A little extra time tonight so I wanted to take a look at the NFL games that have major playoff implications this weekend.
Miami Dolphins (6-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5)
The resilient Dolphins downed the Patriots last week and can really cement their claim to the wild card spot (or better) with a win against the Jaguars. The Jags have been inconsistent, but a home game that would make them the favorite for a wild card spot should be motivation. Tough game to call, but I would lean towards the pesky Dolphins.
Denver Broncos (8-4) at Indianapolis Colts (12-0)
The Broncos have quietly righted their ship and remain only 1 game behind the Chargers for the AFC West title. The Colts have won every game, and plenty of them they should have lost. This will be a real test of the Broncos defense. It is not a make or break game for Denver, they are in a good playoff scenario now, but a big game against an opponent you will likely see in the playoffs is a big one. Upset special as the Broncos pull off the win.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) at Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
While not a huge contest as far as playoff positioning goes, this game is a big one for the young Bengals. A tough road game at an elite NFC team will tell how good the Bengals are. I think the Viking s win here, but it would not be shocking for the Bengals to win.
Carolina Panthers (5-7) at New England Patriots (7-5)
The reeling Patriots come home for a game against a puzzling Panther team. Carolina has been all over the place this season and it is hard to know what kind of game they will bring. The Patriots have been about the same all year; streaky offense and porous defense. The game stands as a crossroads for the Pats after a week where several New England players were publicly discussing their malcontent. Wow can things fall apart fast. I think the Patriots win here, due more to Carolina than their own efforts.
San Diego Chargers (9-3) at Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
I said earlier in the year that San Diego was finished. Of course they have not lost since that time! The Cowboys are the best team I have ever seen that fail to play up to their ability. The collapse against the Giants last week was especially bad. The Cowboys need this win in a big way, but I do not think they will get it.
Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) at New York Giants (7-5)
The Eagles have a chance to grasp the division lead. The Giants need every win to get into the playoffs. A Sunday night game with plenty on the line! This is NFL fun at its best. Hard to pick this one, but I will take the Eagles in a close game.
Arizona Cardinals (8-4) at San Francisco 49ers (5-7) Monday Night
Another team I was harsh on, the Arizona Cardinals, have slowly played back into their form of late last year. A huge dismantling of the Vikings was about as impressive as it could be. The Cardinals can close the curtain on the 49ers Monday night and I think they will.
-Defending champion Pittsburgh is unlikely to return to the playoffs this year. When Troy Polamalu is not on the field this team is completely different. Poor defense as of late and a stalled offense plague the Steelers.
-The Baltimore Ravens have fallen apart. After a great start the defense is showing it's age and they are not running the ball enough. Another shocker.
-Will New Orleans and/or the Colts go undefeated? I think neither will. I picked the Broncos this weekend to win against the Colts, but they could win that game. The Saints now have breathing room over the Vikings for home field advantage, so that should allow them to slow down a bit. If either team really wants to go unbeaten, they can, but I think 1 or 2 losses is the best way to go. I can remember a 2007 season where the whole "undefeated" thing became a real nightmare!
-This year is going to be very competitive at playoff time.
Have a good night.