Week 13 of the NFL season is upon us and it seems like just yesterday it was Week One. Everyone had high hopes for their teams and everyone was a Super Bowl contender. Then reality set in and many of the teams were knocked out of playoff contention. Now it is getting deep into the race for the playoffs and the picture is starting to get clearer. Here are a few things to expect in each game as far as Free Week 13 NFL Picks go.
The Mark Sanchez era has taken a few lumps lately, but the kid still has some game. Although the Bills run defense is awful, their pass defense actually is not bad. Expect the Jets to stay away from the pass and focus on Thomas Jones and the ground game. The outcome of the game will be determined by whether or not they can slow Thomas Jones down or if he runs wild.
This game is the first time that Matt Cassel and his former coach Josh McDaniels have played against each other. This offseason the two of them led to Jay Cutler being traded and the rest is history. The Chiefs had been playing much better until their blowout loss to the Chargers last weekend. They had only given up 23 points all year off of turnovers and they gave up 28 in that single game. When you do that, there is no chance of winning. This week, expect them to get the ball control back in order and take the Broncos down to the wire.
The Steelers have had a rough few weeks. They lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and then to the Ravens, both in overtime. Nothing will cure rough times like a game against the Oakland Raiders. Expect the Steelers to take control of this one early and take out their frustration from the last two weeks.
As Vegas says, this will be about as even of a game as you can get. The Texans are turning into underachievers which will put them in the same class as the Jags. The Texans seem to have all of the pieces in place to have a solid team, but they can’t seem to put it together. The Jags are an anomaly. Some weeks they are great and other weeks they are getting blown out by the Seahawks. These are two teams that both go from one extreme to the other. Expect a very close game in this one.
The Colts are still in pursuit of a perfect season after a very close call against the Texans last week. This one has all the makings of another tightly contested game. Vince Young is back in a big way and he has, led the Titans to five straight wins. After a last-second 99-yard drive to beat the Cardinals, he is starting to find some believers again.
The Philadelphia Eagles are starting to get things together as a team. However, they might be without their star receiver DeSean Jackson this week as he suffered a concussion last game. He is usually good for at least one long touchdown per game and his loss will hurt. The Falcons came dangerously close to losing to the Bucs last weekend but somehow pulled it out. This week, the competition gets a little tougher.
The Bengals are hoping to have Cedric Benson back this week as he has been out the last few weeks with an injury. New backup Larry Johnson managed to put up 100 yards in relief last week, but they would like to get Benson back and going before the playoff push. This week they should not have much of a challenge regardless of who is running the ball. Expect the Lions to score a couple touchdowns through the air and it still won’t be enough to win.
Did you see the Monday Night game last week against the Patriots? Wow! If the Saints play like that every game, there is no one that can challenge them. As of now, they have to be the front-runners to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. This week they get a non-Patriot-like Redskins team. Will they suffer a letdown? The Redskins have been playing a little better but they will definitely have their hands full this week.
Both of these teams have struggled a bit this year. However, the Panthers are still farther along than the Bucs. Tampa Bay has been playing better lately but they still can’t seem to translate it into wins yet. If the Panthers can stop turning the ball over like they did last week, this one should be a win for them.
St. Louis vs. Chicago (Chicago -9)
This is a matchup between two bad teams. Jay Cutler has mastered the art of the interception this year and pretty much stops their momentum whenever they get going. The Rams can’t keep any of their guys on the field except Stephen Jackson and he is playing hurt. Expect a lot of inept football to be played in this one.
San Diego vs. Cleveland (San Diego -13)
San Diego is on a hot streak and has won six in a row. The Browns are arguably the worst team in football. Look for the Chargers to put up a big number this week. You do the math.
San Francisco vs. Seattle (No Line)
This should obviously be another close one. The Niners are probably the better overall team at this point, but they have underachieved so far this year. Expect a back and forth game that goes down to the wire in this one.
Dallas is the favorite in this one but it is always a good game when these two rivals get together. The Cowboys are leading the division and the Giants are trying to get back in the playoff picture. Expect fireworks to ensue.
New England vs. Miami (New England -6)
The Patriots are coming off of a beat down of epic proportions last week. They were put in their place and their dynasty looks like it might be coming to a close. They can still beat the Dolphins but it will be close.
Arizona vs. Minnesota (Minnesota -4.5)
The Vikings have only lost one time this season and are on a roll. The Cardinals really need Kurt Warner to play if they are going to have a shot at this one. Kurt Warner will be a game time decision but you can expect him to play.
Baltimore vs. Green Bay (Green Bay -3)
The Packers are a pretty balanced team with one glaring weakness at the offensive line. The Ravens are also very good all around and this one should be a classic Monday Night matchup.
Check out Vernon Croy's Week 13 NFL Picks for Sunday, Dec. 6.