Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 13


Week 13 in the NFL brings with it Thanksgiving and the stretch run to the playoffs. With most of the divisions still up for grabs and dates with rivals on the horizon, every win is critical now more than ever.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.


Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-7)

The Bears looked terrible last week. Yes they beat the worst team in the NFL, but they needed three turnovers to do it. Jay Cutler and the offense managed to tally only 68 yards in the first half, yet the team continues to underutilize Matt Forte. It was just as bad to watch the Lions last week as Matthew Stafford completed a career worse 39.1% of his passes. Though his receivers did drop several catches in the end zone to make those stats look worse. The Bears secondary has been terrible this year, allowing 818 passing yards in the past three weeks. Don’t expect Stafford to have another terrible performance. Lions win 24-14 (Lions Cover)

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)

Considering the situation the Eagles are in, namely the quarterback situation, it is amazing how well the offense continues to click. The big concern is if Philly is a slightly above average team. They looked terrible against the Packers then good against the lowly Titans. Inconsistency was the biggest problem for the Cowboys last week. The team was pretty bad in the first half, but buckled down and played much better in the second. DeMarco Murray continues to be great at controlling the pace of the game for Dallas which has helped immensely. The Eagles have real problems against top flight teams, suggesting they may be pretenders. Cowboys win 38-31 (Cowboys cover)

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco (-1.5)

The Seahawks continue to be a confusing team. Their offense seems unable to put up points some weeks and their defense is good, but not as dominant as last season. They are coming off a dominant performance against the Cardinals, but they still have something to prove. Sometimes you need to win ugly and that’s what the 49ers did last week. It seems that the defense has lost a killer instinct in once had, which could be attributed to injuries. There were multiply opportunities to take the ball from the Redskins offense, but the 49ers D just never took them. Seattle has had problems on the road this season, which gives the 49ers a slight edge. 49ers win 19-13 (49ers cover)


Washington Redskins at Indianapolis Colts (-10)

So the Colt McCoy era begins? It’s pretty clear that RGIII has lost the faith of this organization and will be on the bench Sunday in place of the lone Redskins quarterback to start and win a game in a long time. McCoy completed 85.7 percent of his passes in his two starts this season and though he is not going to blow up the stat sheet, he likely gives the Redskins their best chance to win. Teams are going to have off weeks and the Colts did last week, but there are deeper concerns. Without Gosder Cherilus on the offensive line, Andrew Luck was sacked five times and fumbled the ball four times because of it. The Colts should easily beat a subpar Redskins team. Colts win 35-20 (Colts cover)

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-6)

The Titans continue to show that they have some solid pieces, but there is something missing. Bishop Sankey has a bad case of the fumbles and, though young, Zach Mettenberger has a knack for throwing interceptions at the worst time. There was real reason to be excited for the Texans with Ryan Mallett at quarterback. However, he is now out and the Texans are back to Ryan Fitzpatrick. There is nothing wrong with the Harvard grad, but Houston needs a QB to win those games right now. Don’t expect much offensively from this game, but J.J. Watt will certainly turn in a highlight or two. Texans win 24-21 (Titans cover)

Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-2.5)

There is nowhere to go, but up for the Browns. Last week arguably there best player came back and he showed no rust whatsoever. Josh Gordon tallied eight receptions and 120 yards against a suspect Falcons secondary, but it was a great way for him to start the season. This game is going to be emotional for the Buffalo Bills after coming home to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The key will be harnessing the emotion into something constructive rather than destructive. The Bills being favored in these game shows how little respect the Browns are getting, but the Bills are going to be charged up for this game. Bills win 28-27 (Browns cover)

San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-5.5)

It must be hard to be a Chargers fan this season. The team has been unstoppable sometimes and inept others. The inconsistency is reflected in Phillip Rivers. Through the first seven games, Rivers had 1756 passing yards with a 15-2 touchdown to interception ratio. Rivers has 1079 passing yards with a 7-6 TD/INT ratio. A renewed focus on the run game is wait will put the Ravens in playoff contention. Justin Forsett has gone off for 294 yards and four touchdowns in the past two weeks, add to that the fact that Baltimore is undefeated this season when a single rusher has 90 plus yards on the ground. The Chargers run defense has been middle of the road and it appears that the Ravens are committed to a running game that is one of the best in the league. Ravens win 24-21 (Chargers cover)

New York Giants at Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5)

In maybe the quietest skid of all time, the New York Giants have lost four straight games and they haven’t been close. The G-Men are losing by an average of 13.8 points per game. The complete reliance on inconsistent Eli Manning certainly hurts, as the team has not had an individual player rush for 60 yards in that span. The Jaguars certainly looked the part of a forward looking team last week as their performance against the Colts was borderline unbearable. There is nothing to say that hasn’t already been said. Jacksonville is young and they make young mistakes. The Giants will see a merciful stretch consisting of the Jags, Titans, Redskins and Rams before they close out the season against the Eagles. This team knows what a win this week means. Giants win 24-13 (Giants cover)

Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3.5)

The Bengals know that they need to take the easy wins when they can get them. Cincy took an ugly win against the Texans last week and should roll into Tampa Bay easy enough. However, this team closes out the season with two against the Steelers, one against the Broncos and one against the Browns. It seems wherever Lovie Smith goes the team needs a quarterback and the right players for his patented Cover-2. The Buccaneers have a lot of talent, but they are not a team in the slightest. As so-so as the Bengals have been, there is little hope for a terrible Bucs team to contend. Bengals win 27-13 (Bengals cover)

Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams (-7)

The Oakland Raiders are better than their record says and they proved it with a win last week. Derek Carr has been growing and though his numbers are not staggering, he has cut down significantly on the interceptions. Another week, another game the Rams could have easily won. Though many fault Shaun Hill for his interception in the redzone, and in all honesty he should not have focused in on a receiver like that, it was truly Brian Schottenheimer that lost the game. Within the 10 yard line and with plenty of capable backs, the call to throw was moronic and cost St. Louis another win. Offensively the Rams utilization of all of their assists have created an attack with several working pieces that can be used to exploit defenses. Defensively, there is no tougher team in the NFL than the Rams. One critique is to move E.J. Gaines back to the outside as he has been struggling covering slot receivers over the past two weeks. The Raiders are not a team that will win on the road and you can expect Carr to come in contact with the ground several times in this one. Rams win 27-17 (Rams cover)

New Orleans Saints at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5)

Though the same problems exist this season that have always existed for New Orleans. Their defense is basically as stable as Jell-O in house construction. However, where the big drop-off for the Saints is their play at home. It wasn’t long ago that the Superdome was a fortress that teams could simply not win at, but this season the Saints are 3-3 at home and have outscored their opponents by only nine combined points in those six games. The Steelers late bye was good for a team that is in for a dog fight. Pittsburgh does have three of their last five at home, but two against the Bengals and one against the Chiefs is going to be hard fought battles. Surprisingly, the playoffs are within the grasps of both these teams. The difference in this game is going to be the Steelers running game. Expect a big day from Le’Veon Bell. Steelers win 28-21 (Steelers cover)


Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)

The Panthers must have spent their bye week thanking the heavens because at 3-7-1 they can still realistically make the playoffs. Since starting the season 3-2, the Panthers are 0-5-1 and losing games by more than 11 points each outing. It has become evident that Mike Zimmer’s magic is starting to work on a defense that managed to contain Aaron Rodgers effectively last week. The offense is the real problem as the line is struggling and the receivers have little competitive streak in them. The Vikings defense should be able to contain the one dimensional Panthers and the Minny offense will do just enough to squeak by. Vikings win 27-13 (Vikings cover)

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5)

The lack of a running game back to bite the Cardinals last week as the slow methodical pace of the Seahawks gave the team no hope. Though the Cards have their own fates in their hands, a running game is necessary with Drew Stanton starting. Not once this season has an Arizona player rushed for 100 yards. Rarely has a coach gone down in flames like Mike Smith this season. There have been countless time management mess-ups that an eight year old playing Madden wouldn’t have fallen into. The Smith organization has failed to put an NFL caliber defense on the field and has somehow failed to utilize, arguably, the most potent offense in the league. The Falcons are too far gone to rally and this team has clearly lost something. Cardinals win 19-14 (Cardinals cover)

New England Patriots at Green Bay Packers (-3)

This seems like the last game that the Patriots could reasonable lose this regular season. New England’s true danger is in their versatility. The only true constant is Tom Brady, but you never know which running back to cover of which receiver is going to carry the team offensively. Couple all that with a potent defense and the best home field advantage in football and you’ll be hard pressed to argue the Pats are not the best in the NFL. The Packers have taken on a similar mode to the Patriots. The offense is consistently good with a variety of weapons coming from all angles and the defense is solid enough to not make mistakes. This could honestly be the game of the year. If this were at Gillette Stadium it would be the Patriots easily, but this game will be close and down to the wire. Patriots win 48-42 (Patriots cover)

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (+1.5)

After being beaten down by the Rams and barely squeezing past the Dolphins, it appears that the Broncos could be on a downward trend. It’s the defense that has caused the team to slip allowing teams to average 5.3 yards per play in the past two weeks while only netting one turnover. It hurt more than the Chiefs pride when they lost to the Raiders last week. Kansas City now enters a must in game this week as a loss virtually puts the division out of reach and throws them into the wild card. The Chiefs did not play terrible; they just got burned by Latavius Murray. This is a critical game for the Chiefs, but the Broncos offense is still flying high and it’s hard to envision a Kansas City win. Broncos wins 35-21 (Broncos cover)


Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (+6)

Morally, the close defeat to the Broncos was a win last week. The Dolphins controlled the game for the first half before failing to adjust and getting picked apart. Now Miami has games against Baltimore and New England in their final five, but do get to play the Jets twice. Poor Geno Smith. He was not ready for the NFL and was benched by inept Rex Ryan, now Ryan is throwing him back in hoping that the youngster can save his job. The Jets got dismantled by a Bills team with two days of practice last week. The Jets, for all intents and purposes, are the worst team in the NFL. Miami should take this in a route because the Jets are just terrible. Dolphins win 24-13 (Dolphins cover)