The Steelers will need a strong performance from their offense this Sunday night.
By: Elias McMillan
Last Week: 13-3
Big Five Games of the Week
Green Bay @ Detroit – A couple weeks ago when the Packers crushed Minnesota on the road, it seemed like Green Bay was ready to make another strong run at the NFC North. But the Packers had an absolutely deflating lost at home last week vs. Chicago and now there are more questions than answers in Green Bay. Tonight, the Packers visit a suddenly hot Detroit team that looks like they’ve completely rebounded from a disastrous start to this season. The Lions are playing inspired on defense and on offense, Matt Stafford is rediscovering his franchise receiver, Calvin Johnson. Green Bay didn’t really get dominated offensively vs. Chicago last week but Detroit will issue some challenges that Green Bay didn’t face last week. Aaron Rodgers play has been shaky for most of the season and Detroit’s defense has been coming on strong as of late. The Lions look like they could be the team ready to go on a run in this division and sweep for the Packers for the first time in forever. Prediction: Lions 31 – Packers 21
Houston @ Buffalo – Houston is playing well going into this week’s game in Buffalo, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Last week, Houston completely shut down Drew Brees and the Saints offense while keeping them out of the end zone. Also with QB Brian Hoyer back in the line up, the Texans offense is looking more efficient each series. Buffalo has been inconsistent this season but they usually play stronger at home. Houston will be challenged greatly by Buffalo’s rushing attack. Houston’s secondary has been playing better lately but they will have their hands full with WR Sammy Watkins who is starting to demand the ball from Tyrod Taylor. Buffalo’s defense gave up too many yards last week in Kansas City and I think they’ll be up to the challenge to rebound from that performance this week at home. Buffalo has the front seven to stuff Houston’s run game and that will allow them to focus their attention on WR DeAndre Hopkins who is playing out of his mind right now. I’m going out on a limb on this one but I’m picking the home team. Prediction: Bills 22 – Texans 16
Seattle @ Minnesota – Russell Wilson had far and away his best passing game of the season last week at home vs. a weak Steelers secondary. I think Seattle’s offense is getting too much credit for last week. I mean, I don’t mean to take anything away from Wilson and the Seahawks passing game but Pittsburgh’s secondary was horrible last week. This week in Minnesota, Seattle will face a much tougher secondary and overall defense in the Vikings. Seattle’s defense also gave up a lot of yards through the air last week and their pass rush didn’t have an affect on the game until the second half. I think Minnesota will be able to play ball control football by feeding their beast, Adrian Peterson, and giving QB Teddy Bridgewater time to execute big plays through the air. Prediction: Vikings 27 – Seahawks 20
New York Jets @ New York Giants – This edition of the battle for New York is especially important because both teams are competing for a playoff spot in their respected conferences. The Giants laid an absolute egg last week on the road at Washington. Meanwhile, the Jets were dominant against a weak Miami team. The Giants are trending down going into this week but they matchup well against the Jets. The Giants have issues with running the football and that should continue this week as the Jets have a strong defensive front seven. However for the Jets defense, they might be without CB Darrelle Revis again which would spell bad news for this secondary going up against WR Odell Beckham Jr. Eli Manning struggled for most of last weeks game and the Giants will need him to be sharp this week against a shorthanded Jets secondary. The Giants defense underperformed last week and they’ll be challenged again this week against the Jets. The Jets offense had a strong performance last week as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for multiple touchdowns, Brandon Marshall continued to be a reliable target, and RB Chris Ivory was able to get the tough yards for this offense. I believe that the Jets will be able to get their offense going this week but the Giants are in “must win” mode and are the most desperate team in this contest. I think Eli Manning will be able to rebound and play great for all 4 quarters this week. Prediction: Giants 25 – Jets 24
Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh – Indy’s victory over Tampa Bay last week was closer than what the scoreboard read. I remember last season when the Colts played in Pittsburgh in an absolute shootout. With the current state of the Colts passing game, I don’t see that happening this time around. Or maybe not because the Pittsburgh secondary is coming off its worst performance of the season. Last week, Jameis Winston left a lot of yards on the table against this Colts defense. That wont be the case for Ben Roethlisberger and the many weapons at the receiver position. Roethlisberger is coming off a concussion injury so we do have to wonder if he will be still feeling effects from that injury on Sunday night. If Ben is not 100%, Pittsburgh may have to lean on its running game this week. That might not be a bad thing, as Indy doesn’t really have a tough run defense. The Colts defense has been playing better recently but they still have been an underachieving unit for most of the season. With all the injuries Pittsburgh has had to deal with, I think they are still head and shoulders the better team on the field this week. If Pittsburgh drops this one at home, their playoff chances will be in serious jeopardy. Prediction: Steelers 28 – Colts 20
The Rest of Week 13
Bears over 49ers – This Chicago squad is playing hard for head coach John Fox.
Bengals over Browns – Cleveland is starting Austin Davis at QB this week. What kind of message do you think that sends to the Browns locker room? Does Davis, who has only been in Cleveland for weeks now, truly give Cleveland its best chance to win on Sunday? Does Mike Pettine believe that his locker room will rally around Davis? Cleveland is a mess. This should be an easy week for the Bengals. #FreeJohnnyFootball
Titans over Jaguars – Tennessee lost a close one last week. Their efforts will be awarded this week vs. Jacksonville.
Cardinals over Rams – Arizona must keep their current momentum to fend off Seattle for the division.
Ravens over Dolphins – Miami is playing awful right now. Ryan Tannehill may have hit his ceiling.
Falcons over Buccaneers – Atlanta must win this one to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Chiefs over Raiders – Kansas City is getting the most out of their offense while the defense is playing at a high level.
Broncos over Chargers – The Brock Osweiler hype train in gaining stream but everyone needs to relax. Then again, he’ll probably play good again this week at San Diego.
Patriots over Eagles – No Gronk, no problem? I don’t know about that. I do know that the Eagles secondary can’t stop anyone.
Panthers over Saints – After that horrible offensive performance, New Orleans will face a tough, undefeated Carolina defense. Bad news for the Saints.
Washington over Cowboys – I’m not sure if I’m buying Washington has the best team in the NFC Least. Who knows what Dallas can offer with the type of season they are having. They could easily regroup and win this game on the road or continue to disappoint. Who knows.
Fantasy Football Picks of the Week
QB: Cam Newton (Panthers) – Newton isn’t leading in any passing category but he will look sharp against this New Orleans secondary.
RB: C.J. Anderson (Broncos) – After ending New England’s undefeated season last week, Anderson may have another big day against San Diego’s run defense.
WR: Brandon Marshall (Jets) – Marshall is quietly having a nice season and that should continue against the Giants secondary.
TE: Travis Kelce (Chiefs) – Kelce has been a reliable target for Alex Smith this season.
DEF: Chicago – The Bears defense did a great job last week limiting Aaron Rodgers. Hopefully they can continue that success against San Francisco’s woeful offense.