Week 13 kicks off with an important Thursday night contest where the loser will either take a step back in the race for the NFC East (Dallas) or the NFC overall (New Orleans). We’ll start there as we look at the top five games of Week 13:
New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys
Odds: Saints -7.5
The Cowboys and Saints are both fighting for playoff position heading into the final stretch of the season. Dallas has won three in a row to climb to the top of the NFC East with a 6-5 record. However, the Cowboys don’t have much room for error with the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles right behind them in the division standings. It won’t get any easier for them this week with New Orleans trying to create some separation at the top of the NFC standings at 10-1. The Saints have won and covered the point spread in nine straight games. The Cowboys will have to run the ball, win the time of possession battle and slow this game if they’re to earn the win.
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Odds: Colts -4
The Colts are 0-6-1 against the spread in their last seven games against Jacksonville. However, the Jaguars have lost seven games in a row and they are just 3-8 overall this season. Jacksonville is 0-5-2 against the spread during its seven-game slide and it’s hard to imagine the Jags bouncing back after they hit rock bottom in last week’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. They’ve made the switch at quarterback to Cody Kessler, who is 0-8 in his career as a starter (all with the Cleveland Browns).
Minnesota Vikings @ New England Patriots
Odds: Patriots -6
The Vikings and Patriots didn’t earn the Sunday Night Football slot but this game is definitely deserving of being played in prime time. New England is currently the No. 2 seed in the AFC at 8-3. Meanwhile, Minnesota is 6-4-1 and has won five of its last seven.
The Patriots are undefeated at home this season, including a 4-1 record against the spread. Meanwhile, the Vikings are 5-2-1 against the spread in their last eight games and 14-4 ATS vs AFC opponents under Mike Zimmer.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Odds: Steelers -3.5
The Sunday Night Football slot belongs to a potential playoff preview between the Chargers and Steelers this week. LA has won seven of its last eight games overall to improve to 8-3, including a 45-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals last week. Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off a disappointing 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos and they face a difficult schedule to close out the season. Pittsburgh will host LA and New England and then visit New Orleans over the next four weeks. However, the Steelers tend to play well against the good teams and play down to the level of weak opponents, so don’t be surprised if they have a strong effort this week.
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
Odds: Eagles -6.5
The final game on the schedule for Week 13 will have major playoff implications in the NFC East. Washington enters the week tied with the Cowboys for the best record in the division at 6-5. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is right behind them at 5-6. The Eagles will play three of their final five games on the road, including games against Dallas, the LA Rams and Washington. This is pretty much last call for the Super Bowl champs. If they can’t beat a banged-up Redskins team at home, they likely won’t go to the playoffs.