Week 17: Chiefs' duo crushes Denver
Jamaal Charles/Derrick Johnson: Charles, one of the league's most productive running backs during the second half of the season, was a force against the Broncos. Charles rushed for a career-high 259 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries as Kansas City spoiled Denver's playoff hopes with a 44-24 victory. Johnson also had a starring role. The fifth-year linebacker returned two interceptions for scores -- a 45-yarder in the third quarter and a 60-yarder in the fourth -- tying an NFL record shared by 24 other players.
Brett Favre: Favre and the Vikings will have some momentum entering the playoffs after all. In a 44-7 victory over the Giants, Minnesota reverted to the pass-first scheme that worked wonders during the team's best moments of the season. Favre finished with a season-high 148.7 passer rating. He threw for 316 yards and four TDs despite leaving the game midway through the third quarter.
Fred Jackson: Jackson rushed for 212 yards, the seventh-highest rushing total in Bills history, powering Buffalo to a 30-7 victory over Indianapolis. Jackson's big day allowed him to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career. Jackson also had an 11-yard TD catch in the first quarter.
Jay Cutler: Cutler finished a rocky first year in Chicago on a positive note. Cutler matched a career high for a second straight week with four TD passes, leading the Bears to a 37-23 win over Detroit. Cutler completed 22 of 36 passes for 276 yards.
Justin Smith: Smith entered Week 17 with 2½ sacks on the season. He recorded 3½ against the Rams, spearheading a dominant defensive effort as San Francisco cruised to a 28-6 victory. The 49ers held St. Louis to 109 total yards. It was the seventh time this season the 49ers held an opponent to 10 or fewer points.
Willis McGahee: McGahee's best performance of the season came at a good time for the Ravens. McGahee rushed for a career-high 167 yards and three TDs -- including a 77-yarder that featured a vicious stiff-arm -- helping Baltimore secure a playoff berth with a 21-13 victory over Oakland.
Chris Johnson: Johnson rushed for 134 yards on 36 carries in the Titans' 17-13 victory over Seattle, becoming the sixth player in NFL history to reach the 2000-yard rushing plateau. Johnson also had two TDs, including the game-winner (a 1-yarder with 4:33 remaining).
Carson Palmer: Palmer, and the rest of the Bengals' offense for that matter, couldn't get anything accomplished against the Jets' defense. Palmer completed only one of 11 passes for no -- yes, zero -- yards before being pulled early in the third quarter of Cincinnati's 37-0 loss.
The Giants' defense: The Giants' defense, which supposedly hit rock bottom in last week's 41-9 loss to Carolina, continued its horrible play on Sunday. The Giants were no match for Favre and Co. (see above), allowing 487 total yards and falling behind 31-0 for the second straight week. New York has surrendered 40 points or more five times this season.
The Rams' QBs: The Rams have the first pick in April's draft. Chances are they'll be targeting a franchise quarterback. Keith Null and Kyle Boller combined for 22 net passing yards in St. Louis' loss to the 49ers. Noll (7-of-17 for 57 yards) was sacked five times before being replaced by Boller (4-of-11 for 23 yards) in the third quarter.
The Eagles' defense: The Eagles squandered a chance to win the NFC East title and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their defense deserves much of the blame. Philadelphia allowed 474 total yards, including 179 on the ground, in a 24-0 loss at Dallas.