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NASCAR has “silly season,” a period in late summer/early fall where rumors run rampant about drivers and crew chiefs changing teams, many of which are outlandish and have no chance of happening. While it doesn’t have an official nickname, December is the NFL equivalent of silly season. There is usually speculation that a third of the league’s head coaches are on the verge of being fired. In 2019, the Panthers started the actual churn, firing Ron Rivera with 4 games left in the season. In 2021, my team has sent offensive coordinator Joe Brady packing, just behind the Giants doing the same to OC Jason Garrett. Rumors continue to swirl about the head coach, as well as the head coaches in Jacksonville, Houston, New York (Giants), Minnesota, Denver, and Chicago. Making things more interesting, the college coaching game of musical chairs is still going on. In the meantime, there are still games to be played. What insanity happens this week?

Pittsburgh at Minnesota – Welcome to the Disappointment Bowl. Neither team has met expectations, and Minnesota has been particularly inconsistent. So what do we expect after they lose to the Lions, for whom it was the first victory in a calendar year? The unexpected, of course. Norwegians 23, Steelers 20

Baltimore at Cleveland – In the first matchup, we got exactly what we expected – some nasty defense. Cleveland got a week off to prepare for the rematch, while Baltimore had to go through a grudge match with Pittsburgh. That should give them just enough of an edge. Browns 16, Ravens 13

Dallas at Washington – On paper, this should not be close. In reality, the home team is rolling and will be within striking distance all day, but probably won’t get all the way over the hump. Cowboys 24, The Team Formerly Known As Redskins 20

Jacksonville at Tennessee – A much-needed week off, followed by a terrible opponent at home. Good chance to get back on track. Titans 31, Jags 17

Las Vegas at Kansas City – Vegas has been a mess since the end of all the off-field drama. KC seems to have finally found some defense. So this won’t be a shootout. Chiefs 20, Raiders 10

New Orleans at NY Jets – A very injured team against a very bad team. This will be f’ugly. Aints 22, j-e-t-s jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets jets 13

San Francisco at Cincinnati – Both teams badly underperformed last week. What stands out to me is that SF has a stout defensive line, and the biggest weakness for Cincy is their offensive line. Burrow is gonna be plenty sore on Monday. 49ers 23, Bengals 17

Seattle at Houston – Seattle rose from the dead last week, and now they face a similarly dead team. No resurrection forthcoming. Seahawks 27, Texans 10

Detroit at Denver – Last week, Denver got about 900 yards of offense and almost no points. You could see that happening again against a fight-to-the-last-second team. This time, I think they will get just enough points to escape with a win. Donkeys 17, lion cubs 13

NY Giants at LA Chargers – Austin Eckler was on Steve Smith Sr.’s podcast this week. He talked about every home game being an away game for the years they played on the soccer field in Carson. I wonder what makes him think that isn’t still true. You can be assured that it will be true this week. Lucky for the home team, the talent gap will be more than enough to compensate. Clippers 37, Little People 14

Buffalo at Tampa Bay – Last year, the Bills made the AFC title game, and everyone thought they’d be at least that good this year. Unfortunately, they have come up short in almost every big game this season. As much as my heart hates to admit it, that will probably be the case again this week. At least there won’t be any 60-mph wind. Bucs 30, Buffalo, NC 20

Chicago at Green Bay – Even back in May when the schedule came out, Matt Nagy was swearing up and down that Andy Dalton was his #1 QB. So why would the NFL think this game should go in their #1 time slot? Beats the crap out of me. Packers 38, bear cubs 10

LA Rams at Arizona – For the second week in a row, the best game on the slate is on Monday night. Arizona barely noticed that their 2 best players were out for 3 weeks. This should be a repeat of the first matchup. Cards 34, Rams 24

Atlanta at Carolina – The “Will Rhule be fired” questions have calmed down a bit after the OC got canned. The interim OC was Rhule’s play-caller at Baylor. We’ll just have to see how it goes. There is enough offensive talent that the game should be a blowout. But there will certainly be just enough drops and missed blocks that I will probably have to do some day drinking to stay calm. PANTHERS 23, Falcons 20

Last week’s record: 10-4

Season: 116-78

Bye: Indianapolis, Miami, New England, Philadelphia

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