Week 13 NFL Predictions: Picking Winners for Every Game on the Schedule
Week 13 has some dud games—like nearly unwatchable matchups—and a smattering of fascinating battles oozing with playoff implications.
In case you were unaware, the Arizona Cardinals play the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers face the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills face off in the Mike Mularkey Bowl.
Conversely, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Denver to take on the Broncos in what should be a high-scoring affair loaded with big plays.
To finish off the week on Monday Night Football, Robert Griffin III hosts the New York Giants in a game that may yield more positive comments from Jon Gruden than ever before.
Let's get to the picks.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
The Saints were "back" until the played the 49ers.
Drew Brees was flustered by San Fran's confusing and ultra-physical defense, and Colin Kaepernick orchestrated Jim Harbaugh's offense to near perfection en route to the exposing of a still flawed New Orleans defense.
Meanwhile, the Falcons held off the NFC darling Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game many had Atlanta losing.
In the Georgia Dome, Matt Ryan and Brees will duel, and there will be more mistakes than we're expecting from both sides.
This one will come down to the wire, and Ryan will lead another late-game, game-winning field-goal drive.
Falcons 31, Saints 28
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills
The Jaguars appear to be a totally different team with Chad Henne under center.
Blaine Gabbert struggled with downfield passing and general awareness in the pocket. Now, Henne isn't the most mindful pocket passer, but he isn't afraid to sling it down the field and has an arm to back up that courage.
For the Bills, their defense has improved since Mario Williams had a small procedure on his ailing wrist, but now, Chan Gailey's offense is sputtering.
In this game, Spiller gets 20-plus touches, and Fitzpatrick gets on track against an up-and-down Jaguars defense at home.
Bills 24, Jaguars 21
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears
As long as Jay Cutler's healthy and slinging the rock, the Bears will be in games.
Their defense was thrashed against the 49ers, but, when it comes down to it, Brian Urlacher and Co. are good enough to get to a Super Bowl.
The Seahawks have a good defense as well, but as a team, Seattle has played relatively lifeless on the road compared to the amped up style it exhibits in front of its home crowd.
In an game that starts out ugly, the Bears, the club with a better collection of talent, wins handily in the second half.
Bears 27, Seahawks 17
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
Jim Harbaugh is walking a slippery slope.
After winning in both of his starts, Colin Kaepernick hasn't been named the starting quarterback.
It doesn't matter who starts in Week 13, though. The 49ers will suffocate the Rams' hapless offense, and San Fran's offensive line will wear down St. Louis' rather underrated defensive front.
49ers 30, Rams 17
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill has quite the task in front of him—beating Tom Brady after a thrilling overtime victory.
Because the Dolphins have an underrated defense that plays well at home, they'll give the Patriots a scare through three quarters, but New England's turnover prowess will be the determining factor in this one.
The rookie quarterback, who will have an otherwise stellar day, will throw a late interception that ultimately dooms the Dolphins.
Patriots 34, Dolphins 27
Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets
One of the few insipid matchups in Week 13.
The Cardinals or Jets?
Well, New York has received some nasty publicity, and horrible treatment from their fans of late, but remember, Arizona is on a seven-game losing streak—no one seems to have made a peep about it.
The Cardinals can thank that East Coast media bias now, can't they?
At home, with the season already in the toilet, Mark Sanchez plays a decent game, and the Jets defense smothers rookie third-stringer Ryan Lindley who'll get the start for Ken Whisenhunt's club.
Jets 20, Cardinals 13
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions
Although the Colts are three games better than the Lions, these teams are evenly matched.
Detroit's offense has hit top gear, and Calvin Johnson is reminding everyone that the Madden curse is bogus.
Neither defense is necessarily stout, and due to that, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck should have big afternoons.
At home, the more experienced Lions will make more plays on defense in the second half, and Megatron will lead Detroit to a confidence-building win.
Seriously, who on the Colts is covering him?
Lions 35, Colts 30
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Call me crazy, but I like the Minnesota Vikings in this one.
Adrian Peterson is well on his way to the Comeback Player of the Year—yeah, over Peyton Manning—and the Vikings will give him plenty of carries to slow down the pace of the game.
The Packers run defense isn't terrible, but Peterson can make any run defense look bad.
With Green Bay reeling on offense—to a certain extent—the Vikings hang tight until the fourth quarter and Christian Ponder, yes, Christian Ponder leads a game-winning drive in the final minute.
Vikings 24, Packers 21
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans
The Titans can't get out of their own way, and Jake Locker has struggled to develop into the quarterback Tennessee hoped they were getting when they drafted him in the first round a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Texans have done a marvelous job playing past the injury to Brian Cushing and winning back-to-back overtime games.
This one will be over, quickly.
Texans 34, Titans 20
Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs
Another battle of the beatens, the Panthers go into Arrowhead Stadium to face the hapless Chiefs.
Remember when Arrowhead was one of the toughest places to play?
Kansas City has a minus-21 turnover differential this year, and a few more turnovers will be integral in the team's 11th loss.
Cam Newton has a second straight big day.
Panthers 35, Chiefs 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos
This is the most interesting battle on Week 13's docket.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the league's upstart darlings, a team invigorated with young and exciting offense talent and a porous defense.
They're essentially the poster team for today's NFL.
However, Peyton Manning is a mission this season, and he is on pace to piece together his best statistical campaign since the record-breaking masterpiece in 2004.
Von Miller is the front-runner for the Defensive MVP—sorry, J.J. Watt—and is the key cog on the defense side that makes the Broncos go.
These teams are extremely similar, and what has been the case a few times for Greg Schiano's club, they'll fight valiantly, but lose to a team with an elite quarterback.
Broncos 28, Buccaneers 27
Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders
The Raiders can't stop anyone—they've allowed more than 42 points per game in their last four.
The Browns, on the other hand, are a persistent if inadequately talented club that has the makeup to win games down the stretch.
Cleveland doesn't have the receiving weapons or quarterback to expose Oakland's permeable secondary, but Trent Richardson will carry the load en route to a second straight victory.
Also, Carson Palmer will turn it over a few times against the club that forced eight turnovers in Week 12.
Browns 23, Raiders 17
Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers
Please, someone, leave a comment that tells me why Norv Turner hasn't been fired yet.
Actually, I get it.
Firing a head coach during the season doesn't really create a competitive advantage for the following year.
Still, Turner needs to go.
A.J. Smith, too.
Anyway, the Chargers have found ways to lose this season, often, and the Bengals come in sizzling on offense with a defense that's significantly improved since the start of the year.
Too much A.J. Green in this one, a guy that's quietly become the lone challenger to Calvin Johnson for the distinction of best receiver in the game.
Bengals 34, Chargers 24
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
This clearly has major AFC North implications, and with a loss, the Steelers could be out of that final playoff spot.
Ben Roethlisberger could play, but if he does, one has to think he won't be near 100 percent.
The Ravens didn't play their best football against the San Diego Chargers in Week 12, but they got the win—that's all that matters.
Expect Baltimore to capitalize on whoever is under center for Pittsburgh and to take the next step en route to wrapping up the division with a convincing win.
Ravens 24, Steelers 13
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Neither team is necessarily trending in the right direction, but the Eagles have mailed it in.
Nick Foles makes impressive throws on occasion; however, the offensive line is in shambles, and turning the ball over has become the norm.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have been making a ton of mistakes themselves, especially in the secondary.
In this one, Tony Romo has a field day against Philadelphia's defensive backfield that was once considered one of the most stingy in football.
Cowboys 37, Eagles 21
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
Did I write that the Buccaneers and Broncos game was the most intriguing of Week 13?
I stand corrected.
This game is.
By a hair.
Robert Griffin III was dazzling in his first meeting with the Giants defense, but a classic Eli Manning-to-Victor Cruz bomb lead to a thrilling win in New Jersey for the G-Men.
This time, RG3 sparkles in front of his home crowd on the national stage and outduels Manning in an NFC battle for the ages.
Redskins 35, Giants 31