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Week 12 of the 2013 NFL season got underway Thursday in Atlanta where the New Orleans Saints went marching into the Georgia Dome to battle the Falcons, who this time last season, were a major contender.  This year, not so much.  The Saints came marching out with a 17 – 13 victory and are now 9 – 2.  A funny thing has happened to the Kansas City Chiefs on the way to an unbeaten season, they have now lost two straight games as San Diego scored the go ahead TD with seconds to play to knock off the Chiefs in KC.  The loss leaves the Denver Broncos in first-place all alone in the AFC West and keeps the Chargers hopes alive for a wild card playoff spot.

The Washington Redskins are no longer relevant in the NFC East, where they have yet to win a division game.  QB Robert Griffin III has continued to struggle with accuracy, and has been feeling the heat this week from the media, fans, and teammates.  At 3 – 7, Washington now has the 49ers coming to DC on Monday.  There appears to be trouble in the Washington locker room, a result of the unanticipated losing atmosphere, and if San Francisco wins big as expected, that atmosphere could get worse.

Washington is now alone in the NFC East cellar since the New York Giants won 4 straight after an 0 – 6 start.   The G-Men appeared to have righted the ship, although the four wins included only one actual playoff contender, so the Dallas Cowboys went into New York with that approach and out-muscled the Giants for a 24 – 21 road win that keeps the Boyz in first place and unbeaten in the division at 4 – 0.  Dallas now has a short week with a Thanksgiving Day game against the Oakland Raiders, who lost Sunday to Tennessee.

The St. Louis Rams continue to progress as a team, stunning the Chicago Bears 41 – 21 and displaying a rushing attack in the absence of starting QB Sam Bradford.  That’s back-to-back blowouts for the Rams, which has to make Redskins fans scratch their heads because St. Louis is on the rise and still owns Washington’s 1st-round pick for RG – 3, who has led them to the NFC East cellar.  Plus, with Jacksonville and Tampa Bay now deciding to become winners, that Redskins draft pick is starting to look really good to St. Louis.

Other winners on Sunday included the Baltimore Ravens, who defeated the New York Jets, and a big win in Cleveland for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are trying to stay in the AFC North hunt with Cincinnati.  The Bengals, Eagles & the Seattle Seahawks were the last bye week vacationers for 2013.  It’s officially time for the NFL Playoff push with five games left in the regular season.  A rare occurrence in the NFL Sunday, two teams played to something called a “tie”?  Seems neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Minnesota Vikings had the will to actually win.  What a snoozer.

The most hyped game of the week takes place at Foxboro, where the Patriots welcome Payton Manning and the Denver Broncos to New England.  Certainly, any game involving two Hall Of Fame QBs is going to get the royal media glare, and the good thing for the fans is this game is a huge one for both teams as we push toward the playoffs.

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