Christmas certainly came early for the New England Patriots.
Last weekend’s game in Pittsburgh must have felt like Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks all over again. The opposition is going in for the go-ahead score and instead, out of nowhere, the Patriots pick it off and grab a victory in a game they had no right to win.
Of course, the NFL’s crazy catch rule came into play as well, but that’s a whole other issue. The Steelers (11-3) must still be feeling numb from that finish at Heinz Field.
The victory put the Patriots (11-3) in the driver’s seat for home-field advantage throughout the AFC postseason with regular season home games left against Buffalo and Miami. The Steelers travel to Houston this week and then finish off the season at home against Cleveland.
**VGB’s Week 15 pickem record: 12-4
Two Key Games In NFC This Weekend
The two biggest games of the week both have major playoff implications in the NFC — the Atlanta Falcons travel to New Orleans to battle the Saints, while the Seattle Seahawks head to Dallas to tackle the Cowboys.
There’s a logjam at the top of the NFC South as the Saints (10-4) and Panthers (10-4) lead the Falcons (9-5) by one game. Atlanta has the toughest final two games — at New Orleans and at Carolina — but if the Falcons win both of those road games, they will defend their division title.
The Seahawks (8-6), who were buried by the Rams last weekend at home 42-7, line up against the Cowboys (8-6) as star running back Ezekiel Elliott returns from his six-game suspension. Even if they win this, the Cowboys have to travel to Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve to beat the Eagles.
In other news around the NFL:
- Carolina’s Thomas Davis was suspended for the final two games of the regular season for his illegal blindside block on Green Bay’s Davante Adams, which left the Packers wideout with a concussion. Davis is appealing.
- Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown has been ruled out for the final two games of the regular season after suffering a partially torn calf muscle while trying to make a catch in the end zone against the Patriots. The MVP candidate hopes to return for the playoffs.
- Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is done for the season. The Packers placed the superstar quarterback on injured reserve after they were eliminated from the playoffs. The two-time MVP returned from a broken collarbone last weekend. The Panthers spoiled the party 34-27.
VGB’s Top 10 NFL Teams
(Current odds to win Super Bowl LII listed after team record. Odds provided by bovada.lv)
Minnesota (11-3) +700 — Amazing run continues for new NFC North champs.
New England (11-3) +240 — Game with Steelers better than most Super Bowls.
Carolina (10-4) +900 — Panthers win again, team up for sale amidst scandal.
Pittsburgh (11-3) +600 — Heartbreaking loss at home to Super Bowl champs.
Los Angeles Rams (10-4) +1000 — Some calling this greatest turnaround ever.
Philadelphia (12-2) +900 — Eagles win first start without young star QB.
New Orleans (10-4) +900 — Hold edge over Panthers for NFC South title.
Jacksonville (10-4) +1400 — Jaguars clinch first playoff berth since 2007.
Baltimore (8-6) +3300 — Red-hot Ravens have won four of their last five.
Atlanta (9-5) +1400 — Falcons slip past Bucs, 8-2 versus NFC opponents.