- Associated Press - Saturday, December 25, 2010

There it is, within grasp, for a half-dozen teams: that coveted playoff berth.

The chore is simple for five of them. If the Saints, Eagles, Giants, Jets or Ravens win, they are in. Doesn’t matter what anybody else does; no help required.

Kansas City needs a victory and a loss by San Diego to capture the AFC West. The Chiefs host Tennessee, while the Chargers are at Cincinnati, and many expect that race to come down to the season finales.

“What you work and play all year for is to play after the regular season,” says Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson. “And that’s what we plan to do.”

San Diego has made its usual charge in the second half of the schedule, winning six of seven. Star quarterback Philip Rivers figures it will take eight of nine to stay alive.

“We know we need to win the next two to even have a chance, and we still need some help,” says the NFL’s highest-ranked passer in December. “We’ve always wanted to finish strong, and we’ve been able to do that. But it’s certainly going to be a challenge these last two weeks.”

Well, maybe not that big a challenge: The Chargers’ other game is at woeful Denver. Kansas City hosts its biggest rival, Oakland, next weekend.

New England, Pittsburgh and Atlanta already own postseason spots. The Saints get one if they win at Atlanta, which also would keep the defending Super Bowl champions in position to take the AFC South that the Falcons currently lead by two games.

The winner of that division figures to get a first-round bye.

“It’s a huge advantage to have that bye and have that home game, but there’s been teams that haven’t had that luxury and moved on to do special things,” says Saints linebacker Scott Shanle. “I won’t deny that (playing on the road) does make your job harder. But it’s not impossible.”

The Eagles win the NFC East by beating Minnesota in the Sunday night game.

Also Sunday, the Giants are at Green Bay and the Jets visit Chicago. With wins at their NFC North opponents, both New York teams can secure wild cards.

Baltimore travels to Cleveland with a chance to secure a postseason berth; New England is at Buffalo with a shot at grabbing the AFC East crown and a first-round bye; Indianapolis tries to hold onto the top spot in the AFC South when it visits Oakland while division runner-up Jacksonville hosts Washington; San Francisco is at St. Louis and Seattle visits Tampa Bay in the not-so-wild NFC West race.

On Saturday night, in a rare Christmas game, Arizona edged Dallas 27-26 on Jay Feely’s 48-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining. Both teams are 5-10.

Two other games with no meaning whatsoever in the playoff races take place Sunday: Houston at Denver and Detroit at Miami.

Story Continues →