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The Starting 11 - Twenty Teams Still in Contention; Five Playoff Berths, Four Division Titles Still at Stake

As the NFL wraps up its 104th regular-season schedule, the words of Pro Football Hall of Famer Tom Landry echo, emphasizing the unbelievable nature of football. The stakes are high, and with one week remaining, the league is witnessing historic implications:

1. Unprecedented Defensive Achievements in Baltimore: The Ravens (13-3) lead the NFL in takeaways, sacks, and scoring defense. No team has accomplished this trifecta since the 1970 merger. The upcoming clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) holds playoff implications, with the Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson eyeing another MVP title.

2. Number of the Week – 109: This season has seen 109 NFL games decided by six or fewer points, a testament to the fierce competition reminiscent of the closely contested 2022 season.

3. Hope in Abundance: The playoffs loom large, and seeding is critical, but recent history shows that lower-seeded teams can make significant postseason impacts. Teams like the Los Angeles Rams, starting 3-6, and potential worst-to-first turnarounds by Atlanta, Houston, and New Orleans add excitement.

4. Spotlight – Individual Matchup: The Miami Dolphins (11-5) face the Buffalo Bills (10-6), with star receiver Tyreek Hill chasing history against Bills cornerback Rasul Douglas. The outcome affects playoff seeding and could determine the AFC East division title.

5. Spotlight – Team Matchup: The AFC South showdown between Houston (9-7) and Indianapolis (9-7) holds significant playoff implications. Coaches Demeco Ryans and Shane Steichen have orchestrated remarkable turnarounds for their respective teams.

6. Streak Speak: Dallas kicker Brandon Aubrey's flawless field-goal streak and CeeDee Lamb's record-setting performance highlight the NFC East title clash against Washington.

7. Did You Know?: Detroit's Sam LaPorta is rewriting rookie tight end records, adding excitement to the Lions' matchup against Minnesota.

8. Under-the-Radar Storyline: Fifth-round selections are making a significant impact, with Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams playing crucial roles in the Los Angeles Rams' resurgence.

9. Trend Time: The Chicago Bears' defensive prowess and the Green Bay Packers' efficient passing game are key trends to watch as they face off in Week 18.

10. Next Gen Stat of the Week: Denver cornerback Pat Surtain's impressive coverage against Chargers' Quentin Johnston sets the stage for a challenging matchup against Raiders' Davante Adams.

11. And Last But Not Least: The Cleveland Browns (11-5) are on the cusp of a historic season, with a chance to match their single-season franchise record with a 12th win, showcasing resilience amid quarterback challenges. As we approach the culmination of the regular season, the NFL landscape is ablaze with anticipation, with each game holding the power to reshape playoff scenarios and etch new records into the league's storied history.

This is Dez Barnes of Pretty Girls Love Sports, a journalist on the MTMV Sports platform. She is a retired US Army veteran, professional cheerleader, pet mom, and avid sports lover. Feel free to follow her writings as she dives into the latest sports news! You can find her on all social media channels @PGLOVESPORTS.


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