Where has the last three months gone? The good news is that even at this quite late stage the race for the playoffs is still wide open and with the notable exceptions of The Saints, Vikings, Bengals, and Colts who are already there plenty of teams will still fancy their chances.
This week has plenty of interesting games and a few teams will know their fate after this week.
Philadelphia at Atlanta
This is an important game for both teams who are currently wild card contenders. The Eagles really need this to keep on the tail of the Dallas Cowboys while a loss for Atlanta would leave them at 6-6 and facing an uphill struggle with their destiny being in the hands of others. With Michael Turner and Roddy White being questionable I expect the eagles to be the ones flying high after this game. Philly to win by 10 points plus.
St. Louis at Chicago
Two teams who will not be playing in the post season meet in what is now a pretty much meaningless match. Chicago have been a big disapointment in my opinion and having surrendered a lot of draft picks to get Cutler may find things n0 easier next year. The Rams were always going to have a long hard season and are rebuilding slowly but surely and look like getting an early pick again next year. These meaningless games can go either way but I expect the Bears to win and ensure the die hard fans can still dream of sneaking a play off place at 9-7. Its the Bears for me by 7-10 points.
Detroit at Cincinnati
Cincinnati are the surprise team of the season for me now looking odds on to win the tough AFC North having swept the division. Detroit are probably a little better than last year but still have lots of gaps to fill before they can even dream of an 8-8 season. The Bengals will want to sew up the division asap and I expect them to win this by 14 points +
Oakland at Pittsburgh
Oakland have pulled off a couple of surprise wins this year against the Eagles and Bengals but they have virtually no chance of beating an admittedly injury weakened Steelers. The Steelers are my choice by 10 points +
Tennessee at Indianapolis
The Titans who were 0-6 at one stage this season, including a humiliation against the Patriots but are now 5-6 and with some very favourable results could be in the final wild card place on Sunday night. The Colts have battled through some tough games and at 11-0 have the division sewn up and are probably going to get the no 1 seed. However they have rode their luck a few times and have had to comd from behind on a few occasions. Can they do a Patriots and go 16-0 ? Well they have had a bit of luck injury wise and will be pretty much at full strength again on Sunday. This could go either way but I think the Colts will just hold out in this one and in doing so probably prevent the Titans from getting a Play off place. The Colts by 3-7 points.
Denver at Kansas City
Denver have played pretty well this year and after last seasons capitulation look at least capable of securing a wild card slot this year. The Chiefs may have secured Matt Cassell at QB but they will need a lot more to become serious contenders and I can see them causing an upset here. The Broncos will win this one by 10-14 points
New England at Miami
Miami are still hanging in there this season after majorly over achieving last season when they not only won the division but forced the Patriots to miss the post season at 11-5. The Patriots will remember this and despite not having a great record against Miami will win this one by 7-10 points.
New Orleans at Washington
The saints are for real and with last weeks good win against the Patriots look to be the strongest team in the NFL right now. The Red Skins are a better team than their record would indicate – mainly due to them being in the mercilessly tough NFC East and they will make things awkward but I expect the saints to continue their march towards the Championship game at least and will win by 7-10 points.
Tampa Bay at Carolina
Two more teams who’s seasons are all but over and aagin could go either way. I just give the edge to the Panthers who are very unpredictable but at their best would be far too good for the rebuilding Bucks. Carolina to win by 7 points.
Houston at Jacksonville
The Jaguars have quietly sneaked into the play off race with some steady if unspectacular play and if they can win this one will be in quite a strong position going into the final four games. The Texans are again playing well but losing the tough games which throws up questions about their ability to handle the pressure. Having watched the Texans against the Colts last week I am sure they are heading in the right direction and in Matt Schaub, Mario Williams and Andre Johnston have the nucleus of a good team. I though they might sneak a playoff place this year and although this is probably beyond them now I think they will be good enough to beat the Jags by 7 points +
San Diego at Cleveland
San Diego are starting to hit form at just the right time and no one will fancy playing them in the post season. This should be a formality for them and I expect a Chargers win by 14-21 points.
Dallas at NY Giants
The Crunch game in the NFC this week with Dallas needing this to keep the Eagles at bay and the Giants needing it to keep their season alive. I have not been overly impressed by Dallas and am slightly surprised to see them lead the NFC East at this stage of the season. Will Dallas Succumb to their typical December slump? Can the Giants beat a team with a winning record? Questions which will be answered on Sunday night. I am going with the Giants to win this and set up a very interesting finish to the NFC east title race. My tip The NY Giants by 7 points
San Francisco at Seattle
Seattle can look back on this season and wonder what might have been if they had had everyone fit. The 49ers will lok back and realise this was the season when they finally turned the corner and look capable of reaching the play offs next year if they can add a bit of depth to the squad. I expect a win for the 49ers by 7 -10 points.
Minnesota at Arizona
This could be a very good game and will give some indication as to how good the Vikings are. The Cardinals sleep walked into the play offs last year berore waking up and ending up as very unlucky Superbowl losers and seem to be continuing in the same vein this year. The Vikings with Brett Favre at QB and their array of talent on both sides of the ball look like real contenders but I still have nagging doubts regarding their credentials and think they might just slip up here. If Kurt Warner plays I expect the Cardinals to win by 3-7 points.
Baltimore at Green Bay
Both teams really need this one and being a life long Packers fan i will have to make sure I dont let my heart rule my head here. The Packers are severely lacking on the Offensive line and have some injury worries which wont help.
The Ravens have been very unlucky this year having lost a few games they could have won plus their defense will probably have a good chance against the Green Bay line which will pot a lot of pressure on Rodgers. Overall I have to go with the Ravens by 7 points +.