Since most NFL weeks from here on out have a Thursday game, we are going to drop the Friday and just start calling this the Football Forecast until I can think of something better (suggestions?). So enjoy this weeks picks and let me know what you guys think:
New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills – In a battle of AFC East rivals, the Jets take on the Bills. Both teams are coming off of wins last week that they are hoping will get them back on track. The Jets were lead to victory by quarterback Jake Delhomme (that’s right the Panthers QB) as he handed them four interceptions and the game. The Bills meanwhile are coming off of a big fourth-quarter in a surprising win against Miami. TO finally seems to be getting back on track and will have a good test against the Jets this week, despite New York’s recent struggles on defense. I think the Jets make just enough plays to pull this one out.
Jets 17, Bills 14
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons – A couple of weeks ago this would have been an easy pick, Atlanta, a very tough team to beat at home, against Philly, a team who lost to the Raiders of the NCAA on the road earlier this season. But injuries and poor play have sidetracked the Falcons while the Eagles are dealing with injury issues of their own in the hunt for the NFC East division title. Falcons QB and leader Matt Ryan is expected to sit this one out, and stud RB Michael Turner is dealing with his own injury issues, which should add up to a pretty easy win for the Eagles.
Eagles 27, Falcons 13
St. Louis Rams vs. Chicago Bears – After weeks of struggling, the Bears finally get a team they should be able to beat. Should being the key word, because as we’ve learned this season with the Bears, nothing is guaranteed. There is a very good possibility that Steven Jackson runs all over the Bears and wins this game by himself, but I think Jay Cutler will finally have a good game and semi-remind people why the Bears gave up so much for him in the off-season.
Bears 28, Rams 17
Detroit Lions vs. Cincinnati Bengals – After a disappointing loss to the Raiders two weeks ago, the Bengals have been blessed with back-to-back softies on the schedule. After an easy yet ugly win against the Browns last week, Cincy gets the inept Lions this weekend. Detroit came crashing back down to reality on Thanksgiving against the Packers after their thriller of a win against Cleveland and shouldn’t provide too much trouble for a Bengals team in search of a division title and possible bye in the playoffs.
Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – In this clash of old AFC rivals, the Steelers get two things they desperately need, the return of Ben Roethlisberger and a second bye week, otherwise known as a home game against the Oakland Raiders of the NCAA. We all know the Raiders can spring an upset (just ask the Eagles and Bengals) but that basically only has a remote possibility of happening when games are played in Oakland. Seeing as this game is in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are trying to remain in the playoff hunt, and Pittsburgh is frustrated with back-to-back losses to a weak team and a division rival, this one has all the makings of a beat down. The Steelers should relieve all their frustrations this weekend.
Steelers 34, Raiders 6
Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts – Another Football Forecast, another Upset of the Week prediction in the Colts game. They can’t keep pulling out these come-from-behind wins can they? The Colts won for the fifth week in a row in comeback fashion to keep their now 20-game winning streak alive, and are one win away from tying the NFL record for consecutive wins. Their opponent this week? One of the hottest teams in the league in the Titans. Tennessee, as everyone remembers, started 0-6, highlighted by a 59-0 beating at the hands of New England, and was easily the most disappointing team in the league. Plug Vince Young in at quarterback, sprinkle in some Chris Johnson, and you have five straight wins, a 5-6 record and a sleeper team that nobody wants to face in the playoffs. If the Titans have any hope of making the playoffs they must win this game, and I think that’s exactly what they will do with a strong running game and some strong clock management.
Titans 24, Colts 21
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs – In an AFC West clash, the Chiefs welcome the Broncos to Arrowhead. This is a very tricky game for Denver, it should be an easy win and help them continue to rebound from their free-fall since a 6-0 start, however Kansas City is tough at home, just ask the Steelers. The Chiefs have a good chance at springing the upset here, Denver has been shaky on offense and defense the past month, and are looking more vulnerable than ever. However I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they worked out the kinks in their Thanksgiving win over the Giants, they should make it two straight wins this weekend.
Broncos 21, Chiefs 17
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins – This is a tale of two teams coming off of disappointing losses. The Dolphins are coming off that aforementioned loss to the Bills that for all intents and purposes knocked them out of the playoff race, they now need a miracle to get in. The Pats meanwhile are coming off a shockingly easy 38-17 loss to the Saints on Monday night. New England looked old and slow on defense, and was finished by the third quarter against New Orleans quick strike offense. If the Dolphins can get things going quickly on the ground, the Pats could be in for a long day, however I see them rebounding this week with a nice road win.
Pats 27, Dolphins 17
New Orleans Saints vs. Washington Redskins – The trendiest team in the NFL heads to the capital this weekend as the Saints take on the Skins. New Orleans is coming off that previously mentioned 38-17 shellacking of the Patriots on prime time, once and for all showing everyone (including the Sports Authority) that they are for real. This could be a letdown game for the Saints, coming off a huge victory and taking what should be an easy opponent too lightly. However the Redskins are dealing with too many injuries and don’t have the weapons to hang with the Saints in this one. Look for Drew Brees to have another huge day.
Saints 38, Skins 13
Tampa Bay Bucs vs. Carolina Panthers – in an NFC South battle, the Panthers welcome the Bucs into town. This game has certainly lost the luster of years past, with both teams struggling and not really giving much reason to anticipate this game. However an NFC South game is still going to be a smash-mouthed, physical fight, regardless of the teams records. The Panthers turn to Matt Moore at quarterback this week with Jake Delhomme sidelined with a broken finger (and ego) after a four interception game last weekend. As it turns out, the fact that Carolina lost its starting QB is actually bad news for the Bucs, I mean Moore can’t play any worse than Delhomme right? The Panthers should control the ground game and pull out a rough, not-fun-to-watch home win.
Panthers 17, Bucs 10
Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – In yet another game featuring two teams coming off of disappointing and possibly season-crushing losses, the Jags host the Texans. Jacksonville is coming off a blowout loss at the hands of the Niners that hurt but didn’t completely destroy their playoff chances. The same can’t be said for Houston, coming off a devastating loss to the Colts in which they lead 17-0 before falling 35-27. The loss put the Texans even further back in the playoff race and could prove even more costly if star receiver Andre Johnson pushes for a trade after the season due to the Texans inability to make the playoffs. Despite the Jags needing this game more, I think the Texans pull out a road win to rebound from last weeks loss and put themselves back on life-support in the playoff race.
Texans 27, Jags 21
San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns – One of the hottest teams in the league heads to Cleveland to face a doormat when the Browns host the Chargers. This is one of those games that should be over by halftime, I really can’t think of any reason to believe the Browns will put up a fight. The Chargers are in a tight race for a division title and a possible first-round bye in the AFC playoffs, and seem too focused to slip up against a Browns squad that has done nothing this season but beat themselves. The only intrigue in this game should be which electrifying return man could break one off when Darren Sproles and Joshua Cribbs stand back and await kick-offs and punts.
Chargers 38, Browns 10
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants – This game could very well decide who wins the NFC East as the Cowboys head to New York to face the Giants. Every time these two squads face off its a tough game that is tight at the end and this weekend should be no different. Despite its 8-3 record, not many people are picking the Cowboys to do much come playoff time, probably because they haven’t won a playoff game since the 90’s and they have Tony Romo at QB, but I’m not going to get into that whole thing again. The Giants have been beyond disappointing since their 5-0 start, and desperately need a win here if they have any notion of entertaining thoughts of the playoffs.
Giants 21, Cowboys 17
San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks – This was a game many people expected would have huge implications on the NFC West division title before the season started. Then teams actually started playing and the Cardinals quickly proved to be the class of the division. The Seahawks are getting older and slower and look nothing like the Super Bowl squad of a couple years back, while the Niners are floundering after a strong start, yet still are on the bubble as far as making the playoffs is concerned. The Niners should pull this game out and keep their slim hopes alive of making the Wild Card.
Niners 24, Seahawks 14
Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals – Sunday nights primetime game brings us the defending NFC champs against what could very well be the next NFC champ. The Vikings are rolling at 10-1, their only blemish being a road loss to the Steelers, and are looking more and more like a team on a mission. The Cardinals meanwhile are coming off of a crushing loss to the Titans that was basically given away by the defense, who allowed a 99-yard drive to lose it, including a touchdown with no time left on the clock. This one has the potential to be an upset, especially if Kurt Warner is healthy. The Cardinals can hang with the offensive firepower that the Vikings have, but Minnesota’s defense should be the difference in this one.
Vikings 24, Cardinals 20
Baltimore Ravens vs. Green Bay Packers – MNF returns to Lambeau this week when the Packers host the Ravens. Both teams are feeling very confident, the Packers on a roll lately and the Ravens coming off of a big win against the Steelers last weekend. Aaron Rodgers is playing at a Pro Bowl-level the past couple of weeks, and faces a real test against the Ravens defense. However, Baltimore is coming off a game that went into overtime against a Pittsburgh team being lead by their inexperienced third-string quarterback. I know it was a division game, but that should never happen, especially against the Ravens defense. I think the home-field advantage is the difference in a pretty evenly matched game.
Packers 17, Ravens 16