Dec. 4: The day the Texans’ solo reign atop the AFC South comes to an end — at least according to SB Nation’s experts.
Our NFL writers don’t have much faith in 6-5 Houston. Brock Osweiler’s team has led the division since Week 1, but their winning record looks more like a mirage than the foundation for a playoff run. The Texans have a -42 scoring differential this season, a mark worse than the 3-7-1 Cincinnati Bengals.
That’s why, even with a date against the shaky, defense-deficient Green Bay Packers looming, there’s no love for the Texans. Week 13’s picks roll unanimously against the Texans for their road date in Wisconsin. A drop to 6-6 would give them company at the top of the division, though they’d still hold the tiebreaker over the Titans thanks to a head-to-head victory earlier in the season.
That road trip skepticism carries across conferences. The New York Giants are 8-3 and have the second-best record in the NFC, but only one expert thinks they’ll leave Heinz Field with a win. Pittsburgh hasn’t yet entered "must win" territory thanks to a weak AFC North, but beating one of the league’s best teams would certainly send a message to the rest of the division. The Steelers have been rolling lately, dispatching the Browns and Colts by a combined score of 52-16.
They’ll have a much tougher time stopping Eli Manning than they did Cody Kessler and Scott Tolzien, however.
While the Steelers are favored to add another win to their record, they probably won’t gain any ground in the North. Despite a few dissenters, the Ravens are the experts’ choice to win a showdown against the Dolphins in Baltimore. A Miami loss would open the door for the Broncos to slide back into a wild card spot. Denver travels to Jacksonville this weekend, and not a single writer was bold enough to pick the Jaguars in a shocker.
But where the Broncos should rise, the Chiefs could fall. Confidence in Kansas City is dropping despite a frantic Sunday Night Football win over Denver last week. Only one expert favors the Chiefs to travel to Atlanta and knock off the division-leading Falcons. Kansas City’s secondary has hauled down more interceptions than all but one team in 2016, but they’ll have their hands full with MVP candidate Matt Ryan and the league’s most explosive passing offense.
The home-field advantage that swayed picks in Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and Baltimore doesn’t extend to Minneapolis. At one point, the Vikings were the only team with a better record than the then-4-1 Cowboys. In Week 13, they’re underdogs to Dallas on their own home turf. Experts overwhelmingly picked Dak Prescott and company to pick up their 11th straight win. If the Cowboys win and the Giants lose, they’ll extend their division lead to three games with just four weeks left in the season.
Finally, a battle between the last two NFC champions won’t be nearly as exciting as it sounds. Seattle is a unanimous choice to kick the Panthers out of the Pacific Northwest with a loss.
Reminder, writers are allowed to change up to two picks by the end of the day Friday. An asterisk indicates a changed pick.
|Game||RVB||Stephen White||Thomas George||Jeanna Thomas||Adam Stites||Louis Bien||Joel Thorman||Fooch||OddsShark computer|
|DAL vs MIN||DAL||MIN||MIN||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL||DAL|
|KC vs ATL||ATL||KC||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL||ATL|
|DET vs NO||DET||NO||NO||DET||NO||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|LA vs NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE||NE|
|DEN vs JAX||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN||DEN|
|HOU vs GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB||GB|
|PHI vs CIN||CIN||CIN||CIN||PHI||PHI||CIN||CIN||CIN||CIN|
|MIA vs BAL||MIA||BAL||BAL||MIA||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL||BAL|
|SF vs CHI||SF||SF||CHI||CHI||SF||CHI||CHI||SF||CHI|
|BUF vs OAK||OAK||OAK*||OAK||OAK||OAK||OAK||BUF||OAK||OAK|
|NYG vs PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||NYG||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT||PIT|
|WAS vs AZ||WAS||AZ||AZ||AZ||WAS||WAS||AZ||AZ||AZ|
|TB vs SD||SD||TB||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD||SD|
|CAR vs SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA||SEA|
|IND vs NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||NYJ||IND||NYJ||IND||IND||IND||NYJ|