NFL Rivalry Weekend?
Division Games Galore
I've been a bit under the weather the last several days. That's kept me off the keyboard (no injury report posted yet) and slightly out of my mind (lots of typos, etc.). Thus, not only will my picks this week be very short, they probably won't make any sense.
I've always wanted a weekend in which every game was a division game. This is right about the best time of year for it, too. Division titles are on the line, and the league was lucky enough to schedule several key games this time through. But there are some teams, like Cleveland and Arizona, that are playing each other when you wish they were playing one of the top teams within their own divisions.
You can't have everything.
Here are the picks:
Sunday, Dec. 2
San Francisco 49ers (3-8) at Carolina Panthers (4-7), 1 p.m.
You'd think Kurt Warner has been around long enough to know that you have to get rid of the ball instead of counting sheep when you're in the end zone. As a result, New England's first-round pick escaped with a win when Tully Banta-Cain (of all people) fell on Warner's end zone fumble in overtime. Meanwhile, Carolina was trounced at home by New Orleans. What a couple of whacky unpredictable teams. Carolina is 0-5 at home, 4-2 on the road. You know, if you want to be a great team in this league, you have to win on the road.
Prediction: 49ers, 24-10.
Jacksonville Jaguars (8-3) at Indianapolis Colts (9-2), 1 p.m.
What a coincidence. It just so happens that both times Indy plays the next best team in their division, the Colts are coming off a bye week the first time and off a 10-day week the next time (and they played a terrible team last Thursday). So much for the best teams having tough schedules.
Prediction: Colts, 28-20.
San Diego Chargers (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-7), 1 p.m.
Arrowhead is usually one of the toughest travel stadiums in the league. Kansas City is 2-4 at home this year. On the other hand, San Diego has been less than fearsome. The Chargers are just 1-4 on the road. I mean, geez, the Panthers are better than that! K.C. has a pretty good pass defense and Philip Rivers is horrible. But San Diego has an offense and Kansas City doesn't.
Prediction: Chargers, 27-13.
New York Jets (2-9) at Miami Dolphins (0-11), 1 p.m.
It's the 2007 Stupor Bowl. This would be much better in Week 16 or Week 17. You want a pair of pretty cool stats? New Jersey has allowed 278 points per game, one more than Miami. And the Jerseys have scored two points less than Miami. With point differentials of -97 and -94, they're still not the worst in the league. New England's first-round draft pick is -104 and St. Louis is -113. New Jersey is 0-fer on the road, and Miami is 0-fer everywhere.
Prediction: Dolphins, 9-3.
Detroit Lions (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (5-6), 1 p.m.
Jon Kitna needs to win 4 of 5 to fulfill his prediction. Just three weeks ago, they were 6-2, and it looked good. Adrian Peterson should be back, but can Minnesota's defense repeat last week's multi-interception performance? Detroit actually has the last NFC Wild Card spot with Minnesota, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Arizona just a game back. It doesn't look like much, but this game is huge.
Prediction: Vikings, 31-17.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-6), 1 p.m.
Another huge division game. Tampa virtually wraps up the South with a win, but New Orleans stays in the division and Wild Card races if they pull it off. Insert comment about desperate teams.
Prediction: Saints, 31-28.
Seattle Seahawks (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6), 1 p.m.
Non-division, but still big. Philly is gripping the end of that rope. Can they play against other teams like they played against New England? Will A.J. Feeley have the same success? Will Philly suffer an emotional hangover? Seattle has been anything but impressive, but they've found ways to win. They're not that good on the road though.
Prediction: Seahawks, 24-13.
Houston Texans (5-6) at Tennessee Titans (6-5), 1 p.m.
Believe it or not, Houston's not out of the playoff picture quite yet. Not mathematically, anyway. Tennessee isn't exactly dominating anyone lately. Tennessee won the Week 7 meeting at Houston, 38-36. Sage Rosenfels was the leading quarterback and LenDale White was the top running back.
Prediction: Tennessee, 13-10.
Buffalo Bills (5-6) at Washington Redskins (5-6), 4:05 p.m.
Actually a fascinating game. Remember when Washington was 4-2 and thought they were going to challenge New England? Remember when Buffalo was 2-4 and everyone counted them out?
Prediction: Bills, 27-17.
Cleveland Browns (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (5-6), 4:05 p.m.
Cleveland is clinging to the final Wild Card berth in the AFC. Arizona is still in the hunt in the NFC. Cleveland hasn't been good on the road, and Arizona has been decent at home. Another good afternoon game.
Prediction: Browns, 23-20.
Denver Broncos (5-6) at Oakland Raiders (3-8), 4:15 p.m.
Oakland beat K.C. in Arrowhead last week. Maybe they're coming around? You never know which Denver team is going to show up, but neither is all that good -- just that one is worse than the other.
Prediction: Broncos, 28-19.
Open Date: None
Last week: 11 - 5 (68.8 percent).
Season: 119 - 65 (64.7 percent).
Last season: 105-71 (59.7 percent).