The teams still in the playoff picture are dwindling, but there are also some tight division races which can get sorted out this week. Depending on the early games, some teams will still have something to play for and others will see their hopes for the postseason either diminished or dashed. I'm coming off a couple of decent weeks
Overall: 153 - 88 - 1
Miami (8 - 6) 23 @ Buffalo (5 - 9) 20: Miami hits the road in a must-win game as they try to come down from the big victory over New England. Weather could play a factor, but right now the Dolphins are the better team and should be able to pull this one out. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win and if some other games go their way.
Minnesota (4 - 9 -1) 21 @ Cincinnati (9 - 5) 27: The Vikings shocked the Eagles last week despite missing Adrian Peterson. This time they have to travel to Cincinnati, with the Bengals trying to bounce back from a loss at Pittsburgh that kept them from taking a big step toward a division title. Now, a loss to Minnesota and a Baltimore win over New England sets up a potential winner take all meeting against the Ravens to end the season. That's not a scenario the Bengals envisioned a week ago. Of course, a win and a Ravens loss results in a division title. I like the Bengals defense to step up this week and give them the win.
Indianapolis (9 - 5) 20 @ Kansas City (11 - 3) 37: This is one of five games this weekend where both teams still have plenty to play for. The Colts, by virtue of their win over Denver earlier this season, still has a remote chance at the number one seed in the AFC. Of course, they need to win out and get a lot of help. The Chiefs are in better position, but still need a Bronco loss because of their two defeats by Denver. The Colts aren't really clicking on offense, not a good thing heading against KC, whose offense is starting to put up big numbers. In what could be a preview of a first round playoff game, I'm going with the Chiefs in a romp.
Tampa Bay (4 - 10) 24 @ St. Louis (6 - 8) 31: I think a .500 season for the Rams would be a pretty good accomplishment, and I'm sure that coach Jeff Fisher is using that as motivation for a team coming off a big win over the Saints. The Buccaneers have rebounded nicely from a dismal start, but they seem to be wearing out.
Cleveland (4 - 10) 17 @ New York Jets (6 - 8) 21: Neither team can make the playoffs, but just like the Rams, a .500 season would be pretty good for the Jets, who back in August was given no chance at any kind of success in 2013. I can't figure these guys out, but Cleveland is only 1 - 5 on the road this season. I'll go with the home team to find a way to win.
Dallas (7 - 7) 27 @ Washington (3 - 11) 30: Last season the Redskins finished off a 7 - 0 run by beating the Cowboys in week 17 to win the NFC East. This year, Washington is in total disarray, but it's still a rivalry game with Dallas on the ropes after letting last week's game get away from them in the second half. Will Dallas come back and play to their ability, or will the 'Skins step up and end the Cowboys' postseason hopes? Good question.
New Orleans (10 - 4) 20 @ Carolina (10 - 4) 28: Oh my, what a big game. Both teams control their own destinies for the NFC South crown and a second seed in conference that brings with it a week off and home game in the playoffs. The Saints have the upper hand by virtue of its win over the Panthers a couple of weeks ago. They clinch it all with a win, while the Panthers would still need to get by the Falcons next week or get some help along the way. New Orleans has been vulnerable out of the Superdome and I expect Carolina to continue that trend this week.
Tennessee (5 - 9) 24 @ Jacksonville (4 - 10) 27: I don't really care about this one, but both teams have shown they can win at times this season. The Titans have lost five of six, while the Jags have managed to win four of six since starting 0 - 8. That first win was against, you guessed it, Tennessee in week 10. Same result in this one.
Denver (11 - 3) 41 @ Houston (2 - 12) 20: This one could be very ugly. Warm weather or maybe even indoors for Peyton Manning, coming off a bad loss against the Chargers. The Texans, well, what can you say?
New York Giants (5 - 9) 20 @ Detroit (7 - 7) 31: The Lions literally got kicked in the stomach last week from 61 yards out in a loss to the Ravens. Now they face an uphill battle to get back in the NFC North race. If the Packers and Bears both win Sunday, Detroit is done, no matter what they do against the Giants. But those games won't be decided when this game kicks off, so all the Lions can do is try to win, which I think they will against a defeated Giants team.
Arizona (9 - 5) 20 @ Seattle (12 - 2) 27: Someone eventually has to beat the Seahawks at home, right? Could it be the Cardinals this week? Possibly, because this is the NFL. Unfortunately for Arizona, Seattle probably has too much for them today.
Pittsburgh (6 - 8) 23 @ Green Bay (7 - 6 - 1) 20: The Packers will again be playing without starting QB Aaron Rodgers. They squeaked out a win at Dallas last week, while the Steelers looked very good against division leading Cincinnati to barely stay alive in the playoff chase. This is a very tough game to pick, but I'll stay with the Steelers in the upset.
Oakland (4 - 10) 24 @ San Diego (7 - 7) 34: Can the Chargers find some consistency and build off last week's upset over Denver? The season is winding down and they have a lot more to play for, or they still might by the time the game is played. The Raiders are, well, they're the Raiders.
New England (10 - 4) 27 @ Baltimore (8 - 6) 24: This is one of the big games of the week that will have an effect on at least three races in the AFC. The Ravens are getting their mojo back, but QB Joe Flacco and the offense is still struggling. I like the Pats' QB Tom Brady to rebound from last week's disappointment at Miami.
Chicago (8 - 6) 24 @ Philadelphia (8 - 6) 27: The Bears have a chance to clinch the NFC North and the Eagles may be in a position to clinch the East, depending on Sunday's action. Neither team is particularly terrific right now, especially the Eagles, who laid a fourth quarter egg against the Vikings last week. However, the Bears are vulnerable to the run, and Philadelphia has RB Shady McCoy. Go Eagles!