While some argued that there shouldn’t be a game, a day after Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend and then committing suicide at Arrowhead stadium, Week 13 is going on as planned. In the spotlight: The Chicago Bears hosting the Seattle Seahawks, two major battles in the NFC East (Cowboys-Eagles, Giants-Redskins) and the Baltimore Ravens trying to clinch the AFC North vs the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Buffalo Bills (4-7), 1:00 PM
Believe it or not, but the Jaguars, or at least some of their players, have something to play for. Like Chad Henne who has performed pretty well since taking over for the injured Blaine Gabbert, completing 33 of 59 passes for 615 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception in two games. The Bills can’t stop the run, but the Jags don’t have anyone to take advantage of that.
Seattle Seahawks (6-5) at Chicago Bears (8-3), 1:00 PM
The Bears are a little banged up and worse, have shown that they’re exposed to aggressive rushing schemes, which means that Marshawn Lynch (1051 yards, 5 touchdowns) will see plenty of the ball. Still, with Jay Cutler and the Seahawks being a completely different team on the road (1-5), Chicago have more weapons at their disposal to get the win.
Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Detroit Lions (4-7), 1:00 PM
The Colts tend to turn the ball over quite often on the road (16 of their 21 turnovers), but the Lions have lost three straight, with a tendency to find a way and mess things up late in the game. The Lions struggle with stopping the run, but the Colts tend to go with Andrew Luck’s arm most of the time. The question is if he can be a bit more consistent and careful with the ball on an away game.
Minnesota Vikings (6-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-4), 1:00 PM
A big NFC North game which is pretty much must win for the Vikings, or it’s bye bye playoff hopes. Adrian Peterson has been great, with 1236 yards so far this season, but Christian Ponder has been a turnover machine of late, and it’s also been over three years since the Vikings last beat Green Bay.
Houston Texans (10-1) at Tennessee Titans (4-7), 1:00 PM
The best team in the AFC averages 144 yards on the ground, and will surely be riding Arian Foster, who has 1064 yards and an NFL best 12 touchdowns this season. The Titans allow 130 yards on the ground per game, and will have to do a superb job of protecting Jake Locker while Chris Johnson continues to pull in big numbers, averaging 122 rushing yards in his last six games.
Carolina Panthers (3-8) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-10), 1:00 PM
We can talk about how bad the Chiefs are besides Jamaal Charles and their pass rushers, but anything seems to lose meaning in the aftermath of Jovan Belcher shooting his girlfriend and then committing suicide at Arrowhead stadium. Impossible to say what kind of effect this will have on the players, if this game should be played at all.
San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) at St. Louis Rams (4-6-1), 1:00 PM
Colin Kaepernick has taken over the quarterback job for the 49ers, even with Alex Smith healthy and running again. The Rams managed to get a draw out of San Fran last times these two met, when the QB revolution began for Harbaugh. The Rams need to limit the 49ers running game (163 per game) in order to try and force Kaepernick to win it with his arm, with the Rams having a pretty good pass rush and pass defense (230 yards allowed per game).
New England Patriots (8-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-6), 1:00 PM
Once every few years the Miami Dolphins come out and bring it at home against the New England Patriots. For that to happen, they need to find a way and get Tom Brady on his back, although he’s been exceptionally successful against the added pressure the Dolphins love to bring. Unless Reggie Bush comes up with a big 100 yard game and Ryan Tannehill takes care of the ball like he did during the first half of the season, the Dolphins have no chance.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) at Denver Broncos (8-3), 4:05
The Denver Broncos are feeling as confident as anyone right now in the NFL, with Peyton Manning playing like an MVP. He hardly sees pressure or sacks behind a fantastic offensive line, while the Bucs are the worst team in the NFL when it comes to putting a quarterback under pressure. Another interesting battle will be Josh Freeman, leading the NFL with passes for 20 yards or more, playing vs the defense that has allowed the fewest of these plays.
Cleveland Browns (3-8) at Oakland Raiders (3-8), 4:25 PM
Two terrible teams, but the Browns are on somewhat of a roll lately. The Raiders? They’ve allowed 169 points over the past four games and are allowing 379 yards per game. Carson Palmer is getting Darren McFadden and Mike Woodson back, while Brandon Weeden could be coming back from a concussion, or else Colt McCoy will be playing, as the Browns are looking for their first road win since September, 2011.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-5) at San Diego Chargers (4-7), 4:25 PM
One of the Chargers’ problems this season is their inability to score when it matters, with only four touchdowns coming in the fourth quarter. While the Bengals have been playing very well on both sides of the ball, with Andy Dalton throwing nine touchdowns and no interceptions over the last three weeks and the running game finally getting started. The Chargers have lost six of their last seven games.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5) at Baltimore Ravens (9-2), 4:25 PM
The big game of the AFC North could be a little less close than usual, with the last two meeting decided by three points each, because Ben Roethilsberger is still out. The Steelers turned the ball over 8 times against the Browns last week, on their way to a 14-20 loss and what seems to be their way out of the playoffs. The Ravens aren’t playing that great, but limiting Joe Flacco and giving the keys to Ray Rice, while the defense keeps doing well despite the injuries, seems to be working.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-8) at Dallas Cowboys (5-6), 8:20 PM
The Philadelphia Eagles had an impressive 204 yards on the ground vs the Panthers last week despite LeSean McCoy not playing. It wasn’t enough, with Nick Foles throwing for 542 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions in three games since replacing Vick during a 38-23 home loss to the Cowboys on Nov. 11. For the Cowboys it’s a last must win game of the season, hoping that DeMarco Murray is healthy enough to play.
New York Giants (7-4) at Washington Redskins (5-6), MNF, 8:30 PM
Robert Griffin III wasn’t enough when these two teams met the last time. The Giants are riding in high on their demolition of the Green Bay Packers, hoping that their pass rush will make life a living hell for Griffin. A big problem for the Redskins is stopping the pass, allowing 301.4 yards per game.