Note: All times Eastern.
Ten Random Thoughts
Score: 33-24, Steelers
Records and recent performances aside, the Steelers are the more talented team by a fairly wide measure. The wild card here is that no one knows who will be the quarterback for the Colts. Matt Hasselbeck has looked good, going 4-0 in four starts this year, but those were largely against bad defenses. Andrew Luck, on the other hand, has been doing an outstanding impression of...well...of every Browns quarterback since they rejoined the league in 1999. He's been hurt, but reports today say he is throwing without pain. The logical thing would be to let Hasselbeck play rather than mess with a(n apparently) good thing. Then again, coach Chuck Pagano has looked a bit like a rookie himself, this season.
Score: 21-13, Lions
The last time these teams played -- just a few weeks ago -- the Lions marched into Lambeau Field underdogs, but walked out with a winner's swagger, having vanquished a 24-year losing streak in Wisconsin. The two team have been going opposite directions, with the Packers falling from the ranks of the unbeaten in the first quarter of the season to 7-4, losers of four of their last five. The Lions, meanwhile, are on a three-game winning streak -- two over potential playoff contenders and a blowout over the Eagles last week.
Score: 19-14, Texans
Speaking of teams going opposite directions...the Texans are winners of four in a row, the fourth-longest current streak in the NFL. The Bills have lost two in a row and three of their last five. As it stands now, the Texans are neck and neck for a wild-card spot, while the Bills are on the outside looking in. For Houston, it's mostly because the team is playing well together and they are finding ways to win close games. For the Bills -- the far more talented team -- it's because they keep tripping over their own feet with penalties and stupid defensive mistakes.
Bengals @ Browns (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Score: 38-10, Bengals
The Browns just lost a heartbreaker on Monday that could easily be their undoing...which, given their 2-9 record, is certainly a relative term. Their field-goal attempt as time expired did turn out to be the game winner -- just not for Cleveland. Only one other game in NFL history has been won when a field-goal attempt as time expired was blocked and returned for the winning touchdown. What that says is that the Browns are tired of losing the same old way, and have decided to go for something more spectacular. The Bengals, on the other hand, can pretty much just coast to the AFC North title, given that they essentially have a four-game lead over the Steelers with five games to play thanks to their head-to-head victory.
Score: 24-23, Jets
It's always fun to see these two play. It's not like the Yankees and the Mets, who at least have to cross town to play each other. These two teams share a stadium, so this game always becomes "The Giants versus that other New York Team that plays in the Meadowlands." If ever there was a year the Jets could turn things around, though, this is it. They aren't nearly as good of a team as they seemed to be early in the season, but they're probably better than the 2015 Giants. Then again, most Pop Warner teams are better than the 2015 Giants. Since they led the NFC East until last Sunday, that speaks volumes about the rest of the division, too.
Falcons @ Buccaneers (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Score: 31-16, Buccaneers
I still can't get over just how bad these Falcons are. From 5-0 to 6-5 just seven weeks later is a long way to fall in such a short time. But, in keeping with the overarching theme of the week, the sliding Falcons are taking on a rising Tampa Bay team. The Bucs lost to the Colts last week, but before that they pasted the Eagles (who doesn't, though?) and got by the Cowboys with a late score (again, who doesn't?).
Score: 24-18, Raiders
The Chiefs are one of just three teams who haven't lost in at least five games, along with the Panthers (11-0) and the Cardinals (9-2). At 6-5, they have the worst playoff prospects of the group, but they are the hottest team in the AFC and hold tie-breakers over at least a few AFC teams who are in the running for a wild-card spot. That includes the Steelers. The Raiders, though, are just a game back, and could help their own playoff prospects greatly with a win.
Eagles @ Patriots (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.)
Score: 44-13, Patriots
If roadkill is your thing, go ahead and watch this game. Forget the Deflategate controversy for a week; Tom Brady and company could play this game with 16-pound bowling balls and win by 30. Those with weak stomachs, however, should watch something with a little less carnage, like a pack of lions running down and eating a herd of gazelles, or a spoecial documentary on how sausage is made.
Panthers @ Saints (Sunday, 4:25 p.m.)
Score: 27-9, Panthers
Does anyone remember when the Saints offense was good enough that they didn't lose by at least 18 points? Yeah, me neither.
Cowboys @ Redskins (Monday, 8:30 p.m.)
Score: 20-6, Redskins
You know, it's sad that the Cowboys sort of still control a tiny part of their own destiny, despite being guaranteed to finish no better than .500 this season. Yes, they do need quite a lot of help, but there is still a chance for them to win the NFC East. Of course, it's merely mathematical, because the team played last week like they couldn't wait for the off-season. And that was before Tony Romo got hurt.
All the Rest
Score: 23-14, Bears
Score: 24-16, Ravens
Score: 27-21, Vikings
Cardinals @ Rams (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Score: 35-13, Cardinals
Score: 20-13, Jaguars
Score: 24-21, Chargers