Happy Holidays! I hope everyone is enjoying family time and hopefully enjoying some time off. What says “holidays” better than football though? This week there are a bunch of great looking games with major playoff implications.
As for last week… I ended up 9-7. It was interesting because if I missed, I missed badly. I thought the Redskins would struggle in Cleveland without RG3. I thought the Buccaneers would win, but they lost 41-0… ouch. I also thought the Giants would win, but that also backfired. The Falcons beat them 34-0… ouch again. I missed on the Lions because I thought the Cardinals were done, I also thought the Chargers would win at home against Carolina and the Patriots surprisingly lost at home in December and the Jets finally were kicked out of the playoff picture. The picks for this week…
Saturday, 12/22 – 8:30 pm ET
Atlanta Falcons 13-2 @ Detroit Lions 4-11
Prediction: Atlanta Falcons
I didn’t get this up last night, but I thought Atlanta would win. They needed it for home field throughout the playoffs – which they needed desperately – and Detroit just doesn’t seem to know how to win. Congratulations to Lions WR Calvin Johnson on breaking the single-season receiving yardage record held by Jerry Rice.
Sunday, 12/23 – 1:00 pm ET
Oakland Raiders 4-10 @ Carolina Panthers 5-9
Prediction: Carolina Panthers
Carolina is surprisingly hot and the Raiders are… well… the Raiders. Panthers QB Cam Newton should play well and win this one at home.
Buffalo Bills 5-9 @ Miami Dolphins 6-8
Prediction: Miami Dolphins
Both teams have had rough seasons, but I think Miami pulls off the win. I expect it to be close though. Miami should get Buffalo after losing their first matchup in Buffalo.
Cincinnati Bengals 8-6 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 7-7
Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers need this one or they don’t make the playoffs. The Bengals need this win to clinch a playoff spot and have a shot at the AFC North title (with the Giants help). The Steelers are at home and in a must-win… yeah… Pittsburgh is proven and should win this one.
New England Patriots 10-4 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 2-12
Prediction: New England Patriots
The Patriots are the better team by a mile and they’re mad about losing at home last week to San Francisco. Jacksonville is playing for the top draft pick. New England all the way.
Indianapolis Colts 9-5 @ Kansas City Chiefs 2-12
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts
The Chiefs have had a very taxing season and I think it continues here. I think this is surprisingly close – because that is how the Colts have played this season – but in the end, Colts QB Andrew Luck is too much even on the road.
New Orleans Saints 6-8 @ Dallas Cowboys 8-6
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys
I hate picking Dallas at home because they always seem to struggle in Arlington, but this week, in a tough matchup, I like Dallas. QB Tony Romo has been playing very well lately and the return of RB Demarco Murray makes Dallas more complete on offense. I see a high-scoring affair, but I think Romo and the Cowboys win a close one.
Washington Redskins 8-6 @ Philadelphia Eagles 4-10
Prediction: Washington Redskins
The Eagles could pull off the upset this week, but I still like the Redskins. The Eagles should play well and keep this game close, but the Eagles are 4-10 this season for a reason. They make mistakes. I think the young Eagles players show some promise, but ultimately mistakes give the Redskins the win.
St. Louis Rams 6-7-1 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-8
Prediction: St. Louis Rams
The Buccaneers started off hot, but now they are struggling. They still have all the same talent and ability, but there are rumblings about disagreements with coaches, frustrations with that same coaching staff and so on. Those are distractions for a team without anything to play for. St. Louis is still playing hard and, I think, they pull off the road win.
San Diego Chargers 5-9 @ New York Jets 6-8
Prediction: San Diego Chargers
The Jets may look good with QB Greg McElroy, but he certainly isn’t a look term answer so I doubt he suddenly commands a Jets offense to a high-scoring performance. The Chargers are awful too, but I think they win this one because the Jets make mistakes.
Tennessee Titans 5-9 @ Green Bay Packers 10-4
Prediction: Green Bay Packers
Is anyone really thinking the Titans go into the snow-laden Lambeau Field and beat the Green Bay Packers in a game they really need to win?
Minnesota Vikings 8-6 @ Houston Texans 12-2
Prediction: Houston Texans
I think of this game by comparing the “pluses” for each team. The Texans are at home, playing to have home-field in the playoffs, they have a balanced and talented offense and a defense that still possesses top talent despite struggling lately. The Vikings have RB Adrian Peterson who counts as a couple pluses by himself. However, I just think Houston has too much going for them against Peterson… sorry the Vikings. As for Peterson chasing the single-season rushing title? I think he plays very well, but only manages around 115 rushing yards this week. I would love to see Peterson continue his utter dominance, but I just doubt we see another 200 yard game.
Sunday, 12/23 – 4:05 pm ET
Cleveland Browns 5-9 @ Denver Broncos 11-3
Prediction: Denver Broncos
Any other team and I may take the Browns to surprise, but not against QB Peyton Manning. The Broncos are very, very talented, but Manning is who will make sure there aren’t any surprises this week.
Sunday, 12/23 – 4:25 pm ET
Chicago Bears 8-6 @ Arizona Cardinals 5-9
Prediction: Chicago Bears
Just follow the trends. Chicago has pretty much beaten who they should beat this season and struggled against the better playoff teams. The Cardinals won their first four and didn’t win again until last week against the Lions. I don’t think beating the Lions symbolizes a change in their season. The Bears win with their defense.
New York Giants 8-6 @ Baltimore Ravens 9-5
Prediction: New York Giants
I got burned last week by thinking the Giants would win in Atlanta, but this week I think the Giants do win on the road. The Ravens haven’t been playing well and seem to have a bit of a mental block right now. Plus, we all know the Football Gods are looking to create as much drama as possible for Week 17, which would mean a Giants win.
Sunday, 12/23 – 8:20 pm ET
San Francisco 49ers 10-3-1 @ Seattle Seahawks 9-5
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks
Seattle is undefeated at home this season and have one of the best defenses in the league, complimented by an offense that is suddenly potent. The 49ers are still a fantastic team, but the home field advantage in Seattle may be the most valuable in the NFL and I think it is too much.