It's time to make some NFL predictions, folks!
This is your cue to get excited.
But I'm not going to bother handicapping these games, mostly because I'm terrible at it and I would feel horrible if my advice costs you money. Instead, I'll pick these games straight up and try to parse out how the playoff picture is shaping up along the way.
Unless you're a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles or San Diego Chargers, in which case I'm sure the words "playoff picture" are just too painful to bear. Let's make some picks!
(My picks in italics)
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Miami has overachieved, the Bills have underachieved and C.J. Spiller really, really needs more touches per game. In other words, Buffalo wins.
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
Don't look now, but the Cardinals have lost five straight. They won't end that streak against a Falcons team looking to bounce back after a tough loss to the New Orleans Saints and maintain the top seed in the NFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Believe it or not, I balked a little bit at this pick. I know Tampa Bay is on fire after winning three games in a row, but divisional games are always tough and these two teams played a tight game in Week 1.
But ultimately, the emergence of Doug Martin and the fact the Bucs have scored at least 28 points in five straight games was too hard to ignore. Don't look now, but the Bucs are looking like a sneaky wild-card team.
Cleveland Browns at Dallas Cowboys
I guarantee you, this game will be really ugly, neither team will look like they actually want to win and somehow Tony Romo and the Cowboys will just squeak by in the end, making them the most appropriate 5-5 team ever.
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
Just when you think the Lions are turning things around, they drop a key game to the Minnesota Vikings. With a Packers team coming into town on a four-game winning streak and off of a bye, the task will be too difficult for the disappointing Lions.
Bye-bye playoffs in Detroit. It was fun last year.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Do I even need to write anything here? No?
I didn't think so.
Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
With a win, the Bengals are back in the wild-card hunt. With a loss, the Chiefs take another step closer to the top overall pick in a year lacking Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. That hurts.
New York Jets at St. Louis Rams
I think they'll probably tie. I'm only half-joking. But seriously, the Rams are better than their record while the Jets are really, really bad, as evidenced by a three-game losing streak. Rams win.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
I've given up on this Eagles team after this five-game losing streak, I really have. They can't protect the quarterback, they make dumb mistakes and they just don't know how to win games. Robert Griffin III will put the knife through the heart of Andy Reid's last season in Philadelphia
New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders
Neither one of these teams plays defense, so this should be a really fun game to watch. But in the end, you're always going to take Drew Brees over Carson Palmer in a shootout. Always.
And don't look now, but the Saints will be 5-5 and back in the playoff hunt. Quite the recovery.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
You have to think that if the Chargers were going to make a last stand this season, this would be the game to do it. They're 4-5, a loss would put them three games back in the division and I'm pretty sure Norv Turner is going to simply melt away the next time he's asked a question he doesn't like.
In other words, the Chargers are playing for their season here.
But Denver is red hot, having won four in a row and scoring at least 31 points in each of those games. Peyton Manning is still Peyton Manning, while Philip Rivers has looked more like Rivers Cuomo trying to throw the ball.
Look for the Broncos to make it five in a row and all but seal up the AFC West for themselves.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
I have a feeling this game will be closer than you might think. This Andrew Luck kid is amazing. But the Patriots have hit their stride, and the Colts won't be able to keep up. Still, this should only be a temporary setback as the Colts shockingly jostle for a wild-card spot.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
I know the Ravens are 7-2, but you'll have to forgive me if I'm still not terribly impressed. The defense is poor. The offensive game plan still doesn't consistently feed Ray Rice as much as I'd like. And Joe Flacco sometimes gets all Joe Flacco on everything.
Meanwhile, the Steelers have generally turned things around. The defense is playing well. Ben Roethlisberger is playing elite football. The game is in Pittsburgh.
This isn't going to be the defensive struggle we're used to seeing in this rivalry. In fact, it might be a shootout (and one the Steelers win). Who thought we'd ever see that?
Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
I know the 49ers aren't the sort of team you want to play after a loss. But somehow, I feel as though they're even less appealing to face after a tie.
The Bears are just as disagreeable after losing, though at least they played a solid game and were simply beaten by a superior Houston team.
The question in this one will be which, if either starting quarterback plays. If both play, I like the 49ers. If neither play, I like the 49ers. If Cutler plays and Smith doesn't, I like the Bears. Are you getting all of this?
The thing we saw from Chicago is that they can be beaten physically by a team like the Texans, or in this case, the 49ers. Chicago will have to win the turnover battle to win this game. If they don't, the 49ers will shut down their offense and Frank Gore will successfully pound the rock on them.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets can handle as many Hall of Fame egos as you like.