Two big games this week: Saints hosting Atlanta and Houston visiting Chicago.
In the first, New Orleans has a chance to prove that its recent turnaround is for real by beating division rival and league leader Atlanta in a key battle. Every game is a must-win game for the 3-5 Saints but they can go a long way to convincing the world they belong in the playoff hunt by knocking off Atlanta at home.
The second is a battle of two 7-1 teams that have the league talking about their defenses. J.J. Watt leads a Texans team that is giving up about 17 points per game and dominating people; Chicago, meanwhile, is even better at 15 point per game and has an offense that is scoring points in bunches (even if it can't keep its collective mouth shut). The presence or absence cornerback Charles Tillman may have a big impact for the Bears, however.
Who's going to win these tough games? Here are this week's World's Worst Football Picks:
Indy over Jacksonville: With their win over Miami last week, the Colts have officially convinced me they deserve some attention. The Jags, meanwhile, are struggling. (5)
Tampa to beat San Diego: The Bucs are consistent and playing at home. The Chargers are neither. (4)
Minnesota over Detroit: The Lions have been playing well, stringing two wins together. The Vikings, meanwhile, have lost two. I say Adrian Peterson turns that around this week. (1)
Denver over Carolina: Peyton's got me believing. And that Denver defense isn't too bad either. (6)
New Orleans to beat Atlanta: I pick them to lose every week and the Falcons keep on winning. My feeling, though, is that the Saints know they have to have this game to keep their season alive and will play like it. (7)
Giants over Cincinnati: Bounce back game for Eli after a horrible performance last week. Meanwhile, I like the Bengals, I really do. I just can't seem to find a game I think they can win. (8)
Baltimore to beat Oakland: The Ravens have to keep things moving and the Raiders are just too inconsistent. (10)
New England over Buffalo: Ugh. Wish I could pick the Bills here. But New England has won two in a row and is figuring out how to balance their offense. Buffalo just doesn't have the defense to stop them. (12)
Miami to beat Tennessee: A tough one. The Dolphins deserved better last week against Indy and I worry they'll have a lull here against the Titans. But maybe not. (11)
Seattle over the Jests: Seattle has surprised me this year with their strong defense and consistent offense. The Jests... well, don't impress me. (3)
San Fran to beat St. Louis: I like the Rams, actually, but there aren't many teams I think can handle the 49ers at this point. (13)
Philadelphia to beat Dallas: My thought: the Eagles are desperate from top to bottom, coach to kicker. And they hate the Cowboys. And they're at home, embarassed after their last four outings. And Tony Romo is unreliable. (2)
Houston over Chicago: Close, close game. The Bears are at home, which should give them the edge. But Jay Cutler just can't seem to keep his mouth shut and let winning dogs lie. And I think the Texans' offense stands a chance to push Chicago's defense around a bit. (9)
Pittsburgh over Kansas City: A trap game for the Steelers. But they've got their sights set on catching the Ravens and will somehow keep their focus against the lowly Chiefs. Odd, I had thought KC would be competitive this year. In fact, on paper, they should be. But they're just not. (14)