American football: AFC trio look to be making up the numbers

Three AFC teams clinched their places in the play-offs but none of them did it in such a way on Sunday to suggest they will be around for very long.

Least impressive were the Indianapolis Colts, who qualified for the post- season despite being beaten 31-24 by Cincinnati. Jeff Blake found Tony McGee for the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter but Kansas City's loss to Buffalo meant the defeat was immaterial: the Colts travel to Pittsburgh on Sunday but will do so as heavy underdogs.

Bills were not much better. In what was virtually a play-off game with the Chiefs - the winners would be definitely through, the losers probably out - both sides paraded the full range of their attacking limitations. It was close, if jaw-droppingly dull, for three quarters before Jim Kelly threw for a couple of scores and the Bills won 20-9.

The Chiefs did not help their cause with a game plan that was not so much conservative as neo-Nazi. Marty Schottenheimer, their head coach, has lost all confidence in quarterback Steve Bono, and until his side were behind he had virtually ruled out the penetrating pass as an offensive option. No wonder they were unable to find the end zone.

The Bills now play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars, whose 19-17 defeat of the Atlanta Falcons was, if anything, even less convincing. The Jags, in their second season in the league, dominated much of the game but allowed the hapless Falcons to rally in the fourth quarter. They would have lost had the Falcons' Morten Andersen, the league's best kicker, converted a 30-yard field goal with four seconds left.

Even a Falcons victory was unlikely to have saved the job of their head coach, June Jones, who, with Dan Reeves of the New York Giants, yesterday became the latest victims of the unfestive tradition of head coach culling. The two Riches, Kotite of the Jets and Brooks of St Louis, were first to go at the weekend and it will be a surprise if Detroit's Wayne Fontes, Oakland's Mike White and New Orleans' Rick Venturi (who was only a temporary appointment) make it to the new year.

Indeed, there is every indication that it could be a bumper crop for there is also talk of a change at Kansas City despite Schottenheimer's extraordinary record of success, while Minnesota and Dallas may be considering their options once their interest in the play-offs is over.

Meanwhile, the prize for least-seasonal greeting goes to Chicago's Alonzo Spellman after his side's 34-19 loss at Tampa Bay. "That team's awful," he said of the victors. "Terrible, they know it and we know it. Today was a fluke. Fluke. Can you spell that?"

NFL PLAY-OFFS: AFC Jacksonville at Buffalo (Saturday); Indianapolis at Pittsburgh (Sunday). NFC Minnesota at Dallas (Saturday); Philadelphia at San Francisco (Sunday).

Packed up: Brad Johnson, Minnesota's quarterback, is sacked by Green Bay's Sean Jones on Sunday Photograph: AP

NFL STANDINGS

AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

EASTERN DIVISION

W L T PF PA

*New England 11 5 0 418 313

*Buffalo 10 6 0 319 266

Indianapolis 9 7 0 317 334

Miami 8 8 0 339 325

NY Jets 1 15 0 279 454

CENTRAL DIVISION

W L T PF PA

Pittsburgh 10 6 0 344 257

*Jacksonville 9 7 0 325 335

Cincinnati 8 8 0 372 369

Houston 8 8 0 345 319

Baltimore 4 12 0 371 441

WESTERN DIVISION

W L T PF PA

Denver 13 3 0 391 275

Kansas City 9 7 0 297 300

San Diego 8 8 0 310 376

Oakland 7 9 0 340 293

Seattle 7 9 0 317 376

* through to play-offs; won divisional title

NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

EASTERN DIVISION

W L T PF PA

Dallas 10 6 0 286 250

*Philadephia 10 6 0 363 341

Washington 9 7 0 364 312

Arizona 7 9 0 300 397

NY Giants 6 10 0 242 297

CENTRAL DIVISION

W L T PF PA

Green Bay 13 3 0 456 210

*Minnesota 9 7 0 298 315

Chicago 7 9 0 283 305

Tampa Bay 6 10 0 221 293

Detroit 5 10 0 288 344

WESTERN DIVISION

W L T PF PA

Carolina 12 4 0 367 218

*San Francisco 11 4 0 374 243

St Louis 6 10 0 303 409

Atlanta 3 13 0 309 461

New Orleans 3 13 0 229 339

won Conference title

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
tech
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
News
video
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Intruder Alarm Trainee Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This friendly and fast growing security compan...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Administrator

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore