Bryce Petty made his first start at quarterback for the Jets this season, completing 19 of 39 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted twice — once by Craig Robertson on a tipped pass and once by Marshon Lattimore on a long, inconsequential throw as the game ended.
“As far as understanding the game plan and knowing what you see out there, I felt really confident,” Petty said. “The more times I get out there, the better I’m going to get.”
Panthers 31, Packers 24
Cam Newton proved the Carolina Panthers can win in multiple ways.
After dominating opposing teams on the ground with three straight 200-yard rushing games at home, the Panthers turned to their 28th-ranked passing game and took a big step toward reaching the postseason.
Newton threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns, and the Panthers spoiled Aaron Rodgers’s return from a broken collarbone with a 31-24 win over the visiting Green Bay Packers.
Damiere Byrd had two touchdown catches, and Christian McCaffrey had 136 yards from scrimmage, including a 7-yard touchdown reception, as the Panthers won their fourth straight at home.
Greg Olsen had his most productive game since returning from a broken foot, catching nine passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers (10-4) kept pace with the first-place New Orleans Saints in the N.F.C. South.
“It’s something we pride ourselves on, being a complete offense, being able to run the ball when we can and pass when we can,” McCaffrey said. “Guys showed up and made plays today.”
That included Carolina’s defense, which forced four turnovers, including a strip by cornerback James Bradberry on Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison with 1 minute 28 seconds left to seal the win and prevent the Packers from playing in a third straight overtime game.
“I need to do a better job of squeezing and securing it, and there wouldn’t be an argument,” Allison said.
Rodgers, making his first appearance since Oct. 15, threw for 290 yards with three touchdowns but was intercepted three times as the Packers’ playoff hopes took a severe blow.
At 7-7, the Packers are on the cusp of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“I’m disappointed in my performance today,” Rodgers said. “Obviously, I didn’t play well.”
Jaguars 45, Texans 7
The Jacksonville Jaguars are returning to the playoffs for the first time in a decade thanks to a 45-7 drubbing of the visiting Houston Texans.
Once the N.F.L.’s poster child for futility and a punch line for potential relocation, the Jaguars (10-4) are now one of the league’s top turnaround stories.
Blake Bortles threw three touchdowns passes, including two to a reserve receiver who slept in his car earlier this season. The Jaguars won for the seventh time in eight games to clinch a postseason berth for the first time since 2007.
Bortles finished with a season-high 326 yards and the best quarterback rating (143.8) of his career, including 186 yards and a touchdown pass to the rookie Keelan Cole. The primary punt returner, Jaydon Mickens, who stepped in for the injured starter Marqise Lee in the first quarter, caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores against the Texans (4-10).
Ravens 27, Browns 10
Joe Flacco threw a touchdown pass, ran for a score and beat Cleveland again as the Baltimore Ravens stayed on track for the A.F.C. playoffs with a 27-10 win over the Browns, who are now two losses from becoming the N.F.L.’s second 0-16 team.
Flacco scored on a 2-yard run and threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson as the Ravens (8-6) took control with two touchdowns in the final few minutes of the first half.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams recovered a fumble and rolled in for a touchdown in third quarter to put the Ravens up, 24-10.
The Browns (0-14) went 0-8 at home — 0-7 in Cleveland, 0-1 in London — for the second time and must win either at Chicago or at Pittsburgh to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in the notorious 0-16 club. Last season, the Browns avoided infamy by winning their final home game and finishing 1-15.
Cleveland is 1-29 in two seasons under Coach Hue Jackson, who is expected to be back despite his .033 winning percentage.
Vikings 34, Browns 7
Eric Kendricks had an interception return for a touchdown, Case Keenum passed for 236 yards and two scores, and the Minnesota Vikings clinched the N.F.C. North title with a 34-7 victory at home over the depleted and disinterested Cincinnati Bengals.
The running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon combined for 37 touches and 242 yards from scrimmage for the Vikings (11-3), who were given a reprieve a week after their eight-game winning streak ended at Carolina in the last of three consecutive road trips. They were never challenged by a Bengals team that was missing more than half its starting defense because of injuries and that was met in the morning with a report by ESPN that Coach Marvin Lewis would not return next season.
The game went so smoothly that Teddy Bridgewater even made his grand entrance, his first action in 16 months since a severe knee injury. Bridgewater’s first pass was intercepted, a high throw that bounced off McKinnon’s hands and into the arms of strong safety Shawn Williams deep in Vikings territory. That set up a short touchdown run by Giovani Bernard to keep the Bengals (5-9) from being shut out for a second time this year.
Bills 24, Dolphins 16
LeSean McCoy scored twice and surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards, while helping the Buffalo Bills stay in the thick of the A.F.C. playoff hunt with a 24-16 win over the visiting Miami Dolphins.
Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 9-yard touchdown run, and Shareece Wright and Jordan Poyer intercepted Miami’s Jay Cutler on consecutive drives to start the second half in a game in which Buffalo never trailed. The rookie Tre’Davious White sealed the win by intercepting Cutler with 28 seconds remaining — and a play after Miami punter Matt Haack recovered an onside kick at Miami’s 37.
The Bills have won three of four and improved to 8-6 to match the team’s best start through 14 games during Buffalo’s 17-year playoff drought — the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports. The Bills were 8-6 in both 2004 and 2014 but missed the playoffs with 9-7 finishes.
Buffalo also finished 6-2 at home to match its best finish at Orchard Park since 1999.
The loss all but eliminated the Dolphins (6-8) from playoff contention, after they ended a seven-year drought last season.
McCoy opened the scoring with a 4-yard run to cap Buffalo’s opening drive. Then, he put Buffalo up, 14-6, with a 16-yard catch with 6 minutes 5 seconds left in the second quarter on a drive during which McCoy became the 30th player to break the 10,000-yard milestone.
Redskins 29, Cardinals 15
Anthony Lanier sacked Blaine Gabbert and forced a fumble that Preston Smith recovered, and the Washington Redskins held on to beat the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 20-15, in a game that was a comedy of errors for each team.
Smith also intercepted Gabbert and Lanier batted down three passes and had two sacks as they gave the Redskins (6-8) a glimpse of their potential as significant pieces of the defense for years to come.
Gabbert was 16 of 41 for 189 yards with the interception and a fumble he recovered himself in the fourth quarter. Arizona (6-8), which got all its points on field goals by Phil Dawson, went 0 for 6 in the red zone and 4 for 19 on third down as it was eliminated from playoff contention.
Rams 42, Seahawks 7
Todd Gurley rushed for 152 yards and scored four total touchdowns in just 2½ quarters, and the Los Angeles Rams moved to the cusp of their first division title since 2003 with a 42-7 thumping of the Seahawks in Seattle.
The matchup to determine first place in the N.F.C. West was completely one-sided. Los Angeles (10-4) was dominant, embarrassing Seattle (8-6) in the worst loss during Pete Carroll’s eight seasons in charge.
49ers 25, Titans 23
Jimmy Garoppolo led one final scoring drive in the closing seconds to cap a fantastic first home start, Robbie Gould kicked a game-winning 45-yard field goal as time expired, and the San Francisco 49ers topped the Tennessee Titans, 25-23.
Garoppolo threw for a career-high 381 yards and a touchdown during a dominant day to give the 49ers (4-10) a three-game winning streak in a lost season. And Garoppolo showed he could do it at home as well as on the road — and against a playoff contender, no less — outdueling Marcus Mariota and Tennessee (8-6) down the stretch.
Gould kicked three of his six field goals over the final nine minutes.