Week 13's slate of matchups is highlighted by an abundance of high-stakes showdowns with playoff implications, but not every game will be like splitting hairs.
There are a handful of favorites poised to roll this Thanksgiving weekend.
Without further ado, here's a complete breakdown of my picks for Week 13, including the three biggest locks this holiday weekend.
|Green Bay Packers (+5.5)||Detroit Lions|
|Dallas Cowboys (-8)||Oakland Raiders|
|Baltimore Ravens (-3)||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Indianapolis Colts (-4.5)||Tennessee Titans|
|Jacksonville Jaguars (+7)||Cleveland Browns|
|Carolina Panthers (-8.5)||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Chicago Bears (+1)||Minnesota Vikings|
|Arizona Cardinals (+3.5)||Philadelphia Eagles|
|New York Jets (-3)||Miami Dolphins|
|New England Patriots (-7)||Houston Texans|
|Buffalo Bills (-3.5)||Atlanta Falcons|
|San Francisco 49ers (-7.5)||St. Louis Rams|
|Denver Broncos (-3)||Kansas City Chiefs|
|San Diego Chargers (+1.5)||Cincinnati Bengals|
|New York Giants (+2.5)||Washington Redskins|
|Seattle Seahawks (-4.5)||New Orleans Saints|
Spread info according to VegasInsider.com
The Dallas Cowboys are set to earn their fifth win in seven games when they host the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving, just four days after overtaking the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East.
Oakland, which has lost three of four overall and four of its five road games in 2013, will be a massive underdog and for good reason. The Cowboys are 4-1 at home this season and are averaging 34.6 points per game at AT&T Stadium.
And with tough tests against Chicago and Green Bay upcoming, Dallas will be well aware of the significance of this game.
Look for the Cowboys' potent passing attack to overwhelm the Raiders' porous secondary, which ranks 25th against the pass coming into Thursday's game. Keep in mind that only six teams in the league have surrendered more touchdowns through the air than Oakland this season. That's important to note because only three teams have scored more touchdowns in the passing game than Dallas in 2013.
Winners of seven straight games, the Carolina Panthers are rolling at the moment. And although they are set to take on a hot opponent this weekend in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there'll be no stopping the Cardiac Cats in Week 13.
Who's your pick to win the NFC South?
Ron Rivera's defense has been playing lights out during Carolina's impressive streak and ranks tops in the NFL in scoring defense coming into the weekend.
Offensively, Cam Newton and company have found ways to execute in clutch situations. The Panthers attack is built on the strength of their top-10 running game, but when they need a big play, they go to Newton, who has thrown for 17 touchdowns this season and rushed for five more.
While Tampa Bay has won three in a row, the Bucs' victories have come against lackluster competition and only one team with a winning record. Plus, Greg Schiano's squad lost by 18 points the last time it lined up against the Panthers in Week 8.
Carolina's defense held Tampa Bay to under 300 total yards in that game and dominated time of possession en route to a comfortable win. Look for a similar result to unfold on Sunday.
New England Patriots
One week after coming from behind to slay one of the league's best teams in Week 12, the New England Patriots will head to Houston to face off against arguably the NFL's worst.
The Patriots are seven-point favorites on the road against the Texans this weekend, and it wouldn't be surprising if they covered the spread with ease. After all, Houston has lost nine in a row and is coming off of a jaw-dropping home loss to the Jaguars that saw the offense score just six points.
We suck...As an offense. That's pretty much it.
You’re not going to play perfect every single game, but I mean, it’s been bad, you know? They were booing us last week. They booed us before. I said it before, if we’re not putting good stuff on the field, we ain’t giving them nothing to cheer about. They booed. They should boo.
With Houston's offense lacking rhythm, confidence and everything else an offense needs to be successful, watch for Bill Belichick's defense to shutdown the Texans and set the tone for a Patriots blowout win. Having pulled within one game of the Broncos and Chiefs in the AFC playoff race, New England won't want to squander last week's effort with a poor performance on Sunday.
Offensively, the Pats have done an excellent job establishing the run and racking up yards in the passing game with short, quick throws to their playmakers.
But in the end, this matchup is more about two teams heading in opposite directions. New England is heating up and has plenty to play for, while Houston is crumbling right before our eyes.
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