***SUNDAY, JANUARY 2ND, 2011***
Carolina 2-13 at Atlanta 12-3 1:00 PM [Line: FALCONS BY 14.5]
The NFC’s best vs. the NFL’s worst. An Atlanta victory means they win the NFC South and secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
RJ’s Pick: Atlanta by 21
Pittsburgh 11-4 at Cleveland 5-10 1:00 PM [Line: STEELERS BY 5.5]
The Steelers need a victory in order to win the AFC North and clinch a playoff bye.
RJ’s Pick: Pittsburgh by 10
Minnesota 6-9 at Detroit 5-10 1:00 PM [Line: LIONS BY 3]
The Lions have won three in a row. Brett Favre is listed as doubtful to play in what would presumably be the last game of his career.
RJ’s Pick: Detroit by 8
Oakland 7-8 at Kansas City 10-5 1:00 PM [Line: CHIEFS BY 3.5]
The Chiefs are 7-0 at home this season.
RJ’s Pick: Kansas City by 9
Miami 7-8 at New England 13-2 1:00 PM [Line: PATRIOTS BY 5]
This game is meaningless to the Patriots (who have already clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs), and Miami is 6-1 on the road this season, so I’m picking the upset.
RJ’s Pick: Miami by 1
Tampa Bay 9-6 at New Orleans 11-4 1:00 PM [Line: SAINTS BY 8]
If the Saints lose, they are the NFC’s #5 seed. If the Saints win and Atlanta wins, they are still the NFC’s #5 seed. If the Saints win and Atlanta loses, they win the NFC South and get a playoff bye. If the Saints win and both Atlanta and Chicago lose, they win the NFC South, get a playoff bye, and secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Tampa Bay’s only route to the postseason is with a win here and losses by both Green Bay and the Giants.
RJ’s Pick: New Orleans by 3
Buffalo 4-11 at New York Jets 10-5 1:00 PM [Line: JETS BY 1]
The Jets will be the AFC’s #6 seed unless they win here and either the Steelers or the Ravens lose, in which case they will be the #5 seed.
RJ’s Pick: New York Jets by 6
Cincinnati 4-11 at Baltimore 11-4 1:00 PM [Line: RAVENS BY 9.5]
If the Ravens win and the Steelers lose, they win the AFC North and clinch the #2 seed, a playoff bye, and at least one home playoff game. The Bengals have won two straight and would love to play spoiler against their division rival. A win here might even save Marvin Lewis’ head coaching job.
RJ’s Pick: Baltimore by 4
Jacksonville 8-7 at Houston 5-10 4:15 PM [Line: TEXANS BY 3]
Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard are out for the Jaguars, who need a win and a Colts loss in order to win the AFC South and make the playoffs.
RJ’s Pick: Jacksonville by 2
New York Giants 9-6 at Washington 6-9 4:15 PM [Line: GIANTS BY 3.5]
The imploding Giants need a win and a Packers loss to make the playoffs as the #6 seed. A third straight loss would likely end Tom Coughlin’s tenure as head coach.
RJ’s Pick: New York Giants by 7
Dallas 5-10 at Philadelphia 10-5 4:15 PM [Line: EAGLES BY 3]
The Eagles are locked into the #3 seed in the NFC, so expect Kevin Kolb to start at quarterback. Stephen McGee will likely get his first NFL start at quarterback for the Cowboys.
RJ’s Pick: Dallas by 4
Arizona 5-10 at San Francisco 5-10 4:15 PM [Line: 49ERS BY 6]
The stinker of the week.
RJ’s Pick: Arizona by 1
Chicago 11-4 at Green Bay 9-6 4:15 PM [Line: PACKERS BY 9.5]
The Bears are guaranteed at least the #2 seed in the NFC. They would capture homefield advantage throughout the playoffs with a win here and losses by both Atlanta and New Orleans. The Packers can earn the #6 seed with a win.
RJ’s Pick: Green Bay by 6
Tennessee 6-9 at Indianapolis 9-6 4:15 PM [Line: COLTS BY 9.5]
The Colts win the AFC South with a victory here.
RJ’s Pick: Indianapolis by 15
San Diego 8-7 at Denver 4-11 4:15 PM [Line: CHARGERS BY 3.5]
The Chargers must really wish they played in the NFC West instead.
RJ’s Pick: Denver by 2
ZOMG GAME OF THE YEAR: Saint Louis 7-8 at Seattle 6-9 8:20 PM [Line: RAMS BY 3]
Will the NFC West be won by a .500 team, or a below .500 team? Will it be the Rams or the Seahawks who have the honor of getting humiliated in front of their home crowd and a national television audience in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs? Those questions, and many more, will be answered on Sunday night.
RJ’s Pick: Saint Louis by 8