NFL Picks and Predictions: Week13

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, November 29th, 2014

Murray

By Luke Dunlap
ld1@hotmail.com  

It’s Thanksgiving. Time to pick between cranberries (thumbs down) and stuffing (thumbs up). It’s also time to pick some games, and thus I present you with the Week 13 picks below.
First off, “Movember” ends Monday. And on the topic of hair, are those numbers on his chest, or gross squiggly chest fur? Oh, and he should really lower his weight and increase his reps — he’s getting a little boxy. The ladies like the shredded look, like a Julienne salad. I do recommend the onesie he’s sporting, however.
I also recommend watching the Packers, whom our NFL Hans is clearly pushing skyward. They deserve it, and I think that trend continues Sunday. For my explanation of that notion — and analysis on the other 15 contests — take a look below.

Chicago (5-6) at Detroit (7-4)
Thursday, 11:30  NFLN
Line:  Lions -7 / 48
Did you know the first time the Lions played on Thanksgiving Day was 80 years ago? It was 1934, and they played … you guessed it, the Chicago Bears. The Bears won 19-16 despite two Ace Gutowsky touchdowns for Detroit. Unfortunately, Gutowsky did not get $47.6 million guaranteed to be a middling quarterback. He was a running back, but we’re making a subtle point.
Speaking of, I really wanted to pick the Bears to win this game, but they’d need Matt Forte to have a huge day. Don’t see it happening against the league’s top-ranked run defense.
Pick: Lions by 4  / 24-20

Philadelphia (8-3) at  Dallas (8-6)
Thursday, 3:30 Noon  FOX
Line: Cowboy  -3 / 50
Tony Romo is really @#%*$^& good on Thanksgiving. He’s 6-1 with 18 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Only Dandy Don Meredith was better by winning percentage, having won all three of his contests.
The Eagles can ill afford Mark Sanchez turning the ball over in this game. With the way the Cowboys limit possessions by running the football, Philly simply won’t have opportunities to overcome multiple mistakes. Dallas ranks fifth in the league in time of possession and opponents’ total possessions.
Pick:  Cowboys by 6 / 30-24

Seattle (8-4) at San Francisco (7-5)
Thursday,  7:30  NBC
Line:  49ers  -1.5 / 40
The last time Seattle won at San Francisco, Russell Wilson was a redshirt freshman at N.C. State. The quarterback was Seneca Wallace. In fact, the Seahawks were so banged up at WR during that 2008 season, Wallace played wideout briefly before he got hurt. Those were the final days of the Holmgren empire.
The 49ers handled their business at home in one of the better games of 2013, and beat the Seahawks in 2012 when nobody could hold on to Wilson’s passes. Wilson will not be able to run all over the field in this one.
Pick:  49er by 3  / 16-13

Washington  (3-8) at Indianapolis (7-4)
Sunday, 12 Noon   FOX
Line:  Colts  -10 / 51
Colts win, barring seriously strange circumstances, or Alfred Morris going OFF. You know, this game would have been awesome on the schedule in 2012. Until late Tuesday night, this was to be only the seventh QB matchup since the AFL-NFL common draft in 1967 in which the first overall pick faced the second overall pick.
And just like RGIII vs. Andrew Luck, none of them has been particularly enticing. Jim Plunkett faced Archie Manning three times, but not in a year when both were good. Ryan Leaf vs. Peyton Manning reeks of, well, RGIII vs. Luck. And then there was Rick Mirer vs. Drew Bledsoe — presented without further comment.
No matter: All that is irrelevant, as we now get Colt McCoy, whom most feel gives the Redskins the best shot of winning right now.
Pick:  Colts by 12  / 29-17

Tennessee (2-9) at Houston (5-6)
Sunday 12 Noon   CBS
Line:  Texans  -7 / 43
Zach Mettenberger hasn’t posted a selfie on Instagram or LinkedIn since J.J. Watt mocked him on a sack when these two clubs met in Week 8. Watt aside, Tennessee could not stop Arian Foster in their most recent matchup. Foster had 173 yards of offense with three total touchdowns that day. And he’s rushed for at least one score in five straight games against Tennessee. He is expected to play Sunday. OK, back to Watt: He has 10 sacks in seven career games against these guys.
Pick:  Texans by 1  / 26-25

Cleveland (7-4) at Buffalo (6-5)
Sunday  12 Noon   CBS
Line:  Bills  -3 / 47
Is Kyle Orton better than Brian Hoyer? What do you guys think? ) Who is more likely to start in 2015? Over the last five games, Hoyer has been a hair better than Charlie Frye but short of Kelly Holcomb.
By the way, did you know this is a matchup of the two teams with the longest current playoff droughts? Holcomb darn near led Cleveland to a win in a 2002 AFC Wild Card Game. What a battle that was.
Pick:  Bills by 4  / 20-16

San Diego (7-4) at Baltimore (7-4)
Sunday, 12 Noon  CBS
Line:  Ravens  -6.5 / 46.5
Cookies n’ Cream, this is a hard game to pick. Dad-gummit, I’m taking the Ravens at home. While having Ryan Mathews back is certainly a boost for the Bolts, Baltimore has the NFL’s fifth-best run defense. Speaking of the ground game — and in case you missed it in the Power Rankings, or you only read your team’s blurb (shame on you) — Justin Forsett shares the company of DeMarco Murray and Antonio Brown as the only players to have at least 65 scrimmage yards in every game this season.
Pick: Ravens by 7  / 24-17

NY Giants (3-8) at Jacksonville (1-10)
Sunday, 12 Noon  CBS
Line:  Giants  -3 / 45
I wanted to go Giants 10, Jags 8, but factoring in the high propensity for a pick six … (pi/6) x (8^45 x 97) + Bortles = G-Men on top 26-14. Eli is part of that equation somewhere. Also worth noting: This is the Tom Coughlin- Rashad Jennings REVENGE Bowl. Is that the narrative for this, uh, stellar matchup? Jennings is healthy now and Jacksonville features the 28th-best run defense in the league. Coughlin has returned to Jacksonville only once (back in 2006) since his departure after the 2002 season. The Giants had just 25 yards rushing that day.
“John Henderson and Marcus Stroud aren’t walking through those doors.” — the fake Rick Pitino.
Pick: Giants by 12  / 26-14

Cincinnatti (7-3-1) at Tampa Bay (2-9)
Sunday, 12 Noon  CBS
Line:  Bengals  -3.5 / 44
Cincinnati is firing on all cylinders right now, particularly its defense, which doesn’t seem to miss Michael Johnson. In yet another player-versus-former-squad game (there are several this weekend), we have Johnson, who’s been a disappointment in Tampa, in his first game against the Bengals. I don’t have insider knowledge within the Bucs’ front office, but I’m guessing Tampa’s brass anticipated getting more than 18 tackles and three sacks after shelling out $8 million per year for the defensive lineman.
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill has the most rushing yards (448) in the NFL this November.
Pick:  Bengals by 14  / 34-20

Oakland (1-10) at St Louis (4-7)
Sunday, 12 Noon  CBS
Line:  Rams  -7 / 42
This is the We-both-played-in-LA-20-years-ago-and-left-for-money-and-we-might-come-back-and-try-to-make-more Bowl. Coming off the big win last Thursday night, the Raiders are looking to take back-to-back games for the first time since October of 2012.
More hyphenation: The oft-pesky Rams have 21 sacks in their last six games, after recording only one in their first five. (In case you’re wondering, the origin of the hyphen is thought to date back to 1455 Germany.) This game might come down to how effectively the Raiders protect Derek Carr, who is getting sacked only once per game.
Pick:  Rams by 7  / 21-14

New Orleans (4-7)at Pittsburgh (7-4)
Sunday, 12 Noon  FOX
Line:  Steelers  -5 / 54
I like Pittsburgh here. The NFC South is 1-10-1 versus the AFC North this season. The two non-losses: a fluky tie in Cincinnati, when Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won the game, and a Steelers loss, thanks to a Mike Glennon-to-Vincent Jackson TD pass with just seven seconds remaining. Other than that, the NFC South has fared worse than Andrew Dice Clay at Lilith Fair.
Just go to NFL Rewind and watch the second half of Steelers-Panthers. Also worth noting that Ben Roethlisberger has won six straight games coming off a bye.
Pick:  Steelers by 1  / 28-27

Carolina (3-7) at Minnesota (4-7)
Sunday, 12 Noon   FOX
Line:  Vikings  -2.5 / 42.5
Yep, we’re going with some unusual scores this week. I still remember when Carolina played at Minnesota to open the 2001 season. A relatively unknown rookie named Steve Smith took the opening kickoff back to the house. Meanwhile, the known rookie — Chris Weinke — led Carolina to its only win all season. He was Brandon Weeden before Brandon Weeden was cool. Fast-forward to today, and Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is trying to keep his team competitive.
Did you know that, after not throwing a single touchdown pass in his first three games, Bridgewater has tossed one in each of his last five starts?
Pick:  Vikings by 1  / 23-22

Arizona (9-2) at Atlanta (4-7)
Sunday, 3:05  FOX
Line:  Cardinals  -1.5 / 44.5
With Bruce Arians as coach, Arizona is 6-1 following a loss. That is definitely a product of his leadership and his wicked collection of newspaper-boy hats. Unless the Falcons can somehow muster a run game against this group, I don’t trust Matt Ryan at home enough against a team that has continually won against all odds. That said, Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie are going to have to ball out.
Hey, here’s all you need to know regarding this game: The Falcons are 4-7 this season — 4-0 against their division and 0-7 versus everybody else.
Pick:  Cardinals by 9  / 23-14  
New England (9-2) at Green Bay (8-3)
Sunday, 3:25  CBS
Line:  Packers  -3 / 58
The game of the week features the two highest-scoring teams in the NFL. It also features the most combined career touchdown passes (603) between two starting quarterbacks playing against each other for the first time. And here’s another impressive stat: Rodgers has thrown 29 touchdown passes at home since his last interception.
The key to me is for the Pack to attack the Patriots on the ground. Eddie Lacy’s 25 carries last week represented the first time he’s received more than 17 totes all season. Also, keep in mind that Darrelle Revis will probably be assigned to Randall Cobb, while Brandon Browner will get some help with Jordy Nelson. It’s a formula that means this contest might be a little more about the running games, and slightly less about the famous quarterbacks.
Pick:  Packers by 4  / 34-30

Denver (8-3) at Kansas City (7-4)
Sunday, 7:25  NBC
Line:  Broncos  -1 / 49.5
Since arriving in Denver in 2012, Peyton Manning is 5-0 versus the Chiefs. He’s also 10-1 lifetime. Oh, and he’s beaten Kansas City twice in the playoffs. That said, this is a very difficult game to pick for three major reasons:
A) The Chiefs played Denver tough on the road earlier this year. It was a 24-17 AFC West classic.
B) You know Kansas City’s players, coaches and everyone else right down to the cleaning staff will want to win this game for Eric Berry.
C) Berry is also quite integral to what the Chiefs do defensively.
This might be an evening in which the loud crowd and a dash of Jamaal Charles do just enough to pull off an all-important division win, though I’m leaning the other way with my pick.
Pick:  Broncos by 3  / 26-23

Miami (6-5) at NY Jets (2-9)
Monday, 7:25  ESPN
Line:  Dolphins  -7 / 42
This is Miami’s chance to remain relevant in December (and potentially in January, too). The AFC Wild Card race is loaded, but the Chargers and Ravens are playing each other … the Browns are battling the Bills … and the Chiefs host the Broncos. However those games play out, three teams the Dolphins are competing with for a wild-card spot will suffer a loss. Thus, consider this meeting with a reeling team an opportunity from the Football Gods that Miami must capitalize on.
Now, maybe Geno Smith can have a 100-plus passer rating in this one. Of course, he’s only done that once in his short career, and it was against the Falcons’ defense. (So it doesn’t really count.) Going to the other side of the ball, Lamar Miller will find the going tough against a stout Jets run defense, so this might be a game in which Ryan Tannehill needs to create plays … With his legs, perhaps?
Pick:  Miami by 18  / 28-10

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