You’ll notice there’s no Monday Night Game. That’s because some years ago some church-type people got all bent out of shape because the NFL dared put football games on Christmas Eve…so we’re getting Monday off.
So let’s get to it, then…
Saturday Game, 8:30 p.m.
Falcons (12-2, won v. Giants, 1st Seed NFC South) vs. Lions (4-10, lost v. Cardinals)
The Falcons are gaining momentum–and given that they were pretty nasty to begin with, gaining momentum is akin to a tiger waking up to find another tiger strapped to its back. There is a good chance that Atlanta is unstoppable going into the playoffs (once they’re in the playoffs is another thing altogether, but we’ll get to that once we hit Wildcard weekend). And given that the Football Gods have decided to throw Detroit’s suffering Lions to them for a week sixteen opponent, Matt Stafford and company don’t stand a chance. Expect a lop-sided, painful to watch win, with Atlanta going over the Lions by three possessions or more.
Sunday Games, 1:00 p.m.
Titans (5-9, won v. Paper Planes) vs. Packers (10-4, won v. Bears, 3rd Seed NFC North)
There was a span of, oh, about twenty minutes where I thought Tennessee might actually be about to make something of themselves. Jake Locker’s performance seems to have shaped up into a dead cat bounce, and the Titans are back to being suck monsters. Hell, if it wasn’t for the fact that The Paper Planes are striving really hard to be even bigger Suck Monsters, they would have lost on Monday night. They’re just not very good, what with a porous defense and a quarterback who simply doesn’t have anything in the neighborhood of an arm.
Which is why they will prove to be the perfect tune-up for Green Bay. The Pack has been unsteady all season, but they seem to be stable. The only thing that worries me about them is their uncanny habit of losing to teams they really shouldn’t have, and losing badly. Still, even with all the shakiness in their game, Green Bay should easily trample Tennessee by a possession and a half.
Vikings (8-6, won v. Rams, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Texans (12-2, won v. Colts,1st Seed AFC South)
As bad as Christian Ponder is–and he has regressed in this second half of the season almost as badly as Mark Sanchez–it’s to Minnesota’s credit that they’ve continued to move forward, grinding out enough wins to still be a legitimate playoff team this late in the game. The only thing that’s keeping the Vikes out of a Wild Card slot is the rubbery play of the receiving corps.
And given that the Texans are still One Of The Best In The Business, and J.J. Watt is probably smacking his lips in anticipation of sacking Ponder, like, a billion times, Minnesota will end up being a one dimensional team….and one dimensional teams is dessert for Houston. Expect a Texans win by one to two possessions.
Rams (6-7-1, lost v. Vikings, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Buccaneers (6-8, lost v. Saints)
And here we’ve got two teams going in different directions. To my surprise, St. Louis has been playing each game tough, and even though they’re still not great, they’re good enough to be a player in the postseason race. And Tampa Bay started out strong but has been slipping, almost as if they’re willfully trying to knock themselves out of playoff contention. The offense is pretty evenly matched (although I still think Josh Freeman is a better QB than Sam Bradford)…but I think the defense of the Rams, combined with Jeff Fisher’s play calling, is what is going to lead St. Louis to a narrow, one possession victory.
Native Americans (8-6, won v. Browns, 4th Seed NFC East) vs. Eagles (4-10, lost v. Bengals)
This is going to be painful. The Native Americans have found themselves in the position to win a division championship, and they need to fight hard to keep that position….
…except that they’ve got the wreck where the Eagles once stood. Philadelphia is way beyond hopeless, even with the slight signs of life they’ve shown in recent games. I doubt that the Eagles will reach double digits in this game no matter who’s under center. Expect Washington to beat Philly like the team collectively owns them money, with a win by over two possessions.
Saints (6-8, won v. Native Americans) vs. Cowboys (8-6, won v. Steelers, Potential NFC Wild Card)
And speaking of people who stumbled into playoff positioning….meet the Cowboys, who may very well have saved Jason Garrett’s job by beating Pittsburgh and crawling into a potential Wild Card berth. Of course, no one by die-hard ‘Boys fans (Hi, Zach!) know how unsteady Dallas truly is. This is not a solid team by a long shot, and that unsteadiness is what is going to foul up their dreams thanks to the surging Saints. After all, there’s nothing quite as dangerous as a team with nothing to lose, except a team with nothing to lose that has Drew Brees under center. Expect one of those games with lots of lead changes, resulting in New Orleans winning by less than a possession.
Chargers (5-9, lost v. Panthers) vs. Paper Planes (6-8, lost v. Titans)
I know you all have been waiting for my rant on what happened on Monday, but trust me–it’s too long and too foul-mouthed for me to post it here. Let’s agree to reconvene after the Super Bowl and I’ll outline exactly why this team was screwed from early this summer.
(And let me once again state that I’m still looking for super-fans who would like to discuss their teams’ needs for 2013. Please contact me through TricycleOffense.com.)
The Chargers are wretched, and thankfully we’ve got Greg McElroy starting. I think the unfamiliarity of McElroy may result in a dead cat bounce that will give the Paper Planes a false sense of competency and a win by less than one possession.
Raiders (4-10, won v. Chiefs) vs. Panthers (5-9, won v. Chargers)
Congratulations, Raiders! You come off a confidence building win against the Chiefs only to walk into the buzzsaw of a newly confident Panthers team. Hopefully Carolina will leave enough pieces left to put you back together after their two possession win.
Our Bitch (5-9, lost v. Seahawks) vs. Dolphins (6-8, won v. Gerbils, Potential AFC Wild Card)
You know what’s going to really suck? Having the Dolphins solidify their Wild Card chances by smacking Buffalo around for three hours. Miami should win by about a possession and a half.
Bengals (8-6, won v. Eagles, Potential AFC Wild Card) vs. Steelers (7-7, lost v. Cowboys, Potential AFC Wild Card)
Another game that can kill a team’s hope. If Football Spock and his crew can triumph over the Steelers, they effectively kick Pittsburgh out of the hunt. And given how really shaky the Black N’ Gold have been–something we should be used to whenever Ben Roethlisberger gets hurt–it seems like it’s a distinct possibility. Expect Cincinnati to pull ahead late in the 2nd Quarter to win by less than a possession.
The Sucking Black Hole of Loserness (10-4, lost v. 49ers, 2nd Seed AFC East) vs. Gerbils (2-12, lost v. Dolphins)
Oh, you stupid, stupid Sucking Black Holes might feel all smug, knowing you’re going to the playoffs…but you do know deep in your dark, dark hole of a heart that you’re going to fold badly once the postseason begins, right? Hell, San Francisco felt so sorry for you they let you back in the game, and you still couldn’t win, could you? You mad, bro? You mad?
Boy, you should be grateful you got the Gerbils and the Dolphins to play these last two weeks. You can do that stanky ‘running up the score’ trick you do on people to convince them you’re the Best Eeeever going into the playoffs…but we know better, don’t we bro?
Enjoy this bajillion possession win against one of the worst teams in the NFL…because I’ll be laughing when you fall hard come the playoffs.
Colts (9-5, lost v. Texans, Potential AFC Wildcard) vs. Chiefs (2-12, lost v. Raiders)
The Colts are not going to win this because the Chiefs are wretchedly bad. The Colts are going to win by a possession because they’re genuinely good.
Sunday Games, 4:30 p.m
Browns (5-9, lost v. Native Americans) vs. Broncos (11-3, won v. Ravens, 2nd Seed AFC West)
Don’t let their record fool you–the Browns have been good, winning four games out of the last six, and giving legitimately better teams fit even when they lose. Cleveland may very well be the team to watch in 2013, a team that might actually make serious noise–hell, may even make the playoffs for the first time in, like, centuries.
And even though they’re going to lose to the Broncos. they’ll make it a hard-fought game. Expect Denver to squeak by with a less than possession win.
Giants (8-6, lost v. Falcons, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Ravens (9-5, lost v. Broncos, 4th Seed AFC North)
And here we have two teams struggling to stay in the postseason. The Ravens have had their defense tore up, while the Giants have seen their offense go off the rails in the last few weeks. However, the Ravens’ offense has been…shaky of late, which makes me wonder if they can overcome Big Blue’s still effective defense. Add in that New York has something to prove after their disastrous tilt versus Atlanta, and I think the Giants might pull this out by a narrow margin of a possession or less.
Bears (8-6, lost v. Packers, Potential NFC Wild Card) vs. Cardinals (5-9, won v. Lions)
The Bears, after a strong showing this season, seem to have fallen apart. Maybe the tension that has always been a part of the organization due to Kid Nastyman’s attitude has finally expressed itself on the field, but Chicago is suddenly beatable…and with the Cardinals finally coming off the snide, there’s a real strong chance that Arizona will beat them. Expect the Cards to somehow keep in the game and sneak past a win by less than a possession.
Sunday Game 8:30 p.m.
49ers (10-3-1, won v. The Sucking Black Hole of Loserness, 2nd Seed NFC West) vs. Seahawks (9-5, won v. Our Bitch, Potential NFC Wild Card)
There’s a reason this game is the marquee game for the week–this game literally decides the fate of both teams. If the 49ers drop this one, they end up tying with the ‘Hawks, and may very well lose out to Seattle due to the tiebreakers. That means San Fran falls to a Wild Card slot while Seattle slides into a 2nd Seed–which is entirely to their advantage, as the team is unbeatable this season. And given that the game is being played in Seattle, I am pretty confident in calling it for the Seahawks by a possession and a half.
See you for Rivalry Weekend!