Three of eight division titles already settled
UNDATED (AP) — The Broncos, Patriots and Falcons clinched division titles on Sunday, and the Texans assured themselves of at least a wild-card berth in the playoffs.
Denver won the AFC West with 31-23 victory over Tampa Bay. A seventh straight win has the Broncos sitting at 9-3.
The loss by the Buccaneers gives Atlanta the NFC South championship. The Falcons improved to 11-1 with a win over New Orleans on Thursday night and they are tied with Houston for the best record in the NFL. The Texans haven’t secured the AFC South yet because they still have two games remaining with runner-up Indianapolis. The Colts are 8-4 after shocking Detroit 35-33 on the final play of their game.
New England won its fourth AFC East crown in a row as it downed Miami, 23-16. The Patriots also 9-3.
Elsewhere around the league, Seattle topped Chicago 23-17 in overtime, Green Bay got past Minnesota 23-14, St. Louis edged San Francisco 16-13 in OT, the New York Jets slipped past Arizona 7-6, Buffalo hammered Jacksonville 34-18, Cleveland beat Oakland 20-17, Cincinnati topped San Diego 20-13, Pittsburgh downed Baltimore 23-20, Dallas outscored Philadelphia 38-33 and Kansas City snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 27-21 victory over visiting Carolina.
Irish reliving glory years
UNDATED (AP) — Notre Dame ends the regular season as the No. 1 team in the AP college football poll. It’s the first time the Fighting Irish have done that since their national championship season in 1988.
Notre Dame finished up a perfect 12-0 regular season last week and will play Alabama in the BCS championship game in Miami on Jan. 7.
The one-loss Crimson Tide remains No. 2 after slipping past Georgia in Saturday’s SEC championship game.
Undefeated Ohio State, which is banned from the postseason because of NCAA sanctions, moves up a spot to No. 3. Florida is No. 4, Oregon is fifth and Georgia falls to sixth.
The rest of the top 10 remains the same with Kansas State, Stanford, LSU and Texas A&M at seven through 10.
Northern Illinois busts the BCS, going to Orange Bowl
MIAMI (AP) — Northern Illinois out of the Mid-American Conference has busted the BCS, and is heading to the Orange Bowl to play ACC champion Florida State.
Northern Illinois actually finished ahead of two conference titlists, Big East winner Louisville and Big Ten champion Wisconsin, in the final BCS standings.
Dave Doeren will not coach the Huskies in the Orange Bowl. He was hired Saturday as the new coach at North Carolina State.
There’s no place like home for Knicks…Lakers fall to Magic
UNDATED (AP) — The New York Knicks protected their unblemished home record by beating Phoenix 106-99. They are 7-0 at Madison Square Garden, and their 12-4 overall mark is just a half-game behind Miami for best record in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
Carmelo Anthony was high man for the Knicks with 34 points. Raymond Felton contributed 23 points and seven assists to the winning effort and teammate Tyson Chandler finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
In the only other game on the pro hoops schedule, the L.A. Lakers fell to Orlando 113-103. They are 3-4 since Mike D’Antoni took over as coach.
Arron Afflalo scored 30 points and Glen Davis added 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Magic. Dwight Howard had 21 points and 15 rebounds against his former team. But the rebuilding Magic rallied impressively with a 40-point fourth quarter for just their fourth win in 14 games, snapping a three-game skid.
Kobe Bryant scored 34 points for the Lakers.