Saturday, March 8, 2014
BEARS (8-4) at VIKINGS (6-6), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Bears have won six in a row in this division rivalry, including 28-10 on Nov. 25. But Vikings have become a pretty solid home team (5-1), and a very hot Adrian Peterson is facing a Chicago run defense that hasn't been special lately. Minnesota will miss injured Percy Harvin, but not as much as Bears will miss Brian Urlacher.
Prediction: Vikings, 24-21
CHIEFS (2-10) at BROWNS (4-8), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Kansas City has been bad on the road, and the Browns have the run defense to limit Jamaal Charles and thus make it tough on Brady Quinn in his unballyhooed return to Cleveland. This is the first time the Browns have been favored all season, after three consecutive wins.
Prediction: Browns, 27-17
RAMS (5-6-1) at BILLS (5-7), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Here's a venue pick all the way. Rams are both a soft road team and a dome squad playing in wintry Buffalo, with temps in the 40s and maybe rain. The Rams' defense will test a damaged Buffalo offensive line, but C.J. Spiller and company will get it done.
Prediction: Bills, 19-17
FALCONS (11-1) at PANTHERS (3-9), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Carolina DE Greg Hardy said his team is better than Atlanta. Get that man a Breathalyzer! Falcons have won five in a row in the series, although they did need a last-second field goal for a 30-28 escape in late September. Atlanta has clinched a playoff berth but has a first-round bye in mind. Panthers' secondary is a bad match for Matt Ryan and all those weapons.
Prediction: Falcons, 27-20
COWBOYS (6-6) at BENGALS (7-5), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Here is a vital game in the playoff chase, with both teams just outside their conference's top six but well in the hunt. Both teams are hot, especially Cincy with four consecutive Ws, but I like Cowboys in a road upset on a pure hunch, taking the leap they won't self-destruct with turnovers. Tony Romo has been really good lately, and having RB DeMarco Murray back from injury is big.
Prediction: Cowboys, 24-23
TITANS (4-8) at COLTS (8-4), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Indy is 5-1 at home and has won 15 of past 19 in this series, including 19-13 in October. The Colts also have more to play for, jockeying for the postseason. I might also mention that Tennessee is awful on defense, allowing 30 points per game, and allowing a 101.7 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
Prediction: Colts, 28-21
JETS (5-7) at JAGUARS (2-10), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Mark Sanchez gets another shot for the Jets and is probably better off on the road, given the vitriol shouted at him at home last week. Especially on the road in Jacksonville, where the Jags are 1-5 and no homefield advantage is discernible. Maurice Jones-Drew is doubtful. So is Jacksonville's chance of winning.
Prediction: Jets, 20-17
CHARGERS (4-8) at STEELERS (7-5), 1 p.m.
Outlook: I'm not a slave to stats or trends, but dig this: San Diego is 0-14 all time at Pittsburgh! Game stayed off bet boards because of QB Ben Roethlisberger's status, but it's looking more and more like he'll play. The stinking, sinking Chargers have not beaten a team with a winning record. Why start now?
Prediction: Steelers, 24-16
EAGLES (3-9) at BUCCANEERS (6-6), 1 p.m.
Outlook: Tampa is alive in playoff chase but needs a run. Philly has lost eight in a row, and the only drama left is whether Coach Andy Reid will survive this mess of a season, and if Nick Foles-over-Mike Vick is permanent. Josh Freeman will stay hot at home vs. a defense allowing a horrific 142 passer rating over the past six games.
(Continued on page 2)