Two weeks ago the Dolphins faced a game of survival and beat the Steelers in the snow of Pittsburgh, now they head into Buffalo, knowing that they will make the playoffs if they win their final two games. The Bills did beat the Dolphins earlier in the season down in Miami, and like that game the Bills will have Thad Lewis playing instead of an injured EJ Manuel. The Dolphins defense is playing better and they have been much improved on offense, as Mike Wallace who struggled for the first ten weeks is showing why he got the big contract, it will be another tight game with Miami getting the win.
This game will likely decide who wins the NFC South as the Saints and Panthers meet for the second time in three weeks. The Saints dominated the game two weeks ago in the Superdome, ending the Panthers franchise best nine game winning streak. However, the Saints have struggled badly away from the Superdome, losing four of their last five games on the road, including a lackluster performance in a dome in St. Louis. The Saints offense has especially been bad away from the Superdome and against the top defense in the NFL that will continue as the Panthers get the win.
Last week the Bengals blew an opportunity to move into the second spot in the AFC battle for home field in the playoffs with a sloppy loss in Pittsburgh. Now their playoff chances are in jeopardy as the season finale against the Ravens may decide their fate. They must battle the urge to look ahead, but with the game in Paul Brown Stadium the Bengals should be in good shape as they are a perfect 6-0 at home. With the Vikings struggles away from Minnesota it is hard to imagine the Bengals will lose this one.
After a lackluster Thursday Night loss last week, the Broncos once secure division title and path to home field are now in peril. The Broncos will now finish the season with two cupcakes on the road, which they must devour if they want to make the road to the Super Bowl go through the Mile High city. The Texans come in with 12 straight losses, and look to have the inside track at the number one pick after starting the season, as one of the favorites for the Super Bowl. The Texans had one good performance against the Patriots and blew a double digit halftime lead. It’s hard to imagine the Broncos coming in flat again as the Texans just can’t wait for the off-season.
The Jaguars have shown some pride, with four wins in their last six games. One of those wins came against the Titans in Nashville, a team that has not been the same without Quarterback Jake Locker. This is a typical matchup of teams with nothing to play for. The Titans have played well on the road, and the Jaguars have been especially bad at home, for that reason the pick is the Titans.
With the Chiefs still in the hunt for Home Field and the AFC West the game has more meaning to them than the Colts. The Colts are all but locked in the fourth spot and likely to meet the Chiefs again in two weeks in the Wild Card round, if the Chiefs cannot catch the Broncos. The Colts have not been playing their best football over the last six weeks and will likely play it close to the vest. The Chiefs at home will look to take while at the same time making a statement that they are the better team, despite a potential playoff match being in Indianapolis.
If the Browns can find away to lose they will. Each of the last two weeks they have blown leads in the second half in some of the most agonizing ways possible. The Jets also playing out the string would like to win their last home game especially of Coach Rex Ryan is to be dismissed following the season. Ryan has always been popular with his team and you have to expect they will go out and bring a top level effort as they beat Browns.
Over the last half of the season, the Rams have been the NFL’s mystery team. One week they look like they could be a playoff contender as they did in their win over the Saints last week, while the next week they deliver a flat performance and lose to a inferior team. The Rams are playing their final home game of the season, and you would expect them to bring out their best as the Buccaneers took a big step backwards in a mistake prone loss to the 49ers.
Expect the ball to be flying back and forth as both teams have terrible defenses. The Cowboys enter the game off perhaps the worst loss in franchise history as they saw a 23 point lead melt away among bizarre play calling and another Tony Romo back breaking interception. The Redskins also suffered a one point loss, after Mike Shanahan’s decision to go for two in the game’s final minute. Kirk Cousins played well and this game could really be a showcase for the Redskins trying to work out a trade, but it is the Redskins defense that will be the reason for another loss.
No team gets in its own way more than the Lions, who have fumbled away a chance to win the NFC North by committing at least three turnovers in their last five games. They have also hurt themselves will ill-timed penalties and dropped passes. To win the North they now need to win their last two games and get help. The Giants meanwhile are just finishing up a disappointing season, in which Eli Manning would like to forget as soon as possible. The Lions defense should create some problems for the Giants line and should win the turnover advantage as well as the game.
Last year when the Cardinals ventured into the Pacific Northwest, the Seahawks gave them the most humiliating loss in franchise history at 58-0. The Cardinals are a much better team this year as they are in the thick of the playoff chase at 9-5. However, the Seahawks are the best team in the NFL at 12-2, and can clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a win. The Seahawks have not lost at home in two years, and with a chance to use the 12th man throughout the playoffs I do not see it changing this week. The Seahawks already won in Arizona, and the Cardinals have lost a few key players to injury since then.
Just like last season, the Ravens are getting hot at the right time with four straight wins and five in their last six games. If the Ravens win their last two games they will get into the playoffs. The Patriots can still get home field, if the Broncos have another slip up, but the greater concern can be could the Pats lose a first round bye and even their grip on first place. The Patriots have struggled on the road, with four losses away from Foxboro, and the loss of Rob Gronkowski is going to be a big one as Tom Brady was unable to complete a fourth straight comeback win last week. Look for a repeat this week as Justin Tucker wins another win his leg.
The Packers continue to play it safe with Aaron Rodgers, who after his latest discount double check has not been cleared to play by team doctors. Matt Flynn did a good job in the Packers comeback win over the Cowboys, but he had a lot of help from the awful Cowboys defense, awful play calling and Tony Romo being Tony Romo. The Steelers are all but finished, but they can somewhat finish strong and get to 8-8, and that would be an accomplishment after their terrible start. The Packers may still be able to win the division, but unless Rodgers can play they will not get past the Steelers.
The Chargers at 7-7 are in the thick of the race for the sixth seed in the AFC, coming off their stunning win in Denver last week. The Raiders who beat the Chargers earlier in the season are just finishing another awful season and their defense has failed to appear in any of their last three games. Last week Jamaal Charles had five touchdowns against them, with four in the first half. The only bright spot is QB Matt McGloin has played well but if the Raiders keep allowing 35 or more, there is nothing McGloin can do.
Two teams that are 8-6 and leading their division meet with each needing a win to stay in front, as both the East and North in the NFC will likely go down to the final week of the season. The Eagles suffered a setback last week as Nick Foles was the latest victim of the SI Jinx as the Eagles saw their five game winning streak ended in Minnesota. Both teams have had their up and downs, have defensive lapses and strong passing games, but the difference make will be LaSean McCoy has the Eagles fly off with a Sunday Night win.
The Catch, Joe Montana five Super Bowl Championships, Bill Walsh, Steve Young and Jerry Rice all made history at Candlestick Park since the 49ers moved there in 1971. Following Monday Night’s game with the Falcons the lights of Candlestick will be turned off for the final time. Both these teams played in last year’s NFC Championship Game. This year only the 49ers have a chance to return as they are heating up at the right time as the return of Aldon Smith and Michael Crabtree has boosted their level of play . The Falcons have had a lost season and will provide little resistance as the 49ers lock up a playoff berth and say goodbye to the stick with a win.