November 25, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
NFL Week 13 will kick off with an NFC South showdown in primetime, as the Atlanta Falcons will host the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, before the NFC East closes out the week on Sunday and Monday Night Football. The Saints are still clinging to incredibly slim playoff hopes, but their loss to the 49ers last weekend pretty much means they must win out in order to make the playoffs. NFL Week 13 could see some teams sew up playoff spots, and possibly even a division title. For the most part though the NFC and AFC Wild card races are wide open with only the Kansas City Chiefs having been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, exactly the type of parity the NFL envisioned when they implemented the salary cap. Last week was the first week all NFL teams were in action since week 3, and I did alright with my picks going 11-5, hopefully I can continue to stay above .500 this weekend.
Saints @ Falcons. The Saints have their backs against the wall as pretty much every game on their schedule is now a playoff game. The Falcons have pulled out plenty of close wins this season, and always seem to be a little better at home. This should be a great game that could have just as memorable of a finish as the last time these two met. Falcons win 30 – 24.
Jaguars @ Bills. The Jaguars have been much more competitive with Chad Henne playing quarterback for them, but they still aren’t a very good team. The Bills defense seems to have finally woken up from their hibernation that had them as one of the leagues worst through the first half of the season. Mario Williams gets another multiple sack day as the Bills pull out the win at home. Bills win 17 – 13.
Seahawks @ Bears. Sherman and Browner will be playing in this game as they wait for their appeal to be heard. Jay Cutler will also be playing in this game and he proved last week how valuable he can be to the Bears. This game is also in Chicago which means you are likely to see Seattle struggle mightily in at least one phase of the game. Chicago’s knack for forcing turnovers, and their ability to pressure without having to blitz will make this a real road test for rookie QB Wilson. Bears win 27 – 17.
Colts @ Lions. The Colts are playing some pretty good football this season, but most of that good football has happened at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Lions have been a huge disappointment this season, but Mathew Stafford and Megatron are still the most dangerous combination in the NFL. If Suh “accidentally” kicks Luck will he be suspended? Lions win 31-27.
Vikings @ Packers. The Packers took a pretty bad whooping at the hands of the defending champions last week, look for Aaron Rodgers and company to try to bounce back in a big way. The Vikings should be able to keep this close early, as they have the pass rushers to make Rodgers uncomfortable, but unless Christian Ponder returns to his early season form the Packers should pull away late. Adrian Peterson can only do so much. Packers win 35 – 17.
Texans @ Titans. The Texans have won two overtime games in a row, but don’t expect them to need overtime this weekend. The Titans have been hard to figure out this season, with all the QB changes and Chris Johnson’s wild inconsistency, and I don’t expect them to be any easier to understand following this game. Texans win 20 – 10.
Panthers @ Chiefs. Cam Newton shook out of his funk against the Eagles on Monday Night Football, unfortunately for Cam most teams in the NFL aren’t as bad as the Eagles. The good news is that he happens to have the Chiefs this weekend, which just may allow him to develop a little bit of a rhythm and generate some positive momentum into the offseason. Panthers win 21 – 14.
49ers @ Rams. I would really like to go with the home team here, but the 49ers are just such a solid all around football team. With the way Kaepernick has been playing since taking over the job at QB they have the look of a very dangerous team. The Rams did take it to the 49ers on their own field just a few weeks ago before mental mistakes cost them the W, I expect them to have confidence based off of that performance. This should be a great game and one that could go either way, but I think the 49ers win this game and hand the Rams their first division loss. 49ers win 20 – 17.
Patriots @ Dolphins. The Patriots have been on a tear lately averaging 47.5 points over their last 4 games as they have rattled off 5 straight wins. The Dolphins defense may be able to slow down the Patriots ground game, but they will have no answer for the aerial assault that Tom Brady and company can shell out. The Patriots are gunning for a first round bye in the playoffs and should win this comfortably. Patriots win 42 – 13.
Cardinals @ Jets. I hate to see a supremely talented player wasting some of his prime years with a team that is crumbling around him. Just like Steven Jackson was for the Rams, Larry Fitzgerald has become for the Arizona Cardinals. Hey at least Larry got to play in the Super Bowl. Jets win 12 – 3.
Bucs @ Broncos. The Bucs have been growing and improving as the season has progressed, with a solid running game and a developing young quarterback this could be a dangerous team. Unfortunately for them the Broncos have also been growing and improving as the season progresses. As Peyton Manning develops his rapport with his receivers the Broncos become more of a Super Bowl contender. Broncos win 31 – 21.
Browns @ Raiders. The Browns should help the Raiders draft stock by handing them their 9th loss of the season. The Raiders can air it out with Carson Palmer, but they can’t seem to avoid turning it over. On the other hand their defense can’t seem to do anything right, Trent Richardson could have a huge day against the leagues 28th ranked run defense. Browns win 17 – 10.
Bengals @ Chargers. The Bengals are in the thick of the playoff race, while the Chargers may be on the verge of a complete organizational rebuild. The Chargers still have plenty of talent to make this game interesting, but the Bengals have so much more to play for. Bengals win 27 – 24.
Steelers @ Ravens. The Ravens are closing in on the AFC North division title as they will host the Steelers this week. The Steelers may or may not have Big Ben available for this game, but the advantage goes to the Ravens at home regardless of who plays QB for the Steelers. The Ravens offense, and Joe Flacco especially, has been much better at home than on the road this season. Ravens win 20 – 13.
Eagles @ Cowboys. The Cowboys are still desperately clinging to their slim playoff hopes as they will host the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. Jerry’s World hasn’t exactly provided the best homefield advantage for the Cowboys since it was opened, but the Cowboys should beat the hapless Eagles no matter where the game is played. Cowboys win 28-10.
Giants @ Redskins. Can RGIII continue his impressive run against a Giants team that made Aaron Rodgers look fairly average last week? This should be a great Monday Night Football game between one of the leagues best veteran QB’s and a rising young superstar. The Giants defense will be the one to make the big play when its needed and secure the victory in primetime. Giants win 31 – 28.
Week 13 Matchups
Saints @ Falcons
Jaguars @ Bills
Seahawks @ Bears
Colts @ Lions
Vikings @ Packers
Texans @ Titans
Panthers @ Chiefs
49ers @ Rams
Patriots @ Dolphins
Cardinals @ Jets
Bucs @ Broncos
Browns @ Raiders
Bengals @ Chargers
Steelers @ Ravens
Eagles @ Cowboys
Giants @ Redskins