New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons
This could be a trap game for the Saints, because the beat up Falcons are playing for their season. New Orleans knows this, and should try to control the clock with a balanced attack.
Saints 31 Falcons 17
Detroit Lions @ Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens need this win to keep their playoff hopes alive, while Detroit is looking to determine who will be on the team next year.
Ravens 27 Lions 10
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
A very old rivalry full of greatness in the history books, but this season won't garner much ink. Expect the Pack to pass the ball often.
Packers 34 Bears 21
Seattle Seahawks @ Houston Texans
Both teams have nothing left to play for but pride. Not a game to watch, unless the cooking show on the other channel is a repeat.
Texans 27 Seahawks 21
Denver Broncos @ Indianapolis Colts
Game Of The Week
The strengths of the Broncos can work well on the weaknesses of the Colts. Denver has the defensive backs to cover the Indianapolis wide receivers, and their running game can take advantage of a suspect Colts front seven. The Colts might go to Dallas Clark a lot in this game, but their secondary could be key because Denver's passing attack isn't scary.
Denver 27 Colts 24
Miami Dolphins @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Jack Del Rio may quietly be having one of his best seasons ever as a coach, because few thought Jacksonville would be holding a playoff spot at this time of the year. The young team is inconsistent, but they are winning more than they lose. Miami will try to build on last weeks upset win over New England. This will be a battle in the sun worth watching.
Jaguars 24 Dolphins 16
Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo is playing better after a coaching change, and the Chiefs have been up and down all year. Die hard fans only need apply here as viewers, because both teams seasons were over weeks ago.
Bills 26 Chiefs 21
Cincinnati Bengals @ Minnesota Vikings
It is far from ridiculous to say this could be a Super Bowl preview. Both teams have pretty much wrapped up their division titles, but want to finish strong the gain that much needed momentum heading into the playoffs.
Both teams need to run the ball to win, but both defensive lines do not typically allow opponents much successes. Minnesota lost key MLB E.J. Henderson, so there is a chance that more holes will open for the Bengals. Cornerback Antoine Winfield has been missed in the Vikings secondary the past six weeks, but he may play Sunday. This will be a smash mouth game that may be decided on one big play.
Vikings 27 Bengals 24
Carolina Panthers @ New England Patriots
Carolina runs the ball well, and Miami showed last week that it is enough to beat New England. There was a little turmoil in the Patriots locker room this week, but they usually turn that to their advantage. This isn't quite a must win for the Pats, but they only hold a one game lead in their division and need to get the ball rolling.
Patriots 34 Panthers 17
New York Jets @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With all the injuries, ups and downs, and personnel moves the Jets have had so far this year, a win this week and a New England loss could have them in first place. Tampa Bay, as bad as they are, could defeat them with their rookie quarterback leading the way as the Jets rookie quarterback sits on the benched injured watching.
Jets 23 Buccaneers 21
Saint Louis Rams @ Tennessee Titans
This game features the top two running backs in the league with Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson. The Titans win steak was stopped by the Colts last week, so they look to begin a new one against the lowly Rams.
Titans 31 Rams 13
Washington Redskins @ Oakland Raiders
A battle of two of the worst teams in the NFL this decade, as well as the two most questioned owners. The Raiders have won two of their last three, and defeated the Redskins division rival Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the season. Washington relies on their defense to hold down scoring while waiting for the offense to attempt to cross the 50-yard line the few times they do each week. This is a good game to nap to.
Raiders 27 Redskins17
San Diego Chargers @ Dallas Cowboys
This game is full of stories. LaDainian Tomlinson returns to his hometown, and lamented earlier this week that it maybe the last time of his career this will happen. San Diego's defense has been erratic, especially against the pass. San Diego has also won 15 games in a row in the month of December. Dallas needs this win to stay in first place, which could be theirs alone if Philadelphia loses.
Cowboys 34 Chargers 30
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
This will have old NFC East fans smiling at yesteryear as these two teams battle for seasonal relevance. Neither team runs the ball particularly well, and rely on the quarterbacks to pull out wins. The Giants are hurting in the trenches now after underachieving so far all year. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has all his favorite weapons healthy, while Giants quarterback Eli Manning still appears to be struggling with a heel injury.
Eagles 31 Giants 23
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers
This is the Niners Super Bowl. They lose here, the season is over. Their already faint hopes face a Arizona team with one road loss on the year, as well the Cardinals coming off an impressive dismantling of the Vikings last week.
Cardinals 27 49ers 20
Last week I went 9-6, and am 118-56 overall.
The big new this week is that the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers lost their fifth straight game Thursday night after a defeat by the hands of the horrid Cleveland Browns. It was the first time in 13 straight games that the Browns defeated Pittsburgh, and they did it with a quarterback completing only six passes for 70 yards, a running back rambling for 73 yards, and a wide receiver running for 87 yards. If things couldn't get any worse for Pittsburgh, the Browns scored their first rushing touchdown of the season against them.
Now that the Steelers season is virtually over after their seventh loss, it proves once again how hard it is to repeat in the NFL. Pittsburgh also has come to realize a few weaknesses that need to be addressed. The main one is their offensive line, an area they did address somewhat in this years draft by getting Kraig Urbik in the third round. Urbik, however, has developed slowly thus far and was supplanted by undrafted free agent Ramon Foster. Foster has started a game this year, and Urbik was thought by many scouts to have a nice upside. The unit is relatively young, but it appears their right tackle Willie Colon needs to be replaced. There aren't many spots needing an overhaul on Pittsburgh, but you can't win without solid and consistent blocking.
The Browns are flying so high off their second win of the season that head coach Eric Mangini felt the need to tell reporters his team is finally understanding his system. Mangini mentioned that he was congratulated by Browns Hall Of Famer Jim Brown, Cleveland owner Randy Lerner, and Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Mangina has always come across as a ego maniac, but he may have jumped the shark this time. He is convinced his system is taking hold, and said "I believe in what we do. I know it works. I know it's going to work here. I know we're going to win a lot of games here. I know we're going to have a team week in and week out the city is going to be proud of. These are good guys, working toward the same goal. That to me is the essence of winning. It's going to happen."
System? Does Mangina really think he can consistently win with a quarterback completing six passes in a game? Maybe he is on to something, because Cleveland quarterbacks have completed a total of eight passes in their two wins.
The real system that won the Pittsburgh game was that of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The Browns confused the Steelers badly throughout the game, though Ryan hasn't had his best season as a coach himself. The Browns are ranked 26th in points allowed. Mangina's system has the Browns scoring proficiency ranked 30th out of the 32 teams in the league.
In honor of the Beeze, I'd like to offer Mangina :
NFL Power Rankings
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Minnesota Vikings
4. Cincinnati Bengals
5. San Diego Chargers
6. New England Patriots
7. Dallas Cowboys
8. Philadelphia Eagles
9. Denver Broncos
10. Green Bay Packers
11. Baltimore Ravens
12. Arizona Cardinals
13. New York Giants
14. Atlanta Falcons
15. Tennessee Titans
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
17. Jacksonville Jaguars
18. Miami Dolphins
19. New York Jets
20. San Francisco 49ers
21. Houston Texans
22. Seattle Seahawks
23. Oakland Raiders
24. Chicago Bears
25. Carolina Panthers
26. Kansas City Chiefs
27. Buffalo Bills
28. Detroit Lions
29. Washington Redskins
30. Cleveland Browns
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
32. Saint Louis Rams