Tampa Bay (9-4) at New England (8-5): The Bucs have been playing really good defense lately and Tom Brady is a little banged up, even though he probably will play. Still, the Patriots at home in this one is too tough to pass up. New England, 19-17.
Kansas City (8-5) at N.Y. Giants (9-4): A very good matchup featuring two studs running backs in Larry Johnson and Tiki Barber. Home-field advantage makes the difference. N.Y. Giants, 24-23.
Denver (10-3) at Buffalo (4-9): Kelly Holcomb starts at quarterback for the Bills, which gives them at least a fighting chance in this one. Still, it's difficult to envision Buffalo making enough plays against a Denver team fighting for a first-round bye. Denver, 20-17.
Sunday, December 18
Arizona (4-9) at Houston (1-12): The Texans have come close the last couple of weeks and they get another shot against a Cardinals team that just isn't very good. Houston, 24-20.
San Diego (8-5) at Indianapolis (13-0): The Chargers' playoff hopes sustained a crushing blow last Sunday when they lost to the Dolphins, and I'm thinking the Chargers will bounce back with a strong effort here. Also remember that the Chargers led Indy 31-16 in the fourth quarter last year before the Colts rallied for an overtime victory at home. This will be a close game. Indianapolis, 30-28.
San Francisco (2-11) at Jacksonville (9-4): The Jaguars aren't among the best six teams in the AFC, but they will make the playoffs nonetheless because their remaining schedule is a joke. It starts with the 49ers. Jacksonville, 20-3.
N.Y. Jets (3-10) at Miami (6-7): The Dolphins are on a roll, while the Jets have been brutal on the road this season. There's no logical way the Jets should win this game, other than their ability to muster a great effort against a rival. Still, we're thinking it's four in a row. Miami, 20-10.
Pittsburgh (8-5) at Minnesota (8-5): This is a game with big-time playoff implications. The Vikings aren't as good as you would expect a team on a six-game winning streak to be, but the Steelers haven't fared well in domes in recent years. A tough, tough call. Pittsburgh, 20-16.
Carolina (9-4) at New Orleans (3-10): Todd Bouman takes over for Aaron Brooks at quarterback for the Saints, but it won't make a difference because Carolina will bounce back after a poor performance against Tampa Bay. Carolina, 23-7.
Seattle (11-2) at Tennessee (4-9): Shaun Alexander and friends tune up for next week's showdown against the Colts. Seattle, 31-13.
Dallas (8-5) at Washington (7-6): The Redskins stole the first meeting between these teams with two late touchdowns, but they'll take care of business earlier in this one. Washington, 17-14.
Cincinnati (10-3) at Detroit (4-9): The Bengals clinch the AFC North against a Lions team that can't wait till next year. Cincinnati, 27-13.
Cleveland (4-9) at Oakland (4-9): Kerry Collins returns at quarterback for the Raiders, and he makes the Browns pay for having to sit out a game while Marques Tuiasosopo flopped. Oakland, 30-17.
Philadelphia (5-8) at St. Louis (5-8): Ryan Fitzpatrick has been stinking it up since his sensational debut, but the Eagles offense has major problems of its own. This used to be a marquee matchup, but not this year. St. Louis, 20-19.
Atlanta (8-5) at Chicago (9-4): The Bears have some injuries on defense that are proving costly and their offense is still anemic, but we're thinking they'll get Michael Vick to turn the ball over a couple of times and that will be the difference in this one. Chicago, 16-10.
Monday, December 19
Green Bay (3-10) at Baltimore (4-9): The bad Monday night matchups continue. Green Bay, 20-14.
Last week's record: 12-4
Season record: 145-63