NFL 2012 — Week 13 Preview
Several teams can clinch playoff spots this week, as the NFL enters the stretch run of the 2012 season. Here’s a preview of this week’s games:
Thursday, Nov. 29
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons — 8:20 P.M.
Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Atlanta (10-1) can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Buccaneers loss. The Falcons are led by quarterback Matt Ryan, whose 3,425 passing yards and 68.5 completion percentage both rank second-overall in the league. The Saints defense is still the most porous in the league, giving up an average of 454.8 yards per game. New Orleans (5-6) is nearing must-win territory to stay in the playoff chase. The Falcons defense must cover Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, who had 146 receiving yards and two scores in New Orleans’ 31-27 win over Atlanta in Week 10.
Sunday, Dec. 2
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills — 1 P.M.
Ralph Wilson Stadium, Orchard Park, N.Y.
Quarterback Chad Henne has rejuvenated the offense of Jacksonville (2-9). The Jaguars have scored 61 points in the past two weeks after averaging just 14.1 per game in the first nine weeks. The Bills defense has given up 29 points per game, the third-highest total in the league. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick could be poised for a big day for Buffalo (4-7). The Jaguars defense gives up an AFC-high 410.5 yards per game, including 274.5 through the air.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears — 1 P.M.
Soldier Field, Chicago
Chicago (8-3) is still undefeated on Sunday afternoons, suffering losses only during Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games. Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall is second in the league with 81 receptions and fifth with 1,017 yards. The Seahawks have the league’s third-ranked defense against the pass, allowing 200.7 yards per game. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has quietly put together a solid season for Seattle (6-5), throwing for 17 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. The Chicago defense has picked-off an NFL-high 20 passes, including eight by league-leader Tim Jennings.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams — 1 P.M.
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis
St. Louis (4-6-1) hosts San Francisco (8-2-1) in a rematch of teams that played to a 24-24 tie in Week 10. Rams running back Steven Jackson has rushed for 321 yards on 66 attempts in his past three games. The 49ers defense allows just 91.1 yards rushing per game, fourth-best in the NFL. As of Wednesday morning, San Francisco had not officially named Colin Kaepernick its starting quarterback, but he has led the team to wins over the Bears and Saints in the past two weeks. The Rams rank fourth in the league with 31 sacks.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins — 1 P.M.
Sun Life Stadium, Miami
New England (8-3) has won five games in a row, averaging 43.8 points per game during the winning streak. They can win the AFC East title with a victory on Sunday. The Dolphins defense allows just 20.5 points per game, ranking 10th in the NFL. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill must take care of the football for Miami (5-6). The Patriots have forced 32 turnovers in 11 games this season.
Arizona Cardinals at N.Y. Jets — 1 P.M.
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Arizona (4-7) has lost seven games in a row. After missing five games with rib and shoulder injuries, Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb could start on Sunday. If Kolb can’t go, rookie Ryan Lindley will play against the experienced Jets defense. New York (4-7) needs better play from quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has 20 turnovers and a 75.6 passer rating. The Cardinals are seventh in the league in total defense, allowing 327.9 yards per game.
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions — 1 P.M.
Ford Field, Detroit
Reggie Wayne has been a force for Indianapolis (7-4). Wayne leads the NFL with 84 catches for an AFC-best 1,105 yards. The Lions defense ranks 11th in the league against the pass. Detroit (4-7) runs its offense through the potent combination of quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson. The Colts defense ranks last in the league in both interceptions and forced fumbles.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers — 1 P.M.
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
Adrian Peterson’s NFL-best 1,236 rushing yards lead the attack for Minnesota (6-5), but it’s a one-dimensional offense. The Vikings rank 30th in passing yards per game with 186.2. The Packers missed linebacker Clay Matthews and defensive back Charles Woodson in the loss to the Giants on Sunday night. Green Bay (7-4) has beaten the Vikings the past four times the teams have met. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the NFL’s top-rated passer with a 105.6 rating. Minnesota’s pass rush has produced 27 sacks, while Rodgers has been taken down a league-high 37 times.
Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans — 1 P.M.
LP Field, Nashville
Playoff hopes are just about gone for Tennessee (4-7). Titans running back Chris Johnson has been resurgent of late, raising his season total to 942 yards rushing. Johnson had 141 yards against the Texans defense in a 38-14 Tennessee loss in Week 4. Houston (10-1) ranks sixth in the league in total defense and third in offense. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown nine touchdown passes in the past four games. The Titans defense gives up 30.5 points per game, the second-highest average in the league.
Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs — 1 P.M.
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
Quarterback Cam Newton leads Carolina (3-8) in both passing and rushing yards. Receiver Brandon LaFell is an emerging talent for the Panthers, leading the team in touchdown receptions (4) and average yards per catch (17.6). The Chiefs defense has just 19 sacks and doesn’t stop the run well. Kansas City (1-10) has just three touchdowns in its last seven games. Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is the only offensive threat against a Carolina defense that gives up 126.2 rushing yards per game.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos — 4:05 P.M.
Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
Tampa Bay (6-5) needs to win to stay in the NFC South race. They trail the Falcons by four games with five weeks remaining. Buccaneers running back Doug Martin is fourth in the NFL with 1,050 rushing yards. Denver (8-3) has won six games in a row and can clinch a playoff spot with a win. The Broncos lead the NFL in sacks with 37, and they have the league’s ninth-ranked run defense, allowing 98.7 yards per game.
Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders — 4:25 P.M.
O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
Two of the AFC’s worst teams meet, as Cleveland (3-8) travels to Oakland (3-8). Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson already has 755 rushing yards this season, the NFL’s 13th highest total. Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden left last week’s win over the Steelers with a concussion in the fourth quarter, but he could be cleared to play in Oakland. The Raiders haven’t been good at stopping either the run or the pass this season, ranking 28th and 24th respectively. Oakland running back Darren McFadden may still be out with a high ankle sprain. The Browns defense has collected eight sacks and forced nine turnovers in the past two games.
Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers — 4:25 P.M.
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego
Cincinnati (6-5) looks to keep its playoff hopes alive against San Diego (4-7). The Bengals average 25.6 points per game with weapons like A.J. Green and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The Chargers defense is fifth in the NFL against the run, but 20th against the pass. They’ve blown double-digit, second-half leads against the Saints, Broncos and Ravens. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacked nine times in the past two games. The Cincinnati pass rush has already registered 35 sacks, the second-highest total in the NFL.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens — 4:25 P.M.
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Baltimore (9-2) can win the AFC North title with a victory and a Bengals loss.
Ravens running back Ray Rice ranks 11th in the NFL with 794 rushing yards. He’s also second among running backs with 404 receiving yards on 48 catches. The Steelers lead the league in total defense, allowing just 257.2 yards per game. Pittsburgh (6-5) hopes quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can return from injury. If not, third-stringer Charlie Batch or back-up Byron Leftwich will face a Ravens defense that gives up just 19.9 points per game. They helped Baltimore beat the Steelers, 13-10, in Week 11.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys — 8:20 P.M.
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Dallas (5-6) hosts Philadelphia (3-8), a team they beat, 38-23, in Week 10. Tony Romo is the centerpiece of the Cowboys offense, ranking third in the league with 3,357 passing yards. His 15 interceptions are the most of any NFL quarterback. The Eagles defense has been victimized for big plays by quarterbacks often this season. Philadelphia may see the return of quarterback Michael Vick. Dallas’s pass rush will test the Philadelphia offensive line. The Eagles have improved their pass protection, allowing just one sack in last week’s loss to the Panthers.
Monday, Dec. 3
N.Y. Giants at Washington Redskins — 8:30 P.M.
FedEx Field, Landover, Md.
New York (7-4) has no shortage of offensive weapons. The Giants hope running back Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Victor Cruz can help quarterback Eli Manning take advantage of a Redskins defense that allows 301.4 passing yards per game, second-most in the league. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III leads a Washington (5-6) offense that just didn’t have enough time in a 27-23 loss to the Giants in Week 7. The New York defense will pressure Griffin with blitzes.