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A December To Remember

Mill Woods

Posted on December 3, 2018 22:23

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With 19 NFL teams still solidly in the playoff hunt, December is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in the league's history. The Los Angeles Rams are the only team to have secured a playoff spot, and at least half of the division titles are very much in question.

With four games to go, the Rams are now positioning themselves for home field advantage in the NFC. The Patriots, Texans and Saints are also in great shape. But the Chiefs are suddenly hearing thunder from right behind them - the Chargers - and at least a dozen other teams have their playoff hopes hanging on every game, every week.

Week 14 will have an especially-large impact on the NFC; fans are treated to a trifecta of playoff-like showdowns to close out the weekend. The Eagles and Cowboys face off - with the NFC East title likely hanging in the balance. Sunday night brings a clash of offense versus defense, as the Rams go into Chicago to face those nasty Bears. And the weekend ends with a showdown of two wild card hopefuls - the Vikings visiting the Seahawks.

But first we get an enormous showdown in the AFC Thursday night - the Jaguars taking one last shot at the playoffs against the Titans. Since the Texans are running away with the division title, these two defensive-minded teams badly need a win to have a chance at a wild card.

At the start of the season, I wrote about the NFL's tremendous team parity, and how it makes picking champions challenging. We have witnessed the struggles of the defending champ Eagles and watched the Packers fall from the ranks of the contenders to an early disappointment - now firing their head coach. I also underscored the sobering fact that injuries can play a big role. We have seen good teams like the Jaguars, Bengals, Redskins and Falcons succumb to a rash of injuries. But more than half of the league's 32 teams still have realistic hopes for playoff spots, so most fans are still tuned in.

That Eagles-Cowboys showdown Sunday will likely be the most important game left on these teams' schedules. And the Saints, who lost to the Cowboys' ball-control strategy, badly want to get back to high-octane offense.  They may well get their chance Sunday against another offense-minded team - the Bucs.

At the end of the weekend, I think we will be able to confidently call a couple more playoff spots.

Last week, my picks went 9-7.  Here are the matches of Week 14 and my picks:

1. Jaguars at Titans             Titans
2. Jets at Bills                       Bills
3. Saints at Bucs                  Saints
4. Patriots at Dolphins          Patriots
5. Ravens at Chiefs             Chiefs
6. Colts at Texans                Texans
7. Falcons at Packers          Packers
8. Panthers at Browns         Panthers
9. Broncos at 49ers             Broncos
10. Bengals at Chargers      Chargers
11. Giants at Redskins        Giants
12. Lions at Cardinals          Lions
13. Steelers at Raiders        Steelers
14. Eagles at Cowboys        Cowboys
15. Rams at Bears               Rams
16. Vikings at Seahawks      Seahawks

Those are not Christmas bells we are hearing. Which teams will answer?

Mill Woods

Posted on December 3, 2018 22:23

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