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BILLS 24 JETS 16
A miserable season in New York ends for the Jets with a road loss against a division foe currently in the basement of the AFC East. Mark Sanchez stands in front of an offensive line that yielded 11 sacks last week in a 27-17 loss to underachieving San Diego.
PATRIOTS 31 DOLPHINS 21
Look for New England to sharpen up for the postseason with a solid effort here against an overmatched squad. The Pats will host an AFC wild-card game against Cincinnati, if Houston and Denver post Week 17 victories in favorable spots.
BENGALS 27 RAVENS 20
Baltimore won the first meeting 44-13 in Week 1 but Cincy has improved dramatically during the second half of the season and the Bengals enter the game winning two straight and six of seven
STEELERS 20 BROWNS 10
It's the NFL quarterbacking debut of former Duke star Thad Lewis for the Cleveland Browns as both Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy are nursing shoulder injuries. Making Lewis' job more difficult is the absence of Cleveland running back Trent Richardson, who is out with an ankle injury.
TEXANS 23 COLTS 20
Houston needs the victory to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Indy welcomes back head coach Chuck Pagano to the sidelines after his inspirational battle with leukemia. The Colts are locked into the #5 playoff seed in the AFC postseason.
JAGS 17 TITANS 14
Jacksonville competed hard last week against New England while Tennessee walked through the motions in a 55-7 loss to Green Bay. Let's call for a mild upset.
GIANTS 24 EAGLES 20
To make the playoffs, the defending Super Bowl champs need to hit a four-teamer: they need to win while Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas all lose. Highly doubtful.
REDSKINS 27 COWBOYS 24
Great rivalry game with the NFC East title on the line. Washington has won six straight since its bye week and Tony Romo is 1-5 in his career competing in elimination games.
LIONS 31 BEARS 21
Chicago is saddled with countless injuries and the second half of the season has been a struggle. Detroit failed to play well all season long but the Lions have the talent to end Chicago's playoff hopes.
VIKINGS 23 PACKERS 20
Let's ride Adrian Peterson to victory in a critical game for head coach Leslie Frazier and the direction of the Minnesota franchise. Peterson is 208 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's all-time single-season rushing record.
FALCONS 34 BUCS 24
Tampa Bay is a mess after a promising 6-4 start. The Bucs have dropped five straight games largely due to the sloppy play of quarterback Josh Freeman.
PANTHERS 23 SAINTS 17
Carolina's defense has set the tone in each of the last two weeks, posting impressive performances against San Diego and Oakland. Let's gamble on Cam Newton to get the money over Drew Brees.
BRONCOS 31 CHIEFS 10
Denver has been one of the best stories of the 2012 regular season. Peyton Manning added to his legendary status by leading his new team to a 12-3 season and a 10-5 mark against the spread.
CHARGERS 20 RAIDERS 13
Oakland has failed to score a touchdown in its last 10 quarters. San Diego head coach Norv Turner will be coaching his last game at Qualcomm Stadium.
49ERS 34 CARDINALS 17
Little-known quarterback Brian Hoyer faces an angry San Francisco defense exiting a poor performance in the Pacific Northwest. The 49ers should be primed for a big effort to gain momentum heading into the postseason. Look for San Francisco signal-caller Colin Kaepernick to enjoy a big day.
SEAHAWKS 17 RAMS 14
Seattle likely will win the game but St. Louis figures to keep it close. Credit St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher for quickly turning around the negative attitudes of a franchise seeking its first winning season since 2003.
FALCONS 31 LIONS 20
Atlanta clinches home-field advantage in the NFC with a victory on Saturday. The 12-2 Falcons exit their best performance of the season in a 34-0 thrashing of the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The Lions posted their worst performance of a dismal 4-10 season when losing in Glendale against lowly Arizona, 38-10. Detroit lacks discipline on and off the field.
PACKERS 35 TITANS 17
Green Bay's shaky September is a distant memory. The Pack has won three straight and eight of nine. Tough spot for Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker and his pedestrian offense to match points against Aaron Rodgers, one of the NFL's most prolific passers.
PANTHERS 34 RAIDERS 23
Discount Oakland's win last week over Kansas City, a 15-0 victory in which the Raiders failed to score a touchdown. Oakland is 1-5 on the road this season. In their five road losses, the Raiders have lost by an average score of 31-14. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has thrown 10 touchdowns without an interception over the past five weeks.
DOLPHINS 27 BILLS 17
Good spot for Miami to avenge its Week 11 loss to Buffalo. Look for Ryan Tannehill to perform better this week than he did in the 19-14 loss in mid-November. The Dolphins have played well over the past month with victories over Seattle and Jacksonville and hard-fought losses to New England and San Francisco.
STEELERS 20 BENGALS 17
Both teams control their playoff destiny. Pittsburgh has lost four of five with its lone win coming against struggling Baltimore. Then again, Cincy's last four victories have been accomplished over teams with a combined record of 15-41. In the end, let's trust the emotionally-invested Ben Roethlisberger over young Andy Dalton in a must-win spot for the Steelers at Heinz Field. Big Ben has thrown 10 touchdowns against only one interception in five home starts this season.
PATRIOTS 31 JAGUARS 10
After last week's home loss to San Francisco, New England figures to finish the season with the AFC's #3 seed and a likely divisional-round playoff date with Peyton Manning in Denver during the middle of January. The Jags this season have been outscored by 164 points, second-worst in the 32-team league (Kansas City's point differential: -172)
COLTS 28 CHIEFS 14
Andrew Luck was running for his life last week in Houston during the team's 29-17 loss to the Texans. Expect Indy to address its protection issues against Kansas City's woeful defense. Luck has yet to lose back-to-back games in his brief career. He's 4-0 in games following a defeat.
COWBOYS 27 SAINTS 20
The Cowboys are two wins away from a division title and they should build off the momentum of last week's overtime win over Pittsburgh. New Orleans, surrounded by controversy the entire season, never fully recovered from its 0-4 start.
REDSKINS 27 EAGLES 24
Robert Griffin III will get the start for surging Washington, winners of five straight games since its bye week. Washington's injuries on the offensive line will be offset by the mobility of RG3. If the Redskins win their final two games of the season, they'll finish 10-6 on the season and 5-1 within the division. Great job by the Shanahans, head coach Mike and offensive coordinator Kyle.
RAMS 23 BUCS 20
A pair of vastly-improved teams from a season ago thanks in large part to head coaches Jeff Fisher and Greg Schiano. But Tampa Bay hit a wall midway through the season and the team's miserable effort last week in a 41-0 loss to New Orleans could signal a rough end to an otherwise decent season.
GIANTS 24 RAVENS 17
The wheels are off in Baltimore. Not even the return of Ray Lewis can solve the multitude of problems for John Harbaugh's struggling squad. The Giants will qualify for the playoffs with a win in Baltimore and a victory at home over Philly.
VIKINGS 24 TEXANS 23
Upset alert. Let's ride Adrian Petersen to a victory over a Houston defense that has struggled over the second half of the season. Petersen is only 188 yards from the 2,000-yard mark and 293 yards short of Eric Dickerson's all-time single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards.
BRONCOS 30 BROWNS 13
Denver finishes the season with home games against Cleveland and Kansas City. With Peyton Manning leading the way, the entire team will remain focused as the Broncos aim to secure a first-round bye for the upcoming playoffs.
CARDINALS 20 BEARS 16
Chicago started the season 7-1 only to lose five of its next six games. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice figures to be the fall guy for a talented Chicago offense that has failed to show improvement throughout the season. Arizona snapped its nine-game losing streak in easy fashion last week and may like the taste of success.
SEATTLE 31 49ERS 21
The Seahawks are the hottest team in football. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has added a new dimension to Seattle's offense with option plays designed to take advantage of his elusive ways. The 49ers could struggle after flying from San Francisco to Foxborough and then to Seattle within the past 10 days.
CHARGERS 17 JETS 14
Let's fade inexperienced New York quarterback Greg McElroy in his first NFL start. Las Vegas-based professional gambler Alan Dinkenson (aka "Dink") makes the Chargers his best bet on the Week 16 card.
PACKERS 20 BEARS 17
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 5-1 lifetime against his counterpart, Jay Cutler. The struggling Bears have lost five straight in the storied series. Green Bay won the first meeting in the second week of the season, 23-10. Look for more of the same in the rematch as Chicago is competing without linebacker Brian Urlacher and placekicker Robbie Gould with quarterback Jay Cutler playing hurt with an injured neck. The Bears have lost four of their last five games.
GIANTS 24 FALCONS 21
Atlanta has overcome its two obvious deficiencies of running the ball and stopping the run to post an impressive 11-2 record. But let's trust Eli Manning and the classy Giants to get the job done in enemy territory late in the season, a spot where Tom Coughlin's team historically plays well.
BUCS 28 SAINTS 27
Both teams enter the game saddled with three-game losing streaks. Tampa Bay is out to avenge a 35-28 home loss in Week 7. New Orleans has committed 11 turnovers in their last three games. Look for Tampa Bay to post a mild upset.
RAMS 19 VIKINGS 17
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford will continue to improve with Jeff Fisher on the sidelines. The veteran head coach understands how to win NFL games with subpar teams: limit mistakes, force turnovers and stay competitive until the fourth quarter when anything is possible.
BROWNS 23 REDSKINS 16
The uncertainty surrounding the playing status of Robert Griffin III (sprained knee) favors home-standing Cleveland. Whether it's a limited RG3 or fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, the Browns figure to defend their home field.
DOLPHINS 20 JAGS 17
Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne returns to Miami where he played four seasons and served as its starting quarterback for most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Dolphins win the game but the Jags cover the number.
RAVENS 24 BRONCOS 23
Hard to fade Peyton Manning against a team he owns (eight straight wins vs. Baltimore) but the desperate Ravens will resurrect their season with a win at comfy M&T Bank Stadium where Baltimore rarely loses. Ray Lewis could return to action for Baltimore.
TEXANS 28 COLTS 20
Time for Houston to step up after its embarrassing 42-14 loss in Foxborough on Monday Night Football. Credit Indy for its 9-4 record but close observers of the game realize Indy is not as good as its record suggests.
CHARGERS 24 PANTHERS 17
A pair of underachieving teams sporting lame-duck coaches and puzzling quarterbacks meet in a meaningless game for both sides. Let's side with the home team.
SEAHAWKS 27 BILLS 20
Love the way Seattle dominated Arizona last week and the Seahawks could carry the momentum from last week's 58-0 victory into this week against stumbling Buffalo. Game played at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
LIONS 31 CARDINALS 21
Both teams stand at 4-9 with long losing streaks marking disappointing seasons. Arizona has dropped nine straight games while Detroit enters the contest hoping to snap a five-game skid. Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt will select among a field of three candidates for his starting quarterback: the ineffective John Skelton, the interception-prone Ryan Lindley or the inexperienced Brian Hoyer.
COWBOYS 27 STEELERS 24
Pittsburgh is clinging to the number six seed in the AFC playoff hunt. Dallas must win out to have a legitimate chance at a division title or wild-card spot. Dallas is the only team in the NFL without a point spread win at home (0-6).
RAIDERS 31 CHIEFS 21
Let's side with the more explosive offense in a game featuring a pair of dead sticks in the AFC West. Oakland benefits from extra rest after trying hard in a 26-13 home loss to Denver. Kansas City leads the league with an inexcusable 33 turnovers.
PATRIOTS 31 49ERS 10
Cannot trust Colin Kaepernick on the road in the biggest start of his brief career against one of the NFL's all-time greats in Tom Brady. Kaepernick must battle New England's two-headed monster of Brady and Bill Belichick. The second-year pro is forced to match points against Brady while facing a Belichick-led defense in only the fifth start of his career.
JETS 17 TITANS 14
The Jets (6-7) remain on the playoff fringe looking for an AFC wild-card spot after a pair of wins over Arizona and Jacksonville. New York conceivably could end the season on a five-game winning streak to reach nine victories yet still miss the postseason. New York's conservative play-calling is a product of inefficient play at the quarterback position.
BRONCOS 31 RAIDERS 21
Another lost season for Oakland at 3-9 straight up and 3-9 against the spread. Head coach Dennis Allen, the defensive coordinator for the Broncos a year ago, must be embarrassed by fielding the worst defense in the league, allowing 31.3 points per game and 37.8 ppg during the team's current five-game losing streak.
REDSKINS 27 RAVENS 21
Robert Griffin III single-handedly re-energized football fans this season in the D.C. area. The love affair between the fans and "RG3" will grow deeper if Washington can win its fourth straight game by defending its home turf against a banged-up Baltimore defense.
CHIEFS 23 BROWNS 20
Let's gamble that Kansas City will play well again this week. Quarterback Brady Quinn returns to Cleveland to face the team that drafted him in 2007. Quinn played one of the best games of his career last week in Kansas City's 27-21 win over Carolina.
STEELERS 23 CHARGERS 13
Big Ben gets the start for Pittsburgh. San Diego's four wins this season have been accomplished over Oakland, Tennessee and Kansas City (twice). Norv Turner's team has dropped seven of their last eight games. Make it eight of nine.
COLTS 27 TITANS 17
Resourceful Indianapolis continues to find ways to win with rookie Andrew Luck on pace to break multiple passing records for first-year quarterbacks. Peyton Manning was 3-13 in his rookie campaign. Luck currently is 8-4.
JETS 21 JAGUARS 15
Good spot for Mark Sanchez to re-establish himself as New York's starting quarterback. If his mind is in the right place, Sanchez should lead the Jets to a road victory over a 2-10 team still missing its best player, Maurice Jones-Drew (foot).
VIKINGS 24 BEARS 17
Chicago owns the recent series history, winning six straight meetings over Minnesota. Enough is enough. The Vikes play well at Mall of America Field (5-1 at home this season) and the Bears are nursing injuries on both sides of the ball.
PANTHERS 28 FALCONS 27
Atlanta's not as good as its 11-1 record would indicate and Carolina's not as bad as its 3-9 mark would suggest. The Falcons benefited from five interceptions by Drew Brees in last week's lethargic 23-13 victory over the Saints. Atlanta needed the turnovers as Matt Ryan threw for a season-low 165 yards. Atlanta was 1-for-11 on third down last week.
BUCS 21 EAGLES 18
It's the best point spread team in the league playing host to the worst point spread team in the league. Let's buck the trend by supporting the lowly Eagles (2-9-1 against the spread) against overachieving Tampa Bay (9-2-1 ATS). Tampa Bay wins the game but Philly wins the bet.
BILLS 25 RAMS 15
Buffalo's defense has improved dramatically over the past month. The defense of the Bills will be the best unit on the field this Sunday in Buffalo.
BENGALS 23 COWBOYS 13
Critical game for both teams. Dallas is 6-6 this season and a loss virtually eliminates the Cowboys from playoff contention. Avoid the desperate team and stick with a streaky Cincy squad, winners of four straight games with a defense in great form, denying its last four opponents to record more than 13 points in a single game.
49ERS 28 DOLPHINS 10
Colin Kaepernick makes the fourth start of his NFL career against a Miami secondary allowing 258 passing yards per game. Expect a big game from Harbaugh's favorite quarterback. Miami has lost four of five.
GIANTS 31 SAINTS 20
After a 6-2 start, the Giants suddenly lost three of four to find themselves at a mediocre 7-5. History shows the Giants can turn it on when necessary and their best game is among the best the NFL has to offer. Eli Manning should torch a gambling Saints defense.
SEAHAWKS 24 CARDINALS 12
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is a lame duck leader after his team matched the longest losing streak (eight games and counting) in its Arizona history. Hard to believe the Cards were 4-0 to begin the season, a start that included a 20-16 Week One victory over Sunday's opponent. The Cards registered only five first downs last week against the Jets and they were 0-for-15 on third down.
PACKERS 34 LIONS 24
Aaron Rodgers will shred a Detroit defense that has allowed 34, 24, 34 and 35 points in its last four losses. Green Bay stumbled at the start of the season, losing three of its first five games, but the Pack restored order by winning six of their last seven games to move to 8-4 and land atop the NFC North standings.
TEXANS 27 PATRIOTS 26
Both teams enter the game riding six-game winning streaks in a matchup that could serve as a preview of the AFC Championship Game. Houston has yet to lose a road game this season and the Texans' pass rush could bother aging Tom Brady. The 35-year-old Brady played poorly (74.8 passer rating) in last week's win over Miami.
FALCONS 34 SAINTS 24
Atlanta looks to avenge its only loss of the season, a 31-27 setback three weeks ago at the Superdome. Recent series history favors the Saints as New Orleans is 11-2 against Atlanta in the Drew Brees era. Atlanta supporters counter with emerging quarterback Matt Ryan's amazing success at home. He's 31-4 lifetime at the Georgia Dome. Last week's return of Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is a big plus for the home team.
BEARS 23 SEAHAWKS 20
Injury-riddled Chicago should survive at home against a Seattle team that has lost five of its six road games this season. Credit the Seahawks for playing hard every week, an admirable trait directly attributable to head coach Pete Carroll. Seattle's five road losses have come by margins of 3, 4, 4, 6 and 7.
PACKERS 27 VIKINGS 14
Aaron Rodgers has dominated this series over the last four meetings -- all victories -- by compiling a passer rating of 140.5 against Minnesota. The Vikings' offense, quarterbacked by inexperienced Christian Ponder, does not have the big-play ability to compete against the Pack.
49ERS 27 RAMS 13
San Francisco is out to make amends for its last meeting with St. Louis, a 24-24 tie, an outcome which felt like a loss for the home team. Head coach Jim Harbaugh tabbed Colin Kaepernick, sporting a passer rating of 102.3 in his brief career, to start this division game in St. Louis. The 49ers are 10-3 in road games under their fiery leader and 2-0 in Colin Kaepernick starts.
JETS 30 CARDINALS 17
Both teams enter the game with disappointing records of 4-7. New York quarterback Mark Sanchez owns a considerable edge over Arizona counterpart Ryan Lindley, who made his first NFL start a miserable one by throwing four interceptions in a 31-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams. One Las Vegas wiseguy (Alan Dinkenson) recommends the Jets as his best bet of the entire NFL season.
PANTHERS 24 CHIEFS 13
Kansas City has played 11 quarters without scoring an offensive touchdown. Carolina exits a victory in Philadelphia where Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in a solid 30-22 victory over the Eagles.
LIONS 28 COLTS 20
Detroit suffered yet another close loss this season when losing to Houston in overtime on Thanksgiving Day. Cannot trust the young Colts on the road because Andrew Luck has displayed a weakness for forcing the ball downfield when pressured by a decent pass rush. Detroit's defensive line could rule the day.
JAGUARS 24 BILLS 23
Upset alert. The Jags feel good about themselves since Chad Henne replaced Blaine Gabbert at quarterback. Henne could be the quarterback of Jacksonville's future if he continues to gel with rookie wideout Justin Blackmon. Buffalo hasn't made the postseason in 12 years. Make it 13.
PATRIOTS 41 DOLPHINS 28
New England has scored 190 points over its last four games. Belichick and Brady always point to division games as critical contests. Miami's coach-quarterback entry of Joe Philbin and Ryan Tannehill is completely outclassed.
TEXANS 23 TITANS 16
Houston survived a pair of subpar efforts the past two weeks by winning overtime contests against Jacksonville and Detroit. Houston quarterback Matt Schaub has 19 touchdown passes this season in leading his team to a 10-1 start. Tennessee's second-year quarterback Jake Locker is fully healthy this week after suffering a shoulder injury in a 38-14 loss to the Texans in Week 4.
BRONCOS 29 BUCS 18
Disregard Denver's epic failure as a home favorite (13-32-2 against the spread) over the last seven years or so. Peyton Manning is at the controls these days and his team is 4-1 at home and 3-2 against the number. Tampa Bay's young secondary will be vulnerable to the crafty Manning.
RAVENS 27 STEELERS 17
It appears Ben Roethlisberger will miss his third straight game with injuries to his ribs and shoulder. Pittsburgh's chances to win the division would end with a loss in Baltimore but the Steelers are still positioned to make the postseason via the wild card.
BROWNS 20 RAIDERS 17
A meaningless game between two garbage teams. Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden is listed probable and star running back Trent Richardson figures to enjoy a big day facing an Oakland defense that has allowed 169 points during the team's four-game losing streak.
BENGALS 31 CHARGERS 27
Cincy quarterback Andy Dalton has played well during the team's three-game winning streak, throwing nine touchdown passes and no interceptions over that span. San Diego's season bottomed out in a 16-13 overtime loss to the Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium. Baltimore's conversion of a 4th-and-29 play will be remembered as Norv Turner's ultimate undoing.
COWBOYS 24 EAGLES 13
No Michael Vick, no LeSean McCoy and no DeSean Jackson for Philadelphia. The Eagles are 3-8 straight up and 1-9-1 against the spread. Dallas finds itself only one game out of the second NFC wild-card spot despite its 5-6 record.
REDSKINS 28 GIANTS 27
Robert Griffin III earned the respect of New York's defensive front, specifically Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul, after the Redskins lost to the Giants, 27-23, on October 21. The versatility of "RG3" presents headaches for opposing defenses as the rookie quarterback is able to scramble for first-down yardage or throw the deep pass for six points.
TEXANS 27 LIONS 20
Houston clearly is the better organization with a brighter future, a smarter coach and a more resourceful quarterback. Gary Kubiak calls the plays for Matt Schaub, who is 16-4 as a starting quarterback over the past two seasons. Schaub's season-ending foot injury last season derailed Houston's hopes for postseason glory.
COWBOYS 31 REDSKINS 27
The two most penalized teams in the NFL -- Washington with 88 and Dallas with 83 -- meet in a critical game for the home-standing Cowboys. Let's trust the veteran Tony Romo (21-3 in November) over the rookie Robert Griffin III.
PATRIOTS 41 JETS 21
New England will be without tight end Rob Gronkowski (broken forearm) but the underachieving Jets and loudmouth coach Rex Ryan are not likely to take advantage of the situation. The Patriots play fast (74 plays from scrimmage per game) and score often (35.8 points per game).
BENGALS 38 RAIDERS 20
Rookie head coach Dennis Allen could be "one-and-done" if Oakland's defensive woes continue. The Raiders have allowed 135 points over their last three games and Allen was hired for his defensive-minded philosophies.
STEELERS 23 BROWNS 13
Charlie Batch is 5-2 as a spot starter in his back-up role for Pittsburgh. Batch will rely on Pittsburgh's productive running game and stout defense to rebound off last week's division loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
COLTS 34 BILLS 30
Indy has designs on a wild-card spot despite getting mauled by the Patriots last week in Foxborough. Andrew Luck plays significantly better at home than on the road. Luck's QB rating in five home games is 88.6 versus a 65.8 mark in five road games.
BRONCOS 30 CHIEFS 17
No Willis McGahee (torn MCL) for Denver but it should not matter against the bumbling Chiefs. Kansas City has committed 31 turnovers over 10 games while averaging only one takeaway per game.
JAGUARS 21 TITANS 16
Chad Henne looked good last week replacing an injured Blaine Gabbert. Let's bet Henne will build off last week's success. The Jags are 0-5 this season at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, losing all five games by at least 17 points. Enough is enough: the Jags get off the schneid.
VIKINGS 27 BEARS 20
Upset alert. Minnesota is well-rested after its bye week and Ponder in his last game regained his early-season form. Adrian Peterson is a candidate for NFL MVP and the Bears' defense looked vulnerable in a 32-7 loss last Sunday night in San Francisco.
BUCS 28 FALCONS 26
Tampa Bay shoots for its fifth straight victory and the betting marketplace has underrated the Bucs all season long (Greg Schiano's team is an NFL-best 8-2 against the spread). Atlanta is the better team but the spot screams Tampa Bay.
SEAHAWKS 17 DOLPHINS 10
Two defensive-minded teams meet in south Florida. First team to 14 points wins the game. Tough travel for Seattle but Pete Carroll's 6-4 team should meet the challenge to stay alive in the NFC playoff race.
RAVENS 31 CHARGERS 21
A coaching mismatch with John Harbaugh squaring off against the soon-to-be-released Norv Turner. The Ravens have won three straight games since their bye week. The Chargers exit a loss to division rival Denver and they look like a squad that will miss the postseason for the third straight year.
49ERS 38 SAINTS 23
San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh hinted he may rotate quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. If that's the case, look for the Niners to roll as Smith and Kaepernick hope to impress general managers throughout the NFL.
CARDINALS 17 RAMS 13
Arizona continues to play hard despite losing its last six games. Ryan Lindley will make his first NFL start in place of the ineffective John Skelton.
PACKERS 30 GIANTS 27
Green Bay, winners of five straight games, is in better form right now than the defending Super Bowl champions. This Sunday night game could be the first of two meetings between these high-quality NFC combatants this season.
PANTHERS 27 EAGLES 24
Carolina appears to be the lesser of two evils as the Eagles are likely to be without concussed stars Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. Philly's secondary has been awful in November. They've allowed opposing quarterbacks to post an average QB rating of 143.5 over the past four games.
BILLS 24 DOLPHINS 17
Miami failed to compete last week in a 37-3 home loss to lowly Tennessee, a team whose struggling offense went 8-for-17 on third-down conversions. The Bills should feature the 1-2 punch of running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson against Miami's declining defense.
REDSKINS 21 EAGLES 15
This game features a meeting of rookie quarterbacks and the edge goes to the one with more experience in Robert Griffin III over Nick Foles. Foles is making his first-ever NFL start in place of the injured Michael Vick. The Eagles are a dead team, losers of four straight after a 3-1 start.
PACKERS 34 LIONS 27
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is red-hot with 15 touchdown passes against only one interception during the team's current four-game winning streak. Detroit is 0-3 against NFC North opponents this season in what is looking more and more like a lost season for the Lions.
FALCONS 31 CARDINALS 13
Matt Ryan against John Skelton is a quarterback mismatch. Look for Ryan to connect early and often with the best duo of wide outs in the NFL, Roddy White and Julio Jones.
BUCS 24 PANTHERS 23
Tampa Bay finds ways to win while Carolina exhibits the opposite quality. Cam Newton is 8-17 as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
COWBOYS 34 BROWNS 20
Dallas hopes to draw even with the league at 5-5 with a non-conference win over Pat Shurmur's 2-7 squad. This is only the Cowboys' fourth home game of the season.
RAMS 24 JETS 16
Mark Sanchez and his struggling offense failed to score a touchdown in last week's 21-point loss in Seattle. Expect St. Louis to copy Seattle's defensive game plan and create more controversy surrounding the AFC team from the Big Apple.
PATRIOTS 31 COLTS 30
Both teams enter the game 6-3. Props to young quarterback Andrew Luck for leading his team both on and off the field. New England is averaging 33.2 points per game and 430.3 yards per contest.
TEXANS 29 JAGUARS 13
Houston is 8-1 and Jacksonville is 1-8. The Texans have allowed only 12.6 points per game in their eight victories.
BENGALS 31 CHIEFS 21
Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers last week in a comprehensive beat down of the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. More of the same this week against turnover-prone Kansas City Chiefs.
SAINTS 34 RAIDERS 28
New Orleans is one win away from the .500 mark after starting the season with four consecutive losses. Oakland head coach Dennis Allen is on the proverbial hot seat after the first nine games of his coaching career.
BRONCOS 34 CHARGERS 24
San Diego's Norv Turner is another AFC West coach under fire while counterpart John Fox of the Denver Broncos will receive plenty of votes in AFC Coach of the Year balloting. Denver won the first meeting by outscoring San Diego 35-0 in the second half after trailing 24-0 at intermission.
STEELERS 17 RAVENS 13
Pittsburgh's back-up quarterback Byron Leftwich is in the spotlight replacing an injured Ben Roethlisberger. Leftwich benefits from a well-schooled offense that features a short passing game and an efficient third-down play package.
49ERS 24 BEARS 14
Veteran NFL quarterback Jason Campbell (64 starts) takes over for the concussed Jay Cutler. Campbell figures to struggle playing against a San Francisco defense that looks to rebound off a subpar performance last week against St. Louis.
COLTS 24 JAGUARS 17
Good spot for Indy to avenge a Week 3 loss to Jacksonville. Maurice Jones-Drew will miss his third consecutive game. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck is beginning to separate himself from his fellow classmates selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
PATRIOTS 38 BILLS 20
Check the weather for Foxborough closer to kickoff time. New England scored 35 unanswered points in a 52-28 victory over Buffalo in Week 4 and we could see more of the same here. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzgerald historically plays poorly against Bill Belichick's defense, throwing 15 interceptions in the last five meetings against the Pats.
GIANTS 31 BENGALS 21
Peyton Manning put up 31 points at Paul Brown Stadium last week and little brother Eli easily could match or exceed that number. The Bengals have lost four straight games after a promising 3-1 start.
BUCS 28 CHARGERS 25
Both teams enter the game at 4-4 with Tampa Bay overachieving (6-2 against the spread) and San Diego underperforming by all measurable standards, most importantly the expectations of the fan base. The Bucs are averaging 36 points per game over the last four contests.
BRONCOS 27 PANTHERS 20
Denver head coach John Fox returns to Charlotte where he coached the Panthers for nine seasons from 2002 to 2010. Fox's homecoming is overshadowed by a meeting between Peyton Manning and Cam Newton. Aside from his immense talent, Manning is the ultimate game manager while Newton is an erratic, all-or-nothing type who is 8-16 as an NFL starting quarterback.
DOLPHINS 26 TITANS 19
Tennessee hit rock bottom last week in a 51-20 home loss to Chicago. Tennessee owner Bud Adams voiced displeasure with his players and coaching staff following the loss. Expect plenty of changes in the offseason for the Titans.
RAVENS 28 RAIDERS 13
Oakland's defense surrendered 35 points in the second half of a 42-32 loss to Tampa Bay last week. Baltimore has won 14 straight games at M&T Bank Stadium.
FALCONS 34 SAINTS 24
The only undefeated team in the NFL continues to surprise the betting marketplace with an against-the-spread record of 6-2. Atlanta's pair of outstanding wide receivers, Roddy White and Julio Jones, should feast against a Saints' defense allowing opponents to gain 475 yards per game.
LIONS 26 VIKINGS 19
Let's side with Matthew Stafford over the struggling Christian Ponder, who has thrown eight interceptions over the past five games. The Lions improved dramatically over the second quarter of the season and rookie running back Mikel Leshoure could be a future star.
SEAHAWKS 34 JETS 19
Seattle is 4-0 at home straight up and against the spread this season and Pete Carroll is 12-2 ATS as head coach of the Seahawks in games played at CenturyLink Field. Carroll should enjoy a tactical advantage defending New York quarterback Mark Sanchez, a former member of Carroll's USC Trojans.
COWBOYS 27 EAGLES 23
Dallas is the lesser of two evils here. Michael Vick's job is on the line seemingly every week after committing 14 turnovers over the team's first eight games. Philly's opponents have outscored the Eagles 47-7 in the first quarter this season.
49ERS 24 RAMS 7
San Francisco's top-rated running game is paving the way for an emerging passing game led by quarterback Alex Smith and receivers Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham and the ageless Randy Moss.
BEARS 22 TEXANS 20
The marquee matchup of the week features a pair of 7-1 teams with each team's lone setback coming against the Green Bay Packers. Chicago enters the game with a league-high 28 takeaways but Houston has an NFL-low six turnovers. Slight edge to Chicago.
STEELERS 34 CHIEFS 13
Pittsburgh's defense has allowed only 12 points per game in three home contests this season. Steelers' offensive coordinator Todd Haley should have his squad primed for a big effort against his former employer. Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel will be one of many head coaches looking for work at season's end.
CHARGERS 27 CHIEFS 17
Kansas City always seems to be trailing its opponents, having never played on the lead in any of its six losses. The Chargers are in desperation mode midway through the season, needing a victory to draw even with the league at 4-4. Typical San Diego.
BRONCOS 25 BENGALS 22
Looks like Peyton Manning will be worth Denver's $96 million gamble. The 36-year-old future Hall-of-Famer is the NFL's highest rated passer (109.0) and he's second behind Drew Brees in yards per game (301.9). Cincy quarterback Andy Dalton has regressed during his team's current three-game losing streak.
PACKERS 23 CARDINALS 16
Green Bay is 24-4 at Lambeau Field since the start of the 2009 season but the Packers are dealing with injuries on both sides of the ball. Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and John Skelton will face severe pressure in collapsing pockets as Green Bay and Arizona are tied atop the league standings in sacks. Each squad has recorded 26 sacks this season.
COLTS 23 DOLPHINS 21
Indy is 3-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium this season. The Colts were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league this season, but they'll be thinking playoffs if they can find a way to beat Miami in an important game for both teams.
BROWNS 27 RAVENS 24
Baltimore's injury-riddled defense is reeling. John Harbaugh's team has failed to stop the run in each of its last three games, allowing 214 rushing yards to Kansas City, 227 yards to Dallas and 181 yards to Houston. Look for Cleveland to post a mild upset.
TEXANS 31 BILLS 20
On the subject of poor run defense, the Bills rank last in the NFL, allowing more than 176 rushing yards per game. Houston's dynamic duo of running backs, Arian Foster and Ben Tate, should post big numbers against Buffalo.
REDSKINS 31 PANTHERS 17
RG3 versus Cam Newton. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is good at utilizing the immense talents of Robert Griffin III. The same cannot be written about Carolina's handling of the erratic and enigmatic Newton. The negative vibe surrounding last week's last-second loss to Chicago could cost Carolina this week.
JAGUARS 27 LIONS 16
It's time for the Jags to play a good game at EverBank Field. They've been blown out in three home contests this season, losing by 17 to Cincinnati, by 20 to Houston and by 38 against Chicago. Detroit has trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this season.
TITANS 28 BEARS 21
Chicago did not win the game last week, rather Carolina lost it. The Bears were outgained 416-210 but somehow managed a narrow 23-22 victory. Expect Tennessee to defend its home field in Nashville.
SEAHAWKS 31 VIKINGS 14
Tough spot for Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder to regain his September form. The second-year man out of Florida State has thrown seven interceptions over the past month while being sacked 11 times. Seattle has posted wins at home this season over the Patriots, Packers and Cowboys.
BUCS 23 RAIDERS 22
Quarterback Josh Freeman is improving steadily under the watchful eye of Tampa Bay's new head coach Greg Schiano. The Raiders are 9-27 against the spread in their last 36 games when favored.
GIANTS 28 STEELERS 27
Eli Manning meets Ben Roethlisberger with each quarterback sporting a pair of Super Bowl titles. Pittsburgh leads the NFL in third-down conversion rate at 51.9% (54-of-104) and Big Ben's offense also has converted 4-of-7 fourth-down attempts. Giants win a squeaker.
FALCONS 30 COWBOYS 20
The offense for Dallas is a mess right now with head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo accorded equal blame. The Cowboys have committed 55 offensive penalties compared to Atlanta's 24, fewest in the NFL. Dallas is guilty of an NFC-high 19 turnovers in only seven games.
EAGLES 34 SAINTS 24
Michael Vick's last chance comes indoors on a fast track. If Vick avoids turnovers, an obvious conditional statement, he should enjoy a big night against a New Orleans defense allowing 475 yards per game.
VIKINGS 17 BUCS 10
Soft Tampa Bay secondary is the perfect remedy for a Minnesota offense in need of developing a more dynamic passing game. Arizona last week completely shut down Minny's offense in the second half with five straight three-and-outs. Look for Tampa Bay to focus on stopping the ultra-tough Adrian Peterson, who rushed for a season-high 153 yards last week. Based on won-loss records, the Vikings are the most improved team in the NFL. They were 2-6 at the midway point last season with a chance to be 6-2 upon the conclusion of Thursday night's game.
PATRIOTS 27 RAMS 23
This is the sixth NFL game played at Wembley Stadium in London, England where Tom Brady and the Patriots will be treated like rock stars. Outstanding coaching battle between Bill Belichick and Jeff Fisher, who understands how to be competitive with an inferior team. St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford has been frustrated by red-zone failures, costly penalties and dropped passes, which have derailed many scoring opportunities for the offensively-challenged Rams.
TITANS 28 COLTS 18
It's the 36-year-old Matt Hasselbeck against the 23-year-old Andrew Luck. I prefer Luck long-term, but in this spot, let's trust the resourceful Hasselbeck, who led his team to victory in a wild shootout last week at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Hasselbeck could enjoy a banner day against a permissive Indy defense, allowing 76 points in its first two road games this season. Expect Tennessee to draw even with the league at 4-4 with a win at home against division rival Indianapolis.
PACKERS 35 JACKSONVILLE 21
Star running back Maurice Jones-Drew will not play for Jacksonville and quarterback Blaine Gabbert is listed questionable with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Rashad Jennings will replace "MJD" and Chad Henne serves as the back-up quarterback for Gabbert. Green Bay's offense has come alive in October.
CHARGERS 31 BROWNS 21
This is the time of season San Diego typically starts to gel. The Chargers are 35-15 over the past five seasons in all games following their bye week.
EAGLES 24 FALCONS 23
Trend players will note Philly head coach Andy Reid is 13-0 coming off a bye week. But undefeated Atlanta is also rested and ready and they'll attack an erratic Michael Vick, who has committed 38 turnovers in his last 27 starts.
SEAHAWKS 17 LIONS 16
The NFC West deserves respect and the Seahawks are one of the leading reasons for the division's marked improvement. Seattle benefits from extra rest and preparation after playing a Thursday night game while catching the Lions off a Monday night contest. Prefer Carroll over Schwartz.
DOLPHINS 23 JETS 20
Miami is out to avenge a home loss in overtime to the Jets in Week 3. Not sure if the Jets have anything left in the tank after their hyped showdown against New England last Sunday. The point spread (Jets -2.5 at home and dropping) points to Miami as the superior team.
BEARS 27 PANTHERS 17
Cam Newton is 7-15 lifetime with 23 interceptions in those 22 career starts. Jay Cutler is getting it done in the Windy City after being re-united with big-play threat and trusted friend Brandon Marshall. The Bears are one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
STEELERS 26 REDSKINS 19
Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will design a plan to limit Robert Griffin III, who leads the NFL in completion percentage and creative plays. A few of the Giants' defensive starters last week heaped praise on the rookie quarterback after "RG3" nearly defeated the defending Super Bowl champions single-handedly.
CHIEFS 26 RAIDERS 13
Brady Quinn gets the start over the ineffective Matt Cassell, benched by Romeo Crennel after throwing nine interceptions and losing five fumbles in five games. Both teams commit too many silly penalties and mental mistakes to be considered a serious threat to either Denver or San Diego in the suddenly-struggling AFC West.
GIANTS 24 COWBOYS 22
Eli Manning has never lost (3-0) at Cowboys Stadium and the road-tested Giants always seem to deliver in spotlight games. New York's win in San Francisco, a 26-3 beat down of the physical 49ers in Week 6, was the most complete performance of the NFL season. New York's best game is really good and they will seek redemption from a Week 1 loss at home to these very same Cowboys.
BRONCOS 38 SAINTS 31
Peyton Manning versus Drew Brees. The 36-year-old Manning should carve up a sorry New Orleans secondary. Expect Denver to focus on a quick start after some sluggish first-half play over the first six games of the season. Denver has been outscored by 56 points in the first half but then Manning and Company come alive in the second half, outscoring its foes by 88 points over the final 30 minutes of the game.
49ers 20 CARDINALS 12
Arizona is saddled with the worst offensive line in the NFL, yielding a league-high 35 sacks this season. Inexperienced tackles D'Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie will struggle against one of the best defenses in the game today. San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh is 16-8-1 against the spread in his short NFL career and Harbaugh's arrival in San Francisco coincides with the emergence of quarterback Alex Smith, who is 19-6 straight-up under Harbaugh's tutelage.
49ERS 21 SEAHAWKS 12
In the Jim Harbaugh era (22 games), the 49ers have yet to lose back-to-back games. More impressively, the Niners are 4-0 against the spread following a loss under Harbaugh, winning those four bounce-back games by a combined score of 93-11. Handicappers can view Seattle's come-from-behind 24-23 win over New England in one of two ways: a gutsy win by rookie Russell Wilson over veteran Tom Brady or a desperate victory, after trailing by 13 points midway through the fourth quarter, against a lackadaisical New England secondary. I lean to the latter explanation.
BILLS 24 TITANS 17
Credit Buffalo for earning a split of its two-game West Coast swing by winning an overtime game in Arizona after getting embarrassed two weeks ago in a 45-3 loss to San Francisco. Cannot trust aging Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
VIKINGS 31 CARDINALS 21
John Skelton takes over for the injured Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals have the worst offensive line in the NFL. Kolb was sacked 22 times over the past three games and the Arizona ground game is virtually nonexistent. The Vikings are perfect at home with three solid offensive performances at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis. Minny has the fewest pre-snap offensive penalties (2) in the league.
BROWNS 23 COLTS 17
A battle of rookie quarterbacks with Andrew Luck squaring off against 29-year-old Brandon Weeden, who earned his first NFL victory last week and the first win for the Browns in nearly a calendar year. Cleveland snapped an 11-game losing streak with a home win over Cincinnati and now the Browns look to stop a 10-game road losing streak.
TEXANS 30 RAVENS 20
Careful with the injury-depleted Ravens after they lost both Ray Lewis (triceps) and Lardarius Webb (torn ACL) to season-ending injuries. Baltimore's rush defense is a mess right now after allowing 227 rushing yards to the Cowboys last week and 214 yards to the Chiefs the week before.
PACKERS 34 RAMS 19
Green Bay regained its stride with a dominating road victory over the previously-undefeated Texans. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers quieted his silly critics by throwing six touchdown passes and linebacker A.J. Hawk announced after the game, "We haven't even touched our potential."
COWBOYS 31 PANTHERS 17
Make-or-break game for Dallas after its self-inflicted loss (15 penalties) in Baltimore. Critics are looking closely at Dallas head coach Jason Garrett after his questionable play-calling and clock management in last week's 31-29 loss to the Ravens. Garrett is only 15-14 as head coach of the talented Cowboys.
GIANTS 35 REDSKINS 19
The defending Super Bowl champions served notice to the rest of the league that they're among the favorites to once again capture the Vince Lombardi trophy with a convincing 26-3 win over the 49ers in San Francisco. Robert Griffin III will be hard-pressed to match the offensive exploits of Eli Manning while facing New York's ball-hawking defense.
SAINTS 31 BUCS 30
The Saints benefit from a more impressive pedigree than the unproven Bucs and the back class will serve New Orleans well in a game that could be decided late in the fourth quarter.
PATRIOTS 27 JETS 23
Both 3-3 teams are part of a four-way tie for first and last place in the AFC East. The Jets must feed running back Shonn Greene, who raced for 161 yards and three touchdowns last week on a career-high 32 carries. The Jets are 11-1 in games in which Greene gets at least 19 carries.
RAIDERS 23 JAGUARS 19
Quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Blaine Gabbert are classic underachievers and it's hard to support either team here. Jacksonville exits an important bye week in which the team focused on fundamentals. The undisciplined Raiders committed 12 penalties last week for 110 yards, both season highs.
STEELERS 24 BENGALS 21
First division game for the Steelers and the fourth for the Bengals. Cincy is 1-2 against AFC North foes after a disappointing 10-point loss to the previously-winless Browns. Cincy's offense has a third-down conversion rate of less than 27 percent, worst in the AFC.
BEARS 35 LIONS 27
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford must take care of the ball against a Chicago defense with 17 takeaways and five defensive scores. Chicago's veteran defense benefits from a bye week while the Lions were forced to play 64 minutes in an overtime victory at Philadelphia.
STEELERS 20 TITANS 17
Both sides are without key players. Hard to trust Tennessee's offense with aging Matt Hasselbeck behind center in place of injured Jake Locker (non-throwing shoulder which could require surgery). The 37-year-old Hasselbeck is averaging only 5.52 yards per pass attempt. Looks like Pittsburgh's defense will be without playmakers Troy Polamalu and Lamar Woodley.
BENGALS 23 BROWNS 20
At first glance, this appears like a good spot for the home team to record its first victory of the season. Upon further review, however, Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden cannot be trusted. His NFL-leading nine interceptions underscores his poor decision-making skills and overconfidence in his accuracy and arm strength. Browns drop to 0-6.
COLTS 24 JETS 23
Mark Sanchez holds the lowest completion percentage (48.4) among all NFL starters, yet the Jets unwisely continue to pin their hopes on their struggling quarterback. Andrew Luck is improving every week and his late-game pass to Reggie Wayne and Wayne's subsequent fight to reach the endzone served as the key play in the team's 30-27 upset victory over Green Bay.
BUCS 24 CHIEFS 13
Brady Quinn takes over for an injured Matt Cassell and faces a Tampa Bay team freshened off a bye. The Bucs are greatly improved over last year's 4-12 squad thanks in large part to Greg Schiano, who inspires his team to play hard for 60 minutes. Kansas City is ranked dead last among 32 NFL teams in turnover differential (-15).
COWBOYS 28 RAVENS 27
Let's call for a mild upset here. Dallas benefits from a bye week to re-focus on the team's long-range goals after a disappointing 2-2 start. The Ravens moved to 4-1 after last week's subpar performance in a 9-6 victory over the lowly Chiefs. Baltimore's 42 penalties are the second-most in the NFL (Seattle has been flagged 44 times.)
EAGLES 27 LIONS 21
Neither team can be trusted. Michael Vick is a turnover machine (six interceptions and an NFL-leading five fumbles lost) and Matthew Stafford has a big arm but his leadership skills are not fully developed.
RAMS 20 DOLPHINS 19
Beware of St. Louis placekicker Greg Zuerlein, nicknamed "Leg-a-Tron." In what likely will be a close, low-scoring contest, St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher has one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL with the rookie phenom who is 13-for-13 this season with a long of 60 yards.
FALCONS 38 RAIDERS 22
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan should march up and down the field against an Oakland defense allowing opponents to convert on 32 of its 60 third-down attempts. The Falcons feature the best receiving tandem in the NFL with Roddy White and Julio Jones.
PATRIOTS 27 SEAHAWKS 17
New England has the pedigree to handle the coast-to-coast travel and difficult road venue. Bill Belichick is far more likely to limit Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson than the chances of Pete Carroll containing Tom Terrific
CARDINALS 21 BILLS 20
The Cards may escape with a home win but unless they clean up their offensive line issues, Arizona will struggle to post a margin on any team in the league. Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb has been sacked a league-high 22 times already this season.
VIKINGS 27 REDSKINS 23
Check the status of Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III who suffered a head injury in last week's loss to Atlanta. Washington back-up quarterback Kirk Cousins is not ready for prime time. Minnesota's Christian Ponder should gain confidence facing a Washington secondary that has surrendered more than 1643 passing yards over five games.
49ERS 31 GIANTS 21
Time for San Francisco to avenge its 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants in last season's NFC Championship game. The true strength of Jim Harbaugh's team lies in its defense (all 11 starters back from last year's squad) but take a close look at an emerging offense, led by the underrated Alex Smith, who has thrown eight touchdowns against only one interception and leads the NFL in QB rating with a mark of 108.7.
TEXANS 34 PACKERS 24
Something's wrong with Green Bay. The Packers are not protecting Aaron Rodgers (sacked 21 times in five games) and now they meet Houston's ferocious pass rush led by 6-foot-5 J.J. Watt, who leads the league with 8.5 sacks. Despite losing linebacker Brian Cushing to a season-ending knee injury, Houston figures to remain undefeated before a loyal crowd at Reliant Stadium.
BRONCOS 23 CHARGERS 21
Critical game in the AFC West. San Diego head coach Norv Turner is 110-115-1 in his NFL head coaching career and only 49-68-1 in one possession games. Significant edge to John Fox and Peyton Manning over the entry of Turner and Philip Rivers.
RAMS 22 CARDINALS 19
Critical game for the home team if Jeff Fisher's team wants to contend in the NFC West. Don't underestimate the importance of St. Louis rookie placekicker Greg Zuerlein. He has converted all 12 field-goal attempts this season, including bombs of 58 and 60 yards, which proved to be the difference in last week's 19-13 win over Seattle.
FALCONS 35 REDSKINS 31
Expect a shootout between Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin III. Lean to the more experienced "Matty Ice" who is now 47-19 in the regular season after his clutch game-winning drive in the final minute last week against Carolina. Ryan also leads the NFL in QB rating (112.1) and Atlanta's defense is tops in takeaways with seven interceptions and five fumble recoveries through four weeks.
STEELERS 24 EAGLES 17
Pittsburgh benefits from a Week 4 bye to meet a Philly team coming off a Sunday night game against a divisional foe. The Steelers should benefit from the return of swagger players Rashard Mendenhall, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. It's time for Philly's luck to run out after winning three games by a combined four points.
PACKERS 28 COLTS 27
Tricky emotional handicap after Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this week. Offensive-minded Bruce Arenas will be calling the shots in a game that will be dedicated to Indy's fallen leader. Green Bay is not as sharp as in seasons past as evidenced by their penalty yardage and negative turnover differential.
GIANTS 27 BROWNS 20
Cleveland still tries hard despite its winless record. But the Giants are too classy and experienced to stumble against the youngest team in the NFL.
VIKINGS 31 TITANS 21
Leslie Frazier's team is exceeding expectations (regular-season win total was 6.5) by playing hard in all three phases of the game. Second-year quarterback Christian Ponder has yet to throw an interception this season. Matt Hasselbeck will start at quarterback for the injured Jake Locker (non-throwing shoulder).
BENGALS 23 DOLPHINS 16
How much gas is left in Miami's tank after the Dolphins suffered back-to-back overtime losses? The needle reads empty while Cincinnati expended little energy in defeating the hopeless Jaguars, 27-10. Cincy last week outgained Jacksonville in total yards, 382-212.
RAVENS 26 CHIEFS 19
Kansas City's permissive defense, allowing 34 points per game, has only two interceptions this season while forcing an NFL-low one forced fumble, a fumble recovered by the opposition. Most fans at Arrowhead Stadium left before the conclusion of San Diego's 37-20 victory last week over a Matt Cassell-led offense guilty of six turnovers, five of which took place in the decisive first half.
SEAHAWKS 21 PANTHERS 20
Let's call for a mild upset here as the improved NFC West rep should defeat an overrated squad from the NFC South. Cam Newton still struggles with downfield accuracy and game management while counterpart Russell Wilson trusts his running game and defense.
BEARS 23 JAGUARS 13
The combination of a free-wheeling offense and a hard-hitting defense makes the 3-1 Bears a serious playoff contender. Former Denver teammates Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall have renewed their friendship in the Windy City. Chicago leads the NFL with 14 takeaways.
PATRIOTS 31 BRONCOS 24
Tom Brady meets Peyton Manning for the 13th time in their illustrious careers. Brady leads the series, 8-4, but Manning has won four of the last six showdowns. The site and circumstances favor Brady. Manning, with his reduced arm strength, will struggle this season in come-from-behind situations.
49ERS 27 BILLS 10
San Francisco returns to Candlestick Park to face a Buffalo team that surrendered 35 unanswered points in a 52-28 loss to division rival New England. The 49ers feature a punishing rushing attack led by Frank Gore (326 yards on 66 carries and three touchdowns in four games).
CHARGERS 31 SAINTS 30
No reason to think Philip Rivers and the Chargers will slow down in the climate-controlled Superdome against a shaky New Orleans defense that did not record a sack last week against Green Bay. The Saints fall to 0-5.
TEXANS 24 JETS 17
The Texans catch a depleted Jets' team (no Revis, no Holmes) coming off a comprehensive loss to the 49ers in which every weakness of the Jets' organization was exposed in an ugly way. The look-ahead line made Houston a 4-point favorite while the current line is double that price. The truth lies somewhere in between.
RAVENS 26 BROWNS 13
Baltimore's new-look offense is averaging nearly 33 points per game as Joe Flacco is completing 65% of his passes (71 for 110) for six touchdowns against two interceptions. The Ravens have won 13 straight games at M&T Bank Stadium while the Browns have lost nine straight contests, six consecutive losses to end last season and three straight setbacks to start this season.
PATRIOTS 23 BILLS 20
Tom Brady usually outplays Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown 11 interceptions in the last four meetings against Bill Belichick's team. The Pats have lost their last two games by a combined three points. Let's take the Patriots to win narrowly over a division rival they've dominated over the past decade. New England is 16-1 in its last 17 games vs. Buffalo.
LIONS 27 VIKINGS 24
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is nursing a sore hamstring but Shaun Hill is a capable replacement. Hill led a furious rally late in the fourth quarter of last week's overtime loss in Nashville. University of Illinois product Mikel Leshoure looked impressive (26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown) in his NFL debut for the Lions.
FALCONS 30 PANTHERS 20
Atlanta has recorded 11 takeaways and committed only one turnover. The Falcons are 3-0 after victories over three AFC West foes. Atlanta is tied with Houston for the NFL's best point differential (+46).
49ERS 27 JETS 9
The 49ers under Jim Harbaugh are at their best off a loss. San Francisco was 3-0 last season straight up and against the spread following each of its three regular-season losses, outscoring opponents by a combined 59-11 in bounce-back games.
CHARGERS 24 CHIEFS 22
Disregard Kansas City's 18-point comeback against New Orleans, a surprise rally which highlighted the Saints' defensive woes more than the Chiefs' offensive firepower. Let's trust San Diego to rebound off its disappointing home loss to the undefeated Falcons.
TEXANS 31 TITANS 10
Houston, the only undefeated team in the AFC, is 3-0 for the first time in the team's 11-year history. Love the way Gary Kubiak's team dominates opponents early in a game, outscoring its foes 62-14 over the first 30 minutes of its first three games.
SEAHAWKS 21 RAMS 10
Seattle owns the series against St. Louis, winning the last three meetings and 13 of the past 14 games. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll deserves praise for a vastly-improved defense allowing an NFL-low 13 points per game.
CARDINALS 27 DOLPHINS 17
Arizona is 3-0 for the first time since 1974 (dating to the team's stay in St. Louis) and the Cardinals have more wins than the Packers, Patriots and Saints combined. Arizona's defense should stifle a Miami offense playing with or without Reggie Bush, the team's most explosive offensive player.
BRONCOS 24 RAIDERS 14
Both teams enter the game 1-2. Peyton Manning should excel against a makeshift Oakland secondary missing key cornerbacks Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell.
BENGALS 27 JAGUARS 21
Cincinnati exploded for 72 points over the past two games and second-year quarterback Andy Dalton is leading the Bengals' big-play attack. Can't trust erratic Jacksonville signal-caller Blaine Gabbert.
PACKERS 37 SAINTS 24
Expect Green Bay to take advantage of a New Orleans franchise in complete turmoil. Allowing Kansas City to score the game's final 21 points in last week's 27-24 overtime loss is a sure sign the Saints are a dead team.
BUCS 20 REDSKINS 13
Greg Schiano's team is 1-2 straight up but a perfect 3-0 against the spread. Schiano's young Bucs are a work in progress but the hard-trying efforts in road losses against the Giants and Cowboys are a positive sign for Tampa Bay's future.
GIANTS 37 EAGLES 27
Extra rest and more prep time benefit the road-tested Giants. Eli Manning over Michael Vick is a no-brainer. Manning's 97.1 QB rating towers over Vick's 66.3.
COWBOYS 17 BEARS 13
Both teams exit subpar offensive efforts against inferior competition. The Bears managed only 160 yards of total offense last week at home against St. Louis and the Cowboys have scored only two touchdowns over the past two games. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was spectacular in a win over the Giants, a non-factor in a loss against Seattle and shaky at best in a win over Tampa Bay
PANTHERS 28 GIANTS 27
Tampa Bay is a common opponent for these two Thursday night combatants. The Giants last week beat the Bucs in come-from-behind fashion after trailing 27-16 in the fourth quarter. The Panthers lost to the Bucs in Tampa Bay's home opener in Week 1, 16-10. The fundamentals favor the Giants but the scheduling spot -- a nationally-televised Thursday night game in the second year of the Cam Newton Era -- screams Panthers.
RAMS 17 BEARS 16
Upset alert. Former Bears' player Jeff Fisher returns to Chicago with a hard-trying team capable of outplaying the inconsistent Jay Cutler and aging Brian Urlacher. St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford benefits from the presence of possession receiver Danny Amendola (15 receptions last week). The scrappy receiver is an early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year after suffering a gruesome season-ending elbow injury in the first game of the 2011 season.
COWBOYS 21 BUCS 18
Home opener for the Cowboys and Game 3 of the round-robin featuring these two teams and the New York Giants (Dallas-New York in Week 1, Tampa Bay-New York in Week 2 and Tampa Bay-Dallas here in Week 3). Dallas lost all chance last week in Seattle after a fumble on the opening kickoff and a blocked punt led to 10 points for the home team in the game's first five minutes.
49ERS 23 VIKINGS 16
San Francisco looks to go 3-0 against the NFC North. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has won 16 of 20 NFL contests and his team is an impressive 15-4-1 against the spread. San Francisco's bitter home loss in overtime in last season's NFC Championship Game to the eventual Super Bowl champs should serve as motivation throughout the 2012 campaign.
LIONS 34 TITANS 20
Detroit's offense should enjoy a change in scenery after facing San Francisco's physical defense last week. Tennessee has allowed 72 points while scoring only 23 to produce by far the worst point differential (-49) in the NFL.
REDSKINS 27 BENGALS 13
Expect a rabid crowd in Landover to witness "RG3" in his home debut. The star rookie has impressed onlookers with a two-game QB rating of 111.6.
DOLPHINS 20 JETS 17
Important division game in the AFC East where all four teams split their first two games. Miami enters the game with confidence after a fresh Reggie Bush raced for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns on impressive runs of 23 and 65 yards in a 35-13 beat down of the struggling Raiders. Miami outscored Oakland 28-3 in the second half.
SAINTS 27 CHIEFS 10
Perfect opponent for the Saints to regain to their swagger. Plagued with a leaky secondary, Kansas City lost by margins of 16 and 18 in Weeks 1 and 2 to the Falcons and Bills. Expect another double-digit loss for Romeo Crennel's disappointing squad.
BILLS 28 BROWNS 13
Buffalo responded beautifully after its opening-week 48-28 loss to the Jets with a 35-17 thumping of the Chiefs. C.J. Spiller ran for 123 yards in his first start replacing injured running back Fred Jackson. The Bills lead the NFL with nine touchdowns.
COLTS 17 JAGS 12
Andrew Luck's home debut was a successful one as the prized rookie led a game-winning drive in the final minute of a 23-20 victory over Minnesota. The rookie out of Stanford completed 20-of-31 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Jacksonville managed only one touchdown in Week 1 and one touchdown in Week 2.
CARDINALS 21 EAGLES 20
To validate their win in Foxborough, the Cardinals must return home and defend their home field in Glendale. Philadelphia is 2-0 despite nine turnovers and 19 penalties in its first two games.
CHARGERS 27 FALCONS 24
Two of the NFL's six undefeated teams meet at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Quarterbacks Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers share similar profiles: solid regular-season performers boasting gaudy statistics until the postseason arrives.
TEXANS 23 BRONCOS 13
In short order, Houston has become one of the NFL's elite teams. The Texans posted a workmanlike victory over Jacksonville last week when holding the Jags to only 117 total yards on a league-low 38 plays. Lay the short number here.
STEELERS 21 RAIDERS 20
Pittsburgh invades Oakland to play the desperate Raiders who are trying to avoid an 0-3 start. Thirty-nine-year-old head coach Dennis Allen could be overmatched against Mike Tomlin and his experienced staff.
RAVENS 35 PATRIOTS 31
A rematch of last season's AFC Championship Game won by the Patriots 23-20 when then-Baltimore placekicker Billy Cundiff, now with the Redskins, missed a 32-yard chip shot in the final seconds of regulation. Look for Baltimore to gain a measure of revenge here behind emerging quarterback Joe Flacco, who seems to be gaining confidence as his career progresses.
PACKERS 34 SEAHAWKS 23
Green Bay gets tested for class here and passes the test with an impressive road victory. The Packers benefit from extra rest and extra preparation time after competing in the Thursday night game last week.
PACKERS 34 BEARS 24
Five-day turnaround for fierce rivals in their 185th meeting. Chicago's defense is nicked up with linebacker Brian Urlacher (knee) and cornerback Charles Tillman (leg) nursing injuries. Aaron Rodgers should out duel Jay Cutler in what figures to be a high-scoring affair at Lambeau Field, rain or dry.
GIANTS 27 BUCS 13
The Giants benefit from extra rest and preparation time. Look for Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman (22 interceptions last season) to struggle against the best group of pass rushers (Tuck, Umenyiora, Pierre-Paul, etc.) in the NFL.
PATRIOTS 30 CARDINALS 20
The Patriots were solid on both sides of the football in a dominating 34-13 victory over Tennessee, winning their ninth straight season-opening game for head coach Bill Belichick. The Cards were fortunate to win last week after getting outplayed by Seattle.
COLTS 27 VIKINGS 23
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck should improve with a game under his belt and Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson could regress after playing his first game since reconstructive knee surgery last January. Expect Indy head coach Chuck Pagano, formerly the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, to clean up a sloppy defense that yielded a pair of 17-0 scoring runs to Chicago.
CAROLINA 31 SAINTS 24
The Saints lacked focus and fortitude in a 40-32 loss to the Redskins, allowing Washington to dominate the time-of-possession statistic (39:10 to 20:50). The Panthers managed only 10 points last week but Newton and Co. should come alive in the home opener against a leaky New Orleans secondary.
BILLS 27 CHIEFS 17
Both teams exit double-digit losses but let's forgive Buffalo's road loss to the Jets in a game that simply got away from them. Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller is more than capable of replacing the injured Fred Jackson.
RAVENS 28 EAGLES 23
Baltimore's new no-huddle offense will be tough to stop this season. Philadelphia beat Cleveland last week by a point despite five turnovers and 12 penalties. Philly's narrow win says more about the Browns' ineptitude than the Eagles' resourcefulness.
DOLPHINS 20 RAIDERS 16
Ugly game. Neither team look good in Week 1. Slight edge to the home team after the Dolphins faced one of the NFL's elite defenses in Houston last week.
BENGALS 21 BROWNS 13
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is older than Andy Dalton (28 compared to 24) but Dalton has the edge in experience with his rookie season behind him. The Browns feature 15 rookies on their 53-man roster, lack talent at key offensive positions and face an impossible schedule that will keep long-suffering fans in Cleveland miserable for another year.
TEXANS 27 JAGS 10
Jacksonville will struggle to move the football against a Houston defense that forced four turnovers last week. "Super Bowl or bust" is the mantra for the Texans this season.
COWBOYS 27 SEAHAWKS 21
Last week's loss in Arizona could lead to another loss this week for the Seahawks. Dallas needs to parlay its enthusiastic win over the Giants into another road victory for owner Jerry Jones, who delivered a "now or never" ultimatum during the offseason.
REDSKINS 27 RAMS 20
Robert Griffin III goes from the Superdome to the Edward Jones Dome and there's no reason he can't lead Washington to another road victory. RG3 posted the highest passer rating (139.9) among all 32 starting quarterbacks in Week 1.
JETS 21 STEELERS 20
Upset special. The Jets catch the Steelers off a high-profile Sunday night loss in Denver against Peyton Manning. Pittsburgh is playing hurt right now with Rashard Mendenhall and James Harrison both nursing knee injuries and a patchwork offensive line trying to protect Big Ben. Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez threw to seven different receivers last week and Jeremy Kerley, the second-year player out of TCU, is a welcome surprise considering his place in the 2011 NFL Draft (fifth round, 153rd player taken).
CHARGERS 38 TITANS 20
Good spot for San Diego to finish drives with touchdowns after settling for five field goals against the Raiders. Jake Locker will likely get the start for Tennessee this week despite leaving his first-ever NFL start with a separated left shoulder.
49ERS 30 LIONS 13
San Francisco is for real. Last season, the 49ers finished an impressive 13-3 straight up and a more impressive 12-3-1 against the spread before suffering a bitter overtime loss to the eventual Super Bowl champions. Detroit played down to the competition (St. Louis) in last week's 27-23 underachieving victory.
FALCONS 27 BRONCOS 21
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is 44-19 in NFL regular-season games after going 25-7 in 32 college starts at Boston College. He's a winner and he will relish the opportunity to face the 36-year-old Peyton Manning in the Monday Night Football spotlight.
GIANTS 24 COWBOYS 14
Credit Eli Manning for emerging from the massive shadow of his older brother to stake claim as one of the most clutch quarterbacks in NFL history. Eli threw for more than 4,900 yards and tossed 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes in leading his team to an NFC East crown. More impressively, the underrated and understated Manning recorded nine touchdown passes against only one interception in four impressive postseason performances, culminating with his second Super Bowl MVP award. Tony Romo's receiving corps is nicked up. Wideouts Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, along with tight end Jason Witten, missed valuable time in the preseason. During the offseason, Dallas owner Jerry Jones invoked a "now or never" ultimatum to his aging stars. The once-proud Cowboys franchise has won only one playoff game since 1996.
BEARS 27 COLTS 14
Tough spot for prized rookie Andrew Luck to make his NFL debut against a veteran defense featuring linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. Chicago's new-look offense, engineered by coordinator Mike Tice, should benefit from a more efficient approach, especially if a suspect offensive line allows quarterback Jay Cutler time to throw downfield to newly-acquired Brandon Marshall.
EAGLES 20 BROWNS 13
Michael Vick missed the preseason meeting between the two teams when the Eagles were led by rookie quarterback Nick Foles (12-for-19 for 146 yards and two touchdowns) in a 27-10 victory. Vick will start this Sunday in Cleveland and this could be the beginning of a miserable season for the Browns, an inexperienced team facing an impossible schedule with an over-reliance on unproven talents Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson, who underwent knee surgery August 9.
BILLS 20 JETS 17
Let's call for a mild upset here. Buffalo started 5-2 last season before collapsing down the stretch to finish a disappointing 6-10. The Bills missed the postseason for the twelfth consecutive season. New York also underachieved last season after head coach Rex Ryan predicted Super Bowl glory and instead settled for an 8-8 record. Buffalo's newly-remodeled defense will be the best unit on the field.
SAINTS 34 REDSKINS 17
New Orleans will be eager to play its home opener after the offseason scandal dubbed "Bountygate" dominated the headlines. Drew Brees should enjoy a big day with an offense that virtually returns intact following a record-setting 2011 season in which the Saints averaged a league-best 467 yards per game and scored 34.2 points per game, second in the NFL to Green Bay's 35 points per contest.
PATRIOTS 24 TITANS 20
New England struggled to protect its quarterback in the preseason. The Pats are replacing three offensive lineman from last year's team, including stellar left tackle Matt Light, who retired from football last May after spending his entire 10-year career in Foxboro. The Pats should win in Nashville but asking them to win by seven or more points is a stretch.
JAGUARS 23 VIKINGS 21
Let's put Minnesota on upset alert. Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert has more upside than Minnesota counterpart Christian Ponder and the team's new pair of wide receivers, Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon, could steal the headlines in a game that lacks marquee appeal. Maurice Jones-Drew ended his 38-day holdout but Rashad Jennings will get the start at running back after a productive preseason with 209 yards on 47 carries.
TEXANS 28 DOLPHINS 13
If not for the untimely foot injury to quarterback Matt Schaub, the Texans had a legitimate chance to compete for last season's Super Bowl. Houston's defense is its calling card and despite losing Mario Williams in free agency, the Texans' stop unit figures to continue their stingy ways, especially at home where opposing teams last season averaged fewer than 15 points per contest, a full seven points below the league scoring average (22.2).
LIONS 31 RAMS 17
No team in the NFL has lost as many games (65) as St. Louis over the past five seasons. Against the spread, the Rams have been money burners, specifically in road games where the Rams are 1-9 over their last 10 games away from the Edward Jones Dome. It's time for the Lions to take the next step in their maturation process by becoming more discipline, both on and off the field.
FALCONS 23 CHIEFS 21
Not much separates these two teams. The Falcons have the slightly better roster but the spot favors the home-standing Chiefs. Let's side with Matt Ryan over Matt Cassell as the five-year pro out of Boston College is 43-19 in 62 regular-season starts and he's coming off a season in which he threw for 4,177 yards.
PACKERS 28 49ERS 21
The game of the day takes place at Lambeau Field. Look for Green Bay to send a message to the upstart 49ers. The message is clear and simple: the path to Super Bowl XLVII travels through Wisconsin. Excellent match-up between Aaron Rodgers and his high-powered offense against an aggressive San Francisco defense that returns all 11 starters from last year's squad.
PANTHERS 31 BUCS 28
New head coach Greg Schiano has a huge job on his hands in Tampa after the Bucs lost the last 10 games of the 2011 season when they quit on former head man Raheem Morris. Carolina's Cam Newton, who threw for 21 touchdowns and rushed for 14 more in a superb rookie campaign, should put up big numbers against Tampa Bay's inexperienced defense.
SEAHAWKS 17 CARDINALS 16
Seattle's Russell Wilson was the story of the preseason when he beat out free-agent signee Matt Flynn, who signed a three-year, $19 million dollar deal with Seattle after serving as a backup in Green Bay. The 5-11 Wilson is a natural born leader and he faces an Arizona team lacking leadership qualities at all the key positions (coach, quarterback and linebacker).
BRONCOS 24 STEELERS 21
Which Peyton Manning will we see: the vintage Manning who claimed four NFL MVP awards over a seven-year period with the Colts or the rehabbing Manning, a 36-year-old quarterback, trying to regain past glory after undergoing four neck surgeries over the past 19 months? Manning will benefit from a raucous home crowd in his comeback. His familiarity with the blitzing schemes of longtime nemesis, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is another advantage.
RAVENS 27 BENGALS 13
Important AFC North battle in the early game (7:00 p.m. Eastern time) of the Monday Night Football doubleheader. Baltimore's Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are in the twilight of their careers and the question in Baltimore is about the window of opportunity: "Will Joe Flacco mature fast enough to win a Super Bowl before the Ravens' aging defense falls from the ranks of the elite?"
RAIDERS 24 CHARGERS 21
It's the unproven 39-year-old head coach Dennis Allen making his NFL debut against a proven loser in 60-year-old Norv Turner, sporting a 107-113-1 career record that spans 14 seasons with the Redskins, Raiders and now the Chargers. Allen is familiar with San Diego's high-powered offense after serving last season as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos.