Week 13 NFL picks

The Steelers and Ravens have both suffered missteps this season. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Packers at Lions

It is very surprising how bad the Packers are without Aaron Rodgers. A significant dropoff was inevitable, but I wouldn't have imagined that they would have gone from a top 5-10 team to a bottom 5-10 team. Rodgers masked a whole lot of issues.

Raiders at Cowboys

In the Eagles-Raiders game a few weeks back, the one player that really stood out to me was 6'1, 231 pound RB Rashad Jennings. He ran hard and consistently gobbled up yardage. Jennings has continued to play well in the three games since, and over the last four weeks, he has averaged over 100 yards per game.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, give up 5.1 yards per carry, which is awful. That's worst in the NFL. They've also given up 133.6 yards per game on the ground (3rd worst), 85 rushing first downs (2nd worst), and opposing offenses rush for first downs on 29.2% of their runs (worst in the NFL). 

Ultimately, the Cowboys are the better team, especially with rookie QB Matt McGloin at the helm for the Raiders, but this game is not a gimme by any stretch. The Cowboys have to stop the Raiders' rushing attack, or this could be a Thanksgiving Day embarrassment.

Steelers at Ravens

What we have here are two average teams who were formerly great fighting it out to stay alive for the 6 seed in the AFC. Woooooo! The Ravens are 4-1 at home, and the Steelers are 2-4 on the road. 

Jaguars at Browns

Bleh. Draft implications, and nothing more.

Titans at Colts

Are the Colts good? They beat the Titans two weeks ago, although that game was sandwiched in between two games against the Rams and Cardinals in which they were outscored 78-19. Gross.

Thankfully for the Colts, they play in the awful AFC South, so they'll be in the playoffs, but this is a wildly inconsistent team that isn't going anywhere.

Bears at Vikings

As mentioned in the Hierarchy/Obituary this week, the Bears are dead last in the NFL with 145.2 rushing yards allowed per game. Even worse, they've played 7 teams that are ranked 20th or worse in rushing offense:

Meanwhile, the Vikings are really running the ball well, and not just with Adrian Peterson. Last week, Peterson had 146 yards on 32 carries against the Packers, but Toby Gerhart also chipped in 91 yards on 8 carries. The Packers knew full well that the Vikings were going to run it, and they couldn't stop them. I don't think the Bears will be able to stop them either.

Dolphins at Jets

Miami is the better team, in my opinion, but I like the Jets' front seven in December North Jersey weather against the Dolphins' decimated OL. 

Cardinals at Eagles

The Cardinals match up well defensively against the Eagles. The Eagles have the best rushing offense in the NFL, and the Cardinals have the 2nd best rushing defense. The Eagles also have the 6th leading receiver in the NFL in DeSean Jackson, while the Cards have an emerging superstar in CB Patrick Peterson. 

The matchups aside, the way the Cardinals win is by forcing turnovers on defense. The have 23 takeaways on the season. Only 3 teams have more. When I think back to the Chiefs game earlier this year, I wonder how that game would have gone if Nick Foles started. If you'll recall, the Eagles lost the turnover battle in that one 0-5, including a pick 6 by Michael Vick. If Vick were starting this game, I'd be all over the Cardinals. With Nick Foles, I think the Eagles will play smarter on offense and take what's there instead of forcing the issue, while waiting for the Cardinals' offense to make mistakes behind their terrible offensive line.

Against this fast Cardinals defense, you cannot afford to make mistakes, because they will make you pay, whereas other defenses don't always capitalize on opportunities to make plays. I trust Foles not to make the devastating mistake.

Buccaneers at Panthers

The Bucs have won 3 games in a row. The Panthers have won 7 in a row. Both teams are hot right now, but the Panthers thoroughly dominated the Bucs in Tampa earlier this season, and should be able to handle them at home.

Patriots at Texans

The Texans lost to the Jaguars. At home.

Falcons at Bills

The Falcons are 0-5 on the road. The Bills are 3-3 at home. Two of their home losses were last second FGs to the Pats and Bengals, and they had the Chiefs beaten until Jeff Tuel happened. I'll take the Bills all day in frigid Buffalo over a Falcons team that can't run the ball to save their lives.

(Edit: I was just informed that the Bills play in Toronto this week, which of course is a dome. Still... Bills.)

Rams at 49ers

The Niners stomped all over the Rams when they met Week 4 in St. Louis. The Rams have played better since, but the Niners are clearly the better team here. This will be the final nail in the coffin of the Rams' occasionally encouraging 2013 season.

Broncos at Chiefs

Tamba Hali should be back against the Broncos, but the Chiefs will likely be without Justin Houston. It doesn't really matter, frankly. The Broncos are a much better football team. The Chiefs' slide continues.

Bengals at Chargers

Andy Dalton's last 3 games:

The Bengals are coming off their bye week, so it will be interesting to see how Dalton responds to his bad month of November, but at this point I actually trust Philip Rivers and the Chargers more than this team.

Giants at the Washington team

Sadly for these two teams, the thing in this game that interests me the most is whether or not Washington's offensive linemen help RG3 back to his feet after he gets hit.

Saints at Seahawks

It's not ideal being down two of your top three CBs against the Saints.

On a side note, while the Seahawks' home field advantage is well publicized, the Saints' ability to win on the road is often overlooked. People think of the Saints as a team that is far better at home than they are on the road.

In games started by Drew Brees with New Orleans, the Saints are 42-19 (.689) at home and 36-24 (.600) on the road. Obviously, .689 > .600, but the idea that the Saints struggle on the road is nonsense.

The Seahawks almost lost to the Bucs and were out-sloppy'd by the Titans in two of their home games this year. They're 5-0 in Seattle, but I just don't buy that that Hawks are indestructible there.