If you were planning on being productive today, this might not be the best Sunday for it. I've got finals starting soon (although I only have two), but I don't expect to be too productive today. Not only do we have a variety of important games, but the games are spread all day long and into the night. Given the spread of games we'll have three separate game threads for you. We'll start with this morning's Panther Watch thread, move into the 49ers game thread (going up at noon), and wrap up with the Sunday Night Football thread. I decided that to avoid any sort of jinx, I'm waiting to create the SNF thread until we have an idea of what's happening with the 49ers. A 49ers win make SNF huge, while a 49ers loss definitely takes a lot of the air out of it.
For now though, we've got some rather big morning games to keep an eye on. If you missed it, Josh Branco had a comprehensive preview of all of today's action. Accordingly, I'll just be putting out some quick thoughts.
Buccaneers @ Panthers: This game is of course the inspiration for this thread. As always, the 49ers hold Carolina's 2010 first round pick so every Panthers loss is a gain for the 49ers. The Bucs have lost a variety of heart breakers this season, but maybe they can pull out a big road upset.
Eagles @ Falcons: The 49ers best chance at making the playoffs is by winning the NFC West. However, the wildcard does still remain a possibility. Given that the 49ers still have a game remaining against Philly, I'm thinking we want the Eagles to win this one. Atlanta would drop into a tie with the 49ers. Since Atlanta holds the tiebreaker, we need them to continue their free fall. And it might as well happen in a game without Matt Ryan or Michael Turner.
Titans @ Colts: The resurgent Titans get their biggest test to date as they head into Indy. In our weekly prediction contest I actually picked Indy to win fairly easily. I don't see Tennessee continuing this surge the entire rest of the season, so why not get slapped around a bit buy the always potent Colts?
Patriots @ Dolphins: The Dolphins always give New England trouble, and with the Fins hanging onto the wildcard bubble, they're definitely in must-win territory. This is a tough game to call, especially coming off the whupping in New Orleans.