By Sex Panther
Gut check time Falcons. Nobody thought you would go 16-0, and now that you’ve lost everyone is saying “told you so.” Can you bounce back and dominate an inferior opponent, showing that you might not be 16-0, but you are for real.
The Pick: Falcons
Browns @ Cowboys
With the rest of their division in a rut, this is the chance for the Cowboys (and their easy second half schedule) to start quietly building their playoff run. Cleveland is an up and coming team, but I think the ‘Boys have enough to pull this one out.
The Pick: Cowboys
Packers @ Lions
Aaron Rodgers is on the kind of “fuck you and the horse you rode in on” tear right now that should make Lions defenders poop their pants. As long as we don’t have any Suh extracurriculars like last season’s Thanksgiving game, expect an old-fashioned but whooping.
The Pick: Packers
Bengals @ Chiefs
A true sign of how bad the AFC is this year: the Bengals are a wild card contender, and really need this win. The Chiefs, as we all know, are probably the worst team in football. Coming off a solid performance against the Giants, the Chiefs should be a win.
The Pick: Bengals
Jets @ Rams
What happens when the Jets are in turmoil? They win. Check the track record, this team has a history of feeding off adversity. Both Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan might have their job on the line in the next few weeks. As for the Rams, Sam Bradford just got his only legitimate threat in Danny Amendola back, and they look ready to make a run. Two items of note: 1. The Jets should play Amendola the same way they usually play his varsity doppelgänger Wes Welker—in other words, well. However, the Rams play well at home, and the Jets have already struggled against the tough defenses in the division (49ers, Seahawks). Expect the Rams line to harry Mark Sanchez into enough mistakes to win at home.
The Pick: Rams
Eagles @ Redskins
The rookie QB matchup we’ve all been waiting for, Foles v. Griffin! In a strange sort of way, I think this might actually be good for the Eagles. I mean, this is team full of dynamic (read: explosive yet inconsistent) players that could probably use a steady and vanilla (style of play, not skin color—I swear) play caller that isn’t trying to make plays. If Foles can just get the ball in the hands of his playmakers rather than trying to go for the big score, they Eagles might look better. This might also FINALLY force Andy Reid to give more touches to LeSean McCoy. If you look at how Buffalo is using CJ Spiller and New Orleans uses Darren Sproles, McCoy should be a combination of that. With all the concern about how poorly Vick and the secondary have played this year, McCoy’s weak season has really flown under the radar. Time to let Shady run free and show why he’s a top 5 back in this league. All that said, the Eagles seem to be not just followed by intentionally stalked by a dark cloud of misery, and the Redskins are rested.
The Pick: Redskins
Bucs @ Panthers
Dangerous game for the baby Bucs. One could refer to this as a trap game because the Panthers have been outplaying their record for about 6 weeks straight, but didn’t the Bucs just experience a trap game last week in San Diego and manage to pull through? Josh Freeman is playing at such a high level right now that until I see evidence to the contrary, I’m sticking with him.
The Pick: Bucs
Jags @ Texans
Could the Texans second string beat the Jags? God I hate how the Texans are just going to cruise to the #1 in the AFC. Next game already.
The Pick: Texans
Saints @ Raiders
The Saints need this one, I mean REALLY need this one. They (along with the Cowboys) are one of the two NFC sleepers for the second half, but unlike the Cowboys, the Saints have a bear of a schedule. They would need to keep up this high level of play, and have the Cowboys, Seahawks, Lions, Vikings, and Bucs all falter. Odds aren’t pretty, but as Andy Dufrasne said “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
The Pick: Saints
Chargers @ Broncos
If the Broncos win this one, we can officially give them the AFC West crown and a top 3 seed right? Good, glad we’re clear on this one.
The Pick: Broncos
Colts @ Patriots
These last three games are all doozies. The Colts-Patriots rivalry is dead right? It died last year. I even remember helping to shovel the dirt onto the casket. Guess what? It’s back in a big way, driving down Main Street in a limousine, drinking champagne and singing “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down”
Expect this one to be a nail biter. The Patriots defense can’t put anyone away, but the Colts defense should get exposed in this one too; they haven’t played an offense approaching the Patriots yet this year. If this game isn’t in the 30’s I’ll be shocked.
The Pick: Patriots
Ravens @ Steelers
I just read an ESPN headline that said “Without Big Ben and Ray Lewis, has this rivalry lost its luster?” I like to give credit where its due, and Ashley Fox, I couldn’t have written it better myself. However, I disagree with you. Yes, this isn’t the same black and blue grunt battle of the past. Both of these teams are better offensively than defensively, and both are better through the air than they are rushing right now. They aren’t going to win in the trenches, they’re going to do it with Mike Wallace and Torrey Smith. I believe that when healthy, the Steelers are better, but with Roethlisberger injured, this one has to go to a Ravens team that is tougher than I expected. To be 7-2 with what they’ve got its pretty impressive so far.
The Pick: Ravens
Bears @ 49ers
Now this one, it will be a mud-slinging bone crushing affair. With Jay Cutler on the shelf, I see the 49ers doing most of the crushing. They’ve responded well after poor performances this year, and lets be honest, they should have been able to beat the Rams. If the Niners are going to earn a bye and possibly catch the Falcons, they really need this one. As for the Bears, back to back losses to the Texans and 49ers might start that seed of doubt. That little voice that creeps into your ear and says We’re not good enough. We can’t get over the hump and win when it matters. When your team is led by Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, lets see where that leads. I’m not predicting the second half collapse, but lets just say that they will be looking up at the Packers come January.
The Pick 49ers