The Pittsburgh Steelers won a huge game last week on the road in Baltimore, beating the Ravens in the Blood & Guts Bowl 13-10 in a great defensive battle. This week, they have to guard against a letdown at home as the 2-10 Cincinnati Bengals come to Heinz Field. The Bengals have had a very disappointing season, but they’d like nothing better than to catch the Steelers napping. However, the Steelers also know that they have to win out to keep the Ravens from taking back the lead in the division, and they have a tough game next week against the Jets — which means they have to get wins. Look for a lot of Mendenhall and the running game and some big-time defensive plays from Pittsburgh to win this one, 28-13.
Last week I went 5-1 to push my record to 49-30. That’s three good weeks in a row; can I keep the streak going?
- Giants at Vikings – This game got moved to Monday night (7 pm) because of the snowstorm of the decade. The Giants’ flight got diverted to Kansas City, and the Metrodome needs more time to clear the roof before the game. That gives Brett Favre another day of rest for his injured shoulder, but he may still not be able to make it, according to ESPN. That would end the streak but give Tarvaris Jackson another game to prove he’s next year’s QB. The Giants may be tired out from the travel and they may have been inconsistent this season, but I’d expect them to beat the Vikes no matter which QB gets the call. Giants top the Vikings for the first loss in the Leslie Frazier era, 27-21.
- Patriots at Bears – The potential game of the week. Both teams lead their divisions, and both teams are playing consistently good football now. The Bears have fewer weapons, though, and Jay Cutler is no Tom Brady. Pats over Bears 31-22.
- Chiefs at Chargers – I’d normally pick the Chiefs, especially after San Diego’s flop against the Raiders last week, but Matt Cassel just got sacked by his own appendix. Brodie Croyle will start in his place, on the road against a division rival. Croyle is 0-9 as a starter in the NFL, and if he gets to 0-10 he picks up a set of steak knives. The Chargers have to win this game to have any shot at postseason play. Chargers over Chiefs 24-17.
- Eagles at Cowboys – Another great divisional game. The Cowboys have played better of late, topping Indianapolis in OT last week and moving their record to 4-8. The Eagles are a tougher nut to crack than the Colts this season, though, and the Cowboys don’t play well at home, going 1-5 this season. Dallas will make it tough, but Philadelphia will keep pace with the Giants by winning 31-27.
- Ravens at Texas – Baltimore doesn’t play well on the road, going only .500 while traveling. Houston is their next-to-last road game, and the Texans could match up well against the Ravens. A late-breaking story about a police raid on kick returner David Reed’s house (narcotics-related) may have them a little distracted, and last week’s loss to Pittsburgh may also have the Ravens off their game as well. I’ll pick the tough Texans for an upset at home, 20-14.
Update: The Vikings won’t be playing the Giants at the Metrodome on Monday, either. The roof tore in three places, and now they’ll either have to play at the University of Minnesota’s new TCF Stadium — which is open-air — or in another NFL stadium.
Update II: The Vikings-Giants game will take place in Detroit; Vikings fans here will get refunds, while tickets will be given away for free in Detroit. That’s a bad deal for the Vikes, as Detroit is hardly neutral territory. Why not Indianapolis?