NFL's Week 13 Early Game Previews

NFL's Week 13 Early Game Previews


Photo Courtesy of Robert Robinson

Baltimore Ravens (6-5) vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

Preview

A very interesting contest late in the season sees the Baltimore Ravens attempt to keep pace in the AFC playoff picture when they travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to take on the Falcons. Baltimore is coming off a dominant performance against the lowly Oakland Raiders, trouncing them 34-17. Atlanta, meanwhile, is currently in a three-game skid that has all but eliminated them from playoff contention in the NFC. However, after watching them play against New Orleans on Thanksgiving their offense is still there and ready to explode. While they only scored 17 points, they left 21 points on the field in the form of three red zone fumbles. If Atlanta can prevent the turnovers and keep Matt Ryan upright, this will be a game to watch.


Players to watch

Lamar Jackson will get his third straight start with Joe Flacco absent again, and he might be able to run all over this Atlanta defense. However, Atlanta might be getting back All-Pro linebacker Deion Jones, and if he’s good to go, you can expect Atlanta to at least have some form of tackling. Also, watch out for Gus Edwards to get his carries in this contest. Atlanta will keep that high-flying offense out there, which includes receiving yards leader Julio Jones, along with Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, and Austin Hooper Atlanta also boasts interception leader Damontae Kazee, who has filled in admirably in the absences of Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen.


Keys to the game

Baltimore Ravens

Run the ball effectively

Generate pressure on Matt Ryan

Shut down Julio and Co.


Atlanta Falcons

Let Ryan and his team run loose

Be aware of the read-option

Figure out the anemic pass rush


Injury list

Baltimore Ravens

Tony Jefferson, S - Ankle (Out)

Joe Flacco, QB - Hip (Doubtful)

James Hurt, OT - Back (Doubtful)

Alex Collins, RB - Foot (Questionable)

Gus Edwards, RB - Ankle (Questionable)

Anthony Levine, DB - Ankle (Questionable)

Tim Williams, LB - Illness (Questionable)

Tavon Young, CB - Groin (Questionable)


Atlanta Falcons

No injury designations - All players cleared to play


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Lamar Jackson, QB (BAL)

Gus Edwards, RB (BAL)

Matt Ryan, QB (ATL)

Julio Jones, WR (ATL)

Calvin Ridley, WR (ATL)

Prediction

Both teams need this win to stay alive in the playoff picture, Baltimore more so than Atlanta because they have a higher probability of playing in January. However, all nice streaks have to come to an end, and usually they transpire in ones we don’t see coming. The potential return of Deion Jones will be the key here for Atlanta’s defense, since he’s arguably the best coverage linebacker not named Luke Kuechly. If he’s back, Jackson will have a challenge, despite playing against the 28th best defense in the league. Atlanta will right the ship this week courtesy of “Matty Ice”.

Final Score: Falcons 27, Ravens 22


Written by: Joe Carlino



Carolina Panthers (6-5) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8)

Preview

The Carolina Panthers, who are in the midst of a three-game skid that has essentially prevented them from winning the NFC South, must attempt to right the ship when they travel to Tampa Bay for a divisional showdown with the Buccaneers. Because it’s a division game you can expect a brutal fight, but Carolina needs it more. Tampa Bay is coming off a convincing win against the 49ers and Jameis Winston played rare, turnover-free football in the win. However, San Francisco didn’t have their franchise quarterback in that game; Carolina does. Stop Cam and CMC, and the Bucs will keep this game interesting.


Players to watch

Cam Newton will be tasked with getting the Panthers’ offense rolling, and he’ll have some help with Christian McCaffrey being a great dual-threat back. With DJ Moore and Greg Olsen in the passing game, expect him to take some deep shots. Jameis Winston had a rare turnover-free contest, which is something the Bucs want him to continue. Against this Carolina defense, he may only have a slight chance to do that. Carolina’s front seven is deadly, with Kawann Short, Julius Peppers, Shaq Thompson, and Luke Kuechly just to name a few. Tampa’s running game might not be able to get going, so there will be some deep balls thrown. Maybe the Desean Jackson connection will finally happen.


Keys to the game

Carolina Panthers

Keep feeding McCaffrey

Get Jameis rattled early

Shutdown Mike Evans


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Running game needs to show up

Jameis = ZERO turnovers

Defense needs to pressure Cam


Injury list

Carolina Panthers

Devin Funchess, WR - Back (Questionable)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carlton Davis, CB - Knee (Out)

Desean Jackson, WR - Thumb (Out)

M.J. Stewart, CB - Hamstring (Out)

Demar Dotson, OT - Knee/Hamstring (Doubtful)

Lavonte David, LB - Knee (Questionable)

Justin Evans, S - Toe (Questionable)

Brent Grimes, CB - Knee (Questionable)

Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT - Knee/Ankle (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Cam Newton, QB (CAR)

Christian McCaffrey, RB (CAR)

Greg Olsen, TE (CAR)

Jameis Winston, QB (TB)

Mike Evans, WR (TB)

Prediction

It remains to be seen if Tampa Bay can have another zero-turnover contest from Jameis like they did against San Francisco, because that will be the difference. A few weeks ago, Carolina trounced the Bucs on their field, and they’re looking to bring out the broomstick. Cam Newton is playing some good football, and his core is helping him out whenever their opportunities are presented. I’m nervous about “Riverboat Ron” potentially messing up the Panthers again, but against Tampa he won’t make the same mistake. Carolina wins comfortably and gets at least two turnovers (but not from #3).


Final Score: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 21


Written by: Joe Carlino



Chicago Bears (8-3) vs. New York Giants (3-8)

Preview

This could be the trap game of the week, as the NFC division-leading Bears take on the NFC East’s last place New York Giants. Chicago is coming off an impressive Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions in which backup QB Chase Daniel put up 230 yds, 2 TD, and 0 INT in place of Mitch Trubisky. The Giants played a strong first half against the Philadelphia Eagles last week but had a meltdown in the 2nd, ultimately falling on a last second Jake Elliott field goal. Chicago’s defense should conceivably shut down a pretty stagnant Giants offense. But if Saquon Barkley gets going and the offensive line can somewhat protect Eli, the game could get interesting.


Players to watch

Chase Daniel will start once again for the injured Mitchell Trubisky. The Giants have to get pressure on him to have any chance of winning, and that starts up front with Olivier Vernon and Kareem Martin. Since trading Damon Harrison New York’s interior run defense has been disgusting, so watch for Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to have big games. As usual, Saquon Barkley is the key to New York’s offense. But they need to develop the play action off of him, and if Nate Solder and Co. can’t protect Eli Manning, then Khalil Mack and Chicago’s pass rush will have a field day.


Keys to the game

Chicago Bears

Don’t get complacent against a bad team

Don’t make Daniel do too much

Keep Barkley contained


New York Giants

Protection

Protection

Protection


Injury list

Chicago Bears

Benny Cunningham, RB - Ankle (Doubtful)

Sherrick McManis, DB - Hamstring (Doubtful)

Mitch Trubisky, QB - Shoulder (Doubtful)

Akiem Hicks, DT - Achilles (Questionable)

Bilal Nichols, DT - Knee (Questionable)


New York Giants

Evan Engram, TE - Hamstring (Out)

B.J. Goodson, ILB - Neck (Out)

Lorenzo Carter, OLB - Hip (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Saquon Barkley, RB (NYG)

Odell Beckham Jr., WR (NYG)

Tarik Cohen, RB (CHI)

Chicago D/ST

Allen Robinson, WR (CHI)

Prediction

I called this a trap game because the Giants have the talent to keep up with most teams in the league. They lost last week against the Eagles because of poor play-calling, and if Chicago puts in less than 100% effort the Giants can take advantage. Nevertheless, I don’t think New York’s offensive line will come even close to limiting Khalil Mack. Even at 50% Mack is a force of nature. Chicago will continue its NFC dominance while the Giants move up further in the 2019 Draft order.


Final Score: Bears 24, Giants 15


Written by: Alexander Amir



Buffalo Bills (4-7) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-6)

Preview

Every week there’s a snoozer of a matchup that pits two mundane and boring offenses against each other, and this one happens to be it. The Bills and Dolphins sport two of the league’s most inconsistent offenses. The Bills have had trouble passing the ball this year, even with Josh Allen back. Buffalo’s running game hasn’t been firing on all cylinders this year, but things have been better the last two weeks with 379 yards in their last two wins over the Jets and Jags. The Dolphins aren’t much better on offense, sporting the 28th ranked overall offense, 27th in passing, and 21st in rushing. Ryan Tannehill came back from his shoulder injury last week and performed well, but this offense still has its issues. This game is going to be controlled by each team’s defense.


Players to watch

Buffalo’s offense goes nowhere without quarterback Josh Allen. He will have to do his best to thwart cornerback Xavien Howard and find wide receivers Robert Foster and Kelvin Benjamin. Allen will have to look out for Cameron Wake as well, who figures to be in the young QB’s face all game. The ground game will have to be controlled by veteran LeSean McCoy, who will try to get his feet under him against one of the worst run defenses in the league led by linebacker Kiko Alonso. Tannehill will have to do his best to thwart a Tre’Davious White-led defense that has held three straight QBs to under 200 yards passing in the last three weeks. Miami’s best bet is attacking young linebacker Trumaine Edmunds with the duo of Kenyan Drake and old man Frank Gore.

Keys to the game

Buffalo Bills

Control the game with the run

Allow Allen to use his feet

Shut down Tannehill


Miami Dolphins

Make Allen uncomfortable

Unleash Tannehill

Protect the quarterback


Injury list

Buffalo Bills

Derek Anderson, QB - Concussion (Out)

John Miller, OG - Oblique (Out)

Charles Clay, TE - Hamstring (Questionable)


Miami Dolphins

Danny Amendola, WR - Knee (Doubtful)

Travis Swanson, C - Ankle (Doubful)

A.J. Derby, TE - Foot/Knee (Questionable)

DeVante Parker, WR - Shoulder (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Josh Allen, QB (BUF)

Ryan Tannehill, QB (MIA)

Kenyan Drake, RB (MIA)

LeSean McCoy, RB (BUF)

Danny Amendola, WR (MIA)

Prediction

Like I said before, this game is going to be a snoozer. Each team has their struggles on offense and each sport a respectable defense. The fact that this is a divisional matchup should point to it being a close, low-scoring game. Since that is the case, I’m going to take the Dolphins in this one. They have a more complete team than the Bills and should be able to easily thwart Josh Allen’s efforts. My sincerest apologies to anyone who has to sit and watch this game live.


Final Score: Dolphins 17, Bills 13


Written by: George Haraktsis



Indianapolis Colts (6-5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)


Preview

The Colts and Jaguars find themselves heading in opposite directions as they are set to face off in a divisional matchup in Week 13. Indianapolis is on a 5-game winning streak and wants to continue to ride that momentum as they make a push for the playoffs. Jacksonville is on a downward spiral as they are on an 8-game losing streak and look to be the most disappointing team of the 2018 season. The Colts have caught people by surprise but enter this game with an expectation to win. It will be interesting to see how well they perform now that they have more eyes on them. The Jaguars fired their offensive coordinator, benched Blake Bortles, and saw Leonard Fournette get slapped with a 1-game suspension. It will be telling to see how the players come out on Sunday and if it affects their play at all.


Players to watch

Andrew Luck is riding an 8-game streak of having thrown at least 3 touchdowns. He threw for 3 in their previous matchup, but the Jags still have a tough defense so that will be something to watch on Sunday. Jacksonville loves to pound the ball, so it will be on the linebacking duo of Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker to help stuff the run. Cody Kessler will be the new starting quarterback and will face a young but cohesive defensive unit from the Colts. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue couldn’t get to Luck last time, so if they want to keep their team in this game then they will have to find a way to bring #12 to the ground.


Keys to the game

Indianapolis Colts

Protect the ball

Don’t let them run all over you

Pressure Kessler into mistakes


Jacksonville Jaguars

Get out to a fast start on offense

Pressure Luck

Control the clock


Injury list

Indianapolis Colts

Ryan Kelly, C - Knee (Out)

Mo Allie-Cox, TE - Calf (Out)

Darius Leonard, LB - Shoulder/Knee (Questionable)

Marlon Mack, RB - Concussion (Questionable)

Mike Mitchell, S - Calf (Questionable)

Erik Swoope, TE - Knee (Questionable)

Chester Rogers, WR - Groin (Questionable)

Kemoko Turay, DE - Hip (Questionable)


Jacksonville Jaguars

D.J. Chark, WR - Quad (Out)

Cody Davis, S - Hamstring (Questionable)

Tashaun Gipson Sr., S - Ankle (Questionable)

Tre Herndon, CB - Ankle (Questionable)

Lerentee McCray, DE - Hamstring (Questionable)

Quenton Meeks, CB - Knee (Questionable)

Jalen Ramsey, CB - Knee (Questionable)

Josh Walker, OL - Foot/Ankle (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Andrew Luck, QB (IND)

T.Y. Hilton, WR (IND)

Eric Ebron, TE (IND)

Marlon Mack, RB (IND)

T.J. Yeldon, RB (JAX)

Prediction

There should be no reason why the Colts don’t walk away with a win. Jacksonville has everything working against them, from off-field drama, to offensive struggles, to miscommunication on their defense. Indy is rolling on offense and their defense continues to improve every week. The Colts walk all over the Jags to continue their winning streak.


Final Score: Colts 28, Jaguars 6


Written by: Cody Manning



Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) vs. Houston Texans (8-3)


Preview

The Browns and Texans will be facing off in a matchup that will feature two rising stars at the quarterback position. Cleveland is riding a two-game winning streak, and with another one on Sunday we will actually be talking about the odds of the Browns squeezing into the playoffs. The Texans are on an 8-game winning streak and understand how important it is to continue with the red-hot Colts coming for them for the division lead. The Browns offense has looked great recently but will face a test against Houston’s defense. The Texans offense was on fire last week but Cleveland’s young but tough defense won’t be an easy task.


Players to watch

Baker Mayfield has been sensational and with another solid performance then he should give his team a shot to upset Houston. Myles Garrett will need a big-time performance to get in the face of Deshaun Watson as much as possible. Lamar Miller had a stellar game last week and if can continue it then the Browns defense will have their hands full all afternoon. The Texans will once again be looking to have J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney torment Mayfield to force him into making rookie mistakes.


Keys to the game

Cleveland Browns

Establish the run

Control the clock

Pressure and contain Watson


Houston Texans

Protect Watson

Force turnovers

Feed WRs (Hopkins, Thomas, Coutee)


Injury list

Cleveland Browns

Austin Corbett, OL - Foot (Out)

JC Tretter, C - Ankle (Questionable)

Damarious Randall, S - Hamstring (Questionable)


Houston Texans

Keke Coutee, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

J.J. Watt, DT - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

DeAndre Hopkins, WR (HOU)

Nick Chubb, RB (CLE)

Lamar Miller, RB (HOU)

Baker Mayfield, QB (CLE)

Deshaun Watson, QB (HOU)

Prediction

Cleveland is coming off their first road win in a long time and will be looking to start a road winning streak in Houston. The Browns have the defense that can pressure Watson and keep it close. Mayfield will find his way on drives that will result in points. This will be a close defensive matchup that will come down to who has the ball on the last series. The young rookie quarterback for the Browns finds a way to get Cleveland another win to upset Houston and end their winning streak.


Final Score: Browns 20, Texans 17


Written by: Cody Manning



Denver Broncos (5-6) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

Preview

These are two teams going in opposite directions. The Denver Broncos have won their last two ball games, and they have done so against the likes of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Los Angeles Chargers. The Broncos’ defense has finally started taking away the ball, and their offense is starting to push the ball down the field more often. The Cincinnati Bengals, on the other hand, are trending negatively. They just lost to the Cleveland Browns at home last week, and they are decimated by injuries.


Players to watch

Jeff Driskel is the key player to watch in this game. If he does not move the Bengals’ offense early, the game is going to be over quickly like it was last week. The Broncos will stack the box to stop Joe Mixon, so maybe Driskel can find A.J. Green in some one-on-one coverages. For the Broncos, Phillip Lindsay should have a nice day on the ground and in the air. If the Bengals’ secondary is still beat up by Sunday’s game, Emmanuel Sanders and Courtland Sutton could see the endzone via a Case Keenum pass.


Keys to the game

Denver Broncos

Take away A.J. Green

Get to the inexperienced quarterback

Establish the run


Cincinnati Bengals

Get Driskel’s confidence up early

Establish A.J. Green’s presence

Get interior line pass rush pressure


Injury list

Denver Broncos

Shaquil Barrett, OLB- Hips (Out)

Tramaine Brock, DB- Ribs (Out)

Brandon Marshall, ILB- Knee (Questionable)

Cincinnati Bengals

Josh Malone, WR - Hamstring (Out)

Cordy Glenn, OL- Back (Doubtful)

Tony McRae, DB- Concussion (Out)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Phillip Lindsay, RB (DEN)

A.J. Green, WR (CIN)

Joe Mixon, RB (CIN)

Emmanuel Sanders, WR (DEN)

Tyler Boyd, WR (CIN)

Prediction

I expect this game to be over relatively quickly. Jeff Driskel cannot possibly play as well this week as he played in mop up duty against the Browns last week. Case Keenum will be hot in the first half, connecting on touchdowns to Emmanuel Sanders and Phillip Lindsay. The Broncos will go on to milk the clock. The Bengals will make it interesting at the end, but it will be too little, too late.


Final Score: Broncos 34, Bengals 24


Written by: Jake Leicht



Los Angeles Rams (10-1) vs. Detroit Lions (4-7)

Preview

One of two things could happen in this matchup: an upset or a blowout. I’d bet the house, the farm, hell... every dollar I’ve got on the latter of the two. The Rams are arguably the hottest team in the NFL right now, while the Lions are banged up, lacking talent, and have not been able to put together a solid, mistake-free game nearly all season. Detroit was just beaten at home by a Chase Daniels-led Chicago Bears team on Thanksgiving. The Rams, on the other hand, are coming off of a bye, and having that extra week of game film study should give them an even bigger advantage this Sunday. Unless Matt Patricia’s defense can pull off a miracle and hold the #2 ranked offense in check, while also playing lights out offensively, their chances of winning are slim to none.


Players to watch

With the potent, high powered Sean McVay-led offense featuring the likes of Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods, the 13th ranked Detroit defense led by shutdown corner Darius Slay will be mismatched across the board. With T.J. Lang recently put on IR, expect the baddest DT on the planet, Aaron Donald, to set up camp behind the Lions’ weakened offensive line. Matt Stafford will be under pressure all game, sacked on multiple occasions, and is guaranteed to turn the ball over several times. Kenny Golladay will most likely have another big game, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he reaches 100+ and a TD or two as the Lions will have to attempt to keep up with the Rams offensively.


Keys to the game

Los Angeles Rams

Pressure Stafford

Cause turnovers

Spread the ball out offensively

Exploit the mismatches


Detroit Lions

Play turnover-free football

Double team Donald & give Stafford a clean pocket

Establish the run & keep the Rams offense off the field

Bend but don’t break defensively (limit the big plays)


Injury list

Los Angeles Rams

No injury designations - All players cleared to play


Detroit Lions

Kerryon Johnson, RB - Knee (Out)

Nick Bellore, FB - Ankle (Out)

Brandon Powell, WR - Calf (Out)

Michael Roberts, TE - Shoulder (Doubtful)

Bruce Ellington, WR - Back (Questionable)

Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB - Neck (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Todd Gurley, RB (LAR)

Jared Goff, QB (LAR)

Kenny Golladay, WR (DET)

Brandin Cooks, WR (LAR)

LeGarrette Blount, RB (DET)

Prediction

The Rams will win this game, they’ll beat the spread, and will be onto their week 14 matchup against the Chicago Bears by the 3rd quarter of this game. Mark my words! Detroit is just too depleted of talent, both offensively and defensively. Sean Mcvay with an extra week to prepare is a scary proposition for any defense to handle. The Rams game plan will be to exploit the several mismatches they present on both sides of the ball. And although their secondary is nothing to brag about, they have the league’s reigning, soon to be defending, Defensive Player of the Year in Aaron Donald. His impact on this game alone should not only secure him the DPOY Award, but also his team a victory in the Motor City. Oh yeah, LA also possesses the league’s leader in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns, Todd Gurley. Rams win by at least two touchdowns… @ ME!


Final Score: Rams 38, Lions 20


Written by: Jack Bourgeois



Arizona Cardinals (2-9) vs. Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

Preview

The Cardinals and Packers are set to faceoff in a matchup that nobody is really desiring to watch outside their fanbases. Arizona has only two wins on the year, both against the 2-win 49ers, they need to show at least some improvement on both sides of the ball to give their fans something to believe in. Green Bay just hasn’t looked like the Green Bay team that we are use to seeing and if things don’t improve then there could be some changes coming to the coaching staff. The Cardinals need a complete game from all aspects of their offense if they want to keep up with the Packers offense. Green Bay has to play all 4 quarters with the same effort otherwise they could let Arizona linger around in this game.


Players to watch

Josh Rosen has struggled as a rookie, but also has shown flashes of his potential. This should be the time that he starts to show improvement as he starts to progress into his second year. Patrick Peterson will be needed to lockdown Davante Adams since he is Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. Aaron Jones has seized the opportunity to become the Packers lead back and will be needed as they head into December football. Clay Matthews will have a great opportunity to put some sacks up as he will face a bad offensive line and a rookie quarterback leading the way.


Keys to the game

Arizona Cardinals

Give Rosen time

Keep Rodgers off the field

Feed DJ


Green Bay Packers

Pressure Rosen into mistakes

Get a big lead early

Protect Rodgers


Injury list

Arizona Cardinals

Deone Bucannon, LB - Chest (Out)

Budda Baker, S - Knee (Questionable)

Rudy Ford, S - Heel (Questionable)

D.J. Humphries, OL - Knee (Questionable)

Haason Reddick, LB - Neck (Questionable)

Chad Williams, WR - Ankle (Questionable)


Green Bay Packers

Mike Daniels, DT - Foot (Out)

Kentrell Brice, S - Ankle/Concussion (Out)

Raven Greene, S - Ankle (Out)

Trevor Davis, WR - Hamstring (Out)

Tra Carson, RB - Rib (Out)

David Bakhtiari, OT - Knee (Questionable)

Lane Taylor, OG - Quadricep (Questionable)

Randall Cobb, WR - Hamstring (Questionable)

Kevin King, CB - Hamstring (Questionable)

Bashaud Breeland, CB - Groin (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Davante Adams, WR (GB)

David Johnson, RB (ARI)

Aaron Rodgers, QB (GB)

Larry Fitzgerald, WR (ARI)

Aaron Jones, RB (GB)

Prediction

After dropping the last couple of games, the Packers find themselves in a must-win, at home, against a weak Cardinals team that has a rookie quarterback. If Green Bay can’t win this game, then their season is done and it would seal Mike McCarthy’s fate as their head coach. I expect the Packers to win in a dominating effort to keep their hopes for a playoff run alive.


Final Score: Packers 35, Cardinals 21


Written by: Cody Manning

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