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NFL Rewind: Three playoff spots remain

Only three more playoff spots are up for grabs following Sunday’s slate of games, two in the AFC and one in the NFC.

All four divisions in the AFC are settled, while three of the four champions in the NFC are known.

The Kansas City Chiefs won back-to-back AFC West titles for first time in franchise history and the Los Angeles Rams clinched their first NFC West title since 2003. Despite its loss to San Francisco, Jacksonville clinched its first division title since 1999 due to Tennessee’s loss to the Rams.

New Orleans and Carolina are locks for the postseason and are the two teams in the running for the NFC South title next week.

New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Minnesota are the other four teams heading to the postseason.

As for the teams still fighting for a spot in the playoffs, wins next week by Atlanta, Tennessee and Baltimore mean they’re in.

Buffalo and the L.A. Chargers need wins and some help in the AFC next week, while Seattle needs a win and an Atlanta loss in the NFC.

Detroit, Dallas and Miami were officially eliminated from the postseason with Week 16 losses.

A capsule look at Sunday’s Week 16 games:

Game of the day

Panthers 22, Buccaneers 19
The scoop: Carolina avoided the upset when Cam Newton ran in the go-ahead score from 2 yards out with 35 seconds left on a play that started with the quarterback dropping the shotgun snap. The Panthers trailed for the majority of the second half and had just 78 total yards in the first half, the lowest since Newton took over at QB in 2012. Tampa’s Jameis Winston threw for 367 yards and a TD but was sacked six times and lost three fumbles, including one on the final drive to seal the win. Carolina can clinch the NFC South next week with a win over Atlanta and a New Orleans loss to Tampa Bay.
Why the Panthers won: Newton and the offense struggled all day, but he orchestrated a 10-play, 59-yard drive in 2 minutes, 25 seconds after the offense took over at their own 41 with 3:00 on the clock. The QB completed 4 of 7 passes for 52 yards and ran for 5 more on the game-winning drive.

Moving on

Saints 23, Falcons 13
The scoop: Drew Brees joined Peyton Manning and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for 70,000 career yards. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 239 yards and a 54-yard touchdown to Ted Ginn. Mark Ingram also scored on a 26-yard run. The Falcons can still clinch a playoff spot with a win over Carolina in the finale.
Why the Saints won: Their defense made two stands from inside its own 2-yard line in the second half. Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman lost a fumble in the third quarter, and Freeman was stopped on fourth down at the start of the fourth.

Rams 27, Titans 23
The scoop: Jared Goff’s fourth touchdown pass went to Cooper Kupp with 11:51 left and gave the Rams the final 27-23 lead. Los Angeles ran out the final 1:35 on the clock after it forced a turnover on downs at its own 44.
Why the Rams won: MVP candidate Gurley had another remarkable game, running 22 times for 118 yards and adding 158 receiving yards and two scores on 10 catches. He caught a 3-yard TD in the first quarter and took a screen pass 80 yards to the house in the second.

Chiefs 29, Dolphins 13
The scoop: Alex Smith threw for more than 300 yards for the fifth time this season and completed a touchdown pass to Travis Kelce. Rookie Kareem Hunt ran for 91 yards and a score, and Tyreek Hill had 109 yards on six catches. Kicker Harrison Butker converted all five of his field-goal attempts.
Why the Chiefs won: Marcus Peters has had a hand in five turnovers the past two weeks since returning from a disciplinary suspension. The star corner recovered a fumble and forced another Sunday after intercepting two passes and forcing a fumble against San Diego last week.

Staying alive

Seahawks 21, Cowboys 12
The scoop: Russell Wilson only threw for 93 yards, but his two touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham were key in what was a playoff elimination game for both teams. Ezekiel Elliott’s return from suspension didn’t help Dallas score a TD, although he ran for 97 yards and added 21 receiving.
Why the Seahawks won: The defense picked off Dak Prescott twice in the third quarter. The first Justin Coleman returned 30 yards for the go-ahead score, and the second was by K.J. Wright near Seattle’s own 30 off a Dez Bryant drop.

Chargers 14, Jets 7
The scoop: Los Angeles won its fifth game in six weeks to keep its playoff hopes alive. Philip Rivers threw for 290 yards and a 3-yard TD to Antonio Gates, the 87th time the historic duo has hooked up for a score. Melvin Gordon (81 yards) ran in what proved to be the game-winning touchdown from 1 yard out with 4:57 left in the third quarter.
Why the Chargers won: Jets quarterback Bryce Petty was bad in his second start this season in place of injured starter Josh McCown. The Chargers limited him to 119 yards on 28 attempts and picked him off once.

Maybe next year

Bengals 26, Lions 17
The scoop: Cincinnati running back Giovani Bernard ran for 116 yards and a game-clinching 12-yard touchdown with 1:54 left to give the coach Marvin Lewis a win in what could be his last home game with the team.
Why the Bengals won: Defensive penalties on Detroit extended Cincinnati’s go-ahead drive that gave it a 19-17 lead with 4:42 left following a Randy Bullock field goal.

49ers 44, Jaguars 33
The scoop: Jimmy Garoppolo won his fourth straight game as the new starting quarterback in San Francisco. He threw for 242 yards and two scores to George Kittle and Trent Taylor and capped off a 79-yard opening drive with a 1-yard TD run.
Why the 49ers won: They scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns and piled up the points on one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses. The defense also picked off Jaguars QB Blake Bortles three times, returning one for a score.

Redskins 27, Broncos 11
The scoop: Washington scored 27 straight points after a Denver field goal made it 3-0 with 2:10 left to go in the first quarter. Kirk Cousins threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns in what very well could be his final home game with the Redskins. Scoring strikes to Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Vernon Davis made Cousins the first QB in franchise history with three seasons of 25 or more passing touchdowns.
Why the Redskins won: Their offense was able to move the ball against Denver’s normally stingy defense. The 386 yards were the third most the Broncos gave up this season and was about 100 yards more than their season average of 276.8.

Cardinals 23, Giants 0
The scoop: Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown, plus completed the first pass of his career, a 21-yard toss to Jaron Brown.
Why the Cardinals won: Their defense posted a shutout for the first time in 25 seasons.

Dog of the day

Bears 20, Browns 3
The scoop: Mitchell Trubisky completed 14 of 23 passes for 193 yards and ran for a 4-yard score against his hometown team. The Browns secured the No. 1 pick in April’s draft and are now 1-30 under coach Hue Jackson.
Why the Bears won: They forced two turnovers in the red zone and Jordan Howard ran for a pair of touchdowns.

News wire services contributed to this report.

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