Early Games Predictions in Week Number 13

We got off to a great start this week, winning three of three on Thanksgiving Day, but I'm not quite as optimistic this weekend, which features a slate of far more competitive games. Injuries are taking their toll and healthy clubs figure to advance into the playoffs.

San Francisco 49ers vs Buffalo Bills – The 49ers defense is absolutely painful to watch. Former Bills corner Nate Clements, a major free agent signing by the 49ers two seasons ago, has been a major disappointment. Last week, Clements was just abused by the Cowboys. The Bills offense came alive versus the Chiefs and hopes to keep it going this week against the struggling 49ers, losers of seven of the last nine contests.

Bills 34 – 49ers 21

Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals played the Ravens on even terms in week number one and hope playing on their home turf will be the difference this time around. The club has shown improvement, particularly over the last three weeks, but the most improved player since their first match-up twelve weeks ago has been the Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco; one of the top rookie quarterbacks to come into the league over the last decade. It should be a competitive contest, but the Ravens are on a mission.

Ravens 24 – Bengals 14

Indianapolis Colts vs Cleveland Browns – The inconsistent Browns wasted a very good defensive effort last week at home and this week face a Peyton Manning-led Colts club that has quietly won four straight contests. Derek Anderson replaces the injured Brady Quinn and hopes to improve on a very disappointing 2008 season with a strong finishing effort. Look for the Colts to come out on top.

Colts 31 – Browns 14

Carolina Panthers vs Green Bay Packers – The Panthers started slowly last week in Atlanta. Despite of putting 28 points on the board, they were never really in that critical divisional contest. All three of the teams losses have come on the road and even against a Packers squad that has lost three of their last four contests and has not played extremely well at home, I don't really like their chances.

Packers 27 – Panthers 23

Miami Dolphins vs St. Louis Rams – The Dolphins played well for three quarters versus the Patriots, before losing their poise in the fourth quarter. The fish need this one badly to keep their faint playoffs alive and couldn't have picked a better opponent to get back into the win column against. The Rams, plain and simple, cannot protect the quarterback, have shown a total inability to stop the run and even with home games versus the Seahawks and 49ers remaining on the schedule, are not likely to win another game on the season. Look for a new management team to be in place for the start of the 2009 season in St. Louis.

Dolphins 33 – Rams 17

New Orleans Saints vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The Buccaneers have won five of the last six contests and that losing is not an option in the highly competitive NFC South division. The Saints played their best football game of the season last week at home versus the Packers and know a second loss to their division rival Buccaneers would essentially end their 2008 season. Drew Brees gives the Saints a chance, but I don't like this club's track record on the road. The Buccaneers are going to miss running back Earnest Graham, but look for veteran Warrick Dunn and the returning Cadillac Williams to pick up the slack. It should be a shootout, but I have to go with the home club in the end.

Tampa Bay 31 – Saints 27

New York Giants vs Washington Redskins – The Redskins have not played very good football since losing at home to the hapless St Louis Rams. A three-point victory over the Browns, an eight-point victory over the winless Lions and last week's three-point victory over a poor Seahawks team have more than a few wondering if the club from the nation's capital are true contenders or just pretenders. This week's showdown versus the Giants at home should answer a lot of important questions. The game-within-the-game features a showdown between the league's leading rusher in Clinton Portis and the Giants Brandon Jacobs. This should be another highly contested affair, but in the end the Redskins are going to realize that the Giants are the absolute class of the National Football League.

Giants 28 – Redskins 16

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