This week is usually impossible and/or not worth picking. Too many teams have too little to play for. I expect the Patriots, Chargers, Bengals, and Colts to take it easy this week, and I expect other teams to go all out in pursuit of playoff berths and seeding.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers - The Panthers have been playing really well as of late and a win over the Saints could lead to a lot of people, including Matt Moore, securing jobs for the 2010 season. The Saints need this game for confidence heading in to the playoffs, but they need to play smart and stay healthy.
I'm taking the Panthers at Home.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns - The Jaguars need this game to keep whatever playoff hopes they have alive. The Browns have already given their fans everything they need to not totally want to give up being a professional football fan.
I'm taking the Jaguars on the Road.
Indianapolis Colts @ Buffalo Bills - Can the Colts put up enough points in the first half of this game to bury the Bills? I think so. The Bills are beat up and have nothing to play for. The Colts will want the 15-1 momentum.
I'm taking the Colts on the Road.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions - The Bears pulled off a miracle on Monday Night, not in overtime, but by winning at all. Their contribution to another late season Viking collapse will be enough to guarantee this team ends their 2010 on a winning streak.
I'm taking the Bears on the Road.
New England Patriots @ Houston Texans - This is a tricky one; The Patriots likely assume that the Bengals are going to rest players, but they're not going to risk it just in case. The Pats will rest their starters this game with hopes that they'll actually fall to the four seed and avoid playing the Ravens, Chargers, Colts in consecutive weeks. They won't lose to avoid the Ravens though. If the Patriots lose and the Bengals win, the Patriots have to play the Ravens wild card weekend. It's a confusing situation that involves the question of whether the Patriots would sacrifice the opportunity to host the AFC championship, in order to avoid a cross country trip in the divisional round? I think overall they'll choose health.
I'm taking the Texans at Home.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins - The Steelers beat two playoff bound teams in back to back weeks, unfortunately for them their losses to teams with no playoff hopes in consecutive weeks ended their season. They'll still beat the Dolphins based purely on momentum.
I'm taking the Steelers on the Road.
New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings - This is a tough one to pick. The Giants are going to be pissed heading in to this game, but the Vikings need to regain some momentum if they have any Super Bowl hope. Last year the Giants allowed the Vikings to clinch by taking it easy against them, this year they'll allow them to gain momentum.
I'm taking the Vikings at Home.
San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams - The 49ers are going to win this game. They want to head into 2010 with playoff dreams.
I'm taking the 49ers on the Road.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Buc's got their season-saving win last week. The Falcons will win this one.
I'm taking the Falcons on the Road.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys - There's a ton on the line in this one. If the Eagles win they wrap up the division and the two seed in the NFC, securing a first round bye. If the Cowboys win they guarantee themselves at least one home game in the playoffs. Believe it or not I think the Eagles are due for a loss.
I'm taking the Cowboys at Home.
Green Bay Packers @ Arizona Cardinals - This is a game between two teams who don't control their own seeding, so they'll probably both play to win, while trying to stay healthy. At the end of the day, I still like the Cardinals more.
I'm taking the Cardinals at Home.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos - The Broncos first season post-Shanahan will be viewed as a success, but this team probably won't be in the playoffs, just like the three years that preceded this one. They'll end their season with a win though.
I'm taking the Broncos at Home.
Baltimore Ravens @ Oakland Raiders - If the Ravens win they clinch. The Ravens will win.
I'm taking the Ravens on the Road.
Washington Redskins @ San Diego Chargers - If the Chargers are smart they'll start getting healthy instead of trying to go pound for pound with the Redskins. The Redskins are a beaten down team, with nothing to play for, and have some players on defense who could deplete your offenses health. Norv needs to avoid targeting revenge against his former employer and secure health for his team entering their best chance at going to the Super Bowl since 2006. They can beat the Redskins playing just one quarter anyway.
I'm taking the Chargers at Home.
Tennessee Titans @ Seattle Seahawks - The Titans want to end their season with a .500 record, the Seahawks want to go on vacation.
I'm taking the Titans on the Road.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets - All signs point to the Bengals playing it smart and letting the Jets have this one. They'd rather play the Jets two weeks in a row, and then test their luck with Indy, than play a divisional rival, or the high powered Texans. The Jets will be force-fed their second straight win, making them perhaps the most fortunate team of the decade.
I'm taking the Jets at Home.