This year will go down as one of the mostly contested playoff runs of all time. So many teams are still alive for a possible playoff birth. The NFL made sure to overload the back part of the NFL season with a lot of divisional matchups. Genius! It works out perfectly with the tightly contested divisions. That scheduling decision is what brings us matchups this week like Jet vs. Patriots, Steelers vs. Ravens, and Falcons vs. Bucs.
This NFL week has a playoff feel to it. Any time you have a playoff type atmosphere in a football game, it makes for great TV. All I can say is, enjoy this week and the final 5 week sprint to the playoffs. It's going be like nothing we have ever seen before. Now, on to this weeks match-ups.
* You will notice that we've placed a number in parentheses next to each team. That number is the teams Power Ranking. To see the entire NFL Power Rankings (Net Points) or where that team stands relative to others, just click on the number.
(8-3) vs. (2-9)
As Reggie Bush starts to regain his legs and get comfortable back in the offense the Saints will get their offense back to the 2010 form. New Orleans plays a team game and knows how to win. This is the complete opposite of the Bengals.
Cincy seems to be more concerned with keeping Batman and Robin happy, instead of making a game plan to actually win the game. If they got their running game more involved and Carson Palmer didn't have to worry about how many times the duo touched the ball, then the Bengals wouldn't be last in their division. Palmer is a problem in his own way but that's for another article. - Saints Win 37-23
(8-3) vs. (2-9)
The Bears defense showed so much discipline against the Eagles. These defensive players trust each other under Rod Marinelli and that allows them to know where each other will be. But the key to a sustain playoff push for Chicago, lies in Jay Cutler's mind. If he doesn't push the envelope, and just takes what's in front of him, they'll go along way.
The Lions have hung around most games but now with the 3rd string QB getting ready to take over the reins, I can't see the improving defense picking up all this slack. Expect the Lions to be left in the dust, with Drew Stanton getting the start. - Bears Win 28-13
(4-7) vs. (7-4)
The 49ers are a game out of first place. After the way the season began, who actually thought that was possible? Mike Singletary did. He said they would still win this division. But, with all world back, Frank Gore being done for the year, it's going to be hard for this team to get the same production out of aging Brian Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon.
Seems as everyone has already moved on to Atlanta as the best team in the NFC. The Packers seem fine with not having the limelight. Green Bay got beat in a close game by a really good team. This team is still one of the best in the league. They'll remind people of that this week. - Packers Win 33-13
(3-8) vs. (7-4)
There has been a lot of turmoil in Denver the last few weeks. When you factor that in with a lot of losing, it usually turns out to be a formula that equals someone getting fired. McDaniels seems to caught up in his passing attack to realize that when he opened the last two games with heavy rushing attacks, they went straight down the field for touchdowns. Then he neglected it the rest of the game.
KC has had 2 great running backs all year but it's the improved play of QB Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe that is making this a high octane offense. The defense is filled with talented youth, that can make plays but will also get caught out of position at times. - Chiefs Win 31-21
(4-7) vs. (6-5)
Jake Delhomme will make his second straight start... Cleveland fans make plans to do anything other than watch the Browns with Delhomme at QB. The fans of this franchise have been unfortunate. Just as soon as they find a QB that can make throws and is fun to watch, he gets injured and they have to watch Jethro. They still have Peyton Hillis and that's worth suffering through a Delhomme led game to watch. Also, you get to see your rookie CB, Joe Haden get a start.
Brandon Marshall will try and get back on the field but unfortunately for him, Chad Henne will be there to welcome him back. Miami seems to have learned that they need the rushing attack, to stay competitive in games. I don't know why they got a way from this a few weeks ago. - Dolphins Win 21-10
(2-9) vs. (4-7)
I have been tough on the Bills all year. The last month or so, they have been competitive and fun to watch. Now they get back 1st round pick, CJ Spiller. If he can contribute to what Fred Jackson has been doing and Fitzpatrick has been doing in the passing game, they will spoil a lot of teams playoff hopes. Also, kudos goes out to the job Chan Gailey has done with this team with limited talent.
Brett Favre wants to make the season worth coming back for. As long as they are not eliminated from a wild card chance, he'll do everything is his powers to pull out win. The talent is obviously more tilted towards the Vikings. Leslie Frazier could rejuvenate this team but it's still a long way to 9-7. - Vikings Win 28-24
(5-6) vs. (7-4)
Mike Shanahan has done a decent job in the win / loss column this year, with the talent he was given. He needs to get some defensive help in bad. He'll also have a completely different looking receiving corps next year. What happened to Chris Cooley this year? This team can find ways to hang around in games but it's the least talented team in this division.
If New York wants to keep place with the Eagles, they'll have to win the games that they are suppose to. This is one of those games. The Giants should be able to run and pass all over the Redskins 'D'. Their defense also shouldn't have any problems shutting down the receivers for the Redskins. That's what should happen but the Giants have been suspect lately and it's hard to tell, who'll show up on Sunday. - Giants Win 27-20
(6-5) vs. (5-6)
I was the biggest supporter of firing Jack Del Rio. But, I don't know how this team keeps winning games. Something has to be said for a coach to take an over matched team out there week after week and come out with wins. This is another game that they shouldn't win on paper but I won't bet against them.
The Titans are like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Each week they self destruct a little more. So, if Del Rio is getting the praise for winning with limited talent, then shouldn't Fisher get the blame for losing with a ton of talent? Kerry Collins should be playing today and anything is an upgrade over Rusty Smith. I think the Titans get back on path this week and pull even with the Jags. - Titans Win 28-27
(5-6) vs. (6-5)
Who knows which QB will be taking snaps this week in Oakland and who cares. Just as long as they get Jacoby Ford involved early and often. He has become their only weapon with Darren McFadden struggling the last few weeks. They'll need McFadden to get back to his early season form, if they want any chance to make this even resemble a football game.
I don't know which is becoming more impressive. The improving stellar defense or the offense that keeps chugging along no matter who gets injured. Malcolm Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, and Mike Tolbert might not play. Philip Rivers says that's fine, just throw a jersey on a 6'5 beer vendor and I'll get him the ball. - Chargers Win 35-17
(5-6) vs. (3-8)
The Rams look as the only team in the NFC West with a little consistency. That's weird to say, seeing how they are only 5-6. Still, I would be surprised if anyone else took this division from them. So, I say congrats to rookie Sam Bradford for leading his horrific team to a playoff berth.
Arizona is horrible. I don't know any other way to state it. I can't sugar coat it. They are the worst of the worst. Their is Larry Fitzgerald and a bunch of scrubs. Job well done on running a Super Bowl participant into the ground. - Rams Win 24-14
(3-8) vs. (6-5)
Fresh off Roy Williams playing the Turkey in a Thanksgiving play, the Cowboys try to bounce back. At this point of the season, it's clear to see that Dallas is playing better than Indy and has more talent at every position except QB. The Cowboys seem to be rallying around interim coach Danny Bonaduce. Dallas needs to not get carried away with their talented receivers and feed their talented backs. Eat up the clock and keep Peyton on the sideline.
The Colts are never out of a game with Peyton Manning at QB. It's just getting to the point where it's too much for Peyton to even overcome. The Colts defense has struggled to stop anyone's rushing attack and there's no reason to think they'll be able to stop the Cowboy's talented backfield. If they can, they'll still need to find an answer for the trio of receivers. - Upset Alert Cowboys Win 23-20
(1-10) vs. (5-6)
Carolina doesn't get the privilege again of facing the QB that they made, Jake Delhomme. He basically kept them in their first winnable game in a long time. They have at least found out that they have another talented back in Mike Goodson. Hopefully, they'll be smart enough to move one of their big 3 this offseason to sure up other positions of need. Whenever, I start talking about next season in a team's game breakdown, it basically means there not worth talking about this season.
Seattle wouldn't be worth talking about either if it wasn't for their tightly contested division. You have to give it to them, they are still right there in the thick of the race, even without having much of a team. With them drawing the Panthers this week, there's a good chance that they could be alone in first place again. Unless, Matt Hasselback has one of his Jake Delhomme moments. - Seahawks Win 23-10
"Water Cooler" Games
(9-2) vs. (7-4)
Atlanta is now wearing the crown that nobody wants, the NFC's best team crown. Other teams that have wore this, have now fallen from glory. At first it was Green Bay, then the Giants, and last was the Eagles. Each time, they lost shortly thereafter. Could it be the Falcons turn. Matt Ryan is definitely poised to have a very good postseason but even the best have off games.
The Bucs happen to fall into one of the toughest divisions in the NFC. They are having a great year but find themselves looking up at Atlanta and New Orleans. They have all the pieces but they are young and this can work for you or against you. I think this youthful team, will respond with their backs up against the wall. - Upset Alert Bucs Win 27-24
(8-3) vs. (8-3)
The Steelers have been struggling of late. They luckily got a miracle win against Buffalo and the were throttled against New England and it has fans asking if this team is legit. This is a rivalry game and one that usually gets ugly. This game is known for being a defensive battle but both teams have shown weaknesses to the passing game.
This game matches up two of the best safeties in the game. Troy Polamulu and Ed Reed. It could come down to one of them making a play, for their team to win. Baltimore has been known to play good defense and pound the ball on the ground. To get this win, Joe Flacco might need to let his arm loose. If he does... - Ravens Win 24-21
Game of the Week
(9-2) vs. (9-2)
There were a few games that could have been the game of the week this week but this one goes down on Monday Night and it has too many story lines. New York and Boston have a hated rivalry with each other. They are both sports mecca's. It doesn't matter what sport is being played, if you are in Boston wearing a Yankees hat or Jets, you are going to hear it. The same goes for the Red Sox / Patriots fans in New York. There want be a lack of trash talk this week.
The Jets come into this game with a knack of winning close games. They have in the back of their minds, that they'll always come out on top, no matter who the opponent or how far they are down. The Jets have a solid offense that can score through the air and on the ground. But, it's the defense that is the personality of this team. They won't be pushed around they can make the type of plays that can win games. New York also has a victory over the Patriots, early on this season. Another win here, goes a long way to a division title and a #1 seed in the playoffs.
The Patriots offense has really gotten going the last few weeks. They have been embarrassing defenses, including the Steelers a couple weeks ago. Pittsburgh doesn't have the corners that the Jets do but New England still has the tools to throw all over the field. Another great storyline that most of the NFL fans are aware of, is the Danny Woodhead story. Woodhead got his fame in college becoming the all time leading rusher. Still people doubted his size and race, coming into the NFL. The Jets gave him a shot but in the end, they valued the draft pick they used on Joe McKnight more than the talent of Woodhead. New England was more than happy to scoop up Woodhead. Most people thought that the move was to get Jets' secrets. It actually turned out that Woodhead would become a very successful #1 RB for the Pats. It should be a good game but in the end I feel that the Jets defense should be the deciding factor. - Jets Win 31-27
I'll be back next Sunday morning week for Week 12 of NFL GameDay. Don't forget to check out NFL Rage mid week where I vent my frustrations at some of the dumbest calls and decisions from this week's games. NFL Gameday - It's easy like Sunday Morning! - Jayson Braddock
Jayson appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com.
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