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NFL Picks Week 13: Playoff Implications

Week 13 is highlighted by games with major playoff implications including the Falcons/Buccaneers, Steelers/Ravens and Patriots/Jets. We take a look at each game and pick a winner.

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A mixed bag of games highlight Week 13. There's certainly some clunkers (see: Seattle/Carolina) and some really, really big mismatches (see: Cincinnati/New Orleans), but overall there should be some entertaining games in Week 13 - certainly plenty with playoff implications.  The Falcons/Bucs, Ravens/Steelers and Jets/Patriots highlight Week 13, but there's also games like San Francisco/Green Bay that do have playoff implications.

Onto the picks.

Houston (5-6) at Philadelphia (7-4) - The Texas, despite their woes, find themselves just one game back in the AFC South with the Jaguars and Colts ahead of them at 6-5. It's still not too late for the Texans - and lucky for them, Andre Johnson didn't get suspended for decking Cortland Finnegan. The Eagles just lost to the Bears and sit at 7-4 - but that's a dangerous position to be in. They share first place with the Giants but it's worth noting that if the playoffs began today, two 7-4 teams in the NFC would be out of the playoffs (Green Bay, Tampa Bay). 

  • Maurice London: Eagles
  • Christopher Fittz: Eagles - Can Andre Johnson beat the asses of the entire Eagles team, please?
  • Robbie Griffin: Eagles - This just seems like it should be ugly. A secondary that can't keep up with mediocre receivers against blazing speed and a QB who can give them time to get open? Game over, man. Game over.
  • Charley Code: Eagles - Andre Johnson beat the F out of Courtland Innigan, but unfortunately, Mike Vick is going to run through the Texans secondary like rabid dog. Is it tired yet? Sorry.
  • Liam Ponting: Eagles - Houston's on the road to a team that's much better than they are. Vick performed reasonably well against Chicago's defense, so I can't imagine what he'll do to Houston at home.
  • Brett Perryman: Eagles - The Eagles have been a little underwhelming the past two weeks but should have their way with Houston's secondary.
  • JP Starkey: Texans - Upset of the week.

New Orleans (8-3) at Cincinnati (2-9) - This one should get ugly. The Saints are fresh off their Thanksgiving day revenge win over the Cowboys and the Bengals are fresh off their Thanksgiving day loss to the Jets. The Saints still haven't looked dominant this season but they're still 8-3 and likely to head to the playoffs. The Bengals, well, they're the Bengals.

  • London: Saints
  • Fittz: Saints  - If the Saints don't win this game, I'll eat a KFC Double Down. (Win, win!)
  • Griffin: Saints - This looks like a boring week. I think I've got the favorite in every game, and most of them I'll be surprised if it's particularly close. That, of course, means it could be an exciting week.
  • Code: Saints - Does anyone give Ocho T.O. a shot in this one? They're terrible. It’s fun to me.
  • Ponting: Saints - The Saints are getting hot and Cincinnati's running out the clock. Saints by a wide margin.
  • Perryman: Saints - The Saints offense is rolling and Cincy is starting to roll over.
  • Starkey: Saints - I regret ever picking the Bengals to win any game this year.

Chicago (8-3) at Detroit (2-9) - The Lions played the Patriots tough...for a couple of quarters, then they remembered that they're the Detroit Lions. Still, the Lions haven't looked that bad this year. The knock on the Bears was a lack of a quality win - but they just beat the Eagles last weekend. That's pretty quality, so at 8-3, it's time to start taking the Bears seriously.

  • London: Bears
  • Fittz: Bears - I am hoping Calvin Johnson gets his revenge but apparently the Bears are the surprise miracle team of the season.
  • Griffin: Bears - It seems like Chicago is starting to be more for real and Detroit is sliding back towards being more Detroit-bad than okay-bad. I would have felt completely differently about this game a few weeks ago.
  • Code: Bears - Detroit is a much better team than their record indicates, however, The Chicago Bears have a little known player by the name of Brian Urlacher. He'll draw strength from the barbed wire and conquer the under producing Lions.
  • Ponting: Bears - Thought about an upset here but I think the Bears' momentum carries over.
  • Perryman: Bears - The Bears have obviously figured some things out.
  • Starkey: Bears - I find myself rooting for the Bears to win the NFC North since I picked them to win it - almost enough to atone for my 49ers pick.

San Francisco (4-7) at Green Bay (7-4) - The Niners are still alive in the playoff hunt, sitting just a game out in the NFC West. They just lost Frank Gore for the season no less, but are still someway, somehow playoff contenders. They'll face a Packers team that should be plenty motivated following their loss to the Falcons. The Packers, like the Eagles, need to start winning as it looks like there's no guarantee of a wild card spot in the NFC this year for a 10-6 or 9-7 team.

  • London: Packers
  • Fittz: Packers - San Francisco's journey to become the first 6-10 division champion continues.
  • Griffin: Packers - I can't wait until I don't have to hear about Mike Singletary anymore.
  • Code: Packers - I'm actually tempted to pick SF. It just seems typical for NFL 2010.
  • Ponting: Packers - Even in that terrible division, the 49ers don't have much margin for error if they want to make the playoffs. This should be the hammer blow.
  • Perryman: Packers - This is actually a game with major playoff implications. That means the better team will win.
  • Starkey: Packers - I'm guessing it'll be cold, which means Brian Westbrook might snap in half in this game.

Jacksonville (6-5) at Tennessee (5-6) - It's a sad day if you're Randy Moss. You have to be happy that your quarterback this weekend will likely be Kerry Collins; and you have to be sad if you're Randy Moss for the same fact. You go from Tom Brady (MVP) to Brett Favre to Vince Young to Rusty Smith to Kerry Collins at QB in one year. Yikes. Anyway, both teams need this game. It's Week 13, it's a divisional game and one game separates the entire division. Holy mediocre, Batman.

  • London: Jaguars
  • Fittz: Jaguars - I am assuming someone named Rusty is still quarterbacking the Titans. How can I pick a team with a Rusty QB?
  • Griffin: Titans - Jacksonville's sudden contention doesn't mean I think they're particularly good. Collins needs to play the whole game, though.
  • Code: Jaguars - Is Vince Young one of those players that turns a franchise upside down?
  • Ponting: Jaguars - I would be interested in this game if it was Rusty Greer quarterbacking the Titants. He's not, so they'll lose.
  • Perryman: Titans - This one probably hinges on whether Kerry Collins starts and finishes.
  • Starkey: Titans - Moss actually does something and the Titans win.

Denver (3-8) at Kansas City (7-4) - Your AFC West division leading Chiefs haven't lost yet at home this year and need to keep piling up the wins leading up to their showdown against the Chargers that will almost certainly decide the division. The Broncos, well, Josh McDaniels will be fighting for his job, especially with SpyGate II on his hands.

  • London: Chiefs
  • Fittz: Chiefs - One game closer to Josh McDaniels getting fired.
  • Griffin: Chiefs - The rare game I think can be close this week, but I'm still taking the favorite. I'm not making the "pick against KC in a great homefield" mistake twice in a row.
  • Code: Chiefs - Ah the post game handshake / finger waggle. KC exacts revenge.
  • Ponting: Chiefs - The Chiefs are undefeated at home and Dwayne Bowe has been God-like over the past few weeks.
  • Perryman: Chiefs - Two teams headed in opposite directions, and KC is unbeaten at home.
  • Starkey: Chiefs - I'm very tempted to take the Broncos here.

Cleveland (4-7) at Miami (6-5) - This game features two of the most boring teams in the league. The Dolphins need a quarterback badly. The Browns, well, they're getting better and have played some pretty tough football this year. Peyton Hillis is winning a lot of fantasy leagues for people and he's fun to watch. Wonder if McDaniels would trade Brady Quinn for Hillis today. Hmm.

  • London: Browns
  • Fittz: Browns - I don't know why I like the Browns in this game other than the Dolphins being just about the most boring team ever.
  • Griffin: Dolphins - Two teams that I think are better than they get respect for, but people have come around on the Browns. That means Miami wins.
  • Code: Browns - Peyton Hillis is a unicorn.
  • Ponting: Dolphins  - This may end up being the most boring game of football ever.
  • Perryman: Dolphins - The Dolphins are still in the playoff picture, will level their home record.
  • Starkey: Dolphins - They'll still be alive in the playoff hunt if they can win this game.

Buffalo (2-9) at Minnesota (4-7) - The poor Buffalo Bills. They've played better than their 2-9 record, but that's all Chan Gailey has to show for it. At the very least, Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like he can be a legitimate quarterback. As for the Vikings, much like the Cowboys, the rest of their season looks like a test for their interim head coach Leslie Frazier. I'm sure we'll still hear about the Brett Favre magic the rest of the way, though.

  • London: Vikings
  • Fittz: Vikings - I want to make a joke at Stevie Johnson's expense, but I maintain that that twitter is the best thing that's happened this season.
  • Griffin: Vikings - This game just scares me. I think the Vikings can lose to anyone any day of the week. But they have so much more talent than Buffalo. . .
  • Code: Vikings - MIN wins, but does not cover.
  • Ponting: Vikings - I'd love it if Buffalo won, but they're ineffective on the road (well, everywhere really) and Minnesota's still riding a post-Childress wave.
  • Perryman: Vikings - The new coach bump lasts one more week.
  • Starkey: Vikings - If this were in Buffalo, I'd take the Bills.

Washington (5-6) at New York (7-4) - The Redskins probably think they're still playoff contenders, and hey, if they beat the Giants they're only a game behind Big Blue, but too bad for them that the Eagles are also 7-4. The Giants, much like the Eagles and the Packers, need to make sure that they win the "easy" games otherwise they might be on the outside looking in come January.

  • London: Giants
  • Fittz: Giants - The only solace for the fact that one of these teams will win is the fact that one of them will lose.
  • Griffin: Giants - Games I don't expect to be close, just picking the favorite, blah, blah, blah.
  • Code: Giants - McNabb, sorry little buddy, your team kinda sucks.
  • Ponting: Giants - The Giants, even without Nicks and Smith, should be able to handle the Redskins easily.
  • Perryman: Giants - This matchup is so NFC Easty.
  • Starkey: Giants - I don't think the Giants are great, but I do think the Redskins are bad.

Oakland (5-6) at San Diego (6-5) - Everybody and their mothers are in love with the Chargers, who just beat the Colts into a pulp on Sunday Night Football last week. The Chargers have been excellent statistically all year and it's finally translating into wins. Still, the Raiders might prove to be a thorn in their side. If the Raiders lose, their playoff hopes will come to a halt. This could end up being a good game.

  • London: Chargers
  • Fittz: Chargers - This is pretty much a must-win for the Raiders. Which only means that they will not win.
  • Griffin: Chargers -  Brian Burke's rankings now have the Chargers as the best team in the NFL. This franchise is so weird.
  • Code: Chargers - The Chargers are making their late season run leading into a playoff disappointment.
  • Ponting: Chargers - In a shocker to literally no-one, the Chargers are getting in the second-half of the season.
  • Perryman: Chargers - Ok, I guess I'm buying into the notion that it's another red hot finish for the Chargers.
  • Starkey: Raiders - Darren McFadden makes up for the stinker last week.

Dallas (3-8) at Indianapolis (6-5) - What a difference a month makes. The Cowboys are 2-1 under Jason Garrett and to their credit, have played fairly hard. The Colts have also played hard but have also fallen from the standings. Losers of three of their last four, the Colts find themselves at 6-5, tied with the Jaguars (but lose the tiebreaker) for the division lead in a mediocre AFC South. The Colts need this game.

  • London: Colts
  • Fittz: Colts - The death march of despair continues for the Cowboys.
  • Griffin: Colts - This game is going to be rough on me.
  • Code: Colts - The Give Up 2 is underway. The Roy WIlliams fumble sealed it.
  • Ponting: Cowboys - Dallas gets a long week to prepare for a Colts team that's just getting ravaged by injuries. As much as I'd like to see Dallas lose this game (I hold out hope for Patrick Peterson), I think they pull off the upset here.
  • Perryman: Colts - This is close to a must-win for Indy. They have enough at home.
  • Starkey: Cowboys - Manning has sucked lately and I'm hoping that continues.

St. Louis (5-6) at Arizona (3-8) - Talk about two franchises headed in opposite directions. The Rams haven't been good in awhile but with Sam Bradford at the helm, they've turned it around and lead the NFC West and would actually host the Saints if the playoffs began today. The Cardinals, well, they don't have a quarterback of the present or future and they can't seem to run the ball with either Tim Hightower or Beanie Wells

  • London: Rams
  • Fittz: Rams - I will never care about this game or what happens during it.
  • Griffin: Rams - One of the few tough games for me this week. That's because both teams are forgettable. Except one of them might make the playoffs. When I'm old and I think back over my life watching football, I'm not sure I'll remember 2010 at all.
  • Code: Rams - This isn’t funny. I’m not out here laughing. I take this real serious. I put my freaking heart and soul into these picks.
  • Ponting: Rams - St. Louis may actually be the best of a terrible group in that division.
  • Perryman: Rams - Sam Bradford has been terrific, and the Cards have stopped protecting their home field.
  • Starkey: Rams - Sam Bradford is good.

Carolina (1-10) at Seattle (5-6) - Hey look, a Saint Nick's day present for Pete Carroll. The lowly Panthers have to travel cross-country to take on the Seahawks who are in a playoff race in the NFC West. At least Mike Goodson has looked good for Carolina this year.

  • London: Seahawks
  • Fittz: Seahawks - The 2005 NFC Championship Game rematch! Finally.
  • Griffin: Seahawks - Bah.
  • Code: Seahawks - Finally, a game The Seahawks can win.
  • Ponting: Seahawks - Could you imagine showing this game split-screen with the Dolphins-Browns game? You'd have something worse than waterboarding.
  • Perryman: Seahawks - The Panthers are on the Andrew Luck express.
  • Starkey: Seahawks - Really, no interest in watching any part of this game.

Atlanta (9-2) at Tampa Bay (7-4) - The Bucs have had a tough slate the past two weeks. Last week, they had to travel to Baltimore and ultimately lose to the Ravens. This week, they'll host the NFC-best Atlanta Falcons who have started to emerge as the class of the NFC in 2010. That's subject to change in the last month of the season of course, but Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White have definitely put themselves on the Super Bowl map.

  • London: Buccaneers
  • Fittz: Falcons - This might be the most entertaining game of the week.
  • Griffin: Falcons - Easily the most interesting game of the week for me. Two teams can't both have their luck run out in the same week. Who'd have thought ATL-TB would be HUGE before the season started?
  • Code: Falcons - This one was a tossup. I went with the better team.
  • Ponting: Falcons - Fascinating game that could really go either way. Atlanta's playing incredibly well and just looks to be a better team.
  • Perryman: Falcons - Major tester for Atlanta here: on the road, in division, after a big home win
  • Starkey: Buccaneers - I think the Falcons are better, but I don't think they're invincible.

Pittsburgh (8-3) at Baltimore (8-3) - This one could be deciding the AFC North. The Ravens already went into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers earlier this year, so if they win again here, that's essentially a two game lead on their division rivals. Of course, the Steelers were without then-suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when that game took place. This should be one of the better games of the week and it's fitting that it's prime time.

  • London: Ravens
  • Fittz: Steelers - The winner of this game probably goes on to lose to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
  • Griffin: Ravens - Hey, look, another good game this week! And one where I'm not even sure who to pick. I'm going with the home team, but I think Pit is better.
  • Code: Ravens - Roethlisberger is a doosh. Plus, his foot hurts. Gimme the home team.
  • Ponting: Steelers - Roethlisberger's gimpy and the Ravens are at home. No clear winner here though.
  • Perryman: Ravens - These two teams are so similar, have to take the home team.
  • Starkey: Ravens - It'll be tough for me to pick the Steelers against any legitimate team the rest of the year.

New York (9-2) at New England (9-2) - Save the best for last. One could make the case that these are the top two teams in the entire NFL facing off against each other on Monday Night Football. Much like the Ravens-Steelers game, if the Jets win, that's essentially a two game lead on the Patriots since the Jets won the Week 2 contest. Both teams hate each other and this could also determine homefield advantage in the AFC as well. 

  • London: Patriots
  • Fittz: Patriots - Rex Ryan needs a week to think about what he's done.
  • Griffin: Patriots - All I hear on TV and radio is how huge this rivalry is. Does anyone outside of the north east care?
  • Code: Patriots - The Jets are playing well right now, but they’re going up against Tom Brady, his hair and a harem of impregnated models this week. Gimme the models, Tom and his hair, please.
  • Ponting: Jets - This one is incredibly tough for me to call. The Patriots are the slight favorite but the Jets have an ineffable ability to win games like these.
  • Perryman: Patriots - The last time I picked against NE they manhandled Pittsburgh. Repeat?
  • Starkey: Patriots - I hope it snows. Oh yeah, Tom Brady improves his MVP case as the Patriots march towards AFC Homefield.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.