SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

Redskins' draft choice doesn't prove so peculiar after all

Western showdown

While there's a wide-open race to the finish in the NFC East, there's corresponding drama on the West Coast, where San Francisco and Seattle are scorching.

The 49ers held on to their narrow division lead with a win over Miami, but Seattle is surging, as evidenced by the Seahawks' 58-0 obliteration of Arizona.

San Francisco plays at Seattle in two weeks, but not before traveling to New England for a tough game at Gillette Stadium. The 49ers finish with Arizona at home.

Seattle, which is undefeated at home, plays at Buffalo before playing host to the 49ers and St. Louis.

One wild card is the status of Seattle's Richard Sherman, who is facing the same penalty levied against fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner — a four-game suspension for the use of Adderall, a performance-enhancing drug.

While Browner accepted the punishment and won't be available until the playoffs, Sherman is appealing and has a hearing scheduled for Friday. However, according to an ESPN report, he is considering filing motions that could further delay a decision.

It's the Pitts

Too late to save their season, but the San Diego Chargers finally showed up for a game. They beat the Steelers, 34-24, winning a regular-season game in Pittsburgh for the first time in 15 tries and spoiling the return of Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers have fallen into the troubling pattern of winning games they're supposed to lose, and losing games they're supposed to win. A week after winning at Baltimore with Charlie Batch at quarterback, Pittsburgh lost to a team that had dropped seven of eight.

Asked the reason for the inconsistency, Roethlisberger said: "I have no clue. If I knew I don't think we'd do it anymore. I thought we'd play better."

Stroke of Luck

Andrew Luck continues to show that his success is no fluke. The Indianapolis rookie orchestrated his sixth fourth-quarter comeback of the season in a 27-23 victory over Tennessee.

The Colts are 9-4, meaning the franchise has won three times as many games with Luck as with a rookie Peyton Manning.

Luck threw for 196 yards Sunday, setting a franchise record for passing yards by a rookie at 3,792. That topped Manning's mark of 3,739.

If he averages 87 yards passing over the final three games, Luck will pass Cam Newton for the rookie record of 4,051.

Luck and Griffin were the leading candidates for offensive rookie of the year. With Griffin hurting, this looks more like a one-horse race.

Falcons fizzle

Newton was phenomenal in Carolina's 30-20 victory over Atlanta, throwing two touchdown passes and running for a career-high 116 yards.

Every team is entitled to a letdown or two, but the Falcons have had too many close calls to feel secure heading into the postseason. Remember, they have never won a playoff game with the current coach-quarterback regime.

CHICAGO