NFL Week 13: Picks & Power Rankings
I can relate to the people of Baltimore.
I see scenes of snow-lined streets during the winter in the Northeast and I know what that feels like. Sure, it doesn’t snow in Southern California, unless you’re in the mountains, but that doesn’t matter.
This week, the temperatures here have dipped into the low 60s during the day and lows in the high 40s at night. Guys, I had to wear a JACKET. Life is rough.
So, don’t tell me about rough weather (ducks).
Anyway, enough of my nonsense. We’re past Thanksgiving, which means that we can ditch paying attention to half the league and concentrate on the teams that actually have a shot at the postseason.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
In fact, here are my Playoff Contender Power Rankings:
1) Patriots – Tom Brady and Gronk might be banged up, but I never bet against Bill Belichick. Even with a defense that hasn’t had the quality of years past.
2) Cowboys – They have the league’s best record, but I just don’t fully trust that defense, even though that sounds like I’m nitpicking.
3) Seahawks – This is a team that can take out the Patriots and then score five points against the Buccaneers. But they’re battle-tested.
4) Raiders – Love watching the Silver and Black and I’ll love them even more if they get a home playoff game. They’re still young though.
5) Chiefs – Don’t sleep on 8-3 Kansas City. They don’t do anything really well, but they never really hurt themselves. That’s Andy Reid for you.
6) Broncos – I imagine this team is going to slip down these rankings over the final few weeks. The NFL has figured out Trevor Siemian and this defense isn’t the same as before.
7) Dolphins – I’ve been a Ryan Tannehill apologist for a long time and it pleases me to see Miami put a solid team around him.
8) Ravens – They’re never going to be a dynamic offensive team, but their defense will keep them in every game. That will be enough to take the AFC North this season.
9) Falcons – Love that offense. Don’t love that defense. But they’re getting wins and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
10) Redskins – Kirk Cousins threw for close to 500 yards on Thanksgiving and lost. This is a team that could sink down the stretch.
11) Giants – They’re 8-3, but played tight games against the Browns, Rams, Bengals and Bears. Gross.
12) Lions – I really should have Detroit higher, but that close win over the struggling Vikings on Thanksgiving wasn’t a good sign of this team’s consistency.
13) Titans – This team has a lot of talent and could rise fast in these rankings. A win over the Broncos on Dec. 11 coming off their bye will be a good start.
14) Bills – Buffalo is sitting at 6-5, but the Bills’ only claim to fame is beating a Patriots team with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. When they play elite competition, they lose.
15) Steelers – Should they be this low? Yes. This isn’t your daddy’s Steelers defense and I don’t have much confidence that they’ll be able to win the division, which is the only way they’ll reach the playoffs.
16) Buccaneers – I don’t buy Tampa as a real threat yet, but hey, the Bucs beat the Seahawks at home. And held them to five points. Kudos!
17) Vikings – Doesn’t every NFL team deal with injuries? Why is it that the Vikings have completely collapsed?
18) Texans – They’re only here because they’re above .500.
Honorable mentions: Chargers, Packers, Saints, Colts, Eagles.
Make golf plans: Jets, Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, Bears, Panthers.
So, now that we know where we sit at the moment, let’s take a peek ahead at what’s coming this week.
5 SEXY MATCHUPS
Cowboys at Vikings
Finally, a Thursday night game where I won’t grimace every time someone takes a hit. As you know, both the Vikings and Cowboys were in action on Thanksgiving, so they actually get a full week of rest before playing again. The NFL needs to get it together and fix the schedule so that teams playing on Thursdays can do so off a bye week.
Anyway, Dallas is still going like a great song on repeat. The Cowboys are riding a 10-game winning streak and although the Vikings have that vaunted defense, there’s no reason to believe Big D can’t use the same ball-control strategy that can keep their own questionable defense off the field.
Chiefs at Falcons
The Chiefs don’t have the offensive firepower of the Falcons and that’s not in dispute. However, Kansas City does have pass-rusher Justin Houston back in the lineup and that can’t be overstated.
Houston is the reason why this game will be close. However, Matt Ryan and Co. should be able to make one more big play than their opponent and take this one at home.
Dolphins at Ravens
Miami has rattled off six straight wins, mainly because the Dolphins defense has showed up in a big way and Ryan Tannehill has been playing like a high first-round pick.
This is a big test on the road against the Ravens, who boast a stout defense of their own. If they can bottle up running back Jay Ajayi and make Tannehill beat them, they’ve got a real shot here.
In fact, I’ve talked myself into it. I like Baltimore to end Miami’s fun.
Bills at Raiders
Come on, is Buffalo for real?
I’m thinking they’re more of a fugazy (see: Donnie Brasco) and I’m thinking this game will prove my theory. The Bills should be able to score on the Raiders and their defense should be able to make plays, but I don’t have confidence in them to stand tall against an actual contender.
But, like every Raiders game this season, it’ll be a fun watch.
Giants at Steelers
Both teams really need this one. And both of these teams annoy me. I’m sure I’ll be upset with either result, but I have a feeling Big Blue will be able to use their superior receivers to their advantage, even though they’ll be playing a second straight road game.
5 MATCHUPS THAT ARE MILDLY INTERESTING
Panthers at Seahawks: Seattle will try to rebound from an embarrassing road loss to Tampa and that should be an easier task on Sunday night in front of its home crowd. This game should be the final nail in Carolina’s coffin.
Texans at Packers: This game comes at a great time for Green Bay as the Packers can get back to .500 with a win. They’ll do so.
Redskins-Cardinals: Washington will get a road win against a Cardinals team that’s dying on the operating table.
Buccaneers at Chargers: Tampa is riding high, but have to make a cross-country trip. Meanwhile, the Chargers are still hanging around the playoff race and have the potential to beat any team. They’ll get it done.
Lions at Saints: Two dome teams with solid offenses. Lots of points here, but I’ll go with the home team.
5 MATCHUPS THAT ARE A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME
Rams at Patriots – Pick: Patriots
Colts at Jets – Pick: Jets
Eagles at Bengals – Pick: Eagles
49ers at Bears – Pick: Bears
Broncos at Jaguars – Pick: Broncos
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.