NFL race to the playoffs takes shape



PHOENIX — It’s the haves and the have nots, those that are going or at worst are in the hunt with three weeks left for the 2012 NFL Super Bowl Tournament. The defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers have set the standard at 13-0, winning every game this year.

The NFC North Champ Packers have won 19 straight games over a two-year period. That is the second longest winning streak in NFL history.

Green Bay can clinch the home field advantage throughout the playoffs Sunday by winning at Kansas City. NFC West Champ San Francisco (10-3) has clinched, leaving four spots up for grabs in the NFC.

New York and Dallas are both 7-6, tied for first place in the NFC East. NFC South leader New Orleans (10-3) will be in Minneapolis Sunday to play the woeful 2-11 Vikings.

New Orleans is in a tight race with San Francisco for the number-two seed in the playoffs, which carries a first-round bye and a week off. Atlanta and Detroit, both 8-5, are the wild card leaders.

Dallas, Chicago and New York, all 7-6, are next. Arizona and Seattle, both 6-7, are still very much alive for the playoffs, but they need help to get in.

In the AFC there is no clearly dominant team. Houston (10-3) is the only team to have clinched a playoff spot in the AFC. Baltimore and Pittsburgh at 10-3 are tied for first place in the AFC North.

New England at 10-3 leads the AFC East with the New York Jets (8-5) leading in the wild card hunt. Denver (8-5) with the Tim Tebow show leads the AFC West. Oakland (7-6),Tennessee (7-6), Cincinnati (7-6) and San Diego (6-7) are all in the playoff hunt.


Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. over 1,000 yards

At one point the Arizona Cardinals were 1-6; somebody said it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish!

Arizona in back-to-back games has beaten first-place teams Dallas and San Francisco, and suddenly the Cardinals have a shot. Back-up quarterback John Skelton is raising eyebrows in Arizona after replacing an injured Kevin Kolb. Skelton threw three touchdown passes to lead the Cardinals’ upset of 49ers 21-19.

The Cardinals have won five of their last six games and three in a row. In four of the five wins by Arizona, Skelton has been the winning quarterback. He has done what Tim Tebow is doing in Denver — winning games.

Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. starred in the 49ers win with seven catches for 149 yards and a touchdown. Fitzgerald went over the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth straight season; he has 1,092 for the season. It’s the sixth time of his career in this, his eighth season. He has set a new Cardinals franchise record.

Fitz Notes & Quotes

Vikings star Jared Allen last week on his KFAN 100.3 FM radio show said he hates to go to cities like Detroit and New Orleans. Sunday the Vikings lost their sixth straight game at Detroit 34-28.

Allen last week said, “There’s two cities like I don’t go out to eat or don’t do anything. It’s Detroit and New Orleans. New Orleans looks like I’m driving through a Third World country! Every time I get off the plane I’m like, ‘Oh, flak jacket.’”

Now, anyone who reads what he said or heard it understands what he is saying. I know Allen — he’s outspoken and a great player. He has helped raise money for the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund.

Having said that, his comment is terrible. The Vikings and the NFL need to review his words with Allen. That is a very disturbing comment, and I’m being kind. My late wife Carol and her mother were born in New Orleans.

I’m also not surprised that no other media in town has a problem with what he said. It’s really a shame and an indictment. You can bet New Orleans will be fired up for the Vikings on Sunday.

Baylor All-American quarterback Robert Griffin III became the first player ever from Baylor University to win the Heisman Trophy. Griffin clearly had the best season of any player, passing for 3,998 yards, 36 touchdown passes, QB rating of 192.3, rushing for 644 yards and running for nine touchdowns.

Baylor finished 9-3 and beat Oklahoma and Texas. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was second for the second straight year. Griffin is the first player with braids to win the award.


Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit 

Photo by Bruce Yeung


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