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The playoff picture

As much as you'd love to read gobs and gobs of stories about Sunday's Texans-Broncos game, we're going to start with a rundown of how the playoffs look at the moment.

Welcome aboard. The Jets' defense was gashed left and right by Jay Cutler, but Gang Green still had its playoff ticket punched thanks to Jacksonville's home loss to Washington.

The Ravens are in after defeating Cleveland. They're tied with Pittsburgh atop the AFC Central, but the Steelers hold the tiebreaker. Next week, Pittsburgh is at Cleveland and Baltimore hosts Cincinnati.

The Chiefs won, and the San Diego Chargers lost, somehow, to the Bengals, clinching the AFC West for K.C. (And possibly clinching Norv Turner's dismissal as Chargers coach.)

The Eagles, of course, clinched the NFC East after the Giants' defense continued its poor play from the previous Sunday's fourth quarter in a 45-17 loss to Green Bay.

Locked in. The Patriots beat the Bills for the 20th time in 21 meetings and clinched home-field advantage in the AFC. Despite the Patriots' dominance in the last decade, it is only the third time they've grabbed the No. 1 seed. The other times were in 2003 and 2007.

The Falcons can lock up the top NFC seed with a win against New Orleans on Monday Night Football.

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The NFL's soap opera

Donovan McNabb has become the league's scorned and insulted lover.

After 11 seasons of happy matrimony with the Eagles, the couple filed for divorce in April. McNabb got together with the Redskins, who basically have done nothing but call him fat and ugly in front of all his friends.

At least No. 5 is smart enough to get out of the relationship before it gets any worse. ESPN reported Sunday that McNabb was planning to ask for his release this off-season, according to a source close to the quarterback.

This came on the heels of a public back-and-forth all last week between McNabb and the father-and-son duo of Redskins coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan about the veteran's benching.

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Speaking of QBs . . .

The San Francisco 49ers could probably use one.

Alex Smith started the Niners' first seven games. Then Troy Smith started five in a row. Then Alex Smith started the next two. Then Troy Smith started Sunday - and was benched in the fourth quarter for Alex Smith.

In a completely related matter, San Francisco lost its 10th game and was eliminated from playoff contention.

Could McNabb find his way out West? Maybe, but it's worth noting that both Smiths have a slightly higher quarterback rating this season than McNabb's.

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Merry Christmas

If you missed the error-prone Cowboys from the first nine weeks of the season, you got a welcome present on Christmas night.

The 'Boys threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, allowed a 74-yard TD pass, were penalized for excessive celebration after a score, missed an extra-point attempt, and allowed a conversion on fourth and 15 on the game-deciding drive in their 27-26 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

David Buehler's missed PAT with 1 minute, 41 seconds left meant that Jay Feely's 48-yard field goal with five seconds to play was a game-winning kick and not a game-tying one.

Not one to miss an opportunity to be quoted, Jerry Jones and his drum-tight face were in front of the cameras after the loss.

"This has been quite a year of disappointment - real disappointment, real surprise," he said.

Do you remember when Jones was talking about his team's playing in the Super Bowl in its home stadium? We'll forgive if you don't since it seems like eons ago.

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Extra points

With wins by Denver and Cincinnati, the Carolina Panthers clinched the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Miami's home woes continued Sunday. The Dolphins allowed Detroit to score 17 points in the final five minutes and fell to 1-7 at home. They are 6-1 on the road.

The win was Detroit's third straight, something it had not accomplished since 2007.

Contact staff writer T.J. Furman at tfurman@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.