The hunt for the postseason has reached its final stretch. There are just six weeks remaining in the 2013 NFL regular season, and that has every franchise searching for one final surge to solidify their status as contenders.
The question is, which team will win the games with the most significant long-term impact?
|NFL Week 12 Predictions|
|Date||Road Team||Prediction||Home Team|
|Thursday, Nov. 21||New Orleans Saints||35-24||Atlanta Falcons|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Pittsburgh Steelers||23-17||Cleveland Browns|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16-28||Detroit Lions|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Minnesota Vikings||20-23||Green Bay Packers|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||San Diego Chargers||16-21||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Chicago Bears||17-13||St. Louis Rams|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Carolina Panthers||24-14||Miami Dolphins|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||New York Jets||21-20||Baltimore Ravens|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Jacksonville Jaguars||13-23||Houston Texans|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Tennessee Titans||17-20||Oakland Raiders|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Indianapolis Colts||20-24||Arizona Cardinals|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Dallas Cowboys||35-27||New York Giants|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Denver Broncos||34-30||New England Patriots|
|Monday, Nov. 18||San Francisco 49ers||26-17||Washington Redskins|
Indianapolis Colts (7-3) at Arizona Cardinals (6-4)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 24
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Prediction: 24-20, Cardinals
The Indianapolis Colts pulled out yet another improbable fourth-quarter comeback en route to a 30-27 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Arizona Cardinals overcame a slow start to earn a convincing 27-14 road win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Both teams are in the hunt for the postseason, and neither can afford to lose.
Arizona is now 6-4 with a Wild Card berth in sight. Unfortunately, five other NFC teams that aren't in possession of the division lead have at least five wins already, thus leaving no room for error as the season goes on.
Fortunately for Arizona, Carson Palmer is coming to life at the perfect time.
Indianapolis has a comfortable lead in the AFC South at 7-3, but that doesn't mean victories are meaningless from hereon out. The Colts are a banged up football team that finds ways to win, and the best way to build that type of momentum in the playoffs is to have home-field advantage.
It may be crowded at the top, but that doesn't mean Indy can't make some noise.
The key storyline in this one will be Bruce Arians going toe-to-toe with Chuck Pagano. The two split time as the head coach of the Colts in 2012, and their friendship will turn into a one-night rivalry in this game.
It's becoming increasingly more difficult to bet against Indianapolis, but Arizona needs this win.
Dallas Cowboys (5-5) at New York Giants (4-6)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 24
Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Prediction: 35-27, Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off of a bye week that was much-needed after falling 49-17 to the New Orleans Saints. The New York Giants are as hot as any team in football, but are still well below .500 entering the postseason stretch.
One way or another, this result will go a long way towards determining the outlook of the NFC East.
The Cowboys have been trading wins and losses throughout the 2013 regular season, which has all added up to a record of 5-5. The defense is banged up, and the Cowboys are still one-dimensional with their play-calling, but Tony Romo has led a monster passing attack.
Seeing as Dallas is coming off of a loss, the first 10 games suggest that the Cowboys will win to move to 6-5.
The Giants lost six games in a row to open up the season, but have since won four in a row. The odds of New York reaching the postseason are still slim, but a win over Dallas would create a slim margin between the Giants and division-leading Philadelphia Eagles.
As always seems to be the case, Dallas versus New York is a pivotal matchup.
The Giants may be streaking, but Dallas is coming off of a long bye week to work with its defense on what's gone wrong. Injuries hurt this team, but the bye comes at the perfect time for a team that has all of the talent to dominate meetings against foes.
Dallas will win a very good rivalry game.
Denver Broncos (9-1) at New England Patriots (7-2)
Date: Sunday, Nov. 24
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Prediction: 34-30, Broncos
The Denver Broncos and New England Patriots will continue the legendary rivalry between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning during Week 12. More significantly, it will feature two teams that are competing for home-field advantage in the AFC.
Who's ready for an instant classic?
Brady and the Patriots will play the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football to complete Week 11. It will be a test of New England's No. 30 run defense, but it should also put Brady and New England's improved running game under fire.
If the Patriots survive a trip to Carolina, then it will develop a significant amount of momentum entering this clash with the Broncos.
Denver is 9-1 after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs by a score of 27-17 during Week 11. The Broncos remain in a position to finish atop the AFC, but could also finish at second in the division and end up as the No. 5 seed.
That's an absurd thought, to say the least.
After watching Brady and the Patriots defeat the Broncos last season, I'm inclined to side with Manning and Denver this time around. The Broncos are playing at an extraordinary level on offense, and the Patriots' young receivers haven't yet proved capable of matching that production on a consistent basis.
It'll be an incredible game, but Denver will escape with the win.