Saturday afternoon's games consist of several great matchups, many of which play a huge role in deciding the seeding for the postseason. Not to mention the NFC East and AFC West divisions, both of which are still up for grabs in these final two weeks of the regular season.
Here are my picks for Saturday's games, and Sunday night and Monday night's games as well.
Sidenote: One last thing, if I'm unable to post again before Sunday then Happy Holidays to my readers! I fully intend to post again before then, but just in case...
Saturday December 24, 2011
Ravens over Browns...No Colt McCoy again this week, so I think it's safe to say Baltimore can rest linebacker Ray lewis if need be, and not have any trouble winning out to capture the North title. Even if Joe Flacco decides to no-show against another team with a losing record.
Broncos over Bills...A win here for Tebow, one week off the biggest loss of his career against New England, would wrap up the AFC West for the Broncos. This would be one of the biggest mid-season comebacks we've seen in years, and would make for quite a story–I can assure you.
Panthers over Bucs...Last week rookie quarterback Cam Newton took another step towards the coveted Offensive Rookie of the Year award in an upsetting victory over the Texans. I think his quest will continue against the disappointing Bucs.
Bengals over Cardinals...Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton is another great 2011 NFL storyline. A win this week, and a New York Jets' loss (I'm not banking on that happening, but anything is possible) would put them in great position to capture the sixth-seed in the AFC playoffs the following week against Baltimore.
Chiefs over Raiders...No McFadden for the eighth straight game, and Kansas City is coming off its biggest win of the season against the once-undefeated Packers.
Patriots over Dolphins...Like Baltimore, New England is looking to solidify a first round bye in the playoffs and a victory this week over Miami woud put them one step closer to that and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
Jets over Giants...This is a matchup that needs to be settled on the field, and not in the press room (*cough cough* Rex Ryan *cough cough*), although I do believe Ryan's Jets will back up that talk this week against a Giants team that has suffered a lot of injuries to key players.
Steelers over Rams...Smart move on Pittsburgh's part, resting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (high left ankle sprain) and starting veteran backup Charlie Batch instead. But, on the other sideline second-year Sam Bradford is battling injuries of his own. Kellen Clemens will be tossed in the mix against Pittsburgh, starting the game against Pittsburgh. Look out, Kellen.
Titans over Jaguars...Mike Munchak has stated that he is sticking with veteran Matt Hasselbeck in this week's must-win matchup with Jacksonville, rather than rookie Jake Locker who played half of last week's loss against Indy. If Tennessee (7-7) doesn't win this game they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
Redskins over Vikings...Unfortunately this game doesn't have any sort of playoff implications, both teams are simply playing for pride these last two weeks of the season. The Skins are the hotter team (and by "hotter," I mean they are 2-8 in last 10 weeks), so I'll take them over the hapless Vikes. Looks like Minnesota's losing streak will extend to seven games.
Lions over Chargers...San Diego needs a victory and a prayer, however all the Lions need is a victory to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. At 9-5, Detroit can practically smell the postseason. All they need to do is stick it to Philip Rivers and the Bolts for 60 minutes, and I think Ndamukong Suh can take care of that.
Cowboys over Eagles...Ah, yes, the game of the week. This game not only effects Philly and Dallas, but also the Giants as well. If Dallas wins, which I believe will happen because I don't believe in the Tony Romo/December curse, then we will be set-up to witness a NY/DAL showdown the following week for all the marbles: the NFC East crown. What a great two weeks of football.
'Hawks over Niners...One of the top defenses in the game, in fact I would go as far as saying that I believe the Niners own the best all-around defense in the league, but I am going to go on a limb and call the upset. Seattle has quietly crept up to .500, winning three straight and five out of the last six. At 3-1 in the division (just like SF) I think they have a shot as long as they protect the football. Lose and they are out of playoff contention, though. Win or die time in Seattle.
Sunday December 25, 2011
Packers over Bears...Once you're done unwrapping all your presents and eating dinner with the family you can turn your attention to the Sunday night game. Prior to the season this matchup was sure to be a great one, although looking at it now it's not nearly as exciting. Green Bay has already lost the perfect season and Chicago, without Cutler, has benched Caleb Hanie and will be starting Josh McCown. But we do, however, have a great "win or go home" scenario for the 7-7 Bears.
Monday December 26, 2011
Saints over Falcons...THIS is the prime-time matchup we'll all be waiting for this weekend. Drew Brees is just 305 yards shy of surpassing Dan Marino's single-season passing yards record of 5,084 (1984 season). Brees will likely be coming out and throwing right away, so I expect New Orleans to jump ahead early, handing Atlanta its sixth loss of the year and putting its playoff hopes on hold another week.
A.J. Green: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
DeMarcus Ware: Rob Carr/Getty Images