Like a couple of weeks ago, there was no wrap-up for last week. Finals officially took over my life at the beginning of this week, so I didn't have the time to write one. Here's a very short version of what Week 13 provided us.
Michael Vick certainly had a big week. In the course of Philly's dismantling of the struggling Falcons, Vick rushed for a score and passed for another against his former team. The Eagles are on a nice roll right now and they've shed the "quick-strike offense" tag, as they have shown that they can put together a long drive.
The Titans are probably out of the playoff race now, but they fought valiantly to get back into contention. The mere thought of a team starting out 0-6 and almost getting back to .500 in a month-and-a-half is amazing.
The Pats have lost three out of their last four, but I wouldn't worry too much if I'm a New England fan. Two of those losses came on the road to the remaining undefeated teams (one of which they should have won) and they're still in the AFC East driver's seat.
They'll get in, but the secondary is still a cause for concern.
Speaking of a lackluster secondary, the Steelers are in trouble. Not only did they lose a home game, but it was in December and it was to the Raiders. Unacceptable. They have not been able to close out games all year—they've had a fourth quarter lead in five of their six losses—and now they're in a big hole. They can, however, still get in if they run the table.
On the winning side, Brad Gradkowski played very well in the fourth quarter. With late wins against the Bengals and the Steelers, the Oakland front office has to think about keeping him as the starter into next season.
Washington completely blew it against the Saints. They played extremely well up until the fourth quarter, when they imploded. New Orleans' offense is way too explosive to let them have as many chances as the 'Skins gave them. On the plus side, they've now played pretty well over the past month.
Christmas is coming up which means the Cowboys are checking out. Tony Romo actually played well (while Eli Manning didn't), but the defense and special teams gave up too many big plays. Looking at the rest of Dallas' schedule, they may have an extremely tough time finding two more wins, which may be what they need to win the NFC East.
Many fans have penciled in the Vikings and Saints into the NFC Championship Game. The Cards may have something to say about that. Like Philly, they've gotten on a roll and they know they can play with anyone. Arizona will be a very tough out when they get into the playoffs.
Top 12 Teams (last week's ranking)
- New Orleans Saints (1)
- Indianapolis Colts (2)
- Cincinnati Bengals (4)
- San Diego Chargers (5)
- Arizona Cardinals (7)
- Minnesota Vikings (3)
- Philadelphia Eagles (9)
- New England Patriots (6)
- Green Bay Packers (11)
- Dallas Cowboys (8)
- Denver Broncos (12)
- Miami Dolphins (NR)
Week 14 Picks
Last week's record: 10-6
Overall record: 126-66
Lock of the Week: 10-for-13
Pittsburgh (6-6) @ Cleveland (1-11): There's no way I can see the Steelers losing this game. Their backs are firmly against the wall and they can't lose anymore. The only game that the Browns have won saw their quarterback complete two passes, so if Pittsburgh losses this game, they don't deserve to get into the postseason.
Pittsburgh wins, 28-17
New Orleans (12-0) @ Atlanta (6-6): Matt Ryan probably won't play again and we saw last week the effect that can have on Atlanta's offense. It was pretty bad and if they can't keep up with the Saints, they will not beat them.
New Orleans wins, 36-13
Green Bay (8-4) @ Chicago (5-7): When Jay Cutler turns the ball over, the Bears lose. When he doesn't, they can play with anybody. Unfortunately for them, Green Bay's secondary is pretty good at taking the ball away. As long as the offense doesn't make silly mistakes, the Pack should roll.
Green Bay wins, 27-17
Denver (8-4) @ Indianapolis (12-0): The Broncos have found their running game again, but will it be enough? The Colts have owned Denver over the past few years and with the way each team is playing, that won't change this week. Indy has shown some chinks in the armor, but they're the better team.
Indy wins, 26-18
Buffalo (4-8) @ Kansas City (3-9): The Bills seemed to have found new life recently while the Chiefs have been destroyed two weeks in a row. The Bills will definitely not dominate, but they should do enough to get the road win.
Buffalo wins, 24-20
Cincinnati (9-3) @ Minnesota (10-2): Adrian Peterson will have a pretty tough time running against this very stout defense. That will put the game on Brett Favre's shoulders. If this were last year, Favre wouldn't be able to handle that. However, he has played much better this year and he has plenty of weapons. Expect them to rebound from last week's loss.
Minnesota wins, 26-20
Carolina (5-7) @ New England (7-5): This will not be close. That's not to say that the Panthers are a bad team or that the Pats are a great team, but New England will come out angry and end this game in the first half.
New England wins, 40-20 (Lock of the Week)
New York Jets (6-6) @ Tampa Bay (1-11): Kellen Clemens will start, but it shouldn't make much of a difference. The Bucs are pretty bad and although Clemens won't set the world on fire, he will do enough to not blow the game. Thomas Jones should have a big day on the ground.
New York Jets win, 21-13
Miami (6-6) @ Jacksonville (7-5): Although they have the better record, the Jags may need this just as much as the Dolphins do. Jacksonville is not as good as their record says and they don't have the ability to bounce back from these kinds of losses. Nonetheless, Miami is playing better and they need a win.
Miami wins, 20-17
Detroit (2-10) @ Baltimore (6-6): The Ravens have to clean up their play. They looked incredibly sloppy against the Packers and Joe Flacco is having trouble getting the ball to his receivers. However, Detroit is not capable of exploiting those weaknesses, so the Ravens should get a relatively easy win.
Baltimore wins, 23-14
Seattle (5-7) @ Houston (5-7): What has happened to the Texans? Two weeks ago, they were looking pretty good; now they are probably looking at another 8-8 season. With that said, they're still better than the improving Seahawks.
Houston wins, 28-20
St. Louis (1-11) @ Tennessee (5-7): This will be all about Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson. Chris Johnson had a rare off-game against Indy and he's on the better team, so the Titans win.
Tennessee wins, 30-16
Washington (3-9) @ Oakland (4-8): Both teams are playing a lot better than their records indicate. Washington has come painfully close in the past month to beating Dallas, Philly, and New Orleans. The Raiders got a great win last week, but the Redskins have shown that they are consistent.
Washington wins, 26-17
San Diego (9-3) @ Dallas (8-4): Philip Rivers has never lost in December while Tony Romo & Co. have always struggled during this month. Romo played very, very well last week, but it's no longer about the offense—it's all on the defense. They'll play better than they did last week, but the Chargers have too many weapons at their disposal.
San Diego wins, 30-26
Philadelphia (8-4) @ New York Giants (7-5): I'm not convinced that the Giants are back on track yet and they will have a lot of trouble keeping up with the team speed that Philly possesses (assuming that DeSean Jackson plays). The Eagles are hitting their stride and Big Blue will not slow them down.
Philly wins, 31-20
Arizona (8-4) @ San Francisco (5-7): The Niners are not a bad team, but they can't stay with the Cards. They caught them in Week One, but Arizona is playing extremely well right now and they will not lose a divisional game like this.
Arizona wins, 27-14