And finally, we come to the week that matters. All that’s happened before and been fun and that, but really, playtime is over. There are actually lots of fantastic matches today, other than the only one that really matters. LET’S DO THIS!
Byes - Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans
6PM, SKY SPORTS
GREEN BAY PACKERS (6-3) @ DETROIT LIONS (4-5)
Huge match for Detroit this, as a loss would almost entirely damn their playoff hopes given how tight the NFC North alone is, let alone the whole Conference. It’s been a frustrating season for the Lions; they’ve shown moments of greatness but ultimately have failed to impress on last year’s success. Green Bay may be injury-ridden, but their rested after a bye and Aaron Rodgers was looking like his old incredible self before their break, so this could be a very tough afternoon for the Lions going into Thanksgiving weekend. (GB by 7)
9:25PM, SKY SPORTS
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-3) @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (6-3)
Yeah, that’s not a typo, the Colts and Patriots are somehow on the same record. The Colts may have had a slightly easier schedule (note: they haven’t played the Texans yet) but the Patriots were everyone’s tip to win everything this year. And yet here we are. Neat storyline this in a year that’s been full of them. Andrew Luck, the new elite-quarterback elect, was only in the 6th grade when Tom Brady won his first superbowl ring ten years ago, a fact which suddenly makes everyone around feel very old indeed. This Colts team have been full of heart and fun to watch, but surely, SURELY today playtime is over? (NE by 4-5)
1:20AM, CHANNEL 4
BALTIMORE RAVENS (7-2) @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-3)
Honestly, why do other matches try? This is still the best rivalry in the league and it has been for some time. I know I’m very biased in this instance, but never has a match-up so consistently thrill me and disgust at the same time. This one has had the edge taken off it slightly with ben roethlisberger’s near fatal rib-injury but the Steelers do get Rashard Mendenall and Ryan Clark back, both of whom will be invaluable given the aforementioned QB’s absence. In big Ben’s replacement with have Bryon Leftwich who had an OK showing coming on the 2nd half against Kansas on Monday, and will have had limited time to take centre stage in training. Baltimore’s injury woes have been standing for a while; a completely depleted secondary which will be key to Leftwich’s game if he can find Mike Wallace. But the Steelers have similar issues, which means this could be, possibly for the first time EVER in this long storied battle between two historically huge Defences; a battle of offence. You never know, we could actually get more than 1 TD per team tonight! Who’d a thunk it. Anyway, I can never really predict these games, so I’m going with my heart (Bmore by 3)
1:30AM, BBC RED BUTTON (AND IPLAYER!)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-2-1) @ CHICAGO BEARS (7-2)
If it wasn’t for the prime time match on 24 hours before, this would easily be the game of the weekend. One the nostalgics would love to see, a vintage NFC (possible Championship) match between two of the most storied teams in the league. They could have been on the same record too, if only someone could have MADE A FIELD-GOAL IN OT AGAINST ST LOUIS. How much is that extra column going to hurt San Fran? Only time will tell, but already Chicago, who are coming off a tough week themselves, will feel slightly more relieved that their still top of the NFC given last week’s shenanigans in the Bay Area. Tough one to call this, both teams have slipped slightly from their early dominance, and have teams (Seattle and Green Bay respectively) snapping at their heels. This match is made even tougher to predict as well given both their starting quarterbacks left last week with concussions so this could become a battle between Colin Kaepernick and Jason Campbell! (Chi by 3)
ARIZONA (4-5) @ ATLANTA (8-1) - The spectacular free-fall of the Arizona Cardinals is not likely to stop today; not against a team returning home after losing their perfect record. (Atl by 7)
TAMPA BAY (5-4) @ CAROLINA (2-7) - Tampa are like, good, now? Dunno when that happened. (By 4-5)
CLEVELAND (2-7) @ DALLAS (4-5) - Neither of these teams are quite as bad as their records suggest, but then simultaneously, their recent histories makes it about right. Dallas should really win this, and they probably will too, but Cleveland should at least give them a run. (Dal by 4-5)
JACKSONVILLE (1-8) @ HOUSTON (8-1) - Ooft, this will be nasty. (Hou by 700+)
CINCINNATI (4-5) @ KANSAS (1-8) - Kansas were tremendous value on Monday, nearly giving Pittsburgh another shock defeat. But Cincy are coming of a re-rehabilitating win against the Giants announcing “They Aint Dead Yet!” (Cincy by 4-5)
NEW YORK (3-6) @ ST LOUIS (3-5-1) - Oh for goodness sake, who knows? Probably another draw or some shit.
PHILADELPHIA (3-6) @ WASHINGTON (3-6) - Every year the NFC East teams meet-up in matches where they feel they have been slighted and are underachieving generally. This one is no different. Philly are an absolute car-crash right now though, where as Washington at least have some signs of life behind RG3. Mike Vick being out might help though? (Skins by 4-5)
NEW ORLEANS (4-5) @ OAKLAND (3-6) - Don’t expect even a remote amount of Defence here. Against other teams, Oakland would have done enough to win some games last week, but unfortunately for them Baltimore decided to drop a franchise high 55-burger on them. This will probably happen again today. (NO by 4-5)
SAN DIEGO (4-5) @ DENVER (6-3) - Serious one for San Diego now, their season could be on the line with this one. It was a thriller when these two met a few weeks back, as Peyton Manning looked several years younger leading a completely new team to one of the best comebacks in recent memory. And they haven’t really looked back since that game, which spells bad news for the Bolts. San Diego do however have a weird ability to troll Denver year-in-year-out, so don’t expect this to be a dead cert (Den by 3)
So that’s yer lot for the week. Today’s going to be tough as I get more and more wound up by the idea of a Pittsburgh game this evening (yes, I will be staying up for it) EXCITED?