NFL Picks Week 13: Underdogs Set to Shake Up the Playoff Picture
The NFL playoff picture is beginning to take shape, but there is still plenty of time for a shake up and some underdogs matched up with teams in playoff contention will play spoiler in Week 13.
Let's take a look at some of the teams that fit the bill.
Detroit Lions (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
The Colts are in the midst of one of the more improbable playoff runs in NFL history. On the back of their rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck, the Colts have forgotten all about Peyton Manning as they make their march towards the playoffs.
Detroit is the first step in that process for Indianapolis, but by no means will the Lions be a pushover for the Colts.
The Lions are fresh off a week that saw them almost beat the Houston Texans at Ford Field, only to lose to the best team in the NFL by a measly field goal as the overtime clock ticked down to the final minutes.
Who ya got?
While their rushing attack wasn't great, the Lions were able to throw for 441 yards through the air against an elite defense. Expect more of the same this week against the Colts and their No. 19 ranked pass defense.
The only difference will be that the Lions should have more success on the ground against the Colts No. 21 rush defense, making it a nightmare to completely stop the Lions on the offensive end. If the Lions were able to put up 31 points against the Texans, the same should hold true against Indy.
The Colts' bread and butter is their passing attack as Luck has helped his team become the No. 7 passing attack in the NFL. But stopping the pass just so happens to be the Lions' strength on defense and without a dangerous rushing attack to turn to, the Colts will play right into the Lions' hands.
Stacking the deck further, the Colts are a young team in a must-win situation and they have to win this game on the road.
Washington Redskins (Vs. New York Giants)
Coming off a huge win against the Green Bay Packers, the Giants are looking to further put themselves in a better position to win the NFC East and make the playoffs, but the Redskins are standing in their way.
The 'Skins just got finished beating the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, and thanks to that victory Robert Griffin III and company are still alive in the division. However, after suffering a loss to the Giants already this season, the Redskins must win this game to have any prayer of upsetting the Giants playoff hopes.
The Giants are currently in the No. 3 playoff spot in the NFC, but a strong finish could help them to a bye in the first week of the playoffs and some home-field advantage. A loss will return Big Blue nation back into panic mode and would leave the Giants' division lead down to a single game.
Who ya got?
Coming into this one, the 'Skins will have Pierre Garcon on the field which is an asset they didn't have in their last showdown with the Giants. That's significant because without Garcon, Washington lacks depth at the position and a big-play threat down the field.
The biggest weakness for the Giants is their secondary. Even though they kept Rodgers and the Packers' passing attack quiet in Week 12, that was mostly a result of a great pass rush, not great secondary play.
And while the same pass rush will exist this week, RG3 has legendary quickness that will help him avoid such a challenge while still being able to make throws both on the run and in the pocket. With Garcon and Aldrick Robinson as options to throw to deep, RG3 should have a ton of success through the air and that is going to help the Redskins outscore the Giants en route to victory.
These teams played an incredible close game last time out, but look for the Redskins' passing attack to put them over the top in Week 13.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Vs. Baltimore Ravens)
In order to win this game, the Steelers have got to put their dreadful Week 12 performance behind them for good and look ahead to their Week 13 showdown with the Ravens. Pittsburgh is still in control of a playoff spot, but a loss would be devastating to their chances.
Despite their 9-2 record, the Ravens have not played as well as their record suggests. They have won a ton of close games this season and their defense is clearly not what it once was. Also, Baltimore has both Denver and New England breathing down its neck for the No. 2 playoff spot.
Per Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, Big Ben will try to give it a go this week and knowing how tough he is, Roethlisberger will likely make it happen. As long as Ben Roethlisberger returns this week, the Steelers have a great shot to win this game.
The Ravens are ranked No. 23 against the pass this season, but that won't mean squat if Charlie Batch is behind center. With Roethlisberger taking the snaps, the Ravens must respect the Steelers' passing attack and that should greatly benefit their rushing attack.
Who ya got?
It's no surprise that Joe Flacco had success against the Chargers last week. Throwing for 355 yards against the No. 20 pass defense in the NFL isn't exactly hard to do, but what's most troubling is that despite all that production, the Ravens only scored 13 points.
Things won't come so easy this week as the Ravens will be trying to move the ball through the air against the best pass defense in the NFL. Ray Rice will look to pick up the slack, but the Steelers are no slouch at stopping the run as well.
Home-field advantage will favor the Ravens in this game, but if the Week 11 game between these two squads proved anything, it's that playing on your home field doesn't mean you're going to win.
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