It’s the beginning of the last month of the season and teams are jockeying for playoff position.
Some games with big playoff implications include Philadelphia-Atlanta, Houston-Jacksonville, Dallas-New York Giants, Minnesota-Arizona, and Baltimore-Green Bay.
Here are my picks for week 13. Comment and tell me who you think will come out victorious and who you think is in good position to be playing in the playoffs.
NY Jets (5-6) at Buffalo (4-7)
They were able to pull out a sizable victory last week against all odds, overcoming an injury decimated front-line against a good pass rush and Ricky William’s 115 yards rushing. Still, there just isn’t much reason to buy much stock.
Buffalo’s porous run defense faces another top rusher this week in the Jet’s Thomas Jones.
Terrell Owens has been more effective the past couple of weeks, but he will face Darrelle Revis, who has been one of the top shutdown cornerbacks all season.
I’ll take the Jets to win this weekend.
Philadelphia (7-4) at Atlanta (6-5)
Atlanta’s pass defense is not very good, but they will catch a break this week. Not only is running back Brian Westbrook out because of injury, but it looks like Philadelphia’s top receiver, DeSean Jackson, will also miss the game because of the concussion he received last week.
Philadelphia has not looked very sharp the past four weeks, even though they have won two games in a row (against Washington and Chicago).
The Falcons are also 5-0 at home this season.
I’ll take Atlanta to win this game.
St. Louis (1-10) at Chicago (4-7)
The Bears are reeling, having lost four games in a row and six out of their last seven.
Jay Cutler leads the NFL in interceptions (20), but is tied for 12th in touchdowns (16).
St. Louis, however, is tied for 23rd in the league in interceptions (8), and they do not rush the quarterback very well, ranking 29th in the NFL in sacks (18). Also, only ten teams have given up more yards passing then they have (2,482). Add those facts to their ranked fifth worst rushing defense, and this should be a game where Chicago can make up for their mistakes and get back into the win column.
Detroit (2-9) at Cincinnati (8-3)
Detroit is 0-5 on the road and has given up the most points in the league (335), while only scoring more points than seven other teams in the league (193, 38 of which came against the Cleveland Browns).
Bengals will win.
Oakland (3-8) at Pittsburgh (6-5)
The Steelers are a better team when Ben Roethlisberger plays. But Dennis Dixon did a decent job in first first NFL start, minus the interception he threw in overtime. Dixon went 12-25 for 145 yards and a touchdown, and rushed three times for 27 yards and a touchdown before that crucial late-game interception. Still, not a terrible outing; there is some optimism there.
Pittsburgh has the benefit of playing this game at home, where they are 4-1. Also, since 2000, the Steelers are 28-11 in December.
A game against Oakland is the perfect opportunity for them to get back to their winning ways and make a last-second postseason push.
Tennessee (5-6) at Indianapolis (11-0)
Vince Young has won five games in a row since being inserted as the starting quarterback, which really must have Tennessee fans puzzled over why Jeff Fisher stuck with Kerry Collins for so long.
Chris Johnson is the league’s top running back right now. If Young can really use this season as a launching pad for the rest of his career, Tennessee has a very good core on offense to build around with Young, Johnson, and rookie receiver Kenny Britt.
If the Titans were home here, I would strongly consider them to be the first team to knock off the Colts. However, the game is in Indy, and the Colts have just been too strong all season.
The Colts have scored 80 more points and given up 105 fewer points than the Titans.
The Titans also only have two road wins in six games.
It should be an entertaining game, but I’m going to go with the team that has been great all year over the team that has been the flavor of the month.
I’ll pick the Colts to win.
Denver (7-4) at Kansas City (3-8)
Big win for the Broncos last week against the Giants.
Denver is also 2-1 in the division and 5-3 in the conference. Kansas City has losing records at home (1-4), in the division (1-3), and against the conference (2-5).
New England (7-4) at Miami (5-6)
The Patriots are vulnerable and have only one road victory this season (even then, that win came against Tampa Bay in London, so it’s not like the Buccaneers had home-field advantage really).
However, New England has not lost back-to-back games this season.
They also have two of the top five in receiving yards and the second most passing yards in the league, going up against one of the bottom-10 passing defenses.
New Orleans (11-0) at Washington (3-8)
This could be a trap game. New Orleans’ victory over the Patriots was huge, and they could let their guard down against a weak Redskins team.
What Washington does have is a good pass defense that could potentially keep leading passer Drew Brees in check.
However, their run defense is ranked 25th in the league, while the Saints have a top five rush offense and have scored the most rushing touchdowns (18) out of any team in the league.
Also, while the Saints have scored a league-high 407 points, the Redskins have only managed to score 170 points.
Washington will not be able to keep pace with New Orleans ground attack.
The Saints will win.
Tampa Bay (1-10) at Carolina (4-7)
Believe it or not, Tampa’s pass defense is in the top half of the league, and Jake Delhomme is tied for second in the NFL in interceptions thrown.
Their rush defense is nothing to brag about at all, and DeAngelo Williams is one of the best in the league.
Even so, Tampa’s offense has put up only 18 fewer points over the season and they actually have more passing yards than Carolina.
I will take the Buccaneers in an upset.
Houston (5-6) at Jacksonville (6-5)
Jacksonville was embarrassed last week against San Francisco. Yet Houston has lost three games in a row (although in fairness, two of those losses came to Indianapolis).
The Jaguars do get the job done at home however, with a 4-1 record in Jacksonville, and against the conference, with a 5-2 record against the AFC.
Houston, meanwhile, is a paltry 1-4 against the AFC South. Their rushing defense also ranks in the bottom half of the league and will be put to the test against Maurice Jones-Drew, one of the top rushers in the league this season.
San Diego (8-3) at Cleveland (1-10)
The Chargers have won six games in a row. The Browns have lost six games in a row.
The Chargers are 4-1 on the road. The Browns are 0-4 at home.
The Chargers are third in points scored in the NFL. The Browns are second worst in points scored in the NFL. Cleveland is also fifth in most point allowed in the league.
These two teams are like night and day.
Dallas (8-3) at NY Giants (6-5)
Eli Manning is 10th in the NFL in interceptions thrown and there is continuous debate over the health of his foot.
The Cowboys meanwhile have won six of their last seven games, and will come after Manning hard. Dallas is tied for seventh in sacks (28). Hurrying an injured and turnover prone quarterback will really hinder the Giants ability to get anything going.
Tony Romo hasn’t fared much better this season, however his team has pulled away from games victorious, while the Giants have been unable to make up for their quarterback’s mistakes and have lost five of their last six games.
I’ll take Dallas to win.
San Francisco (5-6) at Seattle (4-7)
While San Francisco has struggled at times this season, especially on offense, one arena where they dominate is against the NFC West. In the division the 49’ers are 3-0 and have outscored their opponents 78-26, including a 23-10 victory over Seattle in the two teams’ first meeting.
Seattle’s only two victories in the division have come against the Rams. In three meetings against the 49’ers and Cardinals, the Seahawks have lost by double digits.
San Francisco wins.
Minnesota (10-1) at Arizona (7-4)
Minnesota has been rolling this year. They are 8-0 against the NFC, and have scored more points than and given up fewer points than Arizona.
They are firing on all cylinders as Adrian Peterson is third in the chase for the rushing title, Sidney Rice is third in the league in reception yards, Jared Allen is second in the league in sacks, and Brett Favre has made himself an MVP candidate.
Arizona has gotten inconsistent performances from their running game, receivers Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston have been banged up since Week 1, and starting quarterback Kurt Warner is still questionable after suffering a concussion in Week 11.
Baltimore (6-5) at Green Bay (7-4)
Aaron Rodgers has been a star this season. He’s third in quarterback rating, fourth in touchdown passes thrown, eight in completion percentage, and fourth in passing yards. He has also thrown only five interceptions all season.
The Packers are also 4-2 at home, while the Ravens are 2-3 on the road.
What really benefits the Packers here is that their rush defense is extremely stingy. They have allowed only three rushing touchdowns all season and are fourth in rushing yards allowed.
Running back Ray Rice has been what makes the Ravens offense go, but he will have his hands full against such a strong rush defense.
I’ll take Green Bay to win.
Last week: 11-5
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