Okay, so this wasn’t the year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They lost their last-gasp shot at making the playoffs last week in a close game against the Cincinnati Bengals, who clinched a wild card nod. Today the Cleveland Browns come to town, and the Steelers have to break a three-game losing streak to keep from ending up with a losing record for the year. Expect Pittsburgh to rebound and win 27-13 to finish 8-8.
Even though I went 2-4 for the second straight week, I’m doing a lot better than .500 this season; I’m now 64-35 despite the two-week losing streak. Let’s see if I can’t rebound, too, by focusing on games with playoff implications:
- Packers at Vikings (4:25 pm ET, Fox) -It’s a rare season when at least one of these two teams aren’t fighting for a playoff slot. In this case, the Pack has already won the division and needs to take the #2 seed to get a bye in the first round. The Vikes have to win today to secure a playoff slot, and if they do, they’d almost certainly have to play in Green Bay next week. The Vikes are tough at home, but the Pack is getting their late-season momentum back. Packers 31-23 over the Vikes.
- Eagles at Giants (1 pm, Fox) – New York ends up with the easiest draw in the playoff hunt today, facing the Philly trainwreck at home while Michael Vick takes the field in place of injured Nick Foles. If Eli Manning can’t take care of business today, the Giants have no business in the playoffs — and a win won’t guarantee them that, either. They still need Chicago, Minnesota, and Dallas to lose just to get the #6 wild-card slot. Giants win 33-17.
- Rams at Seahawks (4:25 pm, Fox) – This one is an intriguing matchup. The Rams are not a bad road team, and the Seahawks are a great home team. Seattle already has a playoff slot, but they need a win here and a San Francisco loss to win the division. The St. Louis defense has become tough over the last few games, giving up no more than 17 points, but that will probably end today. Seattle makes its move with a 27-24 win, perhaps in OT.
- Cardinals at 49ers (4:25 pm, Fox) – This should be an easy win for San Francisco, but they’ve struggled since their big win over New England earlier this month. A win gives them the division title, while a loss and a Seattle win forces them into a wild-card slot on the road. I’m guessing that the poor road play of Arizona becomes a factor today, and the 49ers get a relatively easy win to clinch the division, 35-21.
- Cowboys at Redskins (8:20 pm, NBC) – This might be the most impactful game today. A Redskins win clinches them the division title; a loss means they have to have Chicago and Minnesota lose to get a wild-card slot. Dallas wins the title if they beat Washington, but again, if Chicago and Minnesota both win, they’re out of the playoffs with a loss. Washington is 4-3 at home, while Dallas is 4-3 on the road. Dallas will probably get an early lead, but Washington comes back to win a close one and the division, 31-28.