Dec. 07, 2017
NFL Week 13 Preview and Predictions
Week 13 Headlines
Eli Manning Benched: The New York Giants are benching quarterback Eli Manning, and Geno Smith will start this weekend against the Oakland Raiders. This will subsequently end Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive starts.
NFL Pledges $89 Million to Social Issues: The NFL and a group of players reached an agreement in principle late Wednesday night to partner on a plan to address social justice issues considered important to African-American communities. The unprecedented agreement calls for the league to contribute $89 million over seven years to projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education.
Fantasy Football Start Em/Sit Em
Starting Quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins, Philip Rivers, Josh McCown, Jared Goff
Sitting Quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott
Starting Running Backs: Jordan Howard, Samaje Perine, Alex Collins, Adrian Peterson
Sitting Running Backs: DeMarco Murray, Jay Ajayi, Jerick McKinnon, Alfred Morris
Starting Receivers: Devante Adams, Robby Anderson, Cooper Kupp, Marqise Lee
Sitting Receivers: T.Y. Hilton, Marvin Jones, Sammy Watkins, Dez Bryant
Starting Tight Ends: Hunter Henry, Evan Engram, Jared Cook, Jason Witten
Sitting Tight Ends: Cameron Brate, Tyler Kroft, Charles Clay, Eric Ebron
Starting Defenses: Chargers, Patriots, Redskins, Raiders
Sitting Defenses: Bills, Panthers, Cardinals, Seahawks
Redskins vs. Cowboys: Let’s just be honest with ourselves. The Dallas Cowboys are mediocre without Ezekiel Elliott carrying the ball. Without him, they’re forced to run a simple offensive scheme that utilizes little more than Dak Prescott check downs that don’t do much of anything. Dez Bryant has been ineffective all season as well. On defense, they’re completely compromised without Sean Lee. So why would I pick them to beat the Redskins? The Redskins offensive line will nullify the one strength on the Dallas defense (their defensive front). Kirk Cousins should have no trouble having his way with the Cowboys secondary either. Defensively, all they have to do quickly break down the check down passes and stuff the run. I’m picking Washington to win the game.
Chiefs vs. Jets: The Kansas City free fall continued last week with a loss to the Bills. And with a one-game lead in the AFC West, it looks like the Chiefs are in danger of missing the playoffs. Their offense has no identity whatsoever at the moment. Alex Smith has regressed from MVP candidate to below average quarterback who can’t even be trusted to manage games anymore. Kareem Hunt has fallen off of the face of the earth as well. To make matters worse, the Jets have a defense capable of taking away the one element of offense they do have; trickery. While the Jets aren’t much on offense, the Chiefs defense is approach joke territory at the moment. So the Jets will likely move the ball with efficiency. Don’t expect the Chiefs collapse to stop anytime soon as they drop this game to the Jets.
Patriots vs. Bills: Tom Brady will blow out the Bills in his home away from home.
Broncos vs. Dolphins: One team is reeling while the other is flat on it’s back awaiting a 10 count. The Broncos are in horrible shape. Their talented defense is nullified by their dysfunctional offense who couldn’t even carve up the Raiders defense.They can’t seem to get out of their own way. The Dolphins are similar in that regard. They had opportunities to make the game interesting last week against the Patriots and then proceeded to blow coverages and get blown out. Fortunately, the Patriots offense is in an entirely different league when compared to the Broncos. So long as the Dolphins can force the Broncos offense into mistakes, Miami should have no trouble winning this game.
49ers vs. Bears: Jimmy Garoppolo will make his 49ers debut this week, and he has something to work with in regards to the Bears defense. While Chicago’s defensive strength lies up front, the Niners typically do a good job of nullifying that with their downfield passing scheme. Chicago’s secondary is nothing special. Meanwhile, the Niners defense will likely focus on removing the running threat and forcing Mitchell Trubisky to beat them through the air. If that happens, the spark of Garoppolo should carry the Niners to a victory.
Lions vs. Ravens: With both teams competing for a wild-card berth in their respective conferences, this game will be very important. The Ravens defense has gotten itself together and has been playing well in recent weeks. They’ll be tested by a good Lions offense who seems to be trending in the right direction. What makes the difference is the Ravens offense, and not in a good way for Baltimore. Their offense is simply not good enough to pose much of a threat to anyone. So in a close game, I’m picking Detroit.
Vikings vs. Falcons: Atlanta has their work cut out for them against an elite Vikings defense. For starters, Julio Jones will have to deal with Xavier Rhodes covering him. That should be fun to watch. Overall, the Vikings have the scheme and personnel to match up well with the Falcons offense. Also, the Vikings have a top-five offensive unit as well. While I love the speed of the Falcons offense, I must admit they don’t always make the plays they should. They can be had. And if this falls into a defensive scrum, Minnesota has the advantage. In another close game, I’m picking the Vikings.
Buccaneers vs. Packers: Jameis Winston will be back on the field for the Buccaneers after missing a few weeks with an injury. One thing to note about Winston is to expect the unexpected, but not in a good way. He hasn’t shown to be an elite passer yer and can be turnover prone. If he’s not 100 percent, he may be in for a rough outing even against the Packers defense. Speaking of the Packers, they showed a lot of pride last week and gave the Steelers all they could handle. On both sides of the ball, the Packers went all out and showed they at least won’t go quietly. The Buccaneers haven’t shown that same attitude on either side of the ball so I’ll pick the Packers to win by a point or two.
Texans vs. Titans: Tennessee finds themselves atop the AFC South via a tiebreaker over the Jags. So they really need to capitalize on this and win games they should win. That includes this game against the Texans. It comes down to one simple fact: I trust Marcus Mariota more than I trust Tom Savage. So I’m picking the Titans to win.
Colts vs. Jaguars: Jacksonville’s weakness has begun to rear its ugly head. One of the best defensives in football, the top running attack, and Blake Bortles is their quarterback. With that known, look for them to win a close game over the Colts.
Browns vs. Chargers: Cleveland has three real chances to pick up a win this season. Next week against the Packers, Week 16 against the Bears, and this week against the team that gave them their only win last season. Even though the Chargers are playing well right now, they historically play down in games like this. Last year was proof of that. But with the division in reach and an easy schedule down the stretch, the Chargers cannot afford any missteps. Their defense and Philip Rivers have been red hot recently and should have no trouble rolling the Browns on Sunday. But if they find a way to lose, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Rams vs. Cardinals: The Rams showed a lot last week, and will now have to show how they handle coming off of a big win. On paper, the Rams should be able to beat the Cardinals without much trouble. The Cardinals won’t go quietly though. Blane Gabbert surprisingly adds a bit of competency to their offense that makes them a threat. But ultimately, I expect Wade Phillips to scheme a way to shut down the Cards offense. Also, Sean McVay will likely do the same to the Cards defense. So look for the Rams to secure their first winning season since 2003, and their first winning season in Los Angeles since 1989.
Giants vs. Raiders: The Eli Manning era is clearly over in New York as the Giants opt to bench the two-time Super Bowl Champion in favor of Geno Smith. This is great news if you’re a Raiders fan. Michael Crabtree is gone due to a suspension, Amari Cooper is in the concussion protocol and their defense can’t stop a competent offense. I expect the Eli benching to deflate the team emotionally, giving the Raiders enough of an edge to swipe a much-needed game to keep pace in the AFC West.
Panthers vs. Saints: Control of the NFC South hangs in the balance. The big matchup is between the Panthers defense and the Saints offense. Carolina relies on a stout defensive front to overwhelm their opponents. The Saints new style of smash-mouth football will clash directly with the Panthers philosophy. Should be fun. On the other side, Cam Newton and the Panthers offense have improved greatly from their early season struggles. This may come down to the availability of Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley. If they’ll be playing on Sunday, I would expect the Saints to load the box and force Cam to beat them through the air. If not, that opens up things for Cam to make a myriad of plays. I assume the Saints corners play on Sunday. Plus with the Saints at home, it’ s tough to bet against New Orleans.
Eagles vs. Seahawks: The Eagles stand atop the NFL with the best record and hottest team. And honestly, I don’t think this game will be close. Injuries to the Legion of Boom leave the Seahawks vulnerable to the Eagles offensive attack. The Seahawks offense is Russell Wilson or bust. I expect Wilson to break contain a few times and make plays, but I don’t expect him to keep pace with the Eagles offense. Philly wins big on the road.
Steelers vs. Bengals: You can always expect a physical game filled with some matter of shenanigans when these two teams hook up. Both defenses are for real, love to hit, and aren’t afraid to get dirty either. Unfortunately for the Bengals, the Steelers offense is beginning to put it together. While the Bengals have weapons of their own, their far too inconsistent to be reliable. Plus, this game typically comes down to who is the most disciplined. And the Bengals have proven time and time again that they’re incapable of being the more disciplined team when playing the Steelers. I expect some sort of mental collapse from the Bengals and the Steelers to take advantage and win.