Week 13 of the NFL schedule features several high-profile matchups that will have major implications on the league's playoff picture as the season winds down.
With just five weeks of play remaining, it's time for those mid-level teams to make a run at the playoffs. There have been a few squads turning up their production of late—the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams come to mind—but whether or not they can even make a run at a wild-card spot will be determined by their record over the final weeks.
At this point in the season, it's hard to find a game that features two teams not fighting for their lives. Each game should be exciting in Week 13, but there are three in particular that stand out above the rest.
Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles
Don't look now, but the Cardinals are 7-4 and a legitimate team in the NFC West. They've won four in a row and are set to face the 6-5 Philadelphia Eagles. According to Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com, Philly has recently committed to Nick Foles as its starting quarterback.
Foles has been excellent on the season, tossing 16 touchdowns and no interceptions. You can make the case for Foles as the best quarterback from the NFC East this season, and that's saying something when the competition is Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Robert Griffin III.
Both teams need wins to keep pace in the NFC and their respective divisions. The Cardinals trail the Seattle Seahawks and are tied with the San Francisco 49ers while the Eagles need to keep pace with the Dallas Cowboys atop the division.
Needless to say, this game has major implications in the conference.
Arizona has a ton of momentum heading into this game. It's coming off a 40-11 destruction of the Indianapolis Colts, and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly knows it.
The hottest quarterback in the league (Foles) versus arguably the hottest team in the league will create some exciting football. With that said, Arizona is too hot and its defense is too strong right now to get taken down by Philadelphia.
Arizona wins this one 31-24.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
A rematch of Week 11's game, the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs are now both 9-2 and looking to grab the advantage in the AFC West. Denver technically holds that title now because of its victory over Kansas City.
The Chiefs have looked vulnerable in recent weeks. Following their loss against Denver, the Chiefs' dominant defense was picked apart by Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.
Surprisingly, the Chargers handed K.C. its second loss of the season.
Denver didn't have such a great Week 12 either, losing a heartbreaker in overtime against the New England Patriots. Peyton Manning looked horrible in the game, failing to get any chemistry going with his wide receivers. It also didn't help that Julius Thomas missed the game.
Denver won 27-17 in Week 11, but this game has a few more interesting storylines to monitor. Manning didn't look good at all against the Patriots—possibly because of the cold in Foxborough—but that shouldn't be a good enough excuse.
ESPN.com reports that the Chiefs defense will likely be without linebacker Justin Houston in Week 13 and his impact on the defense this season has been unbelievable. Without him, the Broncos will have a much easier go of things on offense.
Without Houston—and after watching last week's horrible display of defense against San Diego—the Chiefs won't win this game. They'll fall 31-17 to Denver.
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
The NFL's game of the week will take place on Monday Night Football and features two of the top teams in the NFC fighting for the top seed in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for the New Orleans Saints, this game will be played in Seattle.
The Seattle Seahawks haven't lost at home this season, as their lone loss came on October 6 in Indianapolis. While playing at home will certainly work to Seattle's advantage, the offense of the Saints will give the Seahawks' undefeated home record a run for its money.
The Seahawks also last played a quality team on October 17 when they faced the Cardinals, but that was before Arizona seemed legitimate. Actually, their game against the Colts was their last one against a team with a winning record.
Do you think they're up to the challenge in Week 13?
Look for Drew Brees and his plethora of weapons to attack the Seahawks' secondary early and often. With Brandon Browner facing a year-long suspension and Walter Thurmond facing a four-game suspension, Brees should have a good game facing a depleted unit.
New Orleans will snap Seattle's home winning streak, taking down Russell Wilson and the Seahawks 34-27.
|Green Bay Packers||17-31||Detroit Lions|
|Oakland Raiders||13-28||Dallas Cowboys|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||21-20||Baltimore Ravens|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||24-27||Cleveland Browns|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||24-31||Carolina Panthers|
|Chicago Bears||27-13||Minnesota Vikings|
|New England Patriots||38-14||Houston Texans|
|Tennessee Titans||21-24||Indianapolis Colts|
|Miami Dolphins||17-14||New York Jets|
|Arizona Cardinals||31-24||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Atlanta Falcons||21-13||Buffalo Bills|
|St. Louis Rams||24-34||San Francisco 49ers|
|Cincinnati Bengals||28-33||San Diego Chargers|
|Denver Broncos||31-17||Kansas City Chiefs|
|New York Giants||32-24||Washington Redskins|
|New Orleans Saints||34-27||Seattle Seahawks|