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Kym Fortino/San Francisco 49ers

2022 NFL Game Picks: Week 13

Last week: 10-6

Season: 108-71-1


BUF (8-3) @ NE (6-5)

Thursday, December 1 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


One of the most highly anticipated NFL games of the season, Bills-Patriots is a huge AFC East clash on Thursday Night Football—and New England will be hoping to make it a slugfest like the first matchup last year (14-10 victory in which Mac Jones only threw three passes), as Bill Belichick has surely been stewing over the 47-17 playoff loss. The Bills continue to be not quite themselves on both sides of the ball, but their losses all being down-to-the-wire heartbreakers shows just how talented the team is, so we’ll see if a flip is switched tonight. Fortunately for Buffalo, Von Miller (knee) isn’t done for the year, and top cornerback Tre’Davious White was able to get his feet wet with his season debut on Thanksgiving as a good first step for him ramping up to being a superstar player by the playoffs. Overall, the injury issues and Belichick having a year to prepare should make it a close game, but the Bills might have too much firepower with Josh Allen and all his weapons.


Winner: Buffalo Bills


PIT (4-7) @ ATL (5-7)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


I still think the Steelers will hang around in playoff contention through at least their Christmas Eve matchup versus the Raiders, and Sunday is a tremendous opportunity to pick up another road victory—particularly with the boost they’ll get from the traveling Pittsburgh fanbase. Kenny Pickett and his wideouts have been getting more and more comfortable with one another, and the underrated offensive line opened quite a bit of holes last week for all of the running backs with Najee Harris (abdomen) going down in the first half, which was encouraging versus a tough Indy front. I believe this could be a spot where the playmaking defense let by T.J. Watt comes alive (Watt has been quiet since his return, but he had 3.0 sacks in his only matchup versus the Falcons), and Mike Tomlin’s group has plenty of experience defending mobile quarterbacks based on their history facing Lamar Jackson in recent years. A defensive domination feels very possible this weekend.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


DEN (3-8) @ BAL (7-4)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Most are claiming the Broncos are “stuck” with Russell Wilson and his massive contract for the next few years, but there is no reason the franchise can’t have a quick turnaround if they hit on their next head coach; basically, making sure Wilson is a success should be their priority, so—assuming Nathaniel Hackett is fired—the offensive minds I would target are UCLA head coach Chip Kelly and Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Both might be seen as risks (Kelly because the media has decided to paint him in a negative light despite all the influence he had on Philadelphia’s championship, and Johnson because he’s only had one year coordinating an offense), but I have little doubt about either of them being able to get the best out of the former Super Bowl-winning quarterback. This week, Denver will need to make it a slugfest to upset the Ravens, but the result could be similar to last season when Baltimore won 23-7.


Winner: Baltimore Ravens


GB (4-8) @ CHI (3-9)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Aaron Rodgers threw a couple of interceptions last week in Philadelphia, but it’s a shame that the defense couldn’t stop Jalen Hurts and the running game—as scoring 33 points should be enough to win most games, and Rodgers was delivering some pinpoint passes despite his broken thumb. Now, Green Bay sits at 4-8 with a five-game winning streak almost certainly being their only shot at possibly making the playoffs, and there are concerns about their ability to stop the Chicago offense if Justin Fields (shoulder) is able to return. Still, the Bears have defensive issues of their own without Roquan Smith traded to the Ravens and Eddie Jackson done for the year with a foot injury, so the Packers need to play through Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon—in turn opening up space for emerging rookie Christian Watson to continue showing his game-breaking ability.


Winner: Green Bay Packers


JAX (4-7) @ DET (4-7)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Jaguars-Lions being one of the best games of Week 13 shows the progress made by both franchises, and I’m anticipating an extremely competitive matchup between them on Sunday. A loaded conference will make it tough for Jacksonville to crash the playoff party in 2022, but they can climb as far as Trevor Lawrence takes them in the future, and it’s fair to classify this as basically his rookie year considering all the turmoil around the organization last season. Detroit is a little closer to contending in my opinion, and general manager Brad Holmes hasn’t gotten enough credit for the job he’s done alongside Dan Campbell—from acquiring Jared Goff to hitting on a bunch of draft picks. I have concerns about the secondary being able to contain the quartet of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Marvin Jones, and Evan Engram, but D’Andre Swift is getting healthier, and a few extra days to prepare gives the Lions an edge at home.


Winner: Detroit Lions


CLE (4-7) @ HOU (1-9-1) 

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Quite frankly, it’s kind of sickening that the NFL clearly planned an 11-game suspension for Deshaun Watson all along to get him back for this game against his former team. While most have said it’s for ratings, I think the obvious reason is that the league hopes to turn the page (i.e. put an end to the saga that began by Watson sexually assaulting over two dozen women) by having him play in Houston for his first game back; had he not been set to play there until, say, 2025, then the NFL would have the storyline pop up again in a few years with the Texans fans surely not forgetting, but now they can have Watson and the league take heat for one weekend before they conspire to make it a footnote. It’d be one thing if Watson expressed regret or sorrow, or if he at least had a serious punishment, but that didn’t happen, and I’ll be interested to see how the pregame shows handle the discussions about the situation on Sunday morning.


Winner: Cleveland Browns


NYJ (7-4) @ MIN (9-2)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Sauce Gardner and the New York secondary versus Justin Jefferson and the Minnesota wideouts should be one of the week’s best matchups, and the Jets have been excellent on defense by holding opponents to 14.4 points per game since the start of October—going 6-2 over that span (with both losses to the Patriots). The best game plan to beat Robert Saleh’s defense might be attacking the middle of the field with T.J. Hockenson (and also Dalvin Cook), but Kirk Cousins taking a step back this season has been overlooked due to the team having the second-best record in the league, and the Vikings will hope he carries the Thanksgiving success into December. If not, Mike White has the ability to outduel him by taking on a Minnesota defense that’s allowing the most passing yards per game in the league, and the former fifth-rounder—who we viewed as a borderline top-50 prospect—has been able to operate the offense at a very high level when given the opportunity. I’ve often been wrong picking against New York this season, but I’m going with them on the road this time.


Winner: New York Jets


WAS (7-5) @ NYG (7-4)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Maybe I’m reading too much into things because I have Saquon Barkley on my fantasy team, but his workload dropping with 16.0 touches per game over the past two weeks—after 36 touches in a Week 10 win—is a bit curious, especially when he’s not been on the field in some key moments. That said, the extra time to rest with the Giants having played on Thanksgiving should help moving forward, and their best player needs to be featured for this continued NFC East stretch (v WAS, v PHI, @ WAS) to push New York into the postseason. Taking on a surging Washington defense won’t be easy, though, so Daniel Jones must make plays with his arm and legs to keep them honest, and he notably has a 4-1 career record versus the Commanders. On the other side of the ball, Taylor Heinicke had 336 yards and two touchdowns (one interception) in a 30-29 win over New York in 2021, but Washington should play through Brian Robinson Jr. in what should be a close game; I’ll go with Big Blue to get back in the win column by feeding Barkley.


Winner: New York Giants


TEN (7-4) @ PHI (10-1)

Sunday, December 4 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


I previously mentioned Jordan Davis (ankle) getting healthy as a key for the Eagles if they want to avoid disappointment in the playoffs, and it sounds like he could be back this week—and with veteran reinforcements alongside him—to stop Derrick Henry. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but the Bengals might have laid out the blueprint last week by sending various run blitzes to make sure King Henry is stopped before he gets going; I could see the Eagles instead trying to win with their defensive line, in which case their linebackers will be tested, and I’m still eager to see rookie Nakobe Dean get time on defense to see if he can help take the unit to another level. The difference on Sunday could be Philly having A.J. Brown with a chip on his shoulder against his former team, and him going off would not at all be surprising with Tennessee being unable to stop both the running game and all the pass-catchers for the Eagles.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


SEA (6-5) @ LAR (3-8)

Sunday, December 4 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


The talent level isn’t there right now for Los Angeles due to injuries and the stars not playing like stars, but having high-character guys like Kyren Williams will give them a chance:



Seattle still has the playoffs well within their sights and should benefit from Aaron Donald (ankle) being out of the lineup this week.


Winner: Seattle Seahawks


MIA (8-3) @ SF (7-4)

Sunday, December 4 | 4:05 PM ET | FOX


Miami and San Francisco are two very similar teams in terms of style and philosophies with Mike McDaniel being the newest branch of the Shanahan coaching tree to get a chance to lead an NFL team, but there are also some clear differences. The biggest perhaps being the speed of the Dolphins with Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Raheem Mostert on offense—which needs to be neutralized by Nick Bosa and the pass rush getting to Tua Tagovailoa to knock him off his spot in a rhythm-based passing attack. For the Niners, the health of Christian McCaffrey (knee) is crucial as Deebo Samuel manages his hamstring injury, but Jimmy Garoppolo has gotten everyone involved to keep defenses guessing. Sunday could be decided by the overlooked complementary pieces on each side, with Trent Sherfield someone to watch for Miami, and Jauan Jennings (again) and Tevin Coleman the guys to keep an eye on in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. I’m going with Jimmy G and the Niners to extend their winning streak to five games.


Winner: San Francisco 49ers


KC (9-2) @ CIN (7-4)

Sunday, December 4 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


There didn’t seem to be a ton of bad blood between the Chiefs and Bengals during or in the aftermath of last year’s AFC Championship Game, but Kansas City safety Justin Reid—who was with the Texans in 2021—started a feud this week by going at Hayden Hurst (and/or others) on the Cincinnati offense. Ja’Marr Chase and Tyler Boyd both responded to the comments on Twitter, and Hurst gave his response today, so it might have been a miscalculation for Reid to provide added motivation for them when it was the Chiefs that might have been coming in with an edge to atone for the playoff loss. On the field, Chase’s return from a hip injury can take the offense to new heights with Joe Burrow getting it done without his top target in recent weeks, and the offensive line has really come together over the past month. However, Patrick Mahomes undoubtedly circled this game on the calendar when the schedule was released in the spring, and the Chiefs having more balance than previous years can keep them in position for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


LAC (6-5) @ LV (4-7)

Sunday, December 4 | 4:25 PM ET | CBS


Simply put, the performance by Josh Jacobs last week—handling 39 touches for 303 total yards and two touchdowns (including the overtime game-winner) while playing with an injured calf—was legendary, and the Raiders feeding him is their best chance of making an improbable run to the postseason. He’s still at less than 100%, but Los Angeles is the perfect opponent for Jacobs to go off against considering their struggles versus the run (league-high 5.4 yards per carry allowed), and Derek Carr seems to be gaining comfort in Josh McDaniels system with nine touchdown passes over the past four games. On the other hand, Justin Herbert has picked up his play with the return of Keenan Allen, and the Raiders ranking dead last in sacks this season (16) should make him very comfortable in the pocket if Maxx Crosby (who has 10.5 of those quarterback takedowns himself) is taken care of. Los Angeles can’t slipup here with the Dolphins and Titans coming to town over the next two weeks.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


IND (4-7-1) @ DAL (8-3)

Sunday, December 4 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Dak Prescott has uncharacteristically thrown more interceptions than usual (six in six games, including two on Thanksgiving), but the Cowboys look like a potential juggernaut as the playoffs near—and they get some nice tune-up opportunities over the next three weeks (v IND, v HOU, @ JAX) before hosting the Eagles for a Christmas Eve rematch. In particular, Ezekiel Elliott capping off drives with six touchdowns over his past four games gives Dallas an old-school mindset to pair with the new-age passing success led by CeeDee Lamb (and maybe soon Odell Beckham Jr.), so I could see the Jeff Saturday-led Colts having a difficult time keeping up on Sunday night. The best hope for Indianapolis having good showing in primetime is them playing through Jonathan Taylor, and Parris Campbell also might be positioned for a nice night by avoiding Trevon Diggs in the slot. I’m just not sure the offensive line built by Chris Ballard will be able to keep Micah Parsons from living in the backfield.


Winner: Dallas Cowboys


NO (4-8) @ TB (5-6)

Sunday, December 4 | 8:15 PM ET | ESPN/ESPN2


It’s rare for a matchup between two sub-.500 teams in December to carry so much importance, but New Orleans could be right back in the NFC South race with a win to pull within a 0.5 game of Tampa Bay, and the Bucs will be looking to make it a two-team battle with the Falcons by the end of Week 13. These bitter rivals know one another well, and the biggest challenge for the Bucs will be making up for the absence of right tackle Tristan Wirfs (ankle)—though they should have Chris Godwin healthier than he was in the September matchup, and Julio Jones will be active this time with the injury issues hopefully in the rearview mirror. Also, the defense had a dinner organized by Devin White and Lavonte David last Monday night to get everyone on the same page, and I’d expect them to be fired up at home. If not, it might be time for me to reevaluate my optimism about Tom Brady’s squad making a playoff run next month.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers