National football league predictions: week 13

Packers to defeat Vikings; Patriots will dominate Dolphins; 49ers to beat Rams

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

With quarterback (QB) Jay Cutler back in the lineup last week, the Bears looked like a totally different team. They dominated the Vikings all game and moved the ball with ease up and down the field. Their defense is one of the best in the league at forcing turnovers, so expect the Bears to put a lot of pressure on Russell Wilson. If Marshawn Lynch doesn’t get anything going, Chicago will be able to force Wilson into mistakes. Seattle also suspended both their starting cornerbacks, so their secondary is currently a mess. That’s not a good sign for an inconsistent team trying to sneak into a wild card berth in the playoffs. In a defensive struggle, Jay Cutler will be the difference as the Bears send the Seahawks home with a loss.

Prediction: 20-13 Bears

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

Houston is coming off two straight overtime wins as part of their five-game winning streak. They were the first team in the NFL to reach 10 wins and have their sights set on the first seed in the AFC and home field advantage in the playoffs. They come into this game against the Titans well-rested, as they haven’t played since Thanksgiving, which is bad news for the Titans. Tennessee just suffered a disappointing loss to the Jaguars and they have been wildly inconsistent all season. With their loss last week, they have basically ruined their chances at securing a playoff berth, so they will be playing for pride alone this week. Houston’s running game will be too much for the Tennessee defense to handle, and the Texans should win this one easily.

Prediction: 34-13 Texans

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

Outside of Houston, the Patriots are the hottest team in the AFC, if not the NFL. They have won their last two games by a combined score of 108-43, and their shellacking of their division rival, the New York Jets, last week was impressive. The Jets haven’t been particularly imposing this season, but it was still a rivalry game. Tom Brady has been outstanding lately and running back Stevan Ridley has been a pleasant surprise this entire season. He leads the Patriots’ sixth-ranked rushing attack and gives the Patriots a dynamic running option that they haven’t had since the days of Corey Dillon. Miami is coming off a win against the Seahawks and Ryan Tannehill continues to exceed expectations this season, but they simply do not have enough talent on defense to slow down this scorching Patriots offense. They are 26th in passing yards allowed, which means this could be a field day for Tom Brady.

Prediction: 31-13 Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Buffalo Bills

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

Jacksonville earned their second win last week against the Tennessee Titans, as Chad Henne impressed again. Since he has taken over the starting job, first round pick Justin Blackmon has started to really make an impact. He had five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown last week, and I expect him to continue producing as long as Henne is in the starting lineup. Buffalo looked uninspired as they lost an ugly game to Indianapolis last week. C.J. Spiller was impressive, but Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t provide enough support through the air to score more than 13 points against an awful Colts secondary. He needs to make a concerted effort to move the ball via play action and long passes to open up his running game. Until that happens, the Bills will struggle to win games.

Prediction: 16-13 Jaguars

Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

The Colts continue to make their case for the playoffs, as they won their fifth game in their last six against the Bills last week. Wide receiver (WR) T.Y. Hilton was impressive in the victory, scoring two touchdowns, one of which was on a terrific punt return. Andrew Luck did enough to get the win, throwing for almost 250 yards and a touchdown. They have a tough matchup this week, however, against a hungry Detroit team. The Lions lost a crucial game last week against the Texans that they should have won. Now they are in a must-win situation for the remainder of the season, so they will definitely show up to play this week. This matchup spells disaster for Indianapolis, as Detroit has the number one ranked passing offense in the NFL. Matt Stafford will carve up the Colts’ defense as the Lions win big and keep their playoff hopes alive.

Prediction: 34-20 Lions

Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

As bad as Carolina’s record is, they haven’t been a terrible team this season. The majority of their losses have been by six or fewer points, and their main problem has been finishing games. With a few key plays going their way, they could be on track to make the playoffs at this point in the season. Alas, they have had a rough year and can only play for bragging rights now. Cam Newton was spectacular in his Monday Night Football debut last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was responsible for four touchdowns and made clutch plays all game. However, the Chiefs continue to play terrible football. They are 1-10, and unlike Carolina, most of those losses haven’t been close. It looked as though they might be able to steal a win last week against Denver, but their offense was nonexistent and they couldn’t score enough to win. They will have similar problems this week trying to keep up with Newton and the Panthers.

Prediction: 24-10 Panthers

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

In a game that has major division implications, the Vikings and the Packers clash for the first time this season. The Vikings could have made things interesting last week against the Bears, but they couldn’t slow down the Bears’ offense enough to have a chance. Christian Ponder has not shown an ability to play from behind and the Bears quickly put the Vikes in a big hole, with a 25-3 lead at halftime. The Vikings need to take an early lead, so they can ride Adrian Peterson for the majority of the game. Since they were down so early last week, he only had 18 carries, while Ponder had 43 pass attempts — a losing formula for Minnesota. Green Bay was overmatched in their playoff rematch against the Giants. They couldn’t stop the Giants from scoring as Eli Manning shredded their defense methodically all game. Expect them to get back on track and keep pace with the Bears for the division title.

Prediction: 24-17 Packers

San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

The 49ers were the subject of a lot of controversy last week when they replaced QB Alex Smith with second-year QB Colin Kaepernick. It is very uncommon for a team as good as San Francisco to replace their quarterback halfway through the season, but the move paid off for the 49ers, as Kaepernick led them to a big win against the Saints. It remains to be seen whether he can produce consistently at a high level, but he does add a new dimension to the 49er offense. He is incredibly mobile in the pocket and creates problems for defenses trying to game plan for him. He will play again against the Rams, the team he played against in his first game this season. The two teams played to a tie in their first meeting, but it shouldn’t be that close this time around. The Rams’ offense will be completely stagnant against San Francisco’s defense and Kaepernick should be able to manufacture at least 20 points, which should be plenty to earn the win.

Prediction: 24-13 49ers

Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets

Sunday, Dec. 2 1 p.m.

The Jets continue to disappoint, as they lost embarrassingly to New England last week at home. This may be Mark Sanchez’s last chance to show that he deserves to start the rest of the season over Tim Tebow. This game really doesn’t have any playoff implications, as both teams sit at 4-7 with a dominant division leader. The Cardinals need to find a quarterback fast, because Ryan Lindley isn’t cutting it. He threw four interceptions last week against the Rams and was largely responsible for the Cardinals’ loss. This game will be incredibly sloppy, and whichever team makes fewer silly turnovers will win the game.

Prediction: 23-14 Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 2 4:05 p.m.

Tampa Bay almost beat their division rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, last week, and they continue to be a surprise this season. This game will be a good matchup of two potentially high-scoring offenses. If Doug Martin can find some holes against the Broncos’ defense, the Bucs will be in good shape. The bad news for them is that they are dead last in the league in terms of passing yards allowed. Peyton Manning knows this, and he will be attacking their secondary the entire game. This will be a potential shootout, but I think this will be the week Manning and the Broncos finally lose. They weren’t particularly stunning against Kansas City last week, and if they submit a similar effort this week, it will not be enough.

Prediction: 34-31 Buccaneers

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, Dec. 2 4:25 p.m.

Pittsburgh lost an embarrassing game last week against the Browns, as they fumbled eight times. That is completely unacceptable for a team as disciplined as the Steelers. Their offensive ineptitude was also due to having third-stringer Charlie Batch starting. If Ben Roethlisberger can come back from his injury in time for the game, the Steelers will have a chance to take down the Ravens. Otherwise, Pittsburgh might as well stay home. If they couldn’t move the ball against Cleveland last week, there is no way they’ll be able to against an angry Baltimore team in a division showdown. In all honesty, the Ravens shouldn’t have won last week, but they did. That seems to be the story of their season. The Ravens have been able to pull out almost all the close games this season, which explains their 9-2 record. After winning last week due to Ray Rice’s miracle fourth and 29 conversion, I don’t expect this game to be that close.

Prediction: 27-13 Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers

Sunday, Dec. 2 4:25 p.m.

The Bengals have put up 28 points or more in their last three games, and, not surprisingly, they have won all three. Andy Dalton has continued to be impressive this season as the Bengals look to make a playoff push at the end of the season. They should be able to move the ball on the Chargers, especially through the air, where San Diego ranks 20th in the league. San Diego has basically lost all chances to make the playoffs again this season, especially after their crushing loss to Baltimore last week. Considering that Cincinnati has everything to lose, while the Chargers have basically nothing to gain, the Bengals should pull this one out.

Prediction: 24-16 Bengals

Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 2 4:25 p.m.

In one of the more uninteresting games of the week, the Cleveland Browns travel to Oakland to battle the Raiders. The Browns are coming off a win against the Steelers after forcing eight fumbles, while the Raiders were torn apart by the Bengals. This is going to be an ugly, low-scoring game, as neither team really has a great offense. The Browns should be successful enough with Trent Richardson, however, to outscore a reeling Oakland squad.

Prediction: 16-9 Browns

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 2 8:20 p.m.

The Eagles lost again last week to the Panthers. They seem to be just “going through the motions” right now. They lost WR Desean Jackson for the season after he was injured early Monday night, and they cut defensive end Jason Babin earlier this week. Babin was coming off an 18-sack season last year, but he was largely ineffective this year. Bryce Brown was the only bright spot for Philadelphia, but even he had two crucial fumbles. The Cowboys are just as much of a mess as the Eagles. They were too slow for RGIII and the Redskins last week. Dallas needs to win this game to keep their playoff hopes alive, while the Eagles are playing for a high draft pick. Cowboys win big.

Prediction: 34-16 Cowboys

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

Monday, Dec. 3 8:35 p.m.

The Giants proved all their doubters wrong (why they have any in the first place is beyond me) last week when they dominated the Packers. New York always cools down at the end of the season, only to pick it up again right before the playoffs. This year seems to be no different, and it showed last week. As dominant as the Giants were last week, the Redskins were almost just as good. This game is going to be a really entertaining NFC East matchup. Although the Giants won a close one in their first meeting earlier this season, Washington will get their revenge this week, since they seem to be coming together as a team and finding an identity. Also, having WR Pierre Garcon in the lineup never hurts.

Prediction: 23-20 Redskins