Last Week: 7-8
Season Record: 104-60
“Lock of the Week”: 7-3
“Upset of the Week”: 5-6
Let’s compare the NFL Playoffs to a big political Christmas party at the White House. Obviously, not everyone is coming to this party, as only a select few who are deemed worthy are allowed in. This makes the regular season the preparation process of the party. No, not just the decorations, cleaning up, and food preparation, but also the process that forbids and allows certain people to get in. You know…like security, and secret service, and the rest of that stuff you normally stereotype as political. Well, with the way the NFL regular season has gone up to this point here in December…it appears that security has been seriously un-prioritized or perhaps even non-existent this Christmas. This is insanity, and something has to be done about it. I can’t even imagine what would happen if some random people just happen to find their way into the White House without being on the guest-list.
Man, there would be such hell to pay!
Seven teams, two “invites” in the AFC, a conference full of squads who have played several of those games that the experts and critics once dubbed “their season”. Up to this point, everyone talking has been wrong. The players are the only people with any say in the case. Some of them control their own destiny, some need a little help in other places.
The NFC is a lot less complicated, it’s do or die for the New York Giants, and they need Dallas to lose one more game, at least.
Who will prevail? Well, I’ll try to answer some parts of that question in this weeks predictions. Hopefully, they are better than “last weeks” predictions.
Friday Game discluded, SD def. TEN, 42-17
Sunday Games- 1:00 PM EST
Houston Texans (7-7) @ Miami Dolphins (7-7): Okay, well, Houston has won two in a row, and Miami is coming off of a loss, but honestly, I was more impressed with Miami last week then with Houston, who edged out the one-win Rams by just three points. Andre Johnson is on a tear, and the Dolphins’ secondary does give up some big plays, so despite Houston’s worthy efforts, I see the Dolphins, a team that has refused to give up at any point this season, to come out on top. Miami stays alive, and Houston gets eliminated with a loss. Dolphins 28-23. Texans are 4-0 lifetime vs. the Fish.
Baltimore Ravens (8-6) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7): So, last year’s AFC Championship teams, what have you done lately? The Ravens, after wiping out in Green Bay, have won two straight games, the scores 45-3 and 31-7 respectively. But those two teams? The Lions and Bears. Not all that impressive, so don’t expect those two offensive re-awakenings to carry over into Pittsburgh, even though the Steelers have had plenty of defensive issues lately. The Steelers needed a perfect play to beat the Packers last week at home, and got it when Mike Wallace made a “Santonio Holmes” catch in the endzone, thanks to a dead-accurate pass by Big Ben.
Roethlisberger was missing in the first matchup between the two, but the Ravens still needed 5 quarters to beat Steelers, 20-17. This time, Ben is back and he’s got a hot hand, his first taste and last taste of the Ravens this season should be a quite jolly one. The Ravens control their own destiny, so a loss doesn’t kill them, they would still hold the tie breaker over Pittsburgh due to a better division record, and they will still have a hand on at least one of those two sacred spots. They also finish in Oakland, which is like a late present nobody noticed under the tree. Steelers 16-13.
Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7) @ New England Patriots (9-5): New England got created some comfort with a lazy 17-10 victory in Buffalo last week, and they just need another win to lock up the division. They can’t get too comfy, though. Belicheck’s squad is starting to play lazily, which is rare, but they need to wake up and clinch a playoff spot, then really snap out of it for the playoffs. They’ll be playing in the wild card round, so things need to change quickly.
The Jaguars are still breathing, but they’ve taken several blows to the head, so the chances of life are slim. They played as good as anyone has all season last week against the unbeaten Colts. No matter what they did, though, they could not stop Peyton Manning and the Colts passing attack, even when they had several defensive backs on the field at once. The Patriots could do similar things by airing it out, like they usually do, but the big storyline in this game is Fred Taylor, making his return against his former team. Expect him to be a big part of the game, and expect New England to remain unbeaten at home this season.The Pats win the division with a victory, and the Jaguars are eliminated if they lose. If they win, and Baltimore losses, they’ll hold a tie breaker over the Ravens, but not the Dolphins, who they lost to. They finish up against Cleveland. Patriots 28-20.
Carolina Panthers (6-8) @ New York Giants (8-6): This year, Giants offense is looking to do what the defense did for the team in 2007. Right now they are on a tear, and they just made Washington look silly. Somehow, the Panthers managed to do the same thing against the Vikings last Sunday Night. They’re a legitimate threat to the Giants season.
Carolina will definitely not go down without a fight, and they know how to stop the pass. But, with injuries nagging, and the Giants rolling, I’m spoiling their hope for a .500 season. Giants 23-14.
Kansas City Chiefs (3-11) @ Cincinnati Bengals (9-5): This is a break for a team coming off of an emotional loss both on and on the field in the past week, because with their rushing attack, they’ll take care of the fledgling Chiefs, a team that gave a Browns backup running back the third best game rushing in NFL history last week. If the Chiefs give up big yardage to THIS backup running back in Cincy, well, that’s pretty much like deflating the deflated. Bengals 28-10.
Oakland Raiders (5-9) @ Cleveland Browns (3-11): You know, it’s really hard to make fun of these teams when you have to pick a winner between the two, and when they’re both coming off wins. James Harrison is the big name in town for Cleveland, but he’ll be only one of the many playing in this one fighting for their jobs. Oakland 17-14.
Seattle Seahawks (5-9) @ Green Bay Packers (9-5): Green Bay has little cause for worry in terms of getting into the playoffs, but what happened to that pass defense last week? The Steelers can certainly throw the ball, but over 500 yards? Rodgers and company are doing their part, but the Packers have struggled on the road this season (including a loss to Tampa Bay). Seattle, who actually just lost to Tampa last week, has checked out for the year. Packers 27-10. Lock of the Week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) @ New Orleans Saints (13-1): This game depends on how the Saints decide to use their starters. If they play their starters, they’ll win by 30. If they play it safe and decide to rest, they’ll win by less than 30. Saints 31-7
Buffalo Bills (5-9) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-7): I remember when there was a time when I thought that Brian Brohm would be the replacement for Micheal Vick in Atlanta. Brohm didn’t pan out in his final season at Louisville, so he didn’t turn out to be much of an NFL prospect. Why am I talking about Brian Brohm? Because chances are, you’ll see him taking snaps in this game…as a Buffalo Bill. No better way for the Bills to top off their awful decade than with yet another QB under center. Falcons, 26-13
Sunday Games- 4:15 PM EST
Denver Broncos (8-6) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10-4): This is the type of game I’d see the Eagles disappointing in. I think McNabb and company will struggle, even at home, to put points on the board against this Denver defense. Yeah, okay, Denver lost to Oakland last week, but this team can rebound well from a loss. McNabb struggled last time he played the Broncos…and that was against a defense that was’t quite as good as this one. Philly has clinched a spot in the playoffs, and Denver controls their own fate. Broncos 23-21. Upset of the Week.
New York Jets (7-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (14-0): This is the final threat to the undefeated regular season for Indy. Next week is in Buffalo, so if they can get past this tough defense, they’ll be staring 16-0 right in the face. The Jets defense will play well, probably give Manning season-low numbers, but that offense was putrid last week…at home…against Atlantas defense…the Colts are much better on both sides, and they’ll get it done in anyway possible. Indy 21-14.
St. Louis Rams (1-13) @ Arizona Cardinals (9-5): Guess who’s on the clock? Cards, 27-17.
Detroit Lions (2-12) @ San Francisco 49ers (6-8): With these Lions, and the Rams left on the Niner’s schedule, Mike Singletary will make Alex Smith look pretty impressive, and he should be the guy they’ll go with next season. 49ers, 23-7.
Sunday Night Football- Dallas Cowboys (9-5) @ Washington Redskins (4-10): Unless their starting QB were to have taken a vacation to Aruba and started dating a buzz-worthy female celebrity during the Christmas break, I just don’t see how a team that just beat the Saints could lose to a team that has been outscored 62-29 in prime-time games this season… in front of the whole country, no less. Cowboys 31-13.
Monday Night Football- Minnesota Vikings (11-3) @ Chicago Bears (5-9): I’d say head to bed and save hours of sleep, but for those who choose to watch yet another Monday Night mess: expect the Vikings to get back on track after last weeks embarrassment against Carolina. Peterson usually runs all over the Bears, and that’s the key to this team looking great again, a great rushing threat. That’ll open up the passing lanes for the old man. Vikings 31-14.