As we inch our way toward Super Bowl XLIII, we get a little closer to seeing what will be the first round playoff matchups. As I’ve said in previous weeks, I’m still hopeful for a subway series between the Jets and the Giants of New York, but I’d still be very happy to see the championship go to the Dallas Cowboys (“America’s Team”) or any team from the highly competitive NFC South.
I’ve been making NFL predictions all season. Some weeks have gone in my favor, whereas other weeks, well, haven’t been as kind. Thankfully, the only wager I have on the line is a point of pride. Based on how I did last week, you may be advised to take my picks and select the exact opposite if you’re calling your guy in Las Vegas.
Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
If you’re looking for the game of the week, the NFL is giving it to you one day early. On Saturday evening, we’ll see the Baltimore Ravens storm into Dallas to take on Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. This’ll be a great battle, but I expect the ‘Boys to come out with their playoff-fighting lives intact.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-2.5)
These “division rivals” have absolutely nothing to gain from this game, not even the respect of the football community. What happened to the Bengals? They seemed so promising last year…
New Orleans Saints (-6.5) at Detroit Lions
Here’s me rooting for the Lions. To go 0-15.
Pick: New Orleans
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots (-7.5)
The Cardinals have clinched their division, but that doesn’t mean much considering how the Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks have performed this year. The Patriots are still vying for a playoff spot, so expect New England to come out with plenty of motivation and energy right off the blocks.
Pick: New England
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Tennessee Titans
Both of these teams have clinched their respective divisions, but I don’t believe the Titans have clinched a first-week bye in the playoffs. The 12-2 Titans don’t get enough respect. It’ll be a tight one, but look for the “upset.”
San Francisco 49ers (-4.5) at St. Louis Rams
This is a game that doesn’t matter between two teams that suck equally. I’ll just default to the “favorite” (and I use that term loosely).
Pick: San Francisco
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
Where did these Dolphins come from? They find themselves in a three-way tie for the AFC East. Luckily for them, they’ve got the Chiefs on the other side of the field this week.
San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
If Tampa wants any chance of making the playoffs, they’ll need to trample the struggling Chargers. I think they’ll succeed at home, effectively ending any chance of San Diego making the post-season.
Pick: Tampa Bay
Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos (-6.5)
With a win, the Broncos secure their division. Not that it matters, because San Diego will lose in Tampa earlier in the day to give Denver the division title anyhow. Look for Jay Cutler to lead his team to another surprising victory.
New York Jets (-4.5) at Seattle Seahawks
The battle in the AFC East continues with the Jets looking to move ahead of the Patriots and Dolphins. Brett Favre will be looking at a horrible Seahawks squad, but he’ll have to deal with the Qwest Field noise too. Still, the Jets will prevail.
Pick: New York
Houston Texans (-6.5) at Oakland Raiders
Neither team has any chance of making the playoffs and neither team has much to offer in terms of entertainment either.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
As much as I love how Atlanta managed to turn itself around so quickly following the Michael Vick fiasco, Adrian Peterson and the Vikings will steal this one away, effectively ending any chance of Atlanta making it to the post-season.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) at Washington Redskins
The Redskins enjoyed a remarkably great start to the season, but that fire quickly fizzled and they haven’t been able to re-ignite it since. The Eagles, led by the overrated duo of Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid, still have a shot at making the playoffs, so they’ll be putting their hearts on the line. Philly’s on a roll.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (-2.5)
Am I crazy for going against the defending Super Bowl champions? Following the misfiring distractions of Plaxico Burress, the Giants have lost two straight games. After this week, it’ll be three straight losses.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-4.5)
Back when Favre was lined up behind center for the Pack, this Monday Night matchup might have been a little more exciting, a little more epic. As it stands, the Bears are the only ones standing to gain anything from this matchup. Lovie Smith needs this one.