I love this time of year in the NFL. I really don’t like August and September. A lot of people who look great in August and September fade into nothingness by December. In December everybody is sore. Everybody’s nursing at least one, if not two, injuries. Teams have lost some major players to injuries and have had to adapt. This is where you separate the superstars from the pretenders.

The early games:

The New Orleans Saints versus the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan is out. Atlanta looked plenty vulnerable last week. Look for New Orleans to figure out a way to win this one.

The Detroit Lions versus the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore’s played some up-and-down football this year. I just don’t think Baltimore is a team that they used to be. Flacco is having a sophomore slump. Look for Baltimore to figure out a way to beat the Lions.

The Green Bay Packers versus the Chicago Bears. The Packers’ defense is playing lights out. This is in spite of two major injuries. Look for the Packers to put up some serious numbers over the Chicago Bears. There is need to acquire a new offensive line and some new wide receivers. Then Jay Cutler needs to go into some serious therapy to get his confidence back. I look for the Packers to roll by more than 10.

The Seattle Seahawks versus the Houston Texans. This is a toss-up. Both teams are having their troubles. The Houston Texans thought that this was their year but every time they’ve been challenged they have found that they’re not up to the challenge. The Seattle Seahawks need to rebuild.

The Denver Broncos versus the Indianapolis Colts. I think this game comes down to Kyle Orton versus the Colts’ defense. Is he seeking to challenge the safeties of the Colts? If so, I think Denver has an opportunity to win this game. On the other hand, if they’re going to play that short passing game, I think the Colts will snag a couple of interceptions. I think this game will be close. I call it even.

The Miami Dolphins versus the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville needs a new quarterback. I know that David Garrard played well at couple years ago but that was then. He just seems to be making too many mistakes. Look for the Dolphins to figure out a way to win with a solid defense and an outstanding running game. Dolphins by four.

The Buffalo Bills versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Seriously. Both teams are rebuilding. Both teams are awful. The Chiefs are just a little bit more awful than the Bills.

The Cincinnati Bengals versus the Minnesota Vikings. This is gonna be a defensive struggle. Both teams have excellent defenses. This game will come down to turnovers. Whoever wins the turnover battle will win this game. I’m giving the edge, a very slight edge, to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Carolina Panthers versus New England Patriots. This is a game where the New England Patriots’ defense can rebound. They’re going to have to create turnovers. If the Patriots allow the Panthers to begin the run the football, it’s going to be a long day for the New England Patriots. They need to get up on top early. If the game is close at halftime, look for the Panthers to sneak out a win.

The New York Jets versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are playing solid football. The Jets are playing well. They just need a better quarterback. Sanchez will grow into the job, hopefully. Only time will tell. If the Jets are able to avoid the big turnover, they should be able beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Late games:

St. Louis Rams versus the Tennessee Titans. Look for Tennessee to play well. The Rams just don’t have enough playmakers at this point in time.

The Washington Redskins versus the Oakland Raiders. Both teams have solid defenses. In spite of the fact that many fans point a finger at Jason Campbell, I think he’s playing very well. I look for the Redskins to pull out a tight game. Redskins by seven.

The Philadelphia Eagles versus the New York Giants. This is a very key game. As a key game for the Giants, the Eagles and the Cowboys. I have no idea what to expect from the New York Giants. From an offensive standpoint, they played a very mediocre game against the Cowboys. Both defenses have been playing up and down. Somehow, the Eagles always play better and December than in September. Look for the Eagles to put it together. Look for Donovan McNabb to make some plays down the stretch. This would be the difference in the game.

I have already talked about the Dallas Cowboys versus San Diego Chargers. This is a huge game.

Monday Night Football:

Arizona Cardinals versus San Francisco 49ers. I think the Cardinals will prove that they were not a fluke last year. They will play well and beat the San Francisco 49ers by at least 10.