With only one week remaining in an eventful NFL season, both the AFC & NFC playoff spots are far from set in stone. Five teams in each conference remain in contention. The AFC East is up for grabs between three teams (Miami, New England, & New York). All are eligible for the last Wild-card spot as well. San Diego, at 7-8, and Denver, at 8-7, sadly still control their own fate. And the Ravens are in with a win as well. On the NFC side, Minnesota and Chicago are fighting for the NFC North title, and Dallas, Tampa Bay, and even Philadelphia have a shot at the Wild-card. I cannot remember a closer playoff race. Even though anything can happen, I'm going to tell you what I think will happen. Here's a breakdown of the games that matter.
Chicago 27 - Green Bay 20 (tonight)
In their last meeting, Green Bay embarassed the Bears 37-3. I look for a complete turnaround in Chi-town, as the Bears keep their playoff hopes alive.
Jacksonville 13 - Baltimore 16
It's easy to overlook the 5-10 Jaguars, as we almost saw last week with the Colts. The Ravens are a good home team and showed what they're capable of against Dallas. I look for them to squeeze out a victory, earning a trip back to the playoffs.
Miami 24 - Jets 30
Although Chad only came inches short of taking down the Jets in their first contest and the Dolphins seem to be even better, I think the home team takes this one. The undeserving pro-bowler, Brett Favre, has been horrid as of late, making countless reckless decisions. However, he's always been one for the big game. And this one's a big game. I think his luck lands him the 10-6 record I predicted for them the day he signed.
New England 34 - Buffalo 20
The Patriots are a big game team. The Giants shocked them last year, but they won't let the Bills. Matt Cassel has been a great story for the Pats, and should carry a confident New England team to an unexpected 11-5 record.
Denver 24 - San Diego 23
Denver has been pitiful as of late, and San Diego is looking its best. The Chargers have the home crowd on their side and are out to avenge the unfortunate miscue by Ed Hoculi in Week 2. Brandon Marshall, like most followers of the game, seems to be doubting his team (Denver). However, midway through the season I said this division title would come down to this game and that Denver would pull it out, so I'm standing by that prediction.
Giants 27 - Minnesota 20
The Giants don't need to win this game. The Vikings own the Giants. Darren Sharper owns Eli Manning. But last year the Giants decided not to lay down against the Patriots in Week 17, and look what it got them: A Super Bowl Championship. Even so, I think it'll be best to let Jacobs lay down and nurse his knee for the playoffs. The Vikings are going to want this game more. Adrian Peterson is good, real good. But the game is in Minnesota. I like Eli and the Giants in a dome. I think the Bears will be thanking them come next Sunday.
Oakland 10 - Tampa Bay 27
Tampa Bay was really pathetic this week. I mean they were bad. But they'll get a win, and hope for a Dallas loss.
Dallas 20 - Philadelphia 23
I really thought Philadelphia would win out and steal the last playoff spot. But unfortunately for them, they rolled over against the Redskins and killed almost any chance of making the playoffs. What better way to salvage likely missing the playoffs? Ruin Dallas' playoff hopes. I think Donovan, Andy, and Brian, will do just that. Maybe next year TO.
Chicago 21 - Houston 16
This is a tough one. Houston is real good at home. This would be a horrible way for the Bears to go down, but would make sense judging by their season thus far. I gotta take the Bears though. It'd be ridiculous if they made the playoffs. But maybe, its just ridiculous enough.
Carolina 27 - New Orleans 38
Home teams just win in these divisional matchups. Drew Brees is going to throw for exactly 402 yards and break Marino's single-season record for passing by 1 yard, and John Fox will be in disbelief as the Falcons earn a first round bye in the playoffs. Michael Vick will realize his term with the Falcons is over, but Jerry Jones will take a chance on him.
Detroit 34 - Green Bay 23
The Lions will head into Lambeau and win their Super Bowl on the frozen tundra of Lambeau field! How? I don't know. Something crazy will happen.
Practically EVERY game matters this weekend! It's pretty ridiculous. But then again, Dan Orlovsky did drop back out of the endzone, then continue to roll out out of bounds for 5 yards before realizing he's an idiot.
So what does this all mean? Here's how the playoff picture will shape up:
1. Tennessee Titans
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
3. New England Patriots
4. Denver Broncos
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Baltimore Ravens
1. New York Giants
2. Atlanta Falcons (what!?)
3. Chicago Bears
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Image taken from Yahoo! Sports