Normally I’d lead off my weekend slate of picks with a rundown of the Pittsburgh Steelers game, but this time I’ve already got that win in the bag. The Steelers rolled over the hapless Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, bouncing back from a tough loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. Now, you know I would have picked them to win …. but I don’t suppose you’d allow me to take credit for the pick in this week. Darn it! I’ll have to wait for next Sunday, when the Steelers can clinch their division and a second-round bye with a win over the Cleveland Browns on the road.
Last week, I went 3-3 to bring my 2010 season record to 57-34. I’m getting close to my 61-35 record from last season. Can I surpass it? Here are a half-dozen half-baked predictions:
- Vikings at Eagles – The Vikings’ best chance to win is to have Brett Favre play QB. And that really should tell you all you need to know about this game. The Eagles are playing for playoff position; the Vikings are playing for draft position. Minnesota won’t win its second road game this season this week, or for that matter, probably not against Detroit the week after that. Eagles over the Vikes, 35-10.
- Ravens at Browns – As much as I’d like to see Baltimore lose, which would clinch the AFC North title for Pittsburgh, it’s rather unlikely. The Browns play decent at home, but the Ravens are playing good football. Ravens over Browns, 27-14.
- Colts at Raiders – Every game is a playoff game for both of these teams. One loss and they may as well buy their big-screen TVs for their playoff experience in 2010. The Colts play poorly on the road and aren’t terribly good outdoors; the Raiders play tough at home. Normally I wouldn’t pick against Peyton, but Indy is 28th in the league against the run, and I’m not sure Peyton’s going to get a whole lot of chances at the ball against the 2nd-best rushing team. Oakland over Indy, 28-17.
- Saints at Falcons – This will probably be the game of the week. The reigning champs came up short in Baltimore last week, and Atlanta is even tougher at home than the Ravens. Should be close, and it may come down to the last drive, but the Falcons are the Who Dat. Falcons over Saints, 27-23.
- Giants at Packers – The Packers have to win both of their final two games to get a playoff spot; the Giants are coming off of a huge, demoralizing loss to the Eagles. The Packers put a scare into the New England Patriots last week with seldom-used backup Mike Flynn, who came close to pulling off an upset against the NFL’s hottest team. Aaron Rodgers returns, and so should the Packers’ winning ways, especially at Lambeau Field. Packers over Giants, 24-17.
- 49ers at Rams – The most embarrassing aspect of this match between the 5-and-9ers and the 6-8 Rams is that this game has playoff implications for both teams. That’s how bad the NFC West is this year, and the AFC West isn’t all that much better. If the Rams win out and go 8-8, they win the division. If the 49ers win out for a 7-9 record, they could win the division. The two teams are evenly matched on paper, but San Francisco stinks on the road (1-6) while the Lambs get tougher at home (4-3). Sam Bradford continues to impress in St. Louis and they still have Stephen Jackson. They should get even for an overtime road loss in Frisco in week 10 by beating the 49ers, 24-14.