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Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles

2023 NFL Game Picks: Week 13

Last week: 11-5

Season: 112-68


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

Thursday, November 30 | 8:15 PM ET | Prime Video


The Seahawks have spun their wheels offensively in back-to-back games, and it’s no coincidence that their struggles have come with Kenneth Walker III (oblique) going down. I say that with a very high opinion on rookie runner Zach Charbonnet, but Seattle isn’t operating at a high enough level through the air to have their desired balance, and Walker’s big-play ability makes him a game-breaking weapon that can make things happen on his own. Still, trying to play through Charbonnet—in turn setting up play-action throws to DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett—should be the game plan for Seattle, and they probably won’t have much luck versus the opportunistic Dallas defense if Geno Smith is asked to be as aggressive as he was on Thanksgiving when the offense couldn’t stay on the field. If balance is achieved, there is a real shot at an upset with the Seahawks in need of a win, and perhaps the Cowboys will be looking ahead to next week’s rematch against the Eagles; but Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb might be too hot to slow down, and Dallas has been dominant at home with a 5-0 record.


Winner: Dallas Cowboys


LAC (4-7) @ NE (2-9)

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Maybe it’s because the defense has continued to play well or the struggles are no longer surprising, but Bill Belichick being done in New England doesn’t exactly feel like a foregone conclusion—and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of media narrative is crafted for three consecutive primetime games after this week. The Chargers are a different story, as Brandon Staley’s seat seems to be on fire, and Los Angeles will obviously be a very desirable job with Justin Herbert at quarterback (I would try to get Belichick if available after the season). This week, Herbert needs pass-catchers behind Keenan Allen to step up, and Jalen Guyton is one guy I would keep an eye on as a deep threat after Giants rookie Jalin Hyatt had five receptions for 109 yards against the Pats in Week 12. At running back, Austin Ekeler might be hitting a wall in his age-28 campaign, and I’d like to see Isaiah Spiller get extended run at some point down the stretch to see what he can bring with a heavier workload. With a clear quarterback advantage for LA no matter who is under center for New England, I’ll go with them on the road.


Winner: Los Angeles Chargers


DET (8-3) @ NO (5-6)

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Lions losing last week might have had more to do with Green Bay finally clicking offensively, but cornerback has often been brought up as a concern for their chances in the NFC—and you have to wonder if general manager Brad Holmes (who is great) will regret not being more aggressive at the trade deadline. To be fair, we don’t know what other GMs were thinking, and maybe a team like the Packers wouldn’t trade Rasul Douglas to a division rival, for example; but the Detroit pass rush needs to step up to take pressure off the backend, and there has been no indication that James Houston (leg) will be returning in the near future. This week, the cornerbacks might have an easier time if Chris Olave (concussion) and Rashid Shaheed (quad) are both out to leave A.T. Perry and Lynn Bowden Jr. as the top wide receivers for Derek Carr, but a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill is to be expected. With a few extra days to prepare and entering an intimidating road environment that Jared Goff has previously conquered, the Lions should get back on track.


Winner: Detroit Lions


ATL (5-6) @ NYJ (4-7)

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


Aaron Rodgers returning to practice less than three months after tearing his Achilles is insane, but will the Jets be able to win the next two games to keep the door open for the four-time NFL MVP to be back on Christmas Eve? With a visit to Miami looming on December 17, it’s crucial for New York to beat the Falcons and Texans in back-to-back home games, and being 6-8 (assuming they don’t beat the Dolphins) with a chance to run the table might be just enough to sneak into the playoffs with a little help. That said, the more likely scenario is the offense not being good enough for Rodgers to come back, and Tim Boyle wasn’t an upgrade over Zach Wilson with 4.7 yards per attempt, two interceptions, and seven sacks absorbed on Black Friday. So, the real question might be if Rodgers trusts general manager Joe Douglas to build up the offensive line this offseason, and the Jets are at least fortunate that 2024 appears to be a strong draft class. At this point, the group isn’t close to good enough, and Atlanta should have a very conservative game plan on offense to make sure they don’t beat themselves on Sunday.


Winner: Atlanta Falcons


ARI (2-10) @ PIT (7-4)

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Sticking with Joe Douglas and the Jets, them getting jumped by Pittsburgh—in a trade with New England—for offensive tackle Broderick Jones in the 2023 NFL Draft has proven to be a flat-out disaster, as the former Georgia standout has been great since becoming a starter. Of course, the second pick for the Steelers has been even better with Joey Porter Jr. having an All-Pro caliber season, and almost every team in the league should be kicking themselves for allowing him to fall to Round 2. I know Pittsburgh isn’t seen as a threat in the AFC by many fans, but they have stars or emerging stars all over the roster, and Kenny Pickett is trending up after efficiently attacking the middle of the field a bunch last week (which was a strength for him in college) after not doing it much under former offensive coordinator Matt Canada. This week, we could see Kyler Murray make enough plays with his legs to pull off the upset for the Cardinals, but Pittsburgh has a huge opportunity to get to 9-4 with two games in five days while the resting Ravens sit tight at 9-3 until next weekend.


Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers


IND (6-5) @ TEN (4-7)

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Tennessee will be determined to stop the run in a divisional battle after Zack Moss rumbled for 195 total yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches against them in Week 5, but that’s easier said than done—and Moss has proven to be an excellent fill-in for Jonathan Taylor (thumb) with 4.8 yards per carry in 18 games with Indy. Plus, the Titans have not proven they will consistently play through Derrick Henry when they fall behind (even if it’s still a close game), and the offense averaged just 13.3 points per game in November, while the Colts have gained confidence on defense during their three-game winning streak (13.0 points per game allowed). Unless they decide to fully commit to King Henry (and it is December, after all), Tennessee might not be able to do enough to keep up if the Colts open holes in the running game and have Michael Pittman Jr. continue his strong play with a season-long pace of 128/1,380/6 in six games since Gardner Minshew replaced Anthony Richardson (shoulder).


Winner: Indianapolis Colts


MIA (8-3) @ WAS (4-8) 

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | FOX


The Commanders have dropped eight of their past ten games since a 2-0 start, and the blowout loss on Thanksgiving led to the firing of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio—which means Ron Rivera will be taking over an underperforming unit. However, personnel decisions and the general team-building philosophy are more of a concern than coaching (Rivera at least knows how to get his guys to play hard), but the problem is that Washington’s head coach is the one who built the roster. Unfortunately, wrong choices have put the Commanders on a difficult path to contention with no real A-level players on the roster despite shelling out some hefty contracts, and 2021 (when they could have had Christian Darrisaw and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah) and 2023 (when they could have had Dalton Kincaid and then traded up for Joey Porter Jr.) in particular are tough to stomach if you’re a fan. Maybe the unknown with Rivera changing things up defensively will get Miami on their heels, but I’d lean towards things potentially getting ugly.


Winner: Miami Dolphins


DEN (6-5) @ HOU (6-5)

Sunday, December 3 | 1:00 PM ET | CBS


Teams possibly learning how to defend C.J. Stroud and the Texans was discussed last week, but he again had 300+ yards and multiple touchdowns through the air—also adding six carries for 47 yards and another score on the ground. I do think teams are solving the primary structure of the passing attack, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how Denver attempts to defend the second-chance plays that Stroud has proven are a big part of his game since first unlocked in his final college outing (the shootout loss to Georgia in the CFB Playoff semifinal). Because the Texans want to attack weaknesses depending on their opponent, offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik might go with a run-heavy approach centered around Devin Singletary and Dameon Pierce this week, as both backs are capable of breaking arm tackles to consistently rip off chunk gains. The same is true for Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine for the hottest team in the league, and Russell Wilson was able to go 3-0 against DeMeco Ryans was he was coordinating the defense for San Francisco.


Winner: Denver Broncos


CAR (1-10) @ TB (4-7)

Sunday, December 3 | 4:05 PM ET | CBS


Panthers owner David Tepper is getting a lot of heat this week for firing Frank Reich and moving on to his sixth coach (full-time or interim) since buying the team in 2018, but what was he supposed to do? We have been talking about Reich’s flaws all year, but much of the discussion now is revisionist history with many previously calling Carolina an all-star coaching staff, and I’m sure Tepper was advised by others that Reich would be the right man for the job. So, the key for the Panthers moving forward is finding a general manager that will not only hit on draft picks to build around Bryce Young, but also find “bargains” via free agency and the trade market (not to mention a top head coach); some popular analysts have called the job undesirable, but that’s a loser mentality, and Tepper is clearly willing to pour resources into trying to win. The best shot for the Panthers this week would be Young outplaying Heisman House buddy Baker Mayfield, and I think it can happen despite picking the Bucs.


Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


CLE (7-4) @ LAR (5-6)

Sunday, December 3 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


Dorian Thompson-Robinson (concussion) would seem unlikely to play this week, so it will be strange to see Joe Flacco—who won a Super Bowl with the rival Ravens—suiting up for Cleveland in the middle of their bid for a playoff spot. I don’t understand why Flacco didn’t get a shot sooner, but the veteran should benefit from DTR’s fastball preparing the pass-catchers for any heat that comes in their direction this weekend, and David Njoku will be funneled targets (11.0 over the past three games) with Amari Cooper perhaps being more of a focus, too. For the Rams, having Kyren Williams in the lineup takes the offense to another level, as he has four multi-score games in just seven appearances this year; and the losses for Los Angeles with Williams healthy (4-3 record) have been tight games versus the 49ers, Bengals, and Eagles. I have gone back and forth here and want to point out how well Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has played in recent weeks, but the Rams have more playmakers on offense.


Winner: Los Angeles Rams


SF (8-3) @ PHI (10-1)

Sunday, December 3 | 4:25 PM ET | FOX


Somehow, the bad blood for the NFC Championship rematch between San Francisco and Philadelphia is higher than it was (or will be) for Cowboys-Eagles this year, and both sides feel they have a lot to prove for one reason or another. The Niners were able to run on the Eagles early in the January matchup with Christian McCaffrey rushing seven times for 55 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but Philadelphia also had success on the ground with four rushing scores—which could lead to them committing to D’Andre Swift early. The biggest difference will be Brock Purdy, and San Francisco’s pass-catchers were awfully confident in believing they would have moved the ball through the air if Purdy didn’t go down in the playoff loss. They may be right, and the second-year quarterback is the real deal for anyone that is still a doubter; but Jalen Hurts is a pure winner that might be the overlooked successor to Tom Brady in terms of his win-at-all-costs mindset, and the MVP frontrunner understands/embraces the team aspect of the game better than anyone in the league right now. McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle could prove too much to handle for an underperforming defense, but I believe Hurts and the Eagles will again find a way to win.


Winner: Philadelphia Eagles


KC (8-3) @ GB (5-6)

Sunday, December 3 | 8:20 PM ET | NBC


Jordan Love has come a long way since Andy Reid couldn’t remember who he was when asked about him at the Annual League Meeting in the spring, and Green Bay is arguably a questionable non-lateral call away (in the loss to Pittsburgh) from being on a four-game winning streak. Improved confidence from Love is a big reason for the turnaround, but the defense deserves recognition for strong performances as well, and Patrick Mahomes—while excited to play at Lambeau Field for the first time—won’t have an easy time moving the ball on Sunday night, especially if the possibility of snow has an impact. Run defense is still an area of weakness for the Packers, though, and Isiah Pacheco has been featured with 20 touches in back-to-back games, so wrapping up and playing with physicality will be necessary to pull off the upset. Kansas City can also be run on with 4.6 yards per carry allowed, and AJ Dillon pounding the ball to set up play-action throws to the young wideouts will be the formula for Green Bay.


Winner: Kansas City Chiefs


CIN (5-6) @ JAX (8-3)

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


Josh Allen was a game-wrecker last week with 2.5 sacks in the win over Houston, and the Jacksonville defense should build plenty of momentum ahead of the postseason with a very easy schedule the rest of the way outside of a matchup against the Ravens in Week 15. That is not to say they don’t need to be ready to play every week, and the Bengals are a proud team with playmakers in Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, and—if healthy—Tee Higgins (hamstring) that can make it a game if the Cincinnati defense does their part by at least keeping things close. The issue is Jake Browning not having time to find open targets before Allen and others close in, so using screens and draws for Mixon will be a good way to offset the Jacksonville pass rush. Overall, it’s just very tough to win with a disadvantage at quarterback, and Zac Taylor’s 4-28-1 record without Joe Burrow (wrist) shows how important a franchise quarterback is in today’s NFL.


Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars