Happy holidays, everyone! As everyone is out there spending time and money on loved ones and those less fortunate this time of year, many of the teams are hoping Santa leaves a playoff spot under the tree for them. There is quite a bit riding on games today. Not much separates one team from another in making the post season. Let’s see if I think that any of these teams will get their Christmas wish this year.
CINCINNATI BENGALS vs CLEVELAND BROWNS:
Cincinnati beat Oakland last week. Cleveland beat Denver last week. Not sure how this will play out with the two. Confidences are riding high. Cleveland actually looks like they could squeeze into the playoff talks. Baker Mayfield does have the team playing at a higher level. Jeff Driskel did not look to shabby against a mediocre Raiders squad. Both quarterbacks are trying to prove something and win at the same time. This will make for an exciting game. Mayfield may be able to get this win against a not so great Bengals defense. The unknown comes with Driskel and that could be enough to get the edge over the Browns.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS vs DALLAS COWBOYS:
Tampa Bay may boast a lot of offense, but that is because they do not sport the best defense. It is unfortunate that the Dallas Cowboys will take advantage of that. The season has not been the best for the Bucs. The Cowboys are leading the NFC East and would like to solidify the division with a win today. Well, that is if the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles lose today. Ok, so Dallas did not score against Indianapolis last week. No need to fret. They will be back on track this week.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS vs DETROIT LIONS:
Minnesota is looking to keep their wild card spot, but also need Washington and Philadelphia to lose this week. This should not be a difficult task against the flailing Detroit Lions. Detroit has shown flashes, but with a poor showing from one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, there were not enough of those flashes to start anything. Kirk Cousins has not been quite the hot hand that Minnesota was expecting following an almost Super Bowl season last season, but they are making a run. Look for them to keep their playoff dreams alive this week.
BUFFALO BILLS vs NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
The Buffalo Bills are not really that bad. They are 5-9, but they play much better than the record would show. New England has lost two in a row. Miami and Pittsburgh have gotten the better of them. Does Buffalo’s defense stand a chance? They just might. New England just lost one of their best receivers in Josh Gordon. He has been suspended, but also states he is leaving to contend with his mental health issues. So where does this leave the Pats? There is still Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Rob Gronkowski, and Sony Michel for offensive scoring. Where does the mental health of New England stand though? Can they overcome two losses in a row? Is the dynasty coming to an end? They can get the division title with a win. Let’s start there.
New England Patriots
GREEN BAY PACKERS vs NEW YORK JETS:
Nothing on the line here. One would think that the Packers could do a little something after firing head coach Mike McCarthy. Simply, they need more around Aaron Rodgers. New York has Sam Darnold back this week. He gets this Jets team going when he is under center. Actually, that might be enough to get a win against the Pack. The Packers have not won on the road all season. Could it happen this week? The Jets might have something to say about that.
Green Bay Packers
HOUSTON TEXANS vs PHILADELPHIA EAGLES:
Houston can claim the AFC South by winning today, of course. They can also lose and still claim it if Indianapolis and Tennessee lose also. Winning is the ultimate way to go though. The Eagles have Nick Foles under center. Could this be a turn around for Philly like last year? Philly did beat the Rams last week. The Texans defense will have a lot to say about that. Unless the Eagles can score a bunch, the Texans will not go down that easy. Philly has plenty of injuries that might prevent them getting the edge over the Texans.
ATLANTA FALCONS vs CAROLINA PANTHERS:
Both of these teams have been such let downs this season. Carolina has only lost once at home this season. Atlanta has been atrocious on the road this season. There is a very slim chance that the Panthers could see the post season, but not likely. In spirit of the game, give this one to the home team.
NEW YORK GIANTS vs INDIANAPOLIS COLTS:
How about Andrew Luck and the Colts? No one thought that they would be going to the playoffs with this being Luck’s first season back. The Colts are on a roll. New York has been known this year to come away with some great wins over teams. This will not be one of them. The Colts are on a mission. Look for Luck to take advantage of the weak pass defense of New York. The Giants may not play spoiler this week, but the Colts will to the Texans if the Colts win this game.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS vs MIAMI DOLPHINS:
One team is bad on the road. The other is great at home. Miami is another team with a slim chance at extending their season. If they can secure a win against a not so great Jacksonville team, they may still be in the talks. The Jags cannot depend on Blake Bortles for much of anything. They cannot depend on Leonard Fournette to be the savior on offense. They have yet to depend on defense to keep them in the games. Ryan Tannehill has revived this Miami squad since his return. This is why they are still in contention. Go with the numbers on this one.
LOS ANGELES RAMS vs ARIZONA CARDINALS:
There is absolutely no way that the Los Angeles Rams can slip up and let the Arizona Cardinals win. A first round bye is at stake. The Rams defense should prove too much for the Cards. The Cards do not have an answer for Todd Gurley either. Hate to sound so clean cut on it, but that is all it can be.
Los Angeles Rams
CHICAGO BEARS vs SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS:
If there was one game to pick a spoiler, it would be this one. The 49ers play with nothing to lose because, honestly, it is true. Chicago will have to stay focused on both sides of the ball. The Bears will not run away with it, but the 49ers are not at that level to compete.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS vs NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:
It is hard to tell if the Steelers are the real deal. If they are, a win here would be welcomed. If they are not, the chance to claim the AFC North title slows down. New Orleans is hot right now. If the Saints win today, they secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Pittsburgh has not completely “righted the ship”. It will be rough going at first. The Steelers will look in it at first. The Saints will pull away near the end though.
New Orleans Saints
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs SEATTLE SEAHAWKS:
Unfortunately, Russell Wilson will not be enough against the Chiefs. Despite the loud 12th man out there in CenturyLink Field, Patrick Mahomes and company will get it done. Just like the New Orleans Saints, the Kansas City Chiefs are trying to get home field advantage. The Hawks cannot matchup against the number two offense in the league. Defense has been lacking for the Chiefs, but they manage on that side of the ball. Good game to watch on a Sunday night.
Kansas City Chiefs
With only one week left in the regular season, it is do or die for some teams. This is the way I am choosing today. How about you? Good luck to your teams and pick
Check out my colleagues below.