My new work schedule is kicking my ass, and I barely have time for much this week, so I’ll dispense with the preliminaries and get right to the picks. As we get closer to the end, that means the stakes are getting really high for some teams, but it also means that there are going to be more and more games that don’t mean a whole hell of a lot.
Winners in Bold:
Carolina at Atlanta
I liked Ron Rivera. I think the players did, too. Neither of these teams are relevant.
Indianapolis at Tampa
Tampa is playing pretty well lately. Indy has kind of faltered, as injuries have limited their effectiveness, but I’m willing to bet that they will give their all this week in order to stave off playoff elimination.
Miami at NYJ
Brian Flores continues to get this Miami team to lay it on the line for him, and that’s amazing. Gangrene is a mess. I’m picking the fun team.
San Francisco at New Orleans
San Fran lost a close one to the best team they’ve faced this year, and there’s no shame in that. This should be a good, close game. I like San Fran here, so long as Jimmy G can protect the ball.
Detroit at Minnesota
Minnesota Minnesota-ed itself out of a potential win last week in a big game against Seattle, which should be self-explanatory at this point. That being said, they should be able to handle Detroit, but don’t rule anything out, as this Detroit team plays hard and has nothing to lose.
Denver at Houston
Say what you want about New England’s flu-depleted roster last week, but Houston stepped up and played hard, and earned their victory. Denver shouldn’t be a match for Houston.
Baltimore at Buffalo
This is the game I’m most looking forward to this week. Buffalo is coming off a defining win in Dallas on Thursgiving, and are well-rested. Baltimore’s offence has been on a torrid pace for the past month-or-so, but San Fran managed to slow them down a bit last week. Buffalo absolutely has the defence to hold Lamar Jackson and Co. The key, as it was against Dallas, is for Buffalo’s improving offence to sustain drives and score points, and for Josh Allen to avoid turnovers. I think Buffalo can pull this one off. I mostly just hope it’s a really good game.
Cincinnati at Cleveland
Cleveland is basically done. Cincy is playing the role of spoiler. Disrespected Andy Dalton came back last week to threaten Cincy’s inside track on the number one pick in 2020. Lots of intrigue here, but no real playoff implications.
Washington at Green Bay
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Green Bay doesn’t cream these guys.
LAC at Jacksonville
The Bolts could certainly lay claim to the title of most disappointing team in the league this season. Jacksonville’s been plenty disappointing, too, but we’ve come to expect that by now. This is an utterly meaningless game, which probably favours LA because at least they play hard.
Pittsburgh at Arizona
Mike Tomlin is incredible. Somehow, with all the drama, all the egos, all the injuries, whatever shit gets thrown at him, he manages it, and he gets this team to win. Arizona has played well above expectations, but Pittsburgh’s pass rush will make life miserable for young Kyler Murray in this one.
Tennessee at Oakland
Oakland is starting to unravel after looking strong for a bit. Tennessee is really hitting its stride, and should grind Oakland into submission with strong defence and punishing running.
KC at New England
New England knows what to do to stop KC’s offence. If the Pats’ offence can’t stay healthy enough to do its part, that’ll only get them so far.
Seattle at LAR
So, LA beat up on Arizona last week. Big deal. Do it against Seattle, and we’ll talk. I’m betting they can’t.
NYG at Philadelphia
With Daniel Jones hobbling around with an ankle injury, Big Blue must turn to its backup QB, young up-and-comer <checks notes> Elisha Manning. With the way Philly has been struggling lately, Jones had better hope that Elisha doesn’t do too well, lest Jones lose his starting job to the 2nd-string signal-caller.