No Babe of the Week this week as these picks are coming very late, but it's Sunday Morning, so here's my picks for this last week of the season. Before I do, here are some things I find interesting about the 357 different scenarios for the playoffs:
-The Jets and Ravens are the only ones who control their own destiny's. The question for the Ravens is do they fall into the Black Hole trap the Raiders have been providing good teams this year. As for the Jets, we all know the rug will be pulled out from under Jets fans sooner or later, as any Jet fan will tell you. The question: Do they lose this week, next week, or the week after.
-The Broncos are the only team who can make the playoffs by losing. And with reports on the latest schism between Brandon Marshall and Josh McDaniels (leading to Marshall's benching this week), I'm guessing that's the path they have decided to shoot for.
-The Texans quietly have put themselves into playoff position. I say quietly because if they made noise in the way, they'd probably lose. Fortunately for them, they are fourth in the pecking order for AFC playoff teams, plus old Tom Brady-nemesis Bernard Pollard is now a Texan, so the Pats better watch out.
-For once, the team who will get the second bye in the NFC will have to play a 60 minute game today in order to earn it. I expect the Eagles, Vikings and Cards to play hard and whomever has the bye will be more in sync for the second round, unlike obviously the Colts and Saints and possibly the Chargers.
-Finally, a scenario exists which each wild card game can end up being a rematch of a game this week. How? The Jets beat the Bengals, the Texans beat the Pats, both the Ravens and Texans lose, the Cowboys beat the Eagles, the Vikings win and the Cards beat the Packers (if the Pack win, all four being rematches is also very likely). The last time we had a rematch in the playoffs; 2001 when the Bucs and Eagles played a meaningless game in Tampa and the Jets hit a FG in Oakland to set up a trip back there and subsequent loss.
Now let's do the picks as I try to end the regular season on a high note. As always, home team in CAPS.
Indianapolis (+8) over BUFFALO- I hate how the Colts handle the end of the season, never would the Bills be favored here; now I'm nervous I'm taking the points.
New Orleans (+7) over CAROLINA- Ditto here, I do think the Saints have to play a bit to regain some momentum and we have a close one here.
CLEVELAND (-3) over Jacksonville- The most unlikely push to save a coaches job continues for Eric Mangini and the Browns. Too bad Mike Holmgren will still fire him after the season.
Chicago (-3) over DETROIT- Possibly the last game of the Lovie Smith era, against one of the many bad teams they beat this year. Lions hope the Rams win so they can get the top pick.
San Francisco (-7) over ST. LOUIS- Unfortunately Lions fans, the Rams finish up 1-15 and will be able to draft Ndamukong Suh with the first pick in April.
New England (+7) over HOUSTON- I just remember back in 2006 when the Titans played the Pats who didn't need the game for the playoffs and lose handily. And I expect Brady to torch Pollard a couple times for his vengeance.
MIAMI (-3) over Pittsburgh- An up-and-down year for the defending champs ends as they get Wildcat'd. Dolphins get the win, then wait for everyone to lose.
MINNESOTA (-8) over Giants- Best cure for the Vikings as they come home and play a Giants team that can't stop anyone. I'm still sick from their utter no-show last week.
Atlanta (+1) over TAMPA BAY- The Falcons finally achieve back-to-back winning seasons as the Raheem Morris Era comes to it's expected conclusion, especially when Bill Cowher comes calling.
Tennessee (-4.5) over SEATTLE- The Seahawks die this year quiet as Chris Johnson narrowly misses Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing record; he still gets 2,000 yards.
SAN DIEGO (-5.5) over Washington- The Redskins have stopped fighting for lame-duck Jim Zorn and don't show up in a game the Chargers won't care if they win.
Green Bay (+3) over ARIZONA- After the Vikings win, the Cards decide to take the game against the Packers next week and we see good amounts of Matt Leinhart in this one.
DALLAS (-3) over Philadelphia- It feels like everyone's assuming the Eagles will beat the Cowboys, but I think Dallas wins at home and then plays at home against Philly again.
Kansas City (+13) over DENVER- This issue with Marshall and McDaniels now threatens to ruin the season. The Chiefs keep this close, but the Broncos squeak by.
OAKLAND (+10) over Baltimore- Here's the upset of the day as the Raiders continue to frustrate the good teams of the NFL, this time, knocking out the Ravens from the playoffs.
Cincinnati (+9) over JETS- The Jets won't win this big, but the Jets do win this week to make the playoffs and a rematch with Cincy, while Broncos-Pats is the other game.
NFL Record: 117-119-4