Here are my NFL Week 13 Picks
(12-4 last week, 106-69-2 for the season)
Bye teams: Browns, Titans
Dal @ Min – Both these teams played last Thursday on Thanksgiving, so neither should be on a short-week hangover, and maybe we’ll actually get an enjoyable TNF game. If any team can give that to us, it’s the Cowboys, as a more exciting team doesn’t exist in the league. Dallas has now won 10 straight, losing their very first game of the season but not since then. Dak, Dez, & Zeke are the new Troy, Michael, & Emmitt, made all the more impressive because they’re all so very young. Zeke could win both the ROY award and the MVP, but then again so could Dak, which just tells you how perfectly this season is working out for the ‘Boys. The exact opposite is true for the Vikings, who can’t stop from shooting themselves in the foot every time they finally find their stride. Their injuries have been well-documented, but Bradford looked to be the savior for a short time a few weeks ago. Come on though, you had to know he was going to fail, and that INT at the end of the Thanksgiving game was as demoralizing as it was expected. Minnesota plays well at home, going 4-1, but Dallas is also great on the road, 5-0, and should win here.
KC @ Atl – I’ll be rooting for the Falcons to take care of business at home after watching my Broncos fall to the Chiefs in a game that I’m still not over. How that call was overturned I’ll never know, and that decision took the wind out of the sails of a defense that played a strong 1st half, didn’t do well in the 2nd, but answered the call when it mattered. The refs saw otherwise and Denver fell in overtime, giving Kansas City a huge victory, while my guys are now in a big hole. I don’t expect this division to be decided until the end of the season, so there’s still hope, but that loss was a colossal one. What the Broncos need is the Chiefs to lose, which might happen this very week. If Siemian can do that to KC’s defense, what can Matty Ice manage? And the Chiefs are coming off a short week, an overtime game, a win that they put everything into; I just don’t think they’ll have as much in the tank as the Falcons will. Atlanta is holding on to the top of their division, they can score on anyone, and if this defense can just play alright the team as a whole can win a lot of games going forward. I hope and expect that Hotlanta can take care of business.
Det @ NO – The Lions are coming off a giant win in a must-win game vs a division opponent. They now find themselves at the top of the NFC North, and might not even face much competition later on, as both the Vikings and the Packers aren’t playing wonderful football. Detroit plays well at home, can score points, Stafford guts out every game, they’re never down for the count in the fourth quarter, and the team has won 3 straight. Good stats, good momentum, but I’m worried that it won’t matter much this week. Don’t get me wrong, I think this has the potential to be a great game, and a high-scoring one at that, but I think the Saints will come out on top. Drew Brees is other-worldly right now, scoring 5 total TDs in his last game, throwing like a 25-year-old in his prime, not an old man who’s been in the league forever. This defense isn’t helping things, but as long as Brees in gunslinging, New Orleans will be in every game all season. They may not win their division, but a Wild Card is a possibility, and the Saints are always very strong at home, where I think they’ll get another win behind a stellar offense.
LA @ NE – As the Rams continue to lose, I continue to call for Jeff Fisher’s job, and I’m not alone in the least. Eric Dickerson isn’t even allowed on the sideline since he criticizes the coach, and that’s a sign that all is not well in Los Angeles. They need a change, and the sooner the better, because Goff needs some stability if he’s to develop into an elite QB. Can he, can this defense win games, can Gurley get going? Sure, all that can happen, but I really think that Fisher is an impediment to the team going forward. He’s just not that talented, can’t teach a team to win, and that fact has been well-documented over the years. I don’t know how it’s not obvious, but he gotsta go. Now, another thing that’s obvious is that the Patriots are scary. Their coach is kind of a genius, their QB is a legend, this team gameplans so very well, and they find ways to win even when games get close. Sure they’ve dropped two on the season, and what’s weird is that they were both at home, but I’m not picking the Pats to lose this game, no way. I think they cruise, as long as Brady doesn’t get bashed by this stout LA defensive line.
Den @ Jax – I’m beyond disappointed that the Broncos lost last week at home vs the Chiefs. It was a game they had to win, it was a game they had wrapped up multiple times, and it was a game that I think they did win when they stopped KC at the goal line as time expired. I get that the call was overturned, but it should not have been. That doesn’t effect the record books though, so as of today the Broncos are out of the playoffs. That’s unbelievable to me, and it’s hard to get back behind the Broncs and root them on, knowing that another disappointment is lurking around the corner, waiting to strike. A win this week will make everything feel a little better, especially if the Chiefs lose to Altanta, and both things I think are likely to happen. The Jags don’t have what it takes to play spoiler, not against a strong team that’s going to be playing angry. They can’t score, they can’t stop you from scoring, they don’t win at home; this is a team that has checked out. They are definitely young & talented, but we might have to wait another year for that to become apparent in their weekly play. Denver wins. Please.
Hou @ GB – The Texans are lucky that they’re in such a weak (at this point) division, because their caliber of play is not exactly division-winner. They lead by half a game over the Titans, who are idle this week, but that lead must not feel very comfortable, not with 2 straight losses and a total lack of offense so far this year. Osweiler has been a major letdown; he should be leading this team to an easy playoff spot, especially with the poor records of everyone else in the AFC South. But he’s not, the Texans can’t win a road game to save their lives, and now they’re starting to drop home games as well. Something’s wrong, it isn’t being fixed, and if Houston isn’t careful, the Titans or Colts are going to notice and take advantage of it. Meanwhile, the Packers stopped their frightening skid, and not a moment too soon. They were on their way out, but with a win in Philly and with a possible win at home here, they can get right back on track. There’s no ignoring that this doesn’t look like the typical Green Bay Super Bowl team, but they at least aren’t dead yet, and a winnable upcoming schedule might give them a hand out of the grave.
Phi @ Cin – If the Eagles can’t defend their turf against the Packers, how are they going to head into Cinci and leave with a victory? The answer is that they’re probably not, although this game is by no means a gimme for either team. Philly has its positives and its negatives, the defense playing really well, the offense sputtering following a good early-season start. Wentz is a rookie after all, and he’s not playing like Dak Prescott, he’s playing like a kid who’s learning to deal with the speed of the NFL. I watched his throws vs the Packers; they didn’t look good. He gets rattled too easily and is constantly throwing the ball into the dirt. That’s not good, and I look for the Bengals to challenge his every pass attempt, to play in his face the whole game. Not that Cinci is much better as a team; they basically just lost to a kicker. Their own kicker sucks, their coach is a moron, their QB hasn’t even whiffed the “it” factor, and so the Bungles find themselves on a 3-game losing streak. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cinci kept everything exactly the same for next year and did just as mediocre; they seem to be content with that.
Mia @ Bal – Dallas may be the best team in the league, New England may be the scariest, Atlanta may have the best offense, but Miami is starting to demand our attention with the second best win streak in the league. They’ve won 6 straight, turning 1-4 into 7-4, something that most of us would have predicted to be impossible. Not that they’re a spectacular team, but they just won’t go down, and eventually they hit you with a knock out punch when you least expect it. This is a scrappy club, OK on both sides of the ball but not phenomenal, a team that probably can’t hang with the big dogs, but is at least fun to watch right now. Actually, they just moved ahead of Denver for the last playoff spot, so there’s that, and perhaps it’s time to stop ignoring the Dolphins. The Ravens better start paying attention, because here they come rolling into town, and a victory for Baltimore at home is not a sure deal. What they have to their advantage is the best kicker in the league, a good home crowd, and the fact that Miami isn’t great on the road. The Ravens are winning the AFC North right now and they’d like to keep it that way.
SF @ Chi – And here it is, the worst game of the week. This matchup stinks to high heaven, as the nonsensical saying goes, and there’s really nothing to talk about to gloss that fact over. The Niners have taken the opposite path of their old rivals the Cowboys; SF won its first game and then dropped the next 10. Pretty pathetic, and Chip Kelly needs fired ASAP. The 49ers allow 31 points a game, while scoring 21, which is exactly why they find themselves at the bottom of the league. No defense, an offense that’s trying its best under a returning QB in Kaepernick, an idiot for a coach; this team could fail to win another game ever if they don’t make some wholesale changes. For the Bears, change is in the air as well. How much longer does Cutler stick around, is John Fox fired soon; who knows, who cares right now, this team is bad enough to warrant absolute shunning. I do think they win this game though, if only because it’ll be blustery cold in Chi-Town, the Niners won’t like that, and Barkley, who might be in for Cutler again, at least has something to prove and to play for, if not very much.
Buf @ Oak – I wish I could pick the Bills to win this game, because I would like the Raiders to stop winning as soon as possible, please and thank you. But I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Buffalo is a little too inconsistent, they’ve been that way all season, going up & down like the emotional regulation of their head coach. Really though, I do think they mirror the temperament of their leader, unfortunately, and aren’t quite professional enough to win a ton of games, especially the important ones against quality teams. They aren’t pushovers though, they do OK on the road, and they’re riding a small streak, so maybe this game will be a tight one and just maybe the Bills pull off a miracle. It’s not like the Raiders are the best team in the NFL, they just find ways to win, and this offense is a unit I wouldn’t want to face, not even with a great defense like Denver’s. Oakland already took care of the Broncos earlier this season and will probably take care of Buffalo too, with an offense that’s just too overpowering for a team that can’t quite keep up. I wish them no success, but they might grab it whether I want them to or not.
NYG @ Pit – Speaking of Miami’s 6-game win streak, look who else has been barrelling toward a playoff spot fairly under the radar. The G-Men are coming, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. Improving from 2-3 to 8-3, everyone would be calling to see the Giants in the Super Bowl if it weren’t for the Cowboys and the amazing things they’re doing right now. New York is putting together a nice run, something that they’ll look to keep going all the way through January, although that’s sure to be harder than a win over the Cleveland Browns. That might be what happens, the G-Men might run into a brick wall, or a Steel Curtain, but until I see it I’m sticking by Eli & Odell. Can the Steelers put a halt to the Giants momentum? They sure have the talent to do so, but just like NYG, a win over a hapless Colts team isn’t the game that will prove your worth. You better make it happen right now against a solid non-conference opponent, and that might be the stat to make your decision on; the Giants are 3-0 against the AFC, the Steelers are 1-2 against the NFC, so I’m going with the Boys in Blue.
Was @ Ari – Nothing says a nice Thanksgiving beatdown like a game in Dallas against the best team in the league. Give the Redskins credit, they beat both Minnesota & Green Bay in Washington, had to travel to a Dallas, and gave a Cowboys a bit of a game. It wasn’t enough, and I fear that’s the MO of this team, but at least they fought hard. The Redskins are 6-4-1 on the season, and that feels like exactly the type of team they are; good but not great. Cousins is OK, the running game is OK, the defense is not great, the head coach is meh. I just can’t get excited about Washington, and until they can win on a consistent basis, I don’t see that changing. I think the Cardinals are actually the better team, although they have the worse record and have basically let their fanbase down this season. Carson has aged over the offseason and I’d be surprised if he looked elite ever again. But with David Johnson running the ball and with the defense playing surprisingly well given the offense’s lack of production, I have to go with Arizona in games like these; close contests at home against mediocre talent.
TB @ SD – Both of these teams pulled off big upsets last week, the Bucs over Seattle, the Chargers over Houston. Tampa was at home, although their record there is poor, 1-4 going into that game. They are actually a much better road team, sitting at 4-1. That’s good news for this squad, as is the way Mike Evans has been playing of late; it doesn’t seem like anyone can stop him. But the Bucs still have problems, namely that they score less than they allow, which is surprising for a team with a winning record. Can they start picking up wins at home, scoring consistently, playing some defense? Sure they can, and the Chargers are in the basement of their division, so maybe this is a game to practice winning. But not so fast, say San Diego fans, and here’s a stat to blow your mind; the Chargers have scored more points this season than almost every other team in the league. You have the Falcons & the Saints at the top, and then you have the Cowboys & the Chargers next on the list. Not bad for a team that’s basically out of it, but don’t tell Phillip Rivers that, and don’t count these guys out of a few more wins.
Car @ Sea – In a game that looks like a typical NFC Championship matchup, the end result may not be as close a contest as is usual. Then again, with these two teams, you never know. The Panthers definitely haven’t played like a Super Bowl team, and that Hangover is in full effect. The numbers are bad any way you look at them, and the bottom line is this team just hasn’t meshed in the way they did last year. I think there’s reason to hope 2017 could bring a big rebound, but for now, Carolina isn’t going to be doing any damage. The Seahawks, on the other hand, looked primed to get back to the big game, and are already running away with the division. Wilson finally looks healthy, the defense is still stout, and the Seahawks are undefeated at home, something that isn’t really that surprising. BUT, and here’s the reason why this game could return to being a very tight matchup that comes down to the end, Seattle looked pathetic last week, losing to Tampa after scoring 5 points. That’s right, 5, a safety and a field goal, but I really can’t see that happening again two weeks in a row.
Ind @ NYJ – Andrew Luck didn’t play last week and the Colts looked lost. Not surprising, and we all knew this team was terrible, that Luck was the only glue holding it together. Just like with Peyton gone, with Andrew gone it all falls apart. That’s because they don’t have a good coach, their GM is a moron, and their owner is a weirdo. There, I’ve said it, and now it’s off my chest, I feel better. I want to like the Colts, but they make themselves the team to shake your head at far too often. Luck will be back this week though, so that at least means points scored, if not points defensed. And with Fitzpatrick back for the Jets, what does that mean exactly, more turnovers? I have no idea why he’s back, they need to see what they have in their young guys, and this isn’t exactly the time to put in the savvy veteran to try to inch into the playoffs. The Jets aren’t going to the playoffs, they need to go into rebuilding mode, and the sooner the better. I think this could be a close game, given the fact that neither of these teams are great, but I have to go with the talent of Andrew Luck over the woes of Ryan Fitzpatrick.