Hello again, hope you enjoyed your thanksgiving feasts even if they were primarily concerning consuming FOOTBALL. Thursday saw one classic, one solid but too late, and one absolute embarrassment. Here's hoping for more of the same please.
NO MORE BYES FROM HEREON.
6PM, SKY SPORTS
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-4) @ CHICAGO BEARS (7-3)
Well this one certainly got more interesting. Given Da Bears' dominance for the majority of the season, their complete collapse in San Francisco last week leaves them equal with the Pack and only a game ahead of today's opponents, the Vikes. It's looking like Jay Cutler will be back for this one, which is invaluable given Jason Campbell's highly mediocre performance last week, but how effected will they be coming off two big losses to other play-off bound teams and from Cutler only returning to the field now. A couple weeks ago this would have been an easy one to predict, and really the Bears should still win this, but the Vikings have kept alive from a plucky young team who are yet to give up, so it will certainly be an interesting one. (CHI by 3)
9:25, SKY SPORTS
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (7-2-1) @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-5)
Wow, so much to digest here. Let alone being a repeat of the incredible play-off match last year, there is the QB discussion and the super-dome all to consider. Alex Smith is cleared from his concussion and active, but everything seems to be pointing towards Colin Kaepernick starting against the Saints, who in case you missed it, dropped 250+ yrds and 2 TDs on the much fears Bears D last week. What's intriguing about it is that playing at the Superdome will be world's apart from the West Coast crowed that cheered him onto his dominant performance against the Bears. He has earned the right, and if it goes wrong, Smith can easily be put back into the game. The Niners will need to act quickly though because the Seahawks are only a game behind (due to that infuriating tie with the Rams) and would take any opportunity to go in as division champs. This is going to be a tough test for the rookie as the Saints are playing great, particularly at home and with all their weapons blazing. Should be a thriller and would easily be the game of the day if it wasn't for... (SF by 3)
1:20AM, CHANNEL 4
GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-3) @ NEW YORK GIANTS (6-4)
Another repeat from a spectacular game in last years play-offs (and regular season) go head to head again looking for NFC supremacy. If last year's two match-ups are anything to go by, this will be another classic, but a lot of it depends on The Giants. For the Pack, we all know, are rolling (though left it late last week against the Lions) and yes they have injury issues but none of that seems to be effecting them right now, they be flat out ballin'. The Giants have been less good through November, but they have had a bye to give their many hurt players a rest, and should be looking more like the full strength squad who started this season so well. The G-Men came out on top last time and will look to start hitting their usual end-of-season strength right about now, whereas the Pack could end today top of their division and 2nd only behind Atlanta if the Vikes do them a favour, but so much will depend on if the Giants' D can play like we all know they can. (GB by 3)
1:30AM, BBC RED BUTTON/IPLAYER
CAROLINA PANTHERS (2-8) @ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-7)
Oh for goodness sake. With so many great games this week as well. To be fair on ESPN, back at the start of the season they were probably licking their lips and wringing their hands at the prospect of putting this game on the national stage on the iconic Monday Night Football, what with two energetic, erratic and thoroughly entertaining QBs in Cam Newton and Mike Vick going at it. Sadly for them (and us who have to watch it, or find something else to do) that is not the case. Both these teams have been flat out AWFUL this season, (though the Panthers have been unlucky on a couple occasions), and Mike Vick won't even be there. All that is watch-able about this is that it could be complete car-crash television, but suffice to say, I won't be staying up for it and will only consider an iplayer viewing. (CAR by 7)
ATLANTA (9-1) @ TAMPA BAY (6-4) - Tasty one this, as Tampa are very much alive in the wild-card race and playing at home against divisional rivals. INCREDIBLY, this game is blacked-out in the Tampa area, once again proving that 3 teams is too much for Florida, despite the home team's efforts to entice their fans to come to a POSSIBLY PLAY-OFF BOUND BUCS TEAMS AGAINST DIVISION RIVALS AND LEADERS ATLANTA FALCONS. The Mind boggles. Anyway, the Bucs have looked really good recently, including a great last gasp victory against Carolina last week, but the Falcons will look to stay dominant in their division (and probably will succeed by 4-5).
PITTSBURGH (6-4) @ CLEVELAND (2-8) - Now here's some fun. Cleveland's season is done, but they have deserved more out of this season. They're a team who are jelling nicely and are only one or two play-makers from football relevance. What better team to prove that against than long time rivals Pittsburgh, who are having to play the extremely veteran Charlie Batch today. #PrayingfortheBrowns (CLE by 3)
BUFFALO (4-6) @ INDIANAPOLIS (6-4) - After an impressive win against Miami last week, Buffalo are pretending to still be alive or something. Indy are coming off a fairly inconsequential, but hurting, loss to the Patriots, which probably won't effect their chances at seed number #6 given the weak field in the AFC. (IND By 7)
SEATTLE (6-4) @ MIAMI (4-6) - Similar to the one above, There isn't much left for Miami to play for other than pride now, whereas the SEA are hungry and alive in an extremely tight NFC wild-card race. AFC, take note. (SEA by 7)
DENVER (7-3) @ KANSAS (1-9) - This is starting to get a bit silly now. We all knew Peyton Manning would do well for the Broncos, certainly giving them more consistency than they're experienced for some time, but they're literally just walking this division now. An untested Broncos team could mean an early exit in the play-offs but that depends on Ben Roethlisberger's ribs. (DEN by 7+)
TENNESSEE (4-6) @ JACKSONVILLE (1-9) - Jesus, who knows. This would have been an easy Titans win until Chad Henne of all people ripped apart the best D in the AFC. (A monkey riding dog?! TEN by 3)
OAKLAND (3-7) @ CINCINNATI (5-5) - The return of Carlson Palmer will be fun, but really, this should be fairly comfortable. The Bengals are the only team who realistically have a shot at the play-offs who aren't in the top 6 already, either from a Steeler collapse, or simply outlasting the Colts who still have to play Houston twice. (CIN by 4-5)
BALTIMORE (8-2) @ SAN DIEGO (4-6) - *Sigh* I'm going to be avoiding this one tonight. Yes, the Chargers are a complete mess, their coach is fighting off the axe hanging above his neck, they're 4 and 6 blah, blah, blah. But I cannot take another week of watching Joe Flacco look like a lost child away from home. The Pittsburgh game was predictably great last week, but that had pretty much nothing to do with the Quarterbacks on the field (and to be fair on Bryon Leftwich, he did pretty well considering the circumstances). Flacco was miserable last week and he has been away from home all season. We barely scraped past the Kansas Chiefs for goodness sake, and lost to the utterly doomed Philly Eagles. If I'm proved wrong, then fantastic, but my heart-rate can't handle what will probably be yet another very frustrating road-game against an inferior team, one that may just keep Norv Turner alive for another week. (BAL By 3)
ST. LOUIS (3-6-1) @ ARIZONA (4-6) - For a moment there, both these teams looked like they were going to be relevant this year. The Rams had injuries and then were killed off on stage in London (not quite the west end) and the Arizona Razorbacks won a regular season game more recently than the Cards. So I dunno, a tie probably?