This week, we get December football.

It's a time when the contenders emerge and the pretenders fade away.

The intensity rises in December as teams push for a playoff berth, which means the games get better. In a season that has lacked drama, we should have plenty of it in the next five weeks.

With so many teams still in playoff contention, and so much left to be decided, it should make for an interesting stretch run, starting this week.

There are some games that are essentially elimination-type games – early playoff games of sorts. There are several other games that feature at least one team trying to hang on with a victory.

The intrigue has been missing for much of this season. That will change in the next five weeks.

December is almost here. And I can't wait.

Minnesota at Atlanta 

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

This is the game of the week. The matchup between the Vikings defense and the Falcons offense will be a treat to watch, but this game will be decided by the Vikings offense against the Atlanta defense and I think the Falcons get the best of that. Atlanta keeps on winning.

Pick: Falcons 26, Vikings 16

Detroit at Baltimore 

1 p.m. ET (Fox) 

The Ravens don't do a lot on offense, but that defense is playing outstanding football. That will make it tough for Matt Stafford in the Lions. At some point, though, Joe Flacco has to start driving the ball down the field. Is this the time? I think he does here. Ravens take it. 

Pick: Ravens 19, Lions 16

New England at Buffalo 

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Bills were impressive in winning at Kansas City, but their defense isn't good enough to beat New England – even at home. Look for a monster game from Tom Brady as the Pats continue to dominate the division. 

Pick: Patriots 34, Bills 17

San Francisco at Chicago

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

This is the dog game of the week. This could be Jimmy Garoppolo getting his first start for the 49ers. That will make it interesting. The Bears, though, are the better team and they will find a way at home. 

Pick: Bears 17, 49ers 13

Tampa Bay at Green Bay

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

The Packers lost to the Steelers on Sunday night, but Brett Hundley was impressive. The Bucs are playing consecutive road games, which is tough. They might have Jameis Winston back in this one, but even if they do the Packers will win it and keep their playoff hopes alive. 

Pick: Packers 27, Bucs 21

Indianapolis at Jacksonville

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Jaguars have to get more production out of their offense, and that has to start here. The Colts have been better on defense lately, but they are still vulnerable. The Jaguars shut out the Colts the first time they met, and will have another dominant defensive game here. Jaguars big. 

Pick: Jaguars 23, Colts 7

Denver at Miami

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

This looked like it would be a big game when the schedule came out, but it's two teams that have flopped in a big way. This is a long trip for a team not playing for anything, which is why I think Miami is the pick. 

Pick: Dolphins 27, Broncos 23

Carolina at New Orleans

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

This game will go a long way in deciding the NFC South. The Saints beat the Panthers earlier this year, and I think they will again here. The Panthers are playing consecutive road games, and they are coming off a game where Josh McCown carved them up. Drew Brees does the same here. 

Pick: Saints 31, Panthers 24

Kansas City at New York Jets

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Chiefs just aren't playing well, and the offense has become a problem. The last time they played in this stadium, two weeks ago, the Giants upset them. The Jets are better than the Giants, and they will get the Chiefs here as well. Jets win it.

Pick: Jets 20, Chiefs 13

Houston at Tennessee 

1 p.m. ET (CBS) 

The Texans are pretty much done in terms of the playoffs, but they would love to knock off their division rival. Big problem: They are playing a consecutive road game off a Monday night roadie. That's tough to overcome. Look for the Titans to handle the Texans with Marcus Mariota getting back on track. 

Pick: Titans 23, Texans 14

Cleveland at Los Angeles Chargers

4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Chargers are rolling and playing well on both sides of the ball. Philip Rivers is coming off his best game of the year and that will continue here against the Browns. Also watch out for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to have big days. Chargers win it easily.

Pick: Chargers 30, Browns 13

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona 

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

This game will likely decide whether the Cardinals have a chance to make the playoffs. They won a tight one against the jaguars last week, and I think they have a chance here. In fact, I think they squeak out a close one behind their defense. Upset special.

Pick: Cardinals 21, Rams 20

New York Giants at Oakland 

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

The Giants are toast and face a long trip. That's not usually a good combination. But the Raiders have issues as well, even though they beat the Broncos last week. I think the Giants and their defense will show up here and keep it close. Oakland will win it late, but the Giants keep it closer than expected. 

Pick: Raiders 20, Giants 17

Philadelphia at Seattle

8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) 

The Seahawks have lost two straight at home, which is unlike them, but this isn't the same team. The Eagles are flying high and have the pass rush to get after Russell Wilson. Carson Wentz and the Eagles keep it rolling. 

Pick: Eagles 24, Seahawks 17

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

This will decide the Bengals season. It's that big. They are still alive in the playoff chase, but they need this one. The Steelers are coming off a tight victory against the Packers and didn't look right on defense. I think at home, the Bengals will do enough on offense and play good defense. Upset.

Pick: Bengals 23, Steelers 20

Washington at Dallas 

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network)

The Cowboys have major problems right now, especially on offense. Dak Prescott hasn't picked up his play without Ezekiel Elliott. He has to do so in this one, or the Cowboys will be done. I think Kirk Cousins is playing well, and Philip Rivers shredded them last week. Cousins will get the best of it here. 

Pick: Redskins 28, Cowboys 24 ... Result: Cowboys 38, Redskins 14