The NFL rolls into another pivotal week as playoff contenders try to separate themselves. Week 13 has some key divisional matchups including a great Monday Night Football clash between the Giants and the Redskins. While there are some underwhelming matchups like Carolina-KC and Jacksonville-Buffalo, there are also some potential playoff previews as the Seahawks travel to Chicago and the Bucs head to Denver.
Last week, my picks tore it up going 9-4 (click here for full post.) Hopefully this week I can build on that momentum with these picks.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+6.5) over BUFFALO BILLS
The Jags head to Buffalo to take on the Bills. Jacksonville has played much better the last two weeks with Chad Henne under center but still lack the running game to have a balanced offense without Maurice Jones-Drew back. Jalen Parmele is out as well meaning Rashad Jennings will be the feature back for them this week. Look for Jacksonville to throw the ball quite a bit as they look for their second win in a row after beating Tennessee last week. Meanwhile, the Bills lost at Indianapolis last week for their fourth loss in their last five games. They haven’t won a game by more than five points since week three against the Browns and asking them to cover this spread seems ambitious even against Jacksonville. The Jags are trending upward so I’ll take the underdog with some momentum.
CHICAGO BEARS (-4.5) over Seattle Seahawks
The Bears offense is maddeningly inconsistent but they looked solid last week against the visiting Vikings in their 28-10 win. This game features two of the best defenses in the league but I trust Cutler and Marshall more than Russell Wilson and an injured Sidney Rice. The Seahawks are good at home but have struggled to a 1-5 record on the road after losing last week at Miami. They’ve typically been close games, but the Bears D should be able to contain Wilson as the Bears cover at home. Matt Forte (pictured right) is expected to play after sustaining an ankle injury last week against the Vikings.
Indianapolis Colts (+4.5) over DETROIT LIONS
Detroit has lost three in a row after losing to Houston last week on Thanksgiving day. They’ve been close in their last two games to upsetting the Packers and Texans but haven’ been able to close the game. The Colts have won five of six with their only loss at New England. This seems like a close, fairly even contest so I’ll take the points and go with the team on the rise.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (-9.5) over Minnesota Vikings
The Packers need a win over their division rivals as they host the Vikings. Minnesota will again be without Percy Harvin, but Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder will try to level Minnesota’s record with Green Bay’s with a big road win. Although the Pack haven’t been blowing people out at home, they should be fired up after getting beat last week in New York. I think this is a big Aaron Rodgers game, and the Harvin-less Vikings won’t be able to keep up.
Houston Texans (-5.5) over TENNESSEE TITANS
The Titans have made a change at offensive coordinator and come into their division matchup with Houston having dropped three of four including a loss at Jacksonville last week. The Texans should be well-rested after playing a second consecutive overtime game in Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Texans defense will be looking to make a statement after allowing 68 points in the last two games. The Texans beat the titans 38-14 back in week 4.
Carolina Panthers (-3.5) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs could rally around the recent tragedy with Jovan Belcher, but I just don’t see the team being emotionally ready to face a Panthers squad who looked the best it has all year last week beating the Eagles. Cam Newton should be in for another nice game against the Chiefs defense.
ST LOUIS RAMS (+7.5) over San Francisco 49ers
The Rams tied the 49ers in an intense NFC West battle just three weeks ago. That game was in San Francisco while this week the teams will meet at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The Rams defense is usually good at home and rookie Collin Kaepernick is bound to hit a few bumps in the road. I could see the Rams pulling this one out to be sure, but I definitely like them to keep it within a touchdown.
New England Patriots (-7.5) over MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Pats offense is running super-efficiently even without Rob Gronkowski. With extra time since Thanksgiving who knows what the New England coaching staff will have cooked up for their trip to Miami. The Dolphins are up-and-down having snapped a three-game losing streak last week with a win over Seattle. The teams that have a chance of beating the Pats are teams that can outscore them taking advantage or their secondary, but I don’t see the Dolphins as that kind of team.
Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) over NEW YORK JETS
The Jets are a mess as they host the Cards this week. Rookie QB Ryan Lindley threw for 312 yards last week for Arizona but they still lost at home to St. Louis mainly because of his four picks. The Jets defense will be out to feast on Lindley, but I don’t trust the Jets offense. Arizona has to win some time right? They’ve dropped seven in a row after starting the season 4-0. I didn’t think they were as good as 4-0, but I don’t think they’re as bad as their 0-7 run. I think this is a FG game either way so I’ll take the points and the Cardinals.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5) over DENVER BRONCOS
Two of the hottest teams in the league meet in an awesome game at Mile High this weekend. The Broncos have won six in a row while Tampa has its four game winning streak snapped last week in a one-point loss to Atlanta. In all five of their losses, the Bucs have been within a score at the end so I don’t see the Broncos blowing them out in this one. It should be one of the best games of the weekend.
Cleveland Browns (+0.5) over OAKLAND RAIDERS
The Browns and Raiders meet in what could quickly be a mudfest in a late game in Oakland. The Raiders have dropped four in a row and their defense has been as solid as the Cornhuskers were yesterday against Wisconsin. During it’s skid, Oakland has lost to Tampa, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Cincinnati by double-digits in each game. The Browns got a big win last week over Pittsburgh and their defense has been solid especially against the run. In less than ideal conditions, running will be the name of the game giving Cleveland a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time this year.
Cincinnati Bengals (-1.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Cincinnati has looked like a playoff team the last three weeks beating the Giants, Chiefs, and Raiders. They played close games with the Brocos and Steelers the two games before that as they’ve re-emerged as a solid, well-rounded team. San Diego, on the other hand, has lost six of seven including an embarrassingly bad loss to the Ravens last week including Ray Rice’s incredible fourth down play. The Chargers are impossible to pick at this point since they really don’t seem fully invested in this season which most assume will be the final for head coach Norv Turner.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-6.5) over Pittsburgh Steelers
The Ravens at home against the Steelers without Big-Ben are more heavily favored now than this line indicates. Their defense has continued to play well in Roethlisberger’s absence but Charlie Batch doesn’t look capable of getting Pittsburgh this divisional win they desperately need. It’s hard to give this many points in a divisional rivalry that seems to come down to field goal kicking ever time they meet, but I do think that at home the Ravens can continue their four-game winning streak since their bye.
DALLAS COWBOYS (-9.5) over Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are a mess defensively while the Cowboys looked bad against RG3 their last time out as well. At home though, I expect Jason Garrett to marshall his squad and blow out an Eagles team that hasn’t won since they beat the Giants in week four. The Redskins trounced the Eagles two weeks ago, and just a week before that the Cowboys went to Philly and won by 15. Give the points, take the home team on Sunday Night Football.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+2.5) over New York Giants
In a great Monday Night Football game the red-hot Redskins host the NFC-East leading Giants. Since the bye-week Washington has dispatched the Eagles and Cowboys hanging over 30 points on both their division-rivals. Now they look to complete the trifecta and strengthen their playoff chances as they face the Giants. New York had been struggling but looked exceptional in their beatdown of the Packers last week. It should be an entertaining high-scoring game, and I’ll take the slight underdog ‘Skins to make things just a bit more interesting in the playoff chase as we head into the final month of the season.