There is no better time in the NFL than when it starts to actually get cold outside, seeing your breath hang in the brisk air, and smelling the grill as the tailgaters methodically turn their party out to fulfill pregame revelry.
The play-off picture is still very cloudy most teams and most divisions. The Green Bay Packers (12-0) however, they are the NFC North champs already in what is the most non-celebrated “championship” since Atlanta Braves fans yawned as their team sauntered onto Turner Field and said “yeah ok, good job…” afer winning their 74th division title in a row a few years ago. The Indianapolis Colts (0-12) on the other hand continue their “Andrew Luck Sweepstakes”. They needn’t worry, they sit firmly in the driver’s seat for whomever they’d like in next April’s draft. Should they consider Robert Griffin III instead of Andrew Luck? Nah! They aren’t the Raiders! That’s a discussion for a different time anyway. For now, let’s just stick to the picks, in which I didn’t do too bad in the previous week! Only took me 13 weeks…
Indianapolis @ Baltimore
The Colts go back to where they came from, but really will need to just keep the Mayfair truck packed. This game will basically be over before it starts. I hate saying things like that, but Indy just won’t be able to stop Baltimore running back Ray Rice well enough to stay in the game.
Ravens 24 – Colts 13
Atlanta @ Carolina
At first glance this could be a good game, but Carolina quarterback Cam Newton can only do so much. The Falcons have to keep rolling to be able to make any push toward or in the playoffs. Their rivals, the New Orleans Saints, are firing on all cylinders so the Falcons 7-5 record is hindering them from grabbing the NFC South. The hazy playoff cloud hangs in Atlanta and Michael Turner will have to make the difference in this game and keep Cam off the field.
Falcons 21 – Panthers 20
Houston @ Cincinnati
As weird as it was to see quarterback Jake Delhome suited up in the No. 17 for the Texans and walking out with new starter T.J. Yates, it would have more weird to see him take a snap. Yates played well in his debut, but wide out Andre Johnson can’t catch a break with another hamstring injury (opposite side this time). Johnson will miss this game. Does the Houston training and orthopedic staff need to be fired? On the other hand, Andy Dalton and AJ Green have been bright stars on an otherwise dimly lit team. The tiggers will keep coming back to earth as they look toward next year. There is just too much of a log jam in the AFC for us to think that the Bengals will sneak into the post-season.
Texans 27 – Bengals 19
Tampa Bay @ Jacksonville
The new bro-staches are cute in JAX, but it’s not helping their team. Even the guy who taped it to his soul-patch last week vs. the Chargers knows his team sucks. After what I witnessed, the Jags don’t have a prayer. Like we’ve said before, the Jaguars defense is pretty good, but you can’t be great if you’re winded on the field because your rookie quarterback rifles the ball into the ground or straight up drops it after running 3 yards. Ouch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tamp running back LeGarrette Blount either jump over someone again, or knock them unconscious.
Buccaneers 17 – Jaguars 9
Kansas City @ New York Jets
The high flying Jets defense hasn’t exactly been the world-beaters they were supposed to be. Where’s all the shutout’s they were supposed to pitch? Thankfully they get to go against a not so flashy team in their own right, the Chiefs. K.C. has a great receiver in Dwayne Bowe, but Tyler Palko at the helm is not the answer, and sadly I’m pretty sure that Kyle Orton isn’t either. The funny thing is that the Chiefs are still in the hunt for their division. What does that say for the AFC West if the Chiefs are 5-7? Not much. The Jets Shonn Greene finally had a good game last week, so ground and pound it is.
Jets 24 – Chiefs 14
Minnesota @ Detroit
No Christian Ponder under center for the Vikings means Joe Webb… and a road loss.
Lions 33 – Vikings 13
New Orleans @ Tennessee
Like the Honey Badger over at LSU, the Saints take what they want, only they do it on offense with touchdowns. Drew Brees and the boys look unstoppable, especially tight end Jimmy Graham. The Titans are a team that you almost want to be good, but they struggle for the most part.
Saints 34 – Titans 21
Philadelphia @ Miami
I have to shake my head. How did everyone not see this coming? The Eagles are not good, but at least they seem to be getting Vince young off the field with Michael Vick (fuck him) rumored to be healthy and coming back. This team has a lot of soul-searching to do, and they might just be too blinded by the southern Florida sun to start now. The fish are playing well enough to save head coach Tony Sporano’s job, but we all know better than that… no matter what the score is today.
Dolphins 20 – Eagles 17
New England @ Washington
I really would like to pick the Redskins here, but I can’t bring myself to do it. If the ‘Skins had anything more on offense than Roy Helu (who has actually looked good), I’d be more inclined. Tight end Fred Davis failed tests that violate the league’s substance abuse policy, knocking him out on suspension for the season. Dumb. Brady to Welker should dominate, but hopefully not too much as I myself face both of them in my first round fantasy playoff game today.
Patriots 27 – Redskins 10
Chicago @ Denver
It seems the Broncos are getting all the breaks. I’m sure they don’t care, and why should they? The entire organization looks like a genius machine with quarterback Tim Tebow and the Bears travel with a mobile military M.A.S.H. unit. They currently sit in one of the NFC wild card spots so they have something to play for, but maybe not enough to get it done.
Broncos 19 – Bears 16
Buffalo @ San Diego
Can Jughead (aka Philip Rivers) lead his team to victory again? Why not. The Bills have come back to earth too.
Chargers 23 – Bills 7
Oakland @ Green Bay
I’m sure a lot of people around the country are sick of hearing about the Packers. Unfortunately, they are undefeated so someone’s team needs to knock them off. The Raiders are a bit like the Titans, they want to be good, but struggle to be so. The Packers are all banged up, but that’s what they do best…win with injuries.
Packers 22 – Raiders 20
San Francisco @ Arizona
The 49ers are still trying to chase Green Bay for home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a 10-2 record. I’m not so sure the Kevin Kolb to LaRod Stevens-Howling miracle can happen again, but I do believe in miracles in and of themselves.
Cardinals 17 – 49ers 16
New York Giants @ Dallas (Sunday Night Football – NBC)
This is basically a must win for the Giants. They are the sexy pick now that they came within a couple of points of beating the Packers. I’m guessing the Giants have a lot of confidence racked up in their brains, but the Cowboys never lack it themselves. Go figure, we get a good game on Sunday night in what is the hardest game for me to pick today.
Giants 28 – Cowboys 21