Week 13 in the NFL features a trio of pivotal divisional matchups that no doubt will shape the future 2010 NFL playoff picture.
We’re talking the type of game slate where multiple TV’s would be a good idea for a person’s living room. The Falcons (9-2) travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Bucs (7-4), the Steelers (8-3) renew their rivalry with the Ravens (8-3) and last – but certainly not least –Rex Ryan and the New York Jets (9-2) travel to Foxboro to take on Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots (9-2).
Expect plenty of fireworks – and here’s to hoping for the same with this week’s picks.
Last Week: 10-6
It’s once again time to “Pick Your Knows” – the only time it’s not a disgusting habit – and here are Week 13’s games in the NFL (spreads as they appear through CBSSports.com).
Pick Your Knows: NFL Week 13 Picks Against the Spread
Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)
When looking at the stats, the Texans are 28th in the NFL in sacks, which would point to Michael Vick having plenty of time to run and pass. Looking closer, the Texans have faced some of the best O-lines against the pass rush – with the Chiefs, Colts and Giants being 3 of the 4 top teams in sacks allowed. Combine this nugget with Asante Samuel being questionable, and Houston (with all its weapons) should keep this game at a touchdown or less.
KP’s Pick: Houston
Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-7.5)
Both teams are banged up, but the key factor is the Giants’ top pass defense. With New York not allowing a lot in the pass game, Washington would have to hope for productivity in the run game, which is depleted due to injuries. Ryan Torain hasn’t practiced yet this week, meaning the ‘Skins may need to rely on Keiland Williams and James Davis. Because of this and more, the Giants – even with a depleted receiving group – cover at home against Washington.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-9.5)
If playing at Lambeau isn’t hard enough, Frank Gore is out for the year and Brian Westbrook – who filled in nicely for Gore – has an ankle issue, and is questionable for Sunday. The 49ers are solid against the run, but the Packers are a pass first team. San Francisco is also 31st in points scored, while Green Bay is 1st in points allowed (15.1 ppg). Green Bay is 4-1 at home, while the Niners are 1-4 on the road. All signs point to the Packers covering at home.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-8.5)
It was only a few weeks ago that Todd Haley chose not to shake Josh McDaniels’ hand after a blowout loss to the Broncos. This time, Kansas City is at home against a reeling Broncos team that is dealing with all sorts of issues. Last time around, it was expected that a solid KC run game would dismantle a struggling Broncos rush D. That didn’t happen. The Chiefs are 24th against the pass – and that’s what Denver excels at. Handshake or not – KC gets revenge – but a touchdown victory seems more likely.
KP’s Pick: Denver
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (+3.5)
Reports out of Detroit are stating that Lions backup QB Shaun Hill may be out for the season with a broken finger on his throwing hand. This will leave Drew Stanton as the likely starting QB against the Bears. While the Lions are 9th in sacks and the Bears have allowed the most sacks in the NFL, it’s a situation where Cutler has played better over the last month, and Stanton is inexperienced. Bears cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Chicago
Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins (-4.5)
Miami doesn’t allow much in the passing game – and the Dolphins are middle of the pack in rush defense. Brandon Marshall has practiced some this week and could return to boost the Miami offense. But with Peyton Hillis running strong for the Browns and trying to control the time of possession – plus Cleveland having 15 picks on the season – it’s hard to imagine the scrappy Browns not keeping this game inside the spread.
KP’s Pick: Cleveland
New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5)
The Saints are 3rd in the NFL in passing yards allowed – and therefore should be able to limit Cincinnati’s strength, while also forcing a few Carson Palmer turnovers. It’s hard to pick in favor of the Bengals, as the team has clearly begun to mail it in. The Super Bowl champs should have no problem covering on the road, especially since they may get more players back from injury.
KP’s Pick: New Orleans
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
Both teams have struggled against the pass this year and the focus should be more towards Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson in the run game. The Titans will get Kerry Collins back at the QB position – and Collins played weeks back when the Titans defeated the Jags 30-3. Tennessee needs a win desperately – and having the defense with the 2nd most sacks, the Titans push Garrard into mistakes and get a key divisional victory at home.
KP’s Pick: Tennessee
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5)
The Bills continue to play hard – and if not for a Steve Johnson drop – Buffalo would have upset the Steelers last week. Buffalo’s defense only has a handful of interceptions – but that didn’t matter with Pittsburgh – and shouldn’t matter with Brett Favre – who may not have as much run support with Adrian Peterson hobbled by an ankle sprain and Steve Hutchinson also fighting injuries. This scrappy Bills team should be able to keep this game close.
KP’s Pick: Buffalo
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers (-12.5)
Many may be shocked to see this spread considering the Raiders beat the Chargers earlier in the season. But during that win, Oakland had 2 blocked punt TD’s and had a fumble return for a TD – and only won the game by 8. The Raiders have solid pass defense numbers, but the Chargers still threw for 431 yds in the first matchup. San Diego is also playing at home – and has since improved its special teams play. San Diego continues its run – and covers at home.
KP’s Pick: San Diego
St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals (+2.5)
After seeing the Monday night performance plus Derek Anderson’s postgame outburst, it’s becoming clear that the Cardinals are unraveling. The team can’t get a run game going, plus Arizona has allowed the second most sacks in the league. By the way, the Rams are 5th in total sacks – and played well against Denver last week. Rams cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: St. Louis
Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)
Neither team is doing much in the run game, so this one looks like a shootout with two solid passing games. Indy has the bonus of playing at home, but the injuries continue to mount, making it difficult for Manning to get consistency on offense. The key will be how the Cowboys can handle the Colts’ speedy pass rush. But this is an Indy team that only managed a 6-point win over the Bengals at home a few weeks ago. Dallas can do better – and keep this one closer.
KP’s Pick: Dallas
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5)
Carolina has the worst pass offense and Seattle has the worst rush offense – so what gives? As bad as Carolina is, the Panthers have a top ten pass defense – and have almost as many picks as touchdowns allowed. Carolina has been abysmal in the passing game, but Seattle’s pass D is nothing to write home to Mom about – so expect Carolina to hang around all game long.
KP’s Pick: Carolina
Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2.5)
One would expect both the Bucs and Falcons to focus on the run game – and both teams have been fairly successful in doing so. In the last matchup, the Falcons won at home 27-21. In four of its last five games, the Falcons have been in a one score game (all home wins). Call this a gut pick more than anything, but Tampa has health on its side – and Atlanta is due for some turnovers (zero over its last five games).
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
The biggest key to this game is Ben Roethlisberger, who is battling injuries and was seen limping at practice on Wednesday. These teams hate each other and every game is a battle – but with Polamalu dealing wilth an ankle injury and Big Ben dealing wilth his issues, it’s hard to imagine that the Ravens – who are undefeated at home – don’t find a way to sweep the season series and manage at least a field goal victory in Baltimore.
KP’s Pick: Baltimore
New York Jets at New England Patriots (-3.5)
Rex Ryan will have a chat with his brother, who handled the Patriots a few weeks back as a part of Cleveland’s staff. New York has the weapons to give the young New England defense headaches, both in the run and pass game. The Patriots and Bill Belichick will find ways to run the offense quickly to keep New York’s aggressive defense at bay. But in the end, this should be a back and forth battle – and expect this one to come down to a game-winning field goal. Therefore, take the Jets and the points as the safe bet.
KP’s Pick: New York Jets