I have been quite vocal [at first as comedy....but now a bit more serious] about an NFL investigation of the Houston Texans tanking games to try to get the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Peter King wrote a column on this very topic that is a great read [SI.com - Writers - Peter King's MMQBTE: Hard to believe teams tank games for draft position ]. I'm still not convinced that Houston is trying to lose games....but I'm also not convinced that they actually care about losing.
So....on to the games!!!
COWBOYS AT REDSKINS. Can it get any better?? For the first time in over a decade...a Dallas-Washington game after Week 5 is important. It is a HUGE game in a huge rivalry. A Dallas win keeps them at least a game back of the Giants....and in a tie if the G-men fall to KC. Not to mention it all but eliminates the Skins. For Washington, a win would put them in a tie with Dallas for 2nd in the division....plus the Skins would own the head to head tiebreaker. Needless to say that the loser of this game is screwed. On to the game. After throwing everything in the pot...I'm picking the Cowboys 23-20. Why? Dallas has played a bit better against better oppinents. The Skins have lost to the Raiders and skinned by the Cards. I like the ability of the Dallas defense to close out on that Skins offense. I hated to write that. Hopefully I am incorrect....just as I was in Week 2.
BUCCANEERS AT PATRIOTS. A win here gives the Pats the AFC East championship. The Buccs need to win to stay atop the NFC South. So, Tom Brady isn't playing. This is Tampa at New England in December. A team notoriously bad in cold weather against a team famously great in such a climate. The last time Jon Gruden was in Foxboro was the infamous "tuck rule" game. Same result. Patriots 16-13.
CHIEFS AT GIANTS. The Giants are trying to stay in first in the NFC East...while the Chiefs are fighting for a wildcard berth. We will see a ton of rushes as two of the top running backs are featured here. Tiki Barber continues to bring the pain as the #3 rusher in the NFL. Right behind him is Larry Johnson, who is the hottest player in the NFL right now. Eli Manning has shown an ability to win at home...and that's what he will do here. Giants 24-20
BRONCOS AT BILLS. Denver is trying to win the AFC West. Buffalo is an also-ran who is replacing their quarterback AGAIN. Now we're back to Kelly Holcomb. Things like this cause a team to give in....and with Denver needing to keep winning to stay ahead of the Bengals for the first round bye, they will get this one. Broncos 20-10
CHARGERS AT COLTS. A Colts win and they match the 1972 Dolphins record of 14-0. Indy has everything wrapped up...but they are wanting to keep their fine tuned machine running. I think that's a great idea [and not because Manning is my fantasy QB and I'm in the playoffs] because calling the dogs off now mean that the guys next game would be January 14 or 15....ONE MONTH from now. And we saw how long it took this offense to get rolling. Don't stop it now! Colts 26-14
STEELERS AT VIKINGS. This is a very odd game. Both teams are on the fringes of the wildcard world and really, really, really need this game. Pittsburgh comes in with *gasp* injury issues. Minnesota comes in with Sex Boat scandals. Ho hum, right? Well, the Vikes are playing with more momentum right now and Big Ben's hurt thumb could cause some balls to flatten out. That white hot Vikings secondary will take advantage. Vikings 27-21
CARDINALS AT TEXANS. The only reason to watch this game is to see those great Arizona receivers [Fitzgerald and Boldin] and to see if Houston will tank another game. This is a game I think the Texans should and will win. If they don't, I'mwriting a letter to the Governor of Texas. Texans 27-23
SEAHAWKS AT TITANS. Tennessee is playing out the string while Seattle is trying to close down home field advantage one week before hosting the [possibly] 14-0 Colts. Um...Seattle will romp. Seahawks 31-13
JETS AT DOLPHINS. Remember in the 1980s, this game would be 45-38?? Now it takes 3 games to get that total. Dolphins 16-6
EAGLES AT RAMS. This used to be a huge game. Now it is a matchup of two teams who've lost their franchise QBs for the season a while back. Both teams have some big decisions to make this offseason and both teams may have some baggage they need to go away. Oh, the game. Both teams are making valiant efforts...but the Rams offense looks a ton better than Phillys. Rams 24-17
NINERS AT JAGUARS. Jacksonville will take out their Colts Frustration out on the Niners. San Francisco, the worst team in the league. Jags 34-10
PANTHERS AT SAINTS. This is a game the Panthers really need. A win here along with a Tampa loss in Foxboro means Carolina is back on top in the NFC South. And Carolina can ill afford to lose this game as the Week 1 loss to N'Awlins already stings in the tiebreaker scheme. Panthers 23-16
BENGALS AT LIONS. Can you believe it?? It has been 15 years since Cincy's last winning season, playoff season and overall contribution to the league. It is also the last time they were expected to roll in a road game. Bengals 30-17
BROWNS AT RAIDERS. Okay...they were handled at home by the Phins. They aren't really that bad...are they???? Raiders 19-13
FALCONS AT BEARS. Atlanta reeeeaaaallly needs this game, so that's why Mike Vick is playing with banged up ribs. And those ribs don't feel much better when playing a night game in Chicago in December. Nor will they feel better after getting a dose of that Chicago defense. Bears 17-13
PACKERS AT RAVENS. The prime example why (a) there is no Monday night game on Week 17 and (b) why the NFL will switch out these games in the future. Both are done and have been done for a while. The only reason to watch this is to see Brett Farve on Monday Night Football for, possibly, the final time. Ravens 18-14