Atlanta Falcons vs San Diego Chargers – It's hard to believe, but a Chargers victory over the Falcons and a Broncos loss to the Jets puts the defending AFC West champions back in contention to defend their title! The Packers have played outstanding football on the season, but the Chargers offense under the direction of Philip Rivers matches up particularly well against the Falcons who could be without the services of an ailing John Abraham. This is a very winnable game for the surprising Falcons and if the game were being played back East, I would really like their chances. Look for this to be a very competitive affair into the fourth quarter, but I think it's time for the Chargers to finally win a close one.
Chargers 28 – Falcons 17
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots – With four tough game remaining on the Steelers schedule, what once seemed like a cake walk for the AFC North division title is now a total life and death struggle. The Steelers have won three out of the last four contests, but have been totally unimpressive in doing so. On the other hand Matt Cassel, has looked very much like his predecessor at the QB position in recent weeks and even against a top defense unit like the Steelers, I like the Patriots chances at home of keeping pace with the division leading Jets.
Patriots 24 – Steelers 20
Denver Broncos vs New York Jets – The Jets are playing outstanding football and match up well on both sides of the football against the slumping Broncos. Not surprisingly for the third season in a row, the Broncos have had a very difficult time stopping the run, but what has surprised me has been their inability to run the ball, a major strong point in the Broncos offensive in recent years. Winners of seven of the last eight contests, the Jets are now poised to capture a divisional title. Look for the running combination of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, to run over, under, around and through a very porous Broncos defensive front on way to an easy victory over the AFC West leaders.
Jets 37 – Broncos 27
Kansas City Chiefs vs Oakland Raiders – Playing at home against the lowly Chiefs, the Raiders appear poised to win for the second time in as many weeks. Before one gets too cocky, consider the fact that the Chiefs have captured five straight on the road against their long time division rivals. Neither club has had much success moving the football through, but you have to like the home team against a club that has lost 19 of the last 20 regular season games. Look for a healthy Darren McFadden, the star in the first meeting, to once again prove to be the difference in this one.
Raiders 28 – Chiefs 20
Chicago Bears vs Minnesota Vikings – Running backs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor absolutely torched the Bears in their first outing combining for 155 yards on the afternoon, but don't expect a repeat performance against a Bears defense that has given up a paltry eighty yards a week on average. With both clubs sporting a 6 and 5 record on the season and the remainder of the schedules favoring the Bears, this home contest is of special importance to the Vikings. It could come down to the wire, but I believe the Bears injury problems in the secondary will prove the difference in this closely contested battle.
Vikings 23 – Bears 17
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans – It has been a very disappointing season for both of these under achieving divisional rivals. Texans running back Steve Slaton, with 774 yards on the season, has really made a difference for the Texans. I don't believe either club is capable of generating much in the way of offense and for that reason, I believe this one could be decided by a special teams play. The Texan's quarterbacking tandem of the now injured Matt Schaub and highly inconsistent Sage Rosenfels, have actually thrown more interceptions then they have touchdown passes on the season
Jaguars 23 – Texans 21