The Final Two weeks of the season and once again plenty of teams still have something to play for other than pride or their starting places in the 2010 season. Looking at this week’s schedule which will be played over 3 days over half of the of the 16 games still have some potential significance which is amazing and a great vindication of the NFL’s efforts to make Pro American Football the world’s most competitive sport.
Anyway here are the games:
Buffalo at Atlanta – The Falcons can’t make the playoffs now having a worse Conference record than Green Bay and having lost to Dallas earlier in the season but will still be up for this game as they have the chance of consecutive winning seasons for the first time. Given this and the fact they are good at home I will go with the Falcons to win by 10 points +
Kansas City at Cincinnati – After two bad defeats against other divisional champions in the last week The Bengals suddenly find themselves in need of one more win to clinch a Division which looked sewn up two weeks ago. They showed enough in the Chargers game to convince me they will have little problem getting that victory and I predict them to win by 10 points +
Oakland at Cleveland – Not much to play for here but both teams are in good form for them anyway and will want to maintain the momentum. The Browns seem to be getting their running game going and that should be enough to overcome the Raiders who look to be on the up and could do ok next season with some astute draft picks. It’s The Browns for me by 7 points or less.
Seattle at Green Bay – The Packers still need this one as the Giants could still pip them for a Wild Card and having the Head to head over the Cowboys a win here would all by assure their participation in the post season. There was no disgrace in last week’s last second defeat in Pittsburgh and given the Seahawks look devoid of confidence Rodgers could put up a few points here. The Packers will win this one by 14 points + and it could be a blow out.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh – At the start of the season I expected this to be the game which decided the Divisional title and in theory it still could if The Bengals slip up and the Steelers win. Anyway theoretical implications aside this is a big game for both as the Steelers look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive while the Ravens would just about sew up a place with the win. Given the Ravens are on a Roll and The Steelers still don’t look anything like they did last year I will take the Ravens to win by 7 points or less.
Houston at Miami – Both teams are still in with remote chances of making the playoffs and although I haven’t checked all the permutations it may be possible that the loser could scrape in at 8-8. I practice though the loser is out so this should be a hard fought encounter between the skilful but inconsistent Texans and the physical Dolphins who in Henne may have a franchise QB in the making. Tough game to call but overall I just give the edge to Miami who showed some resilience against the Titans last week coming back from 18 points down to force OT. The Dolphins for me by 7 points +.
Jacksonville at New England – When you need a win to keep your season alive the last place you want to go is Foxborough especially given the Patriots still need a win to clinch the division. My own view is that the Jags are probably a worse team than their 7-7 record would have you believe having failed to beat any team with a winning record this year. Probably won’t be easy by I expect the Patriots to win this by 7-10 points.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans – With the perfect season no longer possible and the division long since sewn up the result of this game will largely depend on whether the Saints want to clinch home field advantage in this game or wait and see if the Vikings drop another game. My view is that they will want that home field sewn up so they can have a good rest and will field a full strength team. Against a full strength Saints the Bucks have little chance and I expect a 14 point + Saints win.
Carolina at NY Giants – The Panthers are without doubt the season’s biggest under achievers strong on defence but inconsistent in other areas and capable of beating any team on their day. However with nothing to play for now it is hard to see them upsetting the Giants who still have a wild card place in their sights. If the NY offensive line can stop Julius Peppers from getting to Eli they should be capable of winning this one by 10 points +
Detroit at San Francisco – Not a lot to say about this one no doubt both would like an extra win but the result won’t make much difference to either. I can’t see Detroit winning at the 49ers and expect San Francisco to win by 7-10 points.
St. Louis at Arizona – The Rams have been poor this season while the Cardinals have won the Division almost by default playing well some weeks and awful others. Much like last year The Cardinals have stumbled into the post season and may be tempted to rest a few starters. I am not sure that the Rams are good enough to beat the Cardinals second string though so will go with the Arizona to win this one by 7-10 points.
NY Jets at Indianapolis – It look like the colts want that perfect season and I expect them to start at full strength against the Jets who need this one to stay in the playoffs hunt. I will go with the Colts here by 3-7 points.
Denver at Philadelphia – Denver are in serious danger of missing out on the playoffs again having been in a position where a place looked assured. The Eagles are looking Strong and I would rate them the 3rd strongest team in the NFL right mow behind the Colts and Chargers and just ahead of the Saints and Vikings. The Eagles will win this one and in doing so put pressure on the Vikings who could still miss out on that 1st round bye. Philadelphia to win by 10 points +
Dallas at Washington – The Redskins would like nothing more than to upset their bitter divisional rivals so they will be fired up despite having nothing to play for. They will also be looking to bounce back from their mauling by the Giants so this is no foregone conclusion. Dallas have a habit of losing in December but maybe this year they will overcome their hoodoo and the win at The Saints was quite impressive. I think this will be close but will give the edge to the Cowboys who should win by between 3-7 points.
Minnesota at Chicago – Although the Vikings have the Division they still have a chance at home field advantage or could end up playing in the Wild Card game with 2 defeats. Given this and the fact Favre will be keen to put one over on his long term rivals it’s hard to see how Chicago can win this one. I will go with the Vikings to win by 10 points +.