroy was sacked by Shaun Phillips and lost the ball. Phillips recovered and San Diego (6-9) sealed the win.

Rivers had touchdown tosses of 37 yards to Danario Alexander and 34 yards to Antonio Gates.

PANTHERS 17, RAIDERS 6

At Charlotte, N.C., Cam Newton threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and ran for 60 yards and another score as Carolina won for the fourth time in its last five games.

The Panthers (6-9) held the Raiders (4-11) to 189 total yards and 12 first downs in a game featuring several shoving matches, plenty of heated exchanges and six unnecessary roughness penalties - including one that sidelined Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer for the day.

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Five Ravens worth watching at OTA's open to media

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Five Ravens worth watching at OTA's open to media

The Ravens began OTA’s on Tuesday, but will hold their first workout open to the media on Thursday. While some key players are still rehabbing from injuries, here are five players expected to be on the field worth paying close attention to:

Dennis Pitta, TE – As he continues his comeback from a second serious hip injury, Pitta could cause a pleasant problem for the Ravens, who are well-stocked at tight end. If Pitta makes it back, how will playing time be divided among Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Ben Watson? That doesn’t even include Nick Boyle, who will start the season serving a 10-game suspension for his second PED violation. Figuring out who stays, and who plays, could be difficult.

Breshad Perriman, WR – He didn’t play a snap as a rookie, making Perriman’s 2015 knee injury one of the most disappointing developments of 2015. Perriman’s blow-by speed was impressive during OTA’s last year, before his injury on the first day of training camp. The Ravens need Perriman to trust his knee, and to stay healthy throughout the summer into Week 1.

Will Davis, CB – The Ravens traded for him last season, but he promptly tore his ACL in October. The starting spot at corner opposite Jimmy Smith is wide open, with Shareece Wright and Jerraud Powers among those vying for it. But if Davis is healthy again, don’t sleep on his potential to help the Ravens’ secondary.

Lardarius Webb, S – Making the full-time position switch from corner to safety presents a new challenge for Webb, entering his eighth NFL season. The Ravens are confident Webb has the ball skills and experience to make a smooth transition. But getting more reps under his belt this offseason is probably more important for Webb than in previous years.

Matt Elam, S – The Ravens declined to pick up the fifth-year option for Elam, a first-round pick in 2013. Making the roster is no guarantee for Elam, who missed the entire 2015 season with a torn triceps. If Webb is ever going to be a consistent contributor for the Ravens, it needs to happen quickly.

AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

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AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

Here’s a key AFC North question. Will Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell stay healthy?

Bell is without question one of the league’s most talented backs. However, knee injuries have ended his season the past two years, leaving the Steelers without him when they were eliminated from the playoffs.

De’Angelo Williams did a superb job in place of Bell last season, rushing for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns. But Bell is a better pass receiver and more elusive – capable of turning almost any play in to a big play. In 2014, Bell had over 2,000 yards combined from scrimmage – 1,316 yards rushing and 854 yards receiving.

Bell doesn’t want to be labeled as injury-prone, yet some people already view him that way. But at Steelers OTA’s, Bell showed up looking healthy, while vowing not to run cautiously next season.

“I’m going to be physical,” Bell told ESPN.com. “I’m out here with no knee brace or anything, didn’t wear a sleeve or anything. I’ve been training my knee for everything I’m about to go through, so when September gets here I’ll be even better than I am now. That’s even crazy to think about. But I’m excited.”

When Bell has been healthy, putting up numbers has not been a problem. The more Bell plays next season, the better the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

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Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

If the NFL had an All-Academic team, Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel would be on it.

In February, Urschel began the Ph.D program in mathematics at MIT. How’s he doing so far? Here’s a hint. When it comes to grades, Urschel is only familiar with one letter in the alphabet.

“My first semester in school in nearly three years,” Urschel wroter on Twitter. “Four PhD classes at MIT. Four A’s. The streak continues!!!”

Entering his third season with the Ravens, Urschel has found a way to juggle his love for football with his love for mathematics. He posted an interesting article on The Players Tribune this week in which he described training with the football team at MIT this spring.

“I probably had about 50 or 60 pounds on the biggest guy on MIT’s O-line,” Urschel wrote. “But when we ran, they put me to shame. They could outsprint me.

“What I found is that the team at MIT is no joke. It is a football team – in some ways, more of a football team than any I’d ever seen. These guys love football. They are playing the game because they want to. No one is making them come to practice, no one is checking up on them. They know as well as anyone about head injuries; they know that football is dangerous; they know the feeling of exhaustion and pain. They still play. They don’t do it for money, and they don’t do it for status.

“We talk about dedication and passion in the pros, but the truth is, sometimes the game feels like a job. You start to think of the paycheck. You feel the grind. But training with the team at MIT, I started thinking about what had drawn me to football as a kid. It felt like a game again. I had thought I might have something to teach the team. I never imagined they’d have so much to teach me.”

That guy in the Dos Equis beer commercials might be the most interesting man in the world. But Urschel has built a strong resume as the most interesting player on the Ravens.

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