Well the regular season has come to an end and we now know for sure who will be competing in the post season. Once again Denver managed to miss out when qualifying would have been easier and sadly the curse of the already qualified teams struck again with several teams having good reason to grumble about how the Jets managed to sneak into the Wild Card places. Still its history now and one can only hope the NFL does something to address the playing of weakened teams when it will disadvantage other potential playoff contenders.
As per usual there were some odd results and hopefully if you have followed my tips you will have tread carefully – especially on the noted games.
Buffalo 30, Indianapolis 7 (Avoid) – tipped Indy by 7 points
A classic we have qualified so we don’t care performance by the Colts who will have a nice week off now. I thought Indy would win this one to take some momentum into the post season but as noted this was not a game to wager on.
Cleveland 23, Jacksonville 17 (Prediction Cleveland by 3-7 points)
Cleveland finished the season well and seem to have established a running game at least which dose give some hope for the future. I doubt Jack Del Rio will be the Jags head coach next season.
Chicago 37, Detroit 23 (Prediction Bears by 10 points +)
A nice steady finish to the season for Jay Cutler who only fumbled once and put up some decent numbers including 4 touchdown throws giving him a QB rating of 122. The Lions can look forward to a nice early draft pick again and hopefully will manage to fill a few gaps in their roster. Both will need to improve their squads if they want to trouble the Vikings and Packers next season.
San Francisco 28, St. Louis 6 (Prediction 49ers by 7 points +)
It’s hard to imagine that just over 10 years ago the Rams were “The Greatest Show on Turf” and this week performance was worthy of a team who will be picking 1stin the Draft. I will be surprised if they don’t pick a QB although they need help all over so they might surprise me. As for the 49ers 8-8 is a good season for them and things are starting to look up for them. I still think they are a season or two away from the playoffs but with the Rams & Seahawks in rebuilding for the next few years they could push the Cardinals next year especially as they have such a good record against them.
Pittsburgh 30, Miami 24 (Prediction Miami by 3-7 points)
I wrote the Steelers off after their 16-0 defeat to The Browns but that result doesn’t look so bad with hindsight. Three good wins were nearly enough but thanks to the luck of the schedule The Jets will be playing next week. Miami had their chances but have been prone to just falling short this season which does throw up some questions regarding their playing style. Henne looks like a reasonable QB and they will no doubt strengthen the squad in the off season. Both teams will feel that they underachieved this season.
Minnesota 44, NY Giants 7 (Avoid) Prediction Vikings by 7-10 points)
I recommended avoiding this game thinking the Vikings might just take a break but on reflection though they did need this one to be sure of the 1stround bye, so I should have expected them to go for the win, and an easy one it was. They are a hard team to figure out and I am not convinced they are ready for the Super bowl. Still with the vastly experienced Brett Favre at QB and a team stuffed with Pro Bowl players they might surprise me. The Giants will view an 8-8 season as a flop and they really need some quality at the wide receiver position. Against poor teams the Giants looked good but against anyone who had came to play they were shown to be sadly lacking. I expect some changes in the off season.
Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 10 Prediction Atlanta by 10 points +
A nice winning season for the Falcons who have played well, without really looking like playoff contenders. Matt Ryan is proving to be a franchise QB and they will challenge again next season if everyone stays fit. As for Tampa well they will need time and lots of draft picks before they can compete in the strong NFC South. The bottom team in the South has gone on to either win the division or qualify for the playoffs the following season for several years now however I will confidently predict that this sequence will come to an end next year.
Carolina 23, New Orleans 10 (Avoid) Prediction Panthers by 10 points +
This should read Panthers 23 Saints reserves 10 as the Saints stumbled into the post season on the back of 3 straight losses. The Panthers are my pick for biggest under achievers of the season and there will no doubt be some changes in the off season. Will John Fox keep his job? Watch this space.
Houston 34, New England 27 (Avoid) Prediction Texans by 7 points +
The Texans finally have a winning season thanks largely to the generosity of New England who played like they were more interested in next week’s game. Alas it was not enough to get them into the post season and they remain the only team not to have played in at least a Wild Card game. The Patriots will be well rested for the Ravens’ visit and will need to be as Baltimore remain a serious contender for the Super bowl. The Texans will continue to improve and should Indy ever slip up then who knows we could yet see them playing deep into January someday soon.
Green Bay 33, Arizona 7 (Avoid) Prediction Cardinals by 3-7 points
Not a lot to say about this one as the Cardinals never really got out of the locker room knowing that they would probably be meeting again next week. All the Packers could do was win and that they did with some style. Still next week will be a different matter and its a game I am looking forward to.
San Diego 23, Washington 20 (Avoid) Prediction Chargers by 7 points +
As predicted even an under strength Chargers were just too good for the Redskins who will probably announce Mike Shanahan as new head coach in the next few days. The Chargers have real momentum, bags of confidence having won through a pretty tough schedule and have possibly the best squad in the NFL. They will be tough to stop in the post season.
Tennessee 17, Seattle 13 Prediction Titans by 7-10 points
A nice win for the Titans who have salvaged some pride coming back from 0-6 to finish 8-8. The Seahawks have finished with 4 straight losses and look like a team in need of a complete overhaul. I expect that to occur in the off season starting at QB.
Baltimore 21, Oakland 13 Prediction Ravens by 10 points +
The Ravens made hard work of it but are in the post season where they will be a dangerous opponent for anyone. Probably the unluckiest team in the league this year with missed field goals and dropped passed having cost them dear. The Raiders have played ok this year and they could be a good team again in a year or two especially if they get a change of management or ownership.
Dallas 24, Philadelphia 0 (prediction Eagles by 3-7 points)
I expected this to be close but it was not the case as Philly showed once again just how bad they can play when they want to. Dallas will take a lot of heart from this and when Philly comes a calling next week will expect a similar result. I don’t think Philly can play this bad again but I have been proved wrong by them in the past.
Kansas City 44, Denver 24 (Avoid) prediction Broncos by 14 +
Oh dear it looks like lightening can strike twice at least in Denver. From 6-0 to 8-8 and missing out again will not go down well with the fans or the senior management and although I don’t expect McDaniel’s position to be under immediate threat he will need to put things right next year. It looks like those extra draft picks are going to come in useful. KC can probably look forward to finishing last again next year but at least they are showing some spirit.
NY Jets 37, Cincinnati 0 (Avoid) prediction Jets by 7-10
As I feared the Jets have made the post season thanks to another inept performance by an already qualified team, 63 yards of passing by Sanchez probably sums up the game. Let’s hope next week’s meeting is a bit more of a contest. I don’t know what the answer is but the NFL will really have to look into these “end of season” capitulations if they are to keep things fair.