To be a championship team in the NFL, or at least a good team, you have to be able to win on the road. There is something about getting out of the comfort zone of home that changes the way certain teams play.
The worst road teams are generally going to be the teams at the bottom of the standings, or a very young team that is still developing and learning to play together. A team like Seattle is a good example of the latter, as it has won all five of its home games, but just one of its six road games.
As we look towards Week 13, which started with a huge NFC South showdown between New Orleans and Atlanta, here are the road teams that we are loving.
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions
Like the Seahawks, the Colts are a good example of a young team still learning to play and win together. They have a 5-1 home record, compared to just 2-3 away from Lucas Oil Stadium. Digging deeper, all three of their road losses have come by at least 20 points.
Despite their less-than-stellar road resume, the Colts are the little engine that won't quit right now. Nothing about this team, either in personnel or statistically, says that they should be 7-4. They have an unbalanced attack on offense, mediocre offensive line and middle-of-the-road defense.
Somehow, someway the Colts keep finding ways to win. They have benefited from a schedule that includes Miami, Cleveland, Tennessee and Jacksonville.
On the other side of the field, the Lions keep finding ways to lose. Thanksgiving Day against Houston was the latest example of that. The Lions had arguably the best team in the league on the ropes, but an errant challenge flag and missed field goal in overtime cost them the game.
The Lions have the more explosive offense, particularly with Calvin Johnson on the outside, but there is no consistency with anything they try to do.
The Colts are going to keep inching closer and closer to one of the most surprising playoff berths in recent memory.
Colts 27, Lions 20
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Right now it almost feels like a cop out to take the Patriots to win big, because they are putting up points at will and no one else in the AFC East is even close to them. The Patriots can clinch the division with a win this weekend, which says more about everyone else than it does them.
But until you see someone stop the Patriots, you have to expect them to win in impressive fashion.
As the Boston Herald pointed out, while the offense gets all the attention, this current five-game winning streak has been sparked thanks to special teams.
The Patriots (8-3) have made some big ones (big plays) during their five-game winning streak with touchdowns on a 104-yard kickoff return by Devin McCourty, a 68-yard punt return by Julian Edelman and a 22-yard fumble return by Edelman after McCourty jarred the ball loose on a kickoff return.
The Dolphins are a surprising 5-6 team right now, but they are so inconsistent that you never know which team is going to show up. Since Week 3, they have lost two games in a row, won three straight and lost three straight before beating Seattle last week.
It is good to see that the Dolphins are an improving team. They just aren't in New England's class right now.
Patriots 31, Dolphins 14
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
This gap in the NFC East is shrinking, with the Redskins able to pull within one game of the Giants if they win this game. Robert Griffin III is the new kid on the block, setting the NFL on fire with his ability to run and throw. The future is bright in Washington for the first time in years.
Unfortunately, the Redskins aren't quite ready for primetime, which is ironic because this game is on Monday night.
The Giants continue to be the most baffling team in the NFL. We all know what this team can do, but they still have those games where they just look completely disinterested in what they are doing.
Of course, as soon as you are ready to write them off, they go out on Sunday night and defeat Green Bay by 28 points.
One thing that the Giants need to get back to is running the ball. Eli Manning's reputation is what it is, and at times the Giants rely on him a lot, which leads to them forgetting about the run. They have thrown 396 passes to just 283 runs.
The difference in this game comes down to the defenses, particularly up front. The Giants' pass-rush is getting hot, as they are up to fifth in the league in sacks. The Redskins create almost no pressure with their front four, meaning they will have to send extra pass-rushers to get after Manning.
When the Redskins are forced to sell out for the blitz, Manning will be able to look towards Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the outside to make big plays.
Giants 27, Redskins 17