I went a lousy 8-8 last week. That puts me at 106-70 for the season, for a winning percentage of just over 60%.
This week offers football fans some superb matchups. Of the ten early games, three are between division rivals battling for playoff spots. One of the late games features division rivals with winning records as well.
Now, on to the picks:
Sunday, Dec. 4
Atlanta 7-4 at Carolina 8-3 1:00 p.m.
Atlanta had lost two in a row before thumping the Lions on Thanksgiving. Carolina narrowly beat Buffalo last Sunday. The Falcons have had a few extra days to rest, but Carolina has the home-field advantage. This is a tough pick. But I’ll go with Atlanta because Vick has always played well against Carolina, and Atlanta has a superior overall running game. (Memo to Atlanta’s secondary: Be sure to double-cover Steve Smith!) FALCONS BY 1
Buffalo 4-7 at Miami 4-7 1:00 p.m.
Blah. I’ll pick Miami, but only because they are playing at home and the Bills are winless on the road this season. DOLPHINS BY 6
Cincinnati 8-3 at Pittsburgh 7-4 1:00 p.m.
The Steelers need to win this game. If they lose, they fall two games behind Cincinnati in the battle to win the AFC North. But if they win, they are in control of their own playoff destiny, because they would hold the head-to-head tie-breaker over the Bengals. I think Pittsburgh will win this one because they know they have to, and they are playing at home. STEELERS BY 4
Dallas 7-4 at N.Y. Giants 7-4 1:00 p.m.
Both teams are coming off tough overtime losses. If the Giants lose, not only do they fall a game behind Dallas in the NFC East, but Dallas would hold the head-to-head tie-breaker as well. The Giants are an impressive 5-1 at home this season. I believe this will be a close one; maybe even another overtime game! GIANTS BY 3
Green Bay 2-9 at Chicago 8-3 1:00 p.m.
Chicago has won seven in a row, and are 5-1 at home this season. They also have an incredibly-potent defense that has given up just 22 points in the last three games combined. Green Bay will be lucky to get into the Red Zone, much less the end zone. BEARS BY 13
Houston 1-10 at Baltimore 3-8 1:00 p.m.
Yawn. Neither team has won a single game on the road this season. So, because Houston in the road team in this matchup, I’ll go with Baltimore. RAVENS BY 5
Jacksonville 8-3 at Cleveland 4-7 1:00 p.m.
With Leftwich injured, and Fred Taylor not at 100%, I’ll take the Browns in a close one. CLEVELAND BY 2
Minnesota 6-5 at Detroit 4-7 1:00 p.m.
As always, I’ll pick Detroit. What is my “reasoning” this week? Well, Garcia is starting, for one thing. And the team should be fired up, playing against a division rival at home under a new head coach. Uh, yeah, that’s the ticket! LIONS BY 9
Tampa Bay 7-4 at New Orleans 3-8 (Baton Rouge, LA) 1:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay lost a close one last week, but it was against a very good team. New Orleans won a close one last week, but it was against a very bad team. I don’t know what any of that is supposed to mean, so I’ll just pick the Bucs. TAMPA BAY BY 8
Tennessee 3-8 at Indianapolis 11-0 1:00 p.m.
Let me repeat: Indy will not go undefeated this season. But they ain’t gonna lose to the lowly Titans. COLTS BY 24
Arizona 3-8 at San Francisco 2-9 4:05 p.m.
San Fran is playing at home, and Arizona is 1-4 on the road. So, I figure the 49ers will win this one. SAN FRANCISCO BY 11
Washington 5-6 at St. Louis 5-6 4:05 p.m.
Both teams are just about out of playoff contention. The Rams are 3-2 at home, which is respectable. Washington is 1-4 on the road, which is horrible. RAMS BY 10
Denver 9-2 at Kansas City 7-4 4:15 p.m.
This is where Denver’s schedule gets tough. Three of their final five games are on the road, where they are only 3-2 this year. Two of those three road games are against division rivals with winning records. The other road game is in frigid Buffalo. Having said that, I think they will be able to handle the Chiefs, but just barely. DENVER BY 3
N.Y. Jets 2-9 at New England 6-5 4:15 p.m.
New England is almost certain to make the playoffs by winning the pathetic AFC East. A case could be made that they only need to go 7-9 to win their division. And, playing at home this week against the horrid Jets, who are winless on the road, should provide the champs with their seventh win of the season. PATRIOTS BY 14
Oakland 4-7 at San Diego 7-4 8:30 p.m.
Let me say again: San Diego will make the playoffs. They’ve won four in a row, after starting out 3-4. They have scored more points than anybody except the undefeated Colts. They are a force to be reckoned with. CHARGERS BY 12
Monday, Dec. 5
Seattle 9-2 at Philadelphia 5-6 9:00 p.m.
If Seattle wins, they clinch their division title. Of course, if the Rams lose on Sunday, Seattle will have clinched the NFC West already! But even if that occurs, they will still play hard in this one. First of all, it’s MNF in front of a national audience. And second, they need to keep winning in order to capture home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. So I feel they are motivated enough to beat the Eagles. SEATTLE BY 7
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ESPN’s “expert” picks…
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Danny Sheridan’s odds…
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The Great Maxim Football Challenge…
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RJ’s results in previous weeks: