Bengals’ Jeremy Hill steamrolls Browns in road victory

By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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It’s that time of the year. It’s that time when we all start to tire of holiday advertisements, get paper cuts from overpriced wrapping paper and develop a serious disdain for Scotch tape. It’s that time when bad football teams face equally awful football teams and they call it the “Top College Football Player X Bowl.” But most importantly, it’s that time when late-season divisional games populate the schedule, and suddenly, we have very, very important football on deck.

Such was the case across the league on Sunday. Indianapolis clinched the AFC South with a win over division rival Houston, Denver did the same to claim the AFC West crown against San Diego, Buffalo kept its playoff hopes alive in a stunning win over Green Bay, and Carolina somehow gained control of its previously unlikely playoff aspirations. Oh, and the Jets managed to win the Marcus Mariota Bowl in Tennessee, prompting Rex Ryan to tell reporters he doesn’t give a you-know-what about the Heisman Trophy winner or the No. 1 pick.

Meaningful football typically brings the best — and sometimes, the worst — out of players on all levels. You know the saying: Big-time players make big-time plays.

Here are this week’s best big time players on the road.

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Dez Bryant puts on Wembley-worthy show in Cowboys’ win

Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Road teams battled all Sunday. Some of them prevailed, some did not — and then there were the Bears.

But for a moment in time, the Oakland Raiders appeared to have a chance, holding a 10-6 lead in the second quarter thanks to two Peyton Manning interceptions. Then Denver completed a short pass to C.J. Anderson, who ripped off a 51-yard scamper to put the Broncos back in the lead.

Denver and Oakland suddenly remembered their roles within the hierarchy of the NFL — with Denver being among the most pompous of lords, and Oakland being the peasants who pay double rent on farmland that refuses to yield any real return — and two hours later, Denver had a 41-17 win.

But Manning won’t be in this column, for two reasons: he threw — gasp — two interceptions, and Denver is supposed to beat Oakland. The Raiders didn’t get to 0-8 (now 0-9) just on poor luck — they’re a bad football team.

Wait, what’s that? I can’t ignore 340 yards and five touchdowns on 31-of-44 passing, even if it was against the worst team in the NFL? Fine (throws playbook), but he’s not getting the top honor.

Here are your best away from the friendly confines of home. Continue reading