NFL Week 13 predictions, league game notes; playoff scenarios for Chiefs, Steelers and Saints

Dolphins DL Christian Wilkins / Credit: Miami Dolphins Media Site

By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports

Each week I bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.

Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 13
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (Sports Animal)
(Sun) Noon – Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (News Talk 98.7)


WEEK 13 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY & TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 6-8
(All times Eastern)

Sunday, December 6
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 PM FOX
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears 1:00 PM FOX
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 1:00 PM CBS
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins 1:00 PM CBS
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM CBS
Las Vegas Raiders at New York Jets 1:00 PM CBS
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 PM FOX
New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks 4:05 PM FOX
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers 4:25 PM CBS
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers 4:25 PM CBS
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs 8:20 PM NBC

Monday, December 7
Washington Football Team at Pittsburgh Steelers 5:00 PM FOX
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers* 8:15 PM ESPN

Tuesday, December 8
Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens 8:05 PM FOX/NFLN/AMAZON

*State Farm Stadium, Arizona

Week 13 Byes: Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vince’s View: There are only two games with both teams having winning records…Browns at Titans and Rams at Cardinals. The Browns have a remarkable (for them) 8 wins this season and they deserve credit for that. Baker Mayfield is now a game manager (when they win and he doesn’t turn the ball over) and that’s best for business for the Browns. The problem is he does turn it over against the better teams and the Titans are much more battle tested than Cleveland. Of the 8 wins for Cleveland, only ONE is over a team with more than 4 wins, Indianapolis. Not just a winning record, but 4 wins. It’s still progress that they’ve won those games and Cleveland can certainly run the rock. I expect the Cardinals to bounce back this week after letting a win at the Patriots last week slip away. We didn’t get Thursday night football, but we do get TNF, Tuesday Night Football again.

Week 11 Prediction Record: 11-5 (69%)
Season Record: 118-59 (67%)


AFC

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-1) (vs. Denver (4-7), Sunday, 8:20 PM ET, NBC)

Kansas City clinches AFC West division title with:

  1. KC win + LV loss or tie OR
  2. KC tie + LV loss

Kansas City clinches playoff berth with:

  1. KC win OR
  2. KC tie + BAL loss or tie + IND loss OR
  3. KC tie + LV tie + BAL loss or tie + IND tie OR
  4. KC tie + LV tie + MIA loss + IND loss or tie OR
  5. KC tie + LV tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie OR
  6. KC tie + MIA loss + BAL loss or tie + IND tie OR
  7. LV loss + BAL loss + IND loss

PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-0) (vs. Washington (4-7), Monday, 5:00 PM ET, FOX)

Pittsburgh clinches AFC North division title with:

  1. PIT win + CLE loss + PIT clinches strength of victory tiebreaker over CLE​
    • Clinches at least a tie in strength of victory tiebreaker if:
      • BAL, DEN, HOU, LV and MIA all win OR
      • Four of BAL, DEN, HOU, LV and MIA win + one team ties​

Pittsburgh clinches playoff berth with:

  1. PIT win or tie OR
  2. LV loss or tie OR
  3. MIA loss or tie OR
  4. IND loss or tie

NFC

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-2) (at Atlanta (4-7), Sunday, 1:00 PM ET, FOX)

New Orleans clinches playoff berth with:

  1. NO win + CHI loss or tie OR
  2. NO tie + CHI loss + MIN loss + SF loss or tie OR
  3. NO tie + CHI loss + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

AS NFL TURNS CALENDAR TO DECEMBER

Pro Football Hall of Famer VINCE LOMBARDI once said there is only one way to succeed in anything, and that’s to give it everything.

And as the 2020 season enters December, the time to give it everything has arrived.

Week 13 kicks off with a dozen games on Sunday, all 14 playoff berths up for grabs and memories to be made. But first, the BALTIMORE RAVENS conclude Week 12 at the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (Wednesday, 3:40 PM, NBC). It will mark the third Wednesday NFL game since 1941. On Sept. 5, 2012, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 24-17, to kick off the season. And, on Sept. 22, 1948, the Los Angeles Rams opened their season with a 44-7 home win over the Detroit Lions.

DECEMBER CONTENDERS: Fifteen NFL teams turn the calendar with a record of .500 or better, including the BALTIMORE RAVENS (6-4), KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-1) and NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-2). Since 2017, those teams have consistently ranked among the best over the final quarter of the season.

The teams with the best regular-season records in December and January over the past three seasons:

TEAM W L T PCT
Kansas City Chiefs 12 3 0 .800
Baltimore Ravens 12 3 0 .800
Philadelphia Eagles 11 4 0 .733
Atlanta Falcons 10 4 0 .714
New Orleans Saints 9 4 0 .692

STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH: In a battle of 8-3 teams in the AFC, the CLEVELAND BROWNS travel to meet the TENNESSEE TITANS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). The Browns are off to their best start since they were also 8-3 in 1994, while the Titans have their best record through 11 games since they were 10-1 in 2008.

  • Cleveland, which boasts the league’s top rushing offense (161.4 yards per game), faces the Titans’ DERRICK HENRY, who leads the NFL with 1,257 rushing yards.
  • In fact, the contest will feature three of the NFL’s nine leading rushers, including the Browns’ NICK CHUBB (719 rushing yards, tied for sixth) and KAREEM HUNT (706, ninth). The Cleveland duo is on pace to become the first pair of Browns players to each top 1,000 rushing yards in the same season since EARNEST BYNER (1,002) and KEVIN MACK (1,104) in 1985.
  • Henry, who paced the NFL with 1,540 rushing yards in 2019, seeks to become the first player to lead the league in rushing yards in consecutive seasons since Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON in 2006-07.
  • Last week, Henry rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the Titans’ 45-26 win at Indianapolis. Henry is the fourth player in NFL history with three games of at least 175 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in his first five seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers JIM BROWN (five games) and LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (three), as well as ADRIAN PETERSON (three).
  • The Titans have the league’s fewest giveaways this season with five.

MAHOMES, HILL BACK IN PRIMETIME: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS take on the DENVER BRONCOS on Sunday Night Football at Arrowhead Stadium (8:20 PM ET, NBC). The Chiefs have won 19 of their last 20 games, including the postseason.

  • Last week in a win at Tampa Bay, PATRICK MAHOMES became the first player with at least 30 completions and 300 passing yards in four consecutive games in league annals. He completed 37 of 49 attempts (75.5 percent) for 462 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 124.7 rating in the victory.
  • Mahomes has five career games with at least 400 passing yards and three touchdowns, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (six games) as the only players with at least five such games in their first four seasons in league annals. Mahomes also has 15 career games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdowns, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (15 games) for the second-most such games by a player in his first four seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (17 games) has more.
  • Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL had a career-high 13 receptions for a career-best 269 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. Hill had 203 receiving yards in the first quarter and became the third player since 1980 with at least 200 receiving yards in a single quarter, joining QADRY ISMAIL (210 receiving yards in third quarter on Dec. 12, 1999) and LEE EVANS (205 in first quarter on Nov. 19, 2006).
  • Hill, who had 10 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns in Week 11 of the 2018 season, is the sixth player with two career games of at least 10 receptions, 200 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in NFL history, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DON HUTSON and JERRY RICE, as well as AMARI COOPERCHAD JOHNSON and ART POWELL.

SAINTS, NFL TEAMS WINNING ON ROAD: Two of the league’s hottest teams meet at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when the ATLANTA FALCONS host the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX). New Orleans has won eight straight games while the Falcons have won four of their last six under coach RAHEEM MORRIS.

  • On the road, New Orleans is 4-1 this season and, over a longer stretch, is 17-3 over its last 20 road games.
  • In a trend that started last season, road teams are winning more often. Last year, road teams were 123-132-1 (.482), the NFL’s best single-season mark since 1972 (87-90-5, .492). This year with one game remaining in Week 12, road teams are 85-90-1 (.489).
  • Last week at Denver, New Orleans quarterback TAYSOM HILL rushed for two touchdowns in the Saints’ win. Hill, who had two rushing touchdowns in his first career start at quarterback in Week 11, is the second player with at least two rushing touchdowns in each of his first two career starts at quarterback in the Super Bowl era, joining ERIC HIPPLE (1981).
  • New Orleans has the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense, allowing 284.9 yards per game. The Saints have allowed fewer than 10 points in three of their past four games.

HOPE FOR THE STRETCH RUN: In 15 of the past 17 seasons, at least one team has won its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 25 of them have done so in the past 17 years (2003-19), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006. Two teams during that span, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, won the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in their divisions the season before.

  • One of the teams with an opportunity to advance from last to first in its division is the MIAMI DOLPHINS (7-4), who host the CINCINNATI BENGALS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Miami ranks fifth in the NFL with a plus-six turnover ratio. Cornerback XAVIEN HOWARD leads the NFL with seven interceptions, while defensive end EMMANUEL OGBAH is tied for seventh with eight sacks.

In 14 of the past 16 seasons, at least one team with a losing record after 11 games has qualified for the playoffs. Last week, three teams – the MINNESOTA VIKINGSNEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS and SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – each won close games to improve to 5-6 on the season.

The teams with a losing record after 11 games that advanced to the playoffs, since 2004:

YEAR TEAM W L T
2019 Philadelphia 5 6 0
2018 Philadelphia 5 6 0
2016 Green Bay 5 6 0
2015 Washington 5 6 0
2014 Carolina 3 7 1
2013 San Diego Chargers 5 6 0
2012 Washington 5 6 0
2010 Seattle 5 6 0
2009 New York Jets 5 6 0
2008 San Diego Chargers 4 7 0
2007 Washington 5 6 0
2006 Philadelphia 5 6 0
2005 Washington 5 6 0
2004 St. Louis Rams 5 6 0

EVERY NFC WEST TEAM IN PLAYOFF HUNT: Sunday features a key NFC West matchup at State Farm Stadium when the LOS ANGELES RAMS travel to play the ARIZONA CARDINALS (4:05 PM ET, FOX).

  • Rams defensive lineman AARON DONALD has recaptured the NFL lead with 10 sacks, having reached double figures in sacks for a fourth consecutive season. In his past four games at Arizona, Donald has eight combined sacks. He also aims for his fifth in a row at State Farm Stadium with 1.5-or-more sacks.
  • Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD has 195 receptions against both the Rams and Seahawks. No other player in NFL history has more catches against a single opponent. ​

DK TOPS 1K: Second-year wide receiver DK METCALF, who had 10 catches for a career-high 177 yards in Seattle’s Week 12 win, has captured the NFL lead with 1,039 receiving yards. He has five games of at least 100 receiving yards this season, tied for most in the league. Metcalf and the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS host the NEW YORK GIANTS, who’ve won three straight games, on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX).

  • Thanks in part to Metcalf’s nine touchdown receptions, the Seahawks rank third in the NFL with 31.0 points per game.
  • This year, the highest-scoring season on record through 12 weeks (with one game to play), the NFL already has 1,001 touchdowns, with No. 1,000 coming in Seattle’s Week 12 win at Philadelphia.
  • The fastest the NFL had reached 1,000 touchdowns in any previous season was Week 13, in both 2015 and 2018. The single-season league record is 1,371 touchdowns, in 2018.

The seasons with the most total points and most touchdowns scored through 12 weeks in NFL history:

YEAR TOTAL POINTS YEAR TOUCHDOWNS
2020 8,738* 2020 1,001*
2018 8,502 2018 980
2013 8,201 2016 913
2016 8,119 2014 911
2012 8,109 2013 909
*One game remaining in Week 12

BILLS, NINERS IN ACTION MONDAY NIGHT: Two playoff hopefuls engage in an intriguing matchup on Monday Night Football when the BUFFALO BILLS travel to play the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). The game will be played at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium.

  • Guided by defensive coordinator ROBERT SALEH, San Francisco’s defense ranks fourth in the NFL in pass defense (206.5 yards allowed per game) and sixth in total defense (315.2 yards allowed per game).
  • Last week, Buffalo quarterback JOSH ALLEN recorded his 15th career game with both a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown in the Bills’ win. Allen joined CAM NEWTON (20 games) as the only players with at least 15 games with both a passing and rushing touchdown in their first three seasons in NFL history.

DOUBLE-DIGIT COMEBACKS EVERY WEEK: The MINNESOTA VIKINGS, who overcame an 11-point deficit to win last week, host the JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS).

  • With one game remaining in Week 12, there have been 35 games in which a team has overcome a deficit of at least 10 points to win this season, the most through Week 12 in NFL history.
  • Last week, Minnesota quarterback KIRK COUSINS passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 115.7 rating. Cousins has 16 career games with at least 300 passing yards, three touchdown passes and a rating of 115-or-higher, surpassing DREW BREES (15 games) and AARON RODGERS (15) for the most such games by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history.
  • Four Minnesota players – CHAD BEEBE (seven receptions for 63 yards and one touchdown), JUSTIN JEFFERSON (seven receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns), BISI JOHNSON (seven receptions for 74 yards) and KYLE RUDOLPH (seven receptions for 68 yards) – each had at least seven receptions and 60 receiving yards in last week’s win. Before last week, only one team in NFL history – the 2012 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (Week 16) – had four players each register at least seven receptions and 60 receiving yards in the same game.
  • Jacksonville rookie running back JAMES ROBINSON totaled a career-high 159 scrimmage yards (128 rushing, 31 receiving) and a rushing touchdown last week. Robinson has six games with at least 100 scrimmage yards this season, tied with PHILLIP LINDSAY (six games in 2018) for the second-most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. Only CLARK GAINES (seven games in 1976) has more. Robinson has 1,170 scrimmage yards this season, the third-most by an undrafted rookie in the common-draft era. Only DOMINIC RHODES (1,328 scrimmage yards in 2001) and PHILLIP LINDSAY (1,278 in 2018) have more.

HERBERT WITHIN REACH OF HISTORY: When the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS travel to meet the LOS ANGELES CHARGERS on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Chargers quarterback JUSTIN HERBERT has an opportunity to reach seven 300-yard passing games and establish the NFL’s rookie record. Herbert, who passed for 316 yards and a touchdown last week, is tied with ANDREW LUCK, who had six such games in 2012, for the most by a rookie in NFL history.

  • Herbert has 3,015 passing yards this season and joined PATRICK MAHOMES (3,185 passing yards) as the only players in league annals with at least 3,000 passing yards in their first 10 career games.
  • The Chargers have the league’s third-ranked offense, averaging 397.8 yards per game.

AAR RAID: Last week, Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS passed for 211 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 132.3 passer rating, his fifth game with at least four touchdown passes this season, the most in the NFL. He leads the league with 33 touchdown passes and a 117.6 rating.

With two touchdown passes on Sunday against Philadelphia (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Rodgers can become the first player in NFL history to record five seasons with at least 35 touchdown passes. He also accomplished the feat in 2016 (40 touchdown passes), 2014 (38), 2012 (39) and 2011 (45).

The players with the most seasons of at least 35 touchdown passes in NFL history:​

PLAYER TEAM(S) SEASONS WITH 35+ TD PASSES
Tom Brady New England 4
Drew Brees New Orleans 4
Peyton Manning Indianapolis, Denver 4
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 4*
*Has 33 touchdown passes in 2020

In his 16-year career, Rodgers has totaled 50,046 passing yards and 397 touchdown passes and last week became the 11th player in league history to pass for at least 50,000 yards. With three touchdown passes on Sunday, Rodgers – appearing in his 193rd career game – can become the seventh player in NFL history to reach 400 career touchdown passes and the fastest to reach the mark.

The players to reach 400 career touchdown passes in the fewest games in NFL history:​

PLAYER TEAM(S) GAMES TO 400 TD PASSES
Drew Brees San Diego, New Orleans 205
Peyton Manning Indianapolis, Denver 209
Tom Brady New England 212
     
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 192*
*Has 397 career touchdown passes

Rodgers’ top target, wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS, enters Week 13 with 11 touchdown receptions, tied for the second-most in the NFL. He has recorded at least five receptions and a touchdown catch in six consecutive games.

With five receptions and a touchdown catch on Sunday against Philadelphia (4:25 PM ET, CBS), Adams would become the third player with at least five receptions and a touchdown catch in seven consecutive games within a single season in NFL history, joining ANTONIO BROWN (eight games in 2018) and Pro Football Hall of Famer TERRELL OWENS (seven games in 2007).

The players with the most consecutive games with at least five receptions and a touchdown catch within a single season in NFL history:​

PLAYER TEAM SEASON GAMES
Antonio Brown Pittsburgh 2018 8
Terrell OwensHOF Dallas 2007 7
       
Davante Adams Green Bay 2020 6*
*Active streak

— NFL –​

MAGICAL MAHOMES: Kansas City quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the league with 3,497 passing yards and ranks third with 30 touchdown passes, while only throwing two interceptions this season. He is the third player in league history to throw his 30th touchdown pass of the season before throwing his third interception, joining TOM BRADY (2007) and DREW BREES (2018).

Last week, Mahomes passed for 462 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions for a 124.7 rating, becoming the first player with at least 30 completions and 300 passing yards in four consecutive games in league annals.

With at least 325 passing yards against Denver on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Mahomes can become the fourth quarterback with at least 325 passing yards in five consecutive games in NFL history.

The players with the most consecutive games with at least 325 passing yards in NFL history:​

PLAYER TEAM SEASON GAMES
Rich Gannon Oakland Raiders 2002 6
Drew Brees New Orleans 2011 5
Kurt WarnerHOF Arizona 2008 5
Kurt WarnerHOF St. Louis Rams 2000 5
       
Patrick Mahomes Kansas City 2020 4*
*Active streak

— NFL —

TYREEK’S TOUCHDOWNS: Last week, Kansas City wide receiver TYREEK HILL had a career-high 13 receptions for a career-best 269 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the league with 13 touchdown receptions and has recorded a touchdown in 10 of 11 games this season.

With a touchdown against Denver on Sunday Night Football (8:20 PM ET, NBC), Hill can become the fourth wide receiver in NFL history with a touchdown in 11 of his team’s first 12 games of a season.

The wide receivers with a touchdown in 11 of their team’s first 12 games of a season in NFL history:​

PLAYER TEAM SEASON GAMES
Elroy HirschHOF L.A. Rams 1951 11
Carl Pickens Cincinnati 1995 11
Jerry RiceHOF San Francisco 1989 11
       
Tyreek Hill Kansas City 2020 10*
*Has touchdown in 10 of first 11 games this season​

Hill has recorded at least 10 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown in each of his past two games and can become the third player to do so in three consecutive games in NFL history, joining KEENAN ALLEN (three games in 2017) and MICHAEL THOMAS (three games in 2019).

— NFL —

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