The season starts to wind down but excitement keeps up
There was no lack of exciting NFL action in week 13. The big question on everyone's mind is what's up with Peyton Manning? The former MVP and Super Bowl quarterback threw four picks as the Colts fell to the Cowboys 38-35 in overtime. The Steelers won a 13-10 defensive battle with the Ravens, and ‘Skins fans hung their heads as the Giants spanked Washington 31-7. And on Monday night, the Patriots improved to a league-best 10-2 with a 45-3 thrashing of the Jets.
Our experts fared extremely well last week. Melissa and Eli went 12-4 while Blake went 10-6. Eli is widening his lead but there's still plenty of time for Blake and Melissa to get back in it.
Thursday, Dec. 9
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Tennessee Titans (5-7)
Having made playoffs every year for the past ten years, the Colts have remained one of the top teams in the NFL. Now, however, at 6-6, a loss this week would put Indianapolis in danger of not making the playoffs. Despite some bumps in the road this season, I still think the Colts are one of the tougher teams and will just move past the Titans, who have been struggling since the benching of quarterback Vince Young.
The 5-7 Titans fell 17-6 last week as Chris Johnson was held in check for the second game in a row. Peyton Manning threw four picks in the Colts' 38-35 loss to Dallas. He's now thrown eleven picks in his last three games, but I still think that 6-6 Indianapolis is a playoff-caliber team, and they'll beat Tennessee on Thursday night.
Indy has to win. After losing two straight to the Chargers and Cowboys, a win over the Titans is necessary if the Colts want any chance of making the playoffs. Luckily for them, they're facing a broken Titans team whose season looks to be over.
Sunday, Dec. 12
Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Buffalo Bills (2-10)
Both teams are greatly improved from last season and are headed in the right direction. It's always tough to win in Buffalo but I feel that at 5-7, Cleveland is capable of playing in bad weather and will win on the road.
Neither of these teams is playoff-bound, but this is still an intriguing match-up featuring two up-and-coming stars in Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick and Cleveland's Peyton Hillis. Fred Jackson has been on a tear as of late for the Bills, racking up 510 yards of total offense and five touchdowns over the last four weeks. I'll go with the home team in snowy Buffalo.
Even though the Bills have shown some muscle as of late, the Browns have Peyton Hillis. End of story.
Green Bay Packers (8-4) at Detroit Lions (2-10)
In one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL, this is always an exciting game. Despite only having two wins, Detroit is much better this year; however, I predict that the Pack will dominate in this game.
Not too complicated. Green Bay is simply the better team. Aaron Rodgers dominated the Niner defense last week, throwing for 298 yards and three scores. Expect much of the same against the 2-10 Lions on Sunday.
The Lions can't play a complete game, which means that even if they manage to keep up with the Pack for three quarters, they'll lose in the fourth. Green Bay wins on Sunday.
New York Giants (8-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-7)
The Vikings have won two in a row under interim coach Leslie Frazier, however, I feel Giants are one of the best teams in the NFC and need a win to keep up with the Philadelphia Eagles, who are atop the NFC East.
New York obliterated the Redskins 31-7 last week thanks to a combined 200 yards and four touchdowns from Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Vikings also played extremely well in week 13, beating Buffalo 38-14 with Tarvaris Jackson replacing an injured Favre. Adrian Peterson rushed for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Unless AP can carry the Minnesota offense again, look for the Giants to improve to 9-4 on the season.
The G-Men are looking to make their way into the playoffs, while the Vikings are just playing for pride. Giants win big.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
This is another big rivalry game. After their big come-from-behind victory over the Rams Sunday night, the Steelers should win big but they have to be careful not to take the Bengals too lightly.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 13-10 victory over the Ravens while the Bengals fell to New Orleans. I'll take the Steelers at home.
Pittsburgh proved that they are one of the teams to beat in the AFC with a 13-10 win over the Ravens last Sunday night. The Steelers should be able to stifle the Bengals offense and keep their winning ways alive this Sunday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5) at Washington Redskins (5-7)
Now that the ‘Skins have finally gotten rid of their team cancer Albert Haynesworth, look for them to come out with a new attitude. I feel they are going to make a run here by winning the rest of their games but will just miss making the playoffs. Tampa Bay has lost two in a row and I think they were overrated earlier in the season.
The Redskins are too unpredictable.
With a win over the ‘Skins, the Bucs could potentially be in the hunt for one of the last playoff spots. And even though there have been times where Tampa Bay hasn't been able to pull out the win, they are definitely strong enough to beat Washington. If running back LeGarrette Blount and quarterback Josh Freeman can keep the Bucs offense rolling, they should be able to win in D.C.
Atlanta Falcons (10-2) at Carolina Panthers (1-11)
Everyone has been beating up on the Panthers all season long and nothing's going to change this week. Look for the Falcons to continue their winning streak and make it seven in a row.
The Panthers are just really bad. There's really nothing else to say.
The 10-2 Falcons are looking great. This week, they face a terrible 1-11 Carolina team that has absolutely no chance of being Atlanta. Sorry Panthers, your bad luck continues.
Oakland Raiders (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)
Both teams have been up and down all season long. I feel that it will be difficult for the Raiders to win on the road and at 7-5, I think Jacksonville is stating to believe that they are playoff contenders. Jacksonville will win a close one here.
The Jags are hot. They've won four of their last five and they're atop the AFC South. MJD rushed for a career-high 186 yards against the Titans last week and expect another big game out of him when Jacksonville takes on Oakland.
Although Oakland's play has been impressive recently, Jacksonville needs a win to stay atop the AFC South and continue their playoff run. I'll give this one to the Jags at home.
St. Louis Rams (6-6) at New Orleans Saints (9-3)
The Saints have won five in a row and are one game behind Atlanta in the NFC South. I feel that they are regaining their Super Bowl championship form. New Orleans will handle the Rams easily, hurting their playoff chances in the weak NFC West region.
St. Louis is winning the NFC Wes, albeit with a record of just 6-6. The Saints are clearly the better team though. Drew Brees threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns last week while rookie running back Chris Ivory ran for 117 yards and two scores. New Orleans' offense is firing on all cylinders. I'm picking the Saints at home over the Rams.
The Saints, who are actually in the same division as the Bucs and fighting for the second spot in the NFC South, should be able to dismantle the Rams come Sunday. Don't get me wrong, St. Louis has potential. But they won't be able to handle the Saints' offense.
Seattle Seahawks (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (4-8)
No one is out of the playoff hunt in the NFC West, easily the weakest conference in the NFL. Both teams have done horribly all season long and that trend will continue in week fourteen. I'm picking the 49ers at home in a sloppy match-up.
The Seahawks boast a better record than San Fran, but I'm going with the ‘Niners at home this Sunday. The only reason Seattle looked good in a 31-14 win last week is because they were playing the woeful Panthers. As long as San Francisco can get some kind of production in the ground game, they'll edge the Seahawks in a close one.
This is one of those games where either team could potentially take home the ‘W'. Seattle's lost some not-so-close games this season, but the ‘Hawks were able to rebound against a bad Carolina team last week. The 49ers have had no luck at quarterback, and it looks like Alex Smith is Singletary's starter this week. Although I think San Francisco could possibly be good, I doubt they'll be able to beat the Seahawks this week.
New England Patriots (10-2) at Chicago Bears (9-3)
The Patriots are proving to be the best team in the NFL once again. New England has been at the top for the past decade and I feel that they are the front runners to win the Super Bowl. The Bears have an impressive 9-3 record and are at home, but New England will just be too much for them to handle.
The Bears are winners of five straight and are finding ways to win with a team that lacks superb talent. However, they'll be in trouble when they face the 10-2 Patriots on Sunday. Tom Brady is having one of the best seasons of his career, and he only gets better each week. He threw for 326 yards and four scores against the Jets defense last week and should pick up where he left off against the Bears.
After blowing out the Jets 45-3 last Monday, there's no question as to who is the AFC's hottest team right now. But the Patriots can't afford to lose concentration as they take on the Bears in Chicago this Sunday. The Bears' defense has found itself again and has been supremely dominant in the last few weeks. As long as Brady gets support, I think the Patriots should be able to defeat the Bears come Sunday.
Miami Dolphins (6-6) at New York Jets (9-3)
The Jets are coming off a big loss to New England Monday night. Look for them to lost their second in a row against the 6-6 Dolphins. Miami is 5-1 on the road this year and I feel that the Jets are ripe for an upset.
The Jets got embarrassed in a 45-3 loss to the Pats last week. I'm confident that they'll rebound against a 6-6 Dolphins team that fell to the Browns in week 13. Melissa says:
Even though the Jets were destroyed by the Patriots last Monday, there's no denying that they are indeed a good team. They'll use this game against another division opponent to rebound from their dismal loss.
Denver Broncos (3-9) at Arizona Cardinals (3-9)
Both teams are 3-9 at this point and both had high expectations for the season. This game will be decided by who has not given up on the 2010 season. I feel Denver, under new coach Eric Studesville, will be motivated to pull out a win on the road against Arizona.
Both teams' offenses were dreadful in week 13, scoring just a combined 12 points. At least Denver had one bright spot, with Knowshon Moreno rushing for 161 yards. I'll take the 3-9 Broncos on the road against the 3-9 Cardinals.
Broncos' head coach Josh McDaniels was fired this week, leaving Denver in a bit of a chaotic situation as Sunday approaches. Both of these teams are 3-9 and the winner of this game will be the one whose defense steps up and makes plays. Broncos should be able to beat the struggling Cards.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) at San Diego Chargers (6-6)
San Diego always starts off slowly and finishes strong. Before last week's game most people thought San Diego would make playoffs and be in contention to win the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for San Diego fans, the Chargers' bubble has burst. If this game were being played in Kansas City it would be a no-brainer, but I'm still going to pick the Chiefs this week.
After winning four straight, the Chargers played sloppily in a 28-13 loss to the Raiders last week. They'll bounce back with a big game out of Phillip Rivers and Mike Tolbert to beat the 8-4 Chiefs at home.
After a surprising 28-13 loss to the Raiders, the Chargers are looking to bounce back and prove that they're playoff worthy. I have faith in the Chiefs - but only when Matt Cassel is playing quarterback. Right now, Cassel's status is unknown after he had an appendectomy. And his backup is Brodie Croyle. This may be a problem. I'm going to take the ‘Bolts to redeem themselves after last week's loss to the Black and Silver.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) at Dallas Cowboys (4-8)
This is the Sunday night game that should be the most exciting of the week. After last week's Rams/Steelers game, I feel that this week's match-up will be every bit as good. The cowboys have gone 3-1 under new coach Jason Garrett; although I feel that it is a tough pick, anytime I can pick against the Cowboys I will. I like the Eagles in a close match-up.
The Eagles are coming off a big 34-24 win over the Texans while the Cowboys beat the Colts 38-35 in overtime. In the win, the Cowboys lost Dez Bryant for the season due to a fractured ankle. Both of these teams are playing well, but I'll go with the safer pick here in the 8-4 Eagles.
Dallas is hot right now, there's no denying it. But Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has been even hotter and the Eagles have the momentum going in against their NFC East rival. I'll take the Eagles to come out on top.
Monday, Dec. 13
Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Houston Texans (5-7)
I feel that it is going to be difficult for the Ravens to bounce back after their disappointing loss to the Steelers. I feel the Houston Texans will upset the Ravens at home this week.
Coming off a loss to their division rival Steelers, I think the Ravens will get back to their winning ways with a victory over Houston on Monday night. Ray Rice struggled against a tough Pittsburgh defense in week 13 but should have a good game this week against a softer Texans team. Baltimore moves to 9-4 on the season.
Even though Houston's offense is strong, they've been hot and cold all season. But Baltimore's defense has been on fire and should be able to create havoc for Matt Schaub and company. Ravens win on Monday night.
Melissa Haniff. Melissa loves music, One Tree Hill, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She is also a diehard Patriots, Red Wings, Pistons and University of Michigan fan...Go Blue! More »
Eli Schwadron. Eli (@eschwad) is a chill guy who likes to play basketball, watch TV and eat. More »
Blake Morgan-Gamber. Blake Morgan-Gamber is a rare specimen with two last names; she woos women and men alike with her fanciful features writing and sumptuous sports editing. But do not be lulled by this siren, though BMG is a creature of beauty, there's many amazing talents inside ... More »