NFL picks Week 13: Packers-Buccaneers and every other game

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Jordy Nelson
TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 21: Jordy Nelson /

The Green Bay Packers will get back on track against the Buccaneers. Predictions for every Week 13 game around the NFL.

We’re entering crunch time. For many, like the Packers, the playoffs have effectively started already.

Which teams will take a step towards the postseason in Week 13? Here’s my picks for each game.

Tampa Bay (4-7) at Green Bay (5-6)

The schedule is favorable for the Packers the next two weeks, and they have to win both games to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Tampa Bay has nothing to play for. If Brett Hundley can build on last week’s performance, he should have no trouble finding some joy against the league’s worst-ranked pass defense. The playoffs start now for the Packers. And they take care of business at Lambeau.

Pick: Green Bay

Washington (5-6) at Dallas (5-6)

The Cowboys are in free fall sans Ezekiel Elliott, and that’s not changing Thursday night against Washington. The Redskins are averaging 29.6 points in their past three games, and offense will win the day at Dallas.

Pick: Washington

Minnesota (9-2) at Atlanta (7-4)

Now this is a tough game to predict. Atlanta has won four of its past five and is heating up. Minnesota, meanwhile, hasn’t lost since Week 4, two weeks before Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. This one comes down to a gut feeling. I’m taking the Vikings, whose No. 5-ranked defense does enough.

Pick: Minnesota

Houston (4-7) at Tennessee (7-4)

Marcus Mariota has been a major disappointment this year, but the Titans have found ways to win games. That will again be the narrative this week against a Houston team that is 1-3 since Deshaun Watson got injured.

Pick: Tennessee

Kansas City (6-5) at NY Jets (4-7)

What has happened to the Kansas City Chiefs? Nobody could touch them as they raced to a 5-0 start to the season. They’ve since gone 1-5 and look terrible on offense. Until Alex Smith gets back on track and the Chiefs can actually run the ball efficiently, I’m going to pick against them.

Pick: NY Jets

Denver (3-8) at Miami (4-7)

Is it possible for both teams to lose? As I have to choose one, I’ll take the home team. Want an incredible stat? Denver’s defense is No. 4 in passing defense, but has given up a league-high 24 touchdowns through the air. Why? Blame that on the Broncos’ offense, a unit that hands the ball to the opposition with a short field time and again.

Pick: Miami

Indianapolis (3-8) at Jacksonville (7-4)

Jacksonville’s playoff hopes took a hit in a shock defeat by Arizona last week. Expect the Jaguars to get back on track against a struggling Colts team.

Pick: Jacksonville

Detroit (6-5) at Baltimore (6-5)

A lot of this will depend on the health of Matthew Stafford. While he did finish the game last week after injuring his ankle, the Lions can’t afford him to be limited against a Baltimore defense ranked No. 2 against the pass. I’m still picking Detroit to win this one. The Ravens are too inconsistent offensively. The Lions have scored four defensive touchdowns in 2017. That number could increase this week.

Pick: Detroit

New England (9-2) at Buffalo (6-5)

Forget about Buffalo’s impressive win against the free-falling Chiefs. Next up is the visit of Tom Brady and the Patriots. New England’s offense has averaged 36 points over the past three weeks. Expect more of the same against a Buffalo defense struggling to hit the quarterback (17 sacks in 2017, second-fewest in the NFL).

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Pick: New England

San Fransisco (1-10) at Chicago (3-8)

Jimmy Garoppolo is set to start for San Francisco, but I’m still picking the Bears. Chicago’s defense is underrated. The unit ranks No. 12 against the pass and No. 16 versus the rush. Those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but the Bears should be able to slow down the 49ers’ struggling offense even with the addition of Garoppolo.

Pick: Chicago

Cleveland (0-11) at LA Chargers (5-6)

Will the Browns’ first win of the season come against the Chargers? Let’s analyze that for a moment. After an 0-4 start, Los Angeles has gone 5-1 in its last six games. Keenan Allen is on fire, having piled up 331 receiving yards and three touchdowns in his past two games. Cleveland has allowed the second-most touchdown passes in the league this year. Don’t be surprised if Allen finds the end zone again in Week 13. Yeah, the wait goes on for Cleveland.

Pick: LA Chargers

NY Giants (2-9) at Oakland (5-6)

Another week, another must-win game for the Raiders. Despite that, I’m going for the upset in this one. Oakland is without Michael Crabtree due to suspension, and Amari Cooper could also be out with an injury. If Sterling Shepard returns this week, I like the Giants to exploit a Raiders defense that has allowed 19 passing touchdowns in 11 games.

Pick: NY Giants

Editor’s note: With the news Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback for the Giants, I’ve changed my pick to Oakland.

Carolina (8-3) at New Orleans (8-3)

What a game this could be. Carolina’s defense (No. 3 against the run and No. 6 against the pass) will give New Orleans’ powerful offense all it can handle. But as this game takes place in the Superdome, the edge goes to the Saints.

Pick: New Orleans

LA Rams (8-3) at Arizona (5-6)

The Rams have a great opportunity to put daylight between themselves and the Seahawks. If Seattle loses to Philadelphia (more on that in a moment), Los Angeles just needs to take care of business against an Arizona team it should beat. The Rams were impressive last week, snapping the Saints’ eight-game win streak, and I expect them to win their ninth game on Sunday.

Pick: LA Rams

Philadelphia (10-1) at Seattle (7-4)

This isn’t quite as daunting a task for the Eagles as it would have been earlier in the year. Seattle has lost Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril to injury. Missing this trio will count against an electric Eagles offense. The battle between Philadelphia’s powerful run game and Seattle’s strong defensive front is one of the most intriguing matchups of the game.

Even on the road, I expect the Eagles’ No. 3-ranked offense to take another step towards the NFC’s top seed.

Pick: Philadelphia

Pittsburgh (9-2) at Cincinnati (5-6)

The Packers may have given the Steelers a scare last week, but they found a way to win. Pittsburgh is in the hunt for the AFC’s No. 1 seed, which makes every game so important. Divisional contests are always tough, particularly in the AFC North, but the Steelers are the better team and should win.

Pick: Pittsburgh

Next: Top 30 moments in Green Bay Packers history

Last week: 13-3

Season: 112-64