There’s four weeks left to play in the 2020-21 NFL regular season, and playoff races yet to be decided.
The Minnesota Vikings have recently entered the NFC playoff field, forcing Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals to fight for their playoff lives. They’ll do so this week against the New York Giants, who also need a win to maintain their lead in the NFC East.
In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns clash with playoff implications on the line, and with the Ravens playing from the rare position of third place.
The Buffalo Bills (9-3) and Miami Dolphins (8-4) also look to keep the pace in a tight AFC East race, but face the league’s toughest opponents in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs this week.
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
Week 13: 8-7
Overall: 113-78-1 (59% correct)
Last week I incorrectly predicted:
- Falcons over Saints
- Bears over Lions
- Titans over Browns
- Cardinals over Rams
- Seahawks over Giants
- Chargers over Patriots
- Steelers over Washington
Thursday Night Football
New England Patriots (5-7) at Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
Line: Los Angeles Rams (-4.5)
A Super Bowl rematch… that doesn’t really have the same feel without Tom Brady. I’m writing these picks on Friday morning, but made sure to post my prediction for Rams-Patriots last night.
Rams win 23-17, Rams win ATS
Sunday Day Games
Houston Texans (4-8) at Chicago Bears (5-7)
Line: Houston Texans (-1.0)
On paper, the Bears have the talent to stay competitive in and win this game. But for a team that’s lost six straight games, I’m probably done picking Chicago in any situation until further notice. Houston has been playing better football in the second half of the season, with Deshaun Watson playing at a borderline-MVP level.
Texans win 24-20, Texans win ATS
Dallas Cowboys (3-9) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-9-1)
Line: Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
I wouldn’t completely count out the Bengals, even without Joe Burrow. But if everything goes according to plan Andy Dalton and Ezekiel Elliot should be able to grind out a Cowboys win in Cincinnati.
Cowboys win 23-16
Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) at Miami Dolphins (8-4)
Line: Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)
I’d like to think the Dolphins could put up a fight in this one. Despite a dominant 11-1 record, the Chiefs have played in some close games, including a 22-16 win over the Broncos last week. If Miami’s defense can keep Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense under 28-30 points, they’ll have a chance at an upset. I hope this is a good matchup, but at the end of the day, I don’t see the Dolphins outscoring the Chiefs.
Chiefs win 31-23, Chiefs win ATS
Arizona Cardinals (6-6) at New York Giants (5-7)
Line: Arizona Cardinals (-2.0)
These are two NFC teams trending in opposite directions. The Giants have won four straight after a 1-7 start, while the Cardinals have dropped four of their last five games. If New York beats Arizona on Sunday, not only will they maintain a lead in the NFC East, but also gain a tiebreaker over the Cardinals should the two teams both end up in competition for a wildcard spot. It’s a longshot scenario, but the point being, both teams would suddenly be 6-7.
Despite recent trends, and my assumption the Giants will win the NFC East this season, I think the Cardinals pull off a road win here. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins could be too much for the Giants defense to handle.
Cardinals win 27-20, Cardinals win ATS
Minnesota Vikings (6-6) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
Line: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-6.5)
Once again, two teams trending in opposite directions, and yet the one that’s been losing more lately will both be favored and picked by me. The Vikings have won five of their last six games and would make the playoffs as the 7th seed if the season ended today, and incredible feat after a 1-5 start. The Buccaneers would make the playoffs too, but they’ve lost three of their last four games. While a 38-3 loss to the Saints was embarrassing, back-to-back 27-24 losses to the Rams and Chiefs were tough but excusable.
The Buccaneers are due to get back on track, and while Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook could prove pesky, Tampa Bay comes out on top.
Buccaneers win 31-24, Buccaneers win ATS
Denver Broncos (4-8) at Carolina Panthers (4-8)
Line: Carolina Panthers (-3.0)
In NFL line setting, the home team is given a pretty much automatic 3.0-point advantage. In a neutral site, this game would be a pure toss-up, and that’s pretty much what it is. Of course, these two teams played in a neutral site when the Broncos beat the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
This season, the Panthers have a pretty good offense, but an up-and-down defense. The Broncos haven’t won in a few weeks, but their defense has been playing lights out, and they held the Chiefs to 22 points last week. I think Denver wins primarily because their defense has been overdue for some success.
Broncos win 17-13, Broncos win ATS
Tennessee Titans (8-4) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-11)
Line: Tennessee Titans (-7.5)
The Jaguars have been a pesky team, playing the Green Bay Packers to one score, and forcing overtime against the Minnesota Viking last week. I still won’t pick them here, but I’ve been impressed by Jacksonville’s grit.
Though Tennessee’s defense allowed Cleveland to put up 41 points last week, the Titans did put up 35 points of their own. Expect more of Derrick Henry running all over the Jaguars defense.
Titans win 27-19, Titans win ATS
Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (7-5)
Line: Indianapolis Colts (-3.0)
A few weeks ago, I would have had a really hard time picking this game. Philip Rivers and the Colts have been good this season, but the Raiders have impressive wins over the Chiefs and Saints under their belt this season. But those wins couldn’t feel further away lately, after a 43-6 loss to the Falcons and a 31-28 win over the Jets that still feels like a loss. The Raiders are fading at the wrong team, and will take a step back after facing this Colts team.
Colts win 31-17, Colts win ATS
New York Jets (0-12) at Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
Line: Seattle Seahawks (-13.5)
The Jets played their most competitive game of the season in Week 13, and basically had the Raiders beat until a last-second Hail Mary pass that beat a questionable all-out blitz call by the now fired defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Last week, the Seahawks struggled in a 17-12 loss to the New York Giants.
But despite these recent results, the discrepancy in talent between these two teams is too hard to ignore. Couple that with Seattle’s dominant 5-1 home record, and the Jets don’t stand too much of a chance against the Seahawks. The best they can hope for is beating the two-touchdown spread.
Seahawks win 34-20, Seahawks win ATS
Green Bay Packers (9-3) at Detroit Lions (5-7)
Line: Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
Aaron Rodgers has been playing at an MVP level all season, including a 42-21 win over the Lions in Week 2. Though Detroit has made strides this season en route to their 5-7 record, they’re still not in Green Bay’s class. And the Packers have a ton to play for, chasing the top seed and lone first round bye in the NFC.
Interestingly, the Lions are 1-4 at home this season, with a much better 4-3 record away from Detroit. The Packers are good no matter where they play, including a 4-2 road record.
Packers win 34-23, Packers win ATS
New Orleans Saints (10-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-8-1)
Line: New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
Drew Brees vs. Carson Wentz? How about Taysom Hill vs. Jalen Hurts?
While Hurts’ first NFL start could inspire a desperate Eagles squad, the Saints are a mighty strong first opponent. Hill has worked out as a starter so far, and should be able to handle a three-win Eagles team.
Saints win 24-17, Saints win ATS
Washington Football Team (5-7) at San Francisco 49ers (5-7)
Line: San Francisco 49ers (-3.0)
While a win over the Rams a couple weeks ago was enough to re-instill some confidence in the 49ers, looking at the bigger picture, it was their only win in their last five games. And what’s worse, not a single one of those four losses was by a touchdown or less.
I’m not the type to automatically pick a team coming off a big win, like Washington is after beating the previously undefeated Steelers. But I don’t see any reason for the 49ers trend of allowing 27-37 points while scoring 13-27 points themselves will change.
Washington wins 27-20, Washington wins ATS
Atlanta Falcons (4-8) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-9)
Line: Atlanta Falcons (-2.0)
I was high on the Chargers as a “better than their record suggested” team for most of the season. Then last week’s 45-0 loss to the Patriots happened. Couple that with the fact the Patriots lost 24-3 to the Rams on Thursday night, and you realize the Chargers weren’t even dominated by a great team.
The Falcons, on the other hand, did some blowing out of their own. While they couldn’t overcome an elite Saints team last week, they destroyed the Raiders 43-6 two weeks ago. I think the Falcons put the pedal to the metal early and dare Justin Herbert and the Chargers to keep up.
Falcons win 37-27, Falcons win ATS
Sunday Night Football
GAME OF THE WEEK: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1) at Buffalo Bills (9-3)
Line: Buffalo Bills (-2.0)
These are the perfect circumstances for a signature Buffalo Bills win. A primetime matchup against one of the league’s best teams, coming in wounded by their first loss of the season. Make no mistake, the momentum is in favor of a Bills team that won on Sunday night last week, and has won five of their last six games.
They’ve even beat decent-to-good teams, including the Patriots, Cardinals, and Seahawks. But back-to-back losses to the Titans (42-16) and Chiefs (26-17) feel like more of an indicator of what might happen on Sunday night. While I don’t anticipate a blowout, I think the Bills will be playing from behind most of the night against a very good Steelers team.
Steelers win 24-20, Steelers win ATS
Monday Night Football
Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at Cleveland Browns (9-3)
Line: Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
While it’s still yet to be seen if the Ravens are truly over their midseason slump, where they lost four of five games, they took care of business last Tuesday, beating the Cowboys 34-17. The Ravens are just one of three teams to beat the Browns this season, dismantling them 38-6 all the way back in Week 1.
Obviously, a lot has changed in thirteen weeks, and you don’t want to put too much weight in to that game. At the same time, I think the Ravens are still good enough to beat Cleveland again. Four of the Ravens five losses this season have come against the Chiefs, Steelers, and Titans: a pretty formidable bunch. While that doesn’t speak well to how Baltimore would fare in the playoffs, I think the Ravens are still a pretty scary matchup for your average football team. And yes, despite a 9-3 record, I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about the 2020 Cleveland Browns.
Ravens win 34-16, Ravens win ATS
- 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, 13
- 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, Post-Week 13
- NFL MVP Watch: Quarter Season, Half Season, Three-Quarter Season
- How Much is Saquon Barkley Worth to the Giants?
- Expectations for Odell Beckham Jr’s Second Year in Cleveland
- Quarterback Dilemma in Chicago: Nick Foles vs Mitch Trubisky
- 2019 Preseason Predictions: Standings, Playoff Teams, Super Bowl Matchup
- 2019 NFL Playoff Bracket Predictions and Super Bowl Matchup
- Eli Manning is a Sure-Fire Hall of Famer
- Grading the Russell Westbrook-John Wall Trade
- Minnesota Timberwolves Select Anthony Edwards First Overall in the 2020 NBA Draft
- James Harden Wants Out of Houston, Prefers Brooklyn Nets
- “Run it Back:” Anthony Davis to Re-Sign with Los Angeles Lakers
- Who is 76ers Guard Shake Milton?
- 2019-20 NBA Predictions: Standings, Playoff Teams, MVP and Finals Matchup
- Re-Selecting the 2020 NBA All-Stars
- Top Five Duos in the NBA Bubble
- Track Review: Give No Fvk by Migos featuring Young Thug and Travis Scott
- Track Review: @ MEH by Playboi Carti
- Review: Eternal Atake by Lil Uzi Vert
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: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports