NFL Predictions Week 13: Games That Will Change Playoff Landscape

Jonathan IrwinContributor IINovember 27, 2012

NFL Predictions Week 13: Games That Will Change Playoff Landscape

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    With only a handful of games left, Week 13 is going to have huge implications in the NFL playoff picture.

    Not only is there a handful of inter-division matchups, but there's also plenty of wild-card teams facing hefty uphill battles.

    After this week, we should see a drastically different wild-card picture moving into Week 14. Here are some predictions for games with huge playoff implications this week.

Seattle at Chicago

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    At 6-5 on the season—with Tampa Bay and Minnesota nipping at their heels—the Seahawks have to keep winning to solidify their wild-card spot.

    That could be tough, with possible suspensions looming for star cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Despite the controversy, Pete Carroll expects both to play Sunday.

    The true tale of the tape for this game is how bad Seattle's been on the road.

    The 'Hawks are perfect at home, but an ugly 1-5 on the road. Their most recent loss came last Sunday against Miami, with Reggie Bush leading the way to a 21-24 Dolphin win.

    Chicago is hot off a win over Minnesota, though it may have lost running back Matt Forte to an ankle injury. Even if he doesn't play, Michael Bush should be in for a big game—Seattle's allowing 122 rushing yards per game over their last six.

    With the 'Hawks struggling on the road—and facing a tough Bears defense—their playoff hopes will go into limbo with this second consecutive loss.

    Prediction: Seattle 10, Chicago 20

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

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    Baltimore returns home on a four-game win streak. At 9-2 on the season, a win this Sunday would clinch a playoff berth. Combined with a Bengal's loss, the Ravens could clinch the division as well.

    It's a different story in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers limping into this game 6-5 and on a two-game losing streak.

    Right now it looks like Ben Roethlisberger could play, but there's still a very real chance that he won't.

    If Big Ben doesn't play, Pittsburgh won't stand a chance against Baltimore's defense. Charlie Batch was horrific in the Steelers' loss to Cleveland, throwing three picks. The team as a whole had eight turnovers.

    Even if Roethlisberger does play, who knows what kind of shape he'll be in? And seeing that Pittsburgh's already fallen to Baltimore on home turf, they'll be in for an uphill battle playing away from Heinz Field.

    Not only will this Ravens win seal up their playoff spot, but the combined Steelers loss will kick open the AFC Wild Card door.

    Pittsburgh 6, Baltimore 24

Cincinnati at San Diego

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    One of the more exciting games this week, the outcome will have a huge impact on the AFC Wild Card picture.

    The 6-5 Bengals are knocking on the playoff door, and a win combined with a Pittsburgh loss would propel them into the Wild Card.

    At 4-7, a win would move the Chargers that much closer to contention, bringing them within one win of the Bengals—and potentially Steelers—for that final spot.

    This is a tough game to call. Both teams are fairly even, and nothing stands out. The only dominating stat is San Diego's fifth-ranked rush defense, but the Bengals don't rely on the run to begin with.

    The Bolts put up a really strong fight against Baltimore last week, and they've got the home-field advantage. Not to mention they're always a second-half team.

    With the semi-upset, San Diego moves closer to the playoffs, Cincinnati falls further behind and Baltimore clinches the AFC North.

    Cincinnati 21, San Diego 24

Philadelphia at Dallas

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    Both teams have been suffering up-and-down seasons, and need a big win in Week 13.

    A Cowboys win would move them to 6-6 on the season. With Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Seattle and Washington all facing uphill battles, Dallas' Wild Card chances could increase exponentially.

    At 3-8 on the season, an Eagle's loss would be the last nail in the coffin on what has been a horrifically disappointing season.

    The Cowboys won the earlier matchup this year 38-23, and that was at Philadelphia.

    Now they get home-field advantage, and the Eagles are as banged up as you can get. Without Michael Vick or LeSean McCoy—both dealing with concussions—Philly has already lost this game.

    Dallas takes a huge leap into the playoff picture, and Philadelphia recedes into the background.

    Philadelphia 3, Dallas 27