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Baltimore clinch AFC North title and top seed in play-offs with Miami mauling

The Baltimore Ravens thrashed the Miami Dolphins to clinch top spot (Nick Wass/AP)
The Baltimore Ravens thrashed the Miami Dolphins to clinch top spot (Nick Wass/AP)

The Baltimore Ravens underlined their Super Bowl credentials with a crushing 56-19 victory over closest AFC conference rivals the Miami Dolphins.

The Ravens, Super Bowl winners in 2000 and 2012, secured top seeding from the AFC and will have a bye when the opening playoff matches take place.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was in imperious form as his team scored eight touchdowns, including two for tight end Isaiah Likely.

Top seeding in the NFC was confirmed for the San Francisco 49ers – the first time since 2019 – following a 27-10 success against the Washington Commanders, but there were also a number of close encounters during the regular season’s penultimate round.

Six field goals from Harrison Butker kicked the Kansas City Chiefs to a 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals as they clinched an eighth consecutive AFC West title.

But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to wait for a third straight NFC South crown as they went down 23-13 to the New Orleans Saints.

Saints Buccaneers Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield scrambles under pressure from New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Khalen Saunders (Chris O’Meara/AP)

The two teams are tied at the top of the division heading into the final week of the regular season on 8-8. The Buccaneers will take the title with a win over the Carolina Panthers.

Pittsburgh Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive as they beat the Seattle Seahawks 30-23, courtesy of two touchdowns and 122 yards rushing from Najee Harris, while the Denver Broncos edged out the Los Angeles Chargers 16-9.

James Conner’s touchdown with just 32 seconds remaining saw the Arizona Cardinals shock the stuttering Philadelphia Eagles 35-31 after it looked as though Jake Elliott’s 43-yard field goal would be enough for the hosts, who had led 21-6 at the start of the second half.

The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, pipped the Las Vegas Raiders 23-20, and Josh Allen claimed two touchdowns as the Buffalo Bills edged out the New England Patriots 27-21.

Rams Giants Football
Los Angeles Rams running back Kyren Williams scored three touchdowns (Adam Hunger/AP)

It was even closer between the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams, with the Rams claiming a 26-25 verdict thanks to Kyren Williams’ trio of touchdowns.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans defeated the Tennessee Titans 26-3, the Jacksonville Jaguars were 26-0 victors over the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears brushed aside the Atlanta Falcons 37-17.

Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Houston now all have 9-7 records in the AFC South, while Carolina’s loss means Chicago will own the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for the second successive year.