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Michael Taylor 21st Dec 2008 - 14:19

Penultimate week drama guaranteed

It's the penultimate week in the NFL and with play-off places still up for grabs it looks like we are being served an early Christmas treat.

The highlight of Sunday's televised games is undoubtedly Mike Smith's Atlanta Falcons visit to the Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome and the Minnesota Vikings, although this is not the only game that has post-season repercussions.

With the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers also on the billing, not to mention divisional winners Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers, this is the best chance to see where your money should be lying in the countdown to Super Bowl XLIII.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tennessee Titans

AFC North winners v AFC South winners - it may bear no real relevance as both teams have already ensured their seasons will continue beyond next week but the winner will be handed a play-off boost.

Both teams' success has been based on rock-solid defence, so a low scoring affair should be expected making the 10/11 about less than 34 points being scored a realistic option.

In terms of match betting, it is basically a coin flip so the 11/10 about the Titans winning looks the best shout.

Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots

The Cardinals were the beneficiaries of a woeful NFC West and may face a tough task against the play-off chasing Patriots.

Matt Cassel has done better than expected filling in for Tom Brady and a win would further New England's chances of qualifying from the tightest division in the NFL, the AFC East.

The Patriots should be a banker at 5/17 against the Cardinals, while 27/10 about Arizona is inviting but should be avoided.

Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings

The Falcons are desperate to keep their wild card chances alive while the Vikings can clinch the NFC North if they win and the Chicago Bears lose.

It is hard to look past the Vikings who are riding a four-game winning streak and finally seem to have found the form most pundits had predicted for them prior to the season starting.

Adrian Peterson (100/30 first touchdown) is the best running back in the NFL and if Tavaris Jackson can continue as he did last week then the Vikings are a very dangerous team.

The 4/1 about Minnesota winning this one by 7/12 points could be great value.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins

The Eagles are flying after a mid-season blip while the Redskins are in freefall, everything points towards a potential banana skin.

If Donovan McNabb can maintain his recent performance levels then the Eagles should be fine but there are always questions to be asked of the veteran; Brian Westbrook (4/1 first touchdown) cannot be expected to do it all by himself again.

For Washington Clinton Portis (13/2 first touchdown) has been great all season but has not been backed up by his team. However, they should be better and there is surely one good performance left in the tank - making the 9/5 about a shock win look a great proposition.

Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants

Who knows about the Giants anymore? They are in the play-offs but without Brandon Jacobs (4/1 first touchdown if he plays) and Plaxico Burress they look distinctly average, whereas the Panthers are going from strength to strength.

Carolina seemingly have so many options including the awesome Steve Smith (7/1 first touchdown), and with their committee running using DeAngelo Williams (13/2 first touchdown) and Jonathon Stewart (6/1 first touchdown) they wear defences out like no other team.

The 33/20 about a Carolina win is great value while 13/2 about winning the Super Bowl is only likely to shorten from this point on.

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