McNabb was the subject of controversy two weeks ago after Kyle Shanahan, son of the head coach and offensive coordinator removed him at the two-minute mark of a game the 'Skins trailed 31-25 in Detroit. He answered the bell and his critics last week in engineering a huge win in Tennessee where he got no help from the running game on the road against a quality opponent, yet pushed his team to 5-5 and kept them at least breathing in the race for the playoffs. It also answered another unspoken question about his team, which was whether they had quit on Shanahan & Son. That's a question we don't have answers for with regard to the Vikings, who play their first game under interim coach Leslie Frazier. I wouldn't be ready to assume the Vikes will respond as well as Dallas did to a coaching change. The Cowboys are a team where most of the component parts want to come back and be a part of what could be a successful run in 2011. The Vikings needed to rebuild in '11 regardless of who the coach was and regardless of how well they did this year. It's an older team and at places other than quarterback. Until I see some evidence they're committed to playing football the rest of this season, I won't pick them. And in the interests of full disclosure I'm a Redskins fan who knows how badly we need this win to keep faint playoff hopes alive. Washington wins it 19-17.
A look at the rest of the NFL undercard...
Pittsburgh-Buffalo: Pittsburgh got themselves back on track last week with their rout of Oakland and they'll need the momentum to go on the road and take on a Buffalo team that's playing well right now. The Bills' two-game win streak comes to an end here because they cannot run the ball well enough to keep the waves of Steeler pressure honest and the won't defend the run. Ryan Fitzpatrick can only do so much.
Jacksonville-NY Giants: The Jags enter the point of the schedule where we find out if this surprising 6-4 team is for real. The Giants have a serious problem taking care of the ball, a problem that's primarily about Eli Manning. However Jacksonville does a poor job at rushing the passer and they won't force those mistakes. Playing in New York in a must-win spot, the Giants get a win here going away.
Tennessee-Houston: It's the worst spot for Tennessee to be having quarterback problems. The Texans' secondary is awful, but can Rusty Smith be the one to exploit it? I have my doubts, especially in Houston. Look for the home team to end their losing streak and get a win.
Miami-Oakland: Oakland is another pass defense vulnerable to the big play and fortunate enough to be playing a new quarterback, in Miami's Tyler Thigpen. The Raiders need to establish the running game with Darren McFadden--they never did that last week in Pittsburgh and lost 35-3. I like McFadden enough to think it won't happen two weeks in a row and Oakland wins it.
Kansas City-Seattle: The leaders of the Western divisions go head-to-head in the Northwest. Both teams bring serious edge pressure, with Chris Clemons for Seattle and Tamba Hali for Kansas City. The Chiefs match up well against Seattle's pressure with their #1-ranked running game and a no-mistakes quarterback in Matt Cassell. This one will be good, although in the end the homefield edge at Qwest is too much to overcome for KC.
St. Louis-Denver: Playing at home is the only reason to give Denver a chance to win this game and even that won't persuade me. Stephen Jackson runs wild and Sam Bradford has one of his best games playing against a porous defense that can't tackle, cover or pressure the quarterback.
Carolina-Cleveland: A high-ankle sprain to Colt McCoy gives this a game a new storyline in that the Browns will start Jake Delhomme against his old team. Even Delhomme can't manage to cough up this game against a punchless Panther team that has to come to Cleveland. Just turn and give the ball to Peyton Hillis and he's enough to win an ugly one here.
Image from voiceofvaleri.com
Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.