The Buccaneers have once again folded down the stretch, losing their last five games entering the last game of the season. While, the Falcons may not play their regulars the entire game, one would think they want to stay unbeaten at home entering the playoffs as they have already clinched home field in the NFC and would like to keep that psychological edge.
When these teams met in Week 1 the Jets looked sharp and played their best game of the season as they crushed the Bills. After that it was all downhill for the gang green as Tim Tebow became a huge distraction while Mark Sanchez became the butt of all jokes. Bills have also played awful football and once again lost ten games. However, with a renewed lease in Buffalo the Bills will finish the season strong as the Jets will look like a team that can’t wait to go home.
Both teams are in the playoffs and locked into their seeds, as they will likely play a lot of backups with a slight potential of these two teams meeting again next week. The Ravens have won the division and have many injury issues and have struggled at times so chances are they won’t put as much effort as the Bengals who would like to get a confidence boost.
Nobody has been a bigger disappointment than the Lions, coming in with a seven game losing streak they would like to finish the season on a strong note by playing spoilers for the rival Bears. The Bears meanwhile, come in with a chance to make the playoffs if they can win and get help elsewhere. However, after a 7-1 start the Bears have struggled behind temperamental QB Jay Cutler in the second half and could be in for some big tie changes. This all sets up for an upset with the Lions beating the Bears, as the Bears will fire Lovie Smith within 48 hours of the game’s finish.
Chuck Pagano returns to the sideline as the Colts finish the regular season with a chance to put a hurt on the Texans. Both teams are in the playoffs, and the Texans need a win to assure home field, while a loss could have them playing on Wild Card Weekend. The Texans have never won in Indianapolis, and while the Colts have nothing to play for getting a win for Chuck and the emotion of their ailing coach return to the sideline will give the Colts an edge, as Andrew Luck takes advantage of the Texans struggling secondary for a big win.
The Saints and Panthers both have known for a while they are not going to the playoffs, but both teams are finishing the season strong. The Saints last week provided some pain to the Cowboys, while the Panthers have won three straight. Both teams’ offenses are playing well and this one has shootout written all over it. The Saints have some slight incentive as they will finish 8-8 with a win after starting 0-4 that would be an accomplishment.
With a win and some help the Giants can still make the playoffs. Big Blue has been downright awful in the last two weeks, and even if they get in the postseason. It is hard to imagine they can make a run to the Super Bowl. The Eagles meanwhile have had a nightmare season and as soon as Monday the changes will be coming to Philadelphia as Andy Reid is certainly going to be fired.
It has been a disappointing season for the Steelers who will miss the playoffs for the first time in three years. The Browns meanwhile despite playing better in the second half are likely in for several changes after the season with their new owners looking to put their own mark on the franchise. The Steelers can finish .500 and are at home, plus getting swept by the Brown will not be in the cards. It will be close, but in the end the Steelers win out of pride alone.
The Titans were embarrassed by a NFC North team for the second time this season. Like their ugly loss to the Bears, Owner Bud Adams expressed dissatisfaction after last week’s loss in Green Bay. The Titans responded last time with one of their best efforts of the season as they beat the Dolphins, this time they face the awful Jaguars and will get another win. The Jaguars did earn one of their two wins against the Titans, but it is hard to imagine they will get a sweep.
By the time the Broncos take the field they will know if they can win and get home field. However, even if the Texans lose, they will need a win to at least get a bye week. The Broncos will win this game, and they will it easily as Peyton Manning makes his final argument to be named NFL MVP. For the Chiefs it will be the end of a nightmare season and the start of a new era, as they will have a new coach and a new quarterback when they return next season.
The Packers can get a first round bye if they can beat the Vikings in Minnesota. However, the stakes are even higher for the Vikings who will get into the playoffs with a win. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson can make history if he gets just over 200 yards rushing. In their first meeting the Peterson gained 210 yards in a Vikings loss in Lambeau Field. This time he will get the record, and the Vikings will get to play in the playoffs, as the two division rivals could meet again next week.
The Patriots like the Broncos will know if they can have a shot home field as they take the field. Only things are not as simple the rest of the way as they would also need some help for the Broncos to lose to get Home Field Advantage or to even get a bye if the Texans win. The Pats should be able to beat the Dolphins at home, but it will be fairly close no matter what.
This is all but certain to be the final game for Norv Turner in San Diego as the Chargers face the Raiders. The Chargers have played well since Turner’s fate was leaked a few weeks ago. I expect them to continue that trend as the Raiders are just an awful team. Chances are the Raiders will make wholesale changes themselves as it is clear the Carson Palmer trade has been a disaster.
With a win and a Packers loss the 49ers can get a first round playoff bye. They have no control what the Packers will do, but a win is the most important factor as they could even lose the division title if they fail to beat the lowly Cardinals at home. They will not lose to the lowly Cardinals at home, and in fact they will look to make a major statement as they make statement with a blowout in Candlestick.
Nobody is hotter than the Seahawks, who have scored 150 points in their last three games. The Seahawks are in the playoffs, but with a win and a 49ers loss they can even win the NFC West. Though the Rams are unbeaten against the NFC West, they have yet to meet the 12th man this year, and the way the Seahawks are playing it is hard to imagine them losing at home now or any time during this season.
Here the Cowboys are again, last game of the season with the NFC East going to the winner. The game is basically a play in for the playoffs as the Redskins can still get the wild card with a loss, but they will need help and that is not likely to come and they will know by the time they play if the safety net is there or not. Either way beating the Cowboys twice will be difficult and Robert Griffin III is still a rookie, the Cowboys are a better team on the road and though this one will be close, I see the Cowboys beating their rivals and getting the division title they have been hunting for the last few seasons.