What better way to spend our bye week than scrutinizing the rest of the league? I might start doing these prediction posts on the reg with maybe a little more in-depth analysis if this one is popular and gets a good dialogue going. In the meantime, let's skip introductions and get down to business. I'll take a look at the importance (or lack thereof) of each game and pick a winner.
Denver @ San Francisco
Both teams are in pretty dire straits right now, trailing in their respective divisions. The train wreck that is the 49ers would do well just to squeeze out a win and save a little face. Denver, on the other hand, is lurking at the bottom of a pretty weak division with no clear dominant team now that the Chargers apparently suck; a win here at least puts them in a position to pull ahead if it turns out later in the season that the Chiefs and the Raiders are who we thought they were. With the Broncos' long shot at the playoffs riding on this game, I think they take this one from a bumbling SF team.
Buffalo @ Kansas City
The Bills pulled out a mystifying near-victory against a Ravens team that a lot of people thought was the best in the league. The upset didn't happen and everyone still thinks they suck, but something must have been working last Sunday. The Chiefs are a solid team but I'm expecting the underdog Bills to come to town with a new sense of purpose and snag their first win.
Washington @ Detroit
The Redskins are trying to make a some noise in what might be the league's most competitive division. Their win over Detroit this Sunday won't make anyone take them more seriously than they already do, but it will keep them very much in the running.
Carolina @ St. Louis
On paper, this is a meaningless game between two weak teams. While Carolina is quite possibly the biggest clusteryou-know-what in the league, though, the Rams are a reasonably talented team who have a real shot at pulling ahead in a weak division if they start gelling like they need to. St. Louis holds down the fort in this game on the way to a surprise playoff appearance.
Green Bay @ New York (Jets)
At the start of the season, I had both these teams pegged as powerhouses in their respective conferences. With the Jets it panned out; with Green Bay, it's looking a little iffy. I'm tempted to give the Packers the upset that puts them back in the Superbowl conversation, but I just don't see it. Jets win.
Miami @ Cincinnati
Both teams are better than their record suggests, but neither one is showing up in the playoffs so who cares? Bengals come back pissed after a rough loss to the Dirty Birds and win this one at home.
Jacksonville @ Dallas
Poor Jaguars: in a different division, they'd have a really good shot at coasting to the playoffs, but it ain't going to happen in the AFC South. I've heard them called the worst 3-4 team in the league (or something to that effect), but their losses have come to mostly legit teams, and they did beat the Colts. This is a statement game for both teams: the Jags want to prove they're the real deal and remain competitive, the Cowboys want to prove they don't totally suck. Ordinarily I'd say Dallas gets it together here, but I like the idea of the Cowboys in perpetual freefall. Jags win it.
Tennessee @ San Diego
Who would have thought that a San Diego win here would be considered an upset? They're struggling and the Titans have quietly beaten some pretty strong teams; whatever's wrong with the Chargers, I don't think they have it together enough to pull this one out.
Minnesota @ New England
I can't even bring myself to analyze this one. New England wins, you know it, I know it.
Seattle @ Oakland
Now this is an interesting one: two teams who are having a little more success than anyone really expected, but not quite enough to make either one a regular name in playoff discussions (although the Seahawks lead their division!). Maybe just because I can't deal with the thought of the Seahawks having the same record as the Falcons, I'm going to say the home team pulls this one out.
Tampa Bay @ Arizona
The best team in the NFC (yeah right) takes on an Arizona team that's thrown a bit of a wrench in the NFC South, losing big to the Falcons before exposing the Saints as a flash in the pan. As much as I hate to say it, Tampa Bay is playing like a team on the rise, while Arizona is playing like a team on one of those dangerous assembly-required rollers coasters you see at state fairs. A victory in the desert keeps Raheem blabbering for exactly one more week. But no more after that.
Pittsburgh @ New Orleans
We all know the Steelers are good, but what of the reigning champs, who are essentially sleepwalking their way through the upper echelons of most power rankings? With losses to the Browns and Cardinals and the fact that they haven't beaten any team but the Bucs by a margin of a touchdown or more, the Falcons' glorious Superdome upset is starting to look more and more like the beginning of the end for these jokers. A win here would go a long way toward silencing some of those negative murmurs, but a loss puts them at 4-4 in a division where they can ill afford to get caught slipping. Still, the Saints wouldn't be the Saints if they didn't pull something ridiculous out of their asses at a critical moment. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm expecting them to clamp down at home and keep themselves in the running for the division.
Houston @ Indiannapolis
This is about as ideal a Monday Night game as you get: two good teams in a divisional battle with real consequences. The Colts, like the Saints, are a team that will be treated as a playoff shoo-in unless and until they're mathematically eliminated. The Texans, like the Falcons, receive some lip service as a contender but are generally not taken too seriously. Both teams are tied at 4-2 and the stakes are pretty high: nobody wants to fall to third in the division, and the Colts definitely can't afford an 0-3 division record with 2 losses to the Texans. Should be a tough game but Houston beat them before and they can do it again. Texans with the minor upset.
Agree? Disagree? Care to go into more depth? Discuss!