December to Remember?
Some Teams Will Remember with Regret
It doesn't feel like were just four weeks from the end of the season. A lot of teams aren't playing like it. A few teams might back their way into a short stay in the playoffs, but it's looking like a lot of teams will be spending a lot of time in the New Year in their living rooms, saying, "if we had only ..." Here are the picks:
Sunday, Dec. 10
Atlanta (6-6) at Tampa Bay (3-9), 1 p.m.
You have to love the mainstream media. After Atlanta's win at Washington last week, several said how great Michael Vick looked when receivers caught balls and running backs ran well, as though Vick always plays great, and the rest of the team is letting him down. Fortunately for Vick, Tampa Bay stinks, but they've won three of their last four at home. But, really, last in the league with 12.1 points per game, they stink. Atlanta still has a shot at the playoffs in the weak NFC. Tampa Still has a shot at a top draft pick.
Prediction: Falcons, 21-17
Baltimore (9-3) at Kansas City (7-5), 1 p.m.
Both teams lost games they should have won last week. Baltimore is in little danger of losing their grip on the division title, but they could slip in playoff seeding. Kansas City is in danger of missing the playoffs altogether, after being counted out early and clawing their way back in. If you believe the more desperate team wins more often, then K.C. is your team. I believe they play very tough at home.
Prediction: Chiefs, 24-14.
Indianapolis (10-2) at Jacksonville (7-5), 1 p.m.
After a 9-0 start with a lot of very close games, there might be a few nervous people in the Midwest. Last week's loss in Tennessee can't make anyone feel confident about this trip to Jacksonville, who did a good job against Miami, who needed to win that game. If Jacksonville didn't gaff a couple gimmes, they'd be solidly in control of a Wild Card if not challenging for the division. Imagine if this game was for the lead in the AFC South? Well, it's not, but Indy needs the W to maintain a top conference seed, and Jacksonville even with four other teams for the Wild Card. It's the usual fare: Can Indy stop the run? Can Jacksonville stop Indy at all? Indy won the first matchup in Week 3, 21-14.
Prediction: Colts, 27-21.
Minnesota (5-7) at Detroit (2-10), 1 p.m.
.Minnesota isn't that good, but Detroit stinks, and I can't imagine wasting any more time with this.
Prediction: Vikings, 31-17.
New England (9-3) at Miami (5-7), 1 p.m.
Please see separately posted game preview. Two notes I omitted: It's windy in Miami (that won't help Joey Harrington-dependent Miami), and New England is now 4-3 at home (after a 2-3 home start) and have the best home record in the division -- everyone else is 3-3.
Prediction: Thanks for reading.
N.Y. Giants (6-6) at Carolina (6-6), 1 p.m.
This game would be easier to pick if either team looked like they had any desire to win and/or make the playoffs. New York has lost four straight, but they did look pretty good against Dallas. Carolina has lost four of six(two losses, two wins, two losses), beating only Tampa Bay and St.. Louis. Carolina is 0-3 against the NFC East, most recently suffering losses to long-time doormat Washington and recent doormat Philadelphia. Make it a season oh-fer.
Prediction: Giants, 20-13.
Oakland (2-10) at Cincinnati (7-5), 1 p.m.
Oakland lost five straight to open the season, won two, and then lost five more. Are they due for a pair of wins? Not with Cincinnati playing pretty well again after a midseason slump. They're one of the five 7-5 teams fighting for a playoff spot, and I can't believe they'd let Oakland stand in their way.
Prediction: Bengals, 21-10.
Philadelphia (6-6) at Washington (4-8), 1 p.m.
Both these teams beat Carolina by less than a touchdown in the last two weeks, so they could be evenly matched, but neither one team is that good and not too many people really care about this game. Philly is going nowhere without Donovan McNabb -- or is Jeff Garcia their savior? -- and Washington is going nowhere in general. Philly pounded Washington a month ago, 27-3. McNabb didn't keep Washington out of the end zone.
Prediction: Eagles, 17-13.
Tennessee (5-7) at Houston (4-8), 1 p.m.
Tennessee: Playing pretty well. Houston: Stinks.
Prediction: Titans, 31-14.
Green Bay (4-8) at San Francisco (5-7), 4:05 p.m.
Green Bay hasn't even been in a game recently, but San Fran has lost two straight after convincing people they were making a playoff run. Another game with teams who haven't shown they really want to win. But San Fran is the better team this year, and they're playing at home. (This is why I'm 8-8 in three of the last four weeks -- or whatever it is.)
Prediction: 49ers, 26-17.
Seattle (8-4) at Arizona (3-9), 4:05 p.m.
Arizona has won two of their last three, but Seattle is fighting for one of the top two seeds in the NFC.
Prediction: Seahawks, 34-16.
Buffalo (5-7) at N.Y. Jets (7-5), 4:15 p.m.
Tough game. New Jersey is 3-3 at home, and the team that plays all its home games in New York is 2-4 on the road. Both are 3-2 in their last five. New York is another of those of those five 7-5 teams battling for that Wild Card spot. Buffalo hasn't scored as many points as New York, and they've given up more points. And they're just not as good.
Prediction: Jets, 24-21.
Denver (7-5) at San Diego (10-2), 4:15 p.m.
Switching quarterbacks to Jay Cutler: bad move. Sticking with him against San Diego: worse move.
Prediction: Chargers, 31-14.
New Orleans (8-4) at Dallas (8-4), 8:15 p.m.
Switching this game to the Sunday Night slot: great move. Both teams have a two-game lead in their respective divisions and both are fighting for those top two conference seeds. New Orleans wide receives Joe Horn and Marques Colston are both listed as "questionable" and that's not good news. New Orleans hasn't been particularly consistent either. Dallas has looked pretty good in winning four straight. It would be really hard to pick against them, so I won't.
Prediction: Cowboys, 28-21.
Monday, Dec. 11
Chicago (10-2) at St. Louis (5-7), 8:30 p.m.
Man, how anti-climactic.
Prediction: Bears, 21-13.
Last week: 8-8.
I still refuse to buy into this "parity" thing, but I can't explain all these pretty good teams losing to pretty bad ones, especially when they're fighting for playoff spots.
Season: 113-79. Back down to 58.9 percent.