- AZ @ NO. This should be a great game. A few days ago, after the Packers lost to AZ in the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history, I predicted this game would be another huge scoring affair. Suddenly, I’m starting to think that won’t be the case. There will be a fair amount of points, but nothing like the GB/AZ game. NO will be fresh and AZ will be tired. So I expect the game to play out accordingly. Some good scoring by both teams in the first 3 quarters until AZ gets tired. Then, NO will continue scoring and AZ won’t. NO 34-24 .
- Balt @ Indy. It’s hard to bet against Balt. John Harbaugh gets those guys to play for him and play hard. (Though I have to say, John Harbaugh is starting to be one of those coaches who seems to always be sporting a “that’s-a-BS-call” look on his face.) Like the Jets though, I just have this feeling that the over-reliance on the running game will catch up with them and eventually lead to them getting blown out. Whenever a team has a quality run game, clock control and a strong defense can lead to nice victories yes, but rarely by big margins. For Balt, I think their secondary will struggle to defend Manning’s passing attack and at some point, in order to catch up, Balt will have to pass. They will succeed at first because Flacco isn’t bad and Derrick Mason is a quality older dude. But by the end of the 3rd quarter, Indy will have taken control. The big question in this game might be: what disparaging remarks will Ray Rice make about the city of Indianapolis after the bitter loss? Indy 38, Balt 16.
- NYJ @ SD. This one is a bit tough for me to be objective about because I’m developing a strong dislike for Rex Ryan and I want the guy to lose. I think the Jets are tough and could play SD tough for the first half. But SD is better and they are a more complete team. They have been on an incredible roll and I just can’t see the NYJ coming in with their clock-control game style and sticking it to high-flying SD. At some point, Mark Sanchez is going to screw up. As a coach, you can offer your full faith and confidence in a player all you want but when the player hasn’t yet developed his own foundation of confidence you might be building false confidence that could wind up collapsing in a heap. If I were a Jets’ fan, I would worry right now that Mark Sanchez and the Jets are like a skyscraper being built up bigger and bigger, but with a questionable foundation. I can just see Rex Ryan obnoxiously yelling “the sky is the f-ing limit…the f-ing limit” – then eating an extra meal. If they pull this one out, that foundation might fortify yes. But I think it’s far more likely that they get crushed here exposing a foundation that may in fact need a lot of work in the coming years. SD 37, NYJ 17.
- Dal @ MN. Very interesting situation because this game features 2 QBs who have been great this year, but who also have a history of chunking it in big games – throwing a few picks. Neither has had an atrocious game this year but both are certainly capable of it. Keys will be the Dallas pass rush. If Ware is contained, this could end up being a long, long day for Dallas (possible blowout). But if he’s not, Favre could fumble/throw picks and make this a game. In the end, I hate to say it, but I can see Favre and company winning mostly because the Dallas’ offense will get stuck when their running game goes nowhere. Also, fun match-up to watch will be Antoine Winfield on Miles Austin. Winfield is still hurting, but if he’s any healthier after having a week off, he could be a big reason the Dallas offense gets stuck. Definitely be on the lookout for the down-14-not-sure-what-the-hell-to-do-now look from Wade Phillips in this one. MN 27, Dal 14.