Note: Every week, I pick games against the spread on the Michael Irvin Show on ESPN Radio, and I'm putting them on our blog.
It's the week of must-win games like not before this season. And it starts Thursday night; the Loser of the AFC East pole position has a steep hill to climb to the playoffs. The Colts can get right into the middle of the playoff picture with a win; A loss is big trouble. The Broncos could use a win, but the Falcons need one, as do the Saints in KC. And if the Cowboys lose to the Redskins, they can kiss the playoffs goodbye. (My picks in bold.)
New York Jets at New England Patriots -3
What is up with the Jets signing Ty Law? A little odd. Believe it or not, the Patriots have more rushing yards than the Jets this season, and they've done it with their top two rushers missing most games. On a short week, I like Belichick's preparation and focus more than I like Mangini and Favre.
Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts -8
This game is all on Peyton Manning. At 5-4, the Colts desperately need to win this game. Would Peyton Manning really let the Texans, who are in the bottom three for yards allowed per pass attempt, to stop him? Colts put up big numbers on offense in this game.
Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons -6
The Falcons have struggled in three games this season, and all of those games were against defenses ranked in the top 10 in the League. The Broncos are ranked No. 29 and allow 5.1 yards per carry. Oh, and the NFC South is 17-1 at home.
New Orleans Saints -5.5 at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are +9 in takeaway/giveaways, but they are 1-8. Unheard of. They have the worst run defense in the league, and many of their key defensive players are injured. Whether they face Reggie Bush or not, I don't like the Chiefs' chances in this must-win for the Saints.
Dallas Cowboys -1.5 at Washington Redskins
Tony Romo is back, but so is Jason Taylor. Word has it, Clinton Portis is out, which is a big problem for the Redskins. I'm not convinced DeAngelo Hall, who once got spit on by T.O. will be able to contain the big-mouthed receiver the way Shawn Springs did in September.
Last week: 1-3. Season: 30-22-2.