"Bro, I said whole berry sauce, not that canned crap. I can't have you at my place with that stuff...but Happy Thanksgiving anyway."
Week 13: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
Week 13 results (season): 7-9 wins (124-66-1 .649); 7-9 v. spread (85-105-1 .445)
Week 13 Note: It’s the holiday season and obligations abound. This Sunday, due to time constraints, instead of my usual long-winded game analyses I’ll be offering one-sentence analyses for each game along with my normal score predictions…or trying to anyway. Thanks for reading!
Chicago Bears 5-6 (+7) @ Detroit Lions 7-4 (47.5): Lions 24-21Lions 34-17
Thanksgiving, 12:30 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Lions just got shredded by the New England Patriots, and are the better teams at home on Thanksgiving for one of the few times in my 36 years. The Bears are desperate, but their 30th-ranked scoring defense will be without Lance Briggs and could be without Jeremiah Ratliff, which means the Lions 10th-ranked passing game should shred the Bears in retaliation. The Lions have a habit of disappointing their fans, and Cutler is schizophrenic, so one never knows what to expect out of these two teams. Lions win, Bears cover.
The Bears stunk up the joint again Thursday, forcing their fans to wonder what they actually had to be thankful for in the sports world. Megatron returned to form scoring two early TDs, which nearly beat the Bears by themselves.
Philadelphia Eagles 8-3 (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys 8-3 (55.5): Cowboys 28-27 Eagles 33-10
Thanksgiving, 4:30 PM, AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The first relevant game of the day, this NFC East battle will crown a division leader – for now. Both teams are coming off big wins, the Cowboys having to come back from down 11 to do so, their second-largest comeback against the New York Giants in their long history. Both team come in with stellar scoring offenses (PHI -3rd; DAL – 7th) and mediocre defenses, so I’d expect a shoot-out on three days rest. Little rest and little practice time could be a bad combination for Philadelphia, which coughs up the ball far too much (-9). The Cowboys have a great offensive line, a killer running game (2nd), and are efficient (50% 3rd-down conversion rate). Short rest shouldn’t affect the Cowboys too much; the question is whether AT&T Stadium will be a home setting for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving (3-3).
There’s a reason I took the Eagles and the points, because at the very least I saw the Eagles giving the Cowboys a run for their Thanksgiving money. Turns out they dominated the entire game as Bad Romo showed up and over- or under threw every single pass of the game.
Seattle Seahawks 7-4 (+1.5) @ San Francisco 49ers 7-4 (39.5): 49ers 24-21 Seahawks 19-3
Thanksgiving, 8:30 PM, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA (Weather: Sunny, low 70s)
Reasons: The prime time Thanksgiving game could be the best game, especially if you like defenses. Both NFC West teams boast top-10 yardage defenses, as well as top-10 scoring defenses (SEA – 10th; SF – 7th). The problem with these teams is offense. The Seahawks struggle with the passing game (30th), but have the best running game in the NFL. It should be noted that Marshawn Lynch is questionable. Yeah. The 49ers also struggle with the passing game (24th), but also excel in the run game (11th). It should be noted Frank Gore is probable. The short week will kill these two teams, as their physical styles will suffer with only three days to recover. I predict the key to this game will be a costly turnover, a rarity for either team (SEA - +6; SF - +8). Both teams try to keep pace with the Arizona Cardinals and get the short end of the week in which to do it, so we should expect a defensive battle, rife with a few mental lapses – just as the O/U reflects.
I’m not really sure which is to blame for the 49ers offensive woes Sunday, the 49ers or the Seahawks. The Seahawks seem to be hitting their 2013 defensive stride, days after Cam Chancellor reportedly went up to every single player in the locker room and personally called them out. The 49ers offense might want to try that before Colin Kaepernick confidence grows smaller than his head looks in those flat brim hats.
Carolina Panthers 3-7-1 (+2.5) @ Minnesota Vikings 4-7 (42.5): Vikings 24-21 Vikings 31-13
Sunday, 1 PM, TFC Stadium, Minneapolis, MN (Weather: Windy; ~10 degrees)
Reasons: It’s unlikely the Panthers will get anything going offensively in the frigid wind, and the Vikings defense is the one thing the team has going for it.
Two punts blocked for TDs in the first half doomed the Panthers, as did the frigid temperatures (it was the second-coldest game in Carolina history). The defense played pretty well, despite the final score, but the Panthers offense was putrid. With the special teams playing as poorly as they are, there seems to be no hope for Carolina a year after going 12-4. Oh wait, they play in the NFC South.
Washington Natives 3-10 (+9.5) @ Indianapolis Colts 7-4 (50.5): Colts 31-24 Colts 49-27
Sunday, 1 PM, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Natives show glimpses of being good, and the stats could fool a less educated fan, but Washington gave the reigns back to Colt McCoy and the far superior Colts ball at home.
The Natives scored points, which was refreshing, but surrendered far more, which wasn’t refreshing. The Natives were simply outclassed by the playoff-bound Colts.
Tennessee Titans 2-9 (+7) @ Houston Texans 5-6 (42.5): Texans 27-20 Texans 45-21
Sunday, 1 PM, Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Texans are a team on the rise and the Titans are led by a guy who’s in seflie rehab.
JJ Watt scored yet another offensive TD, wreaked havoc on the Titans offense, and beat Zack Mettenberger for checking into selfie rehab.
Cleveland Browns 7-4 (-3.5) @ Buffalo Bills 6-5 (42): Browns 21-20 Bills 26-10
Sunday, 1 PM, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: 40% rain; low 50s)
Reasons: One of the best games of the week, this defensive battle is crucial to both teams trying to keep pace in their respective divisions.
The Bills keep on trucking, this time beating the Browns and Johnny Football, who replaced Brian Hoyer in the 4th quarter. The Bills’ defense is quietly making their case for the best defense in the NFL, and kept pace with their division rival Dolphins in the Wild Card race. The Browns, who also happen to be in that race, have to settle on a quarterback before preparing for a playoff run, which may not even happen.
San Diego Chargers 7-4 (+6) @ Baltimore Ravens 7-4 (46): Ravens 24-21 Chargers 34-33
Sunday, 1 PM, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD (Weather: Sunny, low 50s)
Reasons: The Chargers are a great football team and they’re getting six on the road against Baltimore, which not only reflects a transcontinental flight for an early east coast game, but also reflects the quality of the Ravens.
The Chargers rolled out a furious comeback, scoring the go-ahead TD on a disputed pass interference call in the end zone. The Chargers kept pace in the AFC West, while the Ravens fell back in the one division in the AFC that won’t allow it.
New York Giants 3-10 (-3) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 1-10 (45.5): Giants 24-20 Jaguars 25-24
Sunday, 1 PM, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Sunny, low 70s)
Reasons: The Giants are awful and the Jaguars are giving three at home, which tells you just how terrible the Jaguars really are. Hopefully Odell Beckham Jr. makes another three-fingered catch.
A philosophical question: If a team loses to the worst team in the NFL, do they suddenly become the worst team in the NFL? Clearly the answer isn’t always ‘yes’, but it sure could be in this case.
Cincinnati Bengals 7-3-1 (-3.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-9 (44.5): Bengals 24-21 Bengals 14-13
Sunday, 1 PM, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL (Weather: Sunny, low 70s)
Reasons: The 2-9 Buccaneers are one of the five worst teams in the NFL statistically, and boast a -93 point differential, so why do I feel like the Bengals are going to lose?
Perhaps my favorite call of the year, I hinted at a Bucs upset, but went with my head and ultimately picked the Bengals. What happened? It seemed the Bucs were going to win, but they ultimately lost. The Bengals may lead the AFC North, but they shouldn’t, as they might be the worst team in the division. The Bucs, on the other hand, are now 2-10, yet could still win their division. Wonders never cease.
Oakland Raiders 1-10 (-6.5) @ St. Louis Rams 4-7 (42.5): Rams 27-21 Rams 52-0
Sunday, 1 PM, Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, MO (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Raiders are coming of their first win of the season, against the mighty Kansas City Chiefs no less, but the Rams have a few solid wins under their belt and are looking to show off against the lowly Raiders at home.
Talent and a select few statistics suggest the Raiders aren’t technically the worst team in the NFL, but games like this make it difficult to argue against. That said, the Rams are no joke, and took their pre-game celebration and rode that emotion throughout the entire game, decimating the Raiders.
New Orleans Saints 4-7 (+4.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 7-4 (55): Steelers 27-24 Saints 35-32
Sunday, 1 PM, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: 50% rain; low 50s)
Reasons: The rain and the road don’t bode well for the reeling Saints, which seems a shell of their former selves.
The only thing more confusing than the play of the New Orleans Saints might be the play of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams seem to be winning on the road and losing at home, and both teams have displayed Jekyll-and-Hyde behavior, which is not like these two perennial playoff teams. Then again, the Saints’ success is recent, and the Steelers success almost seems transient at this point, as the Steelers risk missing the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Arizona Cardinals 9-2 (-1.5) @ Atlanta Falcons 4-7 (44.5): Cardinals 24-21 Falcons 29-18
Sunday, 4:05, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Falcons, once mighty at home, have lost three straight games at the Georgia Dome and now average half the points at home they did in their first two games. That won’t wok against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
The law of averages could be catching up with the Cardinals, and that “We’ve had Drew Stanton at the helm before” argument didn’t looks o good Sunday. The Falcons, who seem to realize their terrible division is up for grabs, settled down and actually played a good game at home and beat a quality team.
Denver Broncos 8-3 (-1.5) @ Kansas City Chiefs 7-4 (49): Chiefs 27-24 Broncos 29-16
Sunday, 4:25 PM, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO (Weather: Partly sunny; low 40s)
Reasons: The Broncos are coming off loss at the Rams, then a close win to the Dolphins, and now have to travel to division rival Kansas City and play a Chiefs team still embarrassed about the game they gave away to the Raiders last Thursday.
Apparently the loss to the Raiders was still bothering the Chiefs and they forgot about their AFC West division battle with the Broncos. Denver came in and took care of business on the road in a hostile environment, and also took advantage of a New England Patriots’ loss to keep pace in the AFC Conference.
New England Patriots 9-2 (+3) @ Green Bay Packers 8-3 (58): Patriots 28-27 Packers 26-21
Sunday, 1 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Cloudy, low 30s)
Reasons: The NFL’s top-two offenses square off in legendary Lambeau Field, where the legendary Bill Belichick will stand opposite where the legendary Vince Lombardi once stood and reflect on how he once surpassed Lombardi’s playoff win percentage record years ago, only to lose it again via the amount of playoff games coached. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady face off for the first time ever, so expect a shoot-out.
The game of the week lived up to the hype, and if it weren’t for a bobbled TD catch by Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots may have won 28-26. Both quarterbacks shined, and both defenses played relatively well considering both teams average over 32 ppg. The Packers defense clearly played better, holding the Patriots to only 21 points after New England had been scoring 40+ consistently.
Miami Dolphins 6-5 (-7) @ New York Jets 2-9 (42): Dolphins 28-20 Dolphins 16-13
Monday, 8:30 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Cloudy, low 30s)
Reasons: The Jets attempt to play spoiler, but it won’t work against a superior Dolphins team.
The Jets put up a fight and almost ruined the Dolphins playoff hopes with their 1940’s style of play. Geno Smith, at least I think it was Smith – he wasn’t introduced during pre-game introductions – attempted 13 passes and essentially watched the Jets lose their 10th loss in twelve games. Things aren’t going well on the gridiron anywhere in New York.
See you Thursday for Week 14: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) at ProFootballMedia.com!