Purple reign

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

With so many great storylines floating around the NFL this season, it's hard to know which team should get props for its second-half heroics.

My shout out goes to the Minnesota Vikings, who, after all their early season shenanigans, have quietly put themselves in contention, for not only a wildcard berth, but the NFC north title.

ST. LOUIS +6 1/2 AT MINNESOTA: The Vikings have gone from pretenders to contenders and with this win they should be just one game back of the Bears. See below. Vikings 27 Rams 19.

CHICAGO +4 1/2 AT PITTSBURGH: With their loss last week to the Bengals, the Steelers are now like a cornered animal. Expect a vicious fight to the end with the home-side ending the Bears' eight-game winning streak. Steelers 29 Bears 20.

CLEVELAND +12 1/2 AT CINCINNATI: The Bengals finally won a big game last weekend, beating division rival Pittsburgh. If they don't get too cocky, they'll have no problem with the Browns. Bengals 34 Browns 15.

OAKLAND -2 1/2 AT NEW YORK JETS: Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins is being replaced with backup Marques Tuiasosopo but running back LaMont Jordan is the one with something to prove against his old team. Raiders 28 Jets 10.

TAMPA BAY +5 1/2 AT CAROLINA: The Bucs D was spectacular last weekend. However, it's Tampa's offence that needs to pick up the slack this week if the Bucs expect to beat the Panthers. Bucs 27 Panthers 24.

HOUSTON -6 1/2 AT TENNESSEE: There's still plenty of fight left in the Texans. I think they have this one. Texans 25 Titans 21.

INDIANAPOLIS -8 1/2 AT JACKSONVILLE: This one means everything to the Colts. A win and they clinch the AFC South, a first-round bye and home-field advantage. But, hey, I still think the Colts are human and the Jags are the squad that's going to prove that. Jaguars 32 Colts 30 in the UPSET OF THE WEEK.

NEW ENGLAND -3 1/2 AT BUFFALO: Don't look now but the Patriots are once again flying under the radar. With the Eric Moulds distraction in Buffalo, the Pats will clinch the AFC East title. Pats 27 Bills 23.

SAN FRANCISCO -15 1/2 AT SEATTLE: There's no doubt the Seahawks are for real. If you've been a fan of this team over the last few seasons, they have lots to prove in the post-season. Seahawks 35 'Niners 10 in the WEEK'S BEST BET

NEW YORK GIANTS -7 1/2 AT PHILADELPHIA: Giants QB Eli Manning and kicker Jay Feely need to get their accuracy under control and this one's in the bag. Giants 28 Eagles 20.

MIAMI +13 1/2 AT SAN DIEGO: The Bolts have remaining contests against the Colts, Chiefs and Broncos after this week, meaning this win is a must. Chargers 35 Dolphins 24.

BALTIMORE +13 1/2 AT DENVER: The Boys from Mile High are still the team to beat in the AFC west and they'll show that Sunday when they run over the banged up Ravens. Broncos 33 Ravens 20.

WASHINGTON -3 1/2 AT ARIZONA: The Redskins will likely have to win out to grab a playoff spot. Might as well start now. Redskins 27 Cardinals 22.

KANSAS CITY +2 1/2 AT DALLAS: The Chiefs are playing some great ball right now but there's something about a Bill Parcells team with its back against the wall. Cowboys 30 Chiefs 27.

DETROIT +5 1/2 AT GREEN BAY: Pride is the only thing the Packers have left to play for. That and they don't want to be swept by the Lions for the first time 14 years. Packers 19 Lions 10.

NEW ORLEANS +10 1/2 AT ATLANTA: A terrible performance last weekend against the Panthers and a possibility of missing the playoffs should be motivation enough for Atlanta. Falcons 35 Saints 20.

HOW I DID: Last week: 13-3 against the spread (56-57 season); Straight up 12-4 (76-37 season).


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