The NFL has shifted most of its schedule to today, giving all but two teams Christmas Day off. The Steelers host the St. Louis Rams, who haven’t exactly impressed this season, but they have one advantage coming into the game. Pittsburgh has benched Ben Roethlisberger in order to get his injured ankle some rest. Their loss last week blew a chance to put them in control of the division, but a win coupled with a Ravens loss could give them another opportunity. Even with the capable but less mobile Charlie Batch running the offense, the Steelers should have no problem with the Rams, 27-10.
Last week I snapped my streak of perfect weeks at three, going 3-3 and putting my season record at 63-28. Can I start another? Let’s see:
- Vikings at Redskins — The Vikings find themselves in a curious race with the Indianapolis Colts for the first pick in next year’s draft, and they’re likely to help their cause on the road at Washington. The ‘Skins just scored an upset over the Giants, and even if Bad Rex shows up this week, the Vikings are not going to win their last road game this season to make it only their second road win and third win overall. Washington wins 33-23.
- Broncos at Bills — Tim Tebow didn’t beat New England, but he’s improving his reads and his passes. He’s going on the road, but the Bills have had a collapse this season after a good start. The Bronco defense will keep them in the game, and you know what that means — a late Tebow miracle. Denver wins another cardiac case, 23-17.
- Browns at Ravens — Last week, I correctly predicted that Baltimore would find trouble in San Diego. At home, though, no one has beaten them this season, and Cleveland doesn’t play well enough to knock off their hated rivals. Ravens keep in control of the AFC North with an easy win, 24-10.
- 49ers at Seahawks — Early in the season, this game looked like a real yawner, but Seattle has picked up its efforts and has made it to .500 in a weak division. San Francisco just beat a beat-up Steeler team at home, but Seattle has won three in a row, including a drubbing of the Bears in Chicago. I’ll pick Seattle for an upset, 23-20.
- Bears at Packers — Green Bay just lost their first game in over a year in Kansas City, so the opportunity for a perfect season is now gone. That means the Pack might start looking for opportunities to rest their starters, but first they need to fix what didn’t work against the Chiefs. With the Bears playing bad football after Jay Cutler’s injury and losing four in a row, the opportunity to rest Rodgers might come in the third quarter. Pack 44, Bears 17.
- Falcons at Saints — This should be a better Monday night game than last week’s, and more meaningful. New Orleans is still fighting for the division title against Atlanta, which is also still fighting for a wild-card slot if the title fails them. The two teams match up pretty well, but the Saints are playing at home, where they have yet to lose, and Atlanta is only 4-3 on the road. Saints 35, Falcons 24.
Update: I can’t believe I wrote “Los Angeles Rams” in this post. It’s fixed now, but I briefly enjoyed my eggnog-fueled flashback to my 20s.