NFL Week 13 Picks: Projecting Outcomes of Week's Marquee Matchups

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2013

9Oct 6, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) runs with the ball in front of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90)  during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The holiday season is upon us, which means the NFL pulls out all the stops in an attempt to give fans the best action possible.

Credit the NFL for this one—the Week 13 slate is littered with quality contests sure to entertain.

The festivities kick off on a special three-game Thursday slate featuring classic rivalries in one form or another. Regardless of playoff implications, the three are set to be highly entertaining given the teams involved.

Here's a look at the full slate of games followed by an in-depth look at the week's biggest matchups. Enjoy.

NFL Week 13 Predictions
Away Home Prediction
Green Bay PackersDetroit Lions*Lions
Oakland RaidersDallas Cowboys*Raiders
Pittsburgh SteelersBaltimore Ravens*Steelers
Jacksonville JaguarsCleveland BrownsJaguars
Tennessee TitansIndianapolis ColtsTitans
Chicago BearsMinnesota VikingsBears
Miami DolphinsNew York JetsDolphins
Arizona CardinalsPhiladelphia EaglesCardinals
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina PanthersPanthers
New England PatriotsHouston TexansPatriots
Atlanta FalconsBuffalo BillsBills
St. Louis RamsSan Francisco 49ers49ers
Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsBroncos
Cincinnati BengalsSan Diego ChargersBengals
New York GiantsWashington RedskinsGiants
New Orleans SaintsSeattle SeahawksSeahawks
*Thursday games. Chris Roling's predictions.

 

Detroit Lions Silence Green Bay Packers

There's nothing better than a holiday feast with a side of NFL action lined with playoff implications.

The NFC North was a complete bust last week, so the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears share a spot in first place (Detroit owns the tiebreaker). Green Bay sits just behind at 5-5-1 after a tie with two-win Minnesota in Week 12.

Regardless of whether or not Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns, Green Bay will encounter major issues going to Ford Field.

The saving grace for Green Bay in Week 5's 22-9 victory over Detroit was rookie back Eddie Lacy and his 99 rushing yards, which helped open things up for Rodgers and his 274 yards and one touchdown.

One problem—Lacy has been erratic at best in his last three games:

Eddie Lacy Last Three Games
ATTYDSAVGTD
vs. MIN251104.41
@ NYG14271.91
vs. PHI24733.00
ESPN

That's a bad sign for Green Bay. The Lions have a top-five rush defense that allows just 88 yards per game. Whether it's a just-returning Rodgers or someone else under center, the Lions defense will be able to do enough to pull out a close win.

Prediction: Lions 27, Packers 23

 

Oakland Raiders Stun Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys did much to improve their playoff hopes in Week 12 with a gritty win over the New York Giants to move to 6-5 and tied for first place in the NFC East.

The good vibes won't last long.

It's true the Cowboys are 4-1 at home this year. But a 4-7 Oakland team has nothing to lose, and new starting quarterback Matt McGloin has played well in recent weeks:

Matt McGloin Last Three Games
CMPATTYDSCMP%TDINT
vs. PHI7158746.700
@ HOU183219756.330
vs. TEN193226059.411
ESPN

Well enough to keep his job for the game Thursday per Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times:

That's a major problem for Dallas, a team that ranks near dead last defensively against both the run and pass. Oakland is a top-five rushing team that will easily find success as others have, which will open things up for the efficient McGloin.

This one has upset written all over it.

Prediction: Raiders 24, Cowboys 23

 

Pittsburgh Steelers Eliminate Baltimore Ravens

Both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens enter Thursday's contest fighting for both AFC North position and a playoff berth while tied for second in the division at 5-6.

The only difference between the two so far? Pittsburgh already defeated Baltimore once via a 19-16 victory in Week 7.

Expect more of the same in a physical battle.

Baltimore has lost four of its last six. Quarterback Joe Flacco has completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes this year and has thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions behind a horrible offensive line.

Nov 24, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) looks on during the game against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Ray Rice has not been much better. Whether it's due to injury or bad line play, Rice has been ineffective and averages just three yards per carry—exactly what he managed with just 45 yards in the Week 7 loss.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is one of the hottest teams in the NFL and rides a three-game win streak. The Steelers seem to have figured things out and are backed by a top-20 passing offense and defense.

In a defensive battle, expect Ben Roethlisberger (four touchdowns in two of his last four games) and the Steelers to pull out a close one.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Ravens 17