NFL Week 13 Picks: Game-by-Game Predictions and More
It's hard to believe we're already in Week 13 of the 2012 NFL season, and it's even harder to believe some of the teams fighting for their playoff lives.
The New Orleans Saints, after starting out the season 0-4, are still within striking distance of the No. 6 seed in the NFC. They'll have to get past the Atlanta Falcons on short rest this Thursday for their hopes to stay alive.
Equally as surprising is the chance the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins have to take the same spot, and both teams face tests against tough opponents. The Bucs will travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos, while the Redskins will host the New York Giants.
And that's just the NFC.
There's plenty riding on the line for most games in Week 13, and we've got the inside scoop on which teams will come out on top.
Follow along to find out if your favorite team will win or lose and whether it will make the playoffs or not.
Saints at Falcons
Prediction: Saints win 34-27
After getting stymied by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are ready for revenge.
And though Thursday Night Football hasn't been kind to visiting teams, the way Matt Ryan has been playing of late—seven interceptions in his last three games, compared to four touchdowns—the Saints will come out on top.
The Falcons will hang on to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The Saints will miss the playoffs.
Jaguars at Bills
Prediction: Jaguars win 28-17
Surely the Jacksonville Jaguars can't win two games in a row, right?
The Buffalo Bills haven't been scoring much of late, apart from Week 10 against the New England Patriots, and Chad Henne has the Jaguars offense surging.
Look for another big game from Justin Blackmon, and look for the Jaguars to continue rallying behind Henne after being dragged down by Blaine Gabbert for the past year-and-a-half.
Both teams are out.
Seahawks at Bears
Prediction: Bears win 23-17
The Seattle Seahawks expect Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman to play this week in Chicago (h/t AP), but that won't stop the Bears from winning this game at home.
The biggest issue the Seahawks face will be rookie quarterback Russell Wilson against the Bears' vaunted defense, which I expect to force two or more turnovers.
The Bears will hang on to the No. 3 seed in the NFC.
The Seahawks are out.
49ers at Rams
Prediction: 49ers win 31-13
The St. Louis Rams punched the San Francisco 49ers in the mouth at Candlestick Park a few weeks ago, but Colin Kaepernick brought his team back to force a rare tie game when Alex Smith went down with a concussion.
Since then, Kaepernick has destroyed the No. 2 defense in the NFL and has won a tough game on the road in New Orleans.
The 49ers biggest test in this game will be stuffing the resurgent Rams running game led by Steven Jackson.
The 49ers will hang on to the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
The Rams are out.
Patriots at Dolphins
Prediction: Patriots win 41-21
The New England Patriots have lobbed up 47.5 points per game during their latest four-game stretch.
As good as Ryan Tannehill played in the fourth quarter to beat the Seattle Seahawks last week, he can't compete with that kind of production.
The Patriots will hang on to the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
The Miami Dolphins are out.
Cardinals at Jets
Prediction: Jets win 21-9
In the "Who Cares Bowl," the New York Jets will do everything they can to lose the game, but the Arizona Cardinals won't let them.
Ryan Lindley will get the start for the Cardinals once again, and he'll be without starting center Lyle Sendlein, who's out for the season with a torn left MCL, per ESPN's Mike Sando.
The Cardinals actually got worse up front, folks. Women and small children should refrain from watching this game.
Both teams are out.
Colts at Lions
Prediction: Lions win 27-23
Andrew Luck is a different quarterback on the road. In those games, he's thrown just four touchdowns and a whopping 10 interceptions compared to nine touchdowns and three interceptions at home.
And given the way Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh and Cliff Avril have come on strong of late, Luck will be scrambling for his life most of the game.
Matthew Stafford will find Calvin Johnson for big plays often in this contest, and the Lions will keep their minuscule playoff hopes alive, at least for one more game.
The Colts will get in via one of the two wild-card spots.
The Lions are out.
Vikings at Packers
Prediction: Packers win 28-21
Every time we start counting Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers out, they respond with big games.
Adrian Peterson will continue rolling along with another big performance, but Christian Ponder's tendency to throw interceptions—five in his last five games—will be the difference in the game.
The Packers will hold on to the No. 5 seed in the NFC.
The Vikings are out.
Texans at Titans
Prediction: Texans win 31-17
The Tennessee Titans lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
The Houston Texans will be able to win in all three phases of the game, and the outcome should never be in doubt.
The Texans will hold on to the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The Titans are out.
Panthers at Chiefs
Prediction: Panthers win 27-12
The last passing touchdown the Chiefs scored was way back in Week 8, and the level of competence this offense is working with is at an all-time low.
Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers shouldn't have any trouble picking up win No. 4.
Both teams are out.
Buccaneers at Broncos
Prediction: Buccaneers win 27-24
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just missed out on the opportunity to beat the Atlanta Falcons last week, and they face another huge test in Week 13.
Josh Freeman has stepped up this season to become the player we all thought he'd become last year, and he gives the Bucs a chance to win every week.
But the key player for the Bucs will be rookie running back Doug Martin, who I expect to have a monster day against the Denver Broncos.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos barely escaped a humiliating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last week, and the Bucs are primed to shut down their six-game winning streak.
The Broncos will win the No. 4 seed in the AFC.
The Buccaneers will claim the No. 6 seed in the NFC.
Browns at Raiders
Prediction: Browns win 24-17
The Cleveland Browns have been playing well of late, winning two of their last four, and their two losses have been tough ones against the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens.
The Oakland Raiders, on the other hand, haven't won in four weeks, and the way they've been losing can only be described as embarrassing.
Trent Richardson will lead the charge on offense, and the Browns will win their fourth game of the season.
Both teams are out.
Bengals at Chargers
Prediction: Bengals win 31-17
In a battle between one of the softest teams in the league and one of the toughest teams in the league, the Cincinnati Bengals will destroy the will of the San Diego Chargers and continue pushing for the playoffs.
The Chargers are one of the most pathetic teams I've watched in recent memory. Even if they jump out to an early lead, one thing's for certain: They'll blow it.
The Bengals will claim one of the two wild-card spots in the AFC.
The Chargers are out.
Steelers at Ravens
Prediction: Ravens win 31-13
Joe Flacco is a different quarterback when he's playing at home. In five home games, he's thrown 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and the Baltimore Ravens haven't lost a single one.
That means Charlie Batch is going to be the starter, which means it's going to be a long, long day for the Pittsburgh Steelers on offense.
The Ravens will hold on to the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
The Steelers are out.
Eagles at Cowboys
Prediction: Cowboys win 27-21
Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys played well against the Philadelphia Eagles the last time these two teams met, but who hasn't?
The Eagles are in terrible shape right now, and seeing how the Carolina Panthers were able to tee off on them on Monday Night Football in Week 12, the Cowboys won't have any trouble duplicating their performance of three weeks ago.
Both teams are out.
Giants at Redskins
Prediction: Giants win 31-27
The last time these two teams faced off, Eli Manning broke the Washington Redskins on a last-minute, 77-yard game-winning pass to Victor Cruz.
This one might go down to the wire too.
Both teams are playing well right now, but I'm going with the Giants, simply because this team looks to be on another late-season surge to the playoffs.
The Giants will win the No. 4 seed in the NFC.
The Redskins are out.