Week 13 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night with the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks meeting up, but Sunday is the big day for the Oakland Raiders. Through eleven games, the Raiders have a one game lead in an AFC West race that is likely going to come down to the wire. It is primarily a two-horse race for now between the Raiders and Denver Broncos, but the Chargers and Chiefs are not completely out of the picture.
The AFC West goes on the road in week 13, with the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos playing Sunday morning games and the Chargers wrapping up the week on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs and Chargers sit three games back of the Raiders, so really the Broncos game is the one that matters most for the Raiders. Here are a rundown of picks for games impacting the Raiders.
Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins: The Raiders will likely be without Darren McFadden once again and their wide receivers have numerous injury question marks. Nonetheless, this offense has done just enough to get victories. They enter the game as modest underdogs, but have shown an ability to overcome the odds recently. The Dolphins are playing really solid football right now, but the Raiders are doing what it takes to win. It will likely be an ugly game, but I think Oakland can pick up win number eight. PICK: Raiders
Denver Broncos @ Minnesota Vikings: The Broncos continue to find ways to win thanks to a strong defense, Willis McGahee and of course Tim Tebow. Until the Broncos face stiffer competition, I have to continue thinking they can somehow keep winning with Tebow. PICK: Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs @ Chicago Bears: The Bears are likely going to struggle in the passing game without Cutler, but that defense and rushing game should help them hold steady against lesser competition. Caleb Hanie is a big question mark, but I think Forte and that defense will be enough to stop which ever quarterback (Orton or Palko) is running the Chiefs offense. PICK: Bears
San Diego Chargers @ Jacksonville Jaguars: The San Diego Chargers have been a team that gets hot in late November and December and rides that wave into the playoffs. It is possible we will see that this year, but I am not holding my breath. I think it is all catching up with Norv Tuner & Co. and we will not be seeing that late run this year. They face a Jaguars team in turmoil so it makes it all the more difficult to pick. PICK: Chargers
Playoff Positioning Matchups
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns: Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Steelers
NY Jets @ Washington Redskins: Jets
Tennessee Titans @ Buffalo Bills: Titans