By Nader Banilohi


This week in the NFL is very interesting week regarding the upcoming playoffs and the different scenarios that could play out. Most people are looking toward the Monday Night game between the Saints and the Falcons, but my focus is on the Sunday afternoon game between the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field with a possible wild card berth on the line. The Packers who have been banged up this whole season get Aaron Rodgers back after missing last week with his second concussion, facing the Giants who are trying to bounce back from their tragedy in the hands of Desean Jackson and the Eagles. The Packers looked very impressive in Foxboro last week with Matt Flynn under center, even they let the game slip away from them with some costly mistakes. I still see the Packers winning this won at home and taking control of the wild card. *Packers 31 Giants 23

The game between the Falcons and Saints doesn't mean too much, as I see both teams making the playoffs regardless. However, I believe this game will be a close one and the winner will have motivation leading into the playoffs. The Falcons have a more balanced team than the Saints. The X-Factor is clearly Michael Turner as they will rely on him to pound it down the middle. The Saints on the other hand were lacking in their running game, but now Pierre Thomas is getting back from an injury. The main match up I am looking forward to is the Atlanta secondary vs the Saints pass game. This one will be a good one, but I see the Falcons winning in a close one in front of a packed crowd in the Georgia Dome. *Falcons 24 Saints 21

The New York Jets will look to clinch a playoff berth against the Chicago Bears as they are fighting for the first round bye. This should be a battle of two well minded defenses. I look for the Jets to come out on top in a low scoring game. The corners of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will poise a problem for Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett. The winner will be decided in the trenches between Matt Forte and the Jets running game. Games in these cold weather are usually decided on the run and I see the combination of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson being more diverse than Matt Forte. I expect the Jets to head into the playoffs on a high note and the opposite for the Bears. *Bears 10 Jets 13

The Rams and the 49ers is a battle of two bad, but promising teams as they battle for the NFC West. The Rams tend to be strong once they're at home. They have shown a good balance between running it with Steven Jackson and throwing it with Sam Bradford, who is clearly the Rookie of the Year. The Rams are also equipped with a young talented defense. On the other hand, the 49ers come in without Frank Gore and a shaky quarterback in Alex Smith who seems to be on and off during the season. I look for the Rams to win at home and get closer to clinching the division. *Rams 21 49ers 10

In other action, the Colts and Jags are battling for the division as Colts control their own destiny. The Colts travel up to Oakland in a very tricky matchup against a talented Raiders team. I believe the experience of Peyton Manning will prove to be too much for the youthful Raiders. *Colts 28 Raiders 27

The Jags will host the Redskins at home as they are going to be without Maurice Jones-Drew and possibly Mike Sims-Walker. I say the loss to the Colts in the previous week will still loom in the heads of the young Jags. I expect the Redskins to come in and upset the Jags after playing an impressive game against the Cowboys last week. *Jags 14 Redskins 17

The young Chiefs will try to hold on the Chargers as they go up against a depleted Titans team. The Chiefs have been near unstoppable at home. I see the Chiefs in a blowout. *Chiefs 24 Titans 3

Teams like the Eagles, Chargers, and the Bucs should ease through their opponents (Vikings, Bengals, Seahawks) as they look towards a playoff spot.