Tag Archives: week 13

2017 Season: Week 13 Preview

Thanksgiving has come and gone and now we have December football.  The weather turns colder while some teams get hotter and start to carve their way into the playoffs.  The winners of Week 13 will be revealed below!

Last Week: 13-3

Season: 113-63

Locks: 6-6

Upsets: 3-9

Thursday, November 30th, 8:26 e.t.

Washington Redskins (5-6) @ Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

It is do or die for both of these NFC East foes in Dallas on a big Thursday night game.  Luckily both teams will have had a full week to prepare for this contest.  I like the Redskins to win it because I like their quarterback more.  Defensively, the Cowboys have gotten roasted lately and are allowing a passer rating of over 100 on the season.  Kirk Cousins should take advantage of that.

Washington 34, Dallas 28

Sunday, December 3rd, 1:00 e.t.

Detroit Lions (6-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Here is a decent game between two playoff hopefuls who will be in some serious trouble with a loss.  The Lions played Minnesota tough at home last week while the Ravens slogged through a game with the Texans on Monday night.  Baltimore’s offense is bad and their defense is inconsistent.  I think this will end up being a great game and that favors the Lions who typically win those types of contests.  This is a toss-up though.

Detroit 23, Baltimore 20

New England Patriots (9-2) @ Buffalo Bills (6-5)

The Bills kept their season alive against Kansas City on the road last week while the Patriots continued to roll.  They should fly into Buffalo and take care of business against a defense that can be had.  The Bills will need to possess the ball for at least 35 minutes if they are to have a chance here.

New England 37, Buffalo 23

San Francisco 49ers (1-10) @ Chicago Bears (3-8)

Jimmy Garappolo will get the start for the Niners and that should give this team a shot in the arm going forward.  With that being said, the Chicago defense is good (although they were handled by Philly last week).  The Bears are also the home team.  I like them to win a very ugly contest that way.

Chicago 14, San Francisco 12

Indianapolis Colts (3-8) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)

Indy has suffered a lot of excruciating losses this year and they did hold a lead in the fourth quarter last week.  One of the games they were never in this year was the one at home against these Jaguars.  The Jacksonville defense is good and they hit a bit of a bump in the road in Arizona but I think they will bounce back at home in front of a suddenly raucous crowd.

Jacksonville 24, Indianapolis 10

Denver Broncos (3-8) @ Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Here’s an ugly contest.  Two offenses that have been atrocious this year will square off in Miami and this is a tough one to pick since both squads are so futile.  I will go with Denver only because I think they can win this game with their defense, even without the suspended Aqib Talib.

Denver 12, Miami 9

Houston Texans (4-7) @ Tennessee Titans (7-4)

In a rematch of a Week 4 game that saw the Texans put up 57 points, I think it is safe to say we won’t be seeing any 50 burgers out of this one.  Tom Savage is nothing more than a backup quarterback while Marcus Mariota has been struggling largely lately.  The Titans have to be the least impressive 7-4 team also but they should take this contest at home since I do trust their offense just a little bit more.

Tennessee 21, Houston 17

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) @ New York Jets (4-7)

The Chiefs continue to fade and desperately need to win this game otherwise they will be tied in the AFC West (more on that in a second).  I think they will take this contest on the road in their second trip to the Meadowlands this year.  Their offense will wake up a bit and I think we see the Chiefs return to more of their early season form (a watered down version, albeit).

Kansas City 24, New York 21

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (7-4)

This is arguably the best game of the week and a huge one in the NFC.  Both teams are red hot and are in great shape to get to the playoffs.  Julio Jones finally had a monster game this year and he typically will follow those performances up with a dud but this will not matter.  This will be a week that Altanta’s offense really showcases its ability against a good defense and I am also predicting that this will be a game where Case Keenum falls back to earth a bit.

Atlanta 35, Minnesota 24 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) @ Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The Packers gave Pittsburgh a good run for their money a week ago on the road but ended up botching the clock management situation at the end of the game and losing it in the end.  That should all but ensure their swan song of a 2017 season, but I think they will come out fighting for their lives at home and will pick up a victory over a defensively challenged Buccaneer squad.

Green Bay 30, Tampa Bay 27

Sunday, December 3rd, 4:05 e.t.

Cleveland Browns (0-11) @ Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

It’s funny how the Chargers are suddenly favorites to win the AFC West after the Chiefs started out 5-0 and these guys were 0-4.  They are a talented team and they should really wreak havoc in the Cleveland backfield.  No chance that the Browns get their first win of the year twice in a row against the Chargers.

Los Angeles 38, Cleveland 13

Sunday, December 3rd, 4:25 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (8-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (5-6)

L.A. came out and played a hell of a game against the Saints at home proving that their 24-7 loss to the Vikings was a potential fluke.  Now they take on an Arizona team who they shut out back in Week 7 33-0.  I think the Cards will do a much better job at trying to keep this game close, but ultimately they do not have the offense to keep pace with the Rams should this game turn into a shootout.

Los Angeles 29, Arizona 21

New York Giants (2-9) @ Oakland Raiders (5-6)

The big story heading into this game is the fact that it will be someone other than Eli Manning starting for the Giants at QB for the first time since 2004.  Instead it will be Geno Smith in a big spot and I definitely do not like his chances.  Heading across the country against a Raider team that is still very much in the playoff hunt in the AFC, the Giants will lose again.  Oakland’s offense will wake up as well.

Oakland 45, New York 13

Carolina Panthers (8-3) @ New Orleans Saints (8-3)

Here is another game that could be up for nomination as the game of the week.  First place in the AFC south is up for grabs and it’s going down in the Super Dome.  How about a bit of an upset?  The Panthers defense is good but I like them to win because I think their offense can take advantage of the Saints “D” which has been vulnerable due to the injuries it has suffered.

Carolina 34, New Orleans 31 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

Sunday, December 3rd, 8:30 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

This is the third major NFC tilt that could be considered the game of the week and it pits the best team in the league against the Seahawks in Seattle.  This will be the first time since 2012 that Seattle is not a home favorite, and for good reason.  Their defense has been struggling while the Eagles have been blowing everybody they play out.  I really want to pick Seattle here, but I just can’t.  Their defense is faltering and their offensive line just is not able to protect.  Russell Wilson cannot do it all.

Philadelphia 27, Seattle 24

Monday, December 4th, 8:30 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

Week 13 of the season concludes in Cincy and one of the most intense rivalries will take the center stage.  The Steelers will likely keep the Bengals in this game as they have been prone to doing over the past few years but in the end they are too hot to be stopped by Cincinnati.  Also, I really can’t see the Bengals going to 6-6 on the year, so there is that.

Pittsburgh 30, Cincinnati 20

Week 13 Recap: Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23 from the fourth of December.

Final: Arizona 31, Washington 23

The Arizona Cardinals improve to 5-6-1 after Patrick Peterson intercepted an errant Kirk Cousins pass late in the game, downing the Redskins.  There was good quarterback play taking place in this game despite woeful performances by both injury-riddled offensive lines.  Here’s how it all played out.

The Redskins defense was victimized by two players on defense: Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson.  These two players have carried the Cardinals’ offense all season long and certainly continued that trend on Sunday.  Fitz now has 1,104 catches in his brilliant career and sits all alone behind Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez in third place on the all-time reception list.  Fitzgerald hauled in ten balls for 78 yards and made a couple of key conversions, including one late in the game that allowed the Cards to march down the field and score the go-ahead touchdown.  David Johnson was a man on fire yet again for Arizona as he recorded 100+ yards from scrimmage in his twelfth straight game.  He ended the afternoon with 27 touches for 175 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving).  He was nearly uncoverable out of the backfield and did have opportunities to make a couple more grabs if the ball was delivered accurately.  This was a bit of a problem at times because the offensive line for Arizona continued to be an issue.  The interior was getting shoved backwards and the Redskins were getting pressure even on three step drops.  Luckily, Carson Palmer showed some of his best mechanics so far this season and was good with his feet, able to move out and make some decent throws.  Other tosses were inaccurate because he was not able to escape the pressure.  On the Cardinals’ final scoring drive of the game, Bruce Arians showed some guts by calling a run play on a fourth and one, inside of their own territory with less than four to play.  The call payed off with a 17 yard rush by David Johnson.  Later on, on a third down try, he let Carson Palmer take a shot for the end zone, and the veteran quarterback delivered the goods by dropping a perfect pass into the waiting arms of J.J. Nelson in the end zone for a 42 yard score.  The Cardinals were playing to win the game, and they were able to do just that.

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals
Action from Sunday’s matchup between Arizona and Washington.

Conversely, the Washington offense held its own.  They were in a tough spot versus the league’s top defense on the road, and they did not look atrocious despite missing their best offensive player in Jordan Reed.  Kirk Cousins was great on the afternoon making quick reads and finding open men when he was afforded the time to pass.  This was the key, though, because there were a lot of occasions where he could not stand comfortably in the pocket and pick out his best option.  His best throw of the game came right at the beginning of the third quarter where he hooked up with DeSean Jackson on a 59 yard bomb.  This lead to a Rob Kelley score later on.  The 59 yarder was one of the rare times that Cousins had all day to throw.  The Redskins suffered injuries to their center John Sullivan and their right guard Spencer Long.  Arizona brought a ton of corner blitzes and spread the line out.  This allowed some men to run free on the interior and take shots on Cousins.  There was not much room for Washington to maneuver on the ground either as the Cardinals blitzed those looks as well.  It came down to the Redskins’ players beating their man coverage.  They did not do so on many occasions as the ball rarely went in the direction of Patrick Peterson who was all over DeSean Jackson for a majority of the game.  Jameson Crowder did not have a reception until the third quarter of play and without Jordan Reed to make plays in the middle of the field, Kirk Cousins was heavily reliant on quick hitches to the outside, which is not necessarily Washington’s game.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals
Kirk Cousins throwing the ball against Arizona from 12/4/16

This has already been touched upon quite a bit, but the Arizona defense was a huge reason why the team was able to keep their playoff hopes alive.  They were tremendous in man coverage when Kirk Cousins did have time to throw the ball and they were blitzing very frequently.  Deone Bucannon and Markus Golden shined as each made plays at the line of scrimmage all game long.  Golden recovered a fumble and ran it back deep inside of the Redskins’ territory late in the game that set up one go-ahead score.  Bucannon was excellent help in stuffing the run game and made some great open field tackles.  Tyvon Branch was a bit of a liability in coverage, and he was the guy who got beat deep by DeSean Jackson.  Otherwise, the secondary for Arizona was strong even without Tyrann Matheiu to help them out.  The Cardinals were just as aggressive without him and really got after a hobbled Washington offensive line.

The Redskins on defense found out what a lot of teams have already seen this season: the Arizona offense is run through the production of two guys, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald had a lot of catches, but nothing terribly explosive.  The true challenge was with Johnson out of the backfield, something the Redskins have shown to struggle doing all season and that is covering running backs.  Their interior line was good and they held up well against the run.  Johnson himself did break some tackles and got on to the second level, but for the second straight week the Redskins’ held a potential #1 running back in the league to less than 100 yards rushing, which is not bad.  Washington did a great job at limiting explosive plays from the Cards until late in the game when J.J. Nelson grabbed his long touchdown.  Josh Norman was more of an impact player around the line of scrimmage as he was brought on CAT blitzes quite a few times and had a nose for stuffing the ball carriers.  He had a bad holding penalty later in the game that did extend an Arizona drive, however, and was not overly dominant in covering Larry Fitzgerald.  Bashaud Breeland actually had one of his better games in coverage for most of the game having primary assignments with Michael Floyd throughout.  He was beat on a touchdown pass, but Larry Fitzgerald drew him away from his primary receiver, so it is hard to blame him for that.

In the end, this turned out to be a signature win for the Cardinals.  They got back to their roots and were aggressive on both sides of the ball.  This was important for them since they are a squad whose identity is built on taking risks and this “W” is something that they can look back on for the rest of the year.  With this victory, they now jump above the Eagles and the Saints in the NFC Wild Card standings and now have a head to head win over the Redskins.  They will be heading on the road to the Dolphins next week trying to continue a late season renaissance.  The Redskins have a chance to bounce back with a struggling Eagle team next on their schedule.  That game will be on the road.

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald is now third on the all-time receptions list with 1,104 following this weekend’s game.

The Skinny:

  • Arizona’s defense clamped down in the waning moments of the game when Patrick Peterson intercepted Kirk Cousins’ pass late with :41 to go, sealing a win for the Cardinals and keeping their season alive.
  • David Johnson had his twelfth straight game with over 100 yards from scrimmage while Larry Fitzgerald moved into third place all time with 1,104 receptions.  Arizona’s offense continues to run through these two players almost exclusively.
  • Carson Palmer had his best game since Week 2 versus Tampa Bay, throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.  He did all of this despite another poor performance from his offensive line and showed his best mobility of the season.
  • Washington’s offensive line suffered a couple of big injuries to the center and guard position and the Cardinals exploited that with blitzes.  Kirk Cousins was under pressure all game and was off the mark with a lot of his throws.
  • Until J.J. Nelson’s 42 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Washington secondary did hold up well due to the amount of pressure they were able to get on Carson Palmer.  The Redskin “D” did not hold when it counted most as they gave up that bomb late in the fourth quarter and allowed a fourth down conversion earlier on the drive.
  • The middle of the field was not as prosperous for the Redskins without Jordan Reed in the game.  Outside throws were contested by the Arizona corners and Kirk Cousins did not have much of a running game to work with.  The Washington offense was handicapped and exposed by a good defense.

2016 Season: Week 13 Preview

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!snow-field

Last Week: 11-5

Season: 95-82

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

Week 13: Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills Recap

Getty Bills 2_1449428515240_1063437_ver1.0_1280_720
Sammy Watkins with a touchdown grab from 12/6/15.

Final: Buffalo 30, Houston 21

After allowing just 8.8 points per game over the last month, the Houston Texans surrender 30 to the Bills on the road and drop to 6-6 on the season.  The Buffalo offense was rolling, especially in the first half, and Tyrod Taylor looked impressive as he accounted for four touchdowns in this game (one rushing, and three passing).  He also posted a passer rating of 127.2, the fifth time this season he has gone over the 100 mark.

Chris Polk with a punishing touchdown catch and run.

The offensive game plan employed by Greg Roman early on was to run the ball against the Houston front to slow the pass rush and it worked.  LeSean McCoy was able to spring a few runs to the outside as the Texans were beat on the edge.  They were unable to contain Tyrod Taylor also, and we saw a lot of wild-cat in the first half from the Bills.  The creative play-calling really kept Houston off balance and allowed for the Buffalo offensive line to control the game.  The Texans’ pass rush never really got going until later on in the second half after they had a twelve minute break due to halftime.  J.J. Watt was held without a sack for the first time in six games, and Romeo Crenelle’s secondary was exposed by the likes of Sammy Watkins, who had a nice game with three catches for 109 yards and a touchdown, including a pair of beautiful 53-yard catches coming off of perfect throws from Taylor.

The Houston offense was not bad either.  Brian Hoyer was an effective 26/43 for 293 yards and three touchdowns as well.  He did throw one pick, but that came on the final play of the game.  He was forced to locate other receivers in the first half since Ronald Darby did a magnificent job at taking away DeAndre Hopkins, and find other receivers he did as the Texans had nine different players catch the ball in this game, including a reception from a lineman Kendall Lamm.  Chris Polk ran with some good power and was able to bowl his way into the end zone on a touchdown reception.  The Houston defense was much better in the second half, allowing only nine points.  The touchdown did come in the waning moments of the game, however, when tight end Charles Clay was left wide open in the middle of the field for a 40 yard score.  The secondary continues to be a weakness for the Texans.  Jadeveon Clowney had a nice game with a couple of pressures and a sack, overshadowing J.J. Watt who was triple-teamed quite frequently.

Jadeveon Clowney sacks Tyrod Taylor from Sunday’s game.

One thing that was noticeable in this game after seeing what took place last week is Buffalo’s first half offense.  They came out like a house on fire on the road in Kansas City in Week 12 and did it again at home against Houston.  If the Bills can remain consistent for four quarters, they are a team that could become quite dangerous.  They draw a desperate Philadelphia team on the road next week where their ability to run horizontally could prove to be a deal-changer.  Meanwhile, the Texans will host the Patriots who seem pretty vulnerable now with many of their weapons sidelined.  Both Houston and Buffalo are in the thick of things in the playoff race, although the Bills will have to earn their way in via wild card whereas the Texans best shot is by winning the AFC South.

The Skinny:

Houston Texans v Buffalo Bills
Sammy Watkins beats Kevin Johnson for a 53-yard reception from 12/6/15
  • Buffalo wins a game for the first time all year where they give up more than 20 points
  • Tyrod Taylor posted a 127.2 QBR, the fifth time he’s eclipsed 100, with his four total touchdowns
  • DeAndre Hopkins set a Houston franchise record with his 10th touchdown reception of the year in this game
  • Tyrod Taylor has thrown 187 straight passes without an interception, a Buffalo franchise record
  • LeSean McCoy tied his season’s high with 112 yards rushing in this game (he’s hit that mark three times now)
  • Brian Hoyer continues to look decent at QB, giving Houston a reason to believe that he could be the answer, at least for next season

2015 Season: Week 13 Predictions

Last Week: 6-10

Season: 101-75

Thursday, December 3rd, 8:30 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (7-4) @ Detroit Lions (4-7)

Green Bay 20, Detroit 17

Sunday, December 6th, 1:00 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (6-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)

Atlanta 23, Tampa Bay 17

Baltimore Ravens (4-7) @ Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Baltimore 28, Miami 22

San Francisco 49ers (3-8) @ Chicago Bears (5-6)

Chicago 27, San Francisco 14

Arizona Cardinals (9-2) @ St. Louis Rams (4-7)

Arizona 23, St. Louis 20

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) @ Tennessee Titans (2-9)

Tennessee 24, Jacksonville 16

New York Jets (6-5) @ New York Giants (5-6)

New York Giants 23, New York Jets 13

Houston Texans (6-5) @ Buffalo Bills (5-6)

Buffalo 17, Houston 15

Cincinnati Bengals (9-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-9)

Cincinnati 31, Cleveland 14

Seattle Seahawks (6-5) @ Minnesota Vikings (8-3)

Seattle 28, Minnesota 20

Sunday, December 6th, 4:05 e.t.

Denver Broncos (9-2) @ San Diego Chargers (3-8)

Denver 27, San Diego 21

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) @ Oakland Raiders (5-6)

Kansas City 34, Oakland 23

Sunday, December 6th, 4:25 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) @ New England Patriots (10-1)

New England 41, Philadelphia 21

Carolina Panthers (11-0) @ New Orleans Saints (4-7)

Carolina 44, New Orleans 17

Sunday, December 6th, 8:30 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

Pittsburgh 45, Indianapolis 24

Monday, December 7th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (3-8) @ Washington Redskins (5-6)

Washington 26, Dallas 10

Week 13 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Baltimore over Miami

Sure Bet of the Week (10-2): Cincinnati over Cleveland

Rookie of the Week: Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders

Offensive Player of the Week: Cam Newton, QB, Panthers

Defensive Player of the Week: Kam Chancellor, DB, Seattle

Best Overall Offense: Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Overall Defense: Buffalo Bills

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 13 Predictions

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and there are a couple of delicious games to dig into including two dandy match-ups on Turkey Day between the Eagles and Cowboys and the Seahawks and 49ers.  Also, the Patriots take on the Packers late Sunday afternoon in a potential Super Bowl Preview.  I’ve got a feeling that Week 13 is going to include a ton of close contests and that always makes for exciting football.  So without further adieu, let’s get rolling with my predictions.

Last Week: 11-4

Thursday, November 27th, 12:30 e.t.

Chicago Bears (5-6) @ Detroit Lions (7-4)

The Bears offense has been wildly inconsistent this year (not that Detroit’s hasn’t been).  Chicago seems to have trouble scoring while in the red zone and the offensive line has taken a step back from last year.  That does not bode well on the road in Detroit where the Lions will be looking to bounce back from two ugly losses where they managed to kick a combined five field goals.  Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate should be able to exploit the secondary of Chicago and that will help Jim Caldwell’s squad come away with the win.  The final score follows in pattern with the last two Bears games, in case you were wondering.

Detroit 21, Chicago 13

Thursday, November 27th, 4:30 e.t.

Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) @ Dallas Cowboys (8-3)

This is probably the most important game of the season for either team, as the winner will be catapulted into the drivers seat in the NFC East.  The victorious team will likely be the favorite to win the division even though these two will face off in two weeks.  Right now I would say a win is more important for the Cowboys since they have already lost to the Redskins and falling to 2-2 in the division would not be optimal.  However, the Eagles have the front-seven to do something that only Arizona has done this year and that is make Dallas one-dimensional.  I see the birds slowing down DeMarco Murray and using that defense and special teams to create another score.  As long as Mark Sanchez avoids a disastrous turnover, I can see Philly walking out of town with a win.

Philadelphia 30, Dallas 27

Thursday, November 27th, 8:30 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (7-4) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-4)

We’ve been waiting all season to see the Seahawks and 49ers renew their rivalry and the game is finally here.  Prime-time on Thanksgiving night; you could not ask for a bigger stage.  This one is shaping up to be a classic as the Niners have played a ton of close home games this season.  Out of San Fran’s five home games, the average point spread is just five points with no contest being decided by more than eight points.  Seattle and San Francisco tend to play close games in the Bay area and I’m expecting this one to be no different.  After struggling to notch a win over the Redskins at home last week, I’m not sure I have the confidence that they will be able to top the Super Bowl Champs.  The 49ers have struggled to score points lately, managing no more than 27 since Week 7.  That will be a problem against a Seattle defense that just gained some traction at home over the Cardinals.  ‘Hawks win this one.

Seattle 21, San Francisco 16

Sunday, November 30th, 1:00 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9)

After a poor outing against the Browns two weeks ago, the Bengals have gotten their act together and have pulled out two impressive road wins.  They look to make it three in a row when they head down to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers, the only team in the league that has yet to record a home victory.  Part of me smells an upset here, but with the way that Jeremy Hill has been running the ball lately (add that in with a healthy Gio Bernard) and Mohammad Sanu and A.J. Green on the outside, Cincy will be a tough out.  I like the Bengals here, but not by much.

Cincinnati 24, Tampa Bay 21

Oakland Raiders (1-10) @ St. Louis Rams (4-7)

After riding the legs of Latavius Murray to their first victory of the season at home over the Chiefs a week ago, the Raiders look to make it two in a row on the road against the Rams.  St. Louis, just two weeks ago, upset the Broncos at home 22-7 and nearly beat the Chargers in San Diego last week before Shaun Hill threw a late interception.  Jeff Fisher’s team is usually ready to play and should be tough to beat in this contest.  Murray is somewhat of an unknown commodity to this point.  Even though it would not shock me to see Oakland win this game, I am going the other way.  The Rams have gotten their running game churning as of late and their defense has played exceptional.  That should be enough to get them the “W” at home over a one-win team.

St. Louis 19, Oakland 13

Tennessee Titans (2-9) @ Houston Texans (5-6)

The Titans were blown out a week ago by the Eagles, but Zach Mettenberger showed some great strides in that contest.  He topped 300 yards for the first time in his career and tossed three touchdowns.  Now he has to face the team that he started his first NFL game against in Houston.  The Texans will be turning back to the ageless Ryan Fitzpatrick as Ryan Mallet will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.  This should be no matter though.  I like the Texans to pull off the home win and get back to .500 again.  Bishop Sankey might go nuts in this game, but I see the Zach attack regressing some against this Houston defense.  He may get sacked six times and I am predicting him to turn the ball over three times.  With those type of numbers, it will be tough for his team to score a road win.

Houston 25, Tennessee 20

San Diego Chargers (7-4) @ Baltimore Ravens (7-4)

I’m calling for some funky happenings in this game, just because I can.  I say the Chargers block a punt for a touchdown, the Ravens return a kick for a touchdown, and the Baltimore defense records a safety in the closing minutes of this game to ice it away.  Even though they are working on a short week, I think this game is the Ravens’ to lose.  They really have things going for them on the ground now and Joe Flacco is playing pretty good football.  For the Chargers, they just don’t seem the same after getting shut out by the Dolphins.  I think they are still trying to build up confidence after that ugly loss and going into M&T Bank Stadium is not the best place to do it.

Baltimore 29, San Diego 21

Washington Redskins (3-8) @ Indianapolis Colts (7-4)

Ahh, this was the match-up everybody wanted to see… two years ago.  RGIII versus Andrew Luck.  The #1 overall pick in the 2012 draft versus the #2 overall pick in that same draft.  It would have been quite the storyline to watch for, except it won’t happen.  Jay Gruden and the Redskins have decided to give Colt McCoy a try again in hopes of providing this offense a little spark.  Unfortunately the team has to take on the Colts on the road.  Indy is the superior team and I don’t care if the Redskins bring back Joe Theismann, they aren’t winning this game.  It could be a long day for Washington as I expect Andrew Luck to throw four touchdowns and another 330 yards.

Indianapolis 42, Washington 17

New Orleans Saints (4-7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4)

The Steelers, who are coming off of their late BYE, host the sputtering New Orleans Saints, a team that has lost its last three home games.  I’ve continued to show faith in Sean Peyton and Drew Brees to this point in the season, but it may be time to admit that these guys just aren’t that good.  Their defense is really struggling to stop opponents and the offense is turning the ball over too much.  Getting off the field on third down has been a real problem for them and that is why they have a 4-7 record.  That said, the Steelers are a team that seems to be heading into a trap game.  They lost at home already to Tampa Bay and could end up losing to the Saints as well.  Pittsburgh gets the benefit of the doubt here, but don’t be shocked if New Orelans puts together one of its better outings this weekend.

Pittsburgh 28, New Orleans 27

Carolina Panthers (3-7-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (4-7)

The Vikings gave the Packers a nice fight last week before falling 24-21.  Now they face a team that is a shell of its 2013 self in the Carolina Panthers.  Cam Newton has really struggled this season, as has the defense.  However, going on the road I like their chances.  Ron Rivera and Cam Newton have (historically) been very good at the back-end of a season, and I tend to consider Week 13 and on the final stretch.  This is where the Panthers start putting a little run together, you heard it here first.

Carolina 32, Minnesota 22

New York Giants (3-8) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10)

After making one of the greatest catches in recent memory, Odell Beckham Jr. has given Giants fans a legitimate reason to watch their team, despite the fact that they are on a six-game losing skid.  The rookie has rejuvenated the offense, and this is a squad that barely lost to the Cowboys at home last week.  This time out I say they go on the road to Jacksonville and get the job done.  This one will be on account of the defense.  Blake Bortles has been prone to turning the ball over and the Giants’ secondary has made a habit of intercepting opposing quarterbacks.  That combo doesn’t work well in the Jaguars’ favor.  I’ll take the G-Men on the road in a defensive battle.

New York 17, Jacksonville 10

Cleveland Browns (7-4) @ Buffalo Bills (6-5)

The Bills are 2-0 at Ford Field this season with wins over the Lions and Jets.  This week, however, they will be back at home to host the Browns.  Cleveland continues to defy the odds and make a playoff push behind Hoyer the Destroyer.  But, will he be able to stand in the pocket long enough to deliver catch-able balls to his wide-outs?  I say no.  The Buffalo defensive line is superior this season; they lead the league in sacks by a mile with 46 of them.  That unit should pressure Hoyer enough to cause him to be off his spot.  The line should also have no problem slowing down the Browns’ rushing attack.  Simply put, I like Buffalo’s match-up better in this game.  Their offense won’t have to be great, they will just have to be careful with the ball.  I think Kyle Orton will be up to the task.

Buffalo 24, Cleveland 10

Sunday, November 30th, 4:05 e.t.

Arizona Cardinals (9-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

The Cardinals were flat out embarrassed last week in Seattle and now hope to rebound in Atlanta against a Falcon team that just lost a close one to Cleveland.  Atlanta has been involved in some thrilling contests over the past couple of weeks and this one should be no different.  Arizona’s offense has been hit or miss over the course of this season, but their defense has been pretty darn consistent.  However, I see Matt Ryan playing a strong game on this afternoon leading his Falcons to victory.  The time to get the Cards is right now, coming off of a shocking loss.  Had this game been played two weeks ago, I would have no problem rolling with Arizona.  But since it is Week 13, I have a funky feeling about this one.

Atlanta 23, Arizona 21

Sunday, November 30th, 4:25 e.t.

New England Patriots (9-2) @ Green Bay Packers (8-3)

This here is probably the best match-up between two teams all season.  Both squads are red-hot and are the cream of the crop in their respective conferences.  It will serve as a potential Super Bowl preview and should feature a lot of offense.  The Patriots have been riding a seven game winning streak and boast back-to-back-to-back 20+ point wins against division leaders.  Green Bay is another division leader, but I guarantee that they won’t lose at home by 20 points; not while Aaron Rodgers is quarterbacking.  The Packers are an offensive juggernaut at Lambeau and Rodgers has not been intercepted there all year.  He might be victimized once by New England’s secondary in this game, but it won’t be enough for the Pats.  If this game were being played in Foxboro, I might feel a bit different, but seeing as how it is going to be played in “The Frozen Tundra” I really like the Packers’ chances.  The defense has been coming around lately and that offense has been nearly unstoppable at home.

Green Bay 34, New England 28

Sunday, November 30th, 8:30 e.t.

Denver Broncos (8-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

This game serves as a last chance for the Chiefs to get back in the division race.  With a loss, they will have been swept by the AFC West leading Broncos and will fall two full games behind them with only four games left.  Denver doesn’t have too difficult of a schedule coming up either so the chances that Andy Reid and company will be able to catch them after this contest is slim.  That said, the Chiefs just lost to the Raiders and they were gashed on the ground in the process.  I think the Broncos will follow up and feed the rock to C.J. Anderson 24 times in this game.  He will score twice; once through the air and once on the ground.  Peyton Manning hooks up with Emanuel Sanders for two scores as well, and these touchdowns will help Denver defeat Kansas City on the road and take firm control of the division.

Denver 35, Kansas City 20

Monday, December 1st, 8:30 e.t.

Miami Dolphins (6-5) @ New York Jets (2-9)

The Dolphins played admirably on the road in Denver last week before falling 39-36.  The defense just could not contain the high-octane Bronco attack for four full quarters.  This week, they will play the Jets, a team that managed only a field goal on the road in Detroit against the Bills.  Ryan Tannehill and company will probably put up some points in this game as the young QB has looked pretty sharp this season.  I don’t think Geno Smith (that’s right, they are back with him again) will be able to trade points with Miami.  Furthermore, the ‘Phins have the fifth ranked defense overall and are second against the pass.  Buckle up Jets fans, this is a bad match-up.

Miami 33, New York 13

Week 13 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week: Atlanta over Arizona

Sure Bet of the Week: Miami over New York Jets

Rookie of the Week: Bishop Sankey

Offensive Player of the Week: Le’Veon Bell

Defensive Player of the Week: Richard Sherman

Best Overall Offense: Indianapolis Colts

Best Overall Defense: Buffalo Bills

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

Week 13: Seattle Seahawks 34, New Orleans Saints 7- Post Game Thoughts

The Seattle Seahawks roll the Saints at home, and in the process take total control of the NFC in a laugher.  To be honest, I didn’t see this game playing out in this manner.  I anticipated a more competitive match-up, but instead we got a blowout.  Simply put, the Seattle defense was dominant, even without Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond III.  Also, Russell Wilson was a beast.  Wilson was nearly unstoppable throwing the ball and the New Orleans defense really had not answer for him or his right arm.  The Saints did a nice job bottling up Marshawn Lynch in this one, but as we all know now, that is only half of the battle when you take on the ‘Hawks.  Russell Wilson proved to the world that he is a true game-changer and deserves to be considered as one of the top quarterbacks in this game today; that is my biggest takeaway from this contest.  Also, I can’t imagine many teams that would fare much better at stopping the Seahawks come playoff time; it is darn near impossible to steal a victory away from the Emerald City these days.  To me, Seattle showed the world that they are the best team in football, and they did it at the Saints’ expense.  Now New Orleans is in a first place tie with Carolina in the NFC South and those two will face off next Sunday down in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  The mobile Wilson really exposed the Saints’ “D” in this game, and they will be challenged yet again when they try to contain Cam Newton.  It will be interesting to see the adjustments they make against Newton on that side of the ball, and how they will attack and equally formidable defense.  The NFC playoff picture has been shaken up a bit following the outcome of this game, but at the same time it has become much clearer for many of us.

Week 13: Cincinnati Bengals 17, San Diego Chargers 10- Post Game Thoughts

This game will rank right up with the Week 9 game against the Redskins as the most frustrating loss for the San Diego Chargers.  They played some good defense through three quarters in this one, and were moving the ball against a pretty darn good defense, all in front of their home crowd.  However, the defense just caved in during the fourth quarter as BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran roughshod on them.  Down 17-10, the Bolts had to rely on their defense to force a Bengal punt.  They were unable to do so and Cincinnati was then able to run out the clock.  Green-Ellis and rookie Giovanni Bernard combined for 34 carries and 149 yards in this one.  The Law Firm also plowed his way into the end zone for a rushing touchdown.  Good teams win tough games, and simply put the Chargers could not get the job done at home.  This loss really kills their playoff hopes.  I do believe that the winner of the #6 seed in the AFC will be a 9-7 team (possibly a 10-6 team).  Right now San Diego is 5-7.  That means that the best they can do is 9-7 on the year, and quite frankly I don’t like their odds.  Pretty much every team in the running for that #6 seed has some sort of tie breaker over the Chargers, so it is going to take more than a miracle for them to fight their way in to play some January football.  In the meantime, we pretty much know that the Bengals will be playing in January.  They own a two game lead in the AFC North and would probably have to lose out to miss the playoffs, and they will be home for three of their final four games.  They will play another 8-4 team at home next week in the Colts.  This will be a good game for each team to measure themselves to see how good they really are.  The Chargers will play host to the Giants in a game that will eliminate the loser from playoff contention for good.  But for now, I’ve gotta say that I really don’t like San Diego’s chances going forward.

Week 13: Atlanta Falcons 34, Buffalo Bills 31 (OT)- Post Game Thoughts

The Falcons win their third game of the year in an overtime victory against the Bills.  The thing that jumped out at me from this one was the fact that Atlanta was finally able to run the ball with consistency.  They topped 150 yards on the ground for just the second time this year, with 151 yards on 30 carries.  Staying dedicated to the run was key in this victory.  Antone Smith ripped another long run (he had one carry for a 38 yard touchdown).  In limited action this year, he had carried the ball for a whopping 29 yards per carry!  He also has two touchdowns on the season now.  If I were Atlanta, I’d find more ways to get him the ball in space.  Roddy White had, by far, his best game of the year.  He had ten catches for 143 yards.  It is encouraging for the Falcons to get White going because he has the talent to be a dynamic receiver in this league, even at the age of 32.  Buffalo also ran the ball very well in this one.  C.J. Spiller had 15 carries for 149 yards on the afternoon, and the Bills had three touchdowns on the ground (one from Spiller, one from Fred Jackson, and one from E.J. Manuel).  The thing that killed Buffalo in this game was their turnovers, more specifically the Scott Chandler fumble in overtime.  This fumble lead to great field position for the Falcons, and they were able to steal one away from the Bills up in Canada.  So neither team played poorly in this game at all.  It was all pretty even until the Chandler fumble.  You could make the case that this game would have gone the other way without the overtime turnover.  Anyways, both of these teams were really playing for pride in this game.  It was a good win for the Falcons and a frustrating loss for the Bills.  Atlanta will take on Green Bay while Buffalo will face Tampa Bay (both games will be on the road).

Week 13: San Francisco 49ers 23, St. Louis Rams 13- Post Game Thoughts

The San Francisco 49ers flex their muscles in a dominant win over the St. Louis Rams at home.  The defense really got after it in this game and the return of Michael Crabtree really sets the Niners up for a strong playoff run.  Colin Kaepernick played a pretty complete game for San Fran in this one.  He threw for 275 yards with a touchdown (and no interceptions).  The 49ers were not able to run the ball with the amount of success that they would have liked to, but they were able to throw it.  To me, Kap proved that he can win a game with his arm if he absolutely had to.  This was many people’s biggest complaint about the second year pro.  For St. Louis, the team simply could not keep their drives going.  They were really hurt by two things, the first being their third down success rate.  The Rams were 4/13 on the money down.  The other thing that killed them was the fact that they were flagged 11 times for 105 yards.  You will not win very many games in this league if you commit over ten penalties.  This looked like one of those weird games for the Rams.  They moved the ball well but just were not able to score.  That is typically the trademark of a good defense; one the 49ers have.  With Arizona’s loss this weekend, the 49ers now own a full game lead in the wild card race and still remain alive in the NFC west race (although that division is really Seattle’s to lose).  Anyways, San Fran really strengthened their chances at the playoffs with this win.  They are also beginning to get healthy, so they can be a very dangerous team down the stretch.