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- Week 13 Predictions: Division Crown

Chris Pokorny December 3, 2005
Chris Pokorny
PFC Owner & Writer

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It is Week 13, and thankfully a new week for field goal kickers. Last week, several kickers could not come through in the clutch to either tie or win the game for their teams. Matt Bryant blew a chip shot field goal that would have given the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a chance to win in overtime, while Jay Feely missed three game winning field goal attempts for the New York Giants. Those losses really hurt the playoff chances for both teams, but they are still very much in the race.

Also, the sudden "fade" of the Pittsburgh Steelers is putting their playoff contention in doubt. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Diego Chargers are neck and neck with them for the wildcard in the AFC, making it very important for the Steelers to take over the AFC North.

Let's get to the Week 13 games of the week.

(Red = Prediction).

They Haven't Clinched it Yet
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Although the Broncos are basically a lock for the playoffs already, their division lead is not safe. The Chiefs and the Chargers are right behind them, and a roll by either team could earn a tiebreaker over Denver for the division. The Broncos just barely survived last week on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys, but they have received an extra three days worth of rest for this contest. Meanwhile, the Chiefs picked up a huge victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Jake Plummer threw his first interception in eight weeks last week, but that was his only major mistake. The Broncos will be able to run the football successfully against whomever they go against, as it now looks like they can go with Mike Anderson, Tatum Bell, or Ron Dayne. The Chiefs only need one guy that can get it done though - Larry Johnson. Both teams will utilize their running attack, but the Chiefs will come out with the victory to continue the tear that they're on with the help of their home field.

Only Their First Meet
Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers
There's a reason why Jake Delhomme hates facing the Falcons: He can't seem to be them. Last year, Michael Vick pulled off an amazing Super Man-like maneuver to dash across the goal line without his knee touching the ground. That inch or two prevented the Panthers from making the playoffs eventually. Delhomme has really been off of his game lately, and the Panthers have only produced a total of 16 points over the past two weeks after dominating teams in week's past. The Falcons defense overwhelmed the Detroit Lions last week, and they, like Denver, had an extra three days to prepare for this game.

The Panthers were my Super Bowl pick from the NFC to start the season, and this is the game where they will break out again. Their running game has not been very productive all year, so they'll have to rely on Jake Delhomme to have a mistake-free game. Vick has been having his way with opposing defenses the past three weeks, but he will be frustrated with the coverage he faces Sunday. Delhomme finally beats the Falcons, but remember that they'll meet again during Week 17.

Must Win on Both Sides(AFC)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
This is a game that both of these teams have to have. If the Bengals win, they will lower the Steelers' confidence by not only beating them at Heinz Field and sending them to their third loss in a row, but by tying the season series between the two teams. The Steelers, on the other hand, will attempt to make it 2-0 on the year against the Bengals, which would make it impossible for the Bengals to win the division if they tie the Steelers with the same record.

Against teams with winning records, the Bengals have simply not gotten the job done. Their defense was horrible against the Colts, and they showed the same type of signs last week late against the Ravens. The Steelers are on a tough stretch, but Roethlisberger will be able to shake some of his rust off and manage the game effectively as he has done in the past. The Bengals offense will pose a threat all game, but the Steelers are determined to make up for being outplayed on Monday Night.

Must Win on Both Sides Part(NFC)
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
The premise for this game is almost identical to the storyline in the Steelers vs. Bengals game, so I won't explain that part again. Both the Cowboys and Giants missed out on an opportunity to gain ground on each other last week after they both lost very close games. Billy Cundiff couldn't come through for the Cowboys, while Feely failed for the Giants. Eli Manning was on his "A" game late against Seattle, but Bledsoe made some costly mistakes against the Broncos.

In their first meeting this year, this became a defensive game. Don't expect the same result this time, since both offenses have matured over the course of the season. While Bledsoe has been solid for Dallas, he has showed more flaws than Manning has for the Giants. The Cowboys running game of Marion Barber and Julius Jones will not overwhelm the Giants, forcing them to go through the air more often than they'd like. Sooner or later, it'll wind up in the hands of a Giants' defender, shifting momentum to the Giants.

And now, the rest of the week...

Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
Whoever wins this game will still have a chance to catch the Patriots, but whoever loses will likely be out of playoff contention. Since J.P. Losman took over for the Bills, they have seemed to have lost their "spark" once again. Although they nearly beat Carolina last week, you have to wonder if that little extra "spark" from a guy like Kelly Holcomb would have given Buffalo the win. The Dolphins rebounded last week by defeating the Oakland Raiders after they played awful the week before. The Dolphins running game will beat up on the Bills, giving them the win.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
The Bears are winning against whoever faces them, and they will be very relieved to see the Packers this week. Chicago has had an easy schedule all year, but they have faced two playoff contending teams the past two weeks, winning both of them. The Bears defense will destroy the Packers, who have been staying in games lately. Don't expect Favre to rally his team in this one though, because this is one game where you truly cannot do it all by yourself.

Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens usually follow up a bad loss with a nice victory, and that will be the case this week since the Texans tend to follow a bad loss with a bad loss. David Carr was impressive last week in the first half, but the collapse to the Rams is inexcusable. Boller actually started to click with the Ravens offense last week, and Jamal Lewis started to get things going. Don't expect them to explode this week, but they will produce fairly well for the victory.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cleveland Browns
The Browns have been a much better team at home than they have been on the road, but the story in this game is the chance of rookie Charlie Frye getting his first start. Regardless of whether Trent Dilfer is healthy or not, it's time to give the rookie a shot. David Garrad looked good for the Jaguars last week, but the Cardinals were not prepared for Garrad. The Jaguars were building momentum with Leftwich as the starter, and they'll find some miscommunication with Garrad as the starter. The Browns will barely pull off the upset in a relatively low-scoring game.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions are in complete disarray right now. They are in the midst of playing horrible, another quarterback change, and now a coaching change. While the coaching change won't really help or hurt them at this point of the season, going to Jeff Garcia will certainly give Detroit a better chance of winning. The Vikings are playing great on defense though, so Garcia will not be able to move the poor offense of the Lions. Brad Johnson will pull off the unthinkable, moving to 5-0 as the Vikings starter in place of Daunte Culpepper.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
The Buccaneers need to shake off last week's performance and focus their attention to the Saints, who are looking to end the season on a positive note. Tampa Bay can gain a game on either Carolina or Atlanta if they win. This will basically me as much of a home game for the Buccaneers as it is for the Saints, since they play in similar locations and the Saints aren't really "home". On top of that, Simms needs to perform well if he wants to prove he is the future quarterback for this team.

Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts
This game won't be a question of whether or not the Colts will win(it's a given), it'll be how many onside kicks or trick plays Jeff Fisher will try to pull off. We've seen it before, but in the end it doesn't matter since they only work about half of the time. Don't be surprised if Peyton Manning takes a seat at the start of the fourth quarter, because it's getting near that time of the year where it's wise to rest some of your key players.

Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Although Kurt Warner didn't get it going until the second half last week, the Cardinals are beginning to put points on the board offensively. The Cardinals defense isn't very good, but neither is the 49ers offense of course. This game will be determined solely on the play of Warner, who will continue his hot streak as of late.

Washington Redskins vs. St. Louis Rams
I'm not picking the Rams solely based on Ryan Fitzpatrick, because I would take them with Martin or Bulger in this game. Fitzpatrick did very well in his debut as a rookie on the road, and will enjoy playing at home this time. It will not be as easy as it was last week though, since he is facing a tougher defense that prepared for him. On the other side though, the Redskins are continuing to fall week by week and could even find themselves behind the Eagles soon. The Rams will rely on Steve Jackson, and will move to 4-0 without Marc Bulger.

New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
The Patriots can envision that the end is near - only a few more weeks until they clinch the playoffs. They have a number of division games remaining, and this will be the easiest one against the Jets. Tom Brady was uncharacteristically bad last week, throwing four interceptions against the Chiefs. The Jets are way too beat up to defeat the Patriots, but they will not lie down. New England will be thrilled if Corey Dillon is able to return.

Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers
If you want an example of how important LaDainian Tomlinson is to the Chargers, then just take a look at what he did last week against the Redskins. Antonio Gates will be a little healthier this week in a game that could get out of hand. Expect this one to be a near blowout, since the Raiders defense often finds it difficult to stop the run and the pass. By time their offense gets rolling, Tomlinson may have already racked up two scores himself.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles are hanging in the playoff race by a threat after winning last week, and will be looking to pull off the upset against the NFC's best team. Although Shaun Alexander is having an outstanding year, the Eagles have been outstanding at stopping the run - especially in their home stadium. Just like they upset the Chargers earlier in the year, they could very well do the same to Seattle. However, Mike McMahon has not played well enough to warrant an upset yet. Seahawks win a nail biter.

That's it for this weeks predictions. My survivor winning streak is back up to two games after the Chargers beat the Redskins in overtime last week. This week, I'm taking the Indianapolis Colts to defeat the Tennessee Titans. The Titans usually can be an "upset" team with their shootout type of style, but they will be no match for Indianapolis.

Predictions Record to Date: 111-65
Last Week: 11-5
Survivor Streak: Won 2(Sea over SF, SD over Was.)

Unlike years past, it already seems clear that it's basically an eight-team race in the AFC and an eight-team race in the NFC.

-Chris Pokorny


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