2011 NFL Predictions: The Upsets of Week 13 That Will Affect the Playoff Race

Chris Faig@@ULuminaryCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Tony Romo #9 the Dallas Cowboys gets a play from head coach Jason Garrett, right, during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 30, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Cowboys 34-7. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

As we enter the most crucial weeks of the 2011-12 NFL season, the playoffs are right around the corner with many teams desperately fighting for their chance to reach the Super Bowl.  

While teams with high expectations have seemed to struggle in the first half of the season, such as the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, organizations like the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers have emerged as serious playoff contenders, and maybe even the Super Bowl.

With only five games left for each team, football fans are in for the most exciting weeks of the NFL season—a time when every team is playing their heart out in an attempt to reach the postseason.  

There are a few games this week that seem to be locks for the favorite at first glance, but once you take a deeper look, it is obvious that we are in for some thrilling upsets in Week 13. 

San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars 

Don't let Jacksonville's 3-8 record fool you.  Six of those losses were only by 10 points or less.  Sure, a loss is a loss, however the Jaguars have kept themselves in every game, at least earning the opportunity to win it at the end of the game.  

On Monday Night Football, Jacksonville will show up the San Diego Chargers and put on a show for their home crowd, beating Philip Rivers and Norv Turner in a nail-biter, by a score of 23-20.  Sure, San Diego's only 4-7, but this is still an upset because they were expected to do solid this season and they are still mathematically in the playoff race.

Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals

Dallas started off the season with a 3-4 record, but have since won their last four contests against the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins.  As they sit at the top of the NFC East, one game ahead of the New York Giants, this is the week the Cowboys choke.  

Dallas is a football team that tends to beat themselves from time to time, and this will be the case against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13.  Against an underrated Cardinals defense, Romo will find himself in a tough key situation late in the game.  

Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells need to have big performances for the Cardinals to grind out a win against the Dallas Cowboys.

Predicted Outcome: Dallas 27, Arizona 30 

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers

Jim Harbaugh has done an excellent job with the San Francisco 49ers in his first season as head coach.  With an impressive 9-2 record, the Niners will cruise to a NFC West Divisional Title, and should do some damage in the playoffs.  However, in Week 13 the Rams will look to beat out their division rivals after a devastating loss to the Arizona Cardinals last week.  

Steven Jackson hasn't been his usual self the past two games, but against the Niners you can expect at least one touchdown and over 100 yards rushing.  Despite facing the No. 1-ranked rushing defense, who only allows an average of 75.5 yards per game, Jackson will still have a big performance because he has proven to elevate his level of play when going up against better competition. 

Predicted Outcome: Rams 23, Niners 21