There are a lot of very difficult picks this week. I've managed to stay at or above .500 every week, but this has disaster written all over it. We'll just have to see how it plays out.
Overall: 99 - 62
New Orleans (8 - 2) 27 @ Atlanta (2 -8) 24: (This pick appeared in a prior blog before the game). The Falcons have had what is possibly the most disappointing season in the league, starting with a loss to the Saints in week 1. Since then, injuries have mounted and Atlanta has fallen totally out of contention for the postseason. Meanwhile, New Orleans has continued to roll, now posing a credible challenge to Seattle for the top seed in the NFC. Those two teams play next week in Seattle, but for that game to have real meaning, the Saints need to defeat the Falcons tonight. This is a true rivalry game, going back to their days as expansion teams in the NFL. Fans from both sides travel to the opposing city, creating more of a college atmosphere than the usual professional environment. Still, the Falcons are short on weapons and the Saints have plenty of them. This game promises to be much closer than one would think, given the records. Even though I'm tempted to take the Falcons in an upset, especially because Atlanta is the home team on a short week. But I'll take the Saints to find a way to prevail.
Pittsburgh (4 - 6) 20 @ Cleveland (4 - 6) 17: The Steelers are all of a sudden in the mix for the AFC North title, but still looking up at Cincinnati. For them to make a legitimate run, they have to win today in Cleveland. The Browns had some life earlier in the season, but I believe, even on the road in a big rivalry game, that Pittsburgh can take Cleveland.
Tampa Bay (2 - 8) 24 @ Detroit (6 - 4) 27: The Lions were embarrassed in a couple of ways last week and the Bucs are coming off two wins in a row. Detroit should be able win what will probably be a close one.
Minnesota (2 - 8) 20 @ Green Bay (5 - 5) 23: I don't see the Pack winning many games without injured QB Aaron Rodgers, but they're at home today against a mediocre Vikings squad. I'll go with the home team.
San Diego (4 - 6) 17 @ Kansas City (9 - 1) 21: The Chiefs return home after suffering their first loss at Denver. The Chargers, despite having pretty good talent, just can't seem to maintain any consistency. Kansas City's defense was beaten last week, but still handled Manning pretty well. Look for the Chiefs to take care of business at home.
Chicago (6 - 4) 27 @ St. Louis (4 - 6) 20: The Rams are a very tough, physical team, but so are the Bears. St. Louis is not really in the playoff picture, but if they get on a run, maybe they can squeak in. I don't have a good reason for going with Chicago, but I am.
Carolina (7 - 3) 24 @ Miami (5 - 5) 27: This can be a little bit of a trap game for the Panthers. They're coming off one of the biggest wins in recent history in a big Monday night game against the Patriots. The Dolphins seem to have weathered the storm from the controversy surrounding the Jonathan Martin ordeal.
New York Jets (5 - 5) 20 @ Baltimore (4 - 6) 17: I don't know what to make of the Jets. That defense plays well one week, then gets scorched the next. Just like the Steelers, the Ravens are still in the AFC North conversation. But I like the Jets to bounce back. I have no idea why.
Jacksonville (1 - 9) 26 @ Houston (2 - 8) 28: Does anyone really care about this game? Heck, the Jacksonville television station would probably rather show a different game.
Tennessee (4 - 6) 24 @ Oakland (4 - 6) 28: The Raiders have four wins and I can't explain how. The Titans have six losses and I can't explain why. I'm taking Oakland in this game and I can't explain why.
Indianapolis (7 - 3) 27 @ Arizona (6 -4) 31: Which Colts team shows up in the desert today? It's hard to say, but it's easier to find people that think Indy will drill the Cardinals. I'm not in that camp, because I like the way Arizona plays at home.
Dallas (5 - 5) 30 @ New York Giants (4 - 6) 24: This one is a tough call, but the Giants aren't a very good home team, the Cowboys are coming off a bye and New York still isn't very good, despite four wins in a row against poor teams. I never like picking the Cowboys, but I will today.
Denver (9 - 1) 20 @ New England (7 - 3) 27: Peyton Manning just doesn't play well in cold weather. Compound that with his poor record against New England, and you get a recipe for disaster for the Broncos.
San Francisco (6 - 4) 30 @ Washington (3 - 7) 24: RGIII caused a stir in Washington with his post-game comments last week. The 'Niners are struggling and need a win to stay in touch of the leading teams in the NFC. I think the 'Skins just don't have what it takes to beat San Francisco in a game where the Forty-Niners pretty much need to win.