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NFL Week 13 Picks for Early Sunday Games: Falcons Upset Ravens; Denver Stays Hot

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Ok, what was that? Did anyone see that coming in the NFL Thursday Night game!? I sure didn’t.

The Cowboys defeated the piping hot Saints 13-10 and now sit at the top of the NFC East Division at 7-5, having won 4 straight games.

You want to know how legit this Dallas defense is? Not only did they hold the Saints to just 13 points, but they are also the only team in the NFL this season that has held its opponent to under 30 points every game this season. That’s impressive; and I don’t know if there is a better linebacker duo in the league than Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. They are FOR REAL. That hit from Smith on Alvin Kamara however, should have been a penalty. How did that not draw a flag? It was CLEARLY helmet-to-helmet, no question about it.

Are the Cowboys a legitimate threat in the NFC?

I still don’t think so. The defense is legit. I still don’t think the secondary is that great, but the crazy thing about this Dallas defense is that they are so good on the line and up front, that the secondary doesn’t have to work as much. Life downfield for the Cowboys’ defense is a lot easier when you have guys like Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and DeMarcus Lawrence causing chaos on the quarterback. But I just don’t have the Cowboys above teams like the Rams, Seahawks, or even the Saints still, because I need to see more from the Dallas offense. After all, they still only put up 13 points.

I said before this game that if the Cowboys pull off the victory against New Orleans, Jason Garrett isn’t going anywhere. Well, they did just that and so I don’t think Garrett is going anywhere. And as I had said before, you can blame Garrett, but I think the Cowboys had bigger issues when they were slumping earlier this season. But it seems like those issues are being resolved for now, and probably the two best things the Cowboys have done in quite some time are A). Giving the ball more to Ezekiel Elliott, and B). Trading for Amari Cooper.

This was a big time trade.

Yes, I understand the Cowboys gave up a first round pick for Cooper, but this is what Cooper has done for the Cowboys since joining the team: 30 receptions for 424 yards (that’s 14.1 yards per catch) with 3 TDs through five games. The Cowboys were missing that outside receiver threat, and by getting Cooper, they fill that void. The Cowboys needed to do two things – get another talented receiver, and give Elliott the ball more – and they have done both of those things and it has paid off. Cooper, at age 24, with his talent and his potential, he might as well be a first round pick-type player anyway. I am all for that trade; especially if you are going to use Cooper in the offense…unlike the Raiders.

This weekend we have some big games and if certain teams come away with a win, the Wild Card race in the AFC, in particular, could get really interesting. So, let’s get to the picks shall we?!

Last Week Record: 11-4

Season Record: 71-41

Ravens at Falcons (Sunday @1PM ET)

Lamar Jackson is 2-0 as a starting quarterback for the Ravens this season, but let’s not forget, his past two wins were against the Raiders and the Bengals; and I’m pretty sure those are the two worst defenses on the planet.

I think pulling out a win in Atlanta will be a tall order for Jackson trying to  get his third-straight win under center. The Falcons don’t have a good defense either, but they’re not as bad as the Bengals or Raiders; that’s for damn sure. Deion Jones returns for the Falcons on defense, and that’s huge for them. Give me the upset here. Falcons win 29-20.

Broncos at Bengals (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

Remember when I said that the Broncos could be the most disappointing team in the NFL this season? Yeah, well you can throw that out the window. Bengals are just not a good team, and to make matters worse, Andy Dalton is now out for the year with a THUMB injury.

When the Bengals announced that Jeff Driskel would be replacing Dalton, I thought, “Wait, the guy from Zac Brown Band?” And then I realized that was John Driskell Hopkins. But you know what, I think the Bengals would probably be just as good playing John Driskell Hopkins under center come Sunday.

I like the Broncos to stay hot here, and all of a sudden at 6-6, the Broncos will be in the AFC Wild Card mix. I knew there was some fight in this team! Broncos win 28-21.

Rams at Lions (Sunday@ 1PM ET)

The Rams are coming off a bye week and they just watched the Saints drop to 10-2. Los Angeles is going to want this one badly, and they will be ready. That Lions offensive line is going to get manhandled, and Kerryon Johnson, who seems to be the only shining light lately on this Detroit offense, will be out with a knee injury. This could get ugly. Rams win 33-14.

Cardinals at Packers (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

Packers fans…your team is currently tied with the Cleveland Browns. How do you feel? Well, I have good news: you are playing at home this week, where it seems to be the only place your team can win a game this year (Packers are 0-6 on the road this year).

I like the Packers to rebound against a sorry Cardinals team and keep a playoff pulse going for now. Packers win 30-20.

Bills at Dolphins (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

The Dolphins have lost four of their last five games and the defense had given up an average of 33 points per game in those four losses. With the exception of their 3-point win over the Bears in Week 6, the Dolphins really haven’t beaten anyone great this year.

Meanwhile, the Bills aren’t much better, but they have won their last two games, including a nice win (at least for the Bills) over the Jaguars last week. I like the Bills’ defense more than Miami’s and if you think the Dolphins have a good defense, well haha YOU’RE WRONG.

Could this be the rise of Josh Allen? We shall see. I like the Bills to bring a bit of pressure on defense up front, and Josh Allen to have a nice game on the ground. I’ll take Buffalo in a close one for their third-straight win. If Buffalo wins, they will be 5-7, and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) will actually be in the hunt for a Wild Card spot in the AFC. Bills win 20-13.

Bears at Giants (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

Oh my God, speaking of offensive lines getting manhandled…I don’t care if Chase Daniel is quarterback. Bears win 24-16.

Panthers at Buccaneers (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

I think this game is going to be closer than you think, but I like Carolina’s defense more. And for the Panthers, it’s desperation time for them. They need this one if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Panthers win 21-20.

Colts at Jaguars (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

Ok, let’s face it: The Jaguars are not a good team. And for all of the fellas who laughed in my face before the NFL season when I said that Jacksonville wouldn’t make the playoffs this year, well you can all go kiss my…

Colts win 26-20.

Browns at Texans (Sunday @ 1PM ET)

If you think people have given Baker Mayfield at tough time for his comments about his former head coach Hue Jackson, well I don’t think any of that will be nearly as tough as what he is about to go up against with this Texans defensive line. Houston stays hot and wins their ninth-straight game. Texans win 30-21.

Stay tuned for my late Sunday and Monday Night picks!

Matt lives in Newnan, Georgia but was born and raised in Upstate New York. He is a fan of the New York Yankees, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Boston Celtics. At the collegiate level, he is a Notre Dame and Syracuse fan (yeah he can root for both, and what?!) He must, however, find a soccer team to root for. So him out there. All suggestions are welcome. You can catch Matt on the Turf mostly covering NFL, NBA, MLB, College Football and Basketball, and Horse Racing (that is not a typo, he practically grew up on a racetrack). It's nothing's strictly sports.

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