The 13th week of the NFL regular season is almost over, and it’s time to focus on those final games before the playoffs start. This weekend features a number of interesting matchups that could have huge implications for playoff seeding. Stay tuned as we cover all this exciting news in our latest installment of “NFL Week 13: A Primer.”
The “week 13 nfl picks straight up 2021” is a weekly article that provides NFL game picks, schedule guide, fantasy football tips, odds, injuries and more.
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The NFL’s Week 13 schedule for the 2021 season is chock-full of intriguing games, and we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know going into the weekend. Our NFL Nation reporters provide us with the most important aspects of each game, as well as a bold prediction for each matchup and, of course, final score predictions.
Additionally, for each game, ESPN Stats & Information gives a key statistic to know as well as a betting nugget, and our Football Power Index (FPI) delves deeper into the stats with a matchup rating (on a scale of 1 to 100) and a game forecast. Kyle Soppe, an ESPN researcher, also provides useful fantasy football information. Everything you need to know to prepare for a jam-packed weekend of NFL football is right here in one place.
Let’s take a look at the whole Week 13 schedule, which includes a 2020 NFL draft battle between Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow, a key AFC North clash between the Ravens and Steelers, and a Sunday night duel between AFC West rivals. It all comes to a head on Monday Night Football when the Patriots take on the Bills on ESPN. (Unless otherwise stated, all games are on Sunday.)
TB-ATL | LAC-CIN | ARI-CHI NYG-MIA | IND-HOU | MIN-DET PHI-NYJ | JAX-LAR | WSH-LV SF-SEA | BAL-PIT | DEN-KC NE-BUF | BAL-PIT | DEN-KC NE-BUF
DAL 27, NO 17; DAL 27, NO 17; DAL 27, NO 17; DAL 27, CAR, CLE, GB, and TEN are out.
1 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 58.5 | TB -11 | FOX Matchup rating: 58.5 (50.5)
What to look out for: A.J. Terrell has a chance to advance. This year, the Falcons’ second-year cornerback has been one of the best in the league at his position. He is seldom targeted by opponents and is only sometimes hit for a completion (42.7 percent of throws thrown at him, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats), but he has a chance to draw attention in Tampa Bay against one of the league’s best receiving tandems in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Fans will be interested to watch how Tom Brady and his teammates put one of the NFL’s finest young corners to the test. Michael Rothstein is a writer and producer.
Buccaneers quarterback Matt Ryan will be sacked four times and intercepted twice, according to a bold prediction. Ryan has a cumulative QBR of 21.7 over the previous three games, which is the lowest in the NFL, and he was sacked four times by the Patriots last week. In that three-week timeframe, he’s also thrown a league-high five interceptions. Meanwhile, the Bucs have 10 sacks and four interceptions in their last three games, which is tied for second in the NFL. Jenna Laine is a writer who lives in New York City.
Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recorded a season-high 123 receiving yards in his past game, giving him 30 games with 100-plus receiving yards in his career. That puts him one short of matching Tony Gonzalez for the most touchdowns by a tight end in NFL history. He’s also one touchdown short of tying Isaac Bruce for 12th all-time in receiving yards with 90.
Buccaneers | Falcons Injuries
What you should know for fantasy football: Brady has been QB17 per game over the last three weeks, placing him among the big-name quarterbacks who are struggling or off this week. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
Atlanta is 0-3 against the spread (ATS) against teams with winning records this season, having failed to cover four of its five home games. Continue reading to learn more.
Buccaneers 31, Falcons 23 is Laine’s prediction. Buccaneers 31, Falcons 20 is Rothstein’s prediction. TB, 79.3 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 10.9 points)
Buccaneers WR, Buccaneers WR, Buccaneers WR, Buccaneers WR, Buccaneers Brown was banned for three games due to a breach of COVID-19… Patterson finds his place on the field and sparks the Falcons’ attack… As the Buccaneers rally over the Colts, Fournette shines on the field and in the locker room.
1 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 57.4 | CIN -3 point spread (50)
What to look out for: This game features two of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks, both from the 2020 draft class. Joe Burrow is hoping to lead the Bengals to their third consecutive victory and get the team closer to a postseason spot. The Chargers are aiming to rebound from their setback to the Broncos in order to stay in the AFC postseason race. In terms of total QBR, Herbert presently leads the NFL (65.9). – Ben Little
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler will rush for 200 yards or more from scrimmage, and the Chargers will win the Bengals. He ranks fifth in the NFL with 1,077 scrimmage yards. Herbert is also expected to have a 300-yard game. Shelley Smith says:
Joe Mixon of the Bengals has scored multiple touchdowns in four consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NFL and the longest in Bengals history. Since Alvin Kamara in the 2019-20 season, no one has done it in five consecutive games, and the last player to achieve it in five straight games during a season was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006. (eight straight).
1:00 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 57.4 | ARI -7.5 spread (43.5)
What to look out for: Will the Cardinals be able to contain Bears edge rusher Robert Quinn? The greatest — and probably only — chance for Chicago to win on Sunday is to apply pressure to the quarterback and force turnovers. Quinn has been in the zone since Khalil Mack was placed on injured reserve. With 11 sacks, the veteran edge rusher is tied for fourth in the NFL. Quinn got 3.5 sacks against Baltimore in Week 11, just the third time a Bears player has 3.0 sacks or more in a game since 1988. Maybe the Bears have a shot to win if Quinn is permitted to be a game-breaker. Dickerson, Jeff
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Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray and receiver DeAndre Hopkins are expected to return against the Bears, and they are expected to make an impact with 125 yards and two touchdowns between them. The Cardinals have scored 40 points or more in each of their last two away games against the Bears, and they have won all six of their road games this season by a margin of 10 points or more. Josh Weinfuss (@JoshWeinfuss)
Murray leads the NFL in completion percentage (72.7%) and is on track to have the third-highest rate in a season in NFL history.
Cardinals | Bears Injuries
What to know for fantasy: Following their Week 10 bye, Bears running back David Montgomery has accounted for almost 83 percent of Chicago’s running back touches in both games. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
Chicago has failed to cover the spread in five of its last six games, including all four of its games against teams with winning records. This season, it is also 0-3 ATS as a home underdog. Continue reading to learn more.
Cardinals 34, Bears 17 is Weinfuss’ prediction. Cardinals 26, Bears 14 is Dickerson’s prediction. ARI, 76.3 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 9.5 points)
Must-read matchups: The Cardinals enter their bye week as Super Bowl favorites… Hampton, a Bears legend, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence… On fourth down, Kingsbury is the most successful NFL coach.
1 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 31.9 | MIA -4 on the spread (40.5)
What to look for: During their current four-game winning run, the Dolphins are second in the NFL in defensive expected points added (EPA), forcing 10 turnovers (third in the NFL). During the same time period, the Giants were one of the league’s least efficient offensive teams, ranking 31st in yards per game and 28th in offensive EPA. — Louis-Jacques Marcel
Miami will pressure the Giants’ quarterback, either Daniel Jones or Mike Glennon, at a rate of more than 50%, according to a bold forecast. Given the Giants’ offensive line woes and Miami’s proclivity for bringing the zero blitz, Jones or Glennon may be in serious danger. On 32.2 percent of dropbacks, the Giants allow pressure, which is the eighth-highest percentage in the league. Miami, on the other hand, pressures at a rate of 30%, which is the sixth most in the league. Jordan Raanan is a writer.
In each of his last two games, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed at least 80% of his throws with at least 30 attempts. This is the second-longest streak in NFL history (Kyler Murray in 2021, Drew Brees in 2018 and Peyton Manning in 2013).
1 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 26.1 | IND -10 spread (45)
What to keep an eye on: Will Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor maintain his dominance? According to ESPN Stats & Information, if Taylor scores a rushing touchdown on Sunday, he would become the sixth player in NFL history to score a rushing touchdown in 10 consecutive games in a season. This season, the Texans have given up 17 rushing touchdowns and average 135.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks 31st in the NFL. Sarah Barshop is a writer.
Here’s how the playoff bracket currently stands, as well as the possible outcomes. • Who’s in the playoff picture right now? • The Playoff Machine on ESPN » • Football Power Index » | Standings
T.Y. Hilton, an Indianapolis receiver, will have his first 100-yard receiving game since December 2020, according to a bold prediction. Why? Of course, he’ll be facing the Texans. Hilton’s last 100-yard receiving game was against the Texans on Dec. 6, 2020, when he had eight grabs for 110 yards and a score. In nine career games versus the Colts’ AFC South rival, the veteran receiver has 52 grabs for 1,061 yards and eight touchdowns. Mike Wells’ remark
Colts quarterback Carson Wentz has 21 touchdowns and five interceptions this season, giving him the NFL’s fourth-best TD-INT ratio. When Wentz makes a turnover, the Colts are 0-5; when he doesn’t, they are 5-1.
Colts | Texans Injuries
What you should know for fantasy: Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle has a touchdown or at least five targets in five consecutive games. It’s not easy being a tight end, and if you’re stuck, you might do worse. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
Houston quarterback Tyrod Taylor is 9-2 ATS in his last 11 games, including playoffs, going back to 2017. He’s also 8-3-1 ATS when he gets at least six points in his career. Continue reading to learn more.
Colts 35, Texans 17 is Wells’ guess. Colts 28, Texans 20 (Barshop’s choice). IND, 75.8%, according to FPI (by an average of 9.3 points)
Matchup must-reads: The Colts are demonstrating they aren’t a playoff club by closing out games… Reid will play Sunday, according to Texans coach Culley, after being benched in Week 12… What the Texans’ draft position in 2022 will look like if they lose to the Jets
1 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 25.4 | MIN -7 spread (46.5)
What to look out for: The Lions’ defense will aim to slow down Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who was awarded the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November. In the Week 5 clash between these two teams, Jefferson exploded for 124 receiving yards on seven receptions. Since 2017, Detroit has dropped eight consecutive games versus Minnesota. Eric Woodyard’s remark
My bold prediction: Jefferson will have 160 receiving yards and two touchdowns in this scenario, which seems like the ideal circumstance for him to be a game-breaker. The Vikings are 4-0 when Jefferson has 100 receiving yards and 1-6 when he doesn’t, and with running back Dalvin Cook out, Minnesota will rely on the ball. Courtney Cronin (Courtney Cronin)
Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has a receiving touchdown in two consecutive games and a total of 10 receiving touchdowns on the season, which ties him for the most in the NFL with Cooper Kupp and Mike Evans.
Vikings | Lions Injuries
1 p.m. ET | Matchup rating: 18.8 on CBS | PHI -7 on the spread (45)
What to look out for: Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, his sprained ankle, and the Jets’ ability to stop his rushing attack. The Jets have only allowed quarterbacks 96 running yards, but they haven’t faced many dangerous runners. Hurts, who leads the Eagles in rushing yards with 695 and eight touchdowns, is “almost Lamar-esque,” according to Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins, who compared him to Ravens running back Lamar Jackson. Cimini, Rich
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A Zach Wilson interception will be returned for a score by the Eagles. Despite only playing seven games due to injury, Wilson is tied for third in the NFL with ten interceptions. Wilson will be fooled by the Eagles’ disguises, and the secondary, especially cornerback Darius Slay, who has has three defensive touchdowns this season, will be salivating. Tim McManus, Ph.D.
The Jets’ defense ranks bottom in the NFL in terms of points allowed per game (30.4) and yards allowed per play (6.1), and it is second-worst in terms of opponent Total QBR (56) behind only the Jaguars.
Eagles against. Jets: Injuries
What you should know about fantasy: Over the last two weeks, Hurts has scored 100.5 percent of his fantasy points on the ground. You read it correctly: 100.5%. (On the passing side of things, he had some bad points.) The rushing ability is exceptional, but it is now a must-have rather than a nice-to-have. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
New York is one of just two teams not to be favored in a single game this season (the other being Detroit) and has a 2-8 ATS record, the lowest in the NFL. Continue reading to learn more.
Eagles 26, Jets 20 is McManus’ prediction. Eagles 24, Jets 14 is Cimini’s prediction. PHI, 68.7%, according to the FPI (by an average of 6.5 points)
Matchup must-reads: Reagor confronts a vital juncture in his career with the Eagles following a significant drop… During his protracted injury recuperation, Lawson relied on his Jets teammates… Despite an ankle injury, Eagles QB Hurts is’ready to go.’
4:05 p.m. ET | FOX Matchup rating: 47.8 | LAR -13 | FOX Matchup rating: 47.8 (48)
What to look out for: For the second time in Sean McVay’s five seasons as coach, the Rams enter Sunday’s game on a three-game losing skid. The Rams and quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has six turnovers in the three-game losing streak, will want to re-establish a rhythm with a constantly morphing offense against the 2-9 Jaguars, whose offensive has averaged a league-low 14.6 points per game this season. Lindsey Thiry (Lindsey Thiry)
The Rams will sack quarterback Trevor Lawrence eight times, led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald and edge rusher Leonard Floyd. Jacksonville’s center Brandon Linder and left guard Andrew Norwell are seventh and seventeenth in the league in pass block win rate, respectively, but offensive tackles Jawaan Taylor (47th) and Cam Robinson (33rd) are struggling. Lawrence is in for a long day, especially if Jaguars receivers are still running incorrect routes and getting little space. — Mike DiRocco is an actor who has been in many films.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Los Angeles WR Cooper Kupp has seven consecutive games with seven or more catches, which is tied for the longest stretch by a Rams player in team history. Kupp also needs eight more receptions to reach 100 for the season, which would make him the first Rams player to do it since Tort Holt in 2005.
Jaguars | Rams Injuries
What you should know about fantasy: Last week, not one, not two, but three Rams receivers finished within the top-15 at their positions. Kupp, Odell Beckham Jr., and Van Jefferson all saw at least nine targets in this high-octane game and project as viable alternatives. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
FOX Matchup rating: 38.2 | Spread: LV -2.5 | 4:05 p.m. ET (49)
Keep a look out for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s “reunion.” When Del Rio was the Raiders’ coach from 2015 to 2017, the two were as close as brothers, but an unpleasant social media interaction between the two happened when Del Rio, then an ESPN commentator, mentioned Carr’s problems in cold-weather games. Carr and Del Rio, on the other hand, will play a chess match inside this game, knowing one other’s strengths and limitations. Del Rio, whose.521 winning percentage is the greatest of any Raiders coach since Tom Flores quit in 1988, may have a grudge against Gruden for firing him. Gutierrez, Paul
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Washington will rush for 150 yards, according to my bold prediction. There will be doubts going into this game because of Washington’s injury worries, but if some of those questions are addressed positively, the run game will have a good day. Antonio Gibson will carry for 90 yards and a score, countering DeSean Jackson’s 60-yard touchdown reception. ‘John Keim’
The Raiders are 6-0 this season when Carr passes for 300 yards or more.
Washington | Raiders Injuries
What you should know about fantasy football: It’s not often thrilling, but receiver Hunter Renfrow has been a top-11 fantasy receiver (PPR) in three of Las Vegas’ last four games. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
Washington is 1-5 ATS this season against teams with winning records, but it has covered three consecutive games after opening the year 1-7 ATS. Continue reading to learn more.
Washington 23, Raiders 21 is Keim’s selection. Raiders 27, Washington 26 is Gutierrez’s choice. LV, 61.7 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 4.0 points)
Matchup must-reads: Despite a hot run, Washington ‘hasn’t arrived yet,’ and 2020 analogies… For the Raiders and Carr, Jackson provides a spark and confidence… Carr uses Gruden’s counsel in the Raiders’ OT victory against the Cowboys.
SF -3.5 | CBS Matchup rating: 62.7 | 4:25 p.m. ET (45.5)
What to look out for: Will Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense be able to break out of their funk? During Wilson’s three-game losing run, which started after he returned from finger surgery, the team has scored just 26 points. His uncommon inaccuracy has been the most noticeable of all their problems. Wilson had the highest off-target percentage in the NFL during that time, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It won’t help matters that he’ll be facing 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa on Sunday, who has 11 sacks in 11 games. Brady Henderson’s quote
Speculative prediction: It’s difficult to make a big prediction on any Seahawks game since nothing feels out of reach, particularly when they face the 49ers. But, for the time being, let’s go with this: At least 40 minutes of possession time will be available to the Niners. By a significant margin (minus-11:57), Seattle has the lowest time of possession margin in the league, and the Niners have enjoyed 37-plus minutes time of possession in each of their last three games. San Francisco may play the ultimate game of keep away if both teams continue on those paths. Nick Wagoner is a writer.
Niners running back Elijah Mitchell had four games this season with 100 or more rushing yards, the most by a rookie in franchise history. Alfred Morris, a rookie picked in the sixth round or later in 2012, was the last rookie to have five such games in a season (seven games — and under then-Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan).
4:25 p.m. ET | CBS Matchup rating: 51.3 | BAL -4.5 spread (44)
What to look out for: Lamar Jackson, the quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens, has only had two starts against the Pittsburgh Steelers, both of which he battled tremendously in. In those games, he threw five interceptions for three touchdowns and was sacked nine times. And only a week earlier, Jackson had a bad game against the Browns, throwing four interceptions. However, one of the Steelers’ main flaws is their run defense, which Jackson can take advantage of, and the team hasn’t been terrific at restraining mobile quarterbacks this season. T.J. Watt, the team’s edge rusher, is also expected to miss time. Brooke Pryor is an actress who plays Brooke Pryor.
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For the first time in four years, Ravens running back Devonta Freeman will reach 100 yards rushing. Since December 2017, when he was with the Falcons, Freeman hasn’t rushed for more than 100 yards. The Ravens, who lost their top two running backs to season-ending injuries before the start of the season, are one of only two teams (Jets) without a running back surpassing 80 yards rushing in a game this season, but Freeman and Baltimore will end their droughts against the Steelers, who are allowing the highest yards per rush (4.8) in at least two decades. Jamison Hensley (Jamison Hensley)
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has at least one throwing touchdown in 25 consecutive games, one short of tying his career-long run (26 straight from 2017-18).
Ravens against. Steelers: Injuries
What you should know about fantasy football: Steelers running back Najee Harris is a test case for the significance of volume in fantasy football. Despite spending the whole month of November without a touch gaining 15 yards, he is still in lineups. Check out the Week 13 rankings.
Baltimore has gone under the total in each of its last four away games. Continue reading to learn more.
Ravens 23, Steelers 20 is Hensley’s prediction. Ravens 24, Steelers 14 is Pryor’s prediction. BAL, 56.8%, according to the FPI (by an average of 2.3 points)
Must-reads ahead of the game: ‘He transformed my son’s life,’ says Andrews of the Ravens, who also inspires others with diabetes… After a blowout defeat to the Bengals, Tomlin promised improvements for the Steelers… Ravens’ flaws face an ideal scenario: In command of the AFC’s top seed
NBC Matchup rating: 61.7 | Spread: KC -10 | 8:20 p.m. ET (47.5)
What to look for: The Chiefs have won 11 consecutive games against the Broncos, with the final margins seldom being close. Three of the previous four games were decided by a margin of at least 20 points. As a result, it seems like the Broncos must get out to a quick start. During their current four-game winning run, the Chiefs haven’t been scoring many points, but they have been getting out in front of their opponents early. In all four games, they held early leads of at least seven points and had never trailed in the previous three. Adam Teicher’s remark
Speculative prediction: The Broncos will win if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throws for 240 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and one or fewer sacks. That line depends on the Broncos employing play-action to move the ball down the field in the passing game and putting Bridgewater under center more often. When was the last time a Broncos quarterback had a stat line like that in a game between these two teams? In September of 2014, Peyton Manning was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Legwold, Jeff
Patrick Mahomes has 48 touchdown passes in 19 career prime-time starts for the Kansas City Chiefs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most in a quarterback’s first 20 career prime-time starts since 1950. In division games, his career Total QBR of 77.8 is the greatest by any quarterback since 2006.
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET | ESPN Matchup rating: 87.7 | BUF -2.5 spread (43)
What to look out for: While the loss of cornerback Tre’Davious White will be felt by the Bills’ defense, the Patriots’ recent tendency of turning the ball over will be the key to keep an eye on when the two teams meet. Josh Allen, the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, has thrown seven interceptions and lost one fumble in his last four games. Buffalo’s defense has been able to save the club so far, but New England will be a more difficult challenge, particularly because the defense has forced a league-high 20 turnovers since Week 5. Allen’s ability to keep his cool will be vital, and he could get some help from two starting offensive lineman who might return to the lineup. Alaina Getzenberg is a writer who lives in New York City.
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Nick Folk of the Patriots leads the NFL with 31 field goals (on 34 tries) and has made 50 consecutive attempts from inside 50 yards dating back to last season. However, in Western New York, where the weather is typically unpredictable with wind and snow, that run, which is the second longest in NFL history behind Ryan Succop’s 56, will come to an end. As a result, Bills second-year kicker Tyler Bass, who has made 20 of 23 field goals this season, will be put to the test. — Reiss, Mike
Tight ends are a statistic to be aware of. Hunter Henry (Patriots) and Dawson Knox (Bills) are tied for the league lead with seven receiving touchdowns this season.
Patriots | Bills Injuries
What you should know about Allen in fantasy football: Did he solve the Patriots’ problem in Week 16 last season? He threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns on 75% of his throws in the contest. He completed 50.4 percent of his throws versus New England in his previous four games, averaging 183 yards and three throwing touchdowns (and six interceptions). Check out the Week 13 rankings.
Buffalo has covered each of its previous five games played in December or later, and it is 4-0-1 ATS versus AFC East opponents in its last five games. Continue reading to learn more.
Bills 20, Patriots 16 is Reiss’ prediction. Patriots 24, Bills 23 is Getzenberg’s prediction. BUF, 64.4 percent, according to the FPI (by an average of 4.9 points)
Matchup must-reads: Jackson continues to pick up garbage while assisting the Patriots… Diggs embraces his leadership position and the Buffalo community… Lotulelei and Brown have been removed off the COVID-19 list by the Bills… What’s next for the Bills now that No. 1 cornerback Devin White is out for the season?
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