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Week 13 NFL Picks

An exciting slate of games this week! Also, Aaron Rodgers is not washed, the Chiefs have a running back, the Bucs have a need…

… a need for speed.

Last Week:    9 – 6 – 1
Season:        88 – 81 – 9

Thursday (8:20PM ET)

Bills 24 at Patriots 10
Was that crowd dead last night? The Patriots are in the thick of a playoff hunt, playing a division rival and trailing by 10 points late in the 3rd quarter. The Bills had the football and you could hear a pin drop. Are the Celtics and Bruins just so good that no one cares about the Patriots anymore? Or does Amazon play with the sound on their broadcast? This isn’t the first time I thought the home crowd was weirdly quiet on a Thursday night. Regardless, that loss all but dooms the Patriots playoff hopes. They’ll hang around for the next few weeks but then they finish with CINC, MIA and @BUF. New England’s only wins against teams with a winning record this season came against the Jets, so hope is running on empty.

Praying Their Head Shot Doesn’t Pop Up on Ye’s Twitter Feed (Bye Week)

Cardinals
Last year, in season Hard Knocks was eye opening to how little the Colts thought of Carson Wentz. He wasn’t a jerk or anything, and guys didn’t outright hate him, but it was pretty clearly he was just… there. This season has kind of been the same in Arizona. The Kyle Murray praise feels forced like it did last year with Wentz.

Panthers
Oh my goodness, the Panthers are going to win the NFC South aren’t they? The Panthers will only be a game or two out of first place come Monday and they still play the Buccaneers again. Did I mention they have the best division record? So tiebreakers would break favorably for them if they can hang around.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Steelers at Falcons
Atlanta is in a weird spot. The division is right there for the taking but there are still so many questions surrounding that franchise. Is Arthur Smith the right coach? (I’m undecided. Hard to judge a coach without a quarterback.) What are we doing at quarterback? (I think I just answered that, but Marcus Mariota isn’t the answer and with a playoff berth within reach it’s hard to justify giving Desmond Ridder the reigns.) It’s not a completely aimless season in Atlanta but it doesn’t feel much better. FALCONS -0.5

Packers at Bears
The “Aaron Rodgers is washed” crowd must be blind. Go ahead and watch the NFL slate this weekend and find me five quarterbacks you’d rather have under center next season. Mahomes, Allen, Burrow and Herbert are locks. (Not saying they’re all better than Rodgers but youth, growth, energy, etc…) After that, where are you going? Tom Brady could be gone and while his stats are more impressive, his physical abilities aren’t where Rodgers’ are at this state in the game. Jalen Hurts? Tua? Call me crazy, but I think a healthy Rodgers would elevate both offenses. Green Bay is stuck with Rodgers for at least next season and perhaps beyond unless he chooses to retire, be traded or void his contract after next season (I think that’s how it works). Being stuck with Rodgers is not a curse. The Packers have a good roster. This season just got sideways on them. A healthy Rodgers in 2023 with some minor tweaks to the secondary and offensive line will have the Packers back in contention. (Notice I didn’t say receiver. Sure, a nice receiver would help, but there aren’t any studs coming to market, the Packers will be short on cash [thanks, Aaron], and another offseason with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs should pay dividends.) BEARS +3.5 

Jaguars at Lions
That’s the Trevor Lawrence we all gawked over a couple months ago. I don’t love Clemson, nor do I love the Jaguars, but the NFL needs elevated quarterback play so badly we should all be pulling for Lawrence to come through. JAGUARS +0.5

Jets at Vikings
The Jets are a really good team. Great defense, solid running attack (especially before Breece Hall went down), and though I’m obviously not in the building, I think Robert Selah has been successful at building a winning culture there. I’m not talking about winning games, though that is certainly part of it. A winning culture is built upon hard work, accountability and commitment. The Jets appear to have those things in place… except at quarterback. If Mike White can just be solid, the Jets will be in the playoffs. VIKINGS -3

Commanders at Giants
This probably goes without saying, but this is a must-win for the Giants. They’ve lost three of four and have the 10-1 Eagles on deck. The Giants loss to Seattle in October is going to loom large over their playoff fate so a loss here would drop them out of the playoffs for the time being (Seahawks play the dreadful Rams). The schedule is brutal for the Giants who have only scored over 20 points once in the last month. It’s been a valiant run for the talent-deprived and injury riddled Giants, but it appears they’ve run out of ways to get Saquon Barkley the ball in space. Without that element to their offense they’re sitting ducks. However, I will continue to drive the “Taylor Heinicke is the worst” train until it crashes or runs off a cliff, so here’s to the Giants finding a way! GIANTS +2

Titans at Eagles
I know I’ve been hard on the Eagles for most of the season, but I really like the position they’re now in. Too many critics out there (raises hand) are forgetting the things this team does really well and have started to write them off as THE contender in the NFC. Hungry dogs eat first. I expect some hunger to this Eagles team down the stretch. I’m not picking them though. The only time they lost this season was when I didn’t pick against them on this here blog. My fault. Won’t happen again. (If the Eagles can get an early lead, this could go very badly for the Titans.) TITANS +4.5

Broncos at Ravens
Must suck to be a Denver fan. I think that’s all I can say. What a disastrous season. Speaking of disastrous season… Lamar Jackson is costing himself a lot of money. No, it’s not his fault the Ravens keep blowing 4th quarter leads. On the other hand, he hasn’t done much to expand those leads either. I know I’m a broken record on this, but if you can’t make winning throws, it really doesn’t matter what else you do at quarterback. RAVENS -9.5

Browns at Texans
Deshaun Watson is back. It’s a gross situation, to say the least, but the law allows him to play until he’s charged in criminal court. So, from a strictly football standpoint, I welcome someone who was once a very gifted quarterback back to a league in desperate need of gifted quarterbacks. Seriously, look around the league, how many franchises are completely satisfied at quarterback? Less than 10? Less than 7? There’s a QB famine in the land. TEXANS +7

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Seahawks at Rams
The Rams aren’t worth my brain energy. What an embarrassing title defense. Here we go, Eagles fans, here’s this week’s rooting guide to push the Saints (and their 2023 draft pick) further down the standings; Rams, Colts, Steelers, Raiders, Browns, Packers (or Bears, kind of a win-win), Broncos, and Jaguars/Lions is a win-win. Oh, and of course, the Buccaneers. SEAHAWKS -7

Dolphins at 49ers
The next three weeks should tell us all we need to know about Miami. I still can’t decide what I think of this team. The Ravens and Bills self-combusted back in Weeks 2 and 3, respectively, and the Dolphins took full advantage. Then the Dolphins lost three straight (all to playoff teams) without Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. Then Tua returned and the Dolphins reeled off five straight wins, all against non-playoff teams. The 49ers, Chargers and Bills are all on deck and all on the road. I think I still lean toward Miami’s offense being a bit overvalued so I’m going with the 49ers elite defense in this matchup. I know, I know, that 49ers offense is equally overvalued, perhaps even more, but I love the San Francisco defense too much. I don’t love the line, however, four is too high. DOLPHINS +4

Chiefs at Bengals
Too often the late afternoon slate is a heaping pile of garbage. Not this week. Well done, NFL. I have such high hopes for this game that it’ll probably be a boring blowout of some sort. I’m buying all the Isiah Pacheco stock I can get my hands on. That dude runs hard. The Chiefs haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since Kareem Hunt’s rookie season. Then his time in Kansas City fell apart due to an off the field issue. Clyde-Edwards-Helaire was supposed to be the fix but that clearly hasn’t worked out as intended. Enter Pacheco. He’s had 15+ carries in three straight games and has earned the lead back role in the Chiefs offense. If you don’t think 15+ carries is a big deal, Edwards-Helaire had 15+ carries only twice since the start of the 2021 season, so Andy Reid clearly likes his rookie running back. CHIEFS -2

Chargers at Raiders
Look at the Raiders! It’s never easy but they’re fighting. If you compare the Raiders and Broncos there are many similarities. Both entered the season with high expectations and maybe even deep playoff run aspirations. Both offenses were supposed to be electric. They’ve both fallen short in all those categories until the Las Vegas offense has found its groove here in recent weeks. But the biggest difference between the two franchises is the belief in what’s happening. Denver plays like they have no faith that their coach knows what he’s doing or what is going on. The Raiders rallied around their coach despite a dreadful record and start to their season. We’re still in this, Las Vegas! RAIDERS -1

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Colts at Cowboys
The Colts badly need a win to keep their playoff hopes on life support. Maybe their desperation will give us a decent game. Whatever, at this point I’m just rooting for Jeff Saturday so the talking heads on TV can choke on their “I told you so’s.” There are few things I delight in more than people who think they know everything being wrong about most things. COWBOYS -10.5

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Saints at Buccaneers
I haven’t watched any film on the Buccaneers (I have too many kids, a job, it’s ski season, etc…), so pardon my ignorance when I say, I have no idea why the Bucs aren’t better. Tom Brady, for the most part, has been excellent, the Tampa Bay defense is really good and there’s enough talent on the offense. I know they can’t run the football but Rachaad White has elevated that part of the offense over the last two weeks. One thing I have noticed, despite the talent at receiver, is how slow Mike Evans and Chris Godwin look recently. I know Godwin has been banged up for the better part of two seasons, but yikes. Neither one gets much separation and the offense struggles to get the ball downfield as a result. Brady’s average yards per pass this season is the 2nd lowest of his career. Last time his average was this though was in 2002. That was 20 years ago. In fact, this will be only the 2nd time in his last nine seasons that his average is below 7 yards per pass (it’s currently 6.5). The last was that dreadful final season in New England. The Bucs offense needs to find some speed and fast. (Pun intended.) BUCCANEERS -3.5

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