Jazz: Week 12 wasn’t a shutout, but it wasn’t that bad either. I settled back to a 5-2 margin, bringing me to 50-34 for the regular season and not opening the door too widely for Ed to zoom ahead. Can I hang on for five more weeks? I’ve invested in a scrying mirror and some chicken livers, so we’ll see. As for the Jets… enough said.
Ed: Well, at least I wasn’t picking the Thursday game. Who’d have guessed that the Saints would only score 10 on the Cowboys? Anyway, I went 5-2 last week too, but that still leaves me at 46-38, four games behind Jazz. If I don’t start picking it up, I’m going to miss my shot at a big comeback.
Jazz: The Jets travel to play the Titans in Tennessee today (4:05 pm, CBS) and they’re showing up as an 8 point underdog. That’s probably for good reason because last I heard, we’d not only lost our starting QB to injury but our backup wasn’t practicing either. The Titans have been unpredictable to put it mildly, but even at their worst this season they put more points on the board and allow fewer than New York. With apologies to my team, I’m taking the Titans in a defensive struggle, 19-13. The Steelers host the Chargers (8:20 pm, NBC) in the Sunday Night Football matchup and both teams are in tight fights in their respective divisions so this game will be important in terms of the playoffs. Pittsburgh is probably a bit down in the mouth after losing to Denver, but necessity is the mother of invention. On paper, this should be a close one, but I’m going to go with home field advantage and take the Steelers in a 34-31 shootout. The Vikings are playing the Patriots in New England (4:25 pm, FOX) in a match I’d dearly love to see Minnesota win. Even though the Pats are the favorites, I keep thinking of how they played against the Jets last week. Yes, they won, but they looked awful. Minnesota may not be the powerhouse everyone was expecting at the beginning of the season, but they’ve put up some solid numbers. I’m going to take a shot at an upset pick here and take the Vikings 27-20.
Ed: The Titans and the Jets have both been inconsistent this year, especially on offense. The Jets are ranked 29th and the Titans 30th on O, but Tennessee’s defense has been much better this year than New York’s. Titans win at home, 24-13. The Steelers now have to start winning again against a very tough schedule the rest of the year, starting with the 8-3 Chargers. Expect Pittsburgh’s defense and home-field advantage to make the difference here with a 27-23 win. As much as I’d like to see the Vikes beat the Pats, Minnesota’s not the same team on the road and New England’s tough at home, especially in cold weather. Pats should win this 30-21.
Jazz: And four more for a hand of seven card stud.
- Panthers at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, FOX) – I thought the Panthers were going to run away with their division but the Saints had other plans. At this point, Carolina needs a miracle to stay in the wildcard race. That miracle arrives in the form of Tampa Bay, who will give up a home loss just when Carolina needs it most. Give me the Panthers, 30-20.
- Ravens at Falcons (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Ravens are approaching must-win territory. Absent Pittsburgh suddenly tanking, they’re looking like the last invite to the wild card game and can’t afford to give this one away. Atlanta is the favorite, but just barely. It’s going to be tough to deliver a road win at this point, but I’m going to take a chance on a slight upset and go with the Ravens in a close one, 21-17.
- Bears at Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Giants are effectively out of contention, but they’re playing so much better than they were for the first three-quarters of the season that they’re in a position to be spoilers. But don’t look for them to spoil the good times back in the Windy City. Even with home field advantage, they won’t overcome Chicago’s front line. Da Bears win this one 27-22.
- Redskins at Eagles (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) – The Redskins and the Eagles are still only one and two games behind the Cowboys respectively so they’re still technically in the hunt for the NFC East. Also, neither are out of the wildcard chase. The Eagles are the defending champs, however, and bring a one touchdown advantage into this game, along with their notoriously, um… enthusiastic fans. I’ll go with the safer looking bet here and take Philadelphia 30-24 in what should be a fun Monday night game.
- Panthers at Buccaneers (1:00 pm, FOX) – Carolina’s only won one game on the road this year, and Tampa Bay is racking up the most yards per game on offense. Put me down for an upset here as the Bucs surprise the Panthers, 28-24.
- Ravens at Falcons (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Steelers will be rooting for Atlanta in this game, certainly, and it’s not out of the question for the Falcons. To win, though, the Falcons will have to step up on defense. Baltimore’s not great on the road, so I’ll pick the Falcons to edge out the Ravens 21-17.
- Bears at Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Giants have been playing better of late, but Da Bears are just going to be too tough. Chicago 26-21 over New York.
- Redskins at Eagles (Monday, 8:15 pm, ESPN) – The Redskins have lost three out of the last four games, and the Eagles lost three out of the last five. Philly hasn’t beaten a .500 team since Week 3, and they nearly got beaten by the Giants last week. It’s not quite clear why they’re favored by a TD in this game, but I think Washington will play them tough, especially on defense. Redskins 23-20.