Ok, so I didn’t go 13-0 after all… firstly because there were 14 games (good one, Waleed) and secondly because I finished 8-6. Pathetic. Moving on.
Raiders @ Chargers
Let’s get this week started right. This is the biggest game of the year for the AFC West. Sure, these same two teams will tangle again on New Year’s Eve to close out the season and maybe that game decides the division (with the way these two have been going, it just might) but this game tomorrow night will determine the rest of the season for both teams, I believe. For one, both are coming off tough-to-swallow losing streaks, the Chargers mired in a 3 game slide and the Raiders losing back to back division games while trying to navigate through an injury-riddled transition. Making matters much tougher on the Raiders is the continued absence of Darren McFadden, something I’m sure Turner and company are glad for. That said, I do believe, homer pick or not, that the Raiders emerge as winners here. The Raider defense will be tested much more than they were either of the past two games and that has got to motivate them to stop the bleeding. The offense is fine all things considered but the turnovers must be limited or this one’s a wrap. San Diego runs the ball well enough to balance the offense but everybody knows this runs through Rivers and if he’s on point, it’ll be a long, painful day for the Raider Nation. I’ll be at the game and I know we’re in for a great one. I’m also convinced whomever wins this game wins the division but that’s just me. Here’s hoping it’s my team.
Broncos @ Chiefs
So while the Raiders and Chargers tangle on Thursday night, the other half of the AFC West get messy on Sunday. The Broncos shocked the division last week with a 360 degree comeback in the 2nd half to stun the Raiders and tighten the division by coming within a game of a 3 way tie for first. That said, I give more credit to an inexplicable mental breakdown on the Raider defense and Special Teams than I do to the Broncos offense and believe that the Chiefs who were pounded by a winless Dolphins team will bounce back at home to lock this one up. Broncos better hope for another defensive breakdown.
Jags @ Colts
Another of this week’s several divisional romps. I’m feeling the Colts in this one. I think they saw that Miami got their first win of the season and they want theirs too. This might be the only game left on the schedule that they can win and, being at home, they should lock it down. Or at least, I think.
Saints @ Falcons
I’m convinced the Saints are totally overrated… at least in the same way the Chargers are. They appear to be the same team with the same talent as past iterations but that is due to an explosive passing game which often masks the deficiencies this team really has… such as a mediocre rushing game and meh defense. The Falcons on the other hand have gotten it together by getting back to the run and playing tougher defense than they had early in the year. This is a classic NFC South battle and I give the edge to the hometown team.
Texans @ Bucs
I was tempted to go with the Bucs given how much better they play at home but the Texans’ offense is just rolling and I don’t know if anyone can stop their running game right now. There are whispers that Andre Johnson might be able to go but even if he doesn’t, the Texans have been putting up points on everyone and I don’t know if that’ll change this week.
Steelers @ Bengals
This is Cincy’s first real test and it’s against a franchise that has tormented them and dominated them for decades but is also coming off a tough loss to another division rival. If there was ever a wrong time to be playing the Steelers, it’s this weekend. Luckily for the Bengals, they have one of, if not the, best defense in the league, an emerging strong passing duo and a fresh RB. Won’t matter, though. Pittsburgh is scary, their defense will be pissed off for getting hustled in the 1 minute drill the previous Sunday night and will execute some Jedi Mind Tricks on the Bengals en route to a road win.
Titans @ Panthers
The Titans have been hard to predict this year due to being painfully mediocre and having an inconsistent, perplexing running game … especially so given that CJ2K has done nothing to earn his contract. I’ve been riding the Cam Newton bandwagon all year and this week will be no different. The Carolina defense is absolutely atrocious but their offense can put up some points and I’m banking on them getting just enough to win.
Cardinals @ Eagles
That loss to the Bears on MNF had to sting. The Eagles will soon find a dose of Arizona’s non existent defense a great tonic for that mess. Not to say that anything in the NFL is truly a lock but this might be the only true lock of the week.
Bills @ Cowboys
The Bills are coming into town off a loss to the Jets that left their offense sputtering so they’ll be looking to come out firing. What they might end up discovering, however, is that the Big D stands for more than just “Dallas.” However, the Cowboys have been basically alternating wins and losses all season and they’ll need to be more consistent to catch the Giants. I think they put back to back wins together this weekend by running the ball and getting it done on defense stifling the high powered Buffalo defense. They’re 3-1 at home.
Rams @ Browns
I was up on the Rams after their awesome win over New Orleans on a weekend their town was celebrating their 11th world series title. Then they got smacked by a crappy Cards team. Lost a lot of faith there. The Browns play better at home and have a tough defense. If they can just avoid the distraction that is Peyton “Paris” Hillis, I think they can win this one.
Redskins @ Dolphins
What can winning do for a team? It can help them win their second game of the season right away at home against a team that can’t move the ball or score on offense. The Skins have lost 4 in a row and have scored a total of 11 points in the last two games. I’m not saying that the Dolphins are an elite defense or anything but they should be able to ride the momentum of having broken through with their first win of the season and win at home.
Ravens @ Seahawks
One of the top run defenses in the league got run through by the Cowboys last week and could get skewered again this week by Ray Rice when the Ravens come to town. Sure, the Hawks play better in Seattle and you never know which Ravens team shows up but if it’s even the mediocre Ravens team, they should still be able to get a road win here. I’m not going to put my money on the Seahawks.
Giants @ Niners
First real test for the Niners and it’s against a Giants team coming off a nice, critic-smacking last minute win over the Patriots. The Niners have been strong all year behind an elite defense, a steady and cautious approach offensively and gritty play. But they haven’t yet had a signature win or defeated the opponent people can look at and say that they’re truly for real. Beating the Giants would definitely do that for them. I just don’t see it happening. This is a QB league and if the game is close late and I’m looking for either Eli or Alex to lead the team to a victory, I’m going with Eli as he is having a very nice year. The Giants have yet to really run the ball the way they can and while their defense can be absolutely GORED by Frank Gore, I think they’ll hold up for a critical road win to solidify their elite status in the conference. This should be one of the better games to watch this weekend. Can’t wait.
Lions @ Bears
I know everyone’s going with the Lions on this one but I’m calling upset. I watched the MNF game very closely and what I saw is that with time to throw and Earl Bennett in the mix, there is no reason to think the Bears offense cannot score points with the best of them including Detroit’s high powered offense. And frankly, Chicago’s defense is better than Detroit’s and especially so at home and especially against Detroit lol. You know this game is going to get chippy and that the Bears are going to show up for this one coming off an awesome win on the road against the Eagles. I’m usually on the Detroit side of the CHI-DET tilt (it’s a Redwings thing, sorry) but I’m squarely BULLISH on the Bears in this one.
Patriots @ Jets
Oh goody. So what are the chances the Pats lose… ahem… THREE in a row?? Not very likely and you know Belichick especially gets up for these Jets games. This is now New England’s second New York battle in a row and you better believe they want to exact revenge on the city. This time, however, they run into a red hot defense that is finally starting to play like the team most people picked to be an AFC Elite power. If they couldn’t get it done against the Giants’ decent defense, what are they going to do against the Jets especially if they can’t run the ball at all? I’m not discrediting what Coach Belichick can do against a rival he sees twice a year but this isn’t looking too good for the Patriots on the road. I see everyone picking the Pats in this one but I’m going with the home team upset here. The Jets are the better looking team right now and are rolling and a little confidence from beating the very good Buffalo Bills on the road and seeing New England slip in the standings has to be the best kind of news to keep this team dialed in and moving forward as the most critical stretch of the season is lying ahead of them. I’m sold on the Jets making a huge move in the division with back to back wins over the folks they’re chasing.
Vikings @ Packers
Know this: this will be a barn burner. Footballs are going to be in endzones. The last time these two met, the Vikes held their own and lost by a score in what was a 60 point game. I’m calling another one just like it with another Packer win. Aaron Rodgers is simply too much for everyone at this point. It almost doesn’t matter that Green Bay’s defense is a no show most games. We know they’ve got talent but it’s like they aren’t even trying knowing they have A-Rod beating teams singlehandedly. They might be saving themselves for the playoffs but careful, careful, complacency has killed many a good sports team. Anyway, none of that matters this week because the Pack isn’t losing the Purple People Eaters in Lambeau any time soon.