NFL Week 13 – Last week we tried to highlight one game that we could highlight – a flimsy schedule that was drained by Thanksgiving and left us with some curdled holdovers in terms of matchups. But week 13 in the NFL? Week 13 is one Firmly.
Five of the 12 games featured in this week’s liveblog window are matchups between teams with winning records, compared to just one last week. And even some of them without two winning teams are also paramount! There are quality games where division leaders clash, like Eagles-Titans or 49ers-Dolphins. They have games that are extremely important for the postseason race, such as Commanders-Giants, Seahawks-Rams or Chargers-Raiders. They have “oh yes? Prove it!” Games like Jets Vikings. And you have the best of Everyone Worlds in games like the Chiefs-Bengals.
Which game do you highlight? Which game catches the eye? It’s an exceptionally difficult week to pick just one. One of the bigger storyline games of the year, 49ers-Dolphins has been relegated to regional action. No one off the east coast can see Commanders giants potentially deciding the NFC wildcard race. If there was ever a week to watch RedZone…well, it would be week 18, where the playoff races conclude. But if there ever was second Week to see RedZone would try to keep up with this. Or, you know, keep an eye out for a constantly updated live blog. One or the other.
And since we’re live, you can join the discussion too! Join the conversation either in the comments section of this article or by tagging it on Twitter @FBOutsiders or @BryKno, or on our brand new Discord server where some of your favorite authors will hang out and react live. Questions, comments and particularly clever jokes make their way into the main liveblog as we chat throughout the day.
As I said, we have a dozen games to get through today so let’s check out this list including…
- Green Bay Packers (-4.5) @ Chicago Bears
- Cleveland Browns (-8) @ Houston Texans
- New York Jets (+3) @ Minnesota Vikings
- Pittsburgh Steelers (EV) @ Atlanta Falcons
- Denver Broncos (+9.5) @ Baltimore Ravens
- Jacksonville Jaguars (+1) @ Detroit Lions
- Washington Commanders (-2) @ New York Giants
- Tennessee Titans (+4) @ Philadelphia Eagles
- Seattle Seahawks (-7) @ Los Angeles Rams
- Miami Dolphins (+4.5) @ San Francisco 49ers
- Los Angeles Chargers (+2.5) @ Las Vegas Raiders
- Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals
The nightcap is the Indianapolis Colts versus the Dallas Cowboys. Hooray, more Jeff Saturday in prime time! We’ll be switching over to the FO Discord server to cover that, but until then let’s keep digging into it!
Saturday Night: Early Window Storylines
Ah, where should I start?
The Minnesota Vikings keep winning and are close to making the playoffs as early as possible under the current format. And yet, DVOA still has her at number 22, at -9.2%, which makes her by a mile – by a mile! – the worst 9-2 team in DVOA history. It feels like something has to give way. Meanwhile, the New York Jets retain a top 10 DVOA despite – or maybe because? — Bench Zach Wilson for the immortal Mike White. This is the matchup between the two playoff contenders that feels the least “real” to me, which is why I have to make it my match to see it in the early window. Someone has to win this! And the result will have a significant impact on the AFC wildcard race and the NFC seeding race. Also, you know, Sauce Gardner vs. Justin Jefferson. yes i take Everyone of the Gardner-Jefferson matchup, please and thank you. Could be Defensive Rookie of the Year vs Offensive Player of the Year and you have to appreciate those when they happen.
If that’s not your thing, why not tune in to the Washington Commanders and the New York Giants in the first of their two-part series that will determine the NFC wildcard race? The two teams play each other twice over the next three weeks, with the Commanders actually getting a bye week in between, so they’re in full Giants mode right now. Both teams still have a negative DVOA for the season, but the Commanders have been on the positive since replacing Carson Wentz with Taylor Heinicke in Week 7; they are at 8.1% and rising. If you want the NFC East to send all four teams to the playoffs, cheer for a split in this series. If either team wins the series, are they essentially in the postseason and the loser? Well, the loser would be in trouble.
— Aaron Schatz 🏈 (@FO_ASchatz) December 1, 2022
The game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tennessee Titans doesn’t matter that much from a playoff perspective as both teams go into the postseason without too many problems. But it’s still a division-leaders matchup and that’s always worth a look, even as DVOA wants to remind you that there’s a difference between leading the NFC East and leading the AFC South. This game could also be over very, very quickly. Not because I expect the Eagles to dominate this win, although I believe they should win comfortably. But because this game should go fast. No team runs more often in neutral than the Tennessee Titans, and no team runs more times effectively in every situation than the Philadelphia Eagles. The running game has been used more and more effectively in 2022 than it has been in a while, and if you like that then this might be the game for you.
And don’t sleep on the Falcons and Steelers! While this isn’t one of those games between winning teams, the Falcons are still right in the middle of the NFC South division race – we checked the bylaws and yes, someone must win this division. In order to catch Tampa Bay, Atlanta can’t afford to slip anywhere, which is why this game is crucial for playoff hopes. If they win, they’ll reach their bye week within a half game of the Buccaneers for the division lead. If they lose, we could see Desmond Ridder in the second half of the season. Maybe more important to future storylines than actual football, but this game is definitely one I’ll be keeping an eye on.
Elsewhere, the Packers and Bears are playing one of the least important games in their long history of meetings; the Ravens attempt to redeem their transgression against the capsized Broncos; The Lions and Jaguars play in a game where the loser is essentially eliminated. and the Texans and Browns are playing in a game where nothing remarkable happens.
Saturday night: Playoffs?!
DVOA still insists the Vikings are not quite thanks to their terrible DVOA for the postseason. They “only” have a 98.9% chance of winning the division based on our odds, but they can win the NFC North this week! All it takes is a win over the Jets and a Jacksonville win over Detroit. Neither result is a lock or anything, but this isn’t an overly difficult double. If the Vikings make it, they will join the 2009 Colts, the 2007 Patriots, the 2004 Eagles, the 1997 49ers, the 1985 Bears and the 1973 Vikings for the record for the earliest division win in the Super Bowl era set up. All of these teams would probably face the Vikings in 2022, but they don’t have to face any of them, right?
There are 16,384 combinations of results remaining in the NFC North, excluding ties. The Vikings win the division in 16,281 of them. That’s pretty solid, all things considered. But for the record, here are the 103 remaining scenarios where the Vikings could LOSE the division.
Here are the 103 remaining scenarios where the Vikings can LOSE the NFC North.
The one asterisk represents the three-way draw in nine wins. That would boil down to the strength of the win between the Packers and the Lions, and Green Bay would have the advantage, but it’s undecided. pic.twitter.com/J2OQdlZ9TD
— Bryan Knowles (@BryKno) November 28, 2022
There are also a few other notable scenarios today:
Philadelphia can cling playoff place with a win OR losses for the 49ers, Giants and Seahawks.
Minnesota can the clinch NFC North with a win AND a Lions loss. (Both are required for elimination Detroitbut Green Bay can be eliminated from the division with a loss or a Viking victory)
Chicago may be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss AND a win for the Seahawks.
Houston may be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss OR wins by the Bengals, Jets, Ravens and Titans.
If I had to put money into it today, I would say that both the Vikings and the Eagles will have to wait another week to qualify, but both the Bears and the Texans will pack up this week. I suppose that’s why they play the games!