The Kansas City Chiefs pipped the New England Patriots to a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs, while Mason Crosby's last-gasp field goal ensured the Green Bay Packers did not miss out.

With the Patriots suffering a surprise 27-24 loss to the Dolphins, a 31-21 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers saw the Chiefs snatch the number two seed in the AFC.

Unlike New England, the Packers were able to get the win they needed to head straight to the Divisional Round with a 23-20 comeback victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

The New Orleans Saints did enough to remain in contention for a first-round bye with a resounding 42-10 triumph over the Carolina Panthers, who saw Christian McCaffrey make history.

 

CHIEFS MAKE MOST OF PATS SHOCK

The Patriots looked to have staved off a potential upset against the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium when James White ran into the end zone on third and goal to give them their first lead with 3:53 remaining in the fourth quarter.

However, New England were unable to stop Ryan Fitzpatrick leading a 13-play drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown reception for Mike Gesicki with 24 seconds left.

Tom Brady, who went 16 of 29 for 221 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, moved beyond 4,000 yards in a season for the 11th time in his career and surpassed Peyton Manning for the second-most career touchdown passes in NFL history with his 540th, but was unable to conjure a miracle and help force overtime.

Defeat for the Patriots meant the Chiefs were able to deny them the final bye in the AFC.

After rookie Mecole Hardman's 104-yard kickoff return and an 84-yard rushing touchdown from Damien Williams for the Chiefs in their clash with the Chargers, Hunter Henry made it a three-point game. However, Williams' second score of the day locked up the win.

 

PACKERS MAKE SAINTS WAIT

Against the league's worst passing defense, Aaron Rodgers only had one completion for the Packers in a first quarter that saw his Lions opposite number David Blough take in a 19-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Danny Amendola.

The Packers trailed by 14 points at half-time but were level when Allen Lazard reeled in a 28-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers with just over five minutes remaining in the final period.

A tremendous play from Aaron Jones got Green Bay into field-goal range and Crosby did not let them down at the death, making his attempt from 33 yards.

That meant the Saints had to wait to find out their fate, with a loss for the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks required to send them through as the second seed behind the Packers.

Drew Brees (253 yards) was key to New Orleans' victory over the Panthers as he became just the fourth player with at least three touchdown passes and no interceptions in four consecutive games in a single NFL season.

 

MCCAFFREY'S RECORD HUNT

The Panthers may have been blown out by the Saints, but McCaffrey did enough for a slice of history.

The third-year tailback joined Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history with 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

McCaffrey finished the season with 2,392 scrimmage yards, the third-most in history and 117 shy of Chris Johnson's record.

 

WINSTON MAKES HISTORY

Jameis Winston's future is a source of great uncertainty and he did himself few favours against the Atlanta Falcons.

The fifth-year quarterback threw his 30th interception of the season in overtime for Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Deion Jones returned it for a game-winning touchdown.

It was the seventh pick six Winston has thrown this season – a new NFL record.

 

Week 17 scores:

New York Jets 13-6 Buffalo Bills
Cleveland Browns 23-33 Cincinnati Bengals
Green Bay Packers 23-20 Detroit Lions
Los Angeles Chargers 21-31 Kansas City Chiefs
Chicago Bears 21-19 Minnesota Vikings
Miami Dolphins 27-24 New England Patriots
Atlanta Falcons 28-22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (OT)
New Orleans Saints 42-10 Carolina Panthers

It was a decade full of skill, unforgettable moments and remarkable storylines.

Grand slam titles, Olympic Games gold medals, Rugby World Cups, Women's World Cups and more.

However, the impact and influence of some athletes proved more transcending than others.

We look at the most influential sports people of the past decade as we prepare to farewell the 2010s.

 

COLIN KAEPERNICK

Kaepernick has never swayed from his beliefs, even if it cost him a career in the NFL.

Following five years with the San Francisco 49ers, Kaepernick hit the headlines when he kneeled during the United States national anthem in 2016.

The quarterback cited racial injustice and police brutality. He filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of a job. Kaepernick settled that grievance in February.

Despite some backlash, the 32-year-old inspired a nation – receiving support from Nike, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Megan Rapinoe and others. He even refused to meet the NFL's demands for a workout in November – all but ending his career. For Kaepernick, it has always been about more than American football…

SIYA KOLISI

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi lifted the Rugby World Cup in November. However, his influence stretches much further than a rugby pitch.

In a country embroiled in economic turmoil and racial unrest, Kolisi – the Springboks' first black captain in their 127-year history – is a beacon of hope.

Having come from an area marked by unemployment and lack of opportunity, Kolisi has become a household name and a genuine inspirational star, who can help unite a nation.

MEGAN RAPINOE

Outspoken on and off the field, Women's World Cup winner and United States star Rapinoe has transcended football.

From LGBT rights, gender equality and racial quality, Rapinoe has led the fights.

The 34-year-old has drawn the ire of US president Donald Trump, and even called out FIFA over the gulf in prize money for the women's and men's World Cups as she strives to make football and the world a better place, while maintaining her dominance on the pitch – winning the 2019 Ballon d'Or Feminin, last year's Golden Ball and Golden Boot.

ANDY MURRAY

A three-time grand slam champion and former world number one, Murray's lasting legacy may be his fight for gender equality – not just his on-court achievements.

Not one to keep quiet, just watch him play tennis, Murray has championed against sexism, especially after hiring Amelie Mauresmo as his coach in 2014. 

In 2015, Murray wrote: "Have I become a feminist? If being a feminist is about fighting so that a woman is treated like a man then I suppose I have."

SIMONE BILES

This decade saw the emergence of a gymnastics sensation, yielding four Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 19 World Championships golds - 25 in total - over the past six years.

Biles is the most decorated artistic gymnast of all time at just 22 years of age, establishing herself as one of the best athletes in the world in the face of adversity.

The once-in-a-lifetime talent won five gold medals in Stuttgart, while dealing with the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

In 2018, she claimed she was sexually abused by ex-Team USA gymnastics sports doctor Nassar, encouraging others to do the same. She continues to influence the sport in innumerable ways. 

ANTHONY JOSHUA

In a decade dominated by UFC and the emergence of mixed-martial arts, Joshua has stood tall for boxing. Flying the flag in the ring, the heavyweight champion consistently attracts crowds that have never been seen in British boxing.

A game-changer for the sport, Joshua has broadened boxing's appeal beyond traditional audiences. For his bout against Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April 2017, a post-ward record crowd of 90,000 attended.

An estimated 80,000 spectators also took in his clash with Carlos Takam in Cardiff six months later. Joshua also took a title fight to Saudi Arabia in December - regaining his belts.

ALEX ZANARDI

Zanardi survived one of the most horrific non-fatal crashes in the history of open-wheel racing. The Italian lost both his legs in 2001, while he was also red his last rites.

However, Zanardi – who said he went 50 minutes with less than a litre of blood and his heart stopped beating seven times – was not done.

The former CART champion turned to paracycling and won two gold medals in his 2012 Paralympics debut, followed by another two in 2016.

CASTER SEMENYA

A two-time Olympic Games gold medallist and athletics star, it has been a tough end to the decade for Semenya but the South African inspired a nation in 2019.

She missed the World Athletics Championships in October after the IAAF proposed regulations regarding athletes with differences of sex development (DSD).

The new rule instructed athletes such as Semenya – who compete in events from the 400m to a mile, to take medication to lower their testosterone levels to take part in women's track events.

Despite lengthy legal battles and years of questions, Semenya continued to fight for her rights, leading to a Nike video in which she spoke about acceptance, self-love and respecting people for who they are. "I'm one kind of an athlete. I run my own race. It's all about me," said Semenya.

The youngest son of Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones died on Friday, the player revealed.

Jones, 29, announced the death of his infant son Marlo via social media on Saturday before the Lions released a statement.

Marlo was reportedly six months old.

The father of five children, Jones wrote on Instagram: "Yesterday the Lord called home a piece of my family's heart, Marlo. It is hard to believe that our little angel, our fighter from day one, our son 'Marlito' has unfortunately passed away and is no longer here with us.

"Marlo, the joy that you brought to us everyday, with that smile, and that energy was like heaven on earth. You will always be in our hearts. We will always remember you.

"We did not get the chance to hear your first words [It would've been in Spanish too]. We didn't get to see you run with your brothers and sister, you ran with them with your eyes everyday.

"We know that everything that We do from here on out will be with you. Every step we take, you will be with us. Whenever we have a bad day,

"We will think of your smile. We miss you already buddy and will forever love you. Rest peacefully our sweet baby boy. You have gained your wings."

In a statement, the Lions said: "Earlier today, we were informed by Marvin and Jazmyn Jones about the sudden passing of their youngest son, Marlo. The Detroit Lions fully support Marvin and Jazmyn during his extremely difficult time.

"Marvin and Jazmyn embody the true meaning of family, and the example they set has made them an inspiration to so many in our community. We thank everyone for the outpouring of support. On behalf of the Jones family, we ask that everyone respect the privacy of the matter at this time."

The Jacksonville Jaguars have denied reports head coach Doug Marrone will be fired after Sunday's regular-season finale against the Indianapolis Colts.

Marrone's position is thought to be under threat with the team heading into the Colts clash with a 5-10 record and bottom of the AFC South.

An ESPN report suggested Marrone would be dismissed after the game but Jim Woodcock – a spokesman for owner Shad Khan – posted on Twitter that is not the case.

"Reports that Doug Marrone will be dismissed after Sunday's game are 100 per cent incorrect," he wrote.

"Owner Shad Khan will meet with his football staff, which includes coaching and personnel, midweek next week."

In 2017, Marrone's first season in charge, the Jaguars were 10-6 in the regular season and lost the AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots.

Antonio Brown is visiting with the New Orleans Saints as he seeks to resurrect his NFL career.

Brown has been without a team since being released by the New England Patriots in September amid allegations of sexual assault and rape.

He was traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders in March after a tumultuous 2018 campaign. 

However, he never played a down for the Raiders, who granted his release on September 7 following a series of controversies. Brown agreed to join the Patriots later that day.

Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown in his lone appearance for the Patriots against the Miami Dolphins.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Brown is working out for the Saints. Brown posted an image of his free agent waiver from the Saints on Instagram. The post was later deleted. 

The seven-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro will hope his visit to New Orleans yields a return to the field with a Super Bowl contender in the Saints.

New Orleans have already won the NFC South and are 12-3 going into the final week of the regular season. They can still clinch the NFC's top seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

However, should he sign with the Saints, it is expected he will be placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List, preventing him from returning to the field until an investigation into the accusations against him is complete.

Head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff will return to the Atlanta Falcons next season, the NFC South franchise have confirmed.

The 6-9 Falcons will miss the playoffs for the second straight campaign and will end this season with a losing record, regardless of whether they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17.

That had led to speculation about the futures of fifth-year head coach Quinn and GM Dimitroff, yet both men will retain their positions for 2020.

Quinn led Atlanta to Super Bowl LI in his second season only for the Falcons to squander a 28-3 lead against the New England Patriots, who won in overtime in Houston.

Dimitroff, a former front office member with the Patriots, became Atlanta's GM in 2008 and picked quarterback Matt Ryan with his first draft selection.

The Falcons have made the playoffs in six of the 12 seasons since Dimitroff was hired.

Having been 1-7 earlier this season, Atlanta have won five of their last seven since their Week 9 bye.

In a statement on Atlanta's website, owner Arthur Blank said: "After weighing several factors, including our team's statistical turnaround and our players' focus and effort the second half of the season, I feel the decision to retain Thomas and Dan, with [CEO] Rich [McKay] providing close day-to-day oversight of the football operation, will provide the timeliest route for the Atlanta Falcons to return to contention in 2020 and beyond."

Blank added: "In my time as owner, and particularly since 2008, we have been one of the winningest teams in the NFC - ranking fourth in wins and across the NFL, tied for seventh in wins, and that remains the only acceptable result for us now and in the future."

Former Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris will be the team's defensive coordinator for next season.

The NFL regular season comes to a close this week, with plenty still on the line.

Defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, need a win against the Miami Dolphins to lock up the second seed in the AFC playoffs, though they are guaranteed a spot in the postseason.

The Tennessee Titans' postseason hopes are in their own hands – a win against the Houston Texans will see them through. Meanwhile, a victory over the Seattle Seahawks for NFC West leaders the San Francisco 49ers will ensure their place in the playoffs as the top seed and give them home advantage throughout.

However, the 49ers know that if they slip up then Seattle will win the division and the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints or Seahawks will take top spot in the conference.

The Philadelphia Eagles will clinch a playoff berth and the NFC East title if they win against the New York Giants. A shock defeat would give the Dallas Cowboys the opportunity to atone for last week's loss in Philadelphia and reach the postseason ahead of them by beating the Washington Redskins.

Using data from Stats Perform, we take a closer look at all the Week 17 fixtures.

SUNDAY (all times Eastern)

Chargers (5-10) at Chiefs (11-4) 1pm

- The Chiefs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Chargers, but the last time these teams met at Arrowhead Stadium, 2018 Week 15, the Los Angeles triumphed 29-28.

- With Keenan Allen at 1,117 receiving yards and Mike Williams (963) and Austin Ekeler (950) within striking distance of 1000 receiving yards, the Chargers have a realistic chance of becoming the sixth team in NFL history with three players with 1,000+ yards receiving.

- The Chargers have already suffered their third 10+ loss season in the last five years, after going 11 seasons (from 2004-14) without a single 10-loss season.

 

Bears (7-8) at Vikings (10-5) 1pm

- The Bears have won three successive games against the Vikings, their longest streak since winning six straight over Minnesota from 2009-12.

- Entering 2019, Kirk Cousins had four straight seasons of at least 4000 passing yards, trailing only Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers for the longest active streaks in the NFL. Cousins needs 397 passing yards for a 4000-yard season in 2019, something he's never done in a home game in his career.

- Minnesota's 139 total net yards against the Packers last week were the fourth-fewest by any team in any game this season – only the Jets (twice) and Broncos have had fewer.

 

Jets (6-9) at Bills (10-5) 1pm

- Josh Allen has accounted for 29 total touchdowns this season (20 passing, nine rushing). Jim Kelly in 1991 is the only Buffalo player ever to account for at least 30 total touchdowns in a season (33 passing, one rushing).

- The Bills are 5-2 at home versus the Jets since 2012, with a +81 point differential over these seven games.

- The Jets have the second-fewest rushing yards in the NFL and have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards. They would be the first team since the 1954 Eagles to rank bottom two and top two in rushing yards and opponent rushing yards, respectively.

 

Saints (12-3) at Panthers (5-10) 1pm

- The Saints defeated the Panthers at home in Week 12. New Orleans have also won the last two meetings in Carolina.

- New Orleans have never had back-to-back 13+ win seasons and the 25 wins over the past two seasons are already the most by the Saints in a two-season span all-time.

- Having won the division title for the third straight season, the Saints have tied the longest NFC South title streak that was set by the Panthers from 2013 to 2015.

 

Browns (6-9) at Bengals (1-14) 1pm

- The Browns' home win over the Bengals in Week 14 was a third straight win over their in-state rivals. Cleveland have not managed four consecutive wins over Cincinnati since a seven-game streak from 1992 to 1995.

- Cleveland were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to the Ravens. Their streak of 17 seasons without a playoff berth is tied for the fifth-longest in NFL history.

- The Bengals locked up the first pick in the 2020 NFL draft after a 38-35 overtime loss to the Dolphins in Miami last week. Cincinnati has drafted first overall three times in its history, taking defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson in 1994, running back Ki-Jana Carter in 1995 and quarterback Carson Palmer in 2003.

 

Packers (12-3) at Lions (3-11-1) 1pm

- The Packers clinched the division title with their win over the Vikings in Week 16. Green Bay has won the NFC North title six times this decade, the most division titles by any NFC team.

- Davante Adams hauled in 13 receptions for 116 yards in that triumph, bringing his career receiving yards to 5,101.

- Green Bay holds a 99-72-7 advantage in the all-time series against the Lions and could become the third franchise to win 100 games against another franchise.

 

Dolphins (4-11) at Patriots (12-3) 1pm

- New England will be trying to earn a first-round bye for the 10th consecutive season. Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, no other team has earned a first-round bye in more than four straight seasons.

- Tom Brady has 3,836 passing yards this season. If he can reach 4,000 passing yards, it would be the third time he has thrown for 4,000 yards in a season at age 40 or older.

- Ryan Fitzpatrick leads the Dolphins with 228 rushing yards this season. No team has finished a 16-game season without a player having at least 300 rushing yards.

 

Falcons (6-9) at Buccaneers (7-8) 1pm

- Since 2015, the Falcons and Buccaneers have combined for 55.1 points per game against one another, the highest-scoring matchup between divisional opponents in the NFL.

- The Buccaneers rank third in the NFL in points (436) and third-worst in the NFL in points allowed (421).

- The Falcons have 19 touchdowns in the fourth quarter, tied with the Titans for most in the NFL.

 

Cardinals (5-9-1) at Rams (8-7) 4:25pm

- The Rams won 34-7 when these teams met in Week 13 and have outscored the Cardinals 164-32 during their five-game winning streak against Arizona.

- Tyler Higbee had his first career game with at least 100 receiving yards in Week 13 against Arizona, and has now had at least 100 yards in each of the three games since.

- Arizona beat the Seahawks 27-13 in Week 16, their second straight win following six consecutive losses. Both wins came by 14 points – the first time they have won back-to-back games by at least 14 since December 2015.

 

Raiders (7-8) at Broncos (6-9) 4:25pm

- The Broncos have won six of the last seven home games against the Raiders.

- Oakland has gone 17 straight seasons without winning the AFC West, tied for the fourth-longest streak not winning their division.

- The Broncos will finish with a losing record for the third consecutive season, the second-longest streak of losing seasons in franchise history (10 straight from 1963-1972).

 

Redskins (3-12) at Dallas Cowboys (7-8) 4:25pm

- The Cowboys have won six of their last seven over the Redskins, including three straight in Dallas.

- Last week, the Redskins became the third team in the NFL this season to allow 300+ passing yards and 200+ rushing yards in a game.

- Dallas have had at least 400 total net yards in all seven home games. No team since at least 1950 has had eight home games with 400+ total net yards in a season.

 

Titans (8-7) at Texans (10-5) 4:25pm

- Following their 24-21 win at Tennessee two weeks ago, the Texans look to secure the first season sweep by either team since 2015, and to square the all-time series at 18 wins each.

- The Texans clinched their second straight AFC South title with a 23-20 win at Tampa Bay – Houston's fifth victory this season by three points or fewer.

- Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson did not throw a touchdown pass last week; his season total sits at 26, matching the number he threw one season ago.

 

Steelers (8-7) at Ravens (13-2) 4:25pm

- Since John Harbaugh became head coach in 2008, the Ravens are 12-11 against the Steelers, and 14 of the 23 meetings have been decided by three points or fewer.

- Pittsburgh has lost back-to-back games after winning seven of its previous eight games. The Steelers have failed to score a fourth-quarter touchdown in eight straight games.

- The Ravens have clinched home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs, and they have tied a franchise record with 13 wins.

 

Colts (7-8) at Jaguars (5-10) 4:25pm

- Jacksonville have won four straight home games against Indianapolis, tied for its third-longest home winning streak against any opponent in the team's history.

- The Jaguars lead the NFL with a 96.8 field-goal percentage this season (30-for-31), all attempted by Josh Lambo.

- Chris Conley had 56 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in Jacksonville's Week 16 loss to the Falcons, his third touchdown reception in the last two games.

 

Eagles (8-7) at Giants (4-11) 4:25pm

- The Eagles got a 23-17 overtime win at home when these teams met in Week 14, their sixth straight win over the Giants and 10th in the last 11.

- Philadelphia has converted 57.1 percent of its red zone third downs this season, the highest mark in the league.

- The Eagles' six-game winning streak is tied for their second-longest all-time against New York – they won 12 straight between 1975 and 1981.


49ers (12-3) at Seahawks (11-4) 8:20pm

- Seattle got a 27-24 overtime win in San Francisco when these teams met in Week 10. Including their win in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks have won 13 of their last 15 games against the 49ers.

- Indeed, San Francisco have not won in Seattle since Week 16 in 2011.

- The 49ers beat the Rams on Saturday, reaching 12 wins for the first time since 2013. With another victory, they will clinch the NFC's top seed for the first time since 1997.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger insisted he will "come back stronger and better than ever" in 2020 as he recovers from a season-ending injury.

Steelers star Roethlisberger was ruled out of the remainder of the 2019 NFL season after undergoing elbow surgery in September.

There has been speculation the 37-year-old and two-time Super Bowl champion could retire but Roethlisberger dismissed the speculation via Twitter.

Roethlisberger wrote: "P.S. Contrary to recent reports out there about my football future and my 'uncertainty' about playing again, I am working hard and am more determined than ever to come back stronger and better than ever next year!"

Steelers veteran Roethlisberger suffered the injury in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks.

Roethlisberger, who hurt his right elbow in a 28-26 loss to the Seahawks, was seen shaking his throwing arm at various points during the first half of the team's home opener and even left for the locker room before returning to the sideline to play through the injury.

In April, the six-time Pro Bowler signed a two-year contract extension with the Steelers through the 2021 season.

Since being drafted by the Steelers in 2004, Roethlisberger has played 218 games, and completed 4,651 passes for 56,545 yards and 363 touchdowns.

J.J. Watt plans to play for the Houston Texans in the playoffs after the team designated him to return from injured reserve.

The Texans sealed their place in the postseason with an AFC South-clinching 23-20 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday.

And now the Texans are set to get star defensive end Watt back in action in time for the postseason after they made the roster move on Tuesday.

"I feel extremely excited about being able to be back on the practice team with the guys," Watt told the media. "The medical team here has done a great job.

"There's obviously an element of risk involved as well, that I understand, but, to me, the opportunity to play in the playoffs, to try and help this team win football games, there's nothing that I want more. It’s built into me – I want to be on the field with the guys."

Asked if he intends to feature in the opening round of the playoffs, he replied: "That's the plan, that's the goal."

Texans coach Bill O'Brien revealed earlier this month Watt was making positive steps in his recovery from a torn pectoral he suffered in October that was initially expected to have brought his NFL season to an end.

The 30-year-old sustained the injury in Week 8 as the Texans won against the Oakland Raiders, saying afterwards: "This game can be beautiful and it can also be brutal".

Watt, who is a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, also missed significant portions of the 2016 and 2017 campaigns with season-ending injuries.

But he has come back sooner than expected and the Texans are now ready to receive a huge boost to their defense ahead of the postseason, where they will be looking to win their first playoff game since 2016.

At 10-5, the Texans are currently slated to finish as the number four AFC seed.

Watt recorded four sacks, a forced fumble and three passes defended in his eight games this year. He has spent his whole career in Houston.

Marshawn Lynch has re-joined the Seattle Seahawks to fix their running back injury crisis heading into the playoffs, his agent has confirmed.

Lynch, who first joined the Seahawks from the Buffalo Bills during the 2010 season, won the Super Bowl with Seattle in 2013.

He announced his retirement in 2015 but returned two years later with the Oakland Raiders.

On Tuesday the 33-year-old free agent was snapped up by the Seahawks, who lost starter Chris Carson and back-up C.J. Prosise to season-ending injuries in Sunday's shock loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

With Rashaad Penny already on injured reserve, coach Pete Carroll was facing a selection worry going into a vital Week 17 match-up with the San Francisco 49ers that will decide who finishes top of the NFC West.

However, the arrival of Lynch - who rushed over 1,000 yards in four successive seasons from 2011 - has now assuaged those concerns.

The deal was confirmed by Lynch's agent in a Tweet which showed a copy of the one-year agreement.

 

Aaron Rodgers described the Green Bay Packers' NFC North title as "really sweet" and one that took on added significance to him given it was sealed against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Packers went into Monday's game as underdogs but won 23-10 to seal their first division title since 2016, running back Aaron Jones scoring twice.

They are still in the reckoning to claim the number one seed in the NFC going into Week 17, a status that would be secured if they defeat the Detroit Lions and the San Francisco 49ers lose to the Seattle Seahawks.

Quarterback Rodgers broke his collarbone against the Vikings in 2017 and had the reaction of their fans at that moment in his mind after the Packers (12-3) defeated their divisional rivals on the road.

"It feels great to win in this stadium, where a couple of years ago I was jeered leaving the field after breaking my collarbone," he said.

"To be back on the top of winning the North after a couple of years of being down and to win these kind of games feels great.

"It's really sweet, to celebrate in the locker room with those guys. A lot of guys weren't here in '16 when we got to put these hats on. 

"There's nothing like checking off the first box on that goal list and we're playing for even more coming up next week.

"Especially with how deep this playoffs and the NFC is, it's nice to have a chance to have some games at home.

"I said earlier in the season, just getting in gives you a legitimate shot, but knowing we could have two home games to get somewhere special changes the whole dynamic."

Za'Darius Smith, a big free agency signing in the offseason, continued his fine 2019 with a 3.5 sack display against the Vikings, whose QB Kirk Cousins is now 0-9 in Monday night games.

Rodgers said his team-mate Smith commands attention, adding: "It's an energy, it's a force. He just has a great presence about him.

"When he talks, guys listen. He's meant a lot to our success in more ways than just his play on the field.

"Guys who can single-handedly take over games, it covers up for a lot of stuff on a squad. We're pretty lucky to have him.

"I could tell [in training camp] our defense was different; it just had a different feel to it.

"You could see the tempo and size and ability. I felt pretty good about our chances on defense. I knew the offense was going to be a work in progress, but I felt like the defense was going to give us a chance.

"There's a lot of emphasis on looking pretty or dominating, but it doesn’t matter how we get it done as long as we get it done."

The beaten Vikings (10-5) are now guaranteed to finish the regular season as the NFC's number six seed.

The Green Bay Packers claimed the NFC North title after topping the Minnesota Vikings 23-10 in the NFL.

Aaron Jones starred on Monday as the playoff-bound Packers clinched their first division crown since 2016.

Green Bay running back Jones had 23 carries for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Packers (12-3) in Minnesota.

It was not pretty at times, but the Packers got the job done on the road at U.S. Bank Stadium for an early Christmas present.

The Vikings (10-5) and the Packers exchanged field goals in the opening quarter before Stefon Diggs put Minnesota ahead in the second.

A 21-yard pass from Kirk Cousins, who finished 16 of 31 for 122 yards, a TD and an interception, gave the Vikings a 10-3 lead before a pair of Mason Crosby field goals reduced the deficit to 10-9 at half-time.

The Packers took control in the second half – Jones' 12-yard run putting Green Bay ahead for the first time in the game.

Jones then sealed the victory with his second touchdown – taking his tally to an NFL-leading 19 – when he ran 56 yards for a TD with less than six minutes remaining.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was quiet, going 26 of 40 for 216 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and three sacks.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he is awaiting the results of further tests after star Zach Ertz reportedly suffered a fractured rib against the Dallas Cowboys.

Ertz hurt his rib in Sunday's 17-9 win over rivals the Cowboys as the Eagles moved top of the NFC East standings with one regular-season game remaining.

The Eagles tight end left for the locker room before returning to the game to help Philadelphia seize control in the race for the NFL playoffs.

As the Eagles prepare for Sunday's decisive clash with the New York Giants, Pederson told reporters on Monday: "He [Ertz] took the shot there in the first half.

"There is a rib that has been affected. I am waiting on, with our doctors, a couple more tests for some other things. We'll all see later today actually. Probably have something more for you either tomorrow [Tuesday] or Thursday when I see you guys again."

Pederson added: "That [Ertz] got back out there, just shows his toughness and willingness to get back out there.

"As you guys know, we take every injury seriously and make sure that we protect our players. That's what Mondays are for, to do a full evaluation on all our guys that get nicked up in games."

The Eagles (8-7) can seal their postseason berth by topping the New York Giants (4-11), while the Cowboys (7-8) face the Washington Redskins (3-12).

 

The high-flying Baltimore Ravens will rest star quarterback Lamar Jackson for their regular-season NFL finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

MVP frontrunner Jackson and fellow starters Marshal Yanda, Earl Thomas III, Mark Ingram II and Brandon Williams will not face the Steelers on Sunday.

The Ravens (13-2) clinched the AFC top seed and homefield advantage after breezing past the Cleveland Browns 31-15 last week, and Baltimore will now rest some of their key players ahead of the playoffs.

"It will be an opportunity for some guys to play who have been inactive," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters on Monday.

"It's a rivalry game. It's the Steelers. They have everything to play for. We recognise that and we'll be looking to put our absolute best foot forward."

"I think it's a solid decision," Harbaugh said. "I don't know if it's easy. It's a strong case to be made either way. I recognise the other side of it. It's two good choices. We're going to have to practice really well.

"The guys who aren't playing are going to have to practice. We want to win this game. After that, we want to be the very best team we can be coming into the divisional game."

Jackson made clear his intention to play Week 17 following Baltimore's victory over Cleveland on Sunday.

"Yeah, he wants to play, I saw the news conference," Harbaugh added. "I appreciate it. But one thing about Lamar, and all of our guys, they'll be 100 percent behind the guys who are playing. And they'll be doing everything they can do to get those guys prepared to play in this game and win the football game."

Harbaugh also confirmed star running back Ingram suffered a "mild to moderate" calf strain in the victory against the Browns.

"He won't play this week. He probably wouldn't play this week no matter what the circumstance was with that calf strain," Harbaugh said. "We'd be looking for him to be ready in two weeks. So we'll just see how that goes going forward."

Marshawn Lynch could be about to rejoin the Seattle Seahawks after head coach Pete Carroll confirmed the running back will meet with the team on Monday.

Lynch won a Super Bowl during his previous stint with Seattle, having joined them during the 2010 season via a trade with the Buffalo Bills.

The former first-round pick left in 2015 after announcing his retirement, only to return to the NFL in 2017 and sign for the Oakland Raiders, spending two seasons with his hometown team.

However, the free agent may be set to make an unexpected comeback to help out the depleted Seahawks, who lost starter Chris Carson and back-up C.J. Prosise to season-ending injuries in Sunday's surprise loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

With Rashaad Penny already on injured reserve, Carroll was left with a lack of options ahead of a crucial Week 17 meeting with the San Francisco 49ers that will decide who finishes top of the NFC West.

"He [Lynch] will be flying in here this morning and we're going to give him a really good chance to play for us," Carroll said during an interview on 710 ESPN Seattle.

"The circumstances rolled just at this time and he could have four or five games left in him. Maybe that's what we need."

Lynch rushed for over 1,000 yards in four successive seasons from 2011 onwards, leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2013 and 2014.

Carroll is confident the 33-year-old - who did not hand in retirement papers to the league - can make an impact if he is to return for a second spell with Seattle.

"He's had plenty of time to be working and get ready in case something came up and I'm anxious to see him when we get him here. There's a lot of history here that's great history," Carroll added.

"There was nobody that ever amplified the kind of mentality and toughness that we like to play with, so if we get a chance to get the 'Beast' back on the field, we'll see how that works out."

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