There are three more games left to play in the NFL. And things for the NFC could not be more confusing. Two weeks ago the Dallas Cowboys appeared to be the class of the NFC East with a two game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. Now at 8-4 they are only a game ahead of the Eagles and after being swept by the Giants they have allowed the Giants to own a tie breaker if it were to come to that at the end of the season. The Giants are still on the outside looking in if the season ended today but having the edge over the Cowboys in the division could prove beneficial if they win out and make the playoffs.
Perfection Personified: Denver Broncos (8-4) at Indianapolis Colts (12-0)
The Denver Broncos fell off mid-season appearing to be the pretenders everyone said they were after opening the season with six wins. They are now however back to their winning ways but are facing a Indianapolis Colts team that really is unstoppable right now. Manning and the Colts virtually have no defense but are executing an offense attack on teams that no opposing defense has come close to figuring out. For Denver they need to look to their defense led by linebacker Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, DJ Williams and newcomer Ty Law. They must create some level of discomfort for quarterback Peyton Manning or he's going to unload his full arsenal of weapons and orchestrate a full on assault on this Broncos team. And honestly I don't know many people who think anything else is likely to happen.
AFC & NFC Pretenders?: Cincinnati Bengals (9-3) at Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
Whoa Minny! I would say the Arizona Cardinals put a number on this team last week showing the entire league just how to beat Minnesota. The good news for the Minnesota Vikings are that they return home to a ready and waiting Antoine Winfield back on the field and well they're playing the Bengals at home. Both of the Vikings losses have been on the road. And while it was down-right ugly at times for Vikings they should have extra motivation as they seek out some revenge this week against the Bengals. If you're a believer in this Cincinnati Bengals team (I'm not) then you would have to give in to the idea that neither the Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers are the teams they used to be at least they aren't this season. Both teams have looked down right dreadful this season and while the Bengals took full advantage in sweeping both teams, I can't escape the reality of them not being their true selves. The Vikings play great at home and the Bengals really haven't beaten anyone this season to ease the fears of fans who may still be on the fence about the legitimacy of this team. Revenge is a dish best served cold and I know the Vikings are itching to erase the nasty taste that the Cardinals put on their mouths.
The Best and Worst of December Football: San Diego Chargers (9-3) at Dallas Cowboys Cowboys (8-4)
It's no disrespect to the Dallas Cowboys but I'm going to play the numbers game on this one. The San Diego Chargers are perfect in December with quarterback Philips Rivers as their starter. They have not lost one game in December with Rivers under center. The Cowboys however, have less than stellar numbers in the month of December and last weeks loss against the Giants after going on a winning streak and taking over the lead in the NFC East is all but forgotten as the season concludes. Will the Cowboys hand the Chargers their first loss in December with Rivers or will they continue to prove the media and everyone else right in that they can't sustain momentum in December and risk not only their division title and any playoff hopes? The Chargers are playing excellent football, more impressive then they have in the past heading into December and the road block may prove too much for Dallas.
NFC East Battle: Eagles (8-4) at Giants (7-5)
I'll be honest this game makes me nervous. As a New York Giants fan there aren't many teams in the NFL that have the Giants number, but if I had to name a team that did it would surely be the Philadelphia Eagles. The seasons in which they've either knocked them out of the playoffs or stopped them from even going is too many to count. And after what they just did to the Atlanta Falcons on the road doesn't subside those feelings. The Eagles are one game behind the Cowboys for the division lead and they've already beaten the Giants once this season. A win on Sunday night would all but kill the Giants hope for a wildcard spot but the Eagles need this game just as much as they do. As do all games against the Philadelphia Eagles, it will either be a blowout in favor of them or it'll go down to the wire all but giving me a heart attack. The Giants shocked a lot of people last week when they announced they had demoted defensive end Osi Umenyiora in place of Mathias Kiwanuka but the move proved beneficial to a team in turmoil and created the emotional spark they have lacked since losing four in a row. The Eagles are also coming off of an emotional win with Michael Vick returning to his former home in Atlanta after being released and serving time in jail for dog fighting offenses. Vick had his best game as an Eagle as they rolled clear over less than competitive Falcons team. Emotions will again be high for two teams that don't think too highly of one another and need to keep the winning momentum on their side heading into the post season.
Monday Night Football: Cardinals (8-4) at 49ers (5-7)
Does anyone really think the San Francisco 49er's pose any real threat to the Arizona Cardinals. After last week's dominate victory over the Minnesota Vikings the Cardinals look like the strongest team in the NFC right now and that strength will be on full display as they push for another playoff run? For 49er fans who do believe their team has a chance I fully understand your thinking as a fan but I question your rationale. At any event, these teams will square off on Monday night in a battle I predict will be lopsided in favor of the Cardinals. The 49er's have had moments of a team renewed but they haven't been able to sustain that momentum in more consistent wins leaving people uncertain about their maturity as a team.