NFL Week 13 Predictions

Week 12 was a critical week; it separated fake contenders from the real contenders, and gave us several exciting finishes. Week 13 will give us an even better understanding of the playoff picture, with several games between teams with playoff aspirations. So, without further adieu, let’s predict Week 13.

Saints (10-1) at Cowboys (6-5) TNF

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The Cowboys looked like a completely different team since the acquisition of Amari Cooper, and now with possession of first place, they look to be just getting started. They’ll look to keep rolling at home against the Saints on Thursday Night Football. The acquisition of Cooper will play a big role in this game; the Saints have the 30th ranked pass offense and are vulnerable to weapons on the perimeter like Cooper. New Orleans won’t be able to fixate just on Cooper; Ezekiel Elliot will do damage as a runner or a receiver the second the attention goes away from him. Furthermore, with so many playmakers on defense to go along with the fact that they are strong against the pass and are allowing just 19.4 points per game, the Cowboys defense will be able to stop the Saints offense just enough to allow their offense to have a field day with this weak defense. The Cowboys pick up a big primetime win, and will continue to take complete control of the NFC East as a result. Prediction: Saints 27 Cowboys 31

Panthers (6-5) at Buccaneers (4-7)

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In a NFC South matchup, the Buccaneers have a chance to spoil the Panthers’ season by beating them at home this week. Jameis Winston is coming off a strong game in which he had a 117.4 passer rating, and he’ll be looking to do something he has struggled to do since being the first overall pick in the 2015 draft- performing well in back to back games. The Panthers, on the other hand, has lost three straight despite Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey consistently producing at an extremely high level. They have lost by four total points in their last two games, as they’ve struggled to close out games. This week, however, they won’t have to worry about being in a close game. These two teams may be just two games apart as far as their record, but the talent difference between them are astronomical. Carolina’s offense behind Newton and McCaffrey has been stellar all season, and they put up 31 points against Tampa’s awful defense with ease the last time these two met in Week 9 at Carolina. On the other side of the ball, the Panthers defense is at their best when they can force turnovers, and they’ll have a chance to force plenty of them when facing Winston, who has more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (10). The Panthers dominated the Bucs in the last meeting, and this game should have a very similar result. Prediction: Panthers 27 Bucs 16

Bears (8-3) at Giants (3-8)

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The Bears are rolling. Chicago has won five straight, and now has a clear path to a first round bye. All they need to do is to keep winning, and they’re facing the perfect opponent to do so; they’ll take on the 3-8 Giants. For the second week in a row, the Bears will need Chase Daniel to replace the injured Mitchell Trubisky under center. There shouldn’t be any concern on Daniel’s abilities to lead Chicago to a win, especially considering he just threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Bears to a 23-16 Thanksgiving win against the Lions. The running game has struggled in recent weeks, but they have a chance to get back on track facing the 26th ranked rush defense. Chicago’s defense has produced all season long, especially in the sacks department. Luckily for them, the Giants have allowed the third most sacks this season, so Khalil Mack and company has a great chance to feast on that offensive line all game long. With pressure in his face all game long, Eli Manning doesn’t have a chance to even try to connect with his star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard down the field. This looks to be a complete mismatch on both sides of the ball, so no one should be surprised by the likely result- a Bears win by at least two scores. Prediction: Bears 30 Giants 21

Bills (4-7) at Dolphins (5-6)

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Every week, there tends to be at least one game that is tough to pick for all the wrong reasons, mainly that it is impossible to trust either way. That is the case here when the Bills travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins. Both of these AFC East teams are non-contenders with several flaws. The Bills have struggled to put up points all season, while the Dolphins haven’t been consistent on either side of the ball. So what do you do when you have to predict a winner? You pick the team with the better defense who does the little things better. Buffalo’s defense ranks second in the league in yards allowed per game, and allow the fewest yards per game. Miami’s offense lacks any sort of rhythm or talent to take on this defense, and they’ll have trouble moving the ball against them. While the Bills offense has been awful all season, there a couple of key things that they do better than the Dolphins: they are better in the red zone and are have a much higher average time of possession. In what should be a close game, but aspects matter. Coming away with a field goal compared to a touchdown in the red zone could be the deciding factor in who loses this game, so the Bills are in a great position there. Winning the time of possesion is crucial for obvious reasons: being able to run more plays, keeping the opposing offense on the sideline, and setting yourselves up to have the ball last. Facing off against the 29th ranked rush defense, LeSean McCoy and the running game will flourish, which will allow Buffalo to indeed win the time of possesion battle and will also them to not have to rely on rookie Josh Allen to make too many big plays with his arm. Running the football and winning boring, low scoring affairs is how the Bills are built to play, and that’s exactly what will happen this week. Prediction: Bills 20 Dolphins 17

Colts (6-5) at Jaguars (3-8)

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Could the Blake Bortles era be over in Jacksonville? After a 7th straight loss, the Jaguars have benched Bortles in favor of Cody Kessler. Kessler, a 2016 third round pick, is 0-8 was a starter in his two-year tenure with the Browns, and will look to turn his career and the Jaguars around this weekend. As much as Jaguars fans want to believe Bortles was their only issue, it isn’t. Jacksonville is a total mess right now, as they have had trouble protecting their quarterback and will be without running back Leonard Fournette, who is suspended for one game for his involvement in an altercation in last week’s game with Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson. On defense, the Jags are no longer the potent force they were last year, and constantly shoot themselves in the foot with costly penalties and undisciplined play all around. To make matters even worse, star corner Jalen Ramsey likely won’t be able to play in this game due to a knee injury. As they sink, the Colts continue to surge. Indianapolis has won five straight behind Andrew Luck’s stellar performance and an improving defense. The last time these two teams met, Luck shredded the secondary for 285 passing yards and three touchdowns, and that was with Ramsey. There is no way that Kessler is going to be able to keep up with Luck, and the score will reflect that. Indianapolis keeps rolling, as the Jaguars position themselves for a potential top five pick. Prediction: Colts 26 Jags 20

Browns (4-6-1) at Texans (8-3)

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In a matchup between two of the game’s best young quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield and the Browns and Deshaun Watson and the Texans will face off in Houston, hoping to extend their respective win streaks. Houston has won eight straight since starting 0-3, and have put themselves in position to possibly secure a first round bye. Cleveland has only won two straight, but they won their first road game in 25 games last week and won back to back games for the first time since 2014. Still, the Texans are the significantly better and the records of these two teams prove it. Houston has a dynamic rushing attack behind Lamar Miller, who is coming off of a 162 yard performance last weeks. He’ll keep rolling this week; the Browns have just the 28th ranked rush defense. While Mayfield and the offense looks significantly better under new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens in the three games since he took over, that was against three of the league’s five worst defenses (Chiefs, Falcons, Bengals). On the road against a talented defense, Mayfield, who we have to remember is still a rookie, may struggle. If he struggles just a little out of the gate, the Browns have close to zero chance of winning this game. The Texans may just be a Super Bowl contender, while the Browns are still not even playoff contenders yet. It’s hard to imagine Cleveland going on the road and winning this game, and it’s far more likely Watson and the Texans hold their own at home and defeat an inferior opponent. Prediction: Browns 23 Texans 30

Cardinals (2-9) at Packers (4-6-1)

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The last time the Cardinals and Packers faced off, it was in the 2015 divisional round, where the Cardinals won in overtime in a game for the ages that included a hail mary from Aaron Rodgers and heroics from Larry Fitzgerald. A lot has changed since then; both teams will not be making the playoffs this season. Although neither team is a playoff contender anymore, the Packers are still light years better the Cardinals. Arizona, who is in position to get the number one pick, ranks dead last in passing yards, rushing yards, and points per game. That’s such awful production, that it’s almost impressive that a team can be so bad, especially in a league that favors offense. The Packers offense, on the other hand, still has one of the league’s best players in Rodgers and dynamic weapons in receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones. While Adams may struggle to put up his usual numbers against star corner Patrick Peterson, Jones will have no trouble dominating against the league’s third worst rush defense. With Jones rolling to go along with the fact that Rodgers is still Rodgers, Green Bay will have no trouble putting up enough points for Arizona’s putrid offense to even come close to matching them. This game will definitely not be very close; there is zero chance a rookie quarterback in Josh Rosen goes into Lambeau with that offense and outduels a future hall of famer in Rodgers. Prediction: Cardinals 14 Packers 26

Rams (10-1) at Lions (4-7)

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After the Saints lost on Thursday Night, the Rams have a chance to take complete control of the number one seed in the NFC. They will almost certainly take advantage of that opportunity: all they have to do is beat an inconsistent Lions team that is without their top two offensive playmakers in running back Kerryon Johnson and receiver Marvin Jones. With receiver Kenny Golladay being Detroit’s only weapon for Matt Stafford, the Lions won’t be able to exploit the Rams defense that is average at best. That’s a problem; Los Angeles has arguably the best offense in the league and will be able to exploit’s Detroit’s weaknesses. Those weaknesses are the opposite corner of Darius Slay (Teez Tabor has struggled this season) and an inconsistent rush defense. With the league’s 5th ranked pass offense with several threats at receiver and tight end and the league’s 2nd ranked rush defense led by Todd Gurley, the Lions won’t have a chance at stopping the Rams with their many defensive flaws. Even if the Lions score a garbage time touchdown or two (Stafford’s specialty), this game has the chance to be decided by three scores, if not by more. Prediction: Rams 31 Lions 19

Broncos (5-6) at Bengals (5-6)

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With Andy Dalton out for the rest of the season with a thumb injury, the Bengals will have to turn to backup Jeff Driskel under center. He’s done well in mop up duty this season (92.2 QB rating), but he’ll have a tough task in trying to lead Cincinatti to a win against the Broncos. Denver has won two straight games (at Chargers, vs Steelers), and has a good chance to earn a wildcard spot with an easy schedule coming up. They’ve defeated two legends in Phillip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, so don’t expect Driskel to come to the rescue in this game. The Broncos defense has been suspect, but they have done a terrific job of forcing turnovers and getting pressure on the quarterback. The main problem for the Bengals is on the other side of the ball; their defense is awful and will struggle against Denver’s improving offense. With the tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, the Broncos own a top 10 rushing offense, one that did damage against the Steelers’ seemingly stout rush defense. If they could do it to the Steelers, there’s no doubt they’ll be able to match that production against Cincinatti, who ranks 31st in stopping the run. The Bengals also have the 31st ranked pass defense, so Case Keenum will be able to get into a groove and won’t have to force passes that end up turning into turnovers, his main issue this season. When Keenum and the offense is rolling, this Broncos team is dangerous. They’ll come out on top in Cincinatti this week as a result of that. Prediction: Broncos 27 Bengals 21

Ravens (6-5) at Falcons (4-7)

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In a matchup between new and old, rookie Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will look to continue to put themselves in position to make the playoffs against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Jackson is 2-0 as a starter, but those wins came against the falling Bengals and the Raiders at home. This will be his toughest test yet; this will be his first ever road start and he’s going up against a high-powered offense. Jackson and running back Gus Edwards have revitalized Baltimore’s rushing attack, which could be a problem for the Falcons, who has struggled with open field tackles. Getting linebacker Deion Jones back will help the Falcons, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that their secondary has struggled. Plus, Jones won’t be able to fix Atlanta’s struggling rush defense on his own, as that was going to be a problem even if Jones was healthy. The Ravens will control the time of possession with their strong rushing attack, so Ryan and the offense needs to make an extraordinary amount of big plays to win this game. Unfortunately for them, the Ravens currently are allowing the fewest yards in the NFL, and they’ll be able to hold Atlanta in check just enough for Jackson and the offense to be in control of this game. The new will defeat the old; Jackson will defeat Ryan and the Ravens will get a big road victory to put themselves in prime position to make the playoffs. Prediction: Ravens 27 Falcons 23

Jets (3-8) at Titans (5-6)

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What happened to the Titans? Tennessee has been extremely inconsistent all season long, but they seemed to be finally turning it around when they defeated the Patriots 34-10. Since then, they’ve gotten blown out the division rival Colts and Texans, and are in a tough position at 5-6. They’ll get back on track this week though; they head home to face the 3-8 Jets, who have lost five in a row. It’s hard to identify anything the Jets do well, which isn’t exactly a formula for winning on the road. The Titans, although they’ve struggled in the last two games, is still above average defensively and should no trouble stopping the mess the Jets call an offense, no matter if Josh McCown or Sam Darnold starts at quarterback. Tennessee has shown signs of production offensively, and they have a chance to breakout this game against a below average Jets defense. Add in the fact the Titans have been amazing at home despite one aberration to the Ravens, and this game has the makings of a Titans victory. Prediction: Jets 13 Titans 20

Chiefs (9-2) at Raiders (2-9)

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Are the Chiefs walking into a trap? Kansas City just released Kareem Hunt after the NFL put him an indefinite leave with video surfacing of him striking a women. With news breaking just two days before that, will this put an emotional dent in the Chiefs that they can’t overcome. Let’s be real, losing Hunt hurts, but Kansas City will be just fine without him, especially against the 2-9 Raiders. Spencer Ware is a terrific backup, and should pick up most of the void that Hunt is leaving behind. Plus, they still have the soon to be MVP in Patrick Mahomes and an electric passing attack. Considering Oakland’s defense lacks any sort of team speed, the Chiefs should have a field day. Kansas City has struggled defensively, but they have managed to get consistent pressure on the quarterback. The Raiders have struggled to protect Derek Carr all season long, and that won’t change this Sunday. This may be a matchup between the league’s best team and the league’s worst team, so the result will 99.9% be a Chiefs blowout victory. Prediction: Chiefs 35 Raiders 20

49ers (2-9) at Seahawks (6-5)

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For the first time since he was cut by the Seahawks, corner Richard Sherman will face of against Seattle and Russell Wilson, who he apparently is not very fond of. Unfortunately for Sherman, his 49ers don’t stand a chance in this game. San Francisco has been destroyed with injuries and can’t wait for this season to end. Nick Mullens was terrific in his debut, but he’s regressed since. He and the passing attack isn’t a threat, so it’ll be hard for the 49ers to establish the running game, even though it ranks 5th in football. If this offense only put up 9 points against the Bucs, can we expect them to even score against Seattle? Russell Wilson and Seattle’s dominant rushing attack should take care of San Francisco’s mediocre defense. At home and with the playoffs in sight, Seattle will continue to put their foot on the gas petal with a double digit victory over the depleted division rival 49ers. Prediction: 49ers 17 Seahawks 27

Vikings (6-4-1) at Patriots (8-3)

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In one of the better games of the week, the Vikings will travel to New England to take on the Patriots in a matchup with a lot on the line. Minnesota needs to win in order to hold onto their spot as a wildcard spot, while New England needs to win in order to keep pace with the Texans for a first round bye and to continue to challenge the Chiefs for the #1 seed. The Vikings just held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to just 17 points, and will need to do the same with Tom Brady and the Pats offense to have a chance to win. They actually matchup well defensively against New England’s offense; their ability to stop the run will take away the Patriots’ terrific offensive balance. Still, New England scored 38 on the Bears despite the fact that Chicago has the 2nd best rush defense, so they’ll still be able to put up points against the Vikings defense. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots have been vulnerable against the pass, and Kirk Cousins and Minnesota’s passing attack ranks 6th in the NFL. Still, the Vikings inability to run the football is concerning; it’s almost a neccesity to be able to run the football in New England to keep Tom Brady off the field and to negate the cold December weather. At the end of the day, Cousins’ inability to beat winning teams make it tough to pick the Vikings, even if they matchup really well to the Pats, so I’ll take the same pick and go with New England. Prediction: Vikings 24 Patriots 26

Chargers (8-3) at Steelers (7-3-1) SNF

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On Sunday Night Football, two Super Bowl contenders will face off in what is definitely the game of the week. Both the Chargers and Steelers are practically playoff locks, but seeding makes this game very important. At 8-3, the Chargers are one game back of the Chiefs in the division and needs to keep pace with them. Meanwhile, the Steelers had a slip up in a close loss to Denver last week, and needs to get back on track this week if they are going to have any chance of securing a first round bye. Both of these are very similar: they have legendary quarterbacks, explosive offenses, a good-not great defenses.  There is one big difference though. Pittsburgh is significantly better in a couple of key categories: red zone offense, third down offense, and third down defense. In a game that will be close, converting in the red zone and on third down may be the difference between winning and losing, so that voids well in the Steelers’ favor. Pittsburgh is also at home, while the Chargers have to travel across the country to play their first primetime game of the season without star running back Melvin Gordon. With all things considered, the Steelers should be able to come away with a big home victory. Prediction: Chargers 23 Steelers 24

Redskins (6-5) at Eagles (5-6) MNF

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On Monday Night Football, the Redskins and Eagles will play for their season in Philadelphia. With the Cowboys winning on Thursday Night, both teams need to win to avoid letting this division slip away in Dallas’ favor. So who will save their season? By default, it will be the Eagles. Both teams are evenly matched for the wrong seasons. They have vulnerable defenses with incosistent offenses and have been decimated with injures on both sides of the ball. Philadelphia’s defense does a really good job at holding their own in the red zone and preveting their opponent on third down, so it’s easier to trust them in a big game that’ll come down to the wire than Washington’s defense. Plus, the Eagles are at home on Monday Night, which is a big advantage for them in what is the biggest game of their season. Carson Wentz has been incosistent this season, but he’s still on a whole different world compared to Colt McCoy, so I’ll take the better quarterback and the team at home. Prediction: Redskins 20 Eagles 23


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