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This is what we’re watching for in Week 13.
With Week 13 ahead of us we’re about to reach the final month of the NFL regular season. A wild, unpredictable season we thought would get sorted over a month ago is still as wild as ever.
At this point it’s fair to say we have the top of the NFC sorted with the Packers and Cardinals, but after that everything is still totally up in the air. The AFC has been a rollercoaster all season, and in both conferences the wild card spots are completely open.
What then does this mean for Week 13? Well, looking at the schedule there are a few critical head-to-head contests, but it’s far more about not screwing up at this point.
Can the Colts avoid a trap game?
I’ve been bullish on the Colts recently as a team that could make a run into the wild card, and think that’s still possible. In Week 12 the team suffered a narrow loss to the Buccaneers, which showed me they do have the talent — now it’s just about executing down the stretch.
On the surface there’s no functional reason to doubt that Indianapolis can beat Houston, but divisional games can be strange things. Just because the Colts blew out the Texans in October doesn’t mean it’ll happen again, and winning this game is critical to staying in the hunt.
Keep in mind that Houston beat Tennessee as recently as two weeks ago, so they have the ability inside the AFC South to play spoiler. Now I just want to see how this one plays out.
Who wants is more between the Bengals and Chargers?
At one point or another both Cincinnati and Los Angeles looked like top tier teams with major playoff potential, and that’s definitely become a little more shaky. The Chargers have completely fallen off following their extremely strong start to the season, while the Bengals have been marred with inconsistency.
I think the Bengals have what it takes to win this one, but I’m also aware that Cincinnati lost to the Jets and Browns in back-to-back weeks. But yes, I also know they beat the Ravens and Raiders — so it’s all confusing, much like the rest of the AFC.
What I’m waiting to see if a sense from Cincinnati that they really want to keep this run going. It feels like a collection of great players that hasn’t quite gelled as a team yet, which is weird to say in Week 13 — but I want to see that fire from them.
As for the Chargers, I don’t know what to say. They have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and keep shooting themselves in the foot. This went from looking like a lock to win the AFC West, to now fighting to find a wild card. Consider my faith gone.
Can Washington or Las Vegas assert themselves?
A game which would otherwise be written off and forgotten has quickly become one of the most intriguing of the week. It’s beautiful symmetry to have playoff hopes out of the NFC East and AFC West hinge on this game.
It’s an absolute must-win for the 5-6 Washington Football Team who have been surging recently. The math isn’t on their side right now, and some help from around the league is needed too — but none of that comes into play if this team can’t win the tough games.
Meanwhile for Las Vegas they’re still fighting against the forces that impacted them with Jon Gruden’s departure. It’s remarkable this team has pulled together to a 6-5 record, but now it’s the hard part. The AFC left the door open for the Chiefs, and they’re walking through — so now it’s about fighting back and trying to get in.
Is this really going to happen with the Patriots?
The Patriots and Bills face off on Monday Night Football and we don’t need to wax poetic on this one. If New England can beat Buffalo they’re likely to win the AFC East in a remarkable turn.
Buffalo has become very inconsistent, while the Patriots are playing their best football. This is going to be an amazing game.