Things are falling into place as we approach Week 13 in the 2017 NFL season. The playoff picture is becoming more and more clear as elite teams separate themselves from the rest of their respective divisions. Teams like the Eagles, Patriots and Steelers are heavy favorites to win their division, while teams like the Cowboys, Redskins and Packers face an uphill battle to sneak in. With that being said, let’s take a look at the most important games for Week 13.
Thursday Night Football
Redskins @ Cowboys
- I know I just said the Cowboys and Redskins face an uphill battle; they are both likely cooked. But the loser of this game is 100% done, plus it’s an NFC East game that rarely disappoints. For that reason alone, it’s a good watch. The Cowboys have struggled mightily without Zeke Elliott. I’m interested to see how they respond to a terrible three-game stretch. The Redskins have been severely decimated by injuries, but are still competing. Neither team is mathematically eliminated for a playoff spot, but the loser can officially pack their bags.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Chiefs @ Jets
- The Chiefs season has turned into a nightmare. Remember when they were 5-0 and Alex Smith was a legitimate MVP candidate? They’ve lost five of their last six games and fans want Alex Smith to be benched for a rookie who’s not ready to play. Plus, the Raiders and Chargers are now only one game behind them for the division lead. They desperately need to beat the Jets and get back on track.
Patriots @ Bills
- The Bills are quietly 6-5 after beating the Chiefs on Sunday. Shockingly, a win against New England puts them back in the hunt for the AFC East title. I expect New England to win, but this game is important for the AFC playoff picture and it would be a huge upset if the Bills can pull it off.
Lions @ Ravens
- Assuming the Ravens take care of business on Monday Night Football tonight, this game is extremely important for both teams at 6-5 each. Even if the Ravens lose tonight, it’s still a big game for the Lions in a packed NFC playoff race. I think the winner makes a push, while the loser (especially if Detroit) is put in a deep hole.
Vikings @ Falcons
- The Falcons have put it together in recent weeks and have positioned themselves back in the NFC playoff hunt, while the Vikings are riding high and in command of the NFC North. The Vikings have leeway because of current standings, but the Falcons do not; they need this game as they compete in the best division in football. This is one of the game of the week in my opinion.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Browns @ Chargers
- If I told you five weeks ago this would be a must-watch game, you’d laugh at me. But here we are. The Chargers started 0-4 and have stormed back to get to 5-6 and back in the hunt. This is a classic trap game for the Chargers, though, and they need to avoid falling into it. Another note: Josh Gordon is back. This guy has had one of the crazier career paths I’ve ever seen. I’m ecstatic to see what he has in the tank when he hits the field for the first time in a long time.
Panthers @ Saints
- This is the game of the week. Both teams are 8-3 and tied for the NFC South division lead. Because of how competitive the NFC is in general this season, this game is even more important. I would be shocked if Carolina wins; I think the Saints are the better overall team, especially at home.
Sunday Night Football
Eagles @ Seahawks
- An outstanding Sunday night game to wrap up a really good NFL Sunday. The Eagles look unbeatable right now, and I just don’t know how the Seahawks offensive line is going to handle the Eagles up front. Nonetheless, this is a really good game and a great test for the 10-1 Eagles and MVP-candidate Carson Wentz.