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Chiefs beat Miami 29-13 to win back-to-back AFC West titles

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Andy Reid addressed the Kansas City Chiefs in a jubilant locker room dressed from head-to-toe in a Santa Claus suit, which not only fit him perfectly but was also perfectly fitting.

The Chiefs had just given their fans quite a present.

Alex Smith threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in another steady performance, Kareem Hunt ran for 91 yards and a score, and the Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 29-13 on Sunday to clinch back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history.

“Just phenomenal,” Reid said, likely smiling beneath his fluffy white beard. “But we’re not going to sit on this. We’re not done yet. We’re going to enjoy the holiday and get right back at it.”

Tyreek Hill had six catches for 109 yards, and Harrison Butker converted five field goals, as the Chiefs (9-6) dashed what faint postseason hope the Dolphins (6-9) still harbored.

“It’s hard to win football games only kicking field goals,” Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler said. “A couple fumbles, couple of missed opportunities here, a penalty when we’re driving – it’s those types of things that’ll hurt you.”

Cutler threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, but a big chunk of that came on a 65-yard toss to Jakeem Grant late in the first half. Otherwise, Miami went 0 for 8 on third down and struggled against a Chiefs defense that has been stingy and opportunistic the past two weeks.

That’s coincided with the return of Marcus Peters from his disciplinary suspension.

The Chiefs’ star cornerback had two interceptions and forced a fumble against the Chargers last week, a win that pushed them to the brink of the playoffs. He recovered a fumble and forced another on Sunday, giving Peters a hand in five turnovers the past two weeks.

“He’s always around the ball,” said Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, who forced the first fumble. “Marcus is always playing with fire, this whole year.”

Both turnovers led to points, but they weren’t the Dolphins’ only costly miscues.

They also were nailed for defensive holding four times, all of which came on three scoring drives for Kansas City. And the Dolphins inability to get off the field on third down, after holding opponents to 8 for 39 the past two games, was similarly deflating.

“Got in a couple situations that we couldn’t use some of the things that we had planned,” Miami coach Adam Gase said. “We just need to find a way to be consistent and get them off the field.”

Still, the Dolphins had the ball trailing 17-13 late in the first half, the outcome and their longshot playoff hopes were still in the balance. But they soon went three-and-out and the Chiefs added a field goal to make it 20-13 at the break, then another to start the second half.

Even when the Dolphins made a crucial stop on fourth down to get the ball back later in the third quarter, they squandered the opportunity. Peters stripped Kenny Stills to give the Chiefs the ball, and Butker hit his fourth chip-shot field goal for a 26-13 lead with 12:19 to go.

That gave a sparse crowd that turned out on Christmas Eve, braving slick roads from an overnight snowfall and frigid wind chills at kickoff, plenty of time to celebrate a division title.

Turn their thoughts toward a home playoff game in the new year, too.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hunt said. “We’ve got these fans that are going to go crazy for the playoff game, and we get to play in Arrowhead Stadium one more time.”

FROZEN FIELD

There was no tarp on the field overnight, so a crew of workers used shovels to remove about an inch of snow by hand. The footing turned out to be fine, but Smith thought the cold weather gave Kansas City an advantage. “We have a lot of experience playing in cold weather,” he said. “All the little things, the snaps, they’re that much harder, and I think all the reps do help.”

STATS AND STREAKS

Chiefs TE Travis Kelce had four catches for 47 yards and a score , and has a catch in 63 straight games. … Chiefs coach Andy Reid improved to 5-1 against Miami. … Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry had five catches for 51 yards, giving him a league-best 103 catches this season. … The Dolphins had won seven of their last 10 against Kansas City. Their last loss at Arrowhead Stadium was in 2002.

INJURY NOTES

Dolphins DT Vincent Taylor hurt his knee on the opening kickoff, while CB Alterraun Verner went down with a hamstring injury later in the half. Miami DE Andre Branch played despite a knee injury.

UP NEXT

Dolphins conclude their season against the Bills next Sunday.

Chiefs head to Denver on Sunday to finish their regular season.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

McCoy breaks 10,000, leads Bills to 24-16 win over Dolphins

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) LeSean McCoy scored twice and surpassed 10,000 career-yards rushing, while helping the Buffalo Bills stay in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt with a 24-16 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

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 Buffalo never trailed. 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.

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Buffalo also finished 6-2 at home to match its best finish at Orchard Park since 1999.

Buffalo must now hit the road to continue its playoff pursuit in closing the season at New England next week and then at Miami on Dec. 31.

The loss all but mathematically eliminated the Dolphins (6-8) from playoff contention, and 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 6:05 left in the second quarter on a drive during which McCoy became the 30th player to break the 10,000-yard rushing milestone.

The ninth-year player reached the plateau with a 14-yard burst off right guard. McCoy was shaken up on the play while being tackled by Kiko Alonso.

After missing just one snap, McCoy returned to the field and scored two plays later.

This time, McCoy found his footing on dry turf, a week after braving the wintry elements while rushing for 156 yards on a snow-covered field and sealing Buffalo’s 13-7 overtime win over Indianapolis.

McCoy finished with 50 yards rushing, upping his career total to 10,011, and had four catches for 46 yards.

Taylor showed no signs of a bruised left knee that forced him to miss one game. He went 17 of 29 for 224 yards and added 42 yards rushing.

Miami was undone by familiar inconsistencies at quarterback and on defense, while looking nothing like the team that stunned New England in a 27-20 win Monday night.

Cutler’s two interceptions came after he threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Patriots.

Miami’s defense surrendered 328 yards offense to Buffalo, a week after holding New England to 248 yards.

Even discipline was an issue.

Early in the fourth quarter, receiver Jarvis Landry was flagged for pass interference to negate Kenny Stills‘ 12-yard reception. Then, Landry argued the call and was penalized again for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rather than being first-and-10 at Buffalo’s 40, the Dolphins faced first-and-35 at their own 23 in a drive that led to them punting three plays later.

Kenyan Drake had 78 yards rushing and scored on a 1-yard run. Cutler finished 28 of 49 for 274 yards and three interceptions.

Cody Parkey also hit 28- and 41-yard field goals.

TAYLOR TOUCHDOWNS

Taylor scored a touchdown rushing and passing in the same game for the 10th time since taking over Buffalo’s starting job in 2015. He joins Carolina’s Cam Newton and Washington’s Kirk Cousins as the only other players to do that 10 times since 2015.

THIRD-DOWN

After the Dolphins limited their past two opponents to converting just one of 24 third-down chances, the Bills converted their first two as part of a 10-play, 81-yard scoring drive capped by McCoy’s four-yard run. Buffalo converted seven of 15 third-down chances.

DOLPHINS IN DECEMBER

Miami dropped to 9-4 in games played at Orchard Park, New York, in December or later.

INJURIES

Dolphins: CB T.J. McDonald left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Bills: CB E.J. Gaines was carted off in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

INACTIVES:

Dolphins: Running back Damien Williams missed his third consecutive game with a shoulder injury, while starting cornerback Cordrea Tankersley missed his second consecutive game with injuries to his shoulder and ankle.

Bills: Receiver Kelvin Benjamin played despite aggravating a right knee injury last week that limited him in practice.

UP NEXT

Dolphins: At Kansas City on Dec. 24.

Bills: At New England on Dec. 24.

For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Sunday wild-card matchups: Giants, Dolphins seek underdog payouts

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The anticipated Arctic chill could be more foe than friend of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, if their postseason track record at Lambeau Field is any indication. The Packers are listed as 4.5-point favorites against the Giants in the NFC wild-card matchup slated for Sunday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While Green Bay is 7-2 straight-up in their last nine home outings against teams with winning records, they are also only 2-6 against the spread in their last eight playoff games as home favorites.

The Giants, who are 11-5 SU and 8-6-2 ATS, have had protracted offensive struggles over the last month, although QB Eli Manning typically gets it together for the playoffs. Wide receiver Odell Beckham should also be good for a big play, or three, against a Packers defense that allows an NFL-worst 8.1 yards per pass.

The cold weather might mandate more use of the running game, which might bode poorly for the Giants since their offensive line struggles to control the line of scrimmage.

The Packers, who are 10-6 SU and 8-7-1 ATS, have a big X-factor with Rodgers’ ability to keep plays alive with his scrambling. While the Giants’ pass coverage is the most improved area of their team this season, it’s going to be tough to completely stymie Rodgers and the quartet of Jordy Nelson, Geromino Allison, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.

For all their explosiveness, the Packers do have issues with dropped passes and failed red-zone visits. Cleaning that up would go a long way to preventing an upset.

Led by DE Olivier Vernon, the Giants are stout against the run. Green Bay also has an unimpressive running game.

With the weather and two pass-dependent offenses, it could be a low-scoring game. In fact, the total has gone under in five of the Giants’ last six games in the playoffs. The total has gone under in 10 of the Packers’ last 14 games at home.

In the day’s AFC wild-card matchup, the Pittsburgh Steelers are listed as 10-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins.

The Dolphins, 10-6 SU and 9-6-1 ATS, are counting on backup QB and first-time playoff starter Matt Moore, whose efficiency declines markedly when he faces pressure. While RB Jay Ajayi went off for 204 yards when the teams played in south Florida in October, the Dolphins stand to encounter frigid weather and a firmer Steelers run defense.

While WR Kenny Stills and slot WR Jarvis Landry are a tough combo, Miami might be hard-pressed to extend their trend of being 13-4 ATS in their last 17 games as a double-digit underdog.

The Steelers, who are 11-5 SU and  9-6-1 ATS and have far better odds to win Super Bowl 51, have the triplets – QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown – together in the playoffs for the first time.

Roethlisberger was injured in that October defeat in Miami, but this time it is the Dolphins defense that is nicked up, with top CB Byron Maxwell (ankle) struggling to get healthy by game time. Strong safety Bacarri Rambo (undisclosed) is also doubtful.

The total has gone over in three of the Dolphins’ last four games against the Steelers.  The total has gone over in 22 of the Steelers’ last 28 games in January. The favored team is 3-7-2 ATS in the last three years in wild card games. Wild card games are 3-12-1 over/under in the last four years.