Down the Stretch They Come
When Good Teams Need to Win
The last year or two, a lot of teams needing to win to clinch playoff spots lost to teams they should have beaten. Some of those teams lost at home. I think a lot of those teams will get the job done this year. There could be more clinching than Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield.
There are a few very compelling games with 7-6 Buffalo at 8-5 Cleveland of most interest to local viewers. Oft-injured Buffalo still has a shot at the playoffs, and whichever team wins this one will have the inside track with two games to play. Also, Jacksonville can all but lock up a playoff trip, but first they have to survive Pittsburgh. Both teams are 9-4. Unfortunately, both of these games are at 1 p.m., which means local fans won't see either one of them without some overpriced satellite TV package.
Also, the NFC East teams are all playing against division opponents. Dallas, at Philadelphia, is trying to secure homefield throughout the playoffs, and Philly is just trying to maintain self-respect. Meanwhile, Washington is clinging to playoff hopes as they travel to the Meadowlands where New Jersey is trying to punch their ticket.
The other game involving a division opponent in which local fans will be interested is Baltimore at Miami. Baltimore actually tried to win a game a couple weeks ago, but they looked utterly disinterested last week. Baltimore has lost their last seven straight. Miami has lost 16 straight dating back to last December.
Here are the picks:
Sunday, Dec. 15
Seattle Seahawks (9-4) at Carolina Panthers (5-8), 1 p.m.
Seattle still needs to maintain the No. 3 seed in the NFC. Carolina has a mathematical shot at the playoffs.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-17.
Buffalo Bills (7-6) at Cleveland Browns (8-5), 1 p.m.
Heck of an interesting game. Can you imagine if Buffalo had all their players back from injured reserve?
Prediction: Browns, 27-20.
Tennessee Titans (7-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-9), 1 p.m.
Kansas City is just 2-5 at home this year.
Prediction: Titans, 17-7.
Baltimore Ravens (4-9) at Miami Dolphins (0-13), 1 p.m.
I wonder if Cam Cameron is considering Petrino-ing his contract. Miami has a good shot because Baltimore is pathetic and most of the defense says they're injured now that there's nothing to play for.
Prediction: Dolphins, 23-13.
New York Jets (3-10) at New England Patriots (13-0), 1 p.m.
Please read separately posted game preview.
Prediction: Thanks for reading Pats Pulpit.
Arizona Cardinals (6-7) at New Orleans Saints (6-7), 1 p.m.
I didn't expect either team to be 6-7. And they're both tied with Detroit.
Prediction: Saints, 28-14.
Jacksonville Jaguars (9-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-4), 1 p.m.
Get ready for a lot of running. This one will probably come down to turnovers.
Prediction: Steelers, 26-24.
Green Bay Packers (11-2) at St. Louis Rams (3-10), 1 p.m.
Green Bay can still nab the top seed, but they basically need Dallas to collapse. Still, they'll do what they can while they can. St. Louis can only damage their draft prospects.
Prediction: Packers, 38-16.
Atlanta Falcons (3-10) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5), 1 p.m.
Tampa Bay is still trying to stitch up the division. Atlanta appears to have packed it in.
Prediction: Buccaneers, 27-10.
Indianapolis Colts (11-2) at Oakland Raiders (4-9), 4:05 p.m.
Oakland might just be trying to keep from finishing last for once.
Prediction: Colts, 42-9.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-8) at Dallas Cowboys (12-1), 4:15 p.m.
Dallas is still trying to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Good thing this one isn't in Philadelphia. Could be getting ugly there.
Prediction: Cowboys, 34-17.
Detroit Lions (6-7) at San Diego Chargers (8-5), 4:15 p.m.
San Diego can clinch the division. Detroit can fade back into bolivian.
Prediction: Chargers, 30-20.
Washington Redskins (6-7) at New York Giants (9-4), 8:15 p.m.
New Jersey can clinch a playoff spot. Washington is still clinging to dimming hopes.
Prediction: Giants, 24-16.
Monday, Dec. 16
Chicago Bears (5-8) at Minnesota Vikings (7-6), 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota is in the driver's seat for the second NFC Wild Card berth. With four straight wins, they need to win at home to prove they're worthy.
Prediction: Vikings, 37-16.
Open Date: None.
Last week: 13 - 3 (81.25 percent).
Season: 135 - 73 (64.9 percent).