Predicting the MVP for Each NFL Game of Week 13
Week 13 in the NFL is already underway and for the second time in less than two weeks, a quarterback in the NFC South has thrown five interceptions in a game.
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan threw five picks versus the Arizona Cardinals in Week 11. On Thursday Night Football, Ryan watched his counterpart, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, achieve the same feat as the Falcons took control of the division with a huge win.
As some teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns, start to prepare for upheaval this coming offseason, other teams are doing all they can to stay in the playoff picture.
As the past two Super Bowl winners have shown, the regular-season record only matters in terms of getting into the playoffs. Once in the dance, anything can happen.
Here are the predictions for Week 13's MVPs for each game. The winner has to come from the victorious team.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills MVP: Jaguars QB Chad Henne
The Bills' defense gives up 29 points a game and has allowed 20 touchdowns through the air. It also ranks 18th in the NFL versus the pass, allowing opponents to throw for 233.3 yards a game.
Chad Henne got the start and the win last week versus the Tennessee Titans and will be looking to extend that fortune in Buffalo. In the past two weeks, Henne has thrown for 615 yards and six touchdowns. His quarterback rating has been over 100 in both games.
Though the Bills have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, the Jaguars do not have a run game. Starting wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts missed some practice time this week, but both are expected to play. Look for Henne to throw for over 300 yards and a score as the Jaguars win on the road.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears MVP: Bears WR Brandon Marshall
The Seahawks boast one of the best pass defenses in the NFL and will be looking to keep Brandon Marshall in check. But off-the-field issues with starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner have taken the players away from their typical weekly preparation, and the possibility of a letdown is tangible.
Quarterback Jay Cutler is not shy about targeting Marshall, no matter the coverage. Cutler threw 17 passes Marshall’s way in last week’s win over the Minnesota Vikings. Marshall has 81 catches for 1,017 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
Marshall will exploit the long week for the Seahawk cornerbacks and post another 100-plus-yard receiving day, adding another touchdown to his total in the process. The Bears will win fairly easily at home.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Detroit Lions MVP: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton
T.Y. Hilton does not seem to know or understand what the proverbial “rookie wall" is. Not only has the former Florida International star contributed on offense in a major way, but Hilton is sixth in the NFL in punt-return average.
Hilton has four receiving touchdowns in the past four contests and two 100-yard-receiving games in that same stretch.
The Lions' defense gives up 25.5 points a game and with a banged-up secondary, Hilton should be able to exploit the Lions deep. Look for Hilton to get behind the Lions' defense for a long touchdown over 40 yards and have at least 90 yards receiving as the Colts make their case for a playoff berth.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers MVP: Packers WR Jordy Nelson
The long-awaited return of wide receiver Greg Jennings is here and the former Pro Bowler should be active this week. But after such a long layoff, Jennings will be more of a decoy for the Packers.
Look for quarterback Aaron Rodgers to pump fake to Jennings on short crossing routes and hit Jordy Nelson on deep passes. This combination worked very well in Nelson’s breakout year of 2011 and will again versus a Vikings defense the Packers beat twice last season.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be looking to bounce back after a poor outing versus the New York Giants in Week 12. With the lack of a running attack, Rodgers will throw the ball over 40 times. Nelson will catch at least eight of those throws for over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans MVP: Texans WR Andre Johnson
The Titans allow 30.5 points a game and give up 262.1 yards passing per game. Tennessee is ranked 27th in the NFL at defending the pass.
In the past five games, all wins for the Texans, Johnson has 700 yards receiving. Though he started the season slow due to injury, Andre Johnson is just starting to hit his stride.
In the first matchup versus the Titans, Johnson only had three receptions for 56 yards. Look for both of those numbers to at least triple. Johnson will have no less than 10 receptions and over 150 yards receiving as the Texans blow out an overmatched Titans team.
Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs MVP: Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams
Two of the worst teams in the NFL face off in a game that does not look very exciting on paper. Both teams are searching for an identity and may be looking for new front offices and head coaches next season.
The Chiefs have a solid pass defense, but have given up 126.1 yards a game on the ground and 14 runs of over 20 yards. With Jonathan Stewart hobbled, DeAngelo Williams should get the start and find success running against the Chiefs.
In a low-scoring game, look for Williams to top 80 yards rushing and get the score in what will be the determining touchdown in the game. Once one of the top runners in the NFL, Williams will get that feeling back in Kansas City.
San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams MVP: 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick’s introduction to the big stage of the NFL was his success versus the Rams in the "epic" tie in Week 10. In that contest, Kaepernick threw for 117 yards and rushed for a touchdown to keep the 49ers in the game.
Since then, Kaepernick has unseated Alex Smith as the starter and led the 49ers to back-to-back wins. The 49ers have scored over 30 points in those victories.
Look for the former Nevada standout to have his best game as a professional versus a young Rams defense. Kaepernick will account for four scores as the 49ers win handily in St. Louis.
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins MVP: Patriots QB Tom Brady
Tom Brady has the Patriots' offense humming right now, and the Dolphins simply look like a small speed bump in the road. Brady has helped the Patriots produce 219 points in the last five games, all wins.
The perennial Pro Bowler has 14 touchdown passes to zero interceptions in that same time frame. When Brady played in Miami in 2011, the future Hall of Fame player threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns.
Look for a game of similar proportions this time as well. Brady is playing like a league MVP and will tear up the 26th-ranked pass defense in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Jets MVP: Cardinals LB Daryl Washington
In a game that may not produce any offensive touchdowns, look for the Cardinals' defense to lead the way to the win.
The MVP of the entire Cardinals team is Daryl Washington. Though Washington plays in the same division as Patrick Willis and same conference as Lance Briggs, a case could be made that Washington is the best linebacker in the NFC.
Washington has nine sacks on the season and is in the Top 10 in tackles with 95. Washington is always around the football, and versus a Jets offense that does not run the football very well, Washington will make his mark against the pass.
Look for Washington to get at least one sack and one interception versus the Jets, and make a play that will be the difference-maker for the Cardinals to win the game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Denver Broncos MVP: Broncos QB Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning could be the choice for this award every week. But versus a Buccaneers defense that has given up the most passing yards in the NFL up to this point in the season, this one is a slam dunk.
Manning has the Broncos on a six-game winning streak and has thrown 15 touchdowns in those contests. In his last nine games, Manning has thrown for at least 270 yards in each one.
Look for Manning to tear up the Buccaneers' secondary, which has neither opening-week starter at cornerback. The Buccaneers are so inexperienced at cornerback that starting safety Ronde Barber has gotten some work on the edge this week. Manning will throw for over 350 yards and three touchdowns.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers MVP: Bengals WR A.J. Green
Though the secondary for the Chargers has veterans like safety Eric Weddle and cornerback Quentin Jammer, it is also in the bottom half of pass coverage in the NFL. While the Chargers' total defense is ranked 10th in the NFL, the pass defense is 20th.
The Chargers' secondary gives up seven yards per reception and 243.3 yards in the air a game. Look for A.J. Green to take advantage of this unit.
Green has 10 touchdowns on the year and is coming off a 111-yard effort versus the Oakland Raiders. The fast-rising star will top the century mark in receiving yards in back-to-back weeks and score at least once.
Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders MVP: Browns RB Trent Richardson
The Raiders' defense is struggling under first-year head coach Dennis Allen. Oakland is worst in the NFL in points allowed and ranked 25th overall in total defense.
Trent Richardson has rushed for at least 85 yards in each of his last four games and added 17 receptions in that same time frame. In those same four games, the rookie from Alabama has gotten at least 24 carries.
The Raiders have the 28th-ranked run defense and have given up 15 rushing scores. Look for Richardson to get 30-plus carries for over 150 yards and two scores as the Browns win an ugly affair over Oakland.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens MVP: Ravens OLB Paul Kruger
The Steelers are not the same team without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and injuries along the offensive line have only highlighted how talented Roethlisberger is. The Steelers had eight turnovers in the Week 12 loss to the Cleveland Browns, and the lack of blocking was a major reason why.
In the Ravens' Week 11 win over the Steelers, Paul Kruger produced a sack, a forced fumble and a pass deflection. In his last three games, Kruger has three additional sacks and an interception.
Kruger will be lining up against rookie right tackle Kelvin Beachum most of the game and expose the young player. With the immobile Charlie Batch once again starting at quarterback, Kruger should be in the Steelers' backfield most of the game. Look for Kruger to force a turnover and have at least two sacks in a Ravens blowout win.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys MVP: Cowboys TE Jason Witten
The Eagles' defense is 14th in the NFL versus the pass. That defense cannot get much better after cutting its best pass rusher, defensive end Jason Babin. The entire Eagles team is in disarray and turmoil.
Jason Witten caught eight passes versus the Eagles' defense in the Cowboys' Week 10 win. In the past four games, Eagles linebackers and safeties have given up three scores to the opposing tight end. This statistic bodes well for Witten.
Witten has caught at least six passes in the last eight games and is easily quarterback Tony Romo’s most reliable target. Look for Witten to find the end zone and have double-digit receptions as the Cowboys win a huge NFC East matchup.
New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins MVP: Redskins QB Robert Griffin III
The Giants' pass defense ranks in the bottom portion of the NFL and is prime for the picking with a healthy Pierre Garcon back in action for the Redskins. The Giants give up an average of 252.6 yards a game through the air and 8.1 yards a completion.
Robert Griffin III produced 347 yards of total offense versus the Giants in their Week 7 matchup. Though the rookie quarterback was on the losing end, Griffin III showed he can be disruptive with his arm and legs.
Griffin III has thrown for eight touchdowns in the past two weeks, both wins for the Redskins. At home on Monday Night Football, look for the rookie quarterback to score a total of four more touchdowns as the Redskins even their record at 6-6.