Last week, in relative terms, was a miracle for these picks. Getting 12 games right in a week won't win most good pools, but compared to the incredible duds I have been tossing out with regularity this season, 12 wins is really something to write home about. We could ride that momentum to another big week - as long as the road teams do well because we picked seven of them here. Here are the straight up picks for the week for your office pools:
San Diego at Oakland: Two very frustrating teams that could potentially be sharing new digs in L.A. next year. That makes this game more pathetic than intriguing. Neither team is in a great place, but I like more things about Oakland right now. Take the Raiders.
Washington at Philadelphia: What a strange season in the NFC East. The Redskins can secure the division with a win here - even though they could still only finish .500. The Eagles would be in good shape if they win. Neither team deserves the postseason, but Washington is playing a little better. Take the Redskins.
New England at New York Jets: The Jets are red hot, having won four straight. The Patriots have won two in a row, though, and they know they still can't let their foot off the gas because they haven't yet clinched home field through the playoffs - something they would definitely like. I never bet against Belichick in a divisional game. Take the Patriots.
Houston at Tennessee: It's a battle of the backup quarterbacks here, and it isn't likely to be a gem of a game. Houston has won a couple in a row, though, and they can put a choke hold on the division with a win here. Another playoff team that doesn't deserve it. Take the Texans.
Cleveland at Kansas City: The Chiefs have won eight in a row. It would take these Browns four years to win eight games - at least. The Chiefs are in the heat of a playoff battle. All the Browns' players can hope for is that they play elsewhere next year. Take the Chiefs.
Indianapolis at Miami: If you asked me to pick the most pathetic, hopeless team in the league right now I would narrow it down to these two teams and then struggle to pick the winner. Just like a struggle to pick the winner in this game. Take the Dolphins because they are at home and because their QB situation is arguably less bleak.
San Francisco at Detroit: As I write this I am watching the Lions dismantle the Saints. It isn't much of an accomplishment - the New Orleans defense is profoundly bad. Still, they are showing a spark of something. And they are at home. Take the Lions. I guess.
Dallas at Buffalo: One of the more disappointing teams in the NFC compared to preseason expectations visits their counterpart in the AFC. Not at all a classic. Buffalo is not nearly as far down their QB depth chart, so I guess they get the nod. Take the Bills.
Chicago at Tampa Bay: The Bucs have lost two in a row to throw away any playoff hopes they had. The Bears have done the same by losing three straight. This is the playing-for-next-year bowl. Lovie Smith should be motivated to beat the Bears, though, and that's good enough for me. Take the Bucs.
Carolina at Atlanta: The Panthers had a scare last week against the Giants - in a very odd game. They should have learned from that, they still need the win to lock up everything there is to lock up, and they are playing at the horrible Falcons. Easy pick - take the Panthers.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore: Pittsburgh is in a three-way tie for the two AFC wild-card spots. They have everything to play for. The Ravens have had nothing to play for since about Week 2. Great rivalry, but mismatch of a game. Take the Steelers.
Jacksonville at New Orleans: The Saints showed without question on Monday night that they are done with this season. They've had enough, and I don't blame them. Nothing good has happened for them this year. The Jaguars aren't exactly a model of excellence, but they shine in comparison and are the pick. Take Jacksonville.
St. Louis at Seattle: Seattle is playing really great football now - much to the chagrin of the rest of the league. The Rams really aren't. The Seahawks have a QB at the very top of his game. The Rams haven't since Kurt Warner. Take the Seahawks.
Green Bay at Arizona: The loss of the Honey Badger for the season really hurts the Cardinals. It's not enough to turn me off of them, though. Green Bay has won three straight, but I am still not a believer in this edition of the team. Arizona can clinch a bye with a win, and they will be motivated. Take the Cardinals.
New York Giants at Minnesota: Hard to know if the Giants will have Odell Beckham Jr. in this one - he is suspended but could still be available depending on the appeal process. That matters, but Minnesota, playing at home, controls their own playoff destiny - win and they are in. That will be enough to get them over the top. Take the Vikings.
Cincinnati at Denver: The battle of the backup quarterbacks is likely here. That's not good news for the Broncos in the second half - Osweiler seemingly only has one half worth of stamina in his massive frame. The team knows it, too - they wilted along with him in the second half against the Steelers. Take the Bengals.
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