1:00 p.m. ET
Indianapolis at Buffalo (-8)
After pulling their starters last week against the Jets, Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin opined that the Colts had "violated the public trust." Jeez. Just imagine what this guy would say if he watched the Bills regularly.
My pick: Buffalo
Jacksonville at Cleveland (-1.5)
Eric Mangini could win his fourth game in a row today. I don't know if he's the Mangenius again, but he's improving. Maybe he's the ManG.E.D.
My pick: Cleveland
Chicago at Detroit (+3)
It's 10 degrees in Detroit today. But it's much warmer where the Lions play. (I think the Lions play in hell. All the time. For eternity. And it's the only thing on TV.)
My pick: Chicago
San Francisco at St. Louis (+7)
As long as the Rams don't blow this and win, they'll have the No. 1 pick in the draft and the opportunity to take Ndamukong Suh. The Nebraska defensive tackle will really help a line that has been hurt by the lack of production from former 2008 No. 2 overall pick Chris Long. If the quality of Chris Long's career so far could be made into a movie, it would look something like this:
My pick: San Francisco
Pittsburgh at Miami (+3)
Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley got some headlines this week by saying the Patriots and Bengals would lose to lesser opponents this week to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. I agree. The Steelers lost to a ton of lesser opponents this year to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs, and they're one of the classiest organizations in sports.
My pick: Pittsburgh
New York Giants at Minnesota (-9)
Adrian Peterson really needs to stop fumbling. If he keeps turning the ball over, we can't fully enjoy Brett Favre's annual late-season collapse. Pick up your play, Purple Deacon!
My pick: New York Giants
Atlanta at Tampa Bay (+2.5)
Matt Ryan's completion percentage and quarterback rating are well off his rookie year numbers, and he has thrown more interceptions despite missing two games. He definitely experienced a sophomore slump. It could be because, like a lot of sophomores, puberty is really starting to kick in and he's struggling to concentrate.
My pick: Atlanta
New Orleans at Carolina (-7)
Mark Brunell is getting the start today over Drew Brees. I had no idea Brunell was still in the NFL. And he's the backup quarterback on a team that hopes to win the Super Bowl? Huh. I also had no idea that the Saints don't have a general manager or anyone in their front office who evaluates players. Shows what I know, I guess.
My pick: Carolina
New England at Houston (-8)
Bill Belichick has informed Tom Brady that he will be playing. But don't worry, Patriots fans. Belichick has also alerted the league office of this decision, so all Texans defender will be outfitted with electronic shock collars and will be put down if they get within five yards of the S.S. Dreamboat.
My pick: New England (and to win)
4:15 p.m. ET
Philadelphia at Dallas (-3)
The winner gets the NFC East crown. But regardless of the outcome, I'm sure Andy Reid and Wade Phillips will both be wearing a crown by the end of the day:
My pick: Philadelphia
Kansas City at Denver (-13)
Denver no longer controls its own destiny. And I don't mean just the team. The city, too. Life is empty and you're all going to die.
My pick: Kansas City
Baltimore at Oakland (+10.5)
Tom Cable has been outspoken recently in saying that the Raiders would be in the playoffs if not for JaMarcus Russell. Well, sure. Ten whole pigs would still be alive if JaMarcus Russell hadn't eaten them last night. But it doesn't change the fact that they're dead.
My pick: Oakland
Green Bay at Arizona (-3)
There's a very good chance that the Packers and Cardinals could play in Arizona next week in the first round of the playoffs. So don't expect them to reveal much in this game. That includes you, Leinart. No one wants to hear the story about the time you and Nick Lachey got all f'd up on Twisted Teas and started wrestling and maybe made out a little bit.
My pick: Arizona
Washington at San Diego (-4)
Oh, Jim Zorn. How we'll miss you. What great times we all had together. You being incompetent. Us making fun of your incompetence. It won't be the same without you. Actually, that's not true. We can just look across the field. Hi, Norv Turner! Ready for another go?
My pick: San Diego
Tennessee at Seattle (+4.5)
Chris Johnson needs 128 yards to reach 2,000 on the season. With how bad the Seahawks have been playing, I'm confident he can get it on Tennessee's first drive.
My pick: Tennessee***
8:20 p.m. ET
Cincinnati at New York Jets (-10)
This is the last game in Giants Stadium. The new stadium, Meadowlands Stadium, is going up across the parking lot. So, yes, the New York Jets and New York Giants will still play in New Jersey. Even worse, all the cement in the new stadium was made with New Jersey guido hair gel.
My pick: Cincinnati (and to win)
Yep, exactly as the title says.
1. Jim Sorgi Peyton Manning's longtime backup gets paid handsomely to do absolutely nothing. But this year he somehow got hurt doing that absolutely nothing. Perhaps he nodded off and fell into his stack of cash, giving himself a series of paper cuts. I don't know. What I do know is that meant Curtis Painter had to fill in on Sunday with 16-0 on the line. And Curtis played like he hails from a long line of painters, not quarterbacks, ruining the Colts' shot at an undefeated season. So it looks like Sorgi's job of not doing anything will not be threatened by this painter. Congrats, Jim. Take yet another day off.
2. Tom Brady You used to be known as the quarterback who blew a perfect season. That had to be a heavy weight to bear all by yourself. That heavy weight also probably wrinkled your $1,200 shirts. But now Curtis Painter can share some of this notoriety. Maybe he'll also agree to take over your responsibilities as secretary of the Mediocre Big Ten Quarterbacks Association.
3. Curtis Painter So, yeah, football clearly isn't a career option and, as mentioned, he'll have to fall back on that painting career. But only for now. He has a big future. Really big. Painter was born in Illinois and grew up in Indiana. But if he can learn a British accent, I think he has a career playing villains in movies. Look at those eyes. Classic movie psychopath.
4. Giants Stadium Yes, the Giants sucked it up to miss out on the playoffs in their final game in the cement ring. And, yes, the Jets have their final game at Giants Stadium next week needing a win in primetime to make the playoffs. And, being the Jets, they'll probably fail miserably, too. But consider this: one week to go before you'll never have your walls pissed on again.
1. Keith Brooking Yeah, I don't really have to explain why he finds himself in this category:
Yeah, it's that haircut. But the pathetically awful speech doesn't help either.
Who's the ginger McQuistan that comes in at the end? I think he was standing off to the side like this guy saying: "Worst. Motivational speech. Ever." (I imagine that McQuistan had a rough childhood. "Hey, McQueefstain! Nice hair!")
2. John Fox Nice job keeping Matt Moore on the bench all season in favor of Jake "One of the Worse Quarterbacks Ever" Delhomme (sometimes nicknames need to be more descriptive than clever), thereby killing your team's playoff chances. Even Jeff Fisher thinks you are too loyal to crap quarterbacks. Oh, what's this? North Carolina resident Bill Cowher wants to coach again? Ooh. Tough break for you. Maybe Fox can takeover Cowher's part-time job as bandwagon siren jockey:
3. Randy Moss supporters After his three touchdown performance against the Jaguars, Moss admitted his recent performance against the Panthers in which he was accused of loafing "wasn't too hot." So everyone who came out in support of Moss after that game, yeah you're dumb. But don't feel bad. We already knew you were.
4. Subway Jared Not only did your beloved Colts lose, not only are you still fat, but you're no longer the only crap food diet spokesman. That's right, Taco Bell has a girl now. And she's much more pleasant to look at than you. Best of all: she's not one of the most annoying people in the world (after only Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck).
5. Peyton Manning This is why player-coaches can't work in the NFL. He clearly wanted to be in the game and go for 16-0. Why delegate a decision that big to his assistant, Jim Caldwell? You only have yourself to blame, Peyton. There goes my vote for you for Coach of the Year.
1:00 p.m. ET
Buffalo at Atlanta (-9)
We have only two games left in the Terrell Owens Era in Buffalo. If he's going to single-handedly destroy the team's chances at a winning season, he better get crackin'!
My pick: Atlanta
Kansas City at Cincinnati (-13.5)
In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, some things slip through the cracks. That's why I want to commend USA Today for their cover headline last Monday "Another heartbreaker" in regards to the Bengals losing to the Chargers after Chris Henry's death. That is some impressive work. Even epic prick Jay Feely usually needs 140 characters to write something that stupid.
My pick: Cincinnati
Oakland at Cleveland (-3)
The Raiders are getting there. They are not anywhere near the Commitment to Excellence level, of course. But on the Commitment to Excrement to Commitment to Excellence scale, I'd say they're around the middle about Commitment to Existentialism. They know their seasons are still meaningless. But they'll make the best of them.
My pick: Cleveland
Seattle at Green Bay (-14)
Since it appears that the Mora's become worse and worse coaches as the family line extends, it's quite obvious that Jim Mora, III will be the worst coach ever. That's why I've started working on a screenplay, inspired by Terminator, in which fans from the future come back to the present day to destroy the Mora line. So far I have "Time travel?! You want to talk about time travel?" And I'm stuck there.
My pick: Green Bay***
Houston at Miami (-1.5)
The loser of this game will likely see their playoff chances end. The winner, too. Because the winner might make the playoffs and well, these are mediocre 7-7 teams. The playoffs are not kind to such teams.
My pick: Miami
Jacksonville at New England (-10)
Prediction: The Jaguars will have one of their biggest home crowds of the season this week.
My pick: New England
Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-14)
This talk of the Saints as "America's Team" is off the charts absurd. Fans of the Saints do not exist outside of the Gulf Coast. HOWEVER that does not mean we all didn't suffer greatly from their loss last week. Because the Saints lost in a game in which Jeremy Shockey didn't play. So now Shockey can tell himself it was because he didn't play. And when douchebags lose, we all lose.
My pick: New Orleans
Carolina at New York Giants (-7.5)
Statistically, Eli Manning is having the best season of his career. However, on my Eli Manning Does (And Always Will) Suck Rating Scale, he still rates a perfect 164.3.
My pick: New York Giants***
Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-3)
People are suddenly shocked that with a win today the Steelers may very well control their playoff destiny. Duh! I was saying before the season even started that they controlled their playoff destiny. Sometimes it's exhausting to be so smart.
My pick: Pittsburgh
4:05 p.m. ET
St. Louis at Arizona (-14.5)
The Cardinals have looked like crap coming down the stretch. Looks like they're a lock for the Super Bowl again.
My pick: Arizona***
Detroit at San Francisco (-14)
It's been a tough week for Alex Smith. He threw a bunch of interceptions against the Eagles to end San Francisco's playoff hopes. And then TLC passed on his pilot "Little Hands, Big Job."
My pick: San Francisco
4:15 p.m. ET
New York Jets at Indianapolis (-4)
The Colts plan to rest several injured starters. Whereas the Jets plan to play all their starters. Which pretty much ends their chances. You know, what with Mark Sanchez being a starter.
My pick: Indianapolis
Denver at Philadelphia (-7)
Playing in Philadelphia is big for Broncos safety Brian Dawkins or B-Dawk as he is called. And that's understandable. Of course he would feel a great bond to a city that bestowed upon him such a creative nickname. I still don't understand what it means. But it's PLENTY CREATIVE!
My pick: Philadelphia
8:20 p.m. ET
Dallas at Washington (+7)
It's pointless for me to even attempt to top comedic genius like this:
My pick: Dallas***
Minnesota at Chicago (+7)
Let's just relax about this Brett Favre, Brad Childress thing. It could be a lot worse. For example, in Chicago, Jay Cutler keeps audibling to interceptions.
My pick: Minnesota
San Diego at Tennessee (-3)
You might not want to watch this game with kids around. Philip Rivers strikes me as the kind of guy who would love to tell kids that Santa doesn't exist. Yes, because he bears a striking resemblance to this guy.
But more because he just seems like a dick.
Or maybe I have this all wrong. Maybe Rivers isn't The Grinch. Maybe Rivers is the one who was tormented by The Grinch. The Grinch Who Stole A Proper Throwing Motion. Philip Rivers was the quarterback of Whoville and The Grinch stole his throwing motion leaving him with crap. But then The Grinch saw Rivers still put up big numbers by throwing that way, as well as Vince Young winning with his motion, and learned that there is more than looking good to playing quarterback. Yes, that must be it. How heart-warming.
But still, don't let any kids watch this game. Heart-warming or not, you really don't want them to throw like that.
My pick: San Diego (and to win)
Little Eli Manning threw a tantrum on the Manning Family's living room floor Christmas morning after all the gifts were opened and he realized he wasn't getting the one present he told Santa he wanted most a new Plaxico Burress.
"I want a Plaxico! AHHHHHHHH!" Manning screamed, crying and kicking and pounding at the floor. "AHHHHHHHHH! I want one NOW! Gimme a Plaxico!"
The boy's mother, Olivia, tried to calm her son by saying he might be able to get a Plaxico next year with early parole.
"Honey, I told you that you might not get a new Plaxico this year, sweetie," she said, rubbing Eli's back as tears streamed down his face. "I know it's hard for you to not have your Plaxico. But look at all the great stuff you got a Zhu Zhu pet, some trucks, a sweater, a Domenik Hixon. It's not all bad."
But the youngest Manning could not be consoled.
"I wanted a Plaaaaaaxico-o-o-o," he sobbed, barely getting the words out through his tears. "I wanted to throw the ball way into the air and have him catch it. All my receivers are short."
Thankfully Eli finally stopped crying after his big brother Peyton let him play with his Austin Collie for a while.
Yes, Philadelphia Eagles fan Brett Tompkins penetrated a Santa Claus against its will on Sunday in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot. But Tompkins says people need to understand there's a lot more to the story than that.
"Oh, jeez. Here we go again with people bringing that up," said a clearly perturbed Tompkins, talking between sets at a suburban Philadelphia gym this afternoon. "First the cops, now you. It was three goddam days ago, okay? Three goddam days. Get over it. Move on. This is only getting attention because an Eagles fan raped Santa Claus. It probably happened in every other stadium this week."
According to security reports from the other 16 NFL venues in use on Sunday, no other incidents of Santa rape were reported. Nor were even any incidents of Santa-related crime.
"Sure. Whatever," said Tompkins. "Look. The fking guy was asking for it. You don't walk around in the upper deck at The Linc dressed up like that and expect to not get raped. You're asking for it. It would almost be wrong to not rape him. And then when I see Santa out in the parking lot standing by some red pot and asking for money, well clearly he was some kind of prostitute or something. So I decided he should give me a freebie. I made Santa squeal like Tony Homo. E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!" he added, his chant joinedenthusiastically by everyone at the gym.
And while Tompkins says his incident with Santa is getting unfair attention from the media, his bench partner, Tony Shett, says there should be no confusion about what went down.
"We get unfairly painted as drunks and thugs," said Shett. "But don't get it wrong, bro. We will fking drink any other fan base under the table and then kick their ass, too. We got a reputation to uphold."