Week 13! There are many games this week with playoff implications, as the wild-card spot battles continue.
Browns (4-6-1) @ Texans (8-3) HOU -6
Cleveland has won consecutive games over the Bengals and Falcons, and have started to play much better of late. Getting rid of Hue Jackson has really enabled Baker Mayfield to have the free reigns, and boy has he been good. Nick Chubb has continued to run wild, while their defense keeps making big plays. This is a young and very talented team, that has waited for a solidly competitive season like this for a long time.
Houston, on the other hand, is far and away the hottest AFC team, having won eight games in a row since starting 0-3 (no team has ever had such a run after an 0-3 start). Deshaun Watson has been able to make a full recovery, while the running game has been on another level. A healthy JJ Watt has made all the difference for the defense.
Prediction: HOU wins by a TD or more.
Ravens (6-5) @ Falcons (4-7) ATL -1
The Lamar Jackson show is in theatres for a third week in a row. After leading the Ravens to a 2-0 start with a unique style of play, much different than that of Joe Flacco, the team has played with a new energy. Gus Edwards has emerged as the leading rusher in this same time frame, and has gone for 100-yards in both wins. It seems that Jackson has the full support of his team, and this is great to see. We may have seen the last of Flacco in Baltimore, after 11 years.
Atlanta has dropped three games in a row since getting back to .500 at 4-4, and their season may be in serious peril. People are talking about the longshot odds of the 4-6-1 Packers of making the playoffs, but then 4-7 Atlanta is all but done. They just have to get out there and play for pride, see what they can make of it. Matt Ryan has been great as usual, but with injuries to their O-Line, RB’s, DL, and linebacking corps, plus secondary… not much to be done. The replacements just aren’t good enough.
Prediction: Lamar leads Baltimore to a third win in a row on the road!
Vikings (6-4-1) @ Patriots (8-3) NE -5
Minnesota dominated the Packers in primetime last week, with Kirk Cousins leading the offense on an impressive day. Adam Thielen is having a historically impressive year, while Stefon Diggs has been great in a supporting role. This defense has been plenty good enough to win most of their games, and we’ll see if it is able to continue.
The Pats look to get a new streak going off their win over the Jets. Minnesota poses a much tougher threat, and they are a team looking to try and cement their playoff spot. The Patriots don’t have much pressure to win this game, with a pretty firm lead atop the AFC East. They’ll find a motivation, as they always do though, under Belichick.
Prediction: Pats by six or more.