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article imageOp-Ed: Preview of NFL's upcoming weekend

By Michael Bearak     Dec 18, 2009 in Sports
Besides the start of the college bowl season, we also have a pretty good line-up of pro games running us through the weekend. Many teams are vying for playoff spots.
Thursday Indianapolis did their part to keep things interesting as the Jacksonville Jaguars but a scare into the Colts and really made them look human until two stalled drivers in the 4th quarter ended their hopes of an upset. This weekend the other undefeated team will take on America's Team on Saturday.
In a rare Saturday meeting the Dallas Cowboys will be traveling to New Orleans as the Saints will try and stay undefeated. This shouldn't be too hard of a task for the Saints as the Cowboys seem to have been their own worst enemy as of late and playing in front of an excited Superdome crowd Tony Romo will have his hands and ears full. Still a win here puts things back on track some what for the Cowboys who have to face division leaders, Washington next week, in DC. A victory this week and one next week would give the Cowboys essentially a two game lead over the Skins because they already beat them once this season. Unfortunately the Cowboys have lost 2 straight against San Diego and the New York Giants and now have an 8-5 record. It is hard to see this game not going in the favor of the Saints who are just rolling right now.
The New England Patriots are traveling up to Buffalo to play the Bills. The Patriots are a division leading 8-5, but scraped by the Bills in week 1, 25-24. Location really won't be much of a factor, the Bills are 5-8 and have to win out just to end up .500. The most interesting story line of this game is going to be what Randy Moss does after his poor performance last week. Fears are that after being sent home last week that he has decided to quit on the team. This week the Patriots organization has stood behind Moss saying everyone is still on the same page and he just had a bad game. While those things happen, Moss' track record says otherwise.
Cleveland is going out to Kansas City in a game that really has very little appeal, even to their own fans. So why did I choose to note this game you might ask? Simple they both STINK and neither has anything to really play for except for pride at this point. The 2-11 Browns have been in more of a buzz over the possibility of Mike Holmgren joining the organization than the possibility the team might actually have a chance to win this game. This is on top of the fact that they are coming off of an impressive win against the Steelers. The Chiefs on the other also beat the Steelers, but since then have lost their last three games by a combined 66 points. It is cold in Kansas City, no one really is going to care to sit there for a 3-10 team, I know I wouldn't. Just the same the game probably will be ugly with Eric Mangini trying to demonstrate that he really does know how to coach just in-case Holmgren does come to town. The last half of the fourth quarter might be very interesting to catch if you can, just for the humor of it all.
San Francisco is coming east to Philadelphia, and while the 49ers are 6-7 they might be the best time that won't make the playoffs this year. Mike Singletary is bringing his old fashion hard-nosed hitting to the Bay and they are performing. In 6 of their 7 loses Mike's boys lost by 7 points or less. That includes hanging on with the Colts and losing by just 4 points. The fact is the 49ers need to ride Alex Smith and Frank Gore, but at the same time these two guys have to produce. Smith has to get his passer rating up, closer to the high 80's. Gore put in a solid game racking up 167 yards on the ground and is 165 yards from reaching 1000 yards rushing for the season. Don't look to him to reach it this week, but he should the following. This is a huge game for the Eagles because the pressure is really on the Cowboys this week, but a loss and having to face each other again makes this game very important to the Eagles as well. Gore in his 5th season really has consistently made a name for himself, he has broken a 1,000 years every year except for his rookie year. Last year he did it with just 14 games. This game is really a toss up but most of it will probably hinge on what Alex Smith is able or not able to accomplish.
San Diego will be hosting Cincinnati with both teams holding a two game lead in their divisions. This is a very possible playoff preview. Some people really think that the AFC Championship could come down to these two teams. Cincinnati is rebounding after a brutal beat-down at the hands of the Vikings. San Diego is going to air it out, whereas the Bengals will go with a more balanced attack between the air and the ground. Look for Cincinnati to sneak out a victory here.
Minnesota is coming to Charlotte, NC to play the Panthers in the Sunday night game. It is going to be cold and wet, two conditions that do not play into either team's favor. Actually NOTHING plays into Carolina's favor. Brett Favre will eat the Panthers alive, because even though he is old as dirt itself, he can play in the cold and really has excelled in miserable conditions. The Panthers are dismal 5-8 and everyone is calling for John Fox's head. This game isn't going to quiet those calls either. The Vikings are 11-2, and arguably the best team in the NFL, their two loses are by a combined 13 points. Adrian Peterson has been allowed to do what he does best and that is just run. He broke 100 yards in week 12 against the Chicago Bears. The reason to watch this game is you are watching the best team in the NFL, and that is hard for me to say because I am Bears fan and naturally dislike the Vikings.
Monday night's game will be the New York Giants going to Washington to play the Redskins. The Redskins are just rotting in the NFC East basement at 4-9. For the Giants a victory moves them to 8-6, coupled with potential losses for both the Cowboys and the Eagles the Giants would be one game back and they beat the Cowboys both times they faced them this season so they hold the tie breaker there. There is nothing for the Redskins left in this season and Danny Snyder needs to let the people who know football run that team. The 'skins could very easily end up 4-12 with this game followed by the Cowboys and then the Chargers.
There are a host of other games this Sunday as well besides the 3 college football bowl games. Enjoy!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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