NFL Week 13 Picks: Predicting the Winners on Thanksgiving Weekend

Alex Espinoza@AlexEspinozaIVCorrespondent IIINovember 28, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 20: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens tries to escape the rush of Lamar Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field on October 20, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Vincent Pugliese/Getty Images)
Vincent Pugliese/Getty Images

Bye weeks are a thing of the past with all 32 teams each spending a Sunday on the sidelines so far this season.

That means we will have full 16-game slates of action going forward, starting with this holiday weekend, as there are three Thanksgiving games set to take place around the league. The Detroit Lions will start off the festivities by hosting the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys will welcome the Oakland Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the nightcap.

Let's take a look at the full Week 13 schedule followed by analysis on three of the weekend's most intriguing matchups.

NFL Week 13 Picks
Green Bay PackersDetroit LionsLions
Oakland RaidersDallas CowboysCowboys
Pittsburgh SteelersBaltimore RavensRavens
Tennessee TitansIndianapolis ColtsTitans
Jacksonville JaguarsCleveland BrownsBrowns
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina PanthersPanthers
Chicago BearsMinnesota VikingsBears
New England PatriotsHouston TexansPatriots
Arizona CardinalsPhiladelphia EaglesEagles
Miami DolphinsNew York JetsDolphins
Atlanta FalconsBuffalo BillsBills
St. Louis RamsSan Francisco 49ers49ers
Cincinnati BengalsSan Diego ChargersBengals
Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsBroncos
New York GiantsWashington RedskinsGiants
New Orleans SaintsSeattle SeahawksSeahawks
Alex Espinoza's Picks

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-6)

There are six 5-6 teams currently tied for the final wild-card spot in the AFC, and these two divisional foes are among the clubs in the fray.

It's always interesting when the Steelers and Ravens meet, as evidenced by their Week 7 meeting in Pittsburgh. In that contest, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham knocked through a 42-yarder as time expired to give his team a 19-16 victory.

Pittsburgh has now won three straight and five of seven since getting off to a dismal 0-4 start to the year. Baltimore, meanwhile, is coming off of a 19-3 victory against the New York Jets but has lost four of its past six contests.

Heading into this game, the Steelers look like the hotter team behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

During the current three-game win streak, Big Ben has thrown for seven touchdowns and one interception while averaging 262.7 yards per game. His counterpart, Joe Flacco, has been inconsistent all season long since signing that big contract, as his 2,742 passing yards rank 14th in the league, to go along with his 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

But both of these franchises have defensive identities. Baltimore currently ranks seventh in points allowed per game (19.5), while Pittsburgh's "D" has buckled down since the rough start and now ranks 13th (23.3).

In last week's victory, the Ravens defense turned in its best performance of the year. While Ray Rice and Flacco might be concerning, this team looks poised to slow down Roethlisberger and the streaking Steelers.

Prediction: Ravens win, 17-14

Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) at San Diego Chargers (5-6)

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 17:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a  pass during the NFL game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 17, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Bengals have taken over the driver's seat of the AFC North behind a well-rounded team. Meanwhile, the Chargers have jumped right back into the playoff picture with a 41-38 win over a powerful Kansas City Chiefs team last week.

Second-year linebacker Vontaze Burfict has emerged as a major force for the Bengals defense, leading the NFL in tackles with 118. On the other side of the ball, receiver A.J. Green presents the biggest problems for San Diego's defense. Green ranks third in the NFL with 1,020 yards passing on 67 catches with six touchdowns and has been Andy Dalton's go-to guy on the perimeter.

Meanwhile, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers posted a solid game in last week's victory to add on to his resume for the Pro Bowl. He also made this noteworthy throw to Seyi Ajirotutu, as shared by the NFL's Twitter account:

For the year, Rivers now has 3,381 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions with a sterling completion percentage of 70.8.

While last week's win against the Chiefs was impressive, the Chargers have had trouble stringing together consecutive strong performances all year. The Bengals, who are feeling a lot healthier after their Week 12 bye, currently rank sixth in scoring defense (18.7 points per game) and will present a major problem to Rivers and Co.

Prediction: Bengals win, 28-17

Miami Dolphins (5-6) at New York Jets (5-6)

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 31:  Head coach Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins looks on from the sideline against the Cincinnati Bengals at Sun Life Stadium on October 31, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Much like the Steelers and Ravens, these two divisional foes will meet with identical 5-6 records trying to jockey for position in the muddled AFC playoff picture. Even though it's Week 13, this marks the first meeting between these two AFC East teams, as they will face each other in the season finale in Week 17.

The Jets followed a win-loss pattern to start the year, but last week's 19-3 drubbing at the hands of Baltimore served as the first time they've lost or won consecutive games all year.

For the Jets, much of the team's recent struggles have centered on quarterback Geno Smith. The rookie has struggled mightily in his past three contests, completing a combined 26.5 percent of his passes for an average of 115 yards per game while throwing five interceptions and no touchdowns.

Still, he has the confidence of his coach Rex Ryan, who recently made strong comments in support of Smith, via SportsCenter:

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have been able to move past the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito fiasco and play football. Miami has gone 2-2 in its past four contests after a four-game losing streak put an early damper on its playoff hopes.

With the Jets featuring the league's top rush defense (72.6 yards per game allowed), look for Ryan Tannehill to try to put the team on his back.

The Jets don't look to have much chance with Smith under center, and it's hard to see them finding rhythm against a defense like Miami, as the Dolphins rank 10th in points allowed per game (22.3).

Prediction: Dolphins win, 20-13


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