Week 13 of the 2011 NFL season is upon us. Winter is fast approaching and with it comes the playoffs. There are a few teams that have all but locked up their playoff spots, but there are others for whom every game going forward is their playoffs.
With that in mind, there are a few games this week that will impact the NFL Playoff landscape more than the rest.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears
Nobody would have predicted that this game could be so unpredictable. Both teams are without their starting quarterback. In the place of Jay Cutler and Matt Cassel will be Caleb Hanie and Tyler Palko.
Both young quarterbacks have been thrust into the spotlight under duress. The Chiefs have already sealed their fate and have played their way out of the playoffs. The Bears, on the other hand, are tied with the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions for the last two playoff spots.
The Bears need this win to keep pace in the competitive race for the wild-card spots in the NFC.
Atlanta Falcons @ Houston Texans
This game should be interesting. The Texans have signed Jake Delhomme to come in as a band-aid, but it remains to be seen how much the old man has left in the tank. The Falcons are trying to somehow back into the playoffs, despite their underwhelming season.
Both teams desperately need a win this week, and it should be a fun game to watch.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This divisional game will be fiercely contested. The Bengals are only one game behind both the Baltimore Ravens and the Steelers. Expect a defensive brawl, as both teams are among the league leaders on that side of the ball.
This game will more than likely come down to the arms of Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger. Whichever one of them can avoid a turnover late in the game will likely be the winner in this game.
New York Jets @ Washington Redskins
The Jets are right back in the thick of it to make the playoffs. Will Washington be able to cause Sanchez to revert back to form and lose the turnover battle?
The Jets should handily beat the Redskins, but there just isn’t any guarantee with this volatile team. Rex Ryan is on the hot seat, and the team couldn’t have more pressure on them to win.
Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants
The Packers are facing an injury plagued team desperate for a win in the Giants. The Giants need to win just to stay a game out of the playoffs behind the Lions, Falcons and Bears, oh my!
On the other side, the Packers continue their quest for perfection, and they are on a tear. Aaron Rodgers is making quarterbacking look easy, and I haven’t seen anything like what they are doing on offense since the 49ers were tearing things up in their heyday.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
This game should go the way of the home team, but with these two offenses you never know what you’re going to get.
The biggest story of this game will unfortunately be Ndamukong Suh’s suspension/appeal. The real story should be about two NFC heavyweights duking it out for their spot in the 2011 NFL playoffs.