Football is very much like life. Parts of it can be beautiful, parts can hurt, and other parts can bring incredible joy or sorrow. Also, much like the day-to-day grind, things can go from bad to great and good to ugly instantly, with the promise that fortunes will change again in due time.
The Kansas City Chiefs started the season 0-2 and looked utterly hopeless, only to win seven of their next eight and appear destined for a playoff run. Now, losers of two consecutive contests, Kansas City is on the outside of the playoff picture with only four games remaining. However, a win likely vaults the Chiefs back into the driver's seat for a postseason berth.
The message is simple; don't overreact. Don't get too high, or too low. Just take it week-by-week. How do our guys see this week playing out? Let's have a look:
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals (EVEN)
Matt Verderame: Chiefs 19, Cardinals 17
Honestly, I have no feel for this game. Drew Stanton stinks, but Arizona might rush for 250 yards in a quarter. The Cardinals also blitz like crazy, so it will be interesting to see how the rebuilt offensive line handles the pressure. I think Alex Smith and this offense are tailored to make smart, quick reads, so I'm rolling with the Chiefs.
Matt Conner: Chiefs 10, Cardinals 9
Cardinals are better than what people think who see the slide and say "told you so". Lots of injuries, but this team has been coached very, very well. That said, the Chiefs must win this game and the season's final quarter should begin with a pleasant note. It won't be pretty but I like the Chiefs in a close one. Baseball scores, y'all.
Seth Keysor: Chiefs 20, Cardinals 17
I think the Chiefs right the ship for a minute against the Cardinals. What the Chiefs defense has been at Ruggles with (stopping the run) isn't an area the Cards scare me. That said, the offense needs to find an identity immediately or that Cardinals defense will suffocate it.
Clay Wendler: Chiefs 17, Cardinals 10
The Chiefs have shown us they are a resilient bunch. They should be able to stop Drew Stanton long enough for their very mediocre offense to pull out a win.
Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) at Chicago Bears
Chicago (5-7) is atrocious. It's very hard to see the Bears stopping Dallas (8-4) in a game the Cowboys have to win, especially coming off such an embarrassing defeat on Thanksgiving. Marc Trestman should probably take in the sights, because he's getting canned soon.
Pick: Cowboys 30, Bears 23
This is a key game in the AFC playoff race. Pittsburgh (7-5) is impossible to figure, winning against Indianapolis one week then losing to Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Cincinnati (8-3-1) is impossible to put faith in, but it's the more talented team and at home.
Pick: Bengals 23, Steelers 21
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns
A team led by Johnny Manziel is not beating Andrew Luck in a pivotal December game. Cleveland (7-5) has had a great run, but it's time to crash and burn. Indianapolis (8-4) has a great passing attack that will put up enough points to put the clamps on the Browns' playoff hopes.
Pick: Colts 27, Browns 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions (-10.5)
Detroit (8-4) is in the thick of the NFC playoff picture and isn't about to blow a ridiculous game at home against Tampa Bay (2-10). The Buccaneers are a rancid outfit, causing people in Florida to throw their televisions out of windows. Look for the Lions to keep the train rolling.
Pick: Lions 31, Buccaneers 14
Houston Texans (-5.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston (6-6) isn't going to make the playoffs, but it still believes it has a chance. Jacksonville (2-10) simply isn't good enough to win in this spot, but it'll play hard. The Jaguars don't have much talent but they compete. The Texans have a real shot to win eight games this season, a real accomplishment for this group.
Pick: Texans 23, Jaguars 17
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (-2.5)
Personally, I find this the most interesting game of the week. Miami (7-5) needs to win this game, because a loss here and in New England spells doom. Baltimore (7-5) can lose and still run the table, but its AFC North hopes are done. The Ravens are the slightly better team, but it'll be tough to win away from M&T Bank Stadium.
Pick: Dolphins 24, Ravens 23
New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings (-7)
Minnesota (5-7) isn't going anywhere fast but is a much team than New York (2-10), which currently is the largest grease fire in the NFL. The Jets are going to clean house after the season, leading to a hilarious hiring process. Why hilarious? Because Woody Johnson is going to heading it.
Pick: Vikings 20, Jets 14
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-11)
New Orleans (5-7) is probably going to win this division, mostly because it's a massive disgrace to professional sports. Carolina (3-8-1) hasn't played football in two months, and I don't expect that to change now.
Pick: Saints 34, Panthers 20
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans (EVEN)
Who cares? They both suck something awful.
Pick: Giants 23, Titans 20
St. Louis Rams (-2.5) at Washington
St. Louis (5-7) is a pretty good team. Give the Rams a quarterback and you're looking at a playoff team. Washington (3-9) is always boring during the season, but come the offseason, look out. Good times.
Pick: Rams 24, Washington 20
Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos (-11.5)
Denver (9-3) is rolling right now and clearly a better team than the Kyle Orton-led Bills. Buffalo (7-5) has a great defensive front and will play hard, but the Broncos will put away with their superior roster. Denver can smell a division title now and is gearing up for the palyoffs.
Pick: Broncos 30, Bills 13
San Francisco 49ers (-9) at Oakland Raiders
San Francisco (7-5) has to win this game. Oakland (1-11) can't beat anybody except the Chiefs, who are all about losing to the biggest crapshows in the NFL. This will be a massacre.
Pick: 49ers 37, Raiders 10
Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (EVEN)
Another really good game. Philadelphia (9-3) could just about wrap up the NFC East with a win here, but can Mark Sanchez knock off a solid Seattle (8-4) team? The Seahawks are peaking at the right time and know that Arizona is struggling. The key here is who has the better day: LeSean McCoy or Marshawn Lynch?
Pick: Seahawks 23, Eagles 19
New England Patriots (-3.5) at San Diego Chargers
New England (9-3) has only lost consecutive games twice since 2010. Despite a solid record, San Diego (8-4) doesn't strike much fear into elite teams, as shown by Vegas' complete lack of respect. The Chargers are going to have a tough time throwing against this defense, while Tom Brady will shred San Diego's secondary.
Pick: Patriots 30, Chargers 24
Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers (-13)
Aaron Rodgers might throw for eight touchdowns in this game. Green Bay (9-3) is the best team in the NFL and gets a horrific defense at home. Not only does Atlanta (5-7) have a horrible defense, but a defense used to playing in nice weather and indoors. Good. Luck.
Pick: Packers 41, Falcons 13
Last Week: 9-7 (7-9 ATS)