Week 13 throws some interesting matchups our way as the playoffs begin to come in to focus in the NFL. On Sunday, the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings each look to even their records at 6-6, potentially joining the postseason race down the stretch. But for that to make a difference, the Los Angeles Rams would have to knock off the Arizona Cardinals and relegate their record to 6-6. Or perhaps the Philadelphia Eagles could upset the Green Bay Packers, making the NFC North a bit tighter.
In the AFC, the Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans meet with identical 8-3 records and playoff ramifications on the line. When the Baltimore Ravens play the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, Baltimore will essentially be fighting for their playoff lives.
Five weeks remain in the 2020 NFL regular season, and fifteen games will take place in Week 13. Read on as I break down how they might play out.
Week 1: 10-6
Week 2: 11-5
Week 3: 8-7-1
Week 4: 10-5
Week 5: 7-7
Week 6: 10-4
Week 7: 10-4
Week 8: 7-7
Week 9: 7-7
Week 10: 9-5
Week 11: 7-7
Week 12: 9-7
Overall: 105-71-1 (60% correct)
Last week I incorrectly predicted:
- Lions over Texans
- Cowboys over Washington
- Raiders over Falcons
- Colts over Titans
- Panthers over Falcons
- Cardinals over Patriots
- Rams over 49ers
Thursday Night Football
No Thursday Night Football this week, as the slated Ravens-Cowboys matchup has been moved all the way to Tuesday following Baltimore’s COVID-19 outbreak.
Sunday Day Games
New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-3.0)
New Orleans cruised over a Denver Broncos team that managed just one completed pass last week (due to having no actual quarterbacks available for the game.) A Falcons team that just put up a 43-6 win over the Raiders might be tougher to handle. Taysom Hill did beat the Falcons in his first NFL start. This is an incredibly well-rounded Saints teams, but if the Falcons play like they did last week, I’m not sure Hill can put up enough points to keep up.
Falcons win 30-23, Falcons win ATS
Detroit Lions (4-7) at Chicago Bears (5-6)
Line: Chicago Bears (-3.0)
Nick Foles and the Bears have lost five straight games. Why will they win in Week 13? Well, four of those five losses came against teams currently in playoff position: the Rams, Saints, Titans, and Packers. And three of these five losses were by seven points or less. Basically, Chicago hasn’t been completely uncompetitive.
Additionally, Detroit will be the weakest team the Bears have played in over a month. Chicago did open the season with a 27-23 win in Detroit, and I think they can snap their losing streak with a home win here.
Bears win 24-17, Bears win ATS
Cleveland Browns (8-3) at Tennessee Titans (8-3)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-5.5)
Give credit to the Cleveland Browns, as they have exceeded expectations this year. A win is a win, but for some reason, it’s odd to see these two teams holding the same record, simply because Tennessee is a class above Cleveland. A better offense, better defense, MVP candidate at running back, and more impressive resume in 2020 make the Titans the favorite in every way. Throw in a 45-point performance last week, and the fact they’re playing at home, and I could see Tennessee winning by a couple scores.
Titans win 37-20, Titans win ATS
Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) at Miami Dolphins (7-4)
Line: Miami Dolphins (-11.5)
Without even looking to check if it will be Tua Tagovailoa or Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, this is an easy win for the Dolphins. Miami’s well-rounded roster is suited to succeed with either quarterback at the helm. The Bengals did give the Giants a fight last week, but without a kickoff return touchdown, Cincinnati would have mustered just ten points with Brandon Allen at quarterback.
Dolphins win 24-16, Bengals win ATS
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) at Minnesota Vikings (5-6)
Line: Minnesota Vikings (-10.0)
This Jaguars team has been surprisingly gritty. A two-point loss to the Browns last week, a four-point loss to the Packers a couple weeks ago, and a two-point loss to the Texans a week before that all prove Jacksonville is capable of earning more wins this season. I won’t pick them over a resurgent Minnesota team, but if the Jaguars did eventually pull off an upset, I wouldn’t be completely surprised either.
Vikings win 30-22, Jaguars win ATS
Las Vegas Raiders (6-5) at New York Jets (0-11)
Line: Las Vegas Raiders (-8.0)
The Raiders looked completely discombobulated in a 43-6 loss to the Falcons last week. But losing to the 0-11 Jets? That would be a new low. Las Vegas enters as an 8.0-point road favorite traveling to the East Coast.
Raiders win 27-13, Raiders win ATS
Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Houston Texans (4-7)
Line: Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
The Texans have been playing better football lately, with Deshaun Watson proving he’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Houston has a small chance at the playoffs if they run the table, which would include beating the Colts twice. I certainly think the Texans can give Indianapolis a good fight, but the Colts are just the better team this season.
Colts win 27-24, Texans win ATS
GAME OF THE WEEK: Los Angeles Rams (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (6-5)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-2.0)
Now we get in to some of the nitty, gritty, more important games of the week. This NFC West clash is all-important, as Arizona looks to even the records of the two teams involved. The Rams, on the other hand, look to improve to 8-4 while pushing the Cardinals to 6-6, and to the brink of the playoff picture.
The problem with picking this game is anticipating which version of each team will show up, Will the Rams team that outclassed the Buccaneers and Seahawks come to play, or the one that lost to the 49ers last week and the Dolphins a few weeks ago? While the Cardinals team that beat the Seahawks and Bills show up, or is losing three of four a sign of things to come for Arizona?
This game is a toss-up, and looks to be a fun one. I think the Rams have a better roster and defense, but when everything clicks, the Cardinals offense is the game-changing factor. Even without firing on all cylinders in Week 13, I think Kyler Murray and the Cardinals will find enough points to dispatch the Rams.
Cardinals win 30-27, Cardinals win ATS
New York Giants (4-7) at Seattle Seahawks (8-3)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-10.0)
The New York Giants have messed around and won a few games, claiming first place in the NFC East in the process. This week, however, the competition jumps up a considerable amount. To make matters worse, Daniel Jones is doubtful to play after sustaining an injury against the Bengals, leaving Colt McCoy as the likely starter.
With or without Jones, I don’t think the Giants can keep up with a prolific Seahawks offense. It could be a big day for Russell Wilson under center in Seattle, where the Seahawks are a perfect 5-0 this season.
Seahawks win 38-16, Seahawks win ATS
Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) at Green Bay Packers (8-3)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-8.5)
When these two teams met in the 2019 regular season, Philadelphia upset an upstart Packers team. I wouldn’t expect the same results this go-around. The Eagles haven’t been abysmal: they’ve lost back-to-back games by less than a touchdown, while oddly scoring exactly 17 points for three straight games.
Chalk up another 17 points (that’s two touchdowns and a field goal) for the Eagles in Week 13. While Aaron Rodgers is fully capable of hanging 30-40 points on the opposition, I think Philadelphia’s defense will make the score somewhat close. But the Eagles are 1-4 away from home, while the Packers are 4-1 in Green Bay. I don’t see either trend reversing.
Packers win 27-17, Packers win ATS
New England Patriots (5-6) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-8)
Talk about a toss-up. Do you take a Patriots team that’s been playing better as of late, with mastermind Bill Belichick at coach as always? Or a 3-8 Chargers team with a hot offense, but a notorious habit of losing one-score games?
If the game is a one-score chess match in the fourth quarter, you would have to think advantage Belichick. While New England has had some solid wins in recent weeks over the Cardinals and Ravens, those games had one thing in common: they took place in Foxborough. Away from New England, the Patriots are 1-4. Give me Justin Herbert’s Chargers over Cam Newton’s Patriots.
Chargers win 26-20
Sunday Night Football
Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-14.0)
Man, the Broncos just can’t catch a break. A week after being forced to play without a proper quarterback, Denver’s schedule forces them to travel and play the best team in the league. The first time these teams met this season, Kansas City won 43-16 in Denver. I don’t think the result will get much worse than that on Sunday night, but the outcome certainly could be similiar.
Chiefs win 37-13, Chiefs win ATS
Monday Night Football
Washington Football Team (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)
Line: Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.0)
At first glance, this might appear to be a skippable Monday afternoon game. But Washington may have the best chance of any team in recent weeks to knock off the undefeated Steelers. Washington comes in on the heels of back-to-back wins, including a dominant 41-16 win over the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.
Look, I’m not willing to bet on Washington and look like a fool. But Alex Smith is running a good offense lately, and I think this game will be a lot closer than people expect.
Steelers win 30-27, Washington wins ATS
Buffalo Bills (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (5-6)
George Kittle and Jimmy Garroppolo remain out, but the 49ers proved last week they’re still a competitive team, with a win over the Rams. But while the Bills have struggled only against some of the league’s best teams, I’m not sure the short-handed 49ers have the firepower to keep up with Josh Allen and Buffalo’s offense. The best case scenario for San Francisco is a shutdown defensive effort that allows them to steal the game in the fourth quarter. But on paper, I like Allen and the Bills to get to 9-3.
Bills win 24-18
Tuesday Night Football
Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5)
Ah Tuesday Night football. Unfortunately, without knowing Lamar Jackson’s status for sure, I don’t feel comfortable making a pick here. Baltimore did play well and almost beat Pittsburgh without Jackson, so I would have to like the Ravens chances in any scenario here. But still, wait until we know more about who will be available for this rare Tuesday game.
Teams on Bye
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
- Carolina Panthers (4-8)
- 2020-21 NFL Predictions: Standings and Super Bowl Matchup
- NFL 2020 Midseason Predictions: Final Standings and Super Bowl Matchup
- NFL 2020 Picks: Week 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
- NFL 2020 Power Rankings: Post-Week 1, Post-Week 2, Post-Week 3, Post-Week 4, Post-Week 5, Post-Week 6, Post-Week 7, Post-Week 8, Post-Week 9, Post-Week 10, Post-Week 11, Post-Week 12
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- NFC 2020: Who’s In, Who’s Out
- AFC 2020: Who’s In, Who’s Out
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- 2019 NFL Playoff Bracket Predictions and Super Bowl Matchup
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Travel and Hiking
- Stumptown, Rose City, “Weird”: My Portland 2020 Day Trip
- Hike: Mount Beacon Fire Tower Out-and-Back
- Hike: Breakneck Ridge Loop
Header Photo Credit: Tim Warner/Getty Images