In honor of my 20th birthday, I decided to write this week’s picks articles in a different fashion. Rather than discuss the teams currently playing, I am going to pick the games and talk about the best game between the two teams in the past twenty years.
New England Patriots 24 (-3.5), Buffalo 19
Best game: Buffalo 31, New England 0 (2003. Week 1)
The Bills humiliated the Patriots. I do not think I have ever seen the Patriots play so poorly. Tom Brady threw four picks and got benched at the end of the game, just like two weeks ago. That being said, the Patriots went on to win their second Super Bowl. Spygate did not really help them stop Bledsoe that week.
Cincinnati Bengals 28, Carolina Panthers 21 (+7.5)
Best game: Cincinnati 17, Carolina 14 (2006, Week 7)
Nothing spectacular about this game, but we got to see a come from behind winning touchdown from T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Steve Smith had over 100 receiving yards and Rudi Johnson had over 100 rushing yards. The mediocre quarterback play from Carson Palmer and Jake Delhomme stagnated the offenses.
Cleveland Browns 20 (-1.5), Pittsburgh Steelers 18
Best game: Cleveland 13, Steelers 6 (2009, Week 14)
On a cold day, the Browns reduced the Steelers chances of making the playoffs. This game is the lone win the Browns have against Ben Roethlisberger. Future bench warmer Brady Quinn went 6-19 for 90 yards. Yes, the Browns won with a quarterback who completed less than a third of his passes. Really, it was the play of Joshua Cribbs on end-arounds that won the Browns the game. This Cleveland fan helps put the win into perspective.
Denver Broncos 33 (-8.5), New York Jets 12
Best game: Denver 17, New York 13 (2011, Week 11)
TIM TEBOW!! I am not a huge fan of the former Heisman winner, but no one can take away his ability to perform well under high pressure situations. The media inflated his stature a bit too much, but he does have more playoff wins than many good quarterbacks.
Detroit Lions 35 (-1.5), Minnesota Vikings 16
Best game: Detroit 26, Minnesota 23 (OT) (2011, Week 3)
The Lions of recent memory tend to be the team blowing the lead, but in this week, Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson shredded the Vikings pass defense to overcome a 20 point defecit. Yes, Donovan McNabb was starting for the Vikings, but the young Lions started 3-0 just three year after not winning a game for an entire season.
Green Bay Packers 34 (-3.5), Miami Dolphins 24
Best game: Miami 23, Packers 20 (2010, Week 6)
There is nothing notable about this game, except that Chad Henne was once a decent quarterback and that we should recognize that the media will always ask if the Packers are not good. As long as they have Aaron Rodgers, they are going to play well.
Tennessee Titans 19, Jacksonville Jaguars 13 (+6.5)
Best game: Tennessee 33, Jacksonville 14 (1999 AFC Championship Game)
What a difference 15 years makes. The Jaguars went 15-3 in ’99 with all three losses to the Titans. One thing the NFL should note when discussing the whole concussion debate is Steve McNair. Who knows what effects football had on him prior to his tragic death?
San Diego Chargers 42 (-7.5), Oakland Raiders 20
Best game: Oakland 27, San Diego 17 (2013, Week 5)
The only game to start at 11:30 EST, hopefully. Rivers has made such great strides since this game, but it was an impressive performance. Who knows if the Raiders can rally together again after the dismissal of Dennis Allen.
Atlanta Falcons 31, Chicago Bears 28 (+3.5)
Best game: Atlanta 22, Chicago 20 (2008, Week 6)
In the final eleven seconds, both teams combined to score ten points. In one of the wackier finishes in history, Kyle Orton, now starting for the Bills threw a touchdown. A great return and a Matt Ryan strike for 26 yards put the Falcons in position to win.
Seattle Seahawks 29 (-7.5), Dallas Cowboys 20
Best game: Seattle 21, Dallas 20 (2007 Wild Card Round)
This game was Tony Romo’s first playoff appearance, and the beginning of his reputation as a choke artist (whether it is fair or not). As John Madden states at the end of the video, football is unpredictable; it is why we love it.
Arizona Cardinals 21 (-3.5), Washington Redskins 17
Best game: I do not remember one. Sorry.
Philadelphia Eagles 35, New York Giants 34 (+2.5)
Best game: This one.
San Francisco 49ers 26 (-3.5), St. Louis Rams 18
Best game: San Francisco 24, St. Louis 24 (2012, Week 10)
Alex Smith’s injury opened the door for Colin Kaepernick to become the franchise quarterback. Inexpicably, the 49ers would go on to dominate most of their mediocre opponents, but not the Rams. The Rams gave Kaepernick fits and even beat them in their second game later in the season, which was also almost a tie.