By my unofficial count, it is 254 days until the Panthers' 2010 regular season will begin.For a season that flamed out faster than Christopher Cross, it's ending with cautious optimism. That's better than how the New York Giants' season is ending. Apparently the only thing that can stop the Panthers now is the end of the season. Panthers 27, Saints 20.
CHICAGO AT DETROIT: This would be a better hockey game. Lions 26, Bears 23.
PITTSBURGH AT MIAMI: Against the odds, the Steelers squeeze into the playoffs. Steelers 24, Dolphins 17.
NEW ENGLAND AT HOUSTON: The playoffs will begin next week. Keep an eye on the coach in the ugly sweatshirt. Patriots 31, Texans 24.
INDIANAPOLIS AT BUFFALO: Cancel the hotel rooms. Save the jet fuel. Forget the hand warmers. This game doesn't matter. The Colts said so last week when they pulled their starters and sacrificed a potentially perfect season. Now it's win the Super Bowl or the season is a bust. Bills 24, Colts 10.
SAN FRANCISCO AT ST. LOUIS: Both of these teams will be on the Panthers' schedule next year. That's not necessarily a bad thing. 49ers 28, Rams 17.
ATLANTA AT TAMPA BAY: What do the Falcons and Panthers coach John Fox have in common? Neither has had consecutive winning seasons. After 44 years, the Falcons finally make it happen. Falcons 34, Bucs 21.
JACKSONVILLE AT CLEVELAND: The who-cares game of the week. Jags 26, Browns 13.
NEWYORK GIANTS AT MINNESOTA: What does Eli Manning have that Favre wants? Next weekend off. Vikings 24, Giants 10.
TENNESSEE AT SEATTLE: Back in the summer, the Seahawks were one of the trendy picks to win big. All these months later, that looks as silly as high school yearbook photos. Nice hair, bud. Titans 28, Seahawks 21.
PHILADELPHIA AT DALLAS: Cowboy fans are like credit card bills - you don't want to see them this time of year but they keep showing up. Eagles 27, Cowboys 21.
WASHINGTON AT SAN DIEGO: That's going to be one long plane ride home for Jim Zorn. Chargers 40, Redskins 14.
KANSAS CITY AT DENVER: Some good news for the Chiefs - they haven't lost a game this year. Broncos 33, Chiefs 17.
BALTIMORE AT OAKLAND: Biggest surprise in the NFL this season? The Raiders have won five games. Ravens 30, Raiders 20.
GREEN BAY AT ARIZONA: Sounds like a first-round playoff matchup. Cardinals 31, Packers 24.
CINCINNATI AT NEW YORK JETS: A win and the Jets make the playoffs. Are you buying or selling? I'm selling. Bengals 28, Jets 20.
Last week: 10-6