By Derek Lofland.
December football, this is when the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders.
With just five games left in the season every win is important and every loss is devastating, with the exception of the 11-0 Indianapolis Colts, who have already clinched the AFC South. My record for the season is 117-59.
Here is a brief summary of the current playoff picture:
Clinched: Indianapolis Colts (AFC South Champions)
1) Philadelphia Eagles (7-4) at Atlanta Falcons (6-5) - This is a must win for Atlanta who has a respectable conference record at 6-4. The problem is that they have already lost to Dallas and New York and if they lose to Philadelphia, they will have no tiebreakers with the playoff contending teams from the NFC East. They are not catching the New Orleans Saints for the division and if Green Bay wins, they will be two games behind them as well. Green Bay is 6-3 in conference, so they cannot afford to fall two games behind them in conference record. Sure, they could win their last four games and everyone else could collapse. Philadelphia did that last year. I just think if they want to be a realistic playoff contender they have to win at home against another playoff contender.
QB Matt Ryan is already out and RB Michael Turner is also probably out. That said, I like the Falcons who are 5-0 at home this year and 1-5 on the road. Their five road losses have been to the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and New York Giants. With the exception of the Panthers, those are some pretty talented football teams. Furthermore, the Eagles are 3-2 on the road and have managed to lose at Oakland. Other than their opener at Carolina, their road wins have been by just 10 points against the Redskins and four points at the Bears. Atlanta will be able to hang around in this game and I like backup QB Chris Redman to make enough plays to TE Tony Gonzalez and WR Roddy White to help pull the upset. Winner: Atlanta...