NFL Picks Week 13: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterNovember 26, 2013

NFL Picks Week 13: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    The final month of the NFL season is upon us, and the best team in the NFL might be the force named "parity," or the home-field advantage of elite teams. 

    Think about it: When it comes to the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs or any of the other elite teams in the NFL, do you really like them on the road against any of the others? When talking about the most important storylines over the last part of the season, who ends up with home-field advantage might be the biggest. 

    This week, we're thankful for a number of games with playoff implications—Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs and more! Thanksgiving has long become a football holiday, and the NFL has come through with a fantastic slate of games on Thursday. 

    Our experts will be picking all these and more just a few clicks ahead. Don't like our picks? Make yours in the comments section below!


    Michael Schottey: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Matt Bowen: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Mike Freeman: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Ty Schalter: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Matt Miller: National Lead NFL Draft Writer (Twitter)

    Erik Frenz: AFC East Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Andrea Hangst: AFC North Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Chris Hansen: AFC West Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Knox Bardeen: NFC South Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Brad Gagnon: NFC East Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Tyson Langland: NFC West Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Zach Kruse: NFC North Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

Expert Standings

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Name: Last Week; Overall

    Consensus: 5-8; 94-58 (62 Percent)

    Andrea Hangst: 5-9; 119-56

    Ty Schalter: 5-9; 111-64

    Matt Bowen: 7-7; 111-64

    Brad Gagnon: 8-6; 111-64

    Chris Hansen: 5-9; 109-66

    Tyson Langland: 7-7; 108-67

    Matt Miller: 7-7; 108-67

    Zach Kruse: 4-10; 107-68

    Erik Frenz: 8-6; 104-71

    Michael Schottey: 5-11; 101-74

    Mike Freeman: 6-8; 99-76

    Knox Bardeen: 4-10; 97-78

    To see how Bleacher Report's experts are faring against the best at other media outlets, check out Pickwatch.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, Thanksgiving Day

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    Tom Lynn/Getty Images
    GB at DET

    Final Verdict: The first game of Thanksgiving Day was a microcosm of the 2013 seasons of both the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.

    The Packers, playing without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, were unable to do anything on offense, managing only 40 yards of offense in the first half.

    The Lions, on the other hand, were able to do essentially anything they wanted, but early miscues (including a fumble that accounted for Green Bay's only touchdown) kept things close early one.

    They didn't stay that way, as the Lions rolled 40-10 in a game that wasn't even that close.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Lions (12-0)

    Schottey: Lions, 28-17

    The Lions are a in self-inflicted shambles right now, but the Packers are in even worse shape without Aaron Rodgers. The defense won't be able to stop the Lions on the ground or in the air, so the Packers' hope is more unforced errors by Detroit—which isn't exactly out of the question. 

    Miller: Lions, 24-20

    Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers offense won't be able to keep pace in what should be a Thanksgiving Day shootout. The Packers simply don't have anyone to stop Calvin Johnson.

    Frenz: Lions, 30-20

    Aaron Rodgers probably won't make it back for this game, which gives the Lions a decided advantage. Look for Reggie Bush to have a big day against a Packers defense that has yielded over 150 yards rushing in three of its past four games.


    Hansen: Lions, 30-20

    Matt Flynn played last week. That's all you really need to know about the Packers. Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers aren't a very good team. Even though the Lions aren't playing well, they should have enough juice to get past a suspect team.

    Kruse: Lions, 31-23

    The Packers needed five periods to settle a tie with the two-win Vikings at home. Playing on Thursday should be a boost for the Lions, as Green Bay is still beat up and preparing to play two quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers.

    Other Picks: Lions (Bowen, Schalter, Freeman, Hangst, Bardeen, Gagnon, Langland)

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys, Thanksgiving Day

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images
    OAK at DAL

    Final Verdict: Speaking of microcosms, Thursday afternoon's win over the Oakland Raiders is a frighteningly accurate look at the NFL's most Jekyll-and-Hyde team.

    Not a single expert here at Bleacher Report picked the Raiders. The consensus was that this was a game the Cowboys had to have if they want to win the NFC East.

    So of course the Cowboys spotted Oakland a 21-7 lead before reeling off three unanswered touchdowns and eventually prevailing 31-24.

    The win kept Dallas in a tie for first place in the division, but it raises more questions about the Cowboys as contenders in the NFC than it answers.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Cowboys (12-0)

    Bowen: Cowboys, 27-17

    Rookie Matt McGloin gets another start, but this game is all about Tony Romo. The Cowboys quarterback makes some plays versus the Raiders secondary to pick up the win on Turkey Day.

    Schalter: Cowboys, 24-20

    The Raiders are one of the toughest teams to figure out, but I can't see them outscoring the Cowboys.

    Hangst: Cowboys, 27-20

    The Raiders have a better offense with Matt McGloin under center, but this is a rookie quarterback on the road against the NFL's most iconic Thanksgiving team. That's a lot of pressure on a team that is still a work in progress. Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense thrive in moments like these. It could get interesting, but Dallas gets the win.

    Hansen: Cowboys, 27-20

    The deck is stacked against the Raiders, if we are being honest. The Raiders play on the road, on a short week, and with an undrafted rookie free agent starting at quarterback. Cowboys by a touchdown just feels right, which probably means they will lose.

    Gagnon: Cowboys, 27-17

    That Oakland offense doesn't really have the weapons to fully take advantage of the Cowboys' banged-up defense, which played pretty well in New York anyway. At home, the Cowboys should roll against a mediocre West Coast team traveling a pair of time zones on short rest.

    Other Picks: Cowboys (Schottey, Freeman, Miller, Frenz, Bardeen, Langland, Kruse)

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, Thanksgiving Day

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    PIT at BAL

    Final Verdict: Thursday night's tilt between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens featured everything you'd expect from a game featuring these heated rivals.

    Hard hitting. Bad blood. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin interfering with a kick return while watching the play unfold on the Jumbotron.

    OK, that last one was a little surprising.

    It was no surprise that the game came down to the end. A two-point conversion pass by Ben Roethlisberger that would have tied the game was incomplete, handing the Ravens a 22-20 victory that got the defending Super Bowl champs back into the playoff picture in the AFC.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Ravens (7-5)

    Bowen: Steelers, 19-16

    Can the Steelers defense limit the deep ball versus Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith? I think so. Look for Pittsburgh to grind out this win on Thursday night.

    Freeman: Steelers, 20-17

    My Super Bowl team is still alive because Big Ben suddenly has protection and that defense has awakened.

    Hangst: Ravens, 19-16

    The Ravens and Steelers are evenly matched this year—their offensive lines cannot run block, the pass protection has been shaky, and both defenses have been streaky. No wonder they are both 5-6 headed into this week's all-important showdown. While the momentum favors the Steelers, the home-field advantage favors the Ravens. The Ravens rarely lose at home and are clinging to the hope of defending their Super Bowl championship come January. This makes them the more dangerous team this week.

    Hansen: Ravens, 17-16

    The Ravens play better at home, and the Steelers are 2-4 on the road with wins over the Jets and Browns. It's a tough call, but it seems like a low-scoring affair to me with one team getting the win by less than a touchdown.

    Kruse: Ravens, 20-17

    There's no reason to expect the holiday nightcap to be any different than previous games in this rivalry. Defenses rule the day. Baltimore wins on a late drive from Joe Flacco.

    Other Picks: Ravens (Schottey, Schalter, Gagnon, Langland); Steelers (Miller, Frenz, Bardeen)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Cleveland Browns

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images
    JAX at CLE

    Final Verdict: Speaking of rock bottom, how about those Cleveland Browns?

    With Brandon Weeden (who has become the Freddy Krueger of NFL quarterbacks...he can't be killed) back under center, the Browns found a new low for this season in Week 13.

    That low came in the form of the two-win Jacksonville Jaguars, who left the shores of Lake Erie with their third victory of 2013 after downing Cleveland 32-28.

    Look at the bright side, Browns fans. With every Weeden start, Cleveland's first round pick in 2014 gets higher.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Browns (10-2)

    Schottey: Browns, 13-10

    Gut reaction here is that the Jaguars are trending upward while the Browns under Brandon Weeden have not been impressive. Yet this game is in Cleveland, and that Browns defense has plenty of teeth left.

    Freeman: Jaguars, 24-21

    The team is finally getting Maurice Jones-Drew in the mix. That will continue to happen.

    Miller: Jaguars, 20-10

    The Jaguars may actually be a favorite this week with Brandon Weeden coming to town as the opposing starting quarterback. Look for Gus Bradley's defense to tee off on Weeden and get at least one defensive score.

    Hangst: Browns, 21-10

    The Browns have a top-10 defense—one that can get to quarterbacks and stop the run with the best of them. Yards will be at a premium for the Jags this week, which gives the Browns the upper hand despite Brandon Weeden getting the start under center. A few well-timed connections with Josh Gordon and Cleveland should pick up its fifth win.

    Bardeen: Browns, 20-7

    Jacksonville may have won two of its last three games, but the Jaguars won’t be able to move on offense very well against Cleveland. The Browns will get back to winning ways after a tough six-game stretch.

    Other Picks: Browns (Bowen, Schalter, Frenz, Hansen, Gagnon, Langland, Kruse)

Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images
    TEN at IND

    Final Verdict: It appears the Indianapolis Colts have finally noticed something most folks saw a ways back.

    Trent Richardson isn't very good.
    Donald Brown drew the start at running back over the hugely disappointing Richardson in Sunday's AFC South matchup with the Tennessee Titans.

    Granted, Browns 54 yards on 14 carries is hardly eye-popping, but Brown's fourth-quarter score salted away a 22-14 win that all but sews up the South for the Colts.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Colts (9-3)

    Bowen: Colts, 20-17

    I would expect this game to look similar to the first matchup, with Andrew Luck and the Colts making enough plays in the fourth quarter to pick up the win.

    Schalter: Colts, 21-17

    The Colts are 7-4, but 3-3 in their last six games. One of those wins was a comeback over the Titans in Tennessee, though, and the Colts need this sweep to keep the Titans at bay in the AFC South race.

    Freeman: Colts, 17-16

    Normally, this would be an easy Colts win, but the team has been decimated with injuries. I still think Andrew Luck has enough to win.

    Miller: Titans, 20-17

    The Colts cannot sleep on the Titans, not with a slim two-game lead in the division. Now they must get back on track at home. The Titans will attack a Colts offensive line that has been terrible in pass protection as of late. And with young speed on offense, the Titans have the edge.

    Hangst: Titans, 23-17

    Who are the 2013 Colts? Are they the heirs apparent to the AFC South, or are they the team that has lost two of its last three and can no longer dig itself out of the first-half holes it keeps finding itself in? It seems like a rebound is in order, considering the Colts are hosting the division-rival Titans this week. But the Colts aren't a team worth trusting right now—an early lead will be all it takes for the Titans to defeat the offensively challenged Colts.  


    Other Picks: Colts (Schottey, Frenz, Hansen, Bardeen, Gagnon, Langland); Titans (Kruse)

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings

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    MIN at CHI

    Final Verdict: Despite being devastated by injuries on both sides of the ball, the Chicago Bears have been able to tread water in the NFC North to this point in the season.

    However, it's becoming impossible to tread water with Chicago's horrible run defense weighing the team down.

    It was that run defense that let the team down in Week 13. Despite over 350 passing yards from quarterback Josh McCown, and well over 200 receiving yards from wideout Alshon Jeffery, the Bears fell 23-20 in overtime to the lowly Minnesota Vikings.

    The 211 rushing yards that Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson racked up may have had something to do with it.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Bears (7-5)

    Schalter: Vikings, 28-24

    Minnesota's defense came alive against Matt Flynn (who played well) and the Packers. Josh McCown and the Bears seem to be falling apart. Minnesota at home.

    Frenz: Vikings, 30-27

    The NFC North is one of the most upside-down and tough-to-predict divisions in football, so the home team gets the advantage here. It's hard to imagine the Bears, with the league's worst run defense, having any success slowing down Adrian Peterson. The Vikings will likely lay out a conservative game plan for Christian Ponder, and even that should be enough to drop 30 on the Bears in a win.

    Bardeen: Bears, 24-20

    Chicago is going to throw the ball against Minnesota’s 29th-ranked pass defense; Adrian Peterson is going to have a field day against the Bears’ run defense. Who wins? I’ll take the better team (Chicago) in a domed environment, because it can use its strength to its advantage.

    Langland: Bears, 20-17

    Christian Ponder or Josh McCown: Who would you rather have under center if you needed to win a game? I’ll take McCown any day of the week, especially on Sunday.

    Kruse: Vikings, 27-20

    The Bears defense has allowed 985 rushing yards in the last five games alone. Lance Briggs won't be back. Expect Adrian Peterson to run wild.

    Other Picks: Bears (Schottey, Bowen, Freeman, Miller) ; Vikings (Hangst, Gagnon)

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
    MIA at NYJ

    Final Verdict: It's been quite the roller-coaster ride for New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith in 2013.

    Things have been rocky of late, and Sunday's 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins brought with it the hook for the youngster.

    After completing only four of 10 passes (well, five if you count the interception), Smith was pulled in favor of Matt Simms.

    Simms didn't fare any better, and at this point the rest of New York's season is as much about figuring out where they stand at quarterback as it is winning football games.

    The Dolphins, on the other hand, are in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race at 6-6. They may be a long shot, but the team deserves credit for not completely imploding amid all the distractions that have beset the team this year.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Dolphins (7-5)

    Schottey: Jets, 17-7

    I get that the Jets have looked poor the past couple of weeks (especially on offense), and they even broke up the whole alternating-wins-and-losses thing. Still, it's a good defense against a struggling Dolphins offense—with an awfully rough line. 

    Bowen: Dolphins, 24-16

    Can Geno Smith protect the ball? Can the Jets execute the offensive game plan? Too many questions for me. I'm taking the Dolphins.

    Freeman: Dolphins, 20-16

    Which Geno Smith shows up, the eight-turnover Smith or just the four-turnover one?

    Frenz: Dolphins, 20-14

    We don't know which Jets team will show up any given week, but we're starting to get a feel for which Geno Smith will show up. Most recently, it's been “Bad Geno,” with one touchdown and 10 interceptions in the past six games. The Dolphins have been erratic as well, but are 3-1 when their opponent has more than one turnover. With Smith averaging two turnovers per game on his own, the Dolphins should get more than a little help to pick up the win.

    Bardeen: Jets, 27-16

    This is going to be a battle of 5-6 teams that can’t catch the Patriots in the division but amazingly have playoff aspirations with a losing record. Miami can’t run—not that the Jets would allow it even if the Dolphins possessed a good rushing attack. But the story is different on the other side. The Dolphins can’t stop the run, and the Jets have the tools to do so. Chris Ivory could be a key if his injured ankle isn't an issue.

    Langland: Dolphins, 21-9

    The Jets and Dolphins are playing equally poor football right now, but no quarterback in the NFL is struggling more than Geno Smith. Can he have a bounce-back game at home, or will Miami force him into more crucial mistakes? Odds are he will make mistakes and turn the ball over a few times.

    Other Picks: Dolphins (Schalter, Gagnon, Kruse) ; Jets (Miller, Hangst, Hansen)

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
    AZ at PHI

    Final Verdict: Sunday's matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles was a game replete with surprises.

    It's surprising that 12 weeks into the 2013 season both these teams are very much in playoff contention. It's even more surprising that Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles entered Sunday's game with 16 touchdown passes against zero interceptions.

    Make that 19 touchdown passes against zero interceptions.

    The second-year pro completed 21-of-34 passes for 237 yards and three scores in staking the Eagles to a 24-7 lead, and Philly was unable to hang on for a 24-21 win that moved the team to 7-5.

    The experts were split right down the middle on this one, so we'll call it a push.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Pick'em (6-6)

    Schottey: Cardinals, 20-14

    I'm not saying the bottom drops out for Nick Foles, but I'd put money on this Cardinals defense forcing him to turn the ball over a couple of times. That's the difference. 

    Schalter: Cardinals, 33-24

    Bruce Arians finally has Carson Palmer executing the offense at a high level. This should be a shootout, but I like the Cardinals defense to get a few more stops.

    Miller: Eagles, 24-21

    In a game that features a tough, hard-nosed defense versus an uptempo, spread-out offense, the home team will win. Late-season football comes down to home-field advantage, who is healthiest and who has the better quarterback, and right now that's Philadelphia.

    Hangst: Eagles, 30-23

    The Cardinals may have the second-best record in the NFL's best division, but they've built it on good play at home. On the road, they are 2-3, and an outdoor game in chilly Philadelphia will be a major challenge. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles will have a challenge himself in outsmarting Arizona's defense, but Carson Palmer is the less trustworthy quarterback in this game.

    Gagnon: Eagles, 24-23

    Both defenses are playing really well, but the Eagles have the better quarterback and way more talent on offense. At home, they stay hot with a close victory.


    Other Picks: Cardinals (Bowen, Freeman, Bardeen, Cardinals) ; Eagles (Frenz, Hansen, Langland)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
    CAR at TB

    Final Verdict: If the Houston Texans are the NFL's coldest team, then there's little question that the Carolina Panthers are the league's hottest.

    With a Week 14 matchup looming with the division-leading Saints, the Panthers held up their end of the deal, cruising past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27-6 to notch their eighth straight win.

    Don't look now, but should the Saints fall at Seattle Monday night (a very real possibility), then next Sunday night's clash in the Superdome will feature two 9-3 teams battling for first place in the NFC South.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Panthers (10-2)

    Miller: Buccaneers, 21-20

    The Panthers can beat you with the run, the pass or with a suffocating defense. The Buccaneers have a ton of talent, though, and on paper are a good matchup to contain Cam Newton. And with Darrelle Revis, they can stop Steve Smith and frustrate the Panthers' passing game.

    Frenz: Panthers, 21-17

    If anyone's going to snap the Panthers' eight-game winning streak, it's probably not the Buccaneers, and it's probably not going to happen at Bank of America Stadium. Look for the Panthers to expose an undisciplined Buccaneers defense with a heavy dose of the read-option.

    Hansen: Panthers, 30-20

    The Panthers should dominate in all three phases of the game playing at home. Cam might be closer to average in this game, but Carolina's defense will sink the Bucs' winning streak and send them back to the bottom of the NFC.

    Bardeen: Panthers, 27-10

    The Buccaneers have a nice thing going for a change with three straight wins. But rookie Mike Glennon hasn’t faced a defense that can bring pain like Carolina, and Bobby Rainey won’t be effective running the football either. The Panthers will make this look easy.

    Gagnon: Buccaneers, 24-21

    Last week was supposed to be Carolina's trap game. Push it back one week. The Bucs have nothing to lose and know this Panthers team well. So they could have what it takes to edge them out on the road, especially if a young Carolina team is already starting to think about next week's huge matchup with New Orleans. 

    Other Picks: Panthers (Schottey, Bowen, Schalter, Freeman, Hangst, Langland, Kruse)

New England Patriots at Houston Texans

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images
    NE at HOU

    Final Verdict: Welcome to the Week 13 edition of "Losing in New and Creative Ways," starring the Houston Texans.

    When the Texans raced to a 17-7 halftime lead, there was some question that maybe, just maybe, Houston's long losing streak was about to come to an end.

    However, this is the 2013 Texans. No lead is safe.

    Sure enough, the Texans allowed 27 second-half points to the Pats, once again snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in a 34-31 final that was Houston's 10th straight loss.

    Every time you think they've hit rock bottom, Houston finds a new nadir.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Patriots (12-0)

    Schottey: Patriots, 31-16

    The Patriots are more vulnerable on the road, and the J.J. Watt effect scares me. But New England will turn this into a shootout, and the Texans won't be able to keep up. 

    Bowen: Patriots, 34-14

    Tom Brady should put up big numbers against a team that looks like it has packed it in for the season.

    Freeman: Patriots, 35-17

    From the Houston Chronicle's John McClain: The Texans' second-half scoring this season—4, 17, 0, 0, 3, 7, 6, 3, 7, 6, 3. That's 78 second-half points—35 in last nine games. Patriots roast them.

    Frenz: Patriots, 41-20

    The Texans are 4-13 since they came to Gillette Stadium on Monday Night Football in 2012, and even Andre Johnson said the Texans “suck” after their loss to the Jaguars. This might have “trap game” written all over it, with the Patriots coming off their emotional overtime win against the Broncos. But, more likely, Bill Belichick won't let his team come out as flat against the Texans as they did in the first half last week. 


    Langland: Patriots, 41-20

    Remember when pundits were picking the Houston Texans and New England Patriots to square off in the AFC Championship Game? That seems like such a long time ago. Since the preseason picks, the Patriots have easily become one of the best teams in the league (as usual), while the Texans are contending for the No. 1 overall pick next May.


    Other Picks: Patriots (Schalter, Miller, Hangst, Hansen, Bardeen, Gagnon, Kruse)

Atlanta Falcons at Buffalo Bills (in Toronto)

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
    ATL at BUF

    Final Verdict:
     For several years there have been rumblings that Bills annual game in Toronto is a precursor to the team eventually moving north of the border.

    If that's true, Toronto may want to reconsider.

    Despite the fact that the reeling Atlanta Falcons spotted the Bills 14 points in Week 13, the Bills found a way to lose yet again up Canada way, with a turnover on the first possession of overtime setting up a Matt Bryant field goal.

    The Falcons won 34-31, dropping the Bills to 1-5 in Toronto.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Bills (9-3)

    Schalter: Bills, 20-17

    Don't trust the Falcons to tie their shoes right now, let alone beat the Bills (technically, still alive for the playoffs!) on the road.

    Freeman: Bills, 28-24

    Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods are both back at practice this week. They overwhelm the hapless Falcons.

    Frenz: Bills, 17-10

    The Bills have more rush attempts than any other NFL team, which bodes well for their chances of exploiting the Falcons' porous front seven. Look for Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to crank up the heat on Matt Ryan, who has been under more duress than usual this season.

    Bardeen: Falcons, 24-21

    Finally, Falcons fans are going to see what running back Steven Jackson can bring to the table. Expect Atlanta to head to a dome in Toronto, take advantage of Buffalo’s porous run defense and do just enough through the air to make the offense move.

    Gagnon: Falcons, 27-24

    The Falcons hung with the Saints last week and are due for at least one more win this year. That should happen at what is essentially a neutral site in Toronto, where Atlanta gains a big edge at Rogers Centre.

    Other Picks: Bills (Schottey, Bowen, Miller, Hangst, Hansen, Langland); Falcons (Kruse)

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers

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    STL at SF

    Final Verdict: With the Arizona Cardinals right on their heels and the Seattle Seahawks pulling away, the San Francisco 49ers don't have much margin for error if they are going to become the first Super Bowl loser in two decades to make it back to the big game.

    That makes every game a big one, including Week 13's home tilt with the St. Louis Rams.

    The 49ers took care of business, winning 23-13 on the heels of a second straight strong showing through the air by quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

    The win keeps San Fran in the driver's seat for the NFC's sixth seed heading into next week's showdown with the Seahawks.


    B/R Consensus Pick: 49ers (8-4)

    Schottey: 49ers, 27-16

    I get that the Rams offense has been playing better than expected, but the 49ers defense is no joke. Rams make a game of it with a turnover or two, but the Niners D holds late. 

    Schalter: Rams, 23-14

    It's time to face facts: The 49ers have not been the contender we thought they'd be. The Rams will relish the chance to pull within one game of them.

    Freeman: 49ers, 28-24

    This is a brutal spot for the 49ers. Not a pick of great conviction because the Rams have suddenly become a fast, talented football team.

    Hansen: 49ers, 27-20

    The 49ers made a statement on Monday Night Football, and now they have to back it up. It's a home game against the Rams, which makes for an interesting division game. The Rams have just been too inconsistent to believe they will show up in San Francisco.

    Langland: 49ers, 24-21

    The Rams' run-heavy offense has fueled their offensive explosion amid their two-game win streak; the only problem is, they haven’t faced a defense like the 49ers. While Jeff Fisher’s club will make it a close game, the more talented of the two teams will prevail.

    Other Picks: 49ers (Bowen, Miller, Frenz, Hangst ; Rams (Bardeen, Gagnon, Kruse)

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
    DEN at KC

    Final Verdict: There's trouble barbecuing in Kansas City.

    Granted, there's no shame in losing to the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning, who became the fastest player to 4,000 yards in a season in NFL history during Sunday's 35-28 Broncos victory.

    However, a defense that carried the team during much of their nine-win streak to open the season squandered a 21-7 lead at home. During back-to-back home losses, that same defense has allowed 76 points.

    The Chiefs have now dropped three in a row, and while a trip to the playoffs is still likely a home playoff game is quickly becoming a longshot.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Broncos (9-3)

    Schottey: Chiefs, 20-13

    I took the Chiefs last time and am coming back for more. Arrowhead is a tough place to play, and one has to wonder about Manning in the cold weather after last week in Foxborough. 

    Bowen: Broncos, 30-20

    With the Chiefs' top pass-rushers battling injuries, Peyton Manning will control the tempo of this game. I'm picking the Broncos on the road.

    Miller: Chiefs, 21-20

    The second time around, the Chiefs will be in a better position to stop the Broncos wide receivers and get pressure on Peyton Manning. That said, this all hinges on getting Jamaal Charles very involved and healthy outside linebackers in Kansas City.

    Hansen: Broncos, 30-21

    Kansas City's secondary is playing poorly and has been since the pass rush disappeared. The Chiefs' slide will continue, as the pass rush won't magically get better with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali hurt (even if one of them is able to play).

    Kruse: Broncos, 33-21

    Kansas City hasn't played well on defense in a month. Unless the Chiefs offense can match Peyton Manning score for score, the Broncos will complete their sweep.

    Other Picks: Broncos (Schalter, Freeman, Frenz, Bardeen, Gagnon, Langland) ; Chiefs (Hangst)

Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images
    CIN at SD

    Final Verdict: Some football games are a thing of beauty, an athletic ballet of sorts.

    Sunday's game between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers was more like the NFL equivalent of Miley Cyrus twerking.

    Despite the fact that quarterback Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense came off their bye looking very sloppy and uneven, the Bengals were able to ride a solid defensive performance to a 17-10 win over the fading Chargers.

    The Bengals are 8-4, but does anyone really see Cincy as a Super Bowl contender?

    Sunday didn't help the perception that they are not.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Bengals (10-2)

    Schottey: Chargers, 21-20

    The Bengals are the more talented team, but the Chargers are good when they can keep games close. I think they pull it out at home against a Bengals team that has already dropped a few close games this season. 

    Freeman: Bengals, 38-35

    The Chargers seem to be turning everything into a shootout lately, and I'll take the Bengals in a shootout.

    Hangst: Bengals, 30-24

    The Bengals have only one weak link: quarterback Andy Dalton. But Dalton and his Bengals are coming off their bye week with a chance to restart their season and take out an AFC playoff hopeful at the same time. If Dalton can raise his performance back to simply "good" and the defense handles business as it has all season, there should be no issue on the road this week.

    Hansen: Bengals, 30-24

    San Diego's defense is pathetic; the cornerbacks are competing for jobs this week. The Bengals are a much more complete team and should be able to get the win by getting a few stops on defense. A.J. Green is going to go bananas.

    Kruse: Chargers, 27-21

    Always take the hot quarterback? Philip Rivers is returning home after torching the Chiefs for 392 yards and three scores in Kansas City.

    Other Picks: Bengals (Bowen, Schalter, Miller, Frenz, Bardeen, Gagnon, Langland)

New York Giants at Washington

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    Al Bello/Getty Images
    NYG at WAS

    Final Verdict: In a weekend filled with wacky finishes to football games, Sunday's finale didn't disappoint.

    With the Washington Redskins trailing by four with about a minute to play, an officiating snafu led to the Redskins thinking third down was first down.

    It wasn't, and a turnover on the next play left the Giants 21-17 winners and Mike Shanahan apocalyptically apoplectic on the sideline.


    B/R Consensus Pick: Giants (11-1)

    Bowen: Giants, 24-20

    I like the Giants on the road here. Too much up front on the defensive side of the ball for RG3 and Washington. 

    Schalter: Giants, 24-21

    I don't think the Giants are much better than their 4-7 record, but I don't think Washington can stop anybody right now.

    Hansen: Washington, 24-17

    Before Washington's performance on Monday night, this looked like a much closer matchup. The Giants' win streak was a fraud, so I'm going Washington because they are playing at home.

    Gagnon: Giants, 30-13

    Tom Coughlin won't let his team throw in the towel, whereas it looks as though Washington has already begun to do exactly that. On short rest, Washington falls again.

    Langland: Giants, 27-21

    Can the New York Giants rebound after a fourth-quarter loss to the Dallas Cowboys? Based on RG3’s level of play and the Washington Redskins' leaky defensive secondary, head coach Tom Coughlin and Co. should find their fifth win in six weeks.

    Other Picks: Giants (Schottey, Freeman, Miller, Frenz, Hanst, Hansen, Bardeen, Kruse)

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    B/R Consensus Pick: Seahawks (8-4)

    Schottey: Seahawks, 30-27

    The Seahawks are a team trending upward, with a fantastic home-field advantage. Their ability to win matchups at the line of scrimmage is going to win this one for them.

    Freeman: Seahawks, 28-20

    Outdoors. In Seattle. Brutal defense. Hardcore running game. This has "Seattle win" written all over it.

    Miller: Seahawks, 31-30

    Without Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond (both gone due to suspension), I'm tempted to pick the Saints to win this one. But playing outside in Seattle has its advantages. I can't bet against the 12th man.

    Frenz: Saints, 31-27

    The Seahawks' stingy defense makes it tough to bet against them, but the extra time for Sean Payton and Co. to prepare for this game could be the key. If the Saints can pack their improving run defense with them to the Northwest, Drew Brees should be able to win his quarterback duel with Russell Wilson.

    Bardeen: Seahawks, 30-20

    With their records, you’d believe this game might be one of the toughest to call all season. Nope—the Saints don’t travel well, and Seattle is a miserable place to be a road team. Take into account that Seattle should be able to exploit the New Orleans run defense and slow down Drew Brees, and you’ve got a double-digit win for Seattle over the NFC’s second-best team.

    Langland: Seahawks, 34-28

    The battle of the short quarterbacks will come down to which player turns the ball over less. Considering the Seahawks are at home in front of the 12th man, my bet is Wilson protects the ball better and Seattle outguns New Orleans.

    Other Picks: Seahawks (Schalter, Hangst, Hansen); Saints (Bowen, Gagnon, Kruse)

    Michael Schottey is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route and follow him on Twitter.