Cincinnati Bengals versus Houston Texans – The Houston Texans have been snakebitten all year. Losing your quarterback and your premier receiver is difficult to overcome. When you then lose your All-Pro defensive end, you have to feel like the football gods are conspiring against you. Cincinnati is a solid team. Their defense seemed to be a lot stouter earlier this year. In spite of that, you have to like the chemistry that is developing between Andy Dalton and his young receiver AJ Green. I’m leaning toward Cincinnati.
Detroit Lions versus New Orleans Saints – Don’t fall asleep on the New Orleans Saints. Last year was somewhat of a head scratcher and they started a little slowly earlier this season, but the New Orleans Saints are playing great offensive football. Their formula to win is a simple one – high-powered offense and a defense that will give up some big plays but will also create turnovers. Drew Brees is playing as well as any NFL quarterback, including Matthew Stafford. This game should be a shootout and when the dust settles the New Orleans Saints will be moving on – victorious. (BTW, the Saints don’t lose in their dome.)
Atlanta Falcons versus New York Giants – To me, the Atlanta Falcons have been somewhat of a head scratcher all year. I’ve been looking for their defense to improve and to reflect the personality of their tough and defensive-minded head coach. That simply hasn’t happened. The key to this game is the defensive front four of the New York Giants. If they play well, they will shut down the run and make it difficult to throw. If they play poorly, they’ll expose a very vulnerable secondary. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but not great. He hasn’t been able to take his game to the next level. I think this game will be close. I’m going to give a slight edge to the Atlanta Falcons because of their strong running game. (For Giant fans, yes, Eli is going to put up some numbers. I think he’ll play well. The question is whether his receivers are going to catch the ball or not.)
Pittsburgh Steelers versus Denver Broncos – Can somebody officially state that the Tebow magic is gone? Okay, I’ll say it. The Tebow magic is gone. The disciplined defensive players of the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to suffocate, harass and otherwise beat up Tim Tebow and the anemic Broncos offense. I would be surprised if this game is close. I look for the Pittsburgh Steelers to roll in this game.