Rivals set for tight game
Our NFL tipster David John previews Sunday's matches which are being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.
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He's backing the Eagles' DeSean Jackson in the Detroit-Philadelphia clash.
And while the Seattle-San Francisco showdown looks a mouthwatering one in terms of quality, our man feels that defenses could well be on top at Candlestick Park.
Check out his full preview.
- 3pts DeSean Jackson to score a TD anytime v Detroit at evens (bet365) - can step forward for the Eagles offense in a game where his skills match up well with the Lions secondary
- 2.75pts under 41.5pts in Seattle at San Francisco at 10/11 (General) - high-class defenses likely to dominate in a fantastic clash and points at a premium
Detroit at Philadelphia (1800GMT)
We have reached the time of year when we get what the great John Madden used to call "proper football weather".
There is snow predicted at Lincoln Financial Field throughout Sunday's first live Sky game but light winds should make conditions relatively playable.
Both teams are in good shape going forward into the final month of the regular season while both are coming off impressive victories after the Lions thrashed Green Bay on Thanksgiving with the Eagles edging past a dangerous Arizona outfit.
The bookmakers favour Philly by 2.5points but that is probably the upper end of the spread in all honesty as there is very little between the two as an identical 7-5 record would suggest.
To cut to the chase, it is to the player markets that my eye is drawn and I do like the look of a touchdown at anytime from the livewire wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
He had one of his slightly quieter games last week against the Cardinals as the impressive Nick Foles went to his tight-end options for scoring throws as Zach Ertz and Brent Celek clearly matched up well against that rivals' defense.
But I think that Jackson could well be player du jour once more as it is his talents that have a favourable look to them against the Lions secondary.
That is a unit which has allowed 21 passing touchdowns already while they are struggling for depth at cornerback with Chris Houston and Darius Slay both carrying injuries.
Houston is the starter and will return after a foot problem and while Slay has done very well in his absence, he hurt a knee in practice on Thursday and is listed as doubtful.
That leaves second-year player Jonte Green, who has very little experience, as the next cab off the rank and if he or Houston are not totally zoned in, Jackson will have a major impact.
He is chalked up at odds-on with most firms to find the end zone at some stage so an even-money quote appeals a lot.
Verdict: Detroit 24 Philadelphia 27
Seattle at San Francisco (2125)
We regularly talk about the game of the weekend but this could be the game of the season as the top two in the NFC West meet for the second time.
Both are hugely competitive with their eyes on not only the post-season but also a genuine shot at winning the Super Bowl. Both dislike the other immensely, so anticipation levels are understandably high.
The Seahawks have gone from strength to strength since the pair met back in September and came out on top in a dominating 29-3 victory.
The foundation of their success has been built on the development of second-year quarterback Russell Wilson and an aggressive, suffocating defense that rarely misses a trick.
Just ask quarterback Drew Brees. His New Orleans offense had the life squeezed out of them on Monday night while Wilson expertly orchestrated a number of lengthy drives down the field in the style of a player with vastly more experience.
That win ensured Seattle were the first team to book a place in the play-offs and the big question is can the 49ers halt their march to the divisional crown and gain revenge for that humbling loss earlier in the campaign?
The layers believe that could be the case and make them favourites by 2.5 points. I know Seattle don't have the benefit of their deafening home support but I still find that a little bit of a surprise.
While Wilson has progressed significantly, his opposite number Colin Kaepernick has not made the strides expected after taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
His offense looked completely anaemic at points earlier in the campaign but he looks to have regained some of his poise in two recent victories.
The return of favourite target Michael Crabtree at wide receiver following a torn Achilles should give Kaepernick greater confidence to take his shots down the field - it has been disappointing not to see the strength of that rocket arm more often in 2013.
I may not be stating anything totally revolutionary but this could be one for the defensive connoisseur.
The 49ers won the last meeting between the two at Candlestick Park 16-13 and something similar could well be in the offing as units ranked number one and number five overall meet head on.
Neither will want to give an inch to their arch rival and a much closer encounter than in September is expected - perhaps going down to a late field goal.
The total points line is set at 41.5 and getting short of that can pay dividends.
Verdict: Seattle 17 San Francisco 14
More Sunday verdicts:
Atlanta 16 Green Bay 12
Buffalo 21 Tampa Bay 26
Cleveland 13 New England 28
Indianapolis 16 Cincinnati 19
Kansas City 14 Washington 10
Miami 16 Pittsburgh 21
Minnesota 10 Baltimore 14
Oakland 19 NY Jets 17
Tennessee 14 Denver 30
NY Giants 28 San Diego 31
St Louis 17 Arizona 23
Carolina 27 New Orleans 24
Dallas 23 Chicago 17