Several playoff contenders have games that could wind up being big letdowns, but the Chicago Bears are one team that will avoid being upset this weekend.
All of the squads on this list have a couple of things in common. They are all from the NFC and all going on the road in Week 12.
Playoff contenders can often be caught off guard by spoilers. However, the teams on this list are all strong enough to not overlook any of their opponents.
Below is a full slate of games for Week 12, followed by a list of teams that won't suffer letdowns this week.
|2013 NFL Schedule-Week 12|
|11/21||8:25 p.m.||New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||Saints|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Detroit Lions||Lions|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||Packers|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Jacksonville Jaguars||Houston Texans||Texans|
|11/24||1 p.m.||San Diego Chargers||Kansas City Chiefs||Chiefs|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Carolina Panthers||Miami Dolphins||Panthers|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||Steelers|
|11/24||1 p.m.||Chicago Bears||St. Louis Rams||Bears|
|11/24||1 p.m.||New York Jets||Baltimore Ravens||Ravens|
|11/24||4:05 p.m.||Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||Titans|
|11/24||4:05 p.m.||Indianapolis Colts||Arizona Cardinals||Colts|
|11/24||4:25 p.m.||Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||Giants|
|11/24||8:30 p.m.||Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||Broncos|
|11/25||8:40 p.m.||San Francisco 49ers||Washington Redskins||49ers|
Carolina Panthers (at Miami Dolphins)
No team should be more cautious than the Carolina Panthers. They are for real, thanks to a dominant defense.
Carolina enters this game on a six-game winning streak. After knocking off bad teams at the beginning of the streak, no team has had more impressive victories over the last two games. The Panthers have knocked off the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots in back-to-back weeks, so they are looking like one of the best teams in the NFL right now.
During their winning streak, the Panthers have averaged 27.3 points and allowed only 12.8 points per game. They own the NFL's top scoring defense by allowing only 13.5 points per game. Their defense ranks fifth against the pass and third against the run, which puts them at third in total defense.
On paper, this is a mismatch. The Miami Dolphins rank 20th in passing and 24th in rushing. They have scored only 19.9 points per game and lost five of their last seven contests.
Miami has been struggling lately and Carolina is arguably the hottest team in the league. If the Panthers want to put themselves in position to make the playoffs, this is the type of game they have to win.
The Panthers defense will have a great day and the team will stretch its winning streak to seven.
New Orleans Saints (at Atlanta Falcons)
The New Orleans Saints have knocked off two contenders in a row, and now they will take on a division rival. Before the season, this looked like it was going to be a huge showdown. Atlanta has been hit hard by injuries and is 2-8. Despite the poor record, the Falcons have the firepower to score points.
New Orleans has become a good all-around team. It ranks second in passing yards and its defense is third against the pass. The Falcons can throw the ball but can't run it, so this matchup favors the road team.
These two squads met in Week 1 in the Superdome. Atlanta jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but Drew Brees couldn't be stopped. He threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns. The Saints made a strong stand at the goal line to deny the Falcons a win, which sent the two teams in different directions.
The Saints have lost their last two road games. However, those games were outdoors. Playing in the Georgia Dome won't stop Brees from throwing all over the 22nd-ranked pass defense.
Rookie wideout Kenny Stills had 86 yards in the opener, but struggled for the next few weeks. He has averaged 62.8 receiving yards per game in the last five, which is brought down by his 11-yard performance last week.
With Stills getting into a rhythm and Jimmy Graham on the same field, Brees will have plenty of prolific targets. New Orleans will find a way to avoid being upset by its division rival.
Chicago Bears (at St. Louis Rams)
If any team on this list has an excuse to lose this week, it's the Bears.
The Bears haven't missed a beat on offense with McCown leading the way. He has led them to 27.5 points per game, which has gotten the team two wins and two losses. However, in the team's lowest-scoring game during that stretch, a 21-19 loss to the Detroit Lions, McCown came on in relief of Cutler.
McCown has five touchdowns to zero interceptions in parts of four games this year and has a lot of talent to work with on offense. Receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both have over 800 yards and have combined for eight touchdowns on the season.
Running back Matt Forte continues to be solid. He has averaged 115.5 total yards over the last four games and has five touchdowns during that span.
Two weeks ago, the St. Louis Rams blew out the Indianapolis Colts by 30 on the road. They had a bye last week, so they have had some time to prepare.
The Bears have more talent on offense, both through the air and on the ground, so they will be able to defeat a tough Rams team.
All stats are courtesy of NFL.com.