Super Bowl LII: Chiefs can lock up AFC West, Falcons pushing for NFC South

December 22, 2017 GMT

Last week, I said the Vikings weren’t good enough offensively to lose any turnover battles. This came after they did just that in a loss at Carolina. Last week, they won the turnover battle 2-1 while thrashing the Bengals. This week, let’s go back to making penalties a primary area of concern. The Vikings tied their season high with 11 penalties last week. In the first 40 minutes, they had five offensive penalties that were momentum killers..

Will the Falcons finish 11-5?

Question: Will the Falcons, who are 9-5 and hold the NFC’s sixth seed, win out? If they do, they’re guaranteed of winning their second straight NFC South title. But what a rough two-game stretch they have. They play division rivals New Orleans (10-4) on the road and Carolina (10-4) at home. The NFC South very well could advance three teams to the postseason. But the guess here is Atlanta will not win out.

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Did you know?

The site for Super Bowl I wasn’t decided until six weeks before game day. The Packers beat the Chiefs in front of 32,000 empty seats at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The game was blacked out in L.A.

Three up, three down

From 5-0 to 1-6 to 2-0, the Chiefs arrived at 8-6 with newfound momentum. Meanwhile, the Chargers, once 0-4, are 7-7 and need help. Other “up” teams: Patriots and Rams. Other “down” teams: Seahawks and Steelers.

Destination Minneapolis Week 15 forecast

Kansas City vs. Atlanta

Three weeks ago, I had the Chiefs ranked No. 21. But they’ve won two straight and can clinch the AFC West by beating Miami on Sunday. The Falcons are the NFC’s sixth seed, but can climb to at least No. 4.

Why Kansas City (8-6)? Are the Chiefs ready to make another run after losing six of seven? In back-to-back wins, they allowed 28 points while Kareem Hunt totaled 344 yards and three TDs from scrimmage.

Why Atlanta (9-5)? They’ve won five of their past six games to put themselves in position to defend the brutal NFC South. They head to New Orleans Sunday after beating the Saints just two weeks ago.

My preseason pick: Seattle (8-6) vs. Pittsburgh (11-3). The Seahawks fell to eighth in the NFC after being blasted 42-7 at home by the Rams. The Steelers botched the end of the Patriots game and are in danger of losing homefield advantage in the AFC.

MARK CRAIG