After knocking off the Patriots on Monday night, Cam Newton and the Panthers travel to Miami. (Getty Images)
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You might call this Survivor Week in the National Football League, especially the AFC.

Five teams in the AFC look like sure-shot playoff teams. However, nine other teams are in the running (yes, even the 4-7 Bills) for the final wild-card spots with five, six or seven losses.

While the Bills enjoy a bye week, at least three of the eight teams above Buffalo in the standings will lose this weekend because of these scheduled matchups:

New York Jets (5-5) at Baltimore (5-5), Pittsburgh (4-6) at Cleveland (4-6) and Tennessee (4-6) at Oakland (4-6). And, Miami (5-5) and San Diego (4-6) are underdogs facing strong opposition.

In the NFC, only the West Division with Seattle leading by 3½ games seems settled. Even that division has live wild-card candidates in San Francisco and Arizona. And, of course, the contenders in the other three divisions are wild-card hopefuls, too.

A look at the Week 12 games:

Game of the day

Broncos (9-1) at Patriots (7-3)

TV: Ch. 2, 8:30 p.m.

The line: Broncos (-2)

The scoop: It’s the 14th career meeting of Tom Brady of Patriots and Peyton Manning. Brady has won nine times in meetings with Manning’s Colts and Broncos. In Monday loss to Panthers, Brady became the sixth passer in NFL history to reach 4,000 career completions. Also, Brady made 185th career start under Bill Belichick, the most by a QB under one head coach in league history. Dan Marino and Don Shula were together for 184 starts. … Broncos lead the NFL with 398 points scored, and Manning has passed for a league-best 3,572 yards and 34 touchdowns.

Outlook: Patriots are 5-0 at home. Denver is 3-1 on road with average score, 38-32. Brady is ticked off over no-call in Carolina. Pats, 42-35.

Top attractions

Colts (7-3) at Cardinals (6-4)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Cardinals (-2½)

The scoop: Arizona coach Bruce Arians was AP NFL Coach of the Year after leading Colts to playoffs in absence of ailing Chuck Pagano. Now he faces old team, an NFL first. … His Cards have won three in a row and are looking like postseason contender. Maybe 2012 was no fluke. Last Cards coach to start tenure 6-4 was Charley Winner in 1966. … Colts RB Trent Richardson averaging whopping 3.0 yards per carry since big trade. … Indy WR T.Y. Hilton averaging 15.4 ypr and DE Robert Mathis leads league with 13.5 sacks. ... Carson Palmer threw for 419 yards last week, the first 400-yard game in a win for Arizona since Boomer Esiason in 1996.

Outlook: Interconference game is bigger for Cardinals. Indy has breathing room in AFC South and may be a little too relaxed; Colts have played from behind in each of last three games. Arizona, 35-31.

Cowboys (5-5) at Giants (4-6)

TV: Ch. 29, 4:25 p.m.

The line: Giants (-2½)

The scoop: Like Mark Twain, the reports of the Giants’ demise were greatly exaggerated. After 0-6 start, New York is only one game out of first place in NFC East with a chance to climb into a share of lead by beating arch-rival Joneses. … Dallas coming off a bye. Cowboys defeated Giants, 36-31, in Jerry’s Playhouse on Kickoff Weekend. … In his last four starts against the Giants, Cowboys’ Tony Romo has 12 touchdowns, three interceptions and a 117.7 passer rating.

Outlook: It will come down to whether Romo or Eli Manning makes the big play and avoids the big faux pas. Giants rolling down the stretch like they did in 2011. New York, 28-23.

Jets (5-5) at Ravens (4-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Ravens (-3½)

The scoop: Outcome should have implications on AFC wild card since both are in the picture. … Jets, though, have to be perplexed by awful performance by rookie QB Geno Smith on road against Bills last week. … Baltimore has won 17 of last 20 at home while New York has been outscored 86-23 combined in last two away games. … Ravens RB Ray Rice broke out of slump last week with 131 yards rushing in loss at Chicago. He’s New York City area guy who should be fired up against Jersey Jets.

Outlook: Can’t you see Matt Simms relieving Geno again this week? Ravens are down, but still dangerous. Baltimore, 20-13.

Panthers (7-3) at Dolphins (5-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Panthers (-4½)

The scoop: Panthers never have beaten Miami (0-4) and are 0-3 in Miami, although they haven’t met since 2009. Panthers have won six in a row, longest streak going in NFL. … Panthers have allowed an NFL-low 135 points (13.5 per game) and are the only team to rank in the top five in total (third), run (third) and pass defense (fifth).

Outlook: Panthers pass rush led by Charles Johnson (8.5 sacks) and Greg Hardy should bother Ryan Tannehill. Tough time in Miami. Pity. Carolina, 30-20.

Steelers (4-6) at Browns (4-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Browns (-1½)

The scoop: Cleveland dominated early years of this Rust Belt rivalry, then Pittsburgh went 11-1 in its run in the ’70s. Browns haven’t swept season series from Pitt since 1988 and Steelers have won 17 of last 19. Teams close season against each other on Dec. 29 at Heinz Field.

Outlook: Steelers have won four of last six while Browns have lost four of last five. Pittsburgh is hotter team, and Cleveland is like a second home. Steelers, 24-16.

Chargers (4-6) at Chiefs (9-1)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Chiefs (-4)

The scoop: Bolts swept Chiefs last year and have won 10 of last 13 vs. AFC West rivals. Chiefs 5-0 at home. Andy Reid looking for 150th coaching victory. … K.C. had no sacks at Denver last week, more evidence that vaunted Chiefs’ pass rush may be product of pumped up crowd noise at Arrowhead. … Only Jacksonville is playing worse defense in AFC than San Diego.

Outlook: Sandwich game for K.C. with home date revenge game against Broncos coming up next week. … Kansas City, 27-10.

Best of the rest

Buccaneers (2-8) at Lions (6-4)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Lions (-9)

The scoop: After 0-8 start, Bucs won last two and threw a scare into Seahawks in Seattle the week before. … Lions’ inability to hold off Josh McCown and Bears last week was big disappointment. Also, inability of coaching staff to adjust in second half when potent Lions offense was shut out is hot topic in Motor City. … Calvin Johnson of Lions leads league in receiving yards with 1,083 and has 18.4 avg. per catch.

Outlook: Lions are 3-1 at home but haven’t played there in nearly a month. Detroit 33-20 over improving Bucs.

Vikings (2-8) at Packers (5-5)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Packers (-4)

The scoop: Packers won first meeting, 44-31, in Minneapolis but that was with Aaron Rodgers at controls. … Fill-in QB Scott Tolzien passed for 339 yards last week but no TDs and 3 INTS in loss at Giants. … Vikings were competitive at Seattle until INTs on three straight possessions led to 17 Seahawks points and blowout.

Outlook: Vikings seem headed for another coaching shakeup. Packers, 28-20.

Bears (6-4) at Rams (4-6)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Rams (-1)

The scoop: Overtime win over Ravens last week moved Bears back into tie for first in NFC North. St. Louis had week off after surprising 38-8 rout at Indianapolis during the Tavon Austin Show (98-yard punt return and TD receptions of 81 and 57 yards). … Game features collision of Long brothers (Rams DE Chris and Bears rookie G Kyle). They are sons of Hall of Famer Howie Long.

Outlook: Backup QB Josh McCown is latter day Frank Reich, keeping Bears’ playoff hopes alive in absence of Jay Cutler. Bears, 17-10.

Titans (4-6) at Raiders (4-6)

Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.

The line: Titans (-1)

The scoop: It would seem like the loser of this falls off playoff band wagon. … Keeping up with ex-Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Titans: 44 completions in 61 passes (72.1 pct.) for 486 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs and 111.4 rating in his last two games. He goes up against Raiders rookie Matt McGloin, who passed for three TDs in win at Houston last week in first NFL start. Is McGloin a one-hit wonder?

Outlook: Titans always seem to lose close with Fitz. Raiders, 28-24.

49ers (6-4) at Redskins (3-7)

TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.

The line: 49ers (-5)

The scoop: Niners will be in big trouble if they don’t win this one. They are one of five teams on NFC playoff bubble. Redskins are just about out of it after surprise title in NFC East last year. … Amazing London Fletcher of Redskins will play in his 251st consecutive game. He is one of only four players in NFL history to start 250 in a row.

Outlook: Redskins just not clicking. Maybe Oneidas have put a curse on them. Niners, 27-17.

Dog of the day

Jaguars (1-9) at Texans (2-8)

Kickoff: 1 p.m.

The line: Texans (-10)

The scoop: Houston has won last five in divisional rivalry, but Texans go into this one on eight-game losing streak. They haven’t won since they rallied for 30-24 home win over Titans on Sept. 15. … Chad Henne of Jaguars had big game at Houston in loss a year ago with four TDs, 354 yards, no INTS and 126.8 rating. Despite all their problems, Texans lead AFC in defense (286.1) and are third in offense (378).

Outlook: It’s been a long season along the I-10 (except for New Orleans). Houston, 24-20.

Last week: 8-6 outright, 7-6-1 versus spread. Season’s record: 86-65 outright, 74-72-5 versus spread.


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