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First down: Minnesota at Houston
11 a.m., TV • Ch. 13
The skinny • So Adrian Peterson is just 188 yards from becoming the seventh player ever to rush for 2,000 in a season, and only 294 away from breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, but he's only the second-most talked-about runner of the last week? Nice job, Suzy Favor Hamilton, ya thunder-stealing hooker. Seriously, who doesn't want to see Peterson break the record? OK, probably Dickerson. I'd guess that's a safe bet. I'd also wager the Texans may be somewhat averse to Peterson going crazy on 'em. Of course, having allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards this year, they may have something to say about it. They'll certainly make it tougher than earning $600/hour.
The line • Texans by 8.
The pick • Texans. I'm guessing AP will get his yards. Everywhere else, though, t'would seem the Texans have a Texas-sized advantage.
Second down: Cleveland at Denver
2:05 p.m., TV • Ch. 2
The skinny • Whilst AP has earned deserved consideration as a candidate for both Comeback Player of the Year and MVP, so too has his Denver counterpart in Body Bustedness, Peyton Manning. Alas, all the hype surrounding He of the Elongated Forehead has often served to obfuscate the greatness of Denver's defense. Lest the short-termness of our memories cause us to forget, last year's Broncos D was stellar enough to earn a playoff berth and win in spite of the team being quarterbacked by one Timothy Tebow a man who could not beat out Mark "Butt Fumble" Sanchez and Greg McElwhatever on the Jets this year. So when the topic of Denver's "overratedness" comes up again, remember Von Miller & Co. are even better this year.
The line • Broncos by 12-1/2.
The pick • Broncos. The only thing most Browns players are worthy of consideration for is a spot on a real team's practice squad.
Third down: N.Y. Giants at Baltimore
2:25 p.m., TV • Ch. 13
The skinny • Have these guys considered asking Santa to bring them a victory? Perhaps they could promise to stop being mean to their siblings and to do all their chores? Getting back on the big guy's "nice list" may be their best option at this point, as it's pretty apparent that whatever they're doing on the field isn't getting them back in the win column. Don't bother with that typewritten letter, Tom Coughlin, it's far too late for that. Send a text or something. Be forewarned, though asking is no guarantee of receiving. After all these years, I have yet to find Scarlett Johansson under my tree.
The line • Giants by 21/2.
The pick • Ravens. I would have argued for a tie (on account of equal mediocrity), but when's the last time there've been two of those in one season? OK, you're right, technically the answer is 1997 … but that doesn't mean you aren't missing the point.
Fourth down: San Francisco at Seattle
6:20 p.m., TV • Ch. 5
The skinny • In all the hubbub surrounding a game involving division rivals who fancy themselves Super Bowl contenders (with some good reason), people seem to have forgotten this result can't alter the NFC West standings this week. Even if the second-place Seahawks beat the first-place Niners, they will both remain in those positions. Great … now your frown is so big Marshawn Lynch might mistake it for a Skittles rainbow. Snap out of it. There is an upside, which is that karma is in play here. Remember how the 'Hawks got an undeserved early-season win over the Packers? Well, while Seattle wouldn't get an immediate big-picture benefit by beating San Fran, the Packers would, as they could take over the first-round bye currently held by the Niners. See? Karma.
The line • Pick 'em.
The pick • Seahawks. There are times the universe does unfold exactly how it should.
… and 11 to go
Tennessee at Green Bay, 11 a.m. • Hate to break it to you, Titans, but not every team in green plays like the Jets.
Indianapolis at Kansas City, 11 a.m. • Playoffs?! Colts are talking about playoffs?! Somewhere Jim Mora is having a big ol' tizzy fit.
New Orleans at Dallas, 11 a.m. • Still plenty of time for Romo to fall apart when it counts.
Oakland at Carolina, 11 a.m. • Nobody cares. Next.
Buffalo at Miami, 11 a.m. • Nope … don't care about this one either.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 11 a.m. • Could be a playoff eliminator. That sounds so dramatic!
New England at Jacksonville, 11 a.m. • Sarcasm alert! This should be a competitive, compelling game.
Washington at Philadelphia, 11 a.m. • I'm sure Philly fans will show Andy Reid the love in his last home game. And by "love" I mean "middle fingers."
St. Louis at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m. • If Josh Freeman can keep it to three picks or less, Bucs should be good.
San Diego at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m. • Yup, McElwhatever oughta get everything turned right around.
Chicago at Arizona, 2:25 p.m. • Maybe the Cards haven't quit after all. Looks like Da Bears have, though.