NFL playoff picture clearly gaining focus

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Associated Press
December 21, 2009

San Diego, Arizona and Minnesota clinched division titles Sunday, while Philadelphia surged into the playoffs as at least a wild card.

The Chargers (11-3) edged Cincinnati, 27-24, on Sunday, and when Denver lost to Oakland, the AFC West belonged to San Diego for the fourth straight season.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” outside linebacker Shawne Merriman said.

“It’s all kind of a blur,” added Nate Kaeding, whose 52-yard field goal won it. Team president Dean Spanos gave Kaeding his division championship cap as Spanos walked through the locker room.

The Cardinals (9-5) won the NFC West for the second straight year by beating Detroit, 31-24, then having San Francisco lose at Philadelphia, 27-13. The Eagles

(10-4) moved into the postseason with that win.

Philadelphia made the playoffs for the eighth time this decade.

“It’s always good to clinch a spot early, but we’re still going to put our foot on the pedal,” quarterback Donovan McNabb said.

Green Bay’s 37-36 loss at Pittsburgh gave the Vikings (11-3) the NFC North title despite their 26-7 loss to Carolina on Sunday night..

Indianapolis (AFC South) and New Orleans (NFC South) clinched earlier.

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