As Indy-Tennessee is going on, Jacksonville will be in Houston hoping for a break that will let them in the backdoor. But the Jags are being hit with more late injuries. They missed Maurice Jones-Drew in last week's loss to Washington. He'll be back Sunday, but now David Garrard is out and Trent Edwards will quarterback the biggest game of the season. On the other side of the ball Houston is missing receiver Andre Johnson. Even without Johnson, the Texans are the more talented team and they're playing at home. But there's no evidence in December that their heads are at all into playing football. I generally dislike picking games on this basis, because it involves too much speculation on things we really have no idea about. In the case of Houston, the collapse in their on-field performance this month make it far less speculative. Jacksonville wins an ugly game.
The AFC West reaches an anti-climactic finish. Kansas City will be hosting a playoff game next week against either Baltimore, New York or Pittsburgh and should rest starters. They could slip from the #3 seed to the #4 seed if they lose and Indianapolis wins. At the #3 seed they'd be guaranteed to avoid New England until the conference championship game, whereas the #4 could be going to Foxboro in Round 2. So there is an argument for playing to hold the #3 spot, but I don't believe its compelling enough to risk injury. You're going to have to beat the Patriots eventually if you want to get to that Super Bowl, so you may as well make sure you're healthy. The other West game is San Diego-Denver. I'm interested to see if the Chargers have enough heart to come out and play this game to win. They're still going for nine wins and a winning season. It's far from what was expected, but that's still a benchmark that a team with pride should fight for.
Image from somuchsports.com
Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in the NFL, coverage of college basketball. and bowl commentary in college football. 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.