NFL Week 13 Picks - Early Games

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NFL Week 13 Early Games

All times Eastern

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Week 12: Rick: 9-5; Coin: 6-8
Cumulative: Rick: 83-91-2; Coin: 82-92-2

Thursday, November 28

12:30 pm Chicago Bears (-5 1/2, 38 1/2) at Detroit Lions - The first of nine games with road favorites (or, home underdogs, if you prefer), which usually presages plenty of underdog covers. In this case in point, the Lions haven't been completely demoralized, nor have the Bears been overwhelming in any games this season. The Bears come off a 19-14 win over the Giants in which they did not cover (6 1/2), while the Lions lost, 19-16, to the lowly Redskins, when they were favored to win by 3 1/2.

The difference is that the Bears were at home, the Lions on the road. The roles are reversed here, as may well be the score. Detroit always plays on Thanksgiving. It's an NFL holiday tradition. The Lions don't honor tradition that well, as they are 4-6 over the last 10 seasons on Turkey Day, straight up. Still, they have a decent chance to beat the Bears and their anemic offense. They lost, 20-13, in Chicago, on November 10. Matthew Stafford is not likely to play; Jeff Driskel will start at QB for the Lions.

Coin Flip: Chicago

Prediction: Lions 20 Bears 17

4:30 pm Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys (-6 1/2, 46) - The Cowboys were in a position to tie the Patriots late last week but settled for a field goal instead, then has the clock run out by the Patriots' offense in a 13-9 loss. Dallas faces a similarly rugged defense when the Bills arrive in Texas. Buffalo is third in pass defense (184.3), total defense (288.6 ypg) and points allowed (15.7)

While the Bills' offense may not be on a par with New England's, just for comparison purposes, Buffalo has outscored the Patriots over their last four games, 97-77, so, Dallas does not get a pass on this one. Dallas has shown no immediacy or urgency in their offensive structure, whereas the Bills are a team on the rise.

Coin Flip: Buffalo

Prediction: Bills 27 Cowboys 14

8:20 pm New Orleans Saints (-7, 49) at Atlanta Falcons - The last time these two met - a mere 18 days prior to this - the Falcons demolished New Orleans in their own building, 26-9. Atlanta then hammered Carolina, 29-3, but last week fell, at home, to Tampa Bay, 35-22, in an obviously less-inspirational effort.

The Saints bounced back from that loss with wins over the Bucs and Panthers and hold a commanding advantage in the NFC South. a win here and a Carolina loss to Washington on Sunday would sew up the division title, making the Saints the earliest to capture a playoff spot. Atlanta may have had their way with the Saints a few weeks ago, but the New Orleans brain trust has no doubt learned from that and will respond with a solid, winning effort.

Coin Flip: Atlanta

Prediction: Saints 31 Falcons 21

Sunday, December 1

1:00 pm Cleveland Browns (-2, 40) at Pittsburgh Steelers - This is a rematch of the game just two weeks ago in which Pittsburgh QB, Mason Rudolph, was belted with his own helmet by Cleveland's Myles Garrett. Both will be missing the action, as Pittsburgh has named Devlin Hodges the starting QB and Garrett has been suspended indefinitely.

Incidentally, Cleveland won that Thursday night game decisively, 21-7, with four sacks of Rudolph and picking him off four times. The change at QB for the Steelers might aid their cause, but the Browns have won three straight. Pittsburgh is 6-5, while the Borws check in at 5-6. The result here should even their records.

Coin Flip: Cleveland

Prediction: Browns 24 Steelers 14

1:00 pm Green Bay Packers (-6 1/2, 45 1/2) at New York Giants - In two of their last three games, the Packers have been mauled by the defenses of West coast teams, specifically, in a 26-11 loss at LA to the Chargers, and last Sunday in the 37-8 rout at San Francisco.

While the Packers have to travel across the country to play in chilly New Jersey this week, they'll not be facing the kind of defensive pressure applied by either the Chargers nor the 49ers. The Giants are 28th in points allowed, giving up 28 per game. They've also lost seven straight. Look for Green Bay to get on the board early and hold the lead late.

Coin Flip: NY Giants

Prediction: Packers 38 Giants 27

1:00 pm New York Jets (-3, 41) at Cincinnati Bengals - This might be the no-brainer of the week, as the Jets are showing signs of life now that Sam Darnold is back behind center. New York has won three straight, including Sunday's stunning win over the Raiders, 34-3.

The Bengals came close to winning their first game of the season, but losing close games has become their imprimatur. six of their 11 losses have been by seven points or fewer. This one isn't likely to be that close.

Coin Flip: Cincinnati

Prediction: Jets 31 Bengals 17

1:00 pm Philadelphia Eagles (-9, 45) at Miami Dolphins - As much as the Dolphins can be cited for mediocrity, the Eagles are threatening to become the sad bearers of lofty expectations. The two share identical 2-2 marks over the past four weeks, though the Eagles losses were to New England and Seattle, two of the better teams in the NFL, but, both were on Philly turf.

The Eagles may find a way out of their funk, but the hunch is that they're not as good a team as many had hoped they'd be. Miami, at least, will try hard.

Coin Flip: Miami

Prediction: Eagles 24 Dolphins 19

1:00 pm San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore Ravens (-6, 46) - All of a sudden, this has become THE game of the weekend, a potential Super Bowl preview. The 10-1 49ers have the best record in the NFC and are coming off a dominant performance, whipping the Packers, 37-8, last Sunday.

Baltimore isn't exactly taking prisoners either. The Ravens are 9-2, own the longest current winning streak in the league at seven straight and come off a demonstrable maiming of the LA Rams on Monday night with a 45-6 romp. That score comes on the heels of a 37-20 win over the Patriots, a 49-13 rout at Cincinnati, and a 41-7 demolition of the Texans. If there's a team to match up with Baltimore, it's San Francisco, and they could upset the Ravens.

Coin Flip: Baltimore

Prediction: Ravens 26 49ers 23

1:00 pm Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1, 48 1/2) - Very tough to make a case for the 4-7 Jaguars, as they have lost their last three straight by 20 or more points in each, to Houston, Indianapolis, and Tennessee. The last two losses were on the road, but Jacksonville's defense - one of the best in the league a few years ago - has vanished. So too, the offense, as the Jaguars have lost those three straight games by 23, 20, and 22 points, respectively.

Tampa Bay QB James Winston leads the league in turnovers, but the Bucs' offense is prolific. They're third in points scored, at 28.4 per game. Despite their 4-7 record (same as Jacksonville), Tampa Bay has scored a minimum of 17 points in every game this season.

Coin Flip: Tampa Bay

Prediction: Buccaneers 34 Jaguars 16

1:00 pm Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-2 1/2, 43 1/2) - Both teams are 6-5, tied for second place in the AFC South behind 7-4 Houston, but there are a lot more believers in the Tennessee camp since Ryan Tannehill took over at QB from Marcus Mariota. The Titans are 4-1 with Tannehill as the starter.

These two teams are nearly mirror images of each other, with offenses predicated on running the ball, and hard-nosed, hard-hitting defenses. So close is the call here, even the scant 2 1/2 points may come in handy.

Coin Flip: Tennessee

Prediction: Titans 23 Colts 21

1:00 pm Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers (-10, 40) - The Redskins upended the Lions last week, 19-16, but are not really improving. That was their second win of the season, the other coming in mid-October against Miami. Washington has not scored more than 17 points in any game since week two of the season.

Carolina lost a close one at New Orleans last week, 34-31, on a game-ending NO field goal, their third straight defeat sending them to a 5-6 record. The Panthers are unlikely to catch 9-2 New Orleans in the division, and a wild card might not be in their deck, as Minnesota is 8-3 and Seattle checks in at 9-2. However, they still have hope and a better team than the Redskins.

Coin Flip: Carolina

Prediction: Panthers 24 Redskins 10

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