Week 13 Matchup Predictions
Saints (5-6) @ Falcons (10-1): As far as I'm concerned, the Falcons should have won their first meeting with the Saints. They had three opportunities to take a late lead from the Saints' one-yard line, and washed up Michael Turner (13 carries for 15 yards in that game) couldn't punch it in - nor did the coaching staff even trust him enough to give him more than one crack at it. On the next drive, Roddy White misjudged a perfectly thrown pass that should have been a touchdown, and let it sail over his head. To cap it off, Tony Gonzalez - arguably the best tight end of all-time - dropped a pass on fourth down that would have moved the chains. Matt Ryan is no longer my MVP after his five interception debacle against the Cardinals, but I still think he's an MVP-caliber player, and his teammates won't let him down this time around.
Falcons win 35-31.
Jaguars (2-9) @ Bills (4-7): What can't the Bills do? Stop the run. And what do the Jaguars not have? A running back. After being benched in favor of Jalen Parmele - who had seven career rushing attempts coming into this season - Rashad Jennings is back at running back for the Jaguars due to Parmele's season ending groin injury. If the Jaguars can't take advantage of the Bills' biggest defensive weakness, they'll have no chance of keeping up with the Bills' offense. (Somewhat bold statement of the week: CJ Spiller totals 200+ yards).
Bills win 24-17.
Seahawks (6-5) @ Bears (8-3): The Seahawks' latest road disappointment came last week against the Dolphins, making them 1-5 on the road this season. Five of the six teams they have played on the road have sub-.500 records. Now they're heading to Chicago to face a healthy Jay Cutler and his 8-3 Bears. If you can't win in Miami, St. Louis, or Arizona, you won't be able to win in Chicago.
Bears win 26-16.
Colts (7-4) @ Lions (4-7): Both of these teams generate a lot of offense, but struggle to match their yardage output with points. The Colts are 5th in total offense, but only 21st in points, while the Lions are 2nd in total offense, and 14th in points. Why does that happen? Turnovers. Both teams turn the ball over too much, and struggle to create turnovers themselves. The Colts have turned the ball over more this season, and are dead last in takeaways. In addition, they will reportedly not use their best cornerback to shadow Calvin Johnson.
Lions win 30-27.
Vikings (6-5) @ Packers (7-4): The Packers are coming off a tough 28-point loss to the Giants, while the Vikings most recently suffered an 18-point defeat to the Bears. A loss to the Giants or Bears is certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but how badly they lost was what made the results disappointing. With both defenses having played solid for the better part of the season, I have to go with the Packers, as Aaron Rodgers is much more likely than Christian Ponder to respond to his embarrassing loss with a stellar performance.
Packers win 31-20.
Texans (10-1) @ Titans (4-7): The Texans just pulled off two overtime victories in a span of five days, and are now getting a much needed long week to recover. The Titans, on the other hand, are coming off a loss to the 2-9 Jaguars. The Texans are top five in both points for and against, while the Titans give up the second most points in the league and don't do much damage on the offensive end. This will be an easy win for for Matt Schaub and company.
Texans win 35-19.
Panthers (3-8) @ Chiefs (1-10): The Panthers are one of the more impressive 3-8 teams you'll ever see, as six of their eight losses have come by six points or less. They have trouble closing games, but were able to finish off the Eagles on Monday night behind a very strong performance from Cam Newton. When Cam is on, he's a nightmare for opposing defenses to deal with, and the Chiefs - who haven't scored more than 16 points in any game since September - won't be able to counter Super Cam the way he's playing right now.
Panthers win 24-16.
49ers (8-2-1) @ Rams (4-6-1): The only two teams with a tie square off again. With Colin Kaepernick now behind center, the 49ers won't go through an entire 15 minutes of overtime without generating a mere three points, and I think that the 24 points the Rams put up on the Niners in the first game is just about the best they're able to do.
49ers win 27-14.
Patriots (8-3) @ Dolphins (5-6): The Dolphins win games by shutting down the run and steadily, efficiently generating points. Do you think that will work against Tom Brady? I don't. Brady doesn't need a run game to put points on the board, and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to be forced to sling the football to keep up with the Patriots offense, which will result in turnovers. The Dolphins are 1-5 when turning the ball over 2+ times, and are 4-1 when turning it over once or less.
Patriots win 35-21.
Cardinals (4-7) @ Jets (4-7): The Jets may be a mess right now, but one thing you have to give them credit for is that they beat the teams they're supposed to beat - they are 3-1 against teams with sub-.500 records. The Cardinals, coming off their seventh straight loss, are walking into the Meadowlands hoping rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley will lead them to victory, but it won't happen.
Jets win 23-13.
Buccaneers (6-5) @ Broncos (8-3): I must say, I have really liked what I've seen out of the Bucs since their bye week, but we've all seen what Peyton Manning has been doing to the league over the past seven weeks. Peyton and the Broncos have won six straight games, and their smallest margin of victory over that span has been 7 points, which happened only once. With Peyton going up against the Bucs' 32nd ranked pass defense, Josh Freeman will have to have a career day to even come close to taking down the Broncos.
Broncos win 38-27.
Bengals (6-5) @ Chargers (4-7): Maybe it's just because I'm a Raiders fan, but I feel like the Chargers have been overrated ever since LaDainian Tomlinson left back in 2010. It seems as if people still talk about them like a playoff contender, when their record is the same as the Jets, who are disparaged on a daily basis. The Chargers just threw away last week's game by allowing Ray Rice to convert a 4th and 29 on a play in which Joe Flacco essentially conceded that his team had lost and dumped the ball to his running back. The Bengals are playing great football of late, absolutely dominating the Giants, Chiefs, and Raiders over the past three weeks. They'll continue their run of great football this week in San Diego.
Bengals win 28-21.
Steelers (6-5) @ Ravens (9-2): The Steelers couldn't top the Ravens in Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago, in large part due to the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens are a whole different team when they're on the road - a much, much worse team. Reports out of Pittsburgh say it "doesn't look good" for Big Ben returning from injury this week, and if the Steelers couldn't beat the Ravens in Pittsburgh, they have no shot of beating them in Baltimore without Ben.
Ravens win 38-16 (assuming Roethlisberger doesn't play; Ravens will win by smaller margin if he does).
Eagles (3-8) @ Cowboys (5-6): The Cowboys are in a situation in which every game is absolutely crucial to their hopes of making the playoffs. The Eagles are a depleted, discouraged team that hasn't won a game since September - the Phillies have won a game more recently than the Eagles. The first time these teams met this year, the Cowboys won by 15, and that game was in Philly. With Sunday night's contest going down in Dallas, I can't see the Cowboys losing this one.
Cowboys win 30-20.
Giants (7-4) @ Redskins (5-6): If the Redskins can pull this one off, the NFC East will become extremely interesting, with RG3 breathing right down the neck of the Giants. Of course, the Giants are coming off one of the most impressive wins of the season, beating the Packers by 28. However, the Giants tend to regress just when you think they've got things figured out, and they have struggled to beat the Redskins in recent years. Remember - the Giants beat the Redskins at home this year thanks to a late bomb to Victor Cruz over the top of blown coverage. After playing on Thanksgiving, the Redskins will have a long week to prepare for this one. I've wavered back and forth on my pick for this game about five times since I started writing this paragraph. I'm going to say the Giants don't regress, play like they did against the Packers, and win an incredibly close, back and forth thriller. As a matter of fact, I'm going to say it goes to overtime, because that's how tough of a time I'm having with this one.
Giants win 27-24 on a 42-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal in OT.