It is already December as the 2016 season hits its final leg which means that Week 13 is going to post a lot of do or die games. Teams like Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay, Buffalo, San Diego, and Carolina face must-win situations because a loss would likely sink their entire campaign. Who will be the winners of the fifteen contests this weekend? Find out below!
Last Week: 11-5
Thursday, December 1st, 8:25 e.t.
Dallas Cowboys (10-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
The thirteenth week of the season gets kicked off with a dandy of a game. Dallas takes its ten game winning streak on the road to a tough place in Minnesota against a desperate Viking team scratching and clawing to get into the big dance. Normally I would take the team most needing of a win at home on a Thursday night, but both teams will have had a full week to rest up for this game so that edge goes out the window. I really have a hard time picking against the Cowboys in this situation because of what they can do on offense and what the Vikings can’t do: protect their quarterback and run the ball. I think that the ‘Boys will take the win on the road and keep rolling on Thursday.
Dallas 27, Minnesota 16
Sunday, December 4th, 1:00 e.t.
Denver Broncos (7-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
Denver is coming off of a heartbreaking loss in overtime against the Chiefs that came after their defense coughed away an eight point lead at the end of regulation. Now, if you can believe this, they find themselves on the outside of the playoff bubble with the #7 seed. It’s not like they are in horrible shape, but a road loss to the Jags would really clip their wings. I can’t see this happening given Jacksonville’s struggles to throw the ball. The Broncos should get back on track with a nice road win.
Denver 23, Jacksonville 10
Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) @ Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)
The Bengals played Baltimore tough on the road a week ago, but in the end it was clear that their injury riddled team just didn’t have enough talent to stand up to a rugged Raven defense. This week the team draws a desperate Philadelphia team whose defense was pretty close to embarrassed by a surgical Aaron Rodgers on Monday night. Look for the Iggles to play with a chip on their shoulder here. Carson Wentz could have a nice day against a poor Cincinnati secondary.
Philadelphia 25, Cincinnati 13
San Francisco 49ers (1-10) @ Chicago Bears (2-9)
This is a hard game to call because both teams are bad, but each did look somewhat competent a week ago, albeit in losses. I was going to lean towards the Bears at home, but it is going to be hard for them to stop San Fran’s running game. Then again, the Niners have been more than bad at stuffing the rush themselves. It will come down to quarterback play in what looks to be inclement weather. I think I like Colin Kaepernick over Matt Barkley, even though Barkley had his moments a week ago.
San Francisco 17, Chicago 15
Miami Dolphins (7-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
The Dolphins, after looking like the worst team in football after September, have ripped off six straight wins and are among the hottest teams in the league currently. Sunday they will hit the road to Baltimore and face a very stingy Raven defense. I like this unit to slow down Jay Ajayi and put pressure on Ryan Tannehill, who I am still not sold on. Almost losing at home to San Francisco is not a good look for the ‘Phins and I can see their offense being frustrated on the road in Baltimore.
Power Pick of the Week: Baltimore 20, Miami 13
Kansas City Chiefs (8-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
One of the best games of the week will go down in Atlanta and we see the gritty Chiefs taking on the high flying Falcons. On Sunday night, the Kansas City defense was lights out in the first half when their pass rush was creating havoc, but as soon as it slowed Trevor Seimian shredded them. Atlanta has a better offensive line than does Denver and a better QB to boot. The Falcons should not have much trouble winning this game at home against a Chief team that may be a little lucky to be sitting at 8-3 right now.
Atlanta 34, Kansas City 28
Detroit Lions (7-4) @ New Orleans Saints (5-6)
This has potential to be the most exciting game of the week because it pits two teams that are always playing close, nail-biting contests. It also features two poor pass defenses and two good gunslingers. Points should flood the scoreboard on Sunday but I predict more on the side of the home team. The Saints have played much better on “D” lately and the Lions have problems stopping people with their passing defense. Drew Brees could throw for 375+ yards at home.
New Orleans 39, Detroit 35
Los Angeles (4-7) @ New England Patriots (9-2)
Jared Goff got off to a fast start on the road in New Orleans but was shut out in the second half against that middling (at best) defense. The Patriots are in the same boat as their weakness this season has been their pass “D”, but I think they will be fine in this contest. I could just copy and paste my synopsis from last week’s Saints/Rams game here because I think this game will go the same way. I don’t see Goff being able to hang points with Tom Brady on the road.
New England 42, Los Angeles 28
Houston Texans (6-5) @ Green Bay Packers (5-6)
The Packers saved their season with a dominant win on the road over Philadelphia in a game where Aaron Rodgers looked like the Rodgers we have all come to know. Heading home to host a dumpster fire of an offense in Houston should net good results for the Pack. If Houston doesn’t pressure #12, they will get picked apart. I like Green Bay to begin a small roll here.
Green Bay 37, Houston 20
Sunday, December 4th, 4:05 e.t.
Buffalo Bills (6-5) @ Oakland Raiders (9-2)
Okay, so I think that the Raiders have a very good team, but for whatever reason I continue to pick against them every week, and I keep getting burnt. I was going to pick the Billikens to take a road win in an upset this week, but I think that Derek Carr (injured finger and all) could have a nice day against a very thin secondary. The Oakland run defense is also stiffening up and that is the lifeblood of Buffalo’s game. I might change my mind on this one, but for now I am going with the Raiders to get to 10-2. Crazy, right?
Oakland 26, Buffalo 24
Sunday, December 4th, 4:25 e.t.
Washington Redskins (6-4-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1)
Can I just say that I hate ties? Just wanted to throw that out there. Both of these teams have been caught up in those dreaded deadlocks and I just thought it was necessary to point out my hatred for them. Now that we got that out of the way… the Redskins were in the game versus Dallas on the road on Thanksgiving. A lot of people would pick them to blast the Cards who have not been the same team on offense, but I am smarter than that. I think that the Arizona secondary can give Kirk Cousins headaches with blitzes and I see their offense waking up a bit against a, at times, challenged Washington defense. I’ll take the Cardinals at home.
Arizona 30, Washington 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) @ San Diego Chargers (5-6)
The Buccaneers are coming off of back-to-back upset wins on the road over Kansas City and at home over Seattle. Their defense has been one of the biggest factors to that as they held both of those teams to a combined 20 points on offense. Keeping the third highest scoring team at bay could be a struggle on the road though as Philip Rivers knows how to throw up points. I think you will see a well played game on both sides, but I will give an underrated defense in San Diego the benefit of the doubt on this one. They will be the difference here.
San Diego 30, Tampa Bay 27
New York Giants (8-3) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)
The Giants have won five straight games, but they haven’t been facing the most quality of opponents over that stretch, and that will change on Sunday when they head to Pittsburgh to take on a Steeler team primed to make a run at the playoffs. This looks like it will be a nice springboard game for Mike Tomlin and company to start building some steam down the stretch. The way the Giants’ offense has looked lately has me wondering if they will even crack the 20 point barrier in this game. I think the Steelers will have no problem doing that at home.
Pittsburgh 36, New York 17
Sunday, December 4th, 8:30 e.t.
Carolina Panthers (4-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-3-1)
If only this game were being played in Carolina, then it may have been more interesting. Alas, it will be taking place in the Emerald City. The Seahawks are the only team in the league that has not lost a home game this year and that will not change with Carolina coming to town. It is very hard to beat Seattle two straight weeks as they have the most complete team in the league in my opinion. With the Panthers’ problems running the ball, I just can’t see them pulling off a major upset on the road.
Seattle 34, Carolina 17
Monday, December 5th, 8:30 e.t.
Indianapolis Colts (5-6) @ New York Jets (3-8)
The Jets played the Patriots close last week, but I was not very surprised by that since they usually do. This week should be a much different tale with Andrew Luck looking like he is ready to come back and play. The Colts will have had a full ten days rest after dropping hard at home on Thanksgiving to the Steelers. I like that to fuel them to a nice win. Luck should not have any issues picking on what has turned out to be a very weak New York secondary.
Indianapolis 33, New York 16
Week 13 Bonus Predictions
Sure Bet of the Week (9-2): Pittsburgh over New York
Upset of the Week: San Francisco over Chicago
Offensive Player of the Week: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Defensive Player of the Week: Khalil Mack, LB, Raiders
Rookie of the Week: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears
Best Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Best Running Back: David Johnson, RB, Cardinals