San Francisco (5-8) at Seattle (8-5) — The Seahawks can clinch the pathetic NFC West with a victory here, and they'll also be looking to avenge teir loss at San Francisco a few weeks back. Alex Smith isn't playing nearly well enough for the 49ers to make it 2-for-2 against Seattle. Prediction: Seattle, 27-17.
Saturday, Dec. 16
Dallas (8-5) at Atlanta (7-6) — Many thought the Cowboys were headed to the Super Bowl before they got spanked by New Orleans last Sunday night. Look, Tony Romo is a great story, but let's wait a while before we anoint him the next Tom Brady. Atlanta, however, has major injury problems at running back, so we're looking for Dallas to bounce back. Prediction: Dallas, 22-15.
Sunday, Dec. 17
Miami (6-7) at Buffalo (6-7) — This is a battle between two teams out of the playoff race but who have played much better in recent weeks. Sammy Morris returns to Buffalo as the starter and he could have a big game against a poor run defense. The Dolphins have been on a roll, and it'll continue here as they pressure J.P. Losman into some mistakes. Prediction: Miami, 20-14.
N.Y. Jets (7-6) at Minnesota (6-7) — The Jets blew a great chance to make a run at the AFC East title last week when they got blown out at home by the Bills. Now, they face a Minnesota team scratching for a playoff spot in the NFC. The Jets won't run a lick against the best run defense in the league, but Chad Pennington will bounce back from a poor outing. Prediction: N.Y. Jets, 19-17.
Detroit (2-11) at Green Bay (5-8) — Logically, the defense-challenged Lions should have no shot in this game, not without stud running back Kevin Jones. But he Packers have been awful at home all season, a 38-10 loss to the Jets in their last game at Lambeau being just one example. Still, we have to go with Favre and the Pack. Prediction: Green Bay, 30-16.
Tampa Bay (3-10) at Chicago (11-2) — Easily the biggest mismatch of the week. It's actually hard to envision the Bucs merely crossing midfield, let alone getting a touchdown. Prediction: Chicago, 27-3.
Jacksonville (8-5) at Tennessee (6-7) — Like the Dolphins, the Titans have bounced back from a poor start (0-5) to have a shot at a winning season. Credit Vince Young, who has been outstanding. But the Jaguars defense is very, very tough, and the Jacksonville running game has been excellent lately. Tennessee is a lot better than it was earlier, but Jacksonville is better. Prediction: Jacksonville, 22-21.
Cleveland (4-9) at Baltimore (10-3) — This looks like another Tampa Bay-Chicago game. It's difficult to envision the Browns moving the ball at all against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Adalius Thomas and Co. Besides, Jamal Lewis should have a big day. Prediction: Baltimore, 30-6.
Washington (4-9) at New Orleans (9-4) — The Saints bandwagon gained a lot of riders after the Sunday night victory at Dallas, and there's no reason to think the Saints will slow down against a Redskins team that is playing hard but overmatched more often than not. Prediction: New Orleans, 31-16.
Houston (4-9) at New England (9-4) — You don't actually think Tom Brady and the Pats offense is going to get shut out two weeks in a row, do you? This actually could get ugly. Prediction: New England, 34-17.
Pittsburgh (6-7) at Carolina (6-7) — Two of the most disappointing teams in the NFL face off in a battle of survival. Chris Weinke will start again for the Panthers, and his lack of mobility wil be a problem against the Steelers pass rush. Prediction: Pittsburgh, 17-7.
Denver (7-6) at Arizona (4-9) — Hard to believe the fast-sinking Broncos once were 7-2. Now, they're fighting just to stay alive in the playoff race while one of their players is suggesting some of his teammates already have given up. In this battle of rookie quarterbacks, Matt Leinart will outperform Jay Cutler, but Cutler's supporting cast will be the difference. Prediction: Denver, 24-21.
Philadelphia (7-6) at N.Y. Giants (7-6) — The once-given-up-for-dead Eagles have been resurrected behind Jeff Garcia, and this game will go a long way toward telling us whether they're legitimate playoff material. The expected absence of Michael Strahan will make a huge difference and we'll call it Philly in a mild upset in a high-scoring game. Prediction: Philadelphia, 31-28.
St. Louis (5-8) at Oakland (2-11) — What on earth has happened to the Rams, who started 4-1 but have lost seven of their last eight. The Raiders won't be an easy opponent, either, because they've been playing great defense. In fact ... Prediction: Oakland, 17-16.
Kansas City (7-6) at San Diego (11-2) — Larry Johnson vs. LaDainian Tomlinson. Wow, great matchup. The Chiefs beat the Chargers with a late field goal in October, and that's the last time San Diego lost. No luck this time for the Chiefs, who can't keep up with the San Diego offense. Prediction: San Diego, 34-21.
Monday, Dec. 12
Cincinnati (8-5) at Indianapolis (10-3) — Finally a good Monday night matchup. For those traditionalists who like defense, don't watch this game. For those who like offense, this should be fun. It would be easy to go with the Colts because they're at home, but the truth is Cincinnati is playing much better football right now and Carson Palmer is the pick over Peyton Manning and Co. Prediction: Cincinnati, 37-34.
Last week's record: 7-8
Season record: 124-83