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NFL 2020, Week 13

Picking the winners and scores of this week’s slate of NFL games.

By Michael KinnalyPublished 3 years ago 11 min read
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NFL 2020, Week 13
Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

I’ve been an avid follower of the National Football League now for three decades (since 1990!) and one of my favorite pastimes has been predicting the winners of the games. I don’t take the Vegas point spreads into account when I do this; I simply pick the winner and the final score of each game. My success rate overall has been above average, between 60 and 70 percent, generally lower in the early weeks of the season but higher as November/December roll around and the playoffs loom on the horizon.

I got off to a bit of a later start this year, due to work commitments and other things. Began in Week 7, missing a couple Thursday night games along the way since. My season win/loss record to date is 49-34, last week I was 11-5.

I don’t place any wagers on these; they are for entertainment only.

Now with all that out of the way, here goes…

Detroit at Chicago… The Detroit Lions (4-7) have won just once in their last five games, and they were lucky to take that one win at home against Washington. After losing to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day and giving up 41 points in the process (the 2nd such time they’d allowed that many points during this brutal stretch)… Lions ownership decided to part ways with their head coach and general manager. This team is just not very good but… on the other side of the field, the Chicago Bears (5-6) have lost five in a row after a promising 5-1 start. Chicago has not been able to sustain any kind of offense no matter who’s been under center, but their defense is their strength and has kept them in some of these games during this losing streak. My pick… the Bears move the ball well enough against a bad Lions team to win a battle of field goals.

Chicago 19, Detroit 16

Cincinnati at Miami… The Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) didn’t really have much of a chance to make the postseason, but they were able to stay competitive with their star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow taking snaps. Unfortunately, Burrow went down with a season-ending injury in their game against Washington… effectively ending whatever slim chance they had to be playing meaningful games in December. On the other side, the Miami Dolphins (7-4) find themselves in the wildcard race, with a chance to contend for the division title as well. Miami should handle this one at home easily.

Miami 24, Cincinnati 13

Indianapolis at Houston… This one is tricky. For one thing, it’s a divisional rivalry game. The Indianapolis Colts (7-4) have a lot of talent on defense and a veteran quarterback with a solid track record in Phillip Rivers, but they tend to be inconsistent. The Houston Texans (4-7) are playing much better as of late, but they’ve just lost their top wide receiver for the season due to a violation of league policy. My pick… the Colts, being the better team, win a close high-scoring contest on the road.

Indianapolis 30, Houston 27

Jacksonville at Minnesota… The Minnesota Vikings (5-6) are back in the wildcard hunt after a dreadful 1-5 start to the season, but they can’t afford to lose any more games. The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) won their opener in week one and have followed that up with 10 consecutive losses. Looking ahead to next week, the Vikings have a critical game on the road against Tampa Bay with big playoff implications. It would be tempting for them to overlook the Jaguars considering the implications of their week 14 match-up, but I’d like to think Minnesota knows better than to fall for the “trap game.” The Vikings should win easily. My pick…

Minnesota 31, Jacksonville 20

Las Vegas at NY Jets… The Las Vegas Raiders (6-5) got run over by Atlanta 43-6 last week at the Georgia Dome, putting an abrupt halt to the momentum they had going in after battling hard against the defending champions the week before. That’s the bad news. The good news is they get the Jets (0-11) this Sunday at the Meadowlands. I’ll make this one short and simple, because the Jets are kind of… well… awful.

Las Vegas 40, NY Jets 16

New Orleans at Atlanta… The New Orleans Saints (9-2) have the best record in the NFC at the moment and are still winning games with Drew Brees sidelined. The Atlanta Falcons (4-7) may have caught the Raiders sleeping last week, but New Orleans puts up a much bigger fight. The Falcons can keep it close with their star players on offense, but I think the Saints go marching into the Georgia Dome and come away with the season sweep of their division rivals.

New Orleans 24, Atlanta 20

Cleveland at Tennessee… The Cleveland Browns (8-3) currently have a hold of the first wildcard spot in the AFC playoff race as they have cruised through one of the easiest schedules in the league. Up next is a game in Nashville against the AFC South leading Tennessee Titans (8-3) who appear to be back on track after a mid-season slump saw them lose 3 out 4 games following a 5-0 start. The Browns are off to their best start to a season since 1994, when they were coached by some guy (I don’t know, you might have heard of him) named Bill Belichick. The Titans, led by their star running back Derrick Henry, are entering that time of the year when they play their best football. This should be the best game of the week, and it could very well be a preview of a first or second round playoff game in January too. I think Tennessee wins a close one at home.

Tennessee 27, Cleveland 24

NY Giants at Seattle… The New York Giants (4-7) have vaulted to the top of the NFC East thanks to a three game win streak, their longest in 4 years. While that may look impressive, we need to examine a little closer. The 3 teams they beat have a combined win/loss/tie record of 8-22-2. Two of them were divisional opponents they play twice a year and know well, and they managed to narrowly defeat the Bengals last week by a margin of 2 points. Now they are traveling out west to face the NFC West leading Seattle Seahawks (8-3) and they’ve got to rely on the services of their second-string quarterback Colt McCoy and his 29:27 career touchdown to interception ratio to lead them. The Seahawks should soar through this one quite easily.

Seattle 28, NY Giants 16

L.A. Rams at Arizona… The Los Angeles Rams (7-4) will go on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals (6-5) this Sunday afternoon in the first of two match-ups this season against these division rivals. Both these teams probably make the playoffs, especially with a third wild card being added this year, so this game is more for playoff seed positioning. The Cardinals have been in a bit of a slump lately, and there’s been some speculation that opposing defenses have figured out how to scheme against quarterback Kyler Murray with successful results. The Rams have a Super Bowl caliber defense, but inconsistent play on the offensive side of the ball holds them back. I think both quarterbacks raise their game in this one and we will see a surprisingly high-scoring back and forth affair. I could go either way here; and though home field advantage is not as much of a factor in 2020, I like the Cardinals to pull out the win at home.

Arizona 33, L.A. Rams 31

Philadelphia at Green Bay… The Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1) have lost their spot atop the NFC East and their playoff hopes are fading fast, even though they play in the weakest division the NFL has probably ever seen. They travel to Lambeau Field this Sunday to take on the Green Bay Packers (8-3). The Packers have a very comfortable lead in the NFC North and are in contention for the top seed in the conference. They are one game behind New Orleans in the battle for the first round bye, and they own the tiebreaker after defeating the Saints earlier in the season. The Packers have plenty still to play for, and they’ll be motivated after losing to these Eagles at home last year.

Green Bay 45, Philadelphia 14

New England at L.A. Chargers… Just so everyone knows, I’m a Patriots fan! Okay, with that out of the way…The New England Patriots (5-6) will likely stay on the west coast after this match up against the Los Angeles Chargers (3-8) is over, as they play the Rams here next week. New England is still in the wildcard hunt, but they’ve had to dig themselves out of a big hole to get here. They’re always going to be competitive with Belichick as their coach, but they’ve lost a lot of talent on the team and it’s not just at the quarterback position. The Chargers season is over, so now they get to play the role of spoiler the rest of the way. They have their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert, who has enjoyed a tremendous rookie season… but at 3-8, they are out of the playoff picture. I’m picking the Patriots to win this game, as Bill Belichick knows how to scheme defensively against some of the best skill position players on offense and his track record against rookie quarterbacks is especially impressive. As long as Cam Newton and the Patriots’ offense takes care of the ball and avoids turning it over, the defense will hold Herbert and company in check and they get back to .500 before facing a much tougher test here against the Rams next week.

New England 23, L.A. Chargers 16

Denver at Kansas City… The good news for the Denver Broncos (4-7)… they are expected to have all their quarterbacks available this week. The bad news… they’re playing the Kansas City Chiefs (10-1) and they aren’t really all that good even with a traditional quarterback under center.

Kansas City 38, Denver 13

Washington at Pittsburgh… I’m calling this one the upset of the week. While the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0) are too well-disciplined under coach Mike Tomlin to fall for the trap game, they have a couple other things working against them. Even with the NFL pushing this game back to Monday, they’re still playing it with just five days of rest. Their run game is non-existent; and while the defense is elite, Ben Roethlisberger can’t keep carrying the offense the way he has been forced to week after week. Finally, that “zero” in the loss column makes for a very enticing target for opposing teams… they will get everyone’s best shot from here on out. Enter Washington (4-7). They’re a better team than their record would indicate and in a battle for the NFC East division title with a realistic shot of winning it. Their defensive front seven is arguably the best in the league and they can zero in on Big Ben with the Steelers’ lack of efficiency on the ground. My pick…

Washington 23, Pittsburgh 19

Buffalo at San Francisco… The San Francisco 49ers (5-6), despite losing their starting quarterback and tight end for the season, find themselves right back in the playoff hunt after sweeping the Rams… but they have very little margin for error. They’re starting to get some other key players back though, and a run of the table to nail down a wildcard spot is not completely out of the realm of possibility. They’ll welcome in the Buffalo Bills (8-3), currently sitting atop the AFC East, on Monday night… but will be hosting this game at the home of the Arizona Cardinals, due to Covid-19 restrictions currently in place at Levi’s Stadium.

The last time the Bills were here, they were victimized by the last second heroics of Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and what has been come to known as the “Hail Murray” play. While I don’t think this game will be decided on a miracle last second touchdown pass, I do think the 49ers will control the tempo with their ground game. Buffalo’s weakness on defense is stopping the run, and the strength of the 49ers is in their run game… clearly a mis-match in favor of the “home” team. My pick…

San Francisco 24, Buffalo 20

Dallas at Baltimore… Finally, we come to the Tuesday night game. This one was originally scheduled for Thursday but was pushed back after three postponements of the Steelers/Ravens game in week 12. The Baltimore Ravens (6-5) should, theoretically, win this game. The Dallas Cowboys (3-8) come in to the match-up as the last place team in the weak NFC East and their season has spiraled downhill since losing their starting quarterback for the year. That said, the Ravens are in a bit of a free-fall themselves. With multiple positive covid cases amongst the players, there’s a lot still up in the air as to who’s in or out and how much practice time they’ve been able to get in. Baltimore’s on a short week as well, having just played on Wednesday… while Dallas last played on Thanksgiving, which essentially amounts to another bye at 12 days rest. The NFC East continues to be in reach for the Cowboys, they tend to play better when they’re projected to lose, and with so many question marks on the Ravens’ side… there’s a realistic path for Dallas to pull off the upset on the road.

Dallas 20, Baltimore 16

That's it for this week. Enjoy the games!

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About the Creator

Michael Kinnaly

Welcome to my world.

I write stories and tell jokes.

I'll make you laugh, but also make you think.

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