While it technically might not be Friday, let’s get this week’s Friday Favorites going…
1.) Dallas at Indianapolis — What was once supposed to be a Super Bowl preview is now a battle between teams trying to make the playoffs and fighting to be .500. Indy is sitting at 6-5, and with a loss would put itself behind the Jaguars in the AFC South and with potential to miss the playoffs altogether. Dallas’ season has been over for weeks. However the honeymoon era with Jason Garrett at the helm is still underway. If not for a late-game fumble by Roy Williams Dallas would be 3-0 with Garrett as head coach. Even with Jon Kitna as quarterback, look for the Cowboys to continue to play to their potential. Peyton Manning has struggled against 3-4 teams in the past to distinguish various blitzers. Dallas might give up some points, but look for them to come out victorious 34-31.
2.) New York at New England — This is going to be some great football to watch on Monday night The polar opposite head coaches, the established quarterback vs. the up-and-comer. Both teams are 9-2 heading into the game, and the winner has an expected 80-percent chance to win the AFC East. Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, but I like Rex Ryan and the Jets in this game 24-14. The Jets have the attitude and confidence to go into Foxboro and snap Tom Brady’s NFL record 25-game home winning streak.
3.) Pittsburgh at Baltimore — The Sunday Night Football battle on NBC will be a primetime game worth watching. The Steelers and Ravens are a dead-even 8-8 in their past 16 games against each other. Some people like to watch shootouts between teams like the Colts and Saints. Eff that. Give me teams like the Steelers and Ravens going at each other every single time. Players like Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, LeMarr Woodley, and Troy Polamalu make defense fun to watch. That being said, both teams can put points up on the board. Ben Roethlisburger and Joe Flacco can sling the rock. Flacco and Lewis out-duel Big Ben and Polamalu and win 21-17.
4.) Atlanta at Tampa Bay — This game might be the biggest surprise of the season. Atlanta is sitting at 9-2 with Tampa Bay right behind at 7-4. If you would have told me Atlanta would be going into this game tied with the best record in the league, and that Tampa would be contending for a wildcard, I would have said you’re crazy. But that is the reality. Head coach Raheem Morris has done a great job in Tampa Bay, and second-year quarterback Josh Freeman is a prime example of a quarterback who wins football games. He continues to make plays and get things done. However, Atlanta is the better team, and while it will be a tough battle, Atlanta squeaks by with a 28-27 win.
5.) Oakland at San Diego — The Chargers look to make it 19 straight in December games. I liked the Raiders to win the division this year at first, but Philip Rivers has proved to be the best quarterback in the league, and made me look stupid in the process. The Raiders still are a competitive team, but my Oakland pick was more or less an insult to Rivers and the Chargers than it was any due praise for the Raiders. The Raiders might make the game competitive, but Rivers and San Diego will continue to roll. I’m going to say 35-14. Go Chargers, go.