Week 13 NFL picks: Atlanta, Houston to maintain best records

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

The Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans have the best records in the NFL. Both teams have identical 10-1 records as the month of November draws to a close. The Falcons will have the opportunity to pick up another win before the calendar turns to December. They host the struggling New Orleans Saints tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov. 29) in the final game of the month. I look for the Falcons to win in a close game and improve to 11-1. They’ll have the honor of heading into the new month as the best team in the NFL.

That will give them sole possession of the best record in the league. That’s only going to last for a couple of days, though. Sunday, Dec. 2, the Texans will join them again. Houston will pick up their 11th win of the year when they knock off the Titans in Nashville, Tenn.

The Bears will start the new month at home against the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears are 8-3 heading into this game and atop the heap in the NFC North. I think Chicago will make it two in a row since Jay Cutler’s return from the concussion he suffered against the Houston Texans.

Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Packers square off against the Vikings in Green Bay. Both teams suffered losses last weekend. I think the Packers are more suited to bounce back, and playing in front of their fans won’t hurt them, either. I’m picking the Pack. The Lions have a home game against the red-hot Indianapolis Colts, who’ve won five out of their last six games. I think they’ll tame the Lions in Detroit and make it six out of seven.

The Bills welcome the Jacksonville Jaguars to Buffalo this Sunday. Both teams have sub-.500 records and are at the bottom in their respective divisions. This game means little or nothing, unless you’re a fan of either team. I’m not entirely convinced it’s even that important to them. I’m giving the edge to the home team and taking the Bills.

Another team at the bottom of their division is the Kansas City Chiefs. They have the worst record (1-10) in the league. They’ve lost eight games in a row. This week, they might have a chance at picking up a win. They host the Carolina Panthers. At press time, the Panthers only have one more win than the Chiefs. Even though I said they might have a chance, I don’t think they are good enough to take advantage of that opportunity. I’m taking Carolina.

St. Louis and the 49ers both picked up wins last week. One of them is going to lose this week when they face one another — that is, unless they play to a tie again, like they did a few weeks ago in San Francisco. This time, the game is in St. Louis. I have no idea what the mathematical odds are that they could tie twice in one season, but I’d bet the farm it’s not going to happen. I’m putting my money on San Fran.

The New England Patriots will be attempting to make it six wins in a row when they take on the Dolphins in Miami. A win for Miami would improve their record to 6-6. I don’t see that happening. Instead, they’ll drop to 5-7 and the Pats will improve to 9-3.

The New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals both take 4-7 records into their game against one another this weekend. The game is in New York, and that bodes well for the Jets. Arizona has only one win on the road this season. I look for that trend to continue — I’m taking the Jets.

The hottest team in the league is the Denver Broncos. They’ve won six straight. This week, they are at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’m taking the hot-handed Peyton Manning to guide the Broncos to their seventh-straight win.

The Bengals have won three in a row and their opponents this week, the San Diego Chargers, have lost three in a row. Clearly, these are two teams going in opposite directions. The game is in San Diego. Not even the home-field advantage will help the Chargers in this game. I’m taking the visitors.

In Oakland, the Raiders will host the Cleveland Browns. Both teams have 3-8 records. The last time the Raiders won, their fans were getting ready for Halloween. I think they are long overdue. I’m taking them at home.

The Steelers and the Ravens will face one another for the second time in three weeks this Sunday. The Ravens beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh 13-10 Nov. 18. This time, the game is in Baltimore, and it won’t be nearly as close. I look for the Ravens to win by at least a touchdown.

The Sunday night game has the Cowboys at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys are fighting for their playoff lives. The Eagles should assist them in their fight. I’m going with Dallas at home.

Tom Coughlin and his New York Giants defense embarrassed the Green Bay Packers in prime time last week. They play in prime time again this week in the Monday night game. This week, the Giants will be looking to shut down Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins in the same manner they emasculated Aaron Rodgers and his Packers. I think this game might be a little closer, but the outcome should be the same — a win for the Giants.

Last week, I was 10-5 going into the Monday night game. I took Philadelphia over Carolina in that one.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2012, issue

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