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Dec. 4, 2009

NFL - Week 13 predictions

by Dennis Chae, Staff Writer, Ava Wallace, Online Editor-in-Chief and Rose Wynn, Online Sports Editor
We've finally made it to December. Though most games will be played on Sunday the sixth, they might as well be played on Friday the 13th. That's right, sports fans, Week 13 spells bad news for some teams.

The Cowboys vs. the Giants is a perfect example. In this exciting NFC East battle, standings in the division (as well as playoff hopes) are at stake. Pending a loss, Dallas could drop from first to third in the division and Tony Romo could prove that he's not a Superbowl-quality quarterback. But if New York falls, the Giants' playoff dreams are pretty much squashed for good.

Other notable games include Baltimore at Green Bay, a match-up sure to stir some passion from Ravens fans, and Philadelphia at Atlanta. Of course, we can't forget that Tennessee and Indianapolis duke it out on Sunday as well. Will Vince Young's enthusiasm and confidence startle the Colts, or will Manning teach his young opponent a harsh lesson? Will the Ravens' defense be able to hold off the formidable Aaron Rogers? Will the Eagles travel all the way to Atlanta only to be embarrassed? While the answers to these questions come down to the players' skill, and not fate or fortune, teams are bound to be unlucky once in a while. Here are Silver Chips Online's predictions for the luck of the draw.

Standings:
Rose:116-60
Dennis:120-56
Ava:123-53

Thursday, Dec. 3

New York Jets (5-6-0) at Buffalo Bills (4-7-0)

Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - Buffalo

Rose says:
Both these teams just came off impressive wins: the Jets slammed Carolina at home for the first time since Week Three and the Bills surprised some fans by pulling a win over Miami. The second-place Jets defense had four interceptions last game, which is exactly the kind of play New York needs to boost their playoff chances. But this match-up brings back memories of QB Mark Sanchez's embarrassing performance against Buffalo during Week Six - an 8.3 passer rating and five interceptions are hard to forget. Meanwhile, the Bills showed a burst of offensive power when they added 24 points to the scoreboard within the last 14 minutes of their game last week. But they won't be able to keep it up against the Jets. New York defense is just too strong.
Dennis says:
WR Terrell Owens has been exploding over the past year and is looking like the play-maker of old. The only problem? The Jets have Darelle Revis. He's a top-five corner in the league and has everything it takes to shut T.O. down. Jets fly over the Bills.
Ava says:
Buffalo stumped all of us pundits last week and pulled off a win against the Dolphins. And the Jets lost to the Panthers! Mark Sanchez can't do anything right lately (he only had 154 yards last week), and Buffalo is riding on a confidence high. I'll take the Bills for two wins in a row.

Sunday, Dec. 6

Philadelphia Eagles (7-4-0) at Atlanta Falcons (6-5-0)
Rose - Philadelphia
Dennis - Philadelphia
Ava - Philadelphia

Rose says:
This game is a major NFC face off and both teams may have major holes in their lineups. The Falcons will be missing last year's top offensive rookie QB Matt Ryan, while the Eagles may lack WR DeSean Jackson due to concussion. But Philadelphia can boast more total offensive yards and passing yards than Atlanta, and will prove that they can power to the playoffs. The Falcons' perfect home record is tarnished this week.
Dennis says:
No Michael Turner? No Matt Ryan? This can only spell trouble for the birds from Atlanta. If Philly can get Jeremy Maclin to put up some numbers to make up for the injury-riddled receiver corps, they might have this one in the bag.
Ava says:
Last week the Falcons barely beat the Bucs. That game should not have been close; even Atlanta's starting quarterback sidelined for the bulk of it. Speaking of Matt Ryan, he won't be playing this Sunday either. In addition, Falcons running back Michael Turner is questionable; last week he re-aggravated an ankle sprain that bogged him down back in Week 11. Either he won't play or he will and won't perform well. Lose-lose situation for Atlanta. The Eagles are sitting pretty towards the top of the NFC East (right beneath the Cowboys), even though they barely slipped past the Redskins last week. I think the Falcons' 5-0 run at home will end on Sunday.

St. Louis Rams (1-10-0) at Chicago Bears (4-7-0)
Rose - Chicago
Dennis - Chicago
Ava - Chicago

Rose says:
Lucky for the Bears, this match-up will allow the team to jump back from a five-game slump. They haven't experienced a chain of losses like this in seven years and will use their offensive power to slam the Rams. While St. Louis may be able to make some headway by capitalizing on an occasionally unstable Bears defense, they won't be able to pull a victory. Chicago goes 5-7.
Dennis says:
Steven Jackson may very well be the biggest sleeper in the league because he's on the Rams. But the Bears are coming back home and the pressure will be on Jay Cutler to have a standout performance for his fans. Bears take it.
Ava says:
The Bears are pretty disappointing at 4-7, while the Rams are at a predictable 1-10. St. Louis had a shot at a win last week, but couldn't pull it off. Team records say it all for this pick: look for the Bears to win.

Detroit Lions (2-9-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-0)
Rose - Cincinnati
Dennis - Cincinnati
Ava - Cincinnati

Rose says:
The Lions are still in the hole. Meanwhile, the Bengals have swept the AFC North and will have the advantage of leading rusher Cedric Benson for their match-up. But it's not like they'll need him against lowly Detroit. Bengals fly past Lions.
Dennis says:
For the first time in years, the Bengals are ahead in the AFC North. They have been running the ball effectively with Cedric Benson, and the receiving corps has definitely made its presence clear. Detroit's lackluster defense doesn't stand a chance. Cardiac-Cats win it.
Ava says:
Cincinnati definitely pulls this one. Though the Bengals don't really have any outstanding players (Carson Palmer is the 17th best quarterback in the league and Chad Ochocinco is only the 15th best receiver), the Bengals as a whole will be too much for the Lions to handle.

Tennessee Titans (5-6-0) at Indianapolis Colts (11-0-0)
Rose - Indianapolis
Dennis - Indianapolis
Ava - Indianapolis

Rose says:
It's really quite incredible to look at that clear-cut 11-0 on Indianapolis' record. Although Vince Young has led the previously struggling Titans to five consecutive wins, his consistent magic won't last against this team. The Colts' only weakness may be their vulnerability to a strong running game, which Titans RB Chris Johnson brings to the mix. The Titans could cause a little disturbance, but they won't completely upset Indianapolis. Even down 17-0 in the second quarter of their Houston game, the Colts became the first team ever to achieve the five consecutive comeback wins in the fourth quarter. Seems like nothing can stop these Colts.
Dennis says:
After losing their first six games, the Titans have gone on to win their last five. The Colts are undefeated. In a fierce division rivalry, anything goes. Chris Johnson has been huge for the Titans, but the Colts are undefeated for a reason. Peyton Manning leads his team to a 12-0 record.
Ava says:
Now this is probably the best match-up of the weekend. The Colts are undefeated (of course) and playing in Lucas Oil Stadium, while the Titans are on a five-game win streak. So we've got an unstoppable force (Tennessee) meeting an immovable object (Indianapolis). Physics dictates that there is no winner in the collision, but in this case I've got to pick one. I'm sticking with my undefeated team. We'll see how I feel about them next week, but I've got to keep my faith until they lose. Don't disappoint me, Manning.

Denver Broncos (7-4-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-8-0)
Rose - Denver
Dennis - Kansas City Chiefs
Ava - Denver

Rose says:
The odds are definitely with the Broncos for this game. Denver is great at limiting their opponent's ground game - they allowed the Giants only 57 yards last week and created turnovers, too. The Broncos also have a top-notch run defense. This means the Denver team, averaging only two turnovers during its consecutive victories, will be up against a team that has managed a season low of four turnovers last week. Broncos take the cake.
Dennis says:
Especially after last week's results, the Chiefs aren't going to be a popular pick in this one. But despite the bad rep, the Chiefs are making good use of Jamaal Charles and have been finding ways to get the ball to Dwayne Bowe at times. If Kansas City can pull its team together (remember when they played the Steelers?), look for a close win.
Ava says:
The Broncos are finally (emphasis on the "finally") on an upswing after losing four games in a row, one of which was against the team-who-shall-not-be-named. Beating the Giants was an important step towards recovery, but the Broncos still aren't the team everyone expected they'd be at this point. Nonetheless, the Chiefs are a bad team - it's plain and simple. Kansas City's best running back, Jamaal Charles, has only two touchdowns for the whole season. This should be a tidy win for Denver.

New England Patriots (7-4-0) at Miami Dolphins (5-6-0)
Rose - New England
Dennis - New England
Ava - New England

Rose says:
After the heart-wrenching Miami loss last week, the Dolphins will be in a sour mood. In a desperate attempt to save their season, they'll use their fierce defense as a tool for victory. Although the Patriots are 1-4 on the road and haven't shown their true potential in recent games, the team now holds the top spot in the AFC East and showed the undefeated Colts some power several weeks ago. New England has what it takes and can bring it to the field when a win is crucial. That time happens to be this week.
Dennis says:
The undefeated Saints crushed New England on Monday Night. But don't let that fool you; they're still a strong team. Tom Brady's arm seems to be on point and finding holes in the Dolphins' defense shouldn't be too hard for New England's receiving corps.
Ava says:
Well I picked Miami over the Jets last weekend and that didn't pan out too well. I also think playing the Pats won't pan out well for the Dolphins. Look for Brady to come out guns-a-blazin' after taking a beating from Brees & Co. Never fear, Tom, New England will get this win on the road.

Oakland Raiders (3-8-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5-0)
Rose - Pittsburgh
Dennis - Pittsburgh
Ava - Pittsburgh

Rose says:
Without a complex defensive strategy, the Raiders may be at a loss - literally. The Steelers will conquer the worst-ranked team in the AFC West, despite their recent slump. To avoid the four consecutive losses that haunted Pittsburgh five years ago, the team hopes to salvage its playoff chances with the return of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers steal the victory.
Dennis says:
Ben Roethlisberger is returning to play against Oakland, which should boost the offense dramatically. Meanwhile, Rashard Mendenhall will face one of the worst run defenses in the league. Pittsburgh gets the easy win.
Ava says:
Let's take a look at Oakland's stats, shall we? This season, the Raiders have (predictably) lost to Denver, the Giants and Dallas. But keep in mind they've upset both the Bengals and the Eagles! Early in the season they beat Kansas City. Later they lost to Kansas City. No team's record screams inconsistency like Oakland's does, so this game is a potential upset. However, the Steelers are definitely a better team right now and I don't think they'll fall to the Raiders at home.

New Orleans Saints (11-0-0) at Washington Redskins (3-8-0)
Rose - New Orleans
Dennis - New Orleans
Ava - New Orleans

Rose says:
The Redskins have no hope of escaping a three-game losing streak this Sunday against the Saints. New Orleans ranks first in the NFL for both points and 425.9 total offensive yards. While Washington's defense still ranks first for pass yards, their defensive drive won't be enough to overwhelm undefeated New Orleans. Looks like the Saints will be receiving their second division title in four years this Sunday.
Dennis says:
For the first time in a while, the Saints have a serious place in the Super Bowl discussion. Drew Brees is capable of reducing the Skins' pass defense to amateurs, and Pierre Thomas isn't half bad in the ground game. The Skins really need to strap up this game for any chance. Saints march to a 12-0 record.
Ava says:
I'll take the Saints for this one. Washington put up a good fight last week (Jason Campbell had a magnificent 231 yards and two touchdowns), but let's get real. The Saints could outperform the Redskins any day, and Sunday will be no different. Though it's only Week 13, I think the Saints could go to the Superbowl this year!

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-10-0) at Carolina Panthers (4-7-0)
Rose - Carolina
Dennis - Carolina
Ava - Carolina

Rose says:
Despite the fact that Carolina has shown weak throwing and running throughout their season, the Buccaneers seem to be in too much of a rut to manage any victories at this point. Panthers QB Jake Delhomme may not play Sunday, which would allow Matt Moore to step up for the first time since 2007. It may be a risky move, but a Tampa Bay game is a great opportunity to take those kinds of risks. Buccaneers won't add to their pathetic single win; Panthers take it.
Dennis says:
Are the Panthers disappointing? Sure. Are they worse than the Bucs? I don't think so. DeAngelo Williams and partner-in-crime Jonathan Stewart should be able to gain some yards off the ground against a measly Buccaneers run defense. Instead, the Bucs will have to look to Ronde Barber to stop any air attack the Panthers might have. Panthers stay third in the NFC South.
Ava says:
Another interesting match-up of bottom feeders - this game might even be blacked out. The Panthers are coming off a nice win against the Jets, and the Bucs just lost to the Falcons. The only interesting news comes from Jake Delhomme: he's out with a broken finger. I won't be surprised if Tampa Bay wins because of Delhomme's absence, but I'll still take the Panthers.

Houston Texans (5-6-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5-0)
Rose - Houston
Dennis - Houston
Ava - Houston

Rose says:
Houston has been a bit of a disappointment this season. The team's mediocrity has questioned QB Matt Schaub's talents and the entire team's ability to pull away from big games with wins. Usually, the Texans seem to falter when it matters most. Regardless, they'll still have the upper hand in this Sunday's match-up. The Jaguars have twice as many sacks as Houston, and won't quite top Texans offense.
Dennis says:
Despite losing their last three games, the Texans still have a fighting chance for a wild card spot. It will be immense for them to defeat the Jags. The key for their game is to stop explosive Maurice Jones-Drew, a player with the ability to carry Jacksonville to wins. The Texans get a "W."
Ava says:
Houston is coming off a typically disappointing loss at the hands of Indianapolis. The Jags lost in a laughable game against San Francisco, but if Drew shows up this week the Jags will win. But there's always the possibility that Matt Shaub could put up some good numbers. It's a toss up, but I'll take the Texans. I feel good about the Texans.

San Diego Chargers (8-3-0) at Cleveland Browns (1-10-0)
Rose - San Diego
Dennis - San Diego
Ava - San Diego

Rose says:
With six consecutive wins, San Diego is on a roll. Up against an inconsistent Cleveland defense, the Chargers are sure to pull out a balanced offense. San Diego has also averaged over 100 yards more per game than the Browns. Chargers leave Browns in the dark.
Dennis says:
The weather is a big story in this game. When throwing the ball becomes a problem, people are going to be looking at LaDainian Tomlinson or Jamal Lewis to step up. Though both are on downsides of their careers, Tomlinson has shown some pulse here and there and has a better chance of making big plays. Chargers get electric in the rain.
Ava says:
The Browns are one of the worst teams in the league at 1-10. As number one in the AFC West, the Chargers are an "under-the-radar" good team at 8-3. LaDainian Tomlinson has also improved; last week he managed twice the touchdowns he had two weeks ago. It wasn't much, but it was certainly an improvement. Since he's putting up better stats nowadays, the Chargers will improve to 9-3 on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys (8-3-0) at New York Giants (6-5-0)
Rose - Dallas
Dennis - Dallas
Ava - Dallas

Rose says:
While the Giants are fading into the background with a string of losses, the Cowboys are looking for an opportunity to hold onto the NFC East Division Title. There's a lot of revenge wound up in this game for the Cowboys; Dallas is trying to get back at the Giants for a stolen playoff opportunity in 2007 and their win at the Cowboys Stadium debut game (which devastated the Cowboys). The Dallas team wants to ruin the Giants' season once and for all. And, despite the need for a bit more offensive consistency, Dallas may accomplish just that.
Dennis says:
This storied NFC East rivalry may level the playing field or just give the 'Boys another step towards a playoff spot. Though productive through most of his career, Tony Romo hasn't been the luckiest when it comes to the December playoff run. If he can produce, his team will follow. 'Boys win it.
Ava says:
This is a crucial NFC East game; the teams' strengths will surely be amplified and their weaknesses undoubtedly revealed. Both teams are 2-1 in the division, though the Cowboys are currently in first. If Eli's crew can pull out a win, New York becomes tied with the Eagles for first place and Dallas moves down to third. Unfortunately for me, this is a classic Catch-22. When Romo has a good game, the Cowboys are almost unconquerable. But there's always that nagging reminder inside my head that he has an astounding ability to flop. Since Eli's lingering foot injury is still a factor, I like the Cowboys for this one. Fingers crossed!

San Francisco (5-6-0) at Seattle Seahawks (4-7-0)
Rose - San Francisco
Dennis - San Francisco
Ava - San Francisco

Rose says:
It's the battle of NFC West rivals, and passing games looks like it'll have the most prominence in determining which NFC team ends up on top. With a successful spread offense and a history of 256 rushing yards against the Seahawks in their 23-10 win Sept. 20, San Francisco is sure to go .500 this week. 49ers end their four-game losing streak on the road.
Dennis says:
This game is truly up for grabs. Seattle has the home-field advantage and a consistently better ball game at home. The 49ers need to stick to the tried and true for this game: putting the ball in Frank Gore's hands. 49ers get a victory.
Ava says:
This will be an interesting game because Seattle and San Francisco are both mediocre teams. Gore could have a huge day and run rampant over Seahawks defense, but he could also lay a goose egg and stand by while Seattle orchestrates a win. When in doubt, turn to the good ol' defensive stats. Seattle doesn't have a good rushing defense, so I guess I'll go with the 49ers. They have a better offensive threat.

Minnesota Vikings (10-1-0) at Arizona Cardinals (7-4-0)
Rose - Minnesota
Dennis - Minnesota
Ava - Minnesota

Rose says:
At 40, La Favre is probably one of the most accomplished players in the NFL right now. He has led the Vikings to their impressive 10 victories so far this season, and will be a key contender in outdoing the leader of the NFC West. With fewer rushing yards and a weaker defense, the Cardinals won't top Minnesota.
Dennis says:
Who would've thought that Brett Favre could lead the Vikings so far? Minnesota has become a complete team - it'll be interesting to see how they fare against another dominant NFC team in Arizona. The Cards aren't to be overlooked - they have weapons on both defense and offense that can turn the tide of an entire game. Still, Vikings take the cake.
Ava says:
The Vikings will definitely come out on top. The Cardinals can't stop La Favre or Adrian Peterson (apparently only the cops can stop Peterson's speed - he got a citation for driving 109 mph in a 55 mph zone!), though the Falcons are playing well in their own right. Logically the clear choice is Minnesota, but I wouldn't be surprised if Arizona rallied and upset the Vikings at home.

Monday, Dec. 7

Baltimore Ravens (6-5-0) at Green Bay Packers (7-4-0)
Rose - Green Bay
Dennis - Baltimore
Ava - Green Bay

Rose says:
Both the Ravens and Packers are amid an intense race to the playoffs within their respective divisions. The Packers' defense propelled them to three recent consecutive wins, although they also managed a total of 906 yards on offense and 64 points in their two most recent victories. Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver and Charles Woodson have all made significant plays for the team, but Rodgers will be challenged by Baltimore's Ray Lewis and other defensive players. In the Ravens' last five games, opponents haven't managed to score more than 17 points. Both teams are strong, but instinct says the Packers have the upper hand.
Dennis says:
Aaron Rodgers has been looking spectacular for Green Bay and looks to capitalize against the Ravens. However, the Ravens are quietly building themselves up; defense is improving and their running game is staying consistent. If the Ravens can keep Donald Driver and Greg Jennings in check, a win may very well be in reach.
Ava says:
I've got to take the Packers at Lambeau field, even though I'm sure the usually-stout Baltimore defense will put up a good fight. But combating said defense is Aaron Rogers, the third-ranked quarterback in the league with over 3100 yards this season. Nevertheless, if Green Bay's at home against the inconsistent Ravens with the Monday Night Football cameras recording it all, I'll stick with the Packers.



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