With one week to go before Christmas the NFL brings up the last Thursday Night Game of the year, a battle of 2-12 teams where the loser is the winner in the draft. This game comes with warnings; airing at Gitmo could be considered cruel and inhumane torture under the Geneva Convention. Airing at a party could be the biggest buzz kill and will surely clear the house. Watching it could cause nausea and vomiting. The Titans did get a win over the Jags early in the season, but their quarterback situation is a mess and the Jaguars have showed at least some desire, something that has long left Tennessee behind.
The Eagles suffered a bug loss last Sunday against the Cowboys, and now need to win their final two games to have a shot at the playoffs. The Redskins are just a lost cause as Robert Griffin III is back as starting quarterback with Colt McCoy’s injury. Last week they let their frustrations get the best of them after a touchdown was overturned. I don’t expect things to get any better as they face a hungry, desperate better Eagles team on Saturday.
No team has been a greater disappointment than the 49ers who with three straight losses are now mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Coach Jim Harbaugh is almost certainly a lame duck, and after three deep playoff runs playing for nothing is going to be a difficult task. The Chargers have lost their last two games, against the Patriots and Broncos but are still in good playoff position and play well in both games. I expect a strong effort from the bolts as they win in Levi’s Stadium.
The bloom is off the rose, and Johnny Football has been exposed. Some day when the great book of Heisman and NFL busts is written Johnny Manziel is likely to be on the cover. Sure it might be easy to say it’s just one game, but Manziel was so bad it showed he has no business being in the NFL. Also his arrogance his flaunting ways make him a target and will lead to more misery as the Panthers keep their playoff hopes alive by flashing the dollar signs and returning a Manziel pick for six points.
The only thing the Lions need to watch out for is the urge to look ahead to next week’s game against the Packers. The Bears though may not be able to take advantage even if they do, as they have showed little desire in their recent games. The Lions offense is actually getting stronger and the Bears defense is just plain awful. The Bears offense is not much better and the Lions defense has been solid all season. Mercifully it will be the last game at Soldier Field for the Bears in 2014 and fans hope it will be the final game period for Marc Tressman and Jay Cutler.
The Ravens are finishing the season strong and could make a run at winning the AFC North, the Texans too have played well but their woes at quarterback have all but erased their playoff hopes. The Texans defense is capable of keeping them in games, and they will challenge the Ravens. However, with them down to Tom Savage, it’s hard to see them getting enough offense to actually get the win.
The only thing worse than being a last place team, with 12 losses is to be stuck in mediocrity year after year after year. The Dolphins are stuck in mediocrity forever which can be a fate worse than death in the NFL, as year after year they thread water, with a coach that can’t win the big one, a defense that shrinks in big moments. Look for another inexcusable loss this week as their playoff hopes wither and die.
This is the game that can decide who wins the division of the losers, the NFC South. Nobody in this division deserves to make the playoffs, but somebody will. Suddenly the Saints can’t win at home, as they have dropped four straight at the Superdome. The Falcons have won all four games in the division including a Week 1 win over the Saints. It seems as if this division is destined to be a mess until the very end, and with Matt Ryan having a big game the Falcons will assure all four teams will have losing records.
This is the last time the Jets will face the Patriots with Rex Ryan as their coach. The Jets occasionally gave the Pats all they could handle in Rex’s tenure winning a playoff game in Foxboro and often keeping every game close. However, when things go bad the Patriots always look to embarrass Rex Ryan and gang green and the Jets at 3-11 are certainly a lost cause. The Patriots meanwhile are closing in on home field and will use any occasion to embarrass and belittle lesser opponents especially on the road.
Both of these teams have been widely inconsistent at times this season. The Chiefs have beaten the Patriots but lost to the Raiders and Titans. The Steelers have blown out the Colts and lost to inept Jets and Buccaneers. The loser of this game will certainly be finished in the playoff race, the Steelers have had some of their worst games at home, but the Chiefs in ability to get their wide receivers involved will get them when matched up against a team like the Steelers. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger will be able to get some points against the Chiefs and their banged up defense.
After a letdown in Buffalo the Packers now face a must win in Tampa, as the NFC North will be decided next week against the Lions at Lambeau Field The Packers will likely come out smoking against a Buccaneers team that often does not show up. The Packers offense will just run right around Tampa, as this game has blow out written all over it.
The Rams have not allowed a touchdown in their last three games. The Giants are just hoping to finish the season strong after starting 3-9. The Giants come in with two straight wins against lousy teams. The Rams themselves are hoping for a strong finish as their defense has at least given them some respectability. The Giants offense line has really struggled against physical teams, and nobody is more physical than the Rams. The only question is can the Giants find the endzone, because they won win the game.
The Cowboys took a big step towards winning the NFC East last week, beating the Eagles on the road. However, their troubles this season have all been at home, where they have lost four games this season. The Cowboys may not have the services of DeMarco Murray who broken his hand last week. The Cowboys defense has had problems against teams with big offenses like the Colts. This is not a matchup that favors the Cowboys and will again be another disappointment and put them back on the bubble with one week to go.
The Raiders have won their last two games at home, and with rumors of a move back to Los Angeles heating up this could their final game ever in Oakland. The Bills coming off an upset of the Packers are back in the playoff picture. However, what has always been a problem for the Bills is the big letdown, and just call it a gut feeling I sense another Buffalo letdown. Look for Derrick Carr to have a solid game as the Silver and Black win their 2014 home finale.
Like a locomotive the Seahawks are finishing the season with a head of steam, with a win Sunday Night they can take over first place in the NFC West, erasing the Cardinals three game lead. The Cardinals come in limping as they are now down to their third string quarter Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals would have trouble even with Carson Palmer. Their defense has kept in games, and will keep them in this one, but unless they get a shutout they will not get a win.
Peyton Manning has always shined in prime time, but up some of his biggest and best games on Monday Night Football. Andy Dalton has been a disaster under the spotlight, putting forth efforts that are beyond embarrassing. The Bengals have lost 12 of their last 14 games in Primetime, including a Thursday Night game in November in which Dalton posted QB Rating of 2. The Broncos can still win homfield if the Patriots stumble, the Bengals meanwhile have work to do to win the AFC North and this game will not help.