Indianapolis 22, Tennessee 21
Two teams headed right down the tubes meet up in a national-television game. You can't predict teams' records prior to the season, but this is another in a long line of snoozers. I've made it clear I don't like Peyton Manning, but in a way I'm almost beginning to feel sorry for him. The greatest QB of all-time (he's not) couldn't win with this collection. The Titans have already packed it in for the winter.
N.Y. Giants 27, Minnesota 16
Anyone else notice the number of points the Vikings put up last week without Brett Favre? Adrian Peterson ran for less than 40 yards the last two times these teams met, and he's not even at 100 percent right now. The Giants are on again, off again, but are generally at their best when Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are getting more than a handful of carries each. The less Eli Manning throws the ball, the better.
Last Week: 11-5
Tampa Bay 17, Washington 13
If the Buccaneers harbor any thoughts at all of playing in the postseason, this is the kind of game they have to win. It will be interesting to see if Tampa can pick itself up after losing a big game it looked to have in the bag. Things have gotten so bad for the Redskins that even their own players are bashing Albert Haynesworth.
Buffalo 21, Cleveland 14
Probably goes down as the toughest call of the bunch this week since both of these teams, while not ultra-talented by league standards, play the game as hard as it can be. One has to believe the outcome hinges on the availability of Browns QB Colt McCoy. I don't think he'll play, so here's to getting burned by the Bills - again.
Green Bay 36, Detroit 20
Here come the Packers into the NFC picture. One slip up by a couple teams and Green Bay will be playing host to a playoff game. The Packers have it going big time in the passing game, and Aaron Rodgers is hitting on all cylinders throwing to the likes of Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. It's time for Lions QB Drew Stanton to be introduced to Clay Matthews.
Jacksonville 20, Oakland 18
The Jaguars are in the driver's seat in the AFC South, but one hiccup and it could all come crashing down. Then again, who's going to come up and challenge? Regardless, the Raiders shouldn't be overlooked. When in the right frame of mind, and when the defense is on point, this team can compete with some of the best out there.
Pittsburgh 34, Cincinnati 13
And here comes a much-needed break for the extremely banged up Steelers. The Bengals have been down and out for the better part of a month, and there's no reason to think they're suddenly going to awaken at this point. Pittsburgh should do what it needs to do, then get out as healthy as possible. Rest the starters when it's out of reach in preparation for the stretch drive.
Atlanta 30, Carolina 6
It's all over but the crying for the Panthers, who have been as uncompetitive a team as there is in the league. Sure, the Falcons have trouble on the road. And sure, they only beat the Bucs away from home last week. But sometimes, winning the games you should - no matter the venue - has a tendency to change attitudes.
San Francisco 24, Seattle 21
The 49ers bombed badly last week against the Packers, but the Seahawks don't have the same type of weapons. Marshawn Lynch was a beast last week - on my fantasy bench - and if Seattle is to get where it wants to go, that's the winning philosophy. Sadly, as simple as it sounds it probably won't happen.
New Orleans 28, St. Louis 10
Sam Bradford apparently doesn't need any tutelage, but he's like to get some unsolicited from the Saints' Drew Brees. I know the Rams are a nice story leading the division (6-6) and all, but it's a little different when you step up a weight class. Has anyone been a more unexpected hit than New Orleans running back Christopher Ivory?
San Diego 27, Kansas City 17
The Chargers are all in for this win. Lose, and those playoff hopes go out the window, if they didn't with last week's abomination. A three-game lead for the Chiefs with three to go would be a little too stiff to overcome, but history suggests it's not finished (see Broncos, Denver, 2008).
Denver 3. Arizona 0
Straight out of the nobody cares file comes this dandy. The Cardinals need to find a new QB, while the Broncos are in need of a coach. It's just a shame that Larry Fitzgerald, as classy a player as there is today, has to be stuck in Arizona's organization.
New England 41, Chicago 9
Let's just say that I had the Bears defense in my fantasy league until I saw the opponent this week. This may be the most impressive New England team in recent memory, even more than the one that went undefeated until the playoffs. I say that because this team is doing it with so much less talent.
N.Y. Jets 17, Miami 14
Rex Ryan says we can bet the Jets will remember the whipping they took from the Patriots. How in the heck could they forget? It's a good thing for New York that Miami doesn't have No. 12 playing quarterback.
Philadelphia 22, Dallas 14
If the Eagles want to keep pace with the Giants, gotta get this one in the victory column. It won't be easy though, because the Cowboys are playing with the zest we've been accustomed to seeing from them. But not having Dez Bryant is probably too much to overcome.
Baltimore 25, Houston 15
Do the Ravens fold after losing to the Steelers? Not on your life because they're just not built that way. In fact, one has to feel sorry for Matt Schaub this week because he'll be facing what figures to be a fired-up bunch of defenders. If it's close, though, the Texans have a chance. The Ravens, like the 2009 Steelers, are giving up fourth-quarter leads at an alarming rate.
Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at Rine@theintelligencer.net