Sorry I couldn't find the time to write a recap article this week, so I've included my Power Rankings (compiled before the Thursday game) and my award and playoff predictions. All scores were picked before the Thursday game.
Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis
This is a potential upset possibility, but the Colts have had many potential stumbling blocks for the past 7-8 games. The key word: potential.
Manning and the other stars that are not injured will most likely play the entire game. The Jags cannot beat a Colts team in full force.
Indianapolis 24 (-6.5), Jacksonville 17
New Orleans vs. Dallas
The Saints are looking more like a team of destiny every week. This is their toughest game remaining, and it's not too tough. It's a Dallas team that is on a two-game slide and is always bad at this time of the year.
Brees has found a reliable second option in Robert Meachem and the passing game is just now that much scarier. That's bad news for everybody because it was pretty scary before.
New Orleans 30 (-7.5), Dallas 21
Baltimore vs. Chicago
Baltimore must be ecstatic that Derrick Mason un-retired this summer because without him, their already bad passing game would be absolutely atrocious.
Mason is on pace to have a typical season, with about 1,000 yards and six touchdowns or so, but he is one of the most reliable pass catchers in the league. Mark Clayton is certainly not great at catching important passes.
Playing Chicago shouldn't be too difficult for Baltimore, who can get in Cutler's head with the pass rush. Ray Rice should also wreak havoc on their defense.
Baltimore 24 (-5.5), Chicago 16
Buffalo vs. New England
Every week everybody assumes New England will explode and just kill a bad team. They have an opportunity again this week, but their offense just isn't talented enough to put up the points that they did in 2007.
If Moss is truly unhappy, then they are in trouble because he tanked bad when he stopped caring in Minnesota and Oakland. They'll beat Buffalo, but not in a blowout.
New England 27 (-7.5), Buffalo 14
Detroit vs. Arizona
Arizona has struggled as of late, but they won't be losing to the Lions. Lock it up.
The Cards would be smart to rest a banged-up Fitzgerald here to make sure they are healthy for the playoff run that awaits them if they win. Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells will get their mojo back in this game.
Arizona 38 (-10.5), Detroit 14 (Lock of the Week)
Kansas City vs. Cleveland
It seems like Kansas City is in the middle of a streak of playing some horribly awful teams. Buffalo and Cleveland back-to-back in KC? Haven't the Chiefs punished their fans enough?
Kansas City 20 (-2.5), Cleveland 14
New York Jets vs. Atlanta
Atlanta has really been hurt by injuries this season. If Matt Ryan and Michael Turner did not get hurt, they would easily be contending for a playoff spot. Now they are all but eliminated.
The Jets, on the other hand, have new life because of the struggles of the AFC's wild-card contenders. The loser of this game can guarantee they won't be playing in January.
The home team that is hot will beat the cold team that is playing on the road with a banged up offense and secondary.
NY Jets 23, Atlanta 20 (+6.5)
Philadelphia vs. San Francisco
Philadelphia and San Diego are the two teams that annually get hot in December and are the teams nobody wants to play. It's happening again.
The Eagles are clicking on all cylinders and although the Niners were very good on Monday Night against the Cardinals, this is a totally different ball game.
DeSean Jackson should be able to beat a slow San Fran secondary for a few deep plays and Philly will run away with this one.
Philadelphia 31 (-7.5), San Francisco 17
Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay
It's amazing that the defending Super Bowl champs are on a five-game losing streak. What's more amazing is that I continue to pick them. It goes against the laws of momentum and logic but I think Pittsburgh will finally start playing better than they have been at least.
They are a bad matchup for the Packers, and playing in Pittsburgh is always tough this time of year. Those players in black and gold have a whole lot of pride, they're not giving up yet.
Pittsburgh 23 (-0.5), Green Bay 21
St. Louis vs. Houston
Houston torched Seattle through the air last week. Seattle beat St. Louis by a combined score of 55-7 in their two games this year. Things won't be pretty for the Rams in this one.
Houston 35 (-9.5), St. Louis 13
Tennessee vs. Miami
Tennessee is not eliminated quite yet. This is going to be an intensely hard-fought game. These are two grind-it-out, tough, running teams, and both have good run defenses.
Both teams are red hot. It should be a dandy, and the home team gets the edge if everything else seems even.
Tennessee 23 (-3.5), Miami 19
Denver vs. Oakland
Bruce Gradkowski was playing the part of the hero...then he went down. Amazingly he was 2-1 as the starter, beating Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and losing to Dallas. Things are so bad with JaMarcus Russell that Charlie Frye will be the starting quarterback in this game.
JaMarcus will like the view a little better on the bench in this one, as Denver blows the ears off of Oakland. Tom Cable has to be gone at season's end. Bring in a quarterback developing coach.
Denver 34 (-13.5), Oakland 3
San Diego vs. Cincinnati
An amazing stat: Philip Rivers has never lost a game in December. This is his fourth season as the starter for the Bolts. He's NEVER lost in December. I'm not betting against that until it's proven wrong.
San Diego is peaking at the right time, and Cincy is fading at the wrong time. The Bengals could go out and win this one because of the emotion of Chris Henry's death, but it seems more likely to be a detriment to them. San Diego is shaping up to be a very dangerous playoff team.
San Diego 23 (-6.5), Cincinnati 17 (Game of the Week)
Seattle vs. Tampa Bay
Somehow this game isn't the worst of the week. Second place isn't too bad. Seattle will blow out another bad team, like they have all season long (How can we take Jacksonville seriously after the Seahawks beat them 41-0?). Seattle is very vulnerable on defense, but Josh Freeman has thrown eight picks in his past two games. This is the perfect matchup for the Seahawks.
Seattle 27 (7.5), Tampa Bay 10
Carolina vs. Minnesota
Jeff Otah and Jordan Gross are now out for the rest of the season. The best defensive line in the NFL is coming to Charlotte on Sunday night. That spells B-A-D N-E-W-S for the Panthers.
Matt Moore won't have a chance. Adrian Peterson should be able to run over a weak run defense as well.
Minnesota 27 (-7.5), Carolina 13
Washington vs. New York Giants
Washington has had a great turnaround, especially offensively since Clinton Portis went down—weird how football works. Jason Campbell has suddenly turned into a reliable quarterback for the Skins. He's red hot, in fact.
The Giants cannot stop the pass, either. Washington's season is done, but this will be a big win for their fans on Monday Night. At least go out with a bang.
Washington 21 (+3.5), New York Giants 20 (Upset of the Week)
Game of the Week: San Diego vs. Cincinnati
Upset of the Week: Washington over New York Giants
Lock of the Week: Arizona over Detroit
Last Week: 12-4 (vs. spread: 10-6)
Overall: 133-75 (vs. spread: 114-92)
The Real Power Rankings
1. Indianapolis (13-0) Last Week: 1
2. New Orleans (13-0) Last Week: 2
3. San Diego (10-3) Last Week: 4
4. Minnesota (11-2) Last Week: 3
5. Philadelphia (9-4) Last Week: 8
6. Green Bay (9-4) Last Week: 7
7. Cincinnati (9-4) Last Week: 5
8. Denver (8-5) Last Week: 9
9. Arizona (8-5) Last Week: 6
10. Baltimore (7-6) Last Week: 14
11. Tennessee (6-7) Last Week: 11
12. New England (8-5) Last Week:10
13. New York Giants (7-6) Last Week: 13
14. Dallas (8-5) Last Week: 12
15. Miami (7-6) Last Week: 16
16. New York Jets (7-6) Last Week:
17. Pittsburgh (6-7) Last Week: 15
18. Houston (6-7) Last Week: 21
19. Atlanta (6-7) Last Week: 19
20. Jacksonville (7-6) Last Week: 17
21. Washington (4-9) Last Week: 20
22. San Francisco (6-7) Last Week: 22
23. Carolina (5-8) Last Week: 23
24. Chicago (5-8) Last Week: 27
25. Buffalo (5-8) Last Week: 25
26. Seattle (5-8) Last Week: 24
27. Oakland (4-9) Last Week: 26
28. Cleveland (2-11) Last Week: 32
29. Kansas City (3-10) Last Week: 29
30. Tampa Bay (1-12) Last Week: 28
31. Detroit (2-11) Last Week: 30
32. St. Louis (1-12) Last Week: 31
End of the Year...If I Had to Pick
MVP: Peyton Manning
Offensive Player of the Year: Chris Johnson
Defensive Player of the Year: Darren Sharper
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Percy Harvin
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Dairus Byrd
Comeback Player of the Year: Vernon Davis
Coach of the Year: Sean Payton
AFC Divisional Champions (in seed order): Indianapolis, San Diego, Cincinnati, New England
AFC Wild Cards: Denver, Baltimore
NFC Divisional Champions: New Orleans, Minnesota, Arizona, Philadelphia
NFC Wild Cards: Green Bay, NY Giants
AFC Champion: San Diego
NFC Champion: New Orleans
Super Bowl Champion (MVP): San Diego (Rivers)
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