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NFL Week 13 Preview – The Sports Lowdown

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11 wins, 0 defeats.

That is the record of just one team. After Week 12, only the Carolina Panthers are perfect. They go into December as the only team remaining with the chance to go 16-0 in the regular season. This comes after the Patriots were shocked by CJ Anderson in overtime as Denver inflicted their first defeat of 2015.

Eight games this weekend are all-division match-ups. The weekend starts off with an NFC North clash between the Packers and the Lions, and ends with the NFC East game between the Cowboys and Redskins. There are two divisional games in the AFC West, as Denver travel to San Diego while the Raiders host Kansas City. There is also the big matter of the all-New York game at the MetLife Stadium. The Giants ‘host’ the Jets in what could be a feisty game.


Thursday Night Football:

Green Bay Packers (7-4) @ Detroit Lions (4-7)

The first game of the weekend sees a big clash in the NFC North as the Packers look to find form again after losing four of their last five games. The Lions have hit a purple patch, having won their last three, and will go into the game full of confidence against a faltering Aaron Rodgers. The Lions won the reverse three weeks ago at Lambeau Field, and they will be looking to do the same at home this weekend.

Unfortunately for the Lions, Lance Moore has been ruled out of Thursday’s game with an ankle injury, while WR Calvin Johnson is questionable for the same reason. Kicker Matt Prater is questionable due to illness. The Packers also have a WR out for the game, as Ty Montgomery will not be fit. Damarious Randall is listed as questionable with a couple of knocks, while Andrew Quarrels is out due to off-the-field reasons.

The Lions have the form, but the Packers will still just be favourites going into this one.


Sunday Evening Games:

Houston Texans (6-5) @ Buffalo Bills (5-6)

Houston travel to Buffalo in top form, having won their last four matches, a run which has propelled them back into the race for the AFC South division title. The Bills are worse off, with just five wins. If the Texans do not win the division, then along with the Bills, they will be aiming for a Wild Card spot in the AFC. They currently hod the 6th seed position, while the Bills are just a game of being in that same spot. The Texans have won the last three meetings, but they have all been low-scoring affairs.

Their main man, J.J. Watt, is questionable after to practicing on Wednesday. Also questionable are Alfred Blue and DeAndre Hopkins who were both limited n the same session. For the Bills, Mario Williams is questionable, along with Bacarri Rambo and Kyle Williams, who all did not practice. QB Tyrod Taylor was limited due to a shoulder injury, while Nigel Bradham is out after suffering an ankle injury last week.

The Texans will be favourites because of the four-win streak they are on, but the Bills could spring an upset at home.


San Francisco 49ers (3-8) @ Chicago Bears (5-6)

The 49ers have the chance to ruin Chicago’s playoff hopes here. The Bears are just a game off the Wild Card spots, and will be looking for their rivals, the Vikings, to beat the Seahawks to help them here. The 49ers are just 3-8 this season, and with problems on and off the field, there is no quick fix in San Francisco. They have lost their last two, while Chicago won last week. The Bears also won the last meeting between these two sides, back in September 2014.

The Bears may be without two WRs however, as Kevin White and Eddie Royal did not take part in team practice on Wednesday morning. Garrett Celek is questionable for the 49ers, as he did not take part on Wednesday. Neither did RB Carlos Hyde, both of whom would be big losses to the visitors.

Chicago will be heavy favourites for this one with the run the 49ers have been on this season.


Cincinnati Bengals (9-2) @ Cleveland Browns (2-9)

Another big divisional clash sees the 9-2 Bengals travel to face the 2-9 Browns in Cleveland in the AFC North. With the Pats losing last weekend, the Bengals are only a single victory behind in the race for the number 1 seed in the AFC. The Browns have the joint-worst record in the NFL this year, and will just be looking for a consolation victory, whilst stopping the Bengals current run of form. Cincinnati won the reverse fixture in November by 21 points.

Tyler Eifert could be a big loss for the Bengals on Sunday, as the TE did not practice on Wednesday. Jeremy Hill should be fit for the game, having practiced fully. Josh McCown is the big name out for the Browns, out for the season with a collarbone break. Joe Haden, Taylor Gabriel and Andrew Hawkins all missed practice on Wednesday due to a concussion.

The Bengals are the obvious favourites to stay on top of the division by three wins.


Baltimore Ravens (4-7) @ Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Both of these teams come into this match with a slight hope of playoff football come January. A 4-7 record sees both sides two wins from the Wild Card spots in the AFC. The Raves have played well in their last two, despite losing QB Joe Flacco to a season-ending injury. Miami have lost their last two, and will be looking to bounce back against the depleted Ravens here. Baltimore have won the last three meetings between the two sides.

Apart from Joe Flacco, they go in to this one with two players who are questionable. Both Maxx Williams and Marlon Brown did not practice on Wednesday and could miss out in Miami. The Dolphins have several injuries. C.J. Mosley is out with a calf injury, while Rishard Matthews is also expected to miss the game due to a rib problem. Mike Pouncey and Jarvis Landry are both questionable for the game as well.

The Ravens will be slight favourites due to their last two victories, but the Dolphins at home is always a tough prospect.


Seattle Seahawks (6-5) @ Minnesota Vikings (8-3)

At this moment in time, this is a Wild Card weekend fixture in the NFC. The 6th seed Seahawks travel to Minnesota to face the 3rd seed Vikings on Sunday. Minnesota currently sit atop the NFC North with an 8-3 record, and they will already know how the Packers have fared before playing this weekend. The Seahawks are 6-5, three games behind Cardinals side on fire, so a Wild Card spot might be their only hope this season. An interesting stat in this one, is that the Vikings have scored exactly 20 points in each of the last three meetings, losing the last two.

Jimmy Graham is the big loos for the visitors here, with the TE placed on injured reserve on Monday, needing surgery to repair a patella tendon. Paul Richardson is also questionable after not participating in practice on Wednesday. Andrew Sendejo (knee), Harrison Smith (knee) and Anthony Barr (hand) are all questionable for the Vikings for Sunday.

Minnesota will be favourites, but you can never rule out Seattle in the big games.


New York Jets (6-5) @ New York Giants (5-6)

The New York derby is arguably the biggest game of the weekend, despite it having no divisional clash whatsoever. This is for pride in the Big Apple. The Giants know a win would take them top of the NFC East, with the Redskins not playing until Monday night. The Jets are going for a Wild Card spot in the AFC, and are currently the 7th seed, so a victory here could propel them into one of the two placings available. The two play each other every pre-season, with the Jets winning this year, 28-18.

They may go into it without Darrelle Revis, however, who is questionable due to a concussion picked up last week. Brandon Marshall is also questionable for the visitors in this one. The Giants have one big miss, with Larry Donnell out for the season due to a problem with his neck. The latest update says he will go for a second MRI within the next few weeks.

Both sides go into this one desperate needing a win, and with neither having home advantage, the Jets will be slight favourites because of their 6-5 record.


Arizona Cardinals (9-2) @ St Louis Rams (4-7)

The number 1 offence in the league travels to St Louis to take on the 31st ranked offence in the league at the Edward Jones Dome this weekend. It is a big game in the NFC West, with the Cardinals aiming to push past the 10-win mark in this one, while the Rams are still eyeing up a Wild Card spot in the NFC. After a good start, the Rams have faltered to just 4-7, while the Cardinals are the 2nd seed in the NFC, behind the perfect Panthers. When the two met in October, St Louis came away with a two-point victory.

Once again, the Rams hearts will be with Stedman Bailey who is still in intensive care after being shot in the head on Nov 24. Robert Quinn is questionable for St Louis, who are also monitoring the progress of QB Case Kennum for Sunday’s fixture. The Cardinals will be without RB Chris Johnson for the rest of the season after he fractured his tibia on Sunday. Andre Ellington is questionable for the game, meaning Arizona could be down to bare bones in the backfield.

The Cardinals will go in as favourites, but the Rams will take heart from beating them in October.


Atlanta Falcons (6-5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)

The 5-6 Buccaneers host the 6-5 Falcons on Sunday, with both sides in the hunt for a Wild Card spot in the NFC playoffs. The pair make up an NFC South rivalry, with both looking up to the 11-0 Panthers who lead the way in the division, the conference and the league. The game between the two in November went the way of the Bucs by just three points, and a repeat here would move them above the Falcons due to the head-to-head record. Atlanta have lost four straight going into Sunday’s game.

They may have to play without Matt Bryant and Leonard Hankerson, who both did not take part in practice on Wednesday. Devonta Freeman was limited due to a concussion, but there is good news, with Devin Hester, the journeyman of the NFL, returning from a toe injury for this Sunday. For the Bucs, both Vincent Jackson and Luke Stocker did not take part in practice on Wednesday, while Austin Seferian-Jenkins may be fit to make a return, he was limited in practice this week.

The Buccaneers will be slight favourites because of home-field advantage, and the Falcons could go through a fifth straight defeat in this one.


Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) @ Tennessee Titans (2-9)

This is a bottom of the division clash in the AFC South, with both sides struggling for form. The Titans are the worst team in football this season, having won just two of their eleven games in 2015, while the Jags have only won four matches. However, Jacksonville are still in with a shot of winning the division, as the Colts and Texans are only at 6-5. The Jags have also won the last two meetings, including the game just two weeks ago in Jacksonville.

They go into this game with a clean bill of health in their squad. No new injuries and no questionables among their roster. Kendall Wright is the only slight worry for Tennessee, but he played last week and should be alright to do the same on Sunday.

The Jags will be favourites because of Tennessee’s poor form, but home advantage could give the Titans an edge on Sunday evening.


Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) @ Oakland Raiders (5-6)

This is the first of two AFC West clashes this weekend. Kansas City travel to Oakland as the 5th seeded team in the conference. Their 6-5 record is enough to earn them a Wild Card spot, but defeat here could see the Raiders move above them into that playoff position. The Chiefs have won their last five games and are on of the teams to watch out for in the league, while the Raiders will be looking to follow up on last week’s victory here. Both sides won a game last year against each other, with the 2013 clash being an 87 point game.

The Raiders have just one injury concern for this week, with Taiwan Jones a limited participant in practice on Wednesday because of a knee problem. For the Chiefs, De’Anthony Thomas did not practice Wednesday due to concussion, while both Charcandrick West and Dee Ford should be fit for the weekend. However, Justin Houston is questionable with a knee injury.

The Chiefs will be favourites, despite the raft of injuries. The run of five wins easily make them favourites to beat the Raiders.


Denver Broncos (9-2) @ San Diego Chargers (3-8)

The second of two AFC West clashes sees the San Diego Chargers host the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium. The Broncos will be on a high after being the first team to beat the Patriots in 2015 last weekend. The overtime victory saw them move to 9-2 on the season. The Chargers are having a poor year, though, with just three victories. One of those came last week, but Denver have won the last three meetings between the two sides, and will be looking to keep that run going on Sunday.

Peyton Manning is out for another week, while T.J. Ward is questionable after having an MRI on his ankle. Owen Daniels was limited at practice on Wednesday, but good news for Denver is that DeMarcus Ware was able to practice and could make a return to the team this week. The Chargers have had no new injury concerns this week.

Denver will be heavy favourites going in but San Diego do still have the weapons to create an upset in front of their home fans.


Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) @ New England Patriots (10-1)

The shock result of last weekend saw the Patriots lose their perfect record in Denver. They will look to bounce back at home to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. With a 10-1 record, they are still the 1st seed in the AFC, but they are now just a game ahead of both the Broncos, and the Bengals for that top spot. The Eagles will travel to Foxboro for this big match-up, one they need to win to have a chance of winning the hotly-contested NFC East. However, they are on a run of three straight defeats and will be looking to turn that around here.

Nelson Agholor is one of several players that are questionable for the Eagles this week, along with Ryan Mathews and Sam Bradford, but the QB expects to play on Sunday. Zach Ertz completed a full practice session on Wednesday, as did Josh Huff, who has recovered from a concussion. Both Dont’a Hightower and Danny Amendola were limited in practice on Wednesday for the Patriots. Jamie Collins is expected to return after illness, but Rob Gronkowski is now being evaluated week-to-week after injuring his knee in Denver last weekend.

The Patriots will be favourites to return to winning ways on Sunday night, but the Eagles will look to take advantage of last week’s defeat to cause an upset here.


Carolina Panthers (11-0) @ New Orleans Saints (4-7)

An NFC South match-up sees the perfect Carolina Panthers travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints at the Superdome. The Panthers are the only perfect teams left, with an 11-0 record, and they will aim to make it 16 straight victories here. The Saints, at just 4-7, are struggling to stay in touch with the play-off places, having lost their last three games. The Panthers have won the last two meetings between the two, including a 27-22 victory in Week 4.

Willie Snead is the only questionable man on the Saints side, with the WR not practicing on Wednesday due to a calf injury. Charles Tillman did not practice with the Panthers on Wednesday, while Kony Ealy was limited in the session. They are both questionable for the game, but Corey Brown practiced fully and is set to return for Carolina.

The Panthers are undoubtedly favourites for the victory in New Orleans on Sunday night.


Sunday Night Football:

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5)

This 6-5 match-up has different meanings in different divisions. The Colts are leading the way in the AFC South, while the Steelers are three victories behind the high-flying Bengals in the AFC North. Pittsburgh are currently the 8th seed in the AFC playoff race, and a victory could propel them into a Wild Card spot by the end of the weekend. The Colts will have already seen the Texans play, and they will know whether they can take a game lead in their division by this stage.

Ahmad Bradshaw is out for the rest of the season with a wrist injury, while Mike Adams and Jerrell Freeman both missed practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury. For the Steelers, Martinis Bryant and Heath Miller both did not participate in practice on Wednesday, while Ryan Shazier was limited in practice on Wednesday. Ben Roethlisberger is expected to start after concussion on Sunday night.

The Steelers will be slight favourites because of home advantage, but it is a game that could go either way.


Monday Night Football:

Dallas Cowboys (3-8) @ Washington Redskins (5-6)

The final game of the weekend is a divisional clash between the Cowboys and the Redskins in the NFC East. The Redskins currently sit atop the divisional standings with a 5-6 record, while the Cowboys are currently just 3-8, but they have a chance of winning the division if they win this one. If Dallas lose here, their hopes of playoff football are effectively over, with them needing to win their remaining four games to have a chance.

The Redskins have just one major injury concern, with Chris Thompson considered day-to-day with a shoulder injury. Tony Romo is the major news for the Cowboys. Their QB is out with a collarbone injury for the second time this season.

The Redskins will be favourites for this one, and a win will give them a boost towards the playoff run.


Playoff Picture after Week 12:


Divisional – Patriots (10-1), Bengals (9-2), Broncos (9-2), Colts (6-5)

Wild Card – Chiefs (6-5), Texans (6-5)

In The Hunt – Jets (6-5), Steelers (6-5), Raiders (5-6), Bills (5-6), Jaguars (4-7), Ravens (4-7), Dolphins (4-7), Chargers (3-8)



Divisional – Panthers (11-0), Cardinals (9-2), Vikings (8-3), Redskins (5-6)

Wild Card – Packers (7-4), Seahawks (6-5)

In The Hunt – Falcons (6-5), Buccaneers (5-6), Giants (5-6), Bears (5-6), Rams (4-7), Lions (4-7), Eagles (4-7), Saints (4-7), Cowboys (3-8)


Sky Sports have the usual five match schedule this week, including the Sunday triple-header:

Fri 4, 1:25 – Green Bay @ Detroit

Sun 6, 18:00 – Seattle @ Minnesota, Carolina @ New Orleans, Indianapolis @ Pittsburgh

Tue 8, 1:00 – Dallas @ Washington

Atlanta Falcons Baltimore Ravens Buffalo Bills Carolina Panthers Chicago Bears Cincinnati Bengals Cleveland Browns Dallas Cowboys Denver Broncos detroit lions Green Bay Packers Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars Kansas City Chiefs Miami Dolphins Minnesota Vikings New England Patriots New Orleans Saints New York Giants New York Jets Oakland Raiders Philadelphia Eagles Pittsburgh Steelers San Diego Chargers San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks St Louis Rams Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tennessee Titans Washington Redskins

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