GERRY DULAC’S NFL FORECAST
Last week: 7-7 (.500)
Season record: 109-67 (.619)
Green Bay Packers (5-5-1) at Detroit Lions (6-5), 12:30 p.m.
The Skinny: All the teams in the NFC North failed to win last week….and two of ‘em played each other. That explains the tie at the top with the Lions and Bears, the second division to have leaders with 6-5 records. The Lions have lost two in a row after getting beat at home by the Buccaneers. And the Packers are a different team without Aaron Rodgers.
Prediction: Lions, 34-20
Oakland Raiders (4-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-5), 4:30 p.m.
The Skinny: The Cowboys are the other division co-leader with a 6-5 record, thanks to their last-second victory against the Giants that ended New York’s four-game winning streak. The Raiders are smarting from their loss to the Titans in the final 15 secods.
Prediction: Cowboys, 30-16
Steelers (5-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-6), 8:30 p.m.
The Skinny: The Steelers have won the past two meetings with the Ravens, including 19-16 earlier this season at Heinz Field. That was the eighth time in the past 10 meetings that a game between the two teams was decided by three points. Curiously, in those eight games, each team has scored a combined 139 points. The Steelers have won three in a row and five of their past seven. The Ravens have lost four of their past six.
Prediction: Steelers, 17-16
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Cleveland Browns (4-7), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: After their 3-2 start, the Browns have morphed back to familiar territory, losing five of their past six games. They have also gone back to Brandon Weeden at quarterback. Those pesky Jaguars have won two of their past three games, including holding the Texans to two field goals at home.
Prediction: Jaguars, 15-13
Tennessee Titans (5-6) at Indianapolis Colts (7-4), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: After beating four of the best teams in the league – Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and New England – the Colts have lost two of their past three games by allowing 78 points in those defeats. The Titans have been sneaky competitive all season.
Prediction: Colts, 31-20
Chicago Bears (6-5) at Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: The Bears find themselves still tied for the division lead despite giving up 42 points in a loss to the surging Rams. The Vikings are the only team in the NFC North that has yet to win a division game (0-3-1), though they didn’t lose one last week, either.
Prediction: Vikings, 24-21
Miami Dolphins (5-6) at New York Jets (5-6), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: More than half of the AFC is either 5-6 (six teams) or 4-7 (three teams), and two of ‘em meet in New York. The Jets finally had their win-one, lose-one pattern ended by the Ravens, though not the way they would preferred. The Dolphins’ would have been in a good spot if not for a last-minute TD pass by Cam Newton.
Prediction: Jets, 17-16
Arizona Cardinals (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (6-5), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are tied with the 49ers for second in the NFC West after winning four games in a row. The Eagles have won three in a row behind QB Nick Foles and are tied for the division lead, but they are 1-4 at home.
Prediction: Eagles, 23-21
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) at Carolina Panthers (8-3), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: Strange to say these are two of the hottest teams in the league, considering the Bucs’ record. But they have won three in a row and are averaging 27.8 points in the past four games. The Panthers have won a club-record seven in a row, best in the league, and are just a game behind the first-place Saints.
Prediction: Panthers, 26-17
New England Patriots (8-3) at Houston Texans (2-9), 1 p.m.
The Skinny: After becoming the first team in NFL history to win its first two games on the last play, the Texans have lost an incredible nine games in a row. The height of their ignominy came in last week’s 13-6 loss to the Jaguars. The Patriots won’t need a 24-point comeback in this one.
Prediction: Patriots, 27-14
Atlanta Falcons (2-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-7), 4:05 p.m.
The Skinny: Which is more incredible to believe – the Texans have the worst record in the AFC or the Falcons have the worst record in the NFC? The Falcons, last year’s NFC title game participant, have lost five in a row, have yet to win on the road (0-5) and are the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention.
Prediction: Bills, 31-23
St. Louis Rams (5-6) at San Francisco 49ers (7-4), 4:05 p.m.
The Skinny: All of a sudden, the Rams have become an offensive machine, scoring 80 points in back-to-back victories against the Colts and Bears and scoring 34 or more points in four of their past seven games. That oughta test that stingy 49ers defense.
Prediction: 49ers, 24-17
Denver Broncos (9-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-2), 4:25 p.m.
The Skinny: The Broncos not only blew a 24-0 lead in their loss in New England, they also blew a chance to open a one-game lead on the Chiefs in the AFC West. After allowing 111 points during their 9-0 start (12.3 average), they have allowed 68 in back-to-back losses to the Broncos (27) and Chargers (41).
Prediction: Chiefs, 27-23
Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) at San Diego Chargers (5-6), 4:25 p.m.
The Skinny: The Chargers lead the league in pulsating finishes, having had four games decided in the final 45 seconds. The latest was their 41-38 victory against the Chiefs that was decided with 24 seconds remaining. That kept the Bolts in the wild-card playoff picture.
Prediction: Chargers, 31-28
New York Giants (4-7) at Washington Redskins (3-8), 8:30 p.m.
The Skinny: We’ve harped on this before: The Redskins are doing Robert Griffin III a disservice by playing him on his injured knee. And RG3 is doing the Redskins a disservice by playing all season in such a limited capacity. The Giants had their four-game win streak ended by the Cowboys.
Prediction: Giants, 27-20
New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Seattle Seahawks (10-1), 8:30 p.m.
The Skinny: The Seahawks have won six in a row, have not lost a home game in two years and lead the NFC in points scored (306). The Saints are right behind with 305 points and have won three in a row to stay a game ahead of the charging Panthers. But both losses have been on the road.
Prediction: Seahawks, 31-23