NFL Week 14 Predictions: Down The Home Stretch

Mike CraigCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2008

So what happened Thursday night? The San Diego Chargers played the way they should have been playing all season. Unfortunately it doesn't really matter now, unless the Denver Broncos take a major dive.

And the Oakland Raiders showed why their three wins have all been lucky.

There are only four games left in the regular season. Out of eight divisions, four do not have a clear winner. If you add the AFC West, that makes it five.

So with that said, these last four weeks of football are crucial.

In the AFC East, New York, New England, and Buffalo all lost last week. Miami was the only team to win, making the race for the AFC East bigger.

The New York Jets lost to the Denver Broncos last week and will be looking to rebound when they head into San Francisco this week. Shouldn't be too hard, should it? Especially for a team has knocked off the last undefeated team of the season. Oh wait, they mishandled the Broncos, who got crushed by the Raiders the week before.

New England, on the other hand, got whipped by the Pittsburgh Steelers. So the Pats too will be looking for a win this Sunday when they pay Seattle a visit. Lucky for them, Mike Holmgren can't seem to coach anymore.

Miami is closer in this race now with its win last week. Sure, the Dolphins only beat St. Louis, but a win is a win. Now they play the Bills in Canada. This should be a good one.

This brings me to the AFC North, where the race is between two teams, one of which at the beginning of the season looked as if it was hanging on by a thread because of its defense, and the other was a big question mark because of its rookie quarterback.

The Pittsburgh Steelers after destroying the Patriots are now letting the Dallas Cowboys come to the Steel City. Will we see Steelers go 1-3 in the NFC East?

Baltimore on the other hand will be playing Washington, which has not been doing so great as of late. Picking a rookie quarterback over this Washington team? At the beginning of the season, that might have been a little absurd. I don't know about now.

In the AFC South, we already have our winner. The Tennessee Titans play Cleveland at home this Sunday, then next week they travel to Houston, in Week 16 the have a hard game against the Steelers, and then to finish it off, in the last week of the regular season, they travel to Indianapolis. But by then, all they will probably do is put their backups in so the starters can get some rest. Consider this to be a 14-2 team.

However, if the Titans were to lose the rest of their games and the Colts win the rest of theirs, the Colts would win the AFC South. Indianapolis plays the Bengals this Sunday.

There is still a chance that the Chargers could win the AFC West. The Broncos on the other hand had a convincing win over the New York Jets last week. This week Denver plays Kansas City, which should provide for an easy win.

As for the Chargers, they just beat the snot out of Oakland and go on to play Kansas City next week.

This brings us to the more interesting conference of the year: the NFC. The NFC East and West are pretty much wrapped up, while the North and the South are in tight races.

In the NFC East, the New York Giants are riding the wave of satisfaction at 11-1. With nothing really in their way to stop them, the East should be theirs.

The Dallas Cowboys are the only ones who could take the spot, and only if the Giants lose the rest of their games and Dallas wins the rest of its.

In the NFC North, that is where things are really tight. People are already saying the Minnesota Vikings have the North wrapped up. However, the Vikings still have Atlanta, the New York Giants, and Arizona to play. This week is their last easy one as they play Detroit.

Chicago is a little less convincing as well, especially after both the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings embarrassed them. Not even sure I should include them in this race.

However, it would be strange if I did not, considering the Green Bay Packers at 5-7 could still win the North. The Bears are 6-6. Green Bay, unlike Minnesota, has an easy schedule. The Packers have Houston this week, then they have Jacksonville, Chicago, and then Detroit. Not exactly hard ones. Schedule-wise, Green Bay could possibly be the favorite.

The last tight race division in the NFL this season is the NFC South. Both Carolina and Tampa Bay are tied for first. Atlanta is only one game behind.

This Monday, on Monday Night Football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Carolina in a big NFC South battle. This one is for the lead. This game could decide the winner in the NFC South.

Atlanta on the other hand travels to New Orleans. Its hard to tell which New Orleans team will show up, the Packers-crushing Saints or the oh-so-close-but-no-cigar Saints.

There is only one obvious winner in the NFC West: the Arizona Cardinals. Not that any of the teams in this division is exceptionally great. The Cardinals could have won this division with a 6-10 record.

However, for an honorable mention, the 49ers have seemed to kick things into gear for the first time since the 90s.

Sunday, Dec. 7, 2008
Jacksonville Jaguars
(4-8) @ Chicago Bears (6-6) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Bears

Minnesota Vikings (7-5) @ Detroit Lions (0-12) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Vikings

Cincinnati Bengals (1-10-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Colts

Philadelphia Eagles (6-5-1) @ New York Giants (11-1) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Giants

Cleveland Browns (4-8) @ Tennessee Titans (11-1) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Titans

Atlanta Falcons (7-5) @ New Orleans Saints (6-6) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Falcons

Houston Texans (5-7) @ Green Bay Packers (5-7) at 1 p.m.
My Pick: Packers

Miami Dolphins (7-5) @ Buffalo Bills (6-6) at 4:05 p.m.
My Pick: Dolphins

New York Jets (8-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (4-8) at 4:05 p.m.
My Pick: Jets

New England Patriots (7-5) @ Seattle Seahawks (2-10) at 4:05 p.m.
My Pick: Patriots

Kansas City Chiefs (2-10) @ Denver Broncos (7-5) at 4:05 p.m.
My Pick: Broncos

St. Louis Rams (2-10) @ Arizona Cardinals (7-5) at 4:15 p.m.
My Pick: Cardinals

Dallas Cowboys (8-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3) at 4:15 p.m.
My Pick: Cowboys

Washington Redskins (7-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at 8:15 p.m.
My Pick: Ravens

Monday, Dec. 8, 2008
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
(9-3) @ Carolina Panthers (9-3) at 8:30 p.m.
My Pick: Buccaneers


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