Packers and Ravens lock up playoff berths

Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Green Bay Packers secured a playoff spot on Sunday when they defeated the Chicago Bears 21-13.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Green Bay Packers secured a playoff spot on Sunday when they defeated the Chicago Bears 21-13.

The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 21-13 on Sunday to secure a place in the playoffs, while the Atlanta Falcons showed they will be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason by smashing the New York Giants 34-0.

The Giants’ first shutout since 1996 blew the race for the top spot in the NFC East wide open, with the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys joining New York in a three-way tie at 8-6.

The Cowboys’ thrilling 27-24 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers handed Baltimore a postseason berth for the fifth straight year despite the Ravens suffering a third consecutive defeat, this time to the Denver Broncos 34-17.

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The Houston Texans secured the AFC South title with a 29-17 win over the division rival Indianapolis Colts.

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to James Jones as Green Bay moved to 10-4, putting them out of reach of the Bears, who slipped to 8-6. After starting the season 7-1, the Bears have now lost five of their last six and their only hope of making the playoffs is with a wild card.

With two games left to play, the NFC East is suddenly the most fascinating division in the league with the Giants now overtaken by the Redskins, who have the tie-break advantage in divisional games. New York has won just two of their last six games and along with the Redskins, the Dallas Cowboys could yet have a say in the outcome of the division.

Atlanta’s victory was a statement of their intent in the postseason as Mike Smith’s team confirmed their status as the top team in the NFC.

The Texans (12-2) had already assured themselves of a place in the postseason but their win over the Colts secured them the AFC South title.Indianapolis is not yet sure of a wild-card place, although at 9-5 they remain in a strong position.

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