Joey P’s Week 13 NFL Picks

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Each week I pick the winners of all the NFL games (or try to, anyway) without point spreads and without bias, either. Here are my picks for Week 13.

I had a pretty nice bounce-back week, going 11-5 to bring my year-to-date record to 109-67 (.619). It’s birthday weekend and all I want is an undefeated slate of games. That’s not asking too much, is it? And it’s healthier for me than cake!

(NOTE: All games on Sunday afternoon unless otherwise noted.

Dallas 24, Washington 13 (Thursday night): It looks that the Cowboys have been more handicapped by Tyron Smith’s absence than by the missing Ezekiel Elliott–although they could use both. The good news is that Dallas is facing the Redskins, a mistake-prone unit with a leaky defense that simply doesn’t know how to beat archrival Dallas.

Detroit 27, Baltimore 16: Ravens fans are desperate for their team to go on a stretch run that will put their team in the playoffs. The problem this week is Matthew Stafford. He directs an offense that’s miles ahead of Baltimore’s. The Ravens have an aggressive defense, but they can’t force three and four turnovers every week.

New England 34, Buffalo 20: The Bills wisely sat Nathan Peterman last week and the team responded with a big win at Kansas City. While Buffalo has been tough at home, dealing with Tom Brady is a tall order.

Atlanta 27, Minnesota 26: The Falcons seem to have gotten their act together at just the right time. I’ll take them to win one of the week’s best matchups. But let me also say the Vikings’ defense is one of the league’s best. This week life will be rough for Matt Ryan.

Chicago 17, San Francisco 13: Two of the NFC’s great franchises used to meet with playoff and Super Bowl berths on the line. That’s far from reality now, but the Bears (at least) can occasionally compete with better teams … which the 49ers are not.

Green Bay 20, Tampa Bay 17: Despite putting a scare into Pittsburgh, the Packers aren’t the same without Aaron Rodgers. But without Jameis Winston the Buccaneers don’t look like the sleeper team they were supposed to be. Pete Axthelm, the late NBC-TV analyst, used to call this “The Bay Of Pigs” game. And that’s what it has been reduced to these days.

Jacksonville 27, Indianapolis 17: There’s no way the Jaguars should have lost at Arizona last week, but they did. Now they return home to face a Colts’ squad that, while pesky, isn’t good enough to notch even an occasional win.

Denver 13, Miami 9: These two teams have limped through the season with no sense of urgency and with uninspired quarterback play. I’m tempted to pick a tie here, but ties are rare thanks to the NFL’s OT rule. I’ll take the better defense–Denver’s–even though Miami is at home.

New Orleans 31, Carolina 24: The Saints were handicapped last week in Los Angeles. playing without two starting corners, which forced safeties to cover people. But this week NO is home playing against a Panthers’ team that relies more on defense than offense.

New York Jets 17, Kansas City 13: This is my “Hunch Play of the Week.” The Jets keep putting scares into teams. And NY can actually beat teams if they don’t have their guard up. The Chiefs are experiencing a precipitous free fall, repeating what the Ravens did last year. So what’s my pick? KC lost to the Giants at MetLife Stadium earlier this year and I think the Chiefs will lose in MetLife again.

Tennessee 26, Houston 17: While the AFC South has been surprisingly robust this year, DeShaun Watson’s injury has ruined the Texans’ chances. The Titans are at home this week and have the healthier and better quarterback, to boot.

Los Angeles Chargers 24, Cleveland 6: Earlier this year, the Chargers were the league’s most luckless bunch. But they’ve pulled it together in time to be contenders in a mediocre AFC. Cleveland, on the other hand, hasn’t had any luck since about 1964.

Los Angeles Rams 30, Arizona 17: The Cardinals got a stroke of home-field luck last week. They won by virtue of a last-second, 57-yard field goal. But, this week, there’s little to no chance they’ll be able to stay with the Rams long enough to make that kind of play matter.

Oakland 27, New York Giants 10: Here are two teams that had Super Bowl-sized expectations at season’s start. Those dreams are long gone. That means this game won’t be a very compelling. I’ll go with the host Raiders because they’ve shown signs of life lately.

Philadelphia 23, Seattle 15 (Sunday night): I keep thinking the Eagles won’t run the table and finish 15-1, but they are having Ravens-type luck as far as facing battered teams like the Seahawks. Seattle simply isn’t invincible at home as it used to be, and Russell Wilson can’t beat Philadelphia by himself.

Pittsburgh 33, Cincinnati 17 (Monday night): The Steelers had shaken off early-season lethargy and seem to be getting hot at the right time. Yes, they sweated out a win over Green Bay last week and they’ll be on the road this week (where they’ve struggled). But I don’t think the Bengals have enough firepower to stop Pittsburgh’s advance.


About Joe Platania

Veteran beat writer, Joe Platania, is entering his 39th year in Baltimore media. He covers sports with insight, humor, and prescient eye. A former longtime member in good standing of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and the Pro Football Writers of America, Platania manned the CFL Stallions beat for The Avenue Newspaper Group of Essex (1994 and ’95) and the Ravens beat since the team’s inception — one of only three local writers to do so — for PressBox, The Avenue, and other local publications and radio stations. A sought-after contributor and host on talk radio and TV, he often appears on “Inside PressBox” (10:30 a.m. Sundays) and he can be heard at 10 a.m. Saturdays on the “Purple Pride Report,” WQLL-AM (1370). He has also appeared on WMAR-TV’s “Good Morning Maryland” (2009), Comcast SportsNet’s “Washington Post Live” (2004-06), and WJZ-TV’s “Football Talk” postgame show — with legend Marty Bass (2002-04). Platania is the only sports journalist in Maryland history to have been a finalist for both the annual Sportscaster of the Year award (1998, which he won) and Sportswriter of the Year (2010). He is also a four-time Maryland-Delaware-District of Columbia Press Association award winner. Platania is a graduate of St. Joseph’s (Cockeysville), Calvert Hall College High School, and Towson University, where he earned a degree in Mass Communications. He lives in Cockeysville, MD.

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