Gregg Rosenthal went 11-5 on his predictions for Week 12 of the 2020 NFL season, bringing his total record to 109-66-1. How will he fare in Week 13? His picks are below.
SUNDAY, DEC. 6
Tennessee Titans 34, Cleveland Browns 30
Was the Titans' defensive surge the last two weeks more about the Colts' and Ravens' injuries and familiar opponents, or have they turned the corner? Can the Browns' defense get pressure and stops against the best offense it's faced all season? Can Baker Mayfield keep up in a shootout? It feels like Cleveland's season starts now.
Las Vegas Raiders 28, New York Jets 17
In a season of depressing developments for the Jets, the lack of separation between Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco is the worst. I'm not going to ignore 10 weeks of excellent Raiders offensive production because of one miserable game in Atlanta, even with Jets second-year DT Quinnen Williams suddenly balling out.
Minnesota Vikings 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 20
The Jaguars' defense has been more competitive in recent weeks despite cascading injuries. Mike Glennon is coming off the best game by a Jaguars quarterback all season. That's why I'd guess that Vikings fans will sweat this one out more than they'd like before completing an impressive journey back to .500.
Miami Dolphins 24, Cincinnati Bengals 10
This would be a great game for Tua Tagovailoa to return, because the diverse Dolphins defense should short-circuit Bengals starter Brandon Allen regardless. Miami cornerback Xavien Howard is having an All-Pro season, and former Dolphins coordinator Patrick Graham, now in New York, dominated Cincinnati last week with a Fins-like approach.
Indianapolis Colts 30, Houston Texans 24
Just when the Texans find some semblance of mojo, they lose two of their best players (cornerback Bradley Roby and wideout Will Fuller) to suspension. Deshaun Watson's deep group of wideouts is suddenly thin, with Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills also gone, while the Colts could get three key cogs back from the reserve/COVID-19 list, including DeForest Buckner. Philip Rivers, meanwhile, is battling a toe injury that forced him to miss practice. So many of these December games will come down to who's available.
Chicago Bears 20, Detroit Lions 17
New Orleans Saints 27, Atlanta Falcons 23
I picked the Falcons to win this matchup two weeks ago and was spectacularly wrong. Last week, Taysom Hill struggled in Denver, while the Falcons improved to 4-2 under interim coach Raheem Morris with another convincing win. Weird things happen when division opponents play twice in three weeks (SEE: Titans-Colts), yet I can't bring myself to pick against the most complete team in the NFL, even versus its feisty rival.
Seattle Seahawks 24, New York Giants 14
It's a shame Daniel Jones got hurt after playing his best two games of his season in a row. The scrappy Giants defense, led by a revived Leonard Williams, can make this game a lot of fun if New York has a capable starting quarterback. The recent sampling from Colt McCoy, however, is not encouraging.
(UPDATE: The Giants officially listed Daniel Jones as doubtful to play Sunday, putting McCoy in line to start.)
Los Angeles Rams 27, Arizona Cardinals 17
Kyler Murray insists that defenses are forcing him to hand the ball off. Conspiracy theorists believe he's anxious about exposing an injured shoulder. He's certainly throwing the ball hard and far, if not always on time. The Cardinals' offense is limited without Murray making people miss and now faces its toughest matchup yet. Sean McVay won the play-calling battle in this game twice last year, and Arizona's defense isn't any more talented now.
New England Patriots 23, Los Angeles Chargers 20
New England's win last week gave me mid-2001 Patriots vibes, with the home team taking down Arizona via special teams, a great defensive game plan, luck and mostly opponent errors. Bill Belichick specializes in situational football and letting the other team give the game away, which happens to be the Chargers' specialty.
Green Bay Packers 30, Philadelphia Eagles 17
These teams' defenses are on similar paths these days, building toward flowery features of "resurgence" after facing soft spots in the schedule. Carson Wentz is so inaccurate -- and Philly's offense is so lost -- that the opposition mostly just needs to show up.
Kansas City Chiefs 31, Denver Broncos 14
The Broncos' offense was ranked dead last in DVOA before they played Kendall Hinton at quarterback. Denver has been outscored 96-25 in three matchups against Kansas City since Vic Fangio took over, including a game in which Patrick Mahomes was hurt. The Broncos' quarterbacks have no touchdown passes with three picks and 13 sacks taken in those three games, and the Chiefs are overdue for a blowout win.
MONDAY, DEC. 7
Washington Football Team 20, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
The Thanksgiving and spotlight games of Week 12 felt heavy, featuring a number of teams that appeared worn down by the weight of this season. That included the Steelers, whose own COVID issues were compounded by a late ACL injury to pass rusher Bud Dupree on Wednesday evening. The rested Football Team has competed admirably all year, with game changers Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson playing their best ball since Alex Smith took over. I want to see Smith help topple the last undefeated team, and I want to see his postgame interview at 5 p.m. PT on a Monday afternoon.
Buffalo Bills 27, San Francisco 49ers 26
This is a dangerous game for the Bills against a 49ers team that is undefeated when playing as a home team in Arizona. San Francisco's strength on the ground matches up well against Buffalo's defensive weakness, and this should be the first time since Week 6 that Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Raheem Mostert play together. In the writing of this blurb, I almost convinced myself to pick the 49ers against my better judgment.
TUESDAY, DEC. 8
Baltimore Ravens 23, Dallas Cowboys 16
The Ravens' roster is compromised. One season after clinching home-field advantage with a week to spare, they are the AFC's ninth seed with five games left. Baltimore hopes to get Lamar Jackson and others back for this game, but the Ravens can't take anything for granted after the month they've been through. The Cowboys have experienced their share of awful luck this season, but they've collapsed within games enough times to believe it's part of their makeup. When the talent is so depleted for both sides, I lean toward the better quarterback and better organization.