It’s December, which meteorologically speaking means the end of hurricane season and the onset of winter. For those of us in the Great Lakes, it’s been a mostly pleasant autumn; my grass is still green even though it’s too blustery (currently 29 degrees with 22 MPH wind right off Lake Michigan) to go out and enjoy it.

Last week: 10-6 on the first full week without a bye in two months. Just one bye this week. 107-72 for the season forecast

Thursday Night

- Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (+3.5): I felt better about New England’s chances here before I perused the Patriots injury report. They could very well be without three regular offensive linemen. The Bills took advantage of Detroit not having its starting guard combo in Week 12, and now they could get the Patriots without their starting center and both tackles. Luck plays no small part in the NFL and the Bills are getting it. Not that they need it…

Bills 27, Patriots 14

Sunday Games

- New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings (-3): Possible Super Bowl preview? Don’t laugh. Now that the Jets have a quarterback that isn’t a net negative, New York is legitimately dangerous. Proving themselves in Minnesota against a well-rounded Vikings team is a great test for Mike White at QB. I think the Vikings ability to manufacture points is just a little too much for the Jets, but this one should be a compelling watch right down to the end.

Vikings 24, Jets 21

- Washington Commanders at New York Giants (+2.5): The Giants have lost three of their last four games, and it’s been the sputtering offense that has been the primary problem. The lack of playmaking receivers is troubling. New York gobbles up yards and first downs, but doesn’t cash those in for points well.

The other big issue for New York, one that will hurt them in this matchup with the Commanders, is the Giants allowing more yards on first-down runs than any other team. Brian Robinson and the Commanders can exploit that, setting up Taylor Heinicke for some big-play shots on 2nd-and-short. Heinicke will hit on more of those than Daniel Jones.

Commanders 32, Giants 28

- Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (-4): I love the stylistic divergence here. Miami is blessed with a dynamic, explosive offense based on speed outside. San Francisco brings a stifling defense that negates deep throws and stuffs runs incredibly well. The big question for me is, can the Niners put enough points on the board in the Jeff Wilson revenge game? I think Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel will know how to scheme against his former offense. But scheming against Kyle Shanahan’s intricately designed offense and stopping it are two very different things.

49ers 27, Dolphins 24

- Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans (+7): Deshaun Watson returns to the NFL by returning to his former home, Houston. The Texans are the worst team in the league by a fair margin, a nice foe to start the comeback tour for the Browns QB as he comes off his suspension for sexual indecency. I expect Watson to struggle in his first game action in 700 days. It will take more than him struggling for Houston to win this one, however. Nick Chubb could run for 200 in this one against the NFL’s worst-tackling defense. Great chance to use the Browns in survivor fantasy football if you’re somehow still alive.

Browns 34, Texans 17

- Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals (+2): The last time these two AFC powers met, Bengals kicker Evan McPherson hit a game-winning field goal in overtime to send Cincinnati to the Super Bowl after Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker tied the game as regulation expired. I expect a very similar type of game in the rematch here. The Bengals defense has stepped up lately; only San Francisco has allowed fewer first downs per game over the last six weeks. No team can shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, but getting just enough stops is key. The Bengals can do that.

Bengals 30, Chiefs 28

- Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (+4.5): This game will be a challenge for the FOX Sports broadcast crew of Adam Amin and Mark Schlereth. Both teams have so many injuries and so many inexperienced replacement players sticking so many positions. It’s hard to keep going to the same scant talking points on players not even the fans of the two teams know. Amin is one of the best in the business, by the way.

Packers 24, Bears 13

- Pittsburgh Steelers at Atlanta Falcons (+1): The Steelers being favored on the road over anyone is specious. I know the Falcons aren’t good either and losing TE Kyle Pitts doesn't help, but the Pittsburgh offense is about as threatening as a toy poodle in a dogfight. Ouch, my ankles!

Falcons 19, Steelers 15

- Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-8): I do absolutely believe the Broncos have a death-rattle upset game in them, one where they look like the AFC contender most expected them to be when they made the blockbuster trade to land Russell Wilson. Doing it in Baltimore is about as unexpected as it would get, too. The Ravens are not playing good football right now. Alas, Denver sure feels like the most dysfunctional mess in a league with more than a few of those this year.

Ravens 20, Broncos 13

- Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions (even): Underrated matchup featuring two 4-7 teams that are both better than their records indicate. The key to the game is which defense can force the opposing QB to make a mistake. Detroit has been very effective at that lately, forcing eight turnovers in the last four games. The Jaguars are at six, which isn’t bad either. I give the slight edge to the home team, which happens to have the better kicker in Michael Badgley too.

Lions 33, Jaguars 31

- Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles (-5): Another potential Super Bowl preview, and this matchup happening in February is more likely than the Vikings and Jets. The Tennessee defense is difficult to play against with its speed and physicality, and that’s how to contain Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense. I do think the Philly passing game has one too many weapons for the Titans defense to hold down for four quarters, and that’s the difference. The battle in the trenches in this game makes it must-watch football for those who love line play.

Eagles 26, Titans 21

- Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams (+7.5): The Rams will be without Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, perhaps Matthew Stafford and enough of the offensive line that this shouldn’t really be much of a game.

Seahawks 35, Rams 10

- Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders (+1): This is one of those rare games where different sportsbooks have different teams favored. The odds quoted here are from Bovada. But several other books have the Raiders favored by a point. What does that mean? Nobody friggin’ knows who should or will win this game. To quote Ozzy Osbourne, Don’t ask me I don’t know!

Chargers 30, Raiders 28

- Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys (-11): The thought of Matt Ryan trying to escape from Micah Parsons should send shudders down the spine of every Colts fan. Ryan too, for that matter. Blowout alert.

Cowboys 35, Colts 16

Monday Night

- New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-4): I’m very curious how Tom Brady will handle not having Tristan Wirfs protecting his frontside now that the top-shelf right tackle is out. Wirfs got injured in the overtime loss in Cleveland, a game that Tampa Bay would have won in regulation if not for baffling coaching decisions. This is quietly a big game for Todd Bowles as the Buccaneers head coach.

Buccaneers 20, Saints 17

College Championship Weekend

D-II quarterfinal: Grand Valley State 29, Ferris State 27. It's the two best D-II teams in the country, conference rivals in part two of the Anchor Bone classic. GVSU won the first and they nip the Bulldogs in the rematch.

MAC: Toledo 32, Ohio 24. Sorry to my fellow Bobcat alums, but not having Kurtis Rourke is a real problem against the Rockets.

AAC: Tulane 22, UCF 20

Pac-12: USC 36, Utah 31

Big Ten: Michigan 33, Purdue 16

SEC: Georgia 37, LSU 17

Big 12: Kansas State 27, TCU 23

ACC: North Carolina 30, Clemson 28