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NFL Preview Week 16:
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24 December 2010

New Orleans Saints at the Atlanta Falcons
Broadcast:  Monday Night Football, 8:30 PM, ESPN

The New Orleans Saints go into Atlanta needing a win against the Falcons.  In their Division, the NFC South, the Saints trail the Falcons by 2 games.  The Saints can still get a play-off spot without a win in the form of a wildcard spot, but the best way to get there is to be in control of your own destiny by winning.  In their last match-up in New Orleans, the Saints lost in overtime, but were riddled with injuries on both sides of the football.  Since then, the Saints have played lights-out with quarterback Drew Brees as accurate as ever and star running back Reggie Bush back in the line-up.  The defending Super Bowl Champions seem to be hitting their stride at the right time.
The Falcons have been good all season long.  They haven’t lost since October 17th and quarterback Matt Ryan has been accurate.  Bolstered by a power running game, Atlanta has looked unstoppable at times with only 2 losses on the season.
Both teams have really only had 2 quality wins this season, and in their match up earlier this season, the game went to overtime.  This is a tough one to call, but look for the Saints to go into Atlanta and pull out a victory.  The Falcons have a play-off spot locked up already and the Saints need the victory.  They’ll get one on Monday.

One Liner:  “The Falcons may never have to play in the cold again.” If the Falcons win, and clinch home field advantage through the play-offs, then go to the Super Bowl, they can play every game from here until the Super Bowl in a dome.

New York Jets at the Chicago Bears
Broadcast:  1:00 PM, CBS

To continue with my Chicago Bears exposure series, this Sunday brings you the New York Jets at Soldier field.  The Bears are actually favored in this game by 1.  The Bears have already clinched their division, but have yet to lock up home field advantage.  Last week, they clobbered a faltering Minnesota Vikings team that has been in disarray since week 2.  The Bears needed a victory after the Patriots took them to the woodshed in the snow at Soldier field the previous week.
On the other hand, the Jets are fighting for a wild-card spot, with the Patriots leading their division, the AFC East.  While it is still mathematically possible for the Jets to win the division, this is doubtful with the Patriots playing like they are.  The Jets had a huge win last weekend against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, looking every bit of a tough play-off team. 
I’ve said it before, but the Bears are this year’s poser extraordinaires.  Not only do they struggle against good teams, they have racked up wins against mediocre opponents.  While their defense is stout, their offense is suspect.  Meanwhile, the Jets boast one of the best defenses in the league – uh oh.  While Mark Sanchez has trouble in cold weather, he’ll do what he needs this Sunday.  The Jets will roll over the Bears, something that will continue to happen to the Bears when they lose in the first round of the play-offs.

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