Last Week: 2-3
Chicago (9-6) at Detroit (4-11)
Megatron is amazing, breaking the receiving record with one game left. Now, he goes for 2,000 against the Bears. Chicago needs a win and help from the Packers to make the playoffs. A returning Brian Urlacher boosts a defense that gained confidence with last week’s strong performance. QB Jay Cutler has been nothing to write home about in the second half of the season. The Lions can’t get out of their own way, losing seven straight. The Bears will win, then wait to learn their playoff fate.
Bears 21, Lions 18
Baltimore (10-5) at Cincinnati (9-6)
The streak is broken! Last week, the Bengals won their first in 10 against the Ravens and Steelers combined while knocking Pittsburgh out of the playoffs and securing the sixth seed. The Ravens also got a huge win against the Giants to win the AFC North division. With both teams locked into their respective seeds, only pride will be on the line. After being embarrassed early in the season by the Ravens, the Bengals seek revenge as they hope to make it seven wins in eight games. Baltimore will look to establish the running game, but it is unclear how much Ray Rice will play. Look for Cincy to come out more focused with the Ravens looking ahead to the playoffs. Mark another one up for the not so bumbling Bengals.
Bengals 24, Ravens 21
Houston (12-3) at Indianapolis (10-5)
There have been many excellent stories in the NFL this season, but nothing tops the Colts and Chuck Pagano’s successful fight against leukemia. The Colts played with inspiration and made the playoffs, and Sunday Pagano returns to the sidelines. Rookie QB Andrew Luck has led the Colts to a record seven comeback wins. The Texans, who have lost two of three, need a victory to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. J.J. Watt needs 2 sacks to reach the record of 22 1/2. Emotions will be high and the Colts will give Pagano the homecoming he deserves.
Colts 27, Texans 25
Green Bay (11-4) at Minnesota (9-6)
This game is at the center of several NFC playoff scenarios. If Green Bay wins, they get a first-round bye and give numerous teams a chance to get in. Minnesota makes the playoffs with a victory that could drop the Packers to the No. 4 seed. The Packers have been great of late. They look very much like the team that won the Super Bowl two seasons ago. The Vikings are tough and rugged, driven by machine-like Adrian Peterson on offense and Jared Allen on defense. They fought off the tough Texans last week with an excellent defensive effort. Peterson was held under 100 yards but still has a shot at 2,000 yards (102 yards) and the Eric Dickerson’s record 2,105 yards (208 yards). The Vikings need Peterson to carry the offense and the defense to hold QB Aaron Rodgers at bay. Peterson will hold up his part of the bargain — reach 2,000 but fall short of the record — but Rodgers will prove too much for the Vikings defense.
Packers 28, Vikings 25
Dallas (8-7) at Washington (9-6)
Oh Dallas, how you build us up only to continually let us down. The Cowboys blew a great opportunity last week, losing to New Orleans, and now must beat the Redskins to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. Tony Romo has been in this situation before and has failed multiple times. DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer take on RG3, and both need to be great. But RG3 is the most electric player in the NFL. Sunday night, the charismatic rookie will show that the division title will go through Wasington for a long time to come.
Redskins 31, Cowboys 28