NFL Picks Week 13: Patriots will secure seventh straight vs. Bills
It's a blockbuster week in the NFL as top teams in the each conference square off. It starts with the Saints vs. Cowboys and ends with Bills vs. Patriots.
Do you remember that last week I commented that from this moment on the contenders are separated from the pretenders? Well, it's a matter of looking in the rearview mirror and seeing what happened in Week 12.
Time to seperate the real from the fake
Patriots, Bills, Packers, Ravens and Bengals won; Titans, Steelers, Saints, Browns and Rams were in the L column.
It's hard to judge the Cowboys loss to Las Vegas on Thanksgiving because at least three starters were missing on offense, including Dallas' two best wide receivers.
However, those Cowboys look more and more like a pretender, because contenders find a way to win, even when dealing with that type of injuries.
Dolphins and Niners continue to surge
The 49ers have victories in four of the last five, but it remains to be seen how the attack is affected by the absence of Deebo Samuel, who scored two touchdowns on the ground in the win over Minnesota.
Samuel is also the best wide receiver in San Francisco, with 56 catches, 1,006 yards and 5 touchdown.
Miami (5-7) is another team that, with four wins in a row, has entered the Playoffs conversation, and their next three games are against the Giants, Jets and Saints, to close against Tennessee and New England, where they could be playing for a ticket as a Wild Card.
It’s a new season within the season.
Can you ask for more?
GAME OF THE WEEK
New England at Buffalo (-2.5)
Finishing 7-9 (the team's worst since 5-11 in 2000) and not making the Playoffs for the first time in 12 years, it struck deep into the pride of Bill Belichick, who watched the Buffalo Bills rally to take over the AFC East Division in 2020.
Belichick and Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, then decided to go against their own rules and spent like never before in free agency with the aim of recovering not only the divisional crown, but the hegemony in the AFC.
Pats hit free agent market hard
Thus, New England spent $165 million in guaranteed money - a new NFL free agency record - on a bunch of players who have contributed enough on this 8-4 Patriots, in second place in the Conference seeding.
But before you think about it, the first thing Belichick's team has to do is defeat Buffalo to regain the divisional crown, which New England wielded for 20 years, virtually unopposed.
The Bills swept the Patriots in the annual series last year, including a 38-9 beating in Week 16.
Monday Night showdown in Western New York
New England's visit to Highmark Stadium this Monday is not just any game. It's the Patriots' chance to show themselves if they really are ready to take back what belongs to them.
After losing Tom Brady, Belichick's plan was to build a dominant defense and not rely on a star at quarterback. So far, it has worked perfectly.
The tale of the tape
New England is the number one defense in points allowed per game, with 15.8.
Buffalo's is second, with 16.5.
The Bills allow 178.5 passing yards and are second in the league; the Patriots are third at 200.9.
New England's defense is third in the red zone with 48.39%; Buffalo is seventh with a 51.61%.
Patriots and Bills are tied for second in the league with 25 exchanges.
Indeed, Monday Night could be an epic defensive battle. Both teams need to take maximum care of the ball, because any turnover could be the difference in the final score.
Josh Allen, who at the beginning of the season was one of the favorites to win the MVP, has thrown seven of his 10 interceptions in the most recent four games.
Rookie Mac Jones has two interceptions in the last six, all victories by the Patriots.
If Allen doesn't break the interception streak, Jones will take every one of his mistakes and turn them into points.
Belichick, as usual, will do everything possible to nullify the opponent's best man, in this case Stefon Diggs, the Bills leader with 67 receptions, 847 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Diggs will have to deal with J.C. Jackson, the NFL leader with 24 interceptions since 2018. According to Pro Football Reference, Jackson has been targeted 75 times this season; quarterbacks have completed 38 passes and only one of them was for a touchdown. All-Pro numbers for the star cornerback.
The Pick: Belichick's merit keeping his team focused last week against Tennessee, with this game against Buffalo next on the sked. As I mentioned before, the turnovers will be the difference in this game and recently Allen has taken unnecessary risks and those you always pay for against New England. Patriots 20-16 Bills
Jacksonville at Los Angeles Rams (-13)
This might be the only medicine in the league to stop Los Angeles bleeding. Rams 31-14 Jaguars
Washington at Las Vegas (-2.5)
Washington's defense is finally playing at the level expected. WFT 23-19 Raiders
TWO MINUTE DRIVE
Dallas (-4.5) at New Orleans
The absence this time will be coach Mike McCarthy (COVID-19), but that's not necessarily bad news for Dallas. Cowboys 28-20 Saints
Tampa Bay (-11) at Atlanta
The champions re-plugged themselves last week in Indianapolis. Watch out for the Buccaneers from now on. Bucs 34-21 Falcons
Arizona (-8) at Chicago
Kyler Murray is back, just when Arizona needs him most. Cardinals 27-17 Bears
Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati (-3)
Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert's young gunslinger duel will be won by last year's No. 1 overall pick. Bengals 28-24 Chargers
Minnesota (-7) at Detroit
The Lions had their opportunity on Thanksgiving and they let it slip away. Vikings 34-24 Lions
Indianapolis (-9) at Houston
The Colts let one slip away last week's game against the Bucs, and now the Texans will pay for it. Indianapolis 29-9 Houston
New York Giants at Miami (-3.5)
Miami's fifth win in a row and this team is daydreaming about the Playoffs. Dolphins 27-17 Giants
Philadelphia (-6.5) at New York Jets
Philadelphia's second straight loss at New York? I can't even imagine it. Eagles 27-20 Jets
Baltimore (-4) at Pittsburgh
Enjoy and suffer the last Ben Roethlisberger games in the NFL. Ravens 23-20 Steelers
San Francisco (-3.5) at Seattle
Enjoy and suffer the last Russell Wilson games in Seattle. 49ers 28-19 Seahawks
Denver at Kansas City (-10)
Duel between two of the best defenses in the AFC, which will be won thanks to a couple of big plays by Patrick Mahomes. Chiefs 27-13 Broncos
OVER / UNDER
Patriots vs. Bills UNDER 43.5
Broncos vs. Chiefs UNDER 47.5
Ravens vs. Steelers UNDER 44
Last week: 7-8
In season: 107-75