While things seem wide open in the NFL this season, there aren’t many teams you’d count as true Super Bowl contenders.
Realistically, we can probably predict most of the 12 playoff teams with reasonable accuracy and it’s not even December yet. There’s a question of who will win the putrid NFC East and which team will stumble into the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but most of the playoff teams seem pretty clear. And they’re not all Super Bowl worthy.
Whatever list you have of title contenders, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers should be on it. They’re both legit. And now they face each other on Sunday in Baltimore.
We’ve already seen these two teams meet in a Super Bowl, and it might happen again. The Ravens are playing very well, with quarterback Lamar Jackson becoming the story of this season. The 49ers defense is coming off a stellar game against the Green Bay Packers, and they’ve been fantastic all season. Their defensive line might be the best in the NFL.
How good have the Ravens been? They’re a 5.5-point favorite over a 10-1 team, and it’s understandable. Nobody is playing better on both sides of the ball right now. Jackson seems to be the NFL’s MVP and he’s clearly the league’s toughest player to defend.
Even though the Ravens are fantastic, I’ll take the 49ers and hope for a close game. San Francisco can run the ball, theoretically keeping Jackson off the field, and the defense is fantastic. I don’t anticipate a blowout. It would be a pretty fun rematch in the Super Bowl, too.
Here are the rest of the Week 13 picks, with lines from BetMGM:
Bears (-5.5) over Lions, Bills (+6.5) over Cowboys, Falcons (+7) over Saints (picked Thursday): A 1-2 Thanksgiving. Even in a win the Bears were thoroughly unimpressive. The Cowboys were even less impressive in practically ending Jason Garrett’s time as their coach. And the night game was a snooze until the Falcons realized their best play was an onside kick.
Giants (+6.5) over Packers: I don’t mean to belabor the point, but the Packers are not your typical dominant 8-3 team. They’re good. Not great.
Panthers (-10) over Redskins: It’s a little scary to lay double digits with the Panthers, but Washington is still a nightmare, last week’s win aside.
Titans (+2.5) over Colts: Indianapolis is a good team, but injuries aren’t helping. Eric Ebron is on injured reserve, Marlon Mack is still out and T.Y. Hilton had a setback with his calf. That’s a lot of offensive power to be missing.
Dolphins (+9.5) over Eagles: Each week I keep waiting for the Eagles to look like a quality team, and they haven’t yet. It’s probably time to realize that’s not going to happen, even when the Cowboys are trying to hand them the NFC East title.
Chiefs (-10) over Raiders: It seems like the Raiders have played twice as many road games as everyone else this season. The Chiefs should be rested off of a bye and if Sam Darnold can carve up the Raiders defense, what can Patrick Mahomes do?
Buccaneers (-1.5) over Jaguars: The Jaguars have been a huge letdown this season. It’s quite possible Jameis Winston turns it over five times, but at least I know they can score.
Jets (-3.5) over Bengals: This seems too easy, but so be it. Even with Andy Dalton back, this Bengals team is horrendous.
Cardinals (+3) over Rams: Arizona is showing signs of life, and they’ve been competitive most weeks. The Rams ... let’s just say their level of competitiveness (and offensive competency) leaves something to be desired.
Chargers (-3) over Broncos: Whoever starts at quarterback for the Broncos, their offense simply isn’t any good. The Chargers have their own issues but I can’t see Denver scoring too much.
Browns (-2) over Steelers: I’m not fully buying into the Browns being over all their issues. But the Steelers’ offensive problems are multiplying. It’s not a team that can move the ball, and I don’t think rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges solves much.
Patriots (-3) over Texans: Nothing I’ve seen from the Texans indicates they’re very good. They have a great quarterback and elite receiver, and they’re going to win a division title, but this still seems like a mismatch even with New England’s offense stuck in neutral.
Vikings (+3) over Seahawks: It’s tough to go against Russell Wilson, especially in Seattle, but I really like this Vikings team. Among the Super Bowl contenders, the Vikings have gotten by far the least attention. That would change with a win on Monday night.
Last week: 8-6
Season to date: 85-92-2
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