No preamble this week…I’m filing this under the wire. Let’s get to it, then!
Sunday Games, 1:00 p.m.
Native Americans (7-6, won v. Ravens, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Browns (5-8, won v. Chiefs)
Throughout this season, I’ve been talking about how the Browns are a much tougher team than their record indicates. Cleveland is young and they’re always in games until the end. Hell, they’ve won five of their last eight games. And even though their chance of making the playoffs this year is gone, the Browns can build up confidence for next season by playing Spoiler.
And they can Spoil something fierce if they manage to throw a monkey wrench into Washington’s playoff run. And I think Mike Shanahan knows it, judging from the way he’s being cagey about whether Cousins or RG III will start (and how’d you like to have this conundrum, having to choose between two great QBs?).[1. Editor's Note: Cousins will start.] This is gonna be a tough, exciting game that could go either way…and I’m going to root for Cleveland to take it by a possession or less.
Colts (9-4, won v. Titans, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Texans (11-2, lost v. The Sucking Black Hole of Evil, 1st Seed AFC South)
I really suspect that the shellacking the Texans got at the hands of The Sucking Black Hole might have really unnerved them–it’s the worst loss they’ve had in a while, the kind of loss that will haunt them for the rest of the season….and given how Indianapolis is playing really hot, I suspect that this will be another heartbreaker for them. Oh, still expect my man J.J. Watt to be standing over Andrew Luck saluting the crowd because, you know, he’s awesome….but the Colts will eventually eke out a victory, shocking Houston into silence, by a possession and a half.
Broncos (10-3, won v. Raiders, 3rd Seed AFC West) vs. Ravens (9-4, lost v. Native Americans, 4th Seed AFC North)
Someone is going to be going home with their playoff spirits crushed this weekend. Both teams are tentatively holding onto their second-tier playoff spots, and need to win this to keep from dropping into Wild Card territory. On top of that, Denver is the odd man out, having to play without the advantage of their home field.
The key, if Denver is to win, lies in rattling The Marlboro Man, Joe Flacco. Joe is a good manager, but can be erratic–and with the Ravens defense being a little banged up, the Broncos can take advantage of that weakness. Peyton The Fetus Head is having a banner year, which may result in a high-passing game that will lead to Ed Reed picks and a couple of lead changes. But I think the Broncos will score more than the Ravens defense, leading to a Denver win by a possession and a half.
Gerbils (2-11, lost v. Paper Planes) vs. Dolphins (5-8, lost v. 49ers)
Welcome To The Land Of Junk Games!
Neither team has a chance to get into the playoffs, even with the surprising performance from Miami this season. And while Chad Henne is indisputably playing a better game (in that he seems to actually be playing something recognizable as football), and has been hitting his receivers with much more accuracy than Blane “The Lame” Gabbert, Jacksonville simply can’t score worth a damn. So barring another freak game, expect the Dolphins to leap into the winner’s circle by two to three possessions.
Vikings (7-6, won v. Bears, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Rams (6-6-1, won v. Bills, Potential NFC Wild Card)
Here we’ve got two teams that desperately need a win to keep their playoff hopes arrive. What is going to play a huge factor is which Christian Ponder shows up–because if we get Goofball Ponder, the team will collapse no matter how many carries they give Adrian Peterson. And I think that’s what’s going to happen, as the Vikes’ momentum has been decaying over the last few weeks. Expect St. Louis to win by about a possession and a half.
Buccaneers (6-7, lost v. Eagles) vs. Saints (5-8, lost v. Giants)
And here’s another Junk Game, albeit one that’s much more interesting. Both teams are pretty much out of playoff contention, but there’s a lot of pride to be gained by at least going 8-8. I think New Orleans needs it more, especially given all they’ve been though, and they’ll toughen up to snatch victory from the Bucs by two possessions.
Giants (8-5, won v. Saints, 4th Seed NFC East) vs. Falcons (11-2, lost v. Panthers, 1st Seed NFC South)
And here’s the antithesis of a Junk Game–two real tough contenders, one secure in their seeding and the other finding themselves fighting for their lives. Even with their loss to the Panthers last week, I don’t think the wheels have fallen off the Falcons just yet, while the Giants are playing unsteadily. The Dirty Birds should take out Big Blue by two possessions.
Packers (9-4, won v. Lions, 3rd Seed NFC North) vs. Bears (8-5, lost v. Vikings, Potential NFC Wild Card)
The Bears are really playing badly. Really badly. They seem to be spinning out of control, and Green Bay should take full advantage of this potential train wreck to pound Kid Nastyman and his Sidekick Marshall Sticky-Hands into the dust by about two possessions or more.
Sunday Games, 4:30 p.m
Seahawks (8-5, won v. Cardinals, 5th Seed NFC North) vs. Our Bitch (5-8, lost v. Rams)
This is going to be an ugly, one-sided game. I’m surprised Our Bitch actually got up to five wins given the total unreliability of Buffalo’s offense. Even without The Power Of Da Ugly-Ass Uniforms, Seattle should skin Buffalo alive by two to three possessions.
Panthers (4-9, won v. Falcons) vs. Chargers (5-8, won v. Steelers, Potential AFC Wild Card)
This is pretty interesting, as the Panthers seem to be gaining ground, getting more and more effective while the Chargers have this uncanny talent to put on their big boy pants in December that used to secure them a playoff berth early in Norv ‘Good Enough For Government Work’ Turner. But I think Carolina will prevail given San Diego’s overall suckiness by about a possession or less.
Lions (4-9, lost v. Packers) vs. Cardinals (4-9, lost v. Paper Planes)
I bet the Lions are really, really happy they’re getting the Cardinals…my God, Arizona is a team that’s dropped nine games in a row. If it wasn’t for that initial four game win streak, the Cards may have matched Detroit’s previous notoriety as a team with a no-win season. Detroit simply has more offensive weapons, and Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald rolling his eyes every time that idiotic rookie quarterback throws short. Expect the Lions to roar to victory by a possession and a half.
Chiefs (2-11, lost v. Browns) vs. Raiders (3-10, lost v. Broncos)
And now we return to the Land Of The Junk Games, with a game that will decide nothing except which team will get the second pick in the 2013 draft (I think it’s a given that the Gerbils have the first pick locked up right about now). This is going to be another Paper Planes/Gerbils travesty, with very low scoring. I’m giving it to the Raiders by less than a field goal because…well, because Kelen is my friend and I feel for him.
Steelers (7-6, lost v. Chargers, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Cowboys (7-6, won v. Bengals, Potential NFC Wild Card)
The Steelers are plummeting. The Cowboys…aren’t. Dallas should win this game by a possession.
Sunday Game 8:30 p.m.
49ers (9-3-1, won v. Dolphins, 2nd Seed NFC West) vs. The Sucking Black Hole of Evil (10-3, won v. Texans, 2nd Seed AFC East)
I am going to be very honest–I am picking this game totally from my irrational fan gut. These teams are very evenly matched, and could result in a low scoring strategic match. It could go either way (although I suspect Kaepernick’s relative inexperience will be San Fran’s downfall), so I will give it to the 49ers because I refuse to back Evil whenever I can.
Monday Game 8:30 p.m.
Paper Planes (6-7, won v. Gerbils, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Titans (4-9, lost v. Colts)
Imagine my surprise at writing ‘Potential AFC Wild Card’ next to the Paper Planes’ names. After all, they needed a lot of help, and last week they got it. They still need more help, but claiming Braylon Edwards is part of that help because…well, this’ll be the first time Mark Sanchez will have a receiver he could trust to catch his passes since Holmes went down.
Having both Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards (who has never played as well as he did here) to rely on might be just the thing to lock in the Paper Planes’ win over Tennessee. The Titans are not good, and are very beatable, with no real offensive weapons to speak of. The Planes will struggle–because they’re the Paper Planes–but they will win by a possession or less, keeping them in the playoff hunt for one more week.
See you next week.