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If this turns out to have been the succession of the NFL's next dominant defense, it only makes sense it was ugly.

By Jacob Feldman
December 11, 2017

Two Seahawks players were ejected and a suspension might be coming for defensive lineman Michael Bennett after he helped instigate a final-minute brawl in a 30-24 loss to the Jaguars. With Jacksonville in victory formation, Bennett rolled into the legs of center Brandon Linder before taking him to the ground. Sheldon Richardson was ejected for throwing a punch in the following tussle, and fellow lineman Quinton Jefferson was kicked out a play later after more aggressive posturing. On his way out of the stadium, he attempted to climb into the stands after twice nearly being hit with an item from the crowd. Security ultimately restrained him.

Asked about what transpired, Bennett said, "I don't have to explain myself," but in the other locker room, Jaguars QB Blake Bortles had a theory.  “I think it’s a little bit of people aren’t used to getting beat like that by the Jaguars,” Bortles said. “We just beat the crap out of you for 60 minutes."

He's certainly right on that first point. Now 9-4, Jacksonville is guaranteed to finish with its first winning season since 2007 (when running back Leonard Fournette was in sixth grade).

Seattle, meanwhile, is suddenly in a perilous position. At 8-5 with a head-to-head loss to current six seed Atlanta, it has less than a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight. And if Sunday's dirty play—which was reminiscent of the team's unsportsmanlike end to its Super Bowl XLIX loss—leads to suspensions (as I'd expect given the league's recent punishments), it would further damage the Seahawks' chances as they face the division rival Rams next.

If this turns out to have been the succession of the NFL's next dominant defense, it only makes sense it was ugly. 

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1. Eagles 43, Rams 35. Philadelphia took another step towards claiming the NFC's top seed, but more importantly, they may have lost Carson Wentz. Wentz was hit by two defenders while diving into the end zone (the play was called back), and after finishing the drive with a TD pass, walked off the field. Initial reports indicated he may have suffered damage to his ACL. We should find out more Monday.

2. Steelers 39, Ravens 38. Pittsburgh came back from 11 down in the fourth quarter thanks to 506 yards from Ben Roethlisberger. Thirty-four of those yards came on a pass to Antonio Brown with 1:08 left to set up the game-deciding kick. Afterwards, the Steelers FaceTimed with Ryan Shazier, who remains hospitalized. 

3. Panthers 31, Vikings 24. A rejuvenated Jonathan Stewart (103 yards, three touchdowns) helped Carolina snap Minnesota's eight-game winning streak. The Panthers are now tied with the Saints atop the NFC South, though New Orleans owns the tiebreaker after sweeping the home-and-home.

4. Chiefs 26, Raiders 15. Kansas City is back (maybe)! Kareem Hunt found the end zone for the first time since September, but more importantly the Chiefs defense looked like its early-season self, holding Oakland to 268 yards to keep pace with the Chargers in the AFC West. They face each other Saturday.

5. Packers 27, Browns 21 (OT). Cleveland led by 14 in the fourth. Then the Browns were up seven with three minutes to play. But Trevor Davis returned a punt 65 yards for Green Bay to set up a tying score with 17 seconds left. In overtime, DeShone Kizer was hit as he threw, leading to an interception after Cleveland started with the ball. Three minutes later, Davante Adams was in the end zone for the second time Sunday, and the Browns were 0-13 for the second consecutive year.

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6. Bills 13, Colts 7 (OT). Lake-effect snow was the big winner in Buffalo, blanketing New Era Field and eliminating sightlines. That turned the game into a battle of running backs, with LeSean McCoy (156 yards, one touchdown) besting Frank Gore (130 yards) and scoring the game-winner from 21 yards out with 1:33 left in overtime.

7. Chargers 30, Washington 13. A dominant performance bolsters L.A.'s case as possibly the scariest AFC team come January. It outgained Washington, 488-201.

8. Lions 24, Buccaneers 21. Detroit and Tampa Bay combined for eight turnovers, but Matthew Stafford salvaged the day with a late drive, concluding in a Matt Prater 46-yarder with 20 seconds remaining.

9. Cowboys 30, Giants 10. In his return, Eli Manning threw the ball 46 times with less-than-lovable results (228 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions). Dak Prescott meanwhile had 332 yards and three scores. 

10. Broncos 23, Jets 0. 35-9 defeat in Miami one week, 23-0 romp the next. With that, Denver's longest losing streak since joining the NFL in 1970 is over.

11. Cardinals 12, Titans 7.  Four Phil Dawson field goals bested a feeble Tennessee offense playing without Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan. The Titans now fall a game behind Jacksonville, with games against the Rams and those Jaguars looming.

12. 49ers 26, Texans 16. Bitcoin investors are sad they didn't buy Jimmy Garoppolo stock at this point. The San Francisco QB led the team to a second straight road victory, this time tallying a career-high 334 yards. On the other side, Tom Savage was allowed to briefly re-enter the game before eventually being taken off the field for concussion symptoms. 

13. Bears 33, Bengals 7. Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard—Chicago's backfield of the future—showed promise late in a lost season. Howard had 147 yards and two touchdowns; Trubisky completed 78 percent of his passes.

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Before Adam Vinatieri's game-tying kick, the Colts' special teams unit did some kicking themselves

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