The Atlanta Falcons didn't need to take the field Sunday to get into the playoffs.
The prospect of winter football's return to Minnesota _ the mountains of snow, the vapor of exhaled breath, the courageous fans braving the elements _ sounds great to the NFL.
Five division leaders can clinch playoff berths this weekend, and the Patriots and Steelers can secure first-round byes in the AFC.
The University of Minnesota put out a call Wednesday for fans and volunteers willing to shovel snow at TCF Bank Stadium to get it ready to host the Vikings and Bears next week in place of the snow-damaged Metrodome.
When Brent Stanton heard free tickets were going to be given away for the New York Giants-Minnesota Vikings game, he drove 10 hours on "awful roads" from Milwaukee to Detroit to get some.
The NFL's playoff picture might be muddled in the middle. At the top, it's crystal clear, thanks to the Patriots and Falcons.
The New England Patriots are in the playoffs for the eighth time in 10 years after a 36-7 dismantling of the Chicago Bears on Sunday in which Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and two touchdowns despite the snowy conditions.
Footballs fly at the New England Patriots defensive backs. It's only practice, but they spend plenty of time sharpening their catching skills.
It didn't take too long for Brian Urlacher's concerns to disappear. By the end of training camp, they were all gone.