The season is winding down, and the playoff picture is more abstract than ever. Both conferences feature an array of teams right there in the thick of things in the playoff hunt. With a lot of good matchups this week, we’ll have a clearer picture heading into week 14 and the homestretch of the season.
In other headlines; will Carolina stay undefeated? Can Brock Osweiler continue to win? Will Matt Hasselbeck advance to 5-0 in his starts? How will Cleveland fair without Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown? All these questions will be answered as this week plays out, but you can get a sneak peek below along with full predictions featuring spreads.
Green Bay Packers (-3) @ Detroit Lions
I don’t know what has happened in Green Bay. They’ve lost 4 of their last 5 and the offense has looked more bland than it has in quite sometime. Nonetheless, I’m taking them against Detroit. The Packers still want to secure the division and they won’t lose both games to the Lions. Even though Detroit is coming off a Thanksgiving feast of the Philadelphia Eagles where they scored 45 points, I don’t see the offense keeping up that consistency.
Prediction: Packers, 27-21
Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills (-3)
The Texans have been the hottest team in football as of late as they are riding a 4 game winning streak, which includes a primetime victory against the then, undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. The defense has come alive in Houston and has allowed less than 9 points per game on their current win streak, which includes three games of only 6 allowed points. I really like the Bills, but they lose a defensive struggle as the white-hot Texans strengthen their playoff hopes.
Prediction: Texans, 16-13
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears (-7)
Since Blaine Gabbert took the reigns under center, the 49ers have been a better football team – they even almost beat the Cardinals this past week. Chicago is a team that has really stepped up since the start of the season. I don’t think it’s fair to nod them a 7 point favorite, although I do think they break the spread with a huge week from Jay Cutler and the offense.
Prediction: Bears, 31-22
Cincinnati Bengals (-9.5) @ Cleveland Browns
Even with Josh McCown out for the season, Johnny Manziel continues to ride the bench. Enter Austin Davis. The 2nd year QB is set to make his first career start in Cleveland against the 9-2 Bengals. Even with more than half the season to prep, there’s still going to be a learning curve there. Cincinnati continues to roll in a blowout.
Prediction: Bengals, 31-13
Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins (-4)
Here we have two of the most disappointing teams in the AFC. You never know what you’re going to get from the Dolphins – they’ve lost 4 of their last 5 games and just fired offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor this past Sunday. The Ravens are a scrappy team who are always involved in close games. As banged up as they are, I see them leaving Miami with a win on a late field goal by Justin Tucker.
Prediction: Ravens, 23-20
Seattle Seahawks @ Minnesota Vikings (E)
We’re in store for a great game this week in Minnesota. The Seahawks are in the thick of things there in the NFC playoff hunt while the Vikings are trying to secure the NFC North. While Seattle’s defense certainly has lost a step, it will be too much for Teddy Bridgewater and a Minnesota offense that has been in neutral for the past few weeks. On the other hand, Russell Wilson is coming off his best game of the year. Seattle wins an NFC battle.
Prediction: Seahawks, 28-17
New York Jets (-2) @ New York Giants
The Giants suffered a crucial loss to Washington this past week. The Jets finally found their way on offense. With that defense against an inconsistent Eli Manning, that’s a recipe for disaster from a Giants’ perspective. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets win the battle of New York and make the AFC playoff picture even more of an enigma.
Prediction: Jets, 24-17
Arizona Cardinals (-5.5) @ St. Louis Rams
The Rams have a knack for completing the upset – they beat Seattle back in week even beat Arizona on the road earlier in the season as well. That doesn’t happen this week. The Rams flip the ball back to Nick Foles which makes the offense even more bland. Arizona is one of the best teams in football, they break the spread and more against a team who has lost four straight.
Prediction: Cardinals, 28-13
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2)
It’s a shame what has happened to the Falcons – after starting the year 6-0, they’ve now lost four straight. This while Jameis Winston has resurrected the Buccaneers franchise – making it relevant again. Tampa Bay won their matchup earlier in the season, but they won’t win both. Matt Ryan and the dirty birds eek out a much-needed victory. Devonta Freeman provides a boost as well after sitting out last week.
Prediction: Falcons, 22-21
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
The Titans are coming off a devastating loss to the Oakland Raiders while Jacksonville is playing very good football as of late. Just two weeks ago these teams matched up with the Jags coming out on top. I have them winning again this week. Things just haven’t went Tennessee’s way this season. While I do like Mike Mularkey, his team just doesn’t do enough to get it done in a close divisional matchup as they drop their fourth straight.
Prediction: Jaguars, 23-17
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) @ Oakland Raiders – PUSH
After starting the season 1-5, the Chiefs have really come together and are the hottest team in football right now (other than Carolina). As much as I love Oakland, the experience on Kansas City will reign supreme as the Chiefs win their fifth consecutive game. Either way, this matchup will be one of the best on Sunday between two division opponents who are both vying for a playoff spot. This is their first meeting of the year, they meet again in week 17.
Prediction: Chiefs, 24-21
Denver Broncos (-4) @ San Diego Chargers
The Brock Osweiler hype is riding higher than ever after Denver ended New England’s undefeated run. Osweiler will debut in divisional play this week in San Diego. I’m calling the upset. This is a classic trap game. I see this resulting in a shootout where the veteran Philip Rivers gets the better of a young Osweiler. Osweiler plays well, but it’s not enough against Rivers and the Chargers. After a loss and the Osweiler chatter dies down a bit, does he continue to start?
Prediction: Chargers, 35-31
Philadelphia Eagles @ New England Patriots (-10)
After the Eagles lost by five touchdowns to Detroit, it’d be hard to go against the Patriots as ten point favorites in this one. Even without Gronk, Tom Brady and the Pats will dominate a poor Philadelphia secondary. Sam Bradford is likely to return, but that doesn’t mean much. New England bounces back following their first loss of the year.
Prediction: Patriots, 41-17
Carolina Panthers (-7) @ New Orleans Saints
The Panthers enter this week the only undefeated team left standing, and they leave week 13 just that. The Saints have been extremely disappointing this season and have fielded the worst defense in the league – to make matters worse, the offense has been ghost the past two weeks as well. Cam Newton leads the Panthers to a 12-0 record as they stomp the Saints.
Prediction: Panthers, 31-14
Indianapolis Colts @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Even if Ben Roethlisberger is unable to suit up, I’m taking the Steelers in this one. Despite going 4-0 in starts this season, the luck of Matt Hasselbeck can only go so far. Pittsburgh’s offense has been hot as of late, and they have too many weapons for Indy to keep track of. The Steelers put an end to Indy’s winning streak as they strengthen their playoff hopes in a game that means so much for both teams in the AFC playoff picture.
Prediction: Steelers, 30-24
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins (-4.5)
The Redskins are in first place… no way, seriously? In a crazy series of events in the NFC East, Washington has taken full advantage and have climbed atop the division standings. Another underwhelming Monday Night Football game takes place this week. In another scrappy, typical NFC East game, the ‘Skins scrounge out a win and further distance themselves at the top. Hey Kirk Cousins, “YOU LIKE THAT?!”
Prediction: Redskins, 23-21