2011 NFL Week 13 Picks: Falcons-Texans a Virtual Coin Toss

Jake WestrichSenior Writer INovember 29, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Joel Dreessen #85 of the Houston Texans celebrates following a touchdown during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 27, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Game of the Week: Falcons at Texans

We may finally have an answer to the adage, "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?" Houston enters Week 13 with perhaps the most vaunted rushing attack in the league, flaunting the dynamic duo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate behind a robust offensive line. Opposing the Texans this Sunday will be the Atlanta Falcons, who boast a rush resistance that has suffocated and agitated adversaries throughout the fall. This clash of opposing ideologies serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.

With Foster and Tate serving as catalysts for the ground game, the Texans are second in the AFC in rushing, averaging 151.7 yards per game. Despite some injuries, as well as the delicate dance of distributing the workload between two elite rushers, the pair has combined for over 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

Yet Sunday should prove their greatest litmus test to date, as injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart have vaulted tenderfoot T.J. Yates into the starting signal caller role. The inexperience under center has put an even greater emphasis on the Houston backfield. With little help expected from Yates and the aerial attack, Foster and Tate will undoubtedly be up against a formidable Falcon front intent on impeding their routes.

The Texans are aided by the arrival of All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson, who made his first appearance last week since October 2. Johnson, along with Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter and Jacoby Jones, will try to keep the Falcons honest on D.

Atlanta can sympathize with the Texans, as they know a thing or two about injured receivers. The Falcons parade their own recently-returned wideout in Julio Jones, who has been hampered with a hamstring injury since October 16. Jones initially made his comeback in Week 9, but re-tweaked the issue against New Orleans in early November. The presence of Jones disallows opposing defenses from concentrating their efforts on Roddy White (64 receptions, 830 yards, four touchdowns) and Tony Gonzalez (59 catches, 630 yards, seven touchdowns), and helps open up the rushing lane for Michael Turner (948 yards, eight touchdowns).

As aforementioned, Atlanta sports an impermeable rush unit that is surrendering 83.5 yards per game, second-lowest in the NFL. The Falcons rank in the middle of the pack in points allowed (20.6), but have kept opponents under 20 points in four of their past five games.

The Texans are no slouch themselves on defense, as Houston's 16.3 points allowed per contest ranks first in the AFC thanks to their revamped secondary. The arrival of Johnathan Joseph has transformed the Texans from one of the most porous passing units in pigskin (a league-high 267.5 yards per game in 2010) to the other side of that spectrum, relinquishing 175.8 yards per outing.

So who wins this Week 13 encounter? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Texans come out on top 50.2 percent of the time by an average margin of 23-22. For the rest of this week's projections, check below:

NFL Week 13
Matchup Win% Avg Score
Indianapolis Colts 7.8 14 Boxscore
@ New England Patriots 92.2 35 Colts" target="_blank">Simulate Game
St. Louis Rams 20.8 13 Boxscore
@ San Francisco 49ers 79.2 24 Rams" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Cincinnati Bengals 29.2 17 Boxscore
@ Pittsburgh Steelers 70.8 24 Steelers&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Cincinnati+Bengals" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Denver Broncos 33.7 15 Boxscore
@ Minnesota Vikings 66.3 21 Vikings&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Denver+Broncos" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Detroit Lions 40.9 24 Boxscore
@ New Orleans Saints 59.1 27 Saints&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Detroit+Lions" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Kansas City Chiefs 48.1 21 Boxscore
@ Chicago Bears 51.9 23 Bears&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Kansas+City+Chiefs" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Atlanta Falcons 49.8 22 Boxscore
@ Houston Texans 50.2 23 Simulate Game
Carolina Panthers 56.2 25 Boxscore
@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 43.8 23 Panthers" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Oakland Raiders 59.1 20 Boxscore
@ Miami Dolphins 40.9 17 Raiders" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Tennessee Titans 62.1 22 Boxscore
@ Buffalo Bills 37.9 19 Titans" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Green Bay Packers 64.2 27 Boxscore
@ New York Giants 35.8 22 Packers" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Dallas Cowboys 66.9 27 Boxscore
@ Arizona Cardinals 33.1 20 Cardinals&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Dallas+Cowboys" target="_blank">Simulate Game
San Diego Chargers 66.9 24 Boxscore
@ Jacksonville Jaguars 33.1 18 Chargers" target="_blank">Simulate Game
New York Jets 73.5 26 Boxscore
@ Washington Redskins 26.5 18 Redskins&vSeason=2011&vTeam=New+York+Jets" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Philadelphia Eagles 75.1 27 Boxscore
@ Seattle Seahawks 24.9 18 Seahawks&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Philadelphia+Eagles" target="_blank">Simulate Game
Baltimore Ravens 80.4 24 Boxscore
@ Cleveland Browns 19.6 13 Browns&vSeason=2011&vTeam=Baltimore+Ravens" target="_blank">Simulate Game