Mike Ivcic’s Week 13 NFL Preview and Free Picks

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Mike Ivcic’s Week 13 NFL Preview and Free Picks ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

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By Mike Ivcic, UltimateCapper Contributing Writer

Atlanta Falcons @ Houston Texans
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Falcons by 2.5
Say hello to T.J. Yates, the person now charged with leading the Texans to their first-ever playoff berth. He’s no Matt Ryan – heck, he’s not even Matt Leinart – but Houston has a two game lead on the Titans in the AFC South. They might lose a game this week, as Atlanta is just simply better equipped to win this matchup, but expect to see both of these teams once January rolls around.
Pick: Atlanta 31, Houston 21

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Buccaneers by 3
Tampa’s had a really rough stretch and are likely out of postseason contention, but it would be an even more disappointing season to finish behind Carolina in the NFC South. This one at home would be a crushing blow, so expect the Bucs to bring their “A” game, especially on defense, and hold down the Panthers.
Pick: Tampa Bay 24, Carolina 17

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Steelers by 7
Obviously the loss of Polamalu is a devastating blow to the Steelers, but they’ve only lost to the Ravens and Texans this year, so they’ve done a nice job winning the games they’re supposed to win. Consider this one another game they “should” win. The Bengals just aren’t there yet, and might be this year’s version of Tampa – good young team that just can’t find a big win against a good team to propel themselves to the postseason.
Pick: Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 23

Denver Broncos @ Minnesota Vikings
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Vikings by 1.5
Has Vegas watched a single Broncos game this season? I’m not a Tebow fan but even I know there are only two options in this game – Vikings win by 9 points or more, or the Broncos win. So how in the world is there such a thing as a 1.5-point line? This game does, however, present of the greatest matchups ever, courtesy of Around The Horn’s Tony Reali – Christian Ponder vs. The Christian Ponderer.
Pick: Denver 17, Minnesota 13

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Patriots by 21
Really? Just a 21-point line? This game won’t be close, and that’s why it was moved off Sunday Night Football is the first place. Just make these team 0-12 and 9-3, respectively, and move on.
Pick: New England 41, Indianapolis 10


Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Bears by 7
It shows you how quickly the Chiefs went from contender to eliminated in that they’re now a 7-point underdog to Caleb Heine. To be fair, Heine played a solid, if unspectacular, game for Chicago in their loss to Oakland. If the Bears can continue to play their high-level defense, they’ll find a way to earn enough wins to make the playoffs, but this is the week that will ultimately prove whether or not that will actually be the case.
Pick: Chicago 27, Kansas City 13

New York Jets @ Washington Redskins
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Jets by 3
The Jets have a fairly favorable closing schedule (Redskins, Chiefs, Eagles, Giants, and Dolphins) so they should be able to catch Cincinnati for the second wild card spot with either the Steelers or Ravens. They’re clearly not at the same level as last year on either side of the ball, but their favorable closing schedule should be enough. A loss this week to a Redskins team coming off a big win in Seattle, though, would basically end their playoff hopes.
Pick: New York 21, Washington 13

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Dolphins by 3
In the span of a month, the Dolphins have gone from the worst team in the league to being favored against a division leader. Doesn’t mean I’ll pick them.
Pick: Oakland 20, Miami 16

Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Bills by 3
Buffalo is quickly fading out of playoff contention, having now lost 4 straight after a 5-2 start. They’re officially cooked if they drop this game, but thanks to Denver’s emergence and the re-stabilizing of the Jets, Tennessee now has a hard battle for the playoffs as well. In a must-win game for both sides, I’ll take the homefield.
Pick: Buffalo 31, Tennessee 24


Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
Sun, 4:05pm, CBS
Line: Ravens by 7
Yes, the Ravens are 803, but they’ve performed much better against better teams (blowing out the Jets, beating the Steelers twice) than they have against weaker teams (losing to the Seahawks and Jags, barely beating the Cardinals). Which team will show up this week? It’s on the road, where all three Baltimore losses have occurred, so I’ll take the win but the cover.
Pick: Baltimore 20, Cleveland 16

Dallas Cowboys @ Arizona Cardinals
Sun, 4:15pm, FOX
Line: Cowboys by 4.5
As has been well documented, Tony Romo is outstanding in November and borderline terrible in December. He’ll need to continue his great play from late fall into early winter if Dallas is going to hold off the Giants in the NFC East. They have more talent and an easier schedule, but any team in the NFL is doomed without consistent play from the quarterback position.
Pick: Dallas 34, Arizona 24

Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants
Sun, 4:15pm, FOX
Line: Packers by 7
Another day, another dollar for the Packers, who get a reeling Giants team playing so poorly that they were doubled up by the Saints on national television in their last week. Meanwhile Big Blue is in danger of falling two games behind Dallas in the division, meaning they would then have no other choice but to beat the Cowboys twice. That’s probably not happening anyway, but losing this game will leave New York with no other options.
Pick: Green Bay 37, New York 28

St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49’ers
Sun, 4:15pm, FOX
Line: 49’ers by 14
The Niners aren’t exactly an explosive offense, so a 14-point spread is a bit high. Sure, San Francisco will probably win, especially since it would clinch a division title, but most of the Rams players and coaches know their jobs are on the line. Expect a spirited performance from St Louis so that they don’t become the team against whom the 49’ers clinch the division.
Pick: San Francisco 20, St. Louis 10

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints
Sun, 8:20pm, NBC
Line: Saints by 9
Without Suh, the Lions defensive front becomes extremely weakened – an absolutely terrible thing to happen prior to playing Drew Brees and the Saints. Detroit is in a similar position to Cincinnati in that it’s extremely difficult to wind up with three teams from one division in the postseason. Atlanta’s hot on the Lions trail, and this game will only bring those two teams even closer together.
Pick: New Orleans 35, Detroit 24

San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Mon, 8:30pm, ESPN
Line: Chargers by 3
Last time they played on Monday night, the Jags stymied the Ravens and earned their biggest win of the season. They now have a new coach and a lot less to play for. Funny… that sounds a lot like how San Diego will be in the very near future. They’ll snap that six-game losing streak right here, though.
Pick: San Diego 17, Jacksonville 10

Straight Up: 119-56
Against Spread: 91-73-11

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