NFL Playoff Predictions: The 25 Most Important Games Left This Season

Nathaniel UyFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2010

NFL Playoff Predictions: The 25 Most Important Games Left This Season

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    NFL playoff predictions are always a tough call. 

    Although we're only heading toward Week 12, we should already have a good idea of which teams are likely headed for the playoffs.

    Looking ahead at the remaining schedule, there are plenty of important games to look forward to.

    Here are the 25 most important games left this season...

25. Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns, December 26

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    Why are the Browns among the most important games in the season?

    They're giant killers.

    Cleveland has taken down powerhouses such as the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints.

    It's hard to count the Browns out because they are a pesky team.  They could very well play the role of spoilers in the AFC North division race, which could come down to the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns, January 2

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    See No. 25.

    The Cleveland Browns will face the Steelers in Week 17 of the season.

    If the Ravens and the Steelers are knotted up in the AFC North, this game could be very, very important.

23. San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals, November 29

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    This will be an ever-important game for both teams.  Arizona and San Francisco are both tied in the NFC West.

    Losing this week drops them back even further in the race for the division title.

    Although they face each other in the last week of the season, this game could build-or-break momentum for a strong run to end of their respective schedules.

22. San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams, December 26

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    It may be hard to believe, but the 3-7 49ers are only two games behind in the NFC West.

    The Rams are only one game behind.

    Yes, this game could definitely affect the NFC West battle for the title.

21. Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans, December 19

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    Heading into Week 12, four teams in the AFC South are within two games of each other.

    The race for the division is still wide open.

    Although the Texans and the Titans have been struggling of late, they still have the ability to turn around their season.

    Which means this Week 15 game could take one of these two teams completely out of the race.

20. Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders, December 26

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    This is a tough AFC game between two teams that are in playoff contention.

    The Colts are in the AFC South, where all four teams are still in the hunt. The Raiders are in the AFC West, where Kansas City and the Chargers are capable of making a strong run to end the season.

    A win in Week 16 will be very important.

19. Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings, December 20

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    The Vikings were just swept by NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers, in Week 11.

    They've already given up one game to the Bears this season and with them looking to regain respect, the Vikings will likely not want to roll over at home.

    Although the Vikings are probably out of playoff contention, the Bears will probably need this ever-important division win.

18. Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets, December 12

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    Who better to play the role of spoilers in the AFC East race than the Miami Dolphins?

    The Dolphins visit to New York could affect who wins the title.

    With the Jets locked up with the Patriots, the Jets cannot afford a Dolphins upset.

17. Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots, January 2

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    See No. 17.

    It looks like it's going to be a very tight race for the AFC East.

    Just like the Jets, the Patriots cannot afford an upset from the Dolphins. 

    The winner of the division could be decided in the last game of the season.

16. Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers, December 5

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    Earlier this season the Raiders surprised their in-state rivals by winning 35-27 at home.

    These two teams will be in a tightly-fought AFC West battle.

    Although they'll be facing each other in Week 13, the loser of this match could be playing from behind to have a chance to make the playoffs.

15. Philadelphia Eagles @ NY Giants, December 19

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    The Eagles have been streaking and, most recently, just took down the Giants and locked down their high-powered offense.

    With the NFC East at stake, the Giants will surely come out to play and be ready for revenge.

    This should be an exciting Week 15 game.

14. NY Giants @ Washington Redskins, January 2

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    As bad as the Redskins offense has looked, they're still in NFC East contention.

    For the last game of the season, the Giants will have to play an important road game against the Redskins.

    Whoever wins, assuming the Eagles fall out of contention, could possibly win the division.

13. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans, January 2

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    This could turn out to be an ever-important AFC South game to end the season.

    The playoffs are at stake.

    And yes, these two teams could still be in the race.

12. Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts, January 2

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    Although the Titans have lost three straight games, they're only a game behind in the AFC South.

    This is the last game of the season for these two teams.

    And it just might be a must-win situation.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts, December 19

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    The Colts will be looking to avenge an early-season loss to the Jaguars.

    But there are also playoff implications here.

    Heading into Week 12, these two teams are knotted up with a 6-4 record.

    This means this game could mean the difference of winning or losing the division.

10. Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers, December 12

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    This is a very important game for both squads as they look to displace one another in the race for the AFC West title.

    The Chargers should be the favorites at home, so the Chiefs need to bring their "A" game for this matchup.

9. St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks, January 2

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    This is a battle for, possibly, the league's worst division.

    The Seahawks and the Rams—one of these two will probably make the playoffs.

    And this game could help determine who goes in the last week of the season.

8. Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs, January 2

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    In case the Chargers sputter, this could be the game that determines the AFC West.

    Two old rivals: the Raiders and the Chiefs.

    The Raiders won a close overtime game at home earlier this season and the Chiefs will be looking for payback.

7. NY Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers, December 19

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    These are two AFC powerhouses that are due for a collision in December.

    With the Jets and Steelers among the league's best teams and still duking it out with other quality contenders in their respective divisions, this game is a must-win.

6. New Orleans Saints @ Baltimore Ravens, December 19

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    In this game, two heavy hitters from each conference will go head-to-head.

    Not only is there going to be conference bragging rights to be had, but each game for these two squads will be of the utmost importance.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints, January 2

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    The Buccaneers are an impressive 7-3 so far this season, but they have shown that they have trouble defeating very good teams.

    If they somehow manage to stay in the NFC South race, this season-ending matchup could determine who makes the playoffs.

4. New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons, December 27

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    If the Saints want to catch up to the Falcons for the NFC South lead, this could be the week to do it.

    With the Falcons at 8-2 and trying to keep up their winning ways, the defending champs will be in for a very hard road game.

3. NY Jets @ New England Patriots, December 6

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    This game is set for Week 13, but it could already determine who wins the AFC East.

    With the Patriots and the Jets sitting on 8-2 records, a playoff berth could be in their future.

    What's left to be decided, however, could be who gets a bye and who doesn't.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens, December 5

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    The winner of this game could possibly take sole possession of the AFC North.

    WIth both teams playing elite defense and also boasting formidable offenses, this could play out to be a very intense battle.

    Just like the Jets versus Patriots, the winner of this game could earn themselves a first-round bye in the playoffs.

1. Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers, January 2

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    These are two NFC North rivals with plenty of history between them.

    Not only are they tied for the division lead with 7-3 records, but they're due for a Week 17 matchup.

    What better way to determine who wins the division than having one game at the end of the year to figure out who gets the title?