In the NFC, the Giants have picked up where they left off in 2007, winning 12 games and capturing the conference's number one playoff seed. Meanwhile, likely challengers like the Cowboys, Packers, Redskins, Seahawks and Eagles have all had mediocre to bad seasons. New faces in Atlanta and Arizona have revitalized those franchises. Now the playoffs are upon us, and in five weeks America will know who is the best of the best.
GIANTS (12-3) @ VIKINGS (9-6): Much has been made about the Giants resting their starters, but let's not forget that last season the Giants played their starters in the season finale against New England and nearly pulled out the victory. That loss to the Patriots, propelled the Giants to Super Bowl fame weeks later, so don't be suprised if Tom Coughlin bets on it happening again.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have everything to play for. They need to beat the Giants in order to win the NFC North. If not, they need to pray that the Houston Texans defeat the Bears, so they can back into the playoffs. A Bears victory and a Vikings loss will give the Bears the division. Look for the Vikings to play desperate football on Sunday. PICK: VIKINGS 28, GIANTS 21.
PATRIOTS (10-5) @ BILLS (7-8): The Patriots need to win against the Bills and get a lot of help. They will need to rely on the Jets to beat the Dolphins, or the Jaguars to beat the Ravens. If either happens, then the Patriots could be in the playoffs as either a wild card or division champ. A lot to ask for if you ask me. The Patriots have been a resilient all season, and, in a way, it would be a shame not to see them in the postseason party. Matt Cassel has been brilliant the last six weeks and will command a lot of money in free-agency. Have no fear, New England, even if you don't make the playoffs this year, glamour boy is coming back real soon! PICK: PATRIOTS 38, BILLS 14.
Dolphins (10-5) @ JETS (9-6): Talk about irony and reversal of fourtune. The Dolphins were 1-15 a year ago and looked like a franchise lost for good. Then, Bill Parcells came in and he has saved the fish from drowning, bringing with him not only stability and accountabilty, but Jets castoff Chad Pennington as well. Together, Parcells and Pennington have the Dolphins primed for a playoff run, and all they have to do is beat their former team the Jets on Sunday.
As for Gang Green, it has been a tormenting month for coach Eric Mangini and the fans. The Jets have fallen off the radar, after a promising 8-3 start and will not make the playoffs unless the Christmas miracle of all Christmas miracles happens on Sunday. Because of the collapse, fans have been calling for Mangini's head and the it appears that he has lost his players who have shown absolutely no heart in this time of crisis. A change might be in store for Gang Green, and unless they get a big time coach, or a quarterback that is as good as Brett Favre, they will be destined for 4-12 and 5-11 seasons for years to come. 40 years and counting, Jet fans! PICK: DOLPHINS 24, JETS 14.
COWBOYS (10-5) @ EAGLES (8-6-1): Two teams on the brink of failure. The Cowboys finished their stay in Texas Stadium in Mets-like fashion after losing big time to Ravens a week ago and will need to win and get a lot of help to qualify for the playoffs. Tony Romo has been sick, and Jerry Jones might be sick of watching this circus.
As for the Eagles, jobs are on the line,too. Donoan McNabb and the Eagles came up small yet again in a 10-3 loss to Redskins,killing their postseason dreams. All the Eagles can do is beat Dallas and earn some pride back and some trust of the ownership that could be weighing the futures of both coach Andy Ried and McNabb. PICK: EAGLES 31, COWBOYS 17.
BRONCOS (8-7) @ CHARGERS (7-8): Talk about two teams who do not deserve to be in the playoffs. This game might well be called the AFC West Championship game because the winner will win the West and qualify for the postseason. The loser goes home. The Broncos have tried desperately to not win the division. Losses at home to Oakland, Miami, Buffalo and Jacksonville have spelled doom for Denver, and it should spell the end of Mike Shannahan's run with the Broncos. Ever since making the move to Jay Cutler in 2006, the Broncos have been underwhelming, and it appears as time goes on, the move was a huge mistake. Culter has a bigger mouth than a big arm.
As for San Diego, you have to give credit to this team. They are tough. A few weeks ago, the Bolts lost to the Colts, dropping San Diego to 4-8. It looked like the Chargers were doomed for failure, but they have rallied off three straight wins to get back into contention. Phillip Rivers has been great for San Diego; he threw four touchdown passes in last weeks win in Tampa Bay. Watch out for the Chargers; they could be the most dangerous 8-8 team in postseason history if they get in. PICK: CHARGERS 31, BRONCOS 27.