It’s that time of year again.
Good lists and bad lists.
Big-bellied men in funny suits.
Clocks counting down.
It’s almost playoff time and scenarios are in the air like Salvation Army bells.
Who’s in? New England, Houston, Baltimore, Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco and Green Bay.
Who’s out? Let’s not name names this close to Christmas.
Who might be in? A lot of teams not named Jacksonville, Carolina, Detroit or Kansas City.
Like another big day coming up, it’s time to find out who gets what they want and who doesn’t.
OAKLAND at CAROLINA: Three in a row should make disgruntled PSL owners happier. On second thought, maybe not. Panthers 34, Raiders 14.
ATLANTA at DETROIT: Saturday night special in Motown. Has there been a bigger disappointment than the Lions this season? Falcons 29, Lions 17.
TENNESSEE at GREEN BAY: A bratwurst in every stocking this Christmas morning. Packers 35, Titans 14.
INDIANAPOLIS at KANSAS CITY: For a moment, I thought about picking the Chiefs. No, not really. Colts 30, Chiefs 16.
NEW ORLEANS at DALLAS: Who will get more TV time in this one, Drew Brees, Tony Romo or Jerry Jones? Cowboys 27, Saints 24.
MINNESOTA at HOUSTON: Adrian Peterson against the Houston defense. If the Texans can’t contain him, no team can. Texans 33, Vikings 24.
BUFFALO at MIAMI: Quick, name a Buffalo player not named C.J. Spiller. Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Dolphins 26, Bills 17.
CINCINNATI at PITTSBURGH: Just not feeling it with the Steelers this season. Bengals 24, Steelers 17.
NEW ENGLAND at JACKSONVILLE: Don’t you know this is what the Patriots wanted to be doing the weekend before Christmas. Patriots 31, Jaguars 3.
WASHINGTON at PHILADELPHIA: Hard to know which is more surprising – how good the Redskins appear to be or how utterly dreadful the Eagles have become. Here’s a hint: Redskins 31, Eagles 14.
ST. LOUIS at TAMPA BAY: Like Austin Powers a few years ago, the Bucs have lost their mojo, baby. Bucs 28, Rams 20.
SAN DIEGO at NEW YORK JETS: The Chargers have surrendered. The Jets are impossible to watch. Trust me, I tried Monday night. Rex Ryan and Norv Turner might not want to watch this one. Jets 10, Chargers 9.
CLEVELAND at DENVER: The Broncos are on cruise control. Denver 41, Browns 17.
CHICAGO at ARIZONA: The Bears have lost five of six and Brian Urlacher is saying the Soldier Field fans shouldn’t be booing. Not sure I’d want to say it to Urlacher’s face, but he is wrong. Fans are allowed to boo. Bears 21, Cardinals 14.
NEW YORK GIANTS at BALTIMORE: One week the Giants score 52 points. The next week – which coincides with me ranking them the best team in the NFC – they score zero.
As coaches always say, you want to be playing your best football this time of year. Like the Ravens, who managed to clinch a playoff spot with their third straight loss last Sunday. Suddenly, this looks like a Buffalo-Cleveland game. Giants 24, Ravens 21.
SAN FRANCISCO at SEATTLE: Let’s see Pete “I Forgot To Call Off The Fake Punt With A 75-Point Lead” Carroll run it up on Jim Harbaugh’s gang. 49ers 23, Seahawks 17.
Last week: 10-5