NFL INSIDER: NFL disarray will make for interesting December

2013-11-28T17:00:00Z 2013-12-13T01:54:08Z NFL INSIDER: NFL disarray will make for interesting DecemberMatt Erickson NFL Insider
November 28, 2013 5:00 pm  • 

In a typically messy NFL, things have never been in more disarray than this year, it seems.

With five weeks to go, there are, for example, six teams below .500 in the AFC that have not just outside playoff chances, but legitimate playoff aspirations. In the NFC, we might see a pair of teams win their divisions by going 8-8.

On the one hand, that might be more gross than my sister-in-law's Thanksgiving stuffing. But on the other, that could be a beautiful thing.

It just means the difference between the elite teams like the Seahawks and Saints, Broncos and Chiefs, Panthers and Patriots and the ones in the cellar like the Jaguars, Bucs and Texans is really not that vast. It gives literal meaning to "on any given Sunday." (Or Thursday or Monday.)

That could wind up making things very interesting in January, of course. But it means things will be even more so down the stretch in December when teams like the Steelers are making a legit run at a wild-card berth despite being 5-6 and starting 0-4. As insane as it seems, six 5-6 teams in the AFC are in a tie for that conference's final playoff spot.

It should be great fun to watch all that play out, even if it throws chaos into your confidence pools. For that, I'd even eat a plate of that stuffing.

BEARS (6-5) +1 (49.5) at Minnesota (2-8-1)

MattE's pick: Bears 29, Vikings 23

Tennessee (5-6) +4 (45.5) at COLTS (7-4)

MattE's pick: Colts 27, Titans 24

Denver (9-2) -5.5 (49) at Kansas City (9-2)

MattE's pick: Broncos 31, Chiefs 23

Jacksonville (2-9) +7 (40.5) at Cleveland (4-7)

MattE's pick: Browns 23, Jaguars 17

Tampa Bay (3-8) +7.5 (41.5) at Carolina (8-3)

MattE's pick: Panthers 34, Bucs 17

Arizona (7-4) +3 (48.5) at Philadelphia (6-5)

MattE's pick: Eagles 31, Cardinals 27

Miami (5-6) +2 (39.5) at N.Y. Jets (5-6)

MattE's pick: Jets 23, Dolphins 17

Atlanta (2-9) +3 (47) at Buffalo (4-7)

MattE's pick: Falcons 26, Bills 20

St. Louis (5-6) +8.5 (42) at San Francisco (7-4)

MattE's pick: 49ers 27, Rams 20

New England (8-3) -7.5 (47.5) at Houston (2-9)

MattE's pick: Patriots 34, Texans 10

Cincinnati (7-4) +1 (48.5) at San Diego (5-6)

MattE's pick: Bengals 27, Chargers 23

N.Y. Giants (4-7) -1.5 (45.5) at Washington (3-8)

MattE's pick: Giants 26, Redskins 20

New Orleans (9-2) +4.5 (47) at Seattle (10-1)

MattE's pick: Saints 31, Seahawks 27

Last week: 6-7-1 straight up, 6-6-2 against the spread. Season: 108-67-1 (.617) straight up, 84-83-9 (.503) against the spread.

Matt Erickson is an award-winning journalist whose NFL picks have appeared in The Times for 12 seasons. He covers mixed martial arts for The Times and is assistant MMA editor for USA Today and

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