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NFL picks 2019, Week 13: Our experts are thankful for a more predictable weekend (we think)

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The three Thanksgiving games have our experts in agreement, but it’s the Sunday pillow fights that are a little trickier.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The playoff race is on and, at this point, there’s a clear divide between those contending for a spot in January and the teams climbing up the order in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Picks are getting easier for our experts to make as the season winds down, although there’s usually an upset or two to ruin things. Last week, the entire panel thought the Lions would beat Washington, and the majority picked the Falcons over the Buccaneers and Raiders over the Jets. Those three results all went the other way.

Still, everyone finished with a winning record. Christian D’Andrea, who was already leading the panel, only got two picks (the Raiders and Lions) wrong.

His lead will probably be safe in Week 13 too, as there aren’t many disagreements among the pickers. They are overwhelmingly siding with the Bears, Cowboys, and Saints on Thanksgiving, and the Patriots and Seahawks in Sunday night and Monday night games.

Those games all have playoff implications, and so does a pivotal duel between the Ravens and 49ers. Baltimore is 9-2 and rolling with the likely NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, but the Ravens are set to face one of their toughest tests when they host 10-1 San Francisco. Both teams are hunting for the top seed in their respective conference and most of our experts think it’ll be the Ravens that come out with a win.

The panel is 50-50 on a battle between the 4-7 Jaguars and 4-7 Buccaneers, and is close to evenly split in a Browns-Steelers contest with AFC Wild Card ramifications. Our experts are also slightly leaning toward the Cardinals to beat the Rams, a prediction that shows just how far the reigning NFC champs have fallen.

Are the Rams now the worst team in the NFC West?

Arizona is 3-7-1 and Los Angeles is 6-5, so a win for the Cardinals wouldn’t actually drop the Rams to fourth place in the NFL’s toughest division. But it’d be telling about the direction of the two teams.

Jared Goff finished the month of November without a single touchdown pass, while throwing five interceptions and fumbling four times. The offensive line has been torn to shreds and Todd Gurley hasn’t had a single 100-yard rushing day yet in 2019. The Rams’ offense looks as broken as it ever has during the Sean McVay era, and the team doesn’t have many resources to resolve these problems in the offseason.

The Cardinals haven’t been winning much in year one of the Kliff Kingsbury era, but the offense is coming along swimmingly. Two of their last three games were against the 49ers — who boast one of the most formidable defenses in the NFL — and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray posted a 114.0 passer rating in those contests with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Arizona has ample cap space in 2020, as well as a potential top-10 pick on the way to continue to improve the roster. If the Cardinals beat the Rams, it could be a sign that Los Angeles is already the doormat of the division and set to stay there for a while. Six of the 10 on our panel think that’ll be the case Sunday, including our canine expert.

The Good Dog of Week 13: Henry Lamar

Meet Henry Lamar. He’s just an eight-week-old cockapoo puppy who is the most adorable fluff ball you’ll ever meet. Henry Lamar (the Lamar is after a certain NFL MVP favorite) is staying in Atlanta with SB Nation NFL writer Morgan Moriarty for a few days for Thanksgiving before heading to his permanent home in Tampa.

An eight-week-old cockapoo holding a toy

Because Henry Lamar is so young, he spends most of the early days of his life napping, playing with toys around the house, and biting humans’ hair and clothes — basically anything he can grab onto.

Henry Lamar’s two favorite toys were designated as home and away teams. They were both set a few feet in front of him, and whichever one he picked was the winner. Unfortunately, he picked the Dolphins over the Eagles, but we can blame this one on his youth.

Week 13 picks

The guest picker of Week 13 is Alexis Chassen, a writer at our frequently frustrated Eagles blog, Bleeding Green Nation. Here are all our picks for the week with the caveat that we could change our minds and do a swap by Friday — just in case something happens like David Blough starting instead of Jeff Driskel, perhaps.

Week 13 picks

Games James Brady Christian D'Andrea Sarah Hardy Morgan Moriarty Geoff Schwartz Adam Stites Stephen White Alexis Chassen Henry the Good Dog Fooch
Games James Brady Christian D'Andrea Sarah Hardy Morgan Moriarty Geoff Schwartz Adam Stites Stephen White Alexis Chassen Henry the Good Dog Fooch
CHI vs. DET CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI DET
BUF vs. DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL BUF DAL
NO vs. ATL NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
NYJ vs. CIN NYJ CIN NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ CIN NYJ
TEN vs. IND IND IND IND IND IND IND TEN TEN TEN IND
PHI vs. MIA PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI MIA PHI
GB vs. NYG GB GB GB GB GB GB GB GB NYG GB
CLE vs. PIT PIT PIT CLE CLE PIT CLE CLE CLE PIT CLE
WAS vs. CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR WAS CAR CAR
TB vs. JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX TB TB TB TB TB JAX
SF vs. BAL SF BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL SF
LAR vs. ARI LAR ARI ARI ARI ARI LAR LAR ARI ARI LAR
LAC vs. DEN LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC LAC DEN DEN LAC
OAK vs. KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC KC OAK KC
NE vs. HOU NE NE NE NE NE NE HOU NE HOU NE
MIN vs. SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA
Season record 112-64 122-54 106-70 114-62 105-71 97-79 102-74 110-66 94-82 105-71