Week 13: NFL Picks & Predictions
I pick 'em every week and have for years. This season, I’ve been doing most of my picks right here on bleacherreport.com and also over at my site sports-uncut.com.
Going into last week (12), I was a solid if unspectacular 114-46, good for a 72.5 percent accuracy rate.
Last season was my personal best of right at 80 percent. This year, I'm looking to improve upon that, but these 10-6 weeks are killing me, and I gotta get at least 11 wins this week! Maybe I should pick Denver, huh?
This week, there is only one game on Thursday, as opposed to last week when there were 3. Which leads me to mentioning that I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving with your families and friends!
I know I did, however, I do what I always say I won’t, and that’s over eat to the point of being miserable! Damn Pumpkin Pie……
Anyway, this week’s Thursday night game pits the New York Jets at Buffalo in what’s sure to be a barn burner…..
The good news is that there are some decent games this week, nothing really great, but some decent games aside from the dud on Thursday.
As always, I’m not picking the spread here folks; I’m picking the straight-up winner.
Record from Two Weeks Previous (11): 11-4
Record from Last Week (12): 10-6
Record coming into Week 13: 124 - 52 (70.4 percent)
Now that the records are out of the way, let's get right to it!
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills - Thursday Night Football
The New York Jets are looking to make it two in a row this week after getting by Carolina last week with little trouble.
Mark Sanchez was average, only throwing for 154 yards, and Thomas Jones was solid, posting 75 yards and a score. However, the biggest reason New York won that game was the play of their D.
They picked Jake Delhomme four times, including one by Darrelle Revis that he returned 67 yards for a TD.
Not to mention, they held DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, one of the most dangerous two-headed rushing attacks in the league, to a lowly 75 combined yards. The D was simply dominant last week.
This week, they take on a Buffalo team that has become a better team with Ryan Fitzpatrick under C, as he seems to make more plays that Edwards or anyone else they’ve had back there for a while.
Also, T.O. is coming back into form a little bit, and Fred Jackson looked pretty good last week, too.
But, realistically, this team still has defensive issues, especially against the run, ranking No. 32 overall….or dead last.
And that’s why I think you can expect a big day from the Jets’ running game. Both Thomas Jones and Shonn Green will have ample opportunities to do some damage.
VERDICT: The Jets go into Buffalo and get a win against the Bills in a close game.
St. Louis Rams @ Chicago Bears
The Bears can’t lose again, can they? At least not to the Rams, right?
I’m honestly not sure what to expect in this game. Jay Cutler is so erratically up and down, that it’s hard to figure out what he’s going to do.
Matt Forte looks like he almost forgets, week to week, how to run the offense he’s in and he struggles. The Bears O-Line is terrible, and the D is getting worse….
On the other side, the Rams are a team that seems to be improving little by little every week even when they lose.
However, last week was extremely evident that Marc Bulger being out is a huge blow to the team as a whole, even though Kyle Boller was decent.
The lone bright spot for the Rams, as usual, was Steven Jackson who posted 89 rushing yards, and 20+ receiving yards along with one score.
This game is going to come down to how either D plays I think. The Rams have the #22 ranked Passing D and the #28th ranked Rushing D, so Cutler and the Bears are going to have opportunities to score, it just depends on if they can convert them and NOT give the ball away.
The Bears have the No. 14 Passing D and No. 24 Run D, so, Steven Jackson is also going to have some opportunities to make plays, but will he be able to without a passing game? That’s the question.
In recent weeks he’s been better, however, he’s had the passing compliment to help him out.
Boller scares me probably as much as he does Spagnuolo, because he’s turnover prone (2 INT’s last week) and makes poor decisions. Which is why I think the Bears ultimately win this game.
S-Jax will have a decent day on the ground, and possibly even through the air on those little dump passes St. Louis runs so often, but the Rams I don’t think will score enough to beat Chicago. Especially if Cutler is having a good night, which is possible against that Rams D.
VERDICT: Jay Cutler is able to get some time and make some plays down the field and Matt Forte will have a decent day, too.
New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins
The Patriots had a tough night against the Saints and Drew Brees on Monday night, they were unable to get anything going offensively, and defensively, looked about as average as I’ve seen ANY Patriots D look.
I thought they’d compete after letting one slip away against Indy, however, they had no answers for the Saints, and were exposed like a weirdo in a trench coat.
Conversely, Miami is proving to be more and more of a “gimmick” type of a team. The loss of Ronnie Brown has hurt them badly, and it shows, because the Wildcat is not so wild right now. It’s kind of like Garfield without Ronnie Brown and a Lion with him.
Ricky Williams is a good RB, and can carry that team from that spot, but they have to use him in a way the exploits what he does best, and that’s just run. No gimmicks, no reads, no passing…just run.
They tried to make Ricky multi-dimensional, like Ronnie, last week against the Bills, and did not look good.
This week, I think they’ll get back to what works with Ricky and play power football, however, the Patriots are going to be a tough test.
Surely, they’re disappointed at their performance from Monday Night and will be looking to exact some revenge on the Dolphins.
The Pats will mix it up well against the Phins and will make it a long day for them and their D. Randy Moss is going to be heavily involved, which is bad for Miami as they don’t really have anyone to match up against him.
And, they’ll be facing 3 healthy, extremely different backs in Maroney, Faulk and Morris. Which leads me to believe that Miami’s No. 23 D will be exploited by Tom Brady.
VERDICT: I like the Dolphins a lot this year, however, Tom Brady and the Pats are going to come in mad and looking to put a hurtin’ on someone. Ouch for the Phins’…
Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons
Philly is going to have an easier go of it this week than they would have if Matt Ryan were getting the start. Instead, it’ll be Chris Redmon getting the nod trying to get the most out of the dynamic playmakers that the Falcons have.
The problem there is that Chris Redmon is about as average of a backup as there is in the NFL. He doesn’t do anything great, but does a lot of things okay.
Atlanta’s D is suspect right now too, ranking 23rd against the run and 27 against the pass. So, Donovan McNabb is probably licking his chops just waiting to get on the field with the Falcons D.
Even without the most fragile RB in the NFL, Brian Westbrook, they’ll still be able to make something happen as LeSean McCoy has started to settle in nicely with the Eagles, and they just inked Brent Celek to a six-year deal, so they’re in a good spot right now.
Maclin and Avant will be on display this week as DeSean Jackson is out with an injury, so Atlanta's DB's are going to have a rough day.
The Eagles have a Top 10 D in both rushing and passing, and I expect them to probably tee off a bit on Chris Redmon and the Michael Turner-less Falcons.
VERDICT: The Eagles get a relatively easy win at home against a Falcons team that doesn’t have it’s best RB in Mike Turner and is without its upcoming stud QB Matt Ryan.
New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins
New Orleans has officially become the single most dynamic offensive attack since that of the 2007 New England Patriots. Drew Brees is absolutely destroying his competition, and doing it quite easily.
From here on out, New Orleans doesn’t really face anyone that’s going to give them a real stiff challenge, save for maybe the Cowboys in Week 15.
However, that game is at the Superdome, so I expect it to be as ruckus as it was on Monday night against the Patriots.
The Saints go into Washington this week, and the Skins have the #1 passing D in the NFL right now, however, against Drew Brees and the Saints, it won’t really matter.
The Saints will use Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush (if they’re available) to open up the passing game, and once the Skins start creeping in to the line, Brees will go deep.
I don’t expect 371 yards and 5 TD’s this week, but, I do expect Brees to have a pretty good day.
VERDICT: New Orleans keeps on trucking and gets to 12-0.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
This is going to be a great game! I’m really excited to see how this one plays out!
The Titans, since the insertion of Vince Young into the lineup, have looked very, very good. Not just offensively either, but defensively as well.
Young’s presence has given this team a confidence that they didn’t have this season with Kerry Collins under center.
The Titans have completely changed, but maybe it was the fact that they were punked by their own coach when he rocked a Peyton Manning jersey?
That would inspire me….
The Colts are one of the most consistently good teams in the league, and every year, they’re always a force to be reckoned with. This year is no different and with a win against the Titans, will go to 12-0.
For me, it’s just too incredibly difficult to pick against the Colts, although, Chris Johnson and Vince Young could be the concoction that the Colts D can’t defend.
There’s a lot of speed and playmaking ability with those two, and will give the Colts some problems, especially outside the tackles, where those two flourish.
The Colts D is going to have to play their best game of the year so far in order to win this game. I think they’re up for the challenge, however, they have to be more than just “up”, they have to be ready.
To me, there are 2 MVP candidates in this game, Chris Johnson, who is on pace to go over 2000 yards this season, and Peyton Manning, who’s value to the Colts is immeasurable. Whoever performs better of these two will lead his team to victory.
VERDICT: I can’t pick against the Colts for the life of me, but, I think they could be shocked in this game. Watch closely, it’ll be a good one. I’m reluctantly picking Indy!
Oakland Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This one is a quick and easy one. The Raiders are still among the worst teams in the league. Shame too, because their D has some playmakers that could really take this team places.
Offensively, Oakland has a bright young TE in Zach Miller, who may be the next Gates/Clark if he could get a QB and some help.
He's been great the last two weeks, 140+ receiving and one TD, but, against the Curtain, it won't matter.
Pittsburgh lost to B-More without Ben under C. This week, as of the time of this writing, sounds like he’ll be back.
Oakland is in trouble…..
VERDICT: The Steelers get a pretty easy W at home.
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Ok, Ok, Ok…..so I picked the G-Men to beat the Broncos in convincing fashion last week, and that didn’t happen. Yeah, I was surprised. I though they’d beat Denver up. Regardless I was wrong. I admit it.
I still don’t believe that Denver is that good, though. That 7-4 record is a bit misleading to me, but, that’s for another debate down the road I guess.
This week, Denver goes into Kansas City, which on paper seems like an easy W, but then again, so did the Washington game….. I digress though.
Anyway, the matchup looks great, no doubt, but I’m not so sure I like it for Denver.
First of all, the Broncos, over their history, are 45-53 against the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s a sub .500 record. Now, I know the argument will be that “This team is a different team” or “Josh McDaniels has never coached there” but the fact is this.
Reeves’ team was a different team and he hadn’t coached there at one point either. Same situation with Phillips and Shanny.
Factor all of that with the fact that Kansas City has won 15 of the last 20 against Denver, and that they hold a 17-1 home record against the Broncos in the month of December makes me wary of this game.
Simply put, speaking from a historical standpoint, the Broncos don’t play well against the Kansas City Chiefs, in Kansas City.
All that said, I don’t know how the Broncos would lose this game. I really don’t.
The Chiefs have a really bad D, ranking 30th against the pass and 27th against the run, and an offense that’s among the worst in the league, statistically speaking.
Denver should dominate this game, and should do it in easy fashion, however, Pittsburgh was supposed to have as well…..and we see how that turned out.
Bottom line is this; K.C. is a tough place to play, and the Broncos have a losing record, so upset alert is high I this one.
VERDICT: K.C. makes it a game for a while, and the Denver takes over and eventually shuts them down. Denver wins…..but again, upset alert is high…
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
Carolina is coming off a game that they needed to win badly, and got no help at all from their QB.
Jake Delhomme was intercepted four times in that game, and really looked quite bad. The regression in his skill set over the last couple of years is staggering.
With his struggles, the offense has regressed too. DeAngelo Williams has looked very average this year, and his partner, J-Stew has looked average as well.
Some of the issues are related to the bad offensive line, and the fact that the defense has struggled so badly. But this week provides an opportunity for the Panthers to step up and get some redemption!
They get the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home, and Tampa is just what the Dr. ordered here. They rank 30th against the run and 11th against the pass, however, that number is a bit askew.
Any time there’s a discrepancy like that, you know that teams usually opt for the run, not that they’re that good against the pass.
Carolina will go both ways in this one and will run as much as they pass. I expect a balanced attack from the Panthers in this game.
Tampa has the ability to win, but, Josh Freeman has come back to earth after starting on fire, and the Buc running game has been average to bad all year.
VERDICT: This is going to be a game to avoid. It’ll be ugly, and it’ll be a Carolina W at home.
Detroit Lions @ Cincinnati Bengals
Detroit – bad team getting better, but not quick enough. No running game and a roller coaster like pass game = bad
Cincy – great running game, paired with a great D and superior O = good
VERDICT: Cincy wins pretty easily at home.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Houston is a team that is up and down and terribly inconsistent. Then again, so are the Jaguars. This should prove to be an entertaining game if both teams come out firing on all cylinders. If not, it could be quite sloppy.
Jacksonville does have the #10 ranked Rushing D, so Steve Slaton & Ryan Moats could have tough days on the ground, but occasionally there will be yards to be had. The reason is because Matt Schaub is going to have a nice matchup against that D.
The Jags currently rank 26th against the pass, and honestly, they have no one that can contain or matchup with Andre Johnson or Kevin Walter for that matter, so they could both be in for big days as well.
Houston is a decent defensive team, ranking 14th against the Pass and 22nd against the Run, which makes me believe that J-Ville is going to have to really mix it up in order to be effective.
It’s pretty likely that Mike Sims-Walker, the Jags best WR, will be neutralized by Dunta Robinson, so they’ll need contributions from everyone else.
Really though, I expect with Mario Williams, who’s perhaps the best pass rusher in the NFL, to completely dominate in this game and make it a long day for David Garrard.
I also expect the rest of Houston’s D to focus heavily on MJD and make the Jags beat them through the air. And with Robinson locking down Sims-Walker, I don’t know that they’ll be able to.
VERDICT: Houston gets a big win on the road, and stays in the hunt for the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns
San Diego is the best team in the AFC West, and, I’m not sure how close No. 2 actually is to them. The Chargers are hot right now, they’re getting healthy at the right time and Philip Rivers is playing like a man possessed right now.
Last week against the lowly Chiefs, who rank 30th against the pass he had a field day, throwing for 317 yards and 2 TD’s. This week, he gets another cream puff in my beloved Cleveland Browns, who actually hung with Cincy last week.
I expect Philip Rivers to have another big day, as he’s facing the No. 24 ranked Pass D and I don’t think this game will even be close. Cleveland is going to get beat, at home, again, and maybe this will be the final straw for Eric Mangini and his incompetence.
VERDICT: San Diego wins an easy one against the Browns in Cleveland and has a big day while doing it.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
The Dallas Cowboys have gotten better over the last couple of weeks, and last week, the ground game came back to life when Felix Jones and Marion Barber both had good days.
And, Tony Romo got Miles Austin and Roy Williams involved too, as the Cowboys got an easy win.
The Giants were simply terrible on Thursday Night by the Denver Broncos in Denver. It was pretty apparent that they were out of sync, and had no real rhythm at all.
Denver’s D is decent, but I think in that game, the lack of offensive execution on the Giants part was the largest glaring weakness.
Eli Manning could not connect with his WR’s and the Giant offensive line, who was widely believed to be the best in the NFL coming into this season, couldn’t open any holes for Brandon Jacobs to run in, nor could they protect Eli enough to allow him to do his job.
The Giants were terribly out of sync, and, they only ran the ball 14 times in that game. Not nearly enough to create any kind of a balanced attack.
I’m not sure where to go, so as usual, I defer to the matchups. The Giants have the 4th ranked Passing D and the 11th rank Run D and could prove to be a challenge for Dallas to get by.
The Cowboys have the ninth-ranked Rushing D and the 21st ranked Passing D, so Ware/Jacobs/Bradshaw could have a tough time as well.
All that said. This is a heated rivalry, and a lot of these numbers go out the window when you look at this game. I think the Giants can win this game, although, I think Dallas can too. It just depends on who’s executing in this game.
VERDICT: Tony Romo and the Cowboys get a big win at Giants Stadium because the G-men can’t seem to execute offensively, and Dallas will take away the run.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks are a team that on paper, should be beasts, however, they’re execution, or lack thereof this season has been a glaring weakness, and this week it doesn’t get any easier for them as they host the 49ers.
San Fran is a good team that seems to be slowly turning the corner and heading in the right direction.
Defensively, they rank fifth against the Run, and that sets up nicely for them this week, as Matt Hasselbeck seems to not be able to get anything going and the Seahawks' best offensive weapon right now is Justin Forsett.
Forsett will be neutralized this week, and the 49ers will put it on Matt Hasselbeck to win this game. Hasselbeck certainly has the talent to do that.
However, as of late, he’s been average to bad under center, throwing only 1 TD to 3 INT’s in the last 3 games while averaging just over 200 yards per game and only throwing for 102 against the #22 ranked pass D last week in St. Louis.
The Seahawks are struggling right now, and San Fran is improving, having won 2 of their last 3.
I expect Frank Gore to be heavily involved this week, probably more so than last week, as faces an average run D and a poor pass D, ranking 18th and 25th respectively.
Also, look for the freak, Vernon Davis, to be involved as well, as he seems to be Alex Smith’s safety blanket.
VERDICT: San Fran gets the win at Qwest Field and hand the Seahawks their third loss in their last four games.
Minnesota Vikings @ Arizona Cardinals - Sunday Night Football
Arizona looks to be without Kurt Warner again, and if that's the case, they're in deeper trouble than they'd be with him in there.
Minny is on a tear right now, and perhaps the biggest is reason is from the grey beard himself, Brett Favre. He's been clutch when they've needed him to be and he's really led this team nicely.
I don't think this game won't be close, especially since Arizona has no Warner, and the 29th ranked passing D.
Favre will have plenty of opportunities to beat them vertically, and will. Then guess what? A.P. pitches in and eats time off the clock while adding a score.
VERDICT: Minny gets a big win and continues toward capturing the NFC North Championship.
Baltimore Ravens @ Green Bay Packers - Monday Night Football
The Ravens and the Packers! This should prove to be a pretty entertaining game, and I think will be fairly close.
Both defenses can be beaten and both offenses can put up points in bunches, so it should end up being maybe the best game of the week.
In this game I think it’s going to come down to the turnovers. These defenses can take away the ball and can make you pay when they do, so which ever team plays the best in that regard will get the win in this one.
I think I give the edge to Green Bay here, as Aaron Rodgers has looked like an elite QB all year, and hasn’t been picked a whole lot.
Flacco is a good young QB, but, I think on Monday night, on the “Frozen Tundra” of Lambeau field, Aaron Rodgers will be the better of those 2 men, and will lead his team to victory.
VERDICT: Green Bay gets a big win at home, and stays in the playoff hunt.