I finally found my groove in the Weekly Pick'em with easily my best performance of the year at 14-2 in Week 12. Only the Chicago Bears upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles and the Oakland Raiders dropping a game at home to the Miami Dolphins prevented me from having a perfect week.
This week there are a number of games that are going to give us clarity in the NFL playoff picture. Tennessee is in a near must win game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. If they win, they will be tied for the lead in the AFC South.
If they lose, they will drop two games back in the division and would probably need to win out to have any shot of capturing the AFC South. The Titans are on a four-game losing streak and need to stop the bleeding.
The Washington Redskins are in a similar position facing the New York Giants. If they win, they will be only a game behind the Giants for second place in the NFC East. They could also move within a game of the Philadelphia Eagles, depending on what the Philadelphia Eagles do against the Houston Texans.
Tampa Bay will be able to show us if they are for real when they face the Atlanta Falcons at home this weekend. If they can win, they will keep pace in the competitive NFC South. If they lose, the Falcons and Saints will have put some distance between themselves and the Buccaneers with Tampa continuing to fall back to the other NFC Wild Card contenders.
Finally, the four best teams in the AFC East have been the New England Patriots, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens beat the Steelers and the Jets beat the Patriots earlier in the season. Now those division foes face off this weekend with each tied in the standings.
If the Jets and Ravens can win, they will have swept their best competition in the division and be in position for a division title and first round bye. If they lose, the Patriots and Steelers will have one-game leads and be in position to earn tiebreakers, depending on how each team finishes in the division. These are big games that will go a long way to shaping the playoff picture.
Here is how I see the playoff picture in each conference heading in to this pivotal week.