Last week: 4-10
Bengals at Colts
What team currently has the longest winning streak in the AFC? That's right. The Indianapolis Colts, who have won five in a row. And every one of those wins has come by six points or fewer. Rely on a steady defense, and count on Peyton Manning to make a play when it matters the most. That's the formula Indy has been using. Can it last? I don't know. But if the season ended today, the Colts would play at Denver, the 27th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, in the first round of the playoffs.
The pick: Bengals (+12.5)
Jaguars at Bears
One major difference I've noticed about men and women. Our sense of humor doesn't really evolve or mature as we grow older. For example, during last week's Bears-Vikings game, John Madden was making the point that a Bears defensive back was good at forcing fumbles, saying he was "one of the better strippers in all of the NFL." I was watching live and found it funny right away. Al Michaels caught on, adding a "so to speak" and a laugh after Madden said it. The two then giggled and carried on about "good strippers" for the next 15 seconds or so. My guess is if you were watching with your wife or girlfriend and laughed at this exchange, they probably gave you the evil eye and wondered what they were doing with their lives.
The pick: Bears (-6.5)
Texans at Packers
For every NFL snob that is anti-fantasy football, I direct your attention towards last week's Monday night game between the Texans and Jaguars. How could anyone sit through that game without fantasy football or gambling motivation? Same goes for last night's contest between the Raiders and Chargers. As for this matchup, I feel like I pick the Packers every week and always get burned. But...
The pick: Packers (-5.5)
Browns at Titans
The Titans are currently listed at 9 to 2 to win the Super Bowl, behind only the Giants. The Browns, meanwhile, are a train wreck. Not sure who Cleveland will turn to at the end of the season (assuming there's a change), but it is an interesting situation to take over. Offensively, hopes rest on Brady Quinn being the answer. Your running back has another year of wear and tear. Your best receiver has 16 drops on the season, most in the NFL. Your tight end is always unhappy. And your defense lacks consistency.
The pick: Titans (-14)
Vikings at Lions
The fate of Vikings defensive tackles Pat Williams and Kevin Williams will likely be determined later today. If you haven't been following the whole mess, the two are among five players who have been suspended for taking a supplement called StarCaps, which contained a banned substance, but the substance was apparently not listed as an ingredient. The line will obviously change depending on the ruling, which could go a long way in determining the Vikings' playoff hopes. Minnesota has the best run defense in the NFC, thanks in part to its Pro Bowl defensive tackles.
The pick: Vikings (-9)
Redskins at Ravens
I lived in Baltimore for 2.5 years, and when the Orioles played the Nationals, they tried to manufacture a "Battle of the Beltways" rivalry, but if my memory serves me correctly, no one showed up at the games because both teams stunk. This matchup is different, and Sunday night's game should be a good one. The Ravens have won six of their last seven and are 4-1 at home with their only loss coming by a field goal against the Titans. The Redskins' offense looked lost last week, and things don't get any easier for them here.
The pick: Ravens (-5.5)
Eagles at Giants
I actually had to pick this game earlier this week. I made my first (and maybe only) TV appearance on CN8's It's Your Call with Lynn Doyle to talk about Plaxico Burress. The weirdest parts about being on TV were wearing makeup and being perpetually confused about what camera to look at. Other than that, it wasn't too bad. Anyway, at the end of the show, I picked the Giants to win, but admitted that I haven't been able to figure out the Birds all season. While I still like New York, I'm going to say the Eagles make it a game and lose in a frustrating manner.
The pick: Eagles (+7)
Falcons at Saints
Matt Ryan has been getting all the praise, and rightfully so. The rookie signal-caller has been great this season. But take a look at the Falcons' offensive line. Atlanta QBs were sacked 47 times last season. This year? That number is down to 13 with four games to go.
The pick: Falcons (+3)
Dolphins at Bills
Time for MC's pick of the week. MC is 5-8 on the season:
The Bills lose whatever home field advantage they would've had in the cold weather by playing this game inside the old Skydome in Toronto. With Trent Edwards likely to miss the game, it will be a long day for the Bills.
The pick: Dolphins (pick 'em)
Chiefs at Broncos
Meet Broncos running back Peyton Hillis. 6 foot 2. 250 pounds. Selected with the 20th pick in the seventh round of the 2008 draft. Last week, he carried 22 times for 129 yards against the Jets. He has five touchdowns in his last three games. And according to stats.com, he has the highest percentage of first downs per carry in the NFL (35 percent).
The pick: Broncos (-9)
Jets at 49ers
This week's game where Vegas knows something we don't. The Jets are 8-4, need this win to stay in first place and are coming off a loss. But they're only favored by four against the 49ers, who have won two games since Week 3? I don't get it. Let's try not to outsmart ourselves on this one.
The pick: Jets (-4)
Rams at Cardinals
Time for C-Nast's weekly recap of The Office:
What happened: A $4,300 budget surplus causes a divide in the office, as some pull for Michael to spend it on a new copier (Oscar, Jim, etc.), others ask for new chairs (Pam, Stanley, etc.), and Michael contemplates returning the extra funds and cashing in a 15 percent bonus for a new fur coat. Hilarity ensues. Meanwhile, Dwight tries to break-up Andy and Angela on a tour of Schrute Farms, the site of Andy and Angela’s wedding. More hilarity ensues. We’ve missed a few recaps here, but after a slow start this season, “The Office” has really picked back up with three or four excellent episodes in a row.
Grade: B+ -- Great episode overall. Loved how everyone in the office was bowing to Michael and how he ate up the attention. The laugh-out-loud-moment happened when Michael was showing off his $9 pants and Pam said, “There’s that [butt]. Woo! Oh, don’t take it away!”
Quote of the Week, from Andy: “We’re getting married at Schrute Farms, no matter what. I have visited 12 venues, I have lost eight deposits and I have seen Angela naked zero times. I am not losing another deposit.”
The pick: Cardinals (-14)
Cowboys at Steelers
CBS flashed a stat last week that the Steelers are outscoring their opponents 77-9 in the third quarter this season. That has to speak to halftime adjustments, right? Don't allow yourself to get suckered in by Dallas. Pittsburgh is still playing for the division and homefield in the playoffs. The Cowboys could be without Marion Barber and won't be able to run the ball anyway.
The pick: Steelers (-3)
Patriots at Seahawks
The Patriots should be favored in their remaining four games: at Seattle, at Oakland, Arizona, at Buffalo. Matt Cassel isn't as bad as he looked last week against the Steelers. Look for him to put up big numbers in this one against the league's 32nd-ranked pass defense.
The pick: Patriots (-4.5)
Note: Monday night game will be picked Monday. Lines used are from sportsbook.com.