Chase downs: Playoff teams jockey for divisions, wild cards

11/22/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak

A battle for first place in the NFC North, a interconference matchup between two of the top teams in the league, and an AFC East clash that could knock one of the two remaining unbeaten teams from their perch highlight Week 11 in the NFL. Let's take a look at this week's top three games.
Green Bay at Minnesota Sunday at 4:25pm
First place in the NFC North will be on the line here, but surprisingly it's the Packers who are trailing. After winning their first 6 games of the season, the Packers have lost their last 3 games, scoring only 55 points in the process. Meanwhile the Vikings have won their past 5 games after starting the season at 2 and 2. Green Bay comes in having lost to Detroit at home last week, the first time the Lions won at Lambeau Field since 1991. Aaron Rodgers has been beaten up during the Packers losing streak as well, having been sacked 11 times in the past 3 games. That matches the total number of sacks the Packers had given up through their first 6 games. But Rodgers and the Packers have had the Vikings number, winning 10 of the past 11 meetings. Green Bay's struggles on offense won't get any easier this week as they'll face a Minnesota defense that's allowing an NFL best 17.1 points per game. The Packers defense will have a stern test on their hands as well as they try to slow down Adrian Peterson, who's coming off of a 200 yard rushing performance versus Oakland last week. Peterson has averaged 144 yards rushing per game in the Vikings past three contests. The Packers swept the series between these teams last season, winning 24 to 21 at Minnesota. Green Bay hasn't lost 4 games in a row since 2008, while the Vikings haven't won 6 in a row since 2009.

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Cincinnati at Arizona Sunday at 8:30pm
The 8 and 1 Bengals tasted defeat for the first time last week, now they'll have to turn around on a short week to face the 7 and 2 Cardinals who come in having won their past 3 games. Cincinnati remains undefeated on the road this season, winning all four games away from home, while Arizona has won 3 of their 4 home games. Cincinnati comes in off of an ugly loss against Houston on Monday night, where they failed to score a touchdown while putting up a season low 256 yards in total offense. The Cardinals offense has been soaring this season, scoring the second most points in the NFL just behind New England. They've put up 73 total points in their past two games, including last weeks 39 to 32 road win over Seattle. The Cardinals have put up over 400 yards in total offense in each of their past four games as well. Scoring has been tough against the Bengals this season, as they feature the NFL's best scoring defense, allowing just 16.9 points per game. Cincinnati won the last meeting between these teams, 23 to 16 in 2011.
Buffalo at New England Monday at 8:30pm
And then there were two...New England remains one of two undefeated teams along with Carolina left in the NFL. The 9 and 0 Patriots are also a perfect 5 and 0 at home so far this season as well. The Bills come in at 5 and 4 overall, and have won 3 of 4 on the road this season. Buffalo comes in off of back to back division wins over Miami and the NY Jets. New England comes in off of their closest win of the season, 27 to 26 over the NY Giants, where the Patriots kicked the game winning field goal in the games final seconds. Tom Brady has passed for an NFL best 3.043 yards and thrown 24 TD's against just 3 interceptions. But he'll be without one of his favorite targets, as WR Julian Edelman was lost for the remainder of the regular season after breaking his foot last week. Edelman's injury comes a week after New England lost starting RB Dion Lewis to a season ending injury as well. The Patriots are looking to start the season 10 and 0 for the first time since 2007, when they finished the regular season 16 and 0. New England won the first meeting of the season between these teams at Buffalo, 40 to 32 on September 20th. Brady passed for a season high 466 yards and 3 TD's in the win. Edelman had 11 catches for 97 yards and 2 scores, while Rob Gronkowski had 113 yards receiving and a touchdown as well. Tyrod Taylor passed for 242 yards and 3 TD's for Buffalo in the loss, and also rushed for another touchdown. New England has won 27 of the past 30 meetings between these teams, but Buffalo won last year's game in New England, which is the last time the Patriots lost.

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