In a battle of two teams in a nose dive, winning is a must if either one wants to stay in the playoff picture. Over the last three weeks all losses, Peyton Manning has been awful 11 interceptions, with four being taken to the house. Meanwhile the Titans with the Vince Young drama enveloping everyone has the look of a team that has quit on their coach, who after 16 years may be on his way out.
The Browns appear to be committed to finishing the season on a strong note after upsetting the Dolphins in Miami last week. At 5-7 they have a good chance to finish with a half decent record, and they can build on it for the future. They have been playing well on defense and have a strong running game all the right formula for winning in December in Buffalo.
Why do they call Matt Ryan, Matty Ice? Because he has ice water in his veins, leading the Falcons to several 4th quarter wins. This week he can chill in the final 15 minutes as the game will likely be decided shortly after the Home of the Brave is sung, as the Panthers at 1-11 will continue to mail it in as they focus on the future with a new coach in 2011.
It’s been five years since the Lions beat the Packers, and maybe Honolulu Blue is Honolulu Due. The Lions are much better than their 2-10 record will suggest as they have had a chance to win at least four other games. They just can’t seem to make the big play when it matters. This game will be close through out and the Lions might be able to pull it out if they can figure a way to get that bounce to go their way for once in their life.
Here are two teams that are up and down and in the middle of playoff contention. On paper you look quickly at either team and you see they have gotten the most of what they have this year. The Jaguars are strong at home, and good at winning close games, while the Raiders have to go against the old West Coast team making the long trip and playing in the early game. Look for the Raiders to have Jet Lag as the Jags smell a chance for a division title.
Whether it is Tarvaris Jackson or Brett Favre, Eli Manning and the Giants just can’t beat the Vikings. When they made their stunning Super Bowl run in 2007, the worst game the Giants played all season was an ugly 41-17 loss at home to the Vikings. Last season the Vikings sliced and diced the G-Men 44-7. This is a team looking to finish strong for new coach Leslie Frazier and hurting Big Blue, will ensure some Purple Pride.
The Bengals are another team in full meltdown. After starting 2-1, they have lost nine in a row and they have lost in al ways possible from blow out to blown big lead, to not even showing up. Heading into the furnace of Pittsburgh it is most likely they will not bother to show, as the Steelers defense is playing at a very high level off their Sunday Night win over the Ravens, not exactly what the Bengals QB Carson Palmer who has been awful all season needs to see.
Coming off two straight losses the Buccaneers need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Redskins at 5-7 are the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team; as they can look horrendous one week and find a way twin the next. Of the five losses the Bucs have suffered all have come against teams win winning records. The Redskins are 5-7, and embroiled in a mess over the suspension of Albert Haynesworth I sense an appearance from Hyde this week
Last year while the Rams were on the way to finishing 1-15, they played their best game of the season against the Saints losing by five points. The Saints of course went on to win the Super Bowl. The Rams are coming in off two straight road wins. It is tough for a young team to play three straight road games let alone win all three. I sense the Saints bring their A game and hand the Rams a smackdown, as the strain of long road trip catches up to them in the Super Dome.
At 4-8 the 49ers can not afford to become the 4 and 9ers as the pathetic NFC West is still in reach. Facing the Seahawks a bad road team at home could be their last chance to save their season. Alex Smith is also returning as quarterback for possibly one last chance to justify being selected first overall in the 2005 draft. In a division this bad any thing can happen and probably will as the 49ers win by a late Field Goal.
One team is playing with an interim coach; one team is playing with an awful quarterback. Both teams are done, and mailing in the rest of the season. The Broncos are terrible on the road, Derrick Anderson is terrible even in his kitchen, as the Kurt Pop Warner little league squad picked off four times in a Tuesday backyard scrimmage. Some one has to win; a safety may be the difference as Broncos QB Kyle Orton has some ability.
With four straight wins, the Patriots have had the look of a team on a mission, especially coming off a 45-3 beat down of the Jets on Monday Night they could not be any higher, and Tom Brady is playing like a MVP. This is where it comes to an end. The Bears are also playing well and have a strong QB attacking defense that frustrates Brady, coming off the short week. In addition the playing surface at Solider Field has been known to frustrate teams that are not used to it.
It has taken 11 weeks, but the Same Old Jets are back. Last week they had a chance to establish themselves as a legit contender but laid a giant green egg on Monday Night. With a tough road to ho beyond this week, the Jets need a bounce back against their old division foe. However, the Dolphins are 5-1 on the road and the Jets have been exposed look for more frustration for Rex and the boys as the Dolphins win in the Meadowlands.
The Chargers lost in December for the first time in 18 games last week. If they lose again this week their season is over. At 6-6 they can get back in the race with just one win as they face the first place Chiefs, who could be without QB Matt Cassel, who had appendectomy, at home. Look for a big day from Phillip Rivers, as the Chiefs road woes continue with another blowout loss.
Containment is the key for the Cowboys as they host the Eagles on Sunday Night. With three wins in their first four games with Jason Garrett as Coach, the Cowboys are looking to make a statement especially against a top division foe. However, with the loss of Dez Bryant who just a rookie already has established himself as a premiere playmaker it is will be an even tougher task as the Cowboys defense will not be able to contain Michel Vick who will look to make another primetime statement.
Last week the Ravens suffered a frustrating loss to the Steelers in the final minutes as Troy Polamalu stripped Joe Flacco and set up the Steelers only Touchdown in a 13-10 victory. Playing in primetime again they will look to their defense to bounce back as the Texans just don’t have the playmakers to keep this once close.