I had a second-straight 10-6 mark for Week 13, with Denver’s upset over the Jets and the 49ers’ upset over the Bills being the major hurdles. I was wrong about the Packers for the second straight week, but, boy, it’s nice when they do lose. Maybe I’ll keep picking them to win and they can lose out. The Eagles’ loss to the Cardinals, the Patriots’ defeat to the Steelers, and the Jaguars’ loss to the Texans were the other games I missed.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Originally published Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.
Last Week: 10-6
This Week: 12-4
Oakland (3-9) at San Diego (4-8)
This is a big rivalry between these two teams, but can a Thursday night game between a 3-9 team and a 4-8 one get any worse? San Diego has been one of, if not the biggest disappointment this season, but I can’t see them losing at home against the Raiders.
Prediction: San Diego 23, Oakland 17
Actual Score: San Diego 34, Oakland 7
Jacksonville (4-8) at Chicago (6-6)
The forecast for kickoff on Sunday calls for cold weather with a “feels like” temperature of 11 degrees. Not exactly the kind of weather these Floridians are used to. To beat the Bears, the Jaguars have to rely on David Garrard because running against the Bears’ defense has been tough. Garrard has 4 interceptions the past three games, so things don’t look good for the Jaguars. I think the Bears hand the Jaguars — who, for whatever reason, have not lived up to expectations this year — a loss in a similar manner to the way the Bears beat the Packers and Saints last year in the cold weather to close the season.
Prediction: Chicago 27, Jacksonville 13
Actual Score: Chicago 23, Jacksonville 10
Minnesota (7-5) at Detroit (0-12)
The Vikings’ Pat and Kevin Williams will play on Sunday, but against the Lions, it wouldn’t matter if they played or not. Watching Jared Allen’s postgame interview on NBC this past Sunday night, he said they wanted to prove that the Bears’ victory over them in Week 7 was a fluke. Well, if that’s true, they’re certainly going to want to prove that their narrow, 12-10 victory over the Lions in Week 6 was also a fluke, and that they can win by much more this time around.
Prediction: Minnesota 28, Detroit 17
Actual Score: Minnesota 20, Detroit 16
Cincinnati (1-10-1) at Indianapolis (8-4)
The Bengals are woefully bad on defense and they looked awful offensively against the Ravens last week. I think Peyton Manning has a big game in this one and the Colts cruise to an easy victory.
Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Cincinnati 13
Actual Score: Indianapolis 35, Cincinnati 3
Philadelphia (6-5-1) at New York Giants (11-1)
What a battle this one should be. I like watching NFC East rivalry games and the Eagles and Giants shouldn’t disappoint in this one. Of course, I like the defending champions to hold down the fort and win this game, but don’t look for the Eagles to lay down. Their defense should make things interesting and keep it close.
Prediction: New York Giants 24, Philadelphia 21
Actual Score: Philadelphia 20, New York Giants 14
Cleveland (4-8) at Tennessee (11-1)
With third-string quarterback Ken Dorsey leading the way, and a bad run defense trying to stop the duo of LenDale White and Chris Johnson, I just don’t see the Browns having any chance to win this game.
Prediction: Tennessee 23, Cleveland 10
Actual Score: Tennessee 28, Cleveland 9
Atlanta (8-4) at New Orleans (6-6)
Fantastic week of action for the NFC South. Arguably the NFL’s most competitive division this year, all four teams will be competing in two games, with the Falcons and Saints in this one and the Panthers and Buccaneers on Monday night. I like Saints to knock off the Falcons at home because I don’t think Atlanta can stop Drew Brees and the Saints’ potent offense. The best way to try to do that is to run the ball, and they’ll be able to do it well with Michael Turner — just not well enough to keep the Saints’ offense off the field.
Prediction: New Orleans 28, Atlanta 24
Actual Score: New Orleans 29, Atlanta 25
Houston (5-7) at Green Bay (5-7)
I would love to see Houston waltz into Green Bay and knock off the Packers, effectively ending their chances of winning the NFC North. Behind the running attack of Steve Slaton, who had 130 rushing yards and two touchdowns last week and is 10th in the league in rushing, they just may have a shot — albeit a slim one. I think the Packers should be able to beat the Texans this week, but I picked the Packers the past two weeks and they’ve lost them both. Let’s go for three in a row. I’m taking the Packers, and hoping I’m wrong again.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, Houston 23
Actual Score: Houston 24, Green Bay 21
Miami (7-5) at Buffalo (6-6)
Miami knocked off Buffalo, 25-16, in Week 8 when the Bills were still playing well and were contenders for the AFC East crown. Since that game, the two teams have been going in different directions, but are still only one game apart in the division. I like the Dolphins to sneak into Buffalo and pull out a victory, led by their running game and run defense. If the Bills want to win this game, they need to pass against Miami’s bad pass defense.
Prediction: Miami 21, Buffalo 20
Actual Score: Miami 16, Buffalo 3
New York Jets (8-4) at San Francisco (4-8)
Although the 49ers are a different team under Mike Singletary, they’re not that good enough to beat the Jets — one would think. The Jets, although getting gashed by the Broncos on the ground last week, are normally solid against the run and should contain Frank Gore.
Prediction: New York Jets 27, San Francisco 17
Actual Score: San Francisco 24, New York Jets 14
New England (7-5) at Seattle (2-10)
The Patriots should roll in Seattle this week. The Seahawks don’t look like they’re putting up much of a fight these days, and after New England got beat up by Pittsburgh last week, they’ll be out for some vindication this week.
Prediction: New England 24, Seattle 16
Actual Score: New England 24, Seattle 21
Kansas City (2-10) at Denver (7-5)
Denver’s got one thing on their mind in this game and that’s payback. Riding a 3-game win streak to open the season, the Chiefs upset the Broncos in Week 4, which might have unhinged this Broncos team and caused them to lose three of their next four following that Chiefs game. Larry Johnson had 198 yards rushing in that matchup and I can guarantee that won’t happen again. I like the Broncos to not only win, but win big in this one.
Prediction: Denver 30, Kansas City 17
Actual Score: Denver 24, Kansas City 17
St. Louis (2-10) at Arizona (7-5)
The Cardinals should make quick work of the Rams playing at home this week. In their previous matchup, Arizona won, 34-13, in St. Louis. With a bitter taste in their mouths following their beating on Thanksgiving, the Cardinals have had extra time to rest and prepare for a Rams team that can’t play defense and doesn’t score an awful lot.
Prediction: Arizona 31, St. Louis 17
Actual Score: Arizona 34, St. Louis 10
Dallas (8-4) at Pittsburgh (9-3)
Two teams rich in tradition with two of the biggest national fan bases will do battle and and the only thing swaying my mind in this one is the homefield advantage. This one is tough to predict. A few weeks ago, I would have taken Pittsburgh without a second thought. But the Cowboys have shed their rust and with Tony Romo back healthy, they’re hitting their stride. I think Pittsburgh’s defense will make the difference in this one, though.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 22, Dallas 20
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 20, Dallas 13
Washington (7-5) at Baltimore (8-4)
Clinton Portis is going to give it a go this week, but I think the Ravens are going to just hand out more punishment to his already ailing body. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by John Harbaugh’s coaching ability and how he’s gotten this team — which is led by a rookie quarterback — playing at such a high level. I think the Ravens handle the Redskins in this one.
Prediction: Baltimore 21, Washington 16
Actual Score: Baltimore 24, Washington 10
Tampa Bay (9-3) at Carolina (9-3)
This week’s Monday night matchup is better than the Sunday night one, pitting the NFC South’s top two teams. This is going to be a physical battle and probably will hinge on which team can run the ball better. The Panthers have done a good job of that lately, with DeAngelo Williams rushing for 541 yards and 9 touchdowns in the past 5 weeks alone. However, I think the Buccaneers’ defense will put pressure on Jake Delhomme and cause him to commit a few turnovers and I think they’ll ultimately prevail.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 21, Carolina 20
Actual Score: Carolina 38, Tampa Bay 23