By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen
MINNEAPOLIS – The final game ever to be played in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis will be played this Sunday.
Meanwhile, Tony Romo has undergone back surgery and is done for the season in Dallas. Kyle Orton will play quarterback for the Cowboys.
Aaron Rodgers is back in Green Bay, Peyton Manning will be breaking all sorts of records as Denver finishes the season in Oakland and some coaches will likely be relieved of their duties moments after Sunday’s games end.
It’s the final week of the 2013 season and there will be a lot more to it than just completing the playoff picture.
Although, to be sure, the playoff picture will be completed.
If the playoffs started today in the NFC, Seattle (1), Carolina (2), Philadelphia (3), Chicago (4), San Francisco (5) and New Orleans (6) would be in the post-season. But the playoffs don’t start until next week. The means Seattle, Carolina and San Francisco have punched their tickets to the post-season but Philly, Dallas, Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans and Arizona all have a shot this week.
In the AFC, Denver (1), New England (2), Cincinnati (3), Indianapolis (4), Kansas City (5) and Miami (6) would be in if the playoffs started Sunday. But they don’t. The first have clinched but Miami, Baltimore, San Diego and Pittsburgh are still battling for the final spot.
It’s going to be a great final week. As long as the officials don’t destroy it again, like they did last week.
Meanwhile, last week Dr. Football went 10-6 (152-88) straight up and 7-9 (117-123) against the spread while the Coach was 9-7 (155-85) straight up and 7-9 (125-115) against the spread.
This week, the Doc writes our brilliant prognostications while the Coach has another turkey sandwich and burps.
Carolina Panthers (11-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-11) Line: Panthers by 6.5
The Panthers can still capture the No. 1 seed so they will be fired up. They already beat the Falcons this year so this one should be easy. The Coach says: This season Cam Newton might have joined Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as the game’s best quarterbacks. But can he finish?
The Doc: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Houston Texans (2-13) at Tennessee Titans (5-10) Line: Titans by 7.
The Titans have only once this season by more than seven, and even against the lowly Texans they’ll have trouble scoring. Both teams want the season over. The Coach says: Back in September this looked like it could have been a great game. Now it’s about guys saving their jobs.
The Doc: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.
Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) Line: Steelers by 7.
The Browns have only won once since Week Five. The Steelers are 7-4 in their last 11 games after a dreadful start. The Steelers beat the Browns by 16 on the road back in November; they’ll have an even easier time at home. The Coach says: The only thing Browns fans have to look forward to is the opening of the Kevin Costner movie, Draft Day.
The Doc: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE STEELERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Washington Redskins (3-12) at New York Giants (6-9) Line: Giants by 3.5.
Two lousy teams with nothing to play for than pride. The Giants beat the Lions last week, but by only a field goal; I don’t think they win by more than that against the ‘Skins. The Coach says: The United States government is using this game as a replacement for torture at Guantanamo.
The Doc: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) Line: Bengals by 6.
The Bengals are one of three teams that are undefeated at home. Five of those games have been by double-digits. The Ravens are just 2-5 on the road, and their playoff hopes will be dashed on Sunday. The Coach says: What he said.
The Doc: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5) Line: Colts by 11.5.
The Colts have already clinched their division, so this might be another “let’s not get injured” kind of a game. The Jaguars aren’t that bad since that horrible start, and they’ll be competitive here. The Coach says: Just when you think a franchise like the Jaguars is starting to figure it out, they go back to being the Jaguars.
The Doc: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE COLTS TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Jets (7-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-7) Line: Dolphins by 6.5.
The Jets couldn’t beat Miami at home and they won’t on the road. The Coach says: Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!
The Doc: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.
Detroit Lions (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1) Line: Vikings by 3.
Always a competitive game when these two playoff eliminated teams meet, and with the emotion of the last game at the Dome in the air, look for an inspired performance from the Vikings. The Coach says: One or both of these coaches will be fired after the game. Or at least, they both should be.
The Doc: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.
Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7) Line: Packers by 2.5
Aaron Rodgers returns with the division title on the line, a belated Christmas gift for Cheese Heads everywhere. Should be a great game, but the question is how ready is Rodgers? But given the Bears terrible defense, even on the road the Packers should win. The Coach says: Aaron Rodgers changes everything.
The Doc: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (11-4) Line: Patriots by 8.5.
If the Patriots weren’t playing for the No. 1 seed, this would be an entirely different game. The Bills kept it close against the Pats in the season opener and that’s something that is unlikely to happen this week. The Coach says: Danger! Butt-kicking about to occur.
The Doc: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at New Orleans Saints (11-4) Line: Saints by 12.5.
The Saints have surpassed the Seahawks as the best home team in football which spells doom for the lowly Bucs. This one will be over by half time. The Coach says: This one is already over.
The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Denver Broncos (12-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-11) Line: Broncos by 12.5.
The Raiders have lost seven of their last eight, their last three by an average of 16 points. The Raider rank 26th in pass defense, and Peyton Manning is on fire. The new record holder for touchdowns in a season should have another big day on Sunday. The Coach says: And all the records fall…
The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5) Line: 49ers by 1.5.
This one has “game of the week” written all over it as both teams are having great seasons. It comes down to this, if the 49ers can keep the pressure on the Cards Carson Palmer, he’ll make mistakes. The 49ers still have a shot at the Division title, and I’ll think they’ll be sharp here. The Coach says: This is Arizona’s coming out party.
The Doc: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN.
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7) Line: Chargers by 9.5.
Andy Reid’s Chiefs will “mix and match” their starters, which is code for “rest” as they have locked up a playoff spot. The Chargers still have a shot at a Wild Card spot, and they should get the win at home. The Coach says: Meaningless game for the Chiefs. Chargers in a romp.
The Doc: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE CHARGERS TO WIN AND COVER.
St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (12-3) Line: Seahawks by 10.5.
The Seahawks winning streak at home will start up against the Rams with the No. 1 playoff seed on the line. The Coach says: Russell Wilson has to step up this week after last week’s debacle.
The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7) Line: Eagles by 6.5.
Yikes. Even with Tony Romo the Cowboys wouldn’t be able to beat the Eagles. Expect a lot of scoring as a result of bad defense. Winner goes to the playoffs, the loser goes home for the year. The Coach says: No Romo, no hope. However, wouldn’t it be interesting if Kyle Orton won this game? It wouldn’t be the end of Romo in Dallas, but it should be.
The Doc: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.
The Coach: TAKE THE EAGLES TO WIN AND COVER.