I am once again crunched for time as it is cram week here, and I apologize for the unexpected bye last week. This week's slate of games sports several division rivals facing off and is full of playoff implications. As I am short on time, I shall one again present my picks in Peter King Style.
Houston (5-6) @ Philadelphia (7-4)
The Michael Vick is having an outstanding season, and he faces the league's worst pass defense Thursday night. No Brainer.
PHI 34—HOU 28
New Orleans (8-3) @ Cincinnati (2-9)
Two teams going in opposite directions. The Saints will win easily and keep pressure on the Falcons.
NO 42—CIN 23
Chicago (8-3) @ Detroit (2-9)
This is one of the league's oldest rivalries. Unfortunately, it has been lopsided in recent years, but I am half tempted to take the Lions, based soley on the fact that Jay Cutler has not had a winning season since high school, and a win Sunday would guarantee that he gets his first since then. Even so, I'll take Da Bears.
CHI 31—DET 20
San Francisco (4-7) @ Green Bay (7-4)
Though these two teams have very different records, they are both fighting for their playoff lives. I'm taking Green Bay because I think Clay Matthews is going to give Troy Smith fits all day long. Troy Smith has not faced a defense of this caliber...ever.
GB 27—SF 13
Jacksonville (6-5) @ Tennessee (5-6)
Rusty Smith or Kerry Collins? Maybe even Chris Simms. Doesn't matter. The Jags have been vastly underrated all year long, but they now control their own destiny.
JAX 27—Ten 14
Denver (3-8) @ Kansas City
I've got the Chiefs for two reasons:
Denver historically does not win in Kansas City in December.
Kansas City is going to use its white hot offense to torch Denver and avenge its Week 10 loss. Just go back and look at history. Every time one of these teams blow out the other in their first meeting, the other team returns the favor in their next match-up.
KC 55—DEN 32
Cleveland (4-7) @ Miami (6-5)
The Browns have made significant improvements, but their D still can't tackle. I would pick the Browns for the upset, but it's looking more and more like Jake Dehomme is playing Sunday. Never ever trust Jake.
MIA 22 —CLE 13
Buffalo (2-9) @ Minnesota (4-7)
The Buffalo Bills are the lovable losers of the NFL. We pull for them every week, except when they play our teams. They always put themselves in position to win, and then invent ways to lose. You've got to feel for Stevie Smith. Expect him to have a big rebound game. Frazier's honeymoon is short lived.
BUF 28 —MIN 21
Washington (5-6) @ New York[G] (7-4)
This is the kind of rivalry where records and past performances are obsolete. These two teams have a rich history and do not like each other. It's a showdown that features two of the most overrated QBs ever, but I give the slight nod to Eli, because he has more tools to work with, and it's about time for McNabb's seemingly annual season ending injury. Who better to supply that than the QB slayers that are the Giants' front four?
NYG 28—WAS 17
Oakland (5-6) @ San Diego (6-5)
The Chargers have opened their late season surge with two straight blowouts, one against the woeful Denver Broncos, and one against the slumping Colts. The Raiders, on the other hand, have been blown out in two straight games since coming off their bye. The surging Chargers are returning to the comfort of their own stadium against a division opponent in a game that will have a playoff-like atmosphere against the sliding Raiders. Can you say TRAP GAME?
OAK 31—SD 28
Atlanta (9-2) @ Tampa Bay (7-4)
I'm taking the Falcons. Matt Ryan is getting all the credit for the success of this team, but it is the Falcon's rushing attack that makes this team so lethal. The Dirty Birds will take it to the Bucs early and often.
ATL 34—TB 20
Carolina (1-10) @ Seattle (5-6)
Can anyone really take the Panthers seriously?
SEA 39—CAR 17
St. Louis (5-6) @ Arizona (3-8)
The Rams control their own destiny. A win over the Cardinals puts them one step closer to the playoffs.
STL 32—ARI 23
Dallas (3-8) @ Indianapolis (6-5)
Dallas is playing inspired football under Jason Garrett,and Peyton Manning is in the worst slump of his career, albeit with a depleted roster. Nonetheless, I'm taking Dallas. Call it a gut feeling.
DAL 26—IND 23
Pittsburgh (8-3) @ Baltimore (8-3)
What a game. With first place in the AFC North on the line, the Steelers and Ravens square off on Sunday Night Football. This will go down as one of the best games of the season, but will take a back seat to...
BAL 24—PIT 21
New York[J] (9-2) @ New England (9-2)
GAME OF THE YEAR
The Patriots play host to the Jets in Act II of their 2010 rivalry, and this time the stakes are huge. The difference between a win and a loss in this game is, potentially, home field advantage throughout vs. Wild Card. The stakes are high, this rivalry is nasty and it features the latter day Joe Montana vs. the future Captain Cool. Monstrous Stakes. Monstrous Rivalry. Monstrous Game. I give the slight edge to New England, because the game is at Gillette Stadium. If you are unsure why home field advantage is favored over the team that declares itself the "road warriors," then perhaps you should take the time to look at Tom Brady's stats at home, most notably his win/loss record.
NE 42 - NYJ 38
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