We had a competitive Thursday night game that proved that defence can still win against one of the elite offences that have so dominated this season, but frankly it feels like once again the football aspect of NFL has to take a back seat to the management of the game. I’ll write more fully about that during the week, but the news about both Reuben Foster and Kareem Hunt makes it hard to feel enthusiastic right now. Still, there are games going ahead and so I’ll try to keep to normality for now so before I get to the pics here’s this week’s trivia questions.

Week 13 is a little more random but did appear as a fact in QI. I’ve checked and it holds up so:

What rule change did Oakland’s receiver Lester Hayes instigate?

I am really struggling on this one, I would love to say that I have an idea but I’m scrambling in the dark and I’m sure I know the name but an answer won’t come. As he’s a named receiver I can’t go as far back as something to do with the early forward passes and I’m tempted by some kind of dirty block or tactic given the reputation of the Raiders during their heyday. I have no idea so going to plump for some kind of rule regarding celebrations after a touchdown.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t even know who the player is, so chances of me getting this one right I would say are slim to none. I’ve tried to think of something specifically that a Receiver might get pulled up for so I’ll say Offensive Pass Interference.’

Ravens @ Falcons (+1.5)

The Baltimore Ravens have found a spark in rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson that has seen the Ravens win two games in a row, and this week they travel to face an Atlanta Falcons team who season is over but for the games. The line might bite me but the Ravens have all the momentum in this one.

Gee’s Pick       Ravens
Dan’s Pick:      Falcons

Bills @ Dolphins (-5.5)

It is interesting that the Miami Dolphins are laying this number of points after their close loss against the Colts when the Buffalo Bills are also coming in with a two game win streak of their own. I know the Bills only beat the Jets and Jaguars but this line feels a little high to me. I can absolutely see the Dolphins winning but they don’t fill me with quite this level of confidence.

Gee’s Pick:      Bills
Dan’s Pick:     Dolphins

Bears @ Giants (+4.5)

For me the Chicago Bears have demonstrated themselves worthy of trust over the last few weeks and going into this game they should have more than enough to beat a New York Giants team who couldn’t quite make it three wins in a row against the Eagles last week. The points are really quite tempting but not when the Bears are on such a run of form and have had a long week of rest going into this game.

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick:      Bears

Broncos @ Bengals (+3.5)

This one feels painfully frustrating as three and a half points is tempting, but with all that has befallen the Bengals in recent weeks, the visit of a team with the number three rush attack in the league by DVOA is the last thing our defence needs to face. The Broncos have the same record as the Bengals and so perhaps I am being overly pessimistic but I can’t see this one working out, although I could regret grabbing all those points.

Gee’s Pick:      Broncos
Dan’s Pick:      Broncos

Browns @ Texans (-6.5)

I have just finished watching the Houston Texans offence, which was effective in chunk plays rather than being efficient and who welcome a Cleveland Browns team who have two games straight. Whatever your views on how Baker Mayfield expressed his feeling about Hue Jackson, he has been very effective since Freddie Kitchens took over the play calling, but whether that is enough to cope with the top five Texan defence we shall just have to see. However, for me this is just too many points in what should be a really competitive game.

Gee’s Pick:      Browns
Dan’s Pick:      Texans

Rams @ Lions (+9.5)

The LA Rams come of their and travel to the Detroit Lions and this puts me in a real conundrum as I do expect the Rams to win but this is a lot of points, even if the Lions do seem to randomly put up good performances and even wins against good teams. Still, without Kerryon Johson I find it hard to see the Lions having the ball control to win this game but this number is too big for a team who have won a lot of games but not beaten anybody by ten since they played the 49ers in week seven.

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick:      Lions

Cardinals @ Packers (-14.5)

This is a huge line and given the way the Green Bay Packers have played this season it feels much too high even if the Packers are entertaining the worst team in the league. The Cardinals are actually over ten percentage points worse by DVOA than the thirty-first ranked Raiders but this is still a line that is too rich for me.

Gee’s Pick:      Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:      Cardinals

Colts @ Jaguars (+3.5)

This is one of the trickier lines for me in that the plus three and a half number is quite tempting as a home underdog but we just don’t know what we are going to get out of the Jacksonville Jaguars given they have fired their offensive coordinator and are starting Cody Kessler at quarterback. This might have given them a boost but with Leonard Fournette suspended after he went on the field to throw a punch last week we know that there is very little discipline in the Jaguars team at the moment. Meanwhile the Indianapolis Colts have quietly won five straight and their offence is really humming. The numbers might suggest a Jaguars pick but I can’t bring myself to do it and I just hope I don’t regret this.

Gee’s Pick:      Colts
Dan’s Pick:      Colts

Panthers @ Buccaneers (+3.5)

This is a similarly tricky line but for lightly different reasons that the previous game as the Carolina Panthers offence has looked really good this season but this has not resulted in wins over recent weeks. The stretch of three losses started with a blowout Thursday night loss to the Steelers, which can happen but the Panthers then lost by a point to the Lions and a field goal to the Seahawks and just can’t afford to fall further behind in the race for the playoffs. I like them to get back on track in a divisional game against a struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers team but the points give me real pause, and at some point I have to trust the numbers. Maybe the Panthers get right with a big win but right now I can’t predict them to win by more than a field goal on the road with what has been happening.

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick:      Panthers

Jets @ Titans (-9.5)

This a very big number considering that the New York Jets are only ranked two places lower than the Tennessee Titans by DOVA and only 2.8% worse. It might be further confused by the up and down nature of the Titans results as in the last four games they have beaten the Cowboys by fourteen and the Patriots by twenty-four but then lost by twenty-eight to the Colts and by seventeen to the Texans. It feels like they could very well get back on track against a Jets team who are really struggling but is ten points really a realistic winning margin. It could be given their past, but I don’t think I can quite pick it to happen.

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick:     Titans

Chiefs @ Raiders (+14.5)

The Oakland Raiders may not be the worst team in the league by DVOA, but they are not looking to win now and that has shown up in their performance this season. However, this is a huge line and yes the Chiefs are coming off a bye, but they have also just cut running back Kareem Hunt after video of him kicking and shoving a woman was released by TMZ. I don’t expect the Chiefs to do anything other than win, and they may even be determined to show that the cutting of their star running back won’t hamper their chances but this line is just too rich for me given the circumstances.

Gee’s Pick:      Raiders
Dan’s Pick:      Raiders

Vikings @ Patriots (-6.5)

This looks like a great game as the Minnesota Vikings visit the New England Patriots coming off a good win against the Packers where there defence looked like it was coming back to something like its normal form. The Patriots themselves looked better in their win over the Jets last week but there are still questions about their offence and whilst I can see why they are favourites, this looks like too many points to me. That is often a foolish thing to say about the Patriots but there are enough injuries and questions about this iteration of the Patriots that I’m happy to back the Vikings to keep it with seven. Of course if I’m wrong this could ultimately lead to the blog being in Vikings colours next season!

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick:      Patriots

49ers @ Seahawks (-10.5)

This game is a curious one to me in terms of picking as this number is not that far off what I might expect given how these two teams have played in recent weeks but it is a lot. The San Francisco 49ers have really struggled this season and having lost by twenty points to the Buccaneers last week I find it hard to see them being that competitive against a Seahawks team who seem to be genuinely pretty good and have won their last five meetings with the 49ers at Century Link field. The divisional aspect of this game does make me pause but given the relative form I’m going to nervously back the Seahawks.

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Seahawks

Chargers @ Steelers (-3.5)

This looks to be the marquee matchup of the week with the LA Chargers heading into Pittsburgh to face a Steelers team where this always seems to be some kind of low key drama even if nothing major has occurred. Of course last week the Steelers lost to the Denver Broncos on the road but the then the Steelers are worse on the road and the Broncos are better at home so that doesn’t mean the Steelers can’t bounce back this week. However, the extra half point does concern me given that the Chargers are ranked a couple of places higher by DVOA and that is just enough to make me pick the Chargers.

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick:      Chargers

Washington @ Eagles (-6.5)

This is a huge game for the Philadelphia Eagles who have to win this game to stay a game behind the Cowboys so they stand some kind of chance of catching when they face each other in week fourteen. It is very possibly too late for the Eagles given that the Cowboys look great at the moment and they also have to face the Rams and the Texans. I can see them winning this game against a Washington side who are injured and making the news for all of the wrong reason but to do so by a touchdown when it took them until the fourth quarter to get a lead against the Giants seems unlikely. I am not saying it can’t happen given the circumstances, but I’m not sure either team are what you would call good at the moment.

Gee’s Pick:      Washington
Dan’s Pick:      Washington