Seasons on the Line?
It's Getting to Do-or-Die for Some Teams
Note: Unfortunately, my site was down late Saturday through midday Sunday, and I was unable to post until much later. You'll have to trust me that these were my picks. Of course, when you see the results, you'll know I didn't cheat. Sorry for the delay.
We're still a couple week away from desperation mode, but there are several teams that have really blown it the last few weeks and have lost their apparent strangle hold on division titles and playoff spots. There are also a few teams that have clawed their way back into contention.
We're beyond gut-check time. This is when champions win and pretenders wonder why they're planning a lot more time with their families immediately following the holidays.
Outside of that, there's not a whole lot of game-to-game insight here. Just a few clever comments like a national mainstream media column.
Here are the picks:
Sunday, Nov. 26
Arizona (2-8) at Minnesota (4-6), 1 p.m.
Believe it or not, Arizona has the momentum here with their one-game winning streak. Minnesota has lost four straight, starting with their drubbing at the hands of New England. One can only assume that the firing of Arizona's offensive coordinator and the promotion of Matt Leinart over Kurt Warner is finally starting to pay dividends. When you stop snickering, you'll see that Arizona is 0-4 on the road, and that shouldn't change much, except for the increment in the loss column.
Prediction: Vikings, 31-14.
Carolina (6-4) at Washington (3-7), 1 p.m.
Carolina is back on track after a pair of wins over a pair of mediocre teams, which followed a pair of losses to a pair of slightly better than mediocre teams. Washington is a less-than-mediocre team, but they're much better at home than on the road, which about all that could make this interesting. If Carolina wants a playoff berth, they need to show they're worthy.
Prediction: Panthers, 28-17.
Cincinnati (5-5) at Cleveland (3-7), 1 p.m.
Just when you thought they were all done after losing five of six, they go into New Orleans and t'row 'em a beatin'. Cleveland hasn't been too shabby (they beat Atlanta on the road two weeks ago), but that cheesy, late loss to Pittsburgh probably won't improve morale a whole lot.
Prediction: Bengals, 38-13.
Houston (3-7) at N.Y. Jets (5-5), 1 p.m.
After the greatest win in the history of sports (New Yorkers blow everything out of proportion) over New England in Foxboro, New York responds with getting shut out at home by Chicago. On the other hand, Houston stinks.
Prediction: Jets, 23-7.
Jacksonville (6-4) at Buffalo (4-6), 1 p.m.
Can you imagine of Jacksonville didn't lose those two games to Houston (who otherwise stinks)? They'd be 8-2 and all but assured of a playoff spot. Now they're on the borderline and going to a cold-weather site, where they claim it doesn't matter but we all know it does. But it's quite balmy up north at the moment. Buffalo has won 2 of their last 3, but over Houston (who stinks) and Green Bay (who isn't much better).
Prediction: Jaguars, 21-17.
New Orleans (6-4) at Atlanta (5-5), 1 p.m.
If there are teams that are desperate, these are two of them, and they both look like they're trying to throw away their seasons. New Orleans has lost their last two to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, while Atlanta has lost three straight to Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore. New Orleans is 3-2 on the road; Atlanta, 3-2 at home. If Drew Brees could refrain from throwing interceptions, New Orleans could be in much better shape. If Michael Vick was a real quarterback for more than two games, Atlanta could be too. I think New Orleans is the better overall team. Now they have to prove it -- and fast.
Prediction: Saints, 24-21.
Pittsburgh (4-6) at Baltimore (8-2), 1 p.m.
It's going to take more than a win over struggling New Orleans and a cheesy, cheap win over Cleveland to convince me Pittsburgh is back or that Ben Roethlisberger is still the first next Tom Brady. Roethlisberger doesn't do particularly well against really good defenses. Last I checked, Baltimore had a pretty good defense. Yep. I just checked. They're pretty good. They lead the league in defensive interceptions. Pittsburgh leads the league in throwing interceptions.
Prediction: Ravens, 28-6.
San Francisco (5-5) at St. Louis (4-6), 1 p.m.
This is what is commonly called "put-up-or-shut-up" time for St. Louis. After all the blather following the first loss to Seattle, St. Louis lost fore more straight. Meanwhile, San Fran has won three straight, including Seattle last week. I'm going to have to find out who's on this team before I make my picks next preseason.
Prediction: 49ers, 17-10.
Oakland (2-8) at San Diego (8-2), 4:05 p.m.
Oakland has lost two in a row to division opponents 17-13 the last two weeks. That's weird. San Diego has score more than 30 points in wins each of the last four weeks. I just can't resist.
Prediction: Chargers, 17-13.
Chicago (9-1) at New England (7-3), 4:15 p.m.
See separately posted game preview.
Prediction: Thanks for reading.
N.Y. Giants (6-4) at Tennessee (3-7), 4:15 p.m.
Here's another typical New York characteristic: pointing fingers after losses. Last week, it was Tiki Barber for the second time this season. Tennessee beat New York division-mate Philadelphia last week after Donovan McNabb was injured. None of this matters, because, despite most recent history, these teams are in different classes.
Prediction: Giants, 31-10.
Philadelphia (5-5) at Indianapolis (9-1), 8:15 p.m.
To think this looked like a premiere game after Week 5.
Prediction: Colts, 34-9.
Monday, Nov. 27
Green Bay (4-6) at Seattle (6-4), 8:30 p.m.
Shawn Alexander had a lackluster week at San Francisco in his return to action after missing seven weeks with a broken foot. Matt Hasselback should be back this week (He's listed as "probable".). Seattle has a few other key injuries, but Green Bay has a lot more, and Green Bay hasn't beaten anyone of Seattle's caliber, even a depleted Seattle, in a long time. On the road? Not so much. Seattle at home? Much.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-14.
Last week: 8 - 8.
If these teams are going to keep playing this way, I'm going to have to start picking more upsets.
Season: 94 - 66. I've plummeted to 58.8 percent. When will it end?