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





*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



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



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




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



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



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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Maths teacher require...

KS1 Teacher

£21500 - £31500 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work...

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style