Today, the Pittsburgh Steelers face the last remaining threat on their schedule with the New York Jets. The Jets have suddenly begun to stumble on both sides of the ball, losing badly to the New England Patriots on the road and then losing a dull, close defensive battle against the Miami Dolphins at home. Still, their defense can play tough, and it’s been a while since Ben Roethlisberger’s offense scored a TD. Pittsburgh’s D has outscored their O, but with Troy Polamalu out after an ankle sprain, their ability to hold back the Jets may be diminished. Still, Pittsburgh is playing tough and winning close ones lately, while the Jets have started looking inept on offense. I’ll go with the Steelers to win this one, 20-9.
Last week I went 5-1 for the second straight week, which makes me 54-31 for the season. Can I make it a perfect sweep this week? Let’s see:
- Bears at Vikings – This has disaster written all over it for Minnesota. They’ll play their first outdoor home game in almost 30 years, longer than most of their players have been alive, on a field that’s likely to be frozen solid, and with a quarterback who was their emergency QB for most of the year. They picked up Patrick Ramsey as insurance, but they may as well have held walk-on tryouts this week since Ramsey hasn’t played in the NFL for most of two seasons. The Bears got manhandled by the Patriots at home last week, but their defense will feast on Adrian Peterson without a credible Viking passing threat. Bears over the Vikes from TCF Bank Stadium’s Big Chill, 28-13.
- Eagles at Giants – This will be one of the marquee games this week, and the division championship rides on it. Both teams have looked unbeatable at times this season, but the Giants have had times when they looked awful. Vick seems to be slowing up a little towards the end of the season after getting hammered in a couple of games, and while the Eagles are good on the road, I think the Giants will find a way to edge them at home. Giants over Eagles, 27-24.
- Saints at Ravens – Baltimore barely escaped Houston after David Schaub ran their defense almost into collapse in the fourth quarter. If Schaub can do that, Drew Brees can do it even better. The Ravens offense isn’t good enough to keep Brees off the field, and if the Saints keep it close into the fourth quarter, they can beat Baltimore, 27-14.
- Patriots at Packers – This might have been a good game if Aaron Rodgers hadn’t gotten a concussion last week, but even if he plays, the Pack doesn’t stand much of a chance. The Patriots have hit a new level of play the last few weeks and have been undeniably the best team in the league. The Packers … not so much. This should be another rout for New England, 36-17.
- Redskins at Cowboys – Which team is a bigger mess, Washington or Dallas? With Mike Shanahan benching Donovan McNabb for Rex The Wonder Dog Grossman, whose last touch was a game-losing fumble, I’ll have to give that honor to the Redskins. How bad is it? McNabb dropped to #3 on the depth chart, as Shanahan wants to take a look at John Beck for next year, too. The ‘Skins don’t seem terribly concerned about actually winning a game, while Jason Garrett and the Cowboys want a shot at respectability. Washington players may just be hoping that Shanahan exits quickly. The Cowboys should pick up their second home win of the season by a score of 31-13.