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Fighting for playoff berths and position in NFL's final week

Baltimore Sun

Heading into the final weekend, all six NFC playoff spots had been claimed, but 11 AFC teams still had a pulse.

Here's a glimpse at the 10 teams that have made the playoffs.

NFCCardinals

It's a wrap: The Cardinals, who have won the NFC West, can clinch a first-round bye if they beat the Packers and the Vikings and Eagles lose.

Going right: Running back Beanie Wells and receiver Early Doucet have stepped up in recent weeks, giving opposing defenses even more offensive weapons to ponder.

Going wrong: Left tackle Mike Gandy is done for the season after undergoing surgery for a hernia. His replacement, Jeremy Bridges, has been inconsistent.

Saints

It's a wrap: Thanks to the Vikings' loss Monday, the Saints secured home-field advantage despite back-to-back losses. They finish at Carolina.

Going right: In his last three road games, Drew Brees has eight touchdown passes and one interception.

Going wrong: The Saints scored 17 points in home losses to the Cowboys and Buccaneers after averaging 35.8 points in their first 13 games.

Eagles

It's a wrap: The Eagles visit the Cowboys with the winner clinching the NFC East. An Eagles victory earns them the second seed.

Going right: During the course of their six-game winning streak, the Eagles have averaged 31.2 points and more than two takeaways.

Going wrong: The Eagles lost Jamaal Jackson, who hadn't missed a start since taking over at center in 2005, to a knee injury last Sunday.

Cowboys

It's a wrap: The Cowboys could wind up with the No. 2 seed. To get that, they would need a victory over the Eagles and losses by the Vikings and Cardinals.

Going right: In December 2008, Tony Romo had nine turnovers. This December? Just one.

Going wrong: Roy Williams, who leads the league with 10 drops, believes Romo and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett have lost confidence in him.

Vikings

It's a wrap: The Vikings have lost three of four but still can collect a first-round bye with a victory over the Giants and an Eagles loss.

Going right: According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Vikings are only the second NFL team to have six receivers with at least 40 catches.

Going wrong: Adrian Peterson's six fumbles are the most by any running back.

Packers

It's a wrap: The Packers finish against the Cardinals and could be right back in Arizona for a wild-card game next weekend.

Going right: Aaron Rodgers is the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons as a starter.

Going wrong: The Packers are the league's most penalized team with 114 for 1,038 yards.

AFCChargers

It's a wrap: The second-seeded Chargers have clinched their fourth consecutive AFC West title and a first-round bye.

Going right: Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick, sidelined by an ankle injury in the opener, is back just in time for a playoff run.

Going wrong: Stopping the run is still a problem for the Chargers, ranked 23rd in that department.

Colts

It's a wrap: With home-field advantage in hand, the top-seeded Colts quit on their chance for a perfect season by pulling Peyton Manning after 2 1/2 quarters against the Jets.

Going right: Manning & Co. set an NFL record by winning seven games in which they trailed in the fourth quarter.

Going wrong: If karma matters, the Colts put themselves in a deep hole by tanking it last Sunday. When else has a 14-0 team been booed so roundly at home?

Bengals

It's a wrap: The Bengals, AFC North winners, finish at the Meadowlands with a chance to be the third or fourth seed. Carson Palmer and other starters are likely to catch a breather.

Going right: The Bengals are the AFC's best team against the run, allowing an average of 87.7 yards.

Going wrong: Eight snaps into last Sunday's game against the Chiefs, rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga heard another snap: his ankle. It's fractured, and he's done for the season.

Patriots

It's a wrap: The AFC East champ Patriots, always scary this time of year, close the season visiting the Texans.

Going right: Tom Brady said last Sunday's pounding of the Jaguars was "the best 60 minutes of football we've played all year."

Going wrong: If the Patriots win their postseason opener, they will play a divisional game on the road, where they are 1-5 this season.

sfarmer@tribune.com

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