In Week 12, it appeared that the Colts would finally suffer their first loss of the season. But mix a little Houston ineptitude with some Peyton Manning magic, and Indianapolis completed a big comeback to move to 11-0 on the season.
On the other hand, many people pegged last Monday night to be the game that the undefeated Saints finally suffered a loss. After a hotly-contested first quarter, the Saints completely dominated Bill Belichick en route to moving 11-0 as well.
Are those two teams on a collision course for Miami? The Colts have announced they won’t attempt perfection, instead choosing to rest their starters once home-field advantage is clinched. The Saints have made no such claim, and with the Vikings just one game back in the standings, they really can’t afford to rest on their laurels. A Saints-Vikings NFC championship seems inevitable, so expect something like Packers-Saints or Cardinals-Vikings instead.
Minnesota at Arizona. With Kurt Warner aching, the NFC West is far from decided. The Cardinals have a two-game lead on the 49ers (who face division-rival Seattle), but they’ll be hard-pressed to win here with Matt Leinart under center. Meanwhile, Brett Favre is on the way to his best statistical season ever, which is significant when you consider his storied career.
Houston at Jacksonville. Looking like they may finally make the playoffs, the Texans have fallen apart in recent weeks. Another loss here and they can start preparing for 2010. Jacksonville started slow, but quietly crept to a winning record through 11 games. The Jaguars are currently in one of the two wild-card spots, but a lot can change by Week 17.
Philadelphia at Atlanta. The Eagles seemed to catch an injury break (funny when you consider how many of their players will miss this week’s game) when Matt Ryan went down. If Michael Turner’s high ankle sprain stops him from playing, the Eagles defense may have their way with the Falcons. Atlanta is 6-5 and in danger of falling out of the playoff picture.
Baltimore at Green Bay. Both teams are in the wild-card mix in their respective conferences, but with Pittsburgh likely to beat Oakland, Baltimore needs a win here to hold serve and keep up with the Steelers. The Packers are on a roll, winning their last three games and looking like the No. 5 seed in the NFC, which would likely mean a date with the Cardinals in the first round.
Dallas at New York. Cowboys fans, welcome to your Kryptonite: December football. Tony Romo has to travel to New York, New Orleans, and Washington, while facing Philadelphia and San Diego at home. A win by the Giants puts them right back in the NFC East race, but a loss sends them to 6-6 and on the outside of the playoff bubble.
|1||Indianapolis Colts (11-0)||1.33||1||2||1|
|Remaining: Ten, Den, at Jac, NYJ, at Buf. Tony who? Jim Caldwell opens his coaching career with 11 straight wins.|
|2||New Orleans Saints (11-0)||1.67||2||1||2|
|Remaining: at Was, at Atl, Dal, TB, at CAR. Did you know that the Saints have scored over 100 more points than the Colts?|
|3||Minnesota Vikings (10-1)||3.00||3||3||3|
|Remaining: at Ari, Cin, at Car, at Chi, NYG. Does that schedule scare anyone? Two toughest games are at home.|
|4||San Diego Chargers (8-3)||4.67||4||5||5|
|Remaining: at Cle, at Dal, Cin, at Ten, Was. After starting 2-3, the Chargers have won six straight games. First-round bye?|
|5||Cincinnati Bengals (8-3)||5.00||5||4||6|
|Remaining: Det, at Min, at SD, KC, at NYJ. At 174 points, Cincy owns the league’s stingiest defense. Who’d have thought?|
|6||Dallas Cowboys (8-3)||6.33||8||7||4|
|Remaining: at NYG, SD, at NO, at Was, Phi. Yikes. Get ready for another Cowboy collapse. Should I add another question?|
|7||Green Bay Packers (7-4)||7.00||6||6||9|
|Remaining: Bal, at Chi, at Pit, Sea, at Ari. Aaron Rodgers for MVP? He’s been fantasy’s best QB thus far, and well worth the price.|
|8||New England Patriots (7-4)||7.33||7||8||7|
|Remaining: at Mia, Car, at Buf, Jac, at Hou. After a Monday night shellacking, I don’t know who this team is anymore.|
|9||Philadelphia Eagles (7-4)||9.00||9||10||8|
|Remaining: at Atl, at NYG, SF, Den, at Dal. Losses are to division leaders Dallas, San Diego, New Orleans … and Oakland.|
|10||Arizona Cardinals (7-4)||10.33||10||11||10|
|Remaining: Min, at SF, at Det, StL, GB. Two tough home games, three winnable road games. Their division for the taking.|
|11||Denver Broncos (7-4)||10.67||12||9||11|
|Remaining: at KC, at Ind, Oak, at Phi, KC. Denver’s hoping that Indy clinches this week, as it could mean three straight wins.|
|12||Baltimore Ravens (6-5)||12.33||13||12||12|
|Remaining: at GB, Det, Chi, at Pit, at Oak. How big is that Week 16 game? It won’t be for the AFC North, but it could be for a wild card.|
|13||Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)||12.33||11||13||13|
|Remaining: Oak, at Cle, GB, Bal, at Mia. The Steelers should take their next two, setting up home games against Green Bay and Baltimore.|
|14||Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5)||15.00||14||17||14|
|Remaining: Hou, Mia, Ind, at NE, at Cle. Playoffs? A -53 point differential indicates that it’s unlikely.|
|15||New York Giants (6-5)||15.33||16||15||15|
|Remaining: Dal, Phi, at Was, Car, at Min. Three straight wins against NFC opponents could give them the division.|
|16||Houston Texans (5-6)||16.33||18||14||17|
|Remaining: at Jac, Sea, at StL, at Mia, NE. Three straight losses for the Texans, but two were against the league’s best team.|
|17||Tennessee Titans (5-6)||17.00||15||20||16|
|Remaining: at Ind, StL, Mia, SD, at Sea. Six straight losses, then five straight wins. What’s next? The Colts.|
|18||Atlanta Falcons (6-5)||17.67||19||16||18|
|Remaining: Phi, NO, at NYJ, Buf, at TB. 5-0 at home, 1-5 on the road, but the Falcons get the Eagles and Saints next.|
|19||Miami Dolphins (5-6)||19.00||17||18||22|
|Remaining: NE, at Jac, at Ten, Hou, Pit. Last five games will be against teams with playoff aspirations, meaning Miami has none.|
|20||San Francisco 49ers (5-6)||20.00||21||19||20|
|Remaining: at Sea, Ari, at Phi, Det, StL. Win four of these games (including the Arizona one) and the Niners could win the division.|
|21||New York Jets (6-6)||20.67||20||23||19|
|Remaining: at TB, Atl, at Ind, Cin. A Thursday win keeps the Jets’ playoff hopes alive. Barely.|
|22||Carolina Panthers (4-7)||22.67||22||21||25|
|Remaining: TB, at NE, Min, at NYG, NO. It’s time for the Matt Moore Era! The excitement in the room is palpable.|
|23||Chicago Bears (4-7)||22.67||23||24||21|
|Remaining: StL, GB, at Bal, Min, at Det. Losers of four straight, Chicago came unraveled in a hurry.|
|24||Seattle Seahawks (4-7)||23.00||24||22||23|
|Remaining: SF, at Hou, TB, at GB, Ten. Mike Holgrem is reportedly interested in the vacated GM job, which is not surprising at all.|
|25||Buffalo Bills (4-8)||25.00||26||25||24|
|Remaining: at KC, NE, at Atl, Ind. The Bills are once again playing for next year. At least Fred Jackson is a keeper.|
|26||Washington Redskins (3-8)||25.67||25||26||26|
|Remaining: NO, at Oak, NYG, Dal, at SD. I have a funny feeling this week’s game against the Saints will be pretty close.|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs (3-8)||27.00||27||27||27|
|Remaining: Den, Buf, Cle, at Cin, at Den. The Chiefs are playing for 2011. At least Jamaal Charles is a keeper.|
|28||Oakland Raiders (3-8)||28.00||28||28||28|
|Remaining: at Pit, Was, at Den, at Cle, Bal. The league’s lowest scoring team hasn’t topped 20 points all season.|
|29||Detroit Lions (2-9)||29.67||30||29||30|
|Remaining: at Cin, at Bal, Ari, at SF, Chi. The Lions are playing for 2012. At least Matthew Stafford is a keeper.|
|30||St. Louis Rams (1-10)||30.00||31||30||29|
|Remaining: at Chi, at Ten, Hou, at Ari, SF. Steven Jackson has been an elite back, yet remains unknown outside of fantasy football.|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-10)||30.33||29||31||31|
|Remaining: at Car, NYJ, at Sea, at NO, Atl. The offensive coordinator didn’t survive pre-season. Maybe they should’ve gave him a chance.|
|32||Cleveland Browns (1-10)||32.00||32||32||32|
|Remaining: SD, Pit, at KC, Oak, Jac. The Browns are playing for 2020. At least … uh … at least … I got nothing.|
DZ = daullaz
R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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