Week 13 of the NFL season features a few games on the schedule that will be very lopsided right from the start. So lopsided, in fact, that you can pretty much lock in your picks now without a second thought.
On Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions put a beatdown on the Green Bay Packers in a game that many figured to be close. The depleted Packers offense couldn't get anything going against the aggressive Lions defense, though, and Detroit cruised to a 40-10 victory.
It's hard to predict blowouts like that one, but the following three games will be blowouts. The disparity between the teams is simply too large to not result in a one-sided affair.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are the hottest team in the NFL. They haven't lost since October 6 and have defeated the likes of the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots in the process. Cam Newton has his team rolling into Week 13.
Mike Glennon has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing better than they were earlier in the season, but they still don't have the weapons to compete with Carolina's stout defense. Vincent Jackson will have difficulties getting open over the top of a fast secondary.
In an earlier meeting between the two teams this season, Carolina won 31-13. Expect more of the same this week.
The Panthers are quickly establishing themselves as a legitimate threat in the NFC, and the Buccaneers are just another team in their way. They've played tough games in the past three weeks, and this matchup comes at a perfect time on their schedule.
With two games against the New Orleans Saints remaining before the end of the season, the Panthers will be able to cruise to an easy win in this one.
Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Josh McCown has done well under center in Cutler's stead, and his ability to establish chemistry quickly with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery has worked to his benefit. Of course, it also helps that he has Matt Forte at his hip.
This game will be dominated by Forte. He'll be playing this week after hyper-extending his knee in Week 12 against the St. Louis Rams, reports Mark Potash of the Chicago-Sun Times, and the Bears will lean on him heavily.
Strong play from Forte will open up the passing game for McCown and his receivers. Forte makes an impact in the air as well, but play-action passes will give the Bears the opportunity to put up points quickly.
The Vikings won't be able to stop the Bears' big receivers, and their offense won't be able to keep up. The Bears need a win to keep pace with the Lions in the division, and they'll get one with ease.
New England Patriots at Houston Texans
This will be the blowout game of the week. The Houston Texans will prove to be an easy matchup for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Case Keenum has done well under center for Houston, but the team has still witnessed the same results under him as they had under Matt Schaub. The Texans are one of the NFL's biggest disappointments (in a season of many), and they'll continue their losing ways on Sunday.
The Texans are tops in the NFL in total defense, so it's shocking that they haven't been able to pick up more wins. Their defense is solid, but Brady will be able to pick it apart like other quarterbacks have done at times. Danny Amendola's ability to get open will have a big influence on this game, because utilizing a possession receiver against the Texans is the best way to pick up yards.
Look for New England running backs to see a ton of action late, as this one will be out of hand by the third quarter. Heck, Brady might not even be on the field for the final possessions of the fourth quarter.
This one will be no contest. Houston simply doesn't have what it takes to compete with New England.