Lucky Week 13? Crunch Time for NFL to Finish Safely

JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Steelers are being doubted because of their easy schedule, but they're 11-0 and making no apologies.

When the NFL announced the new CBA bringing an end to sanity (that means 16-game seasons), we were officially four days into a global pandemic. Needless to say, not a lot of attention was focused on it. But here we are in the final month of “normal” seasons in a year that has been anything but. I’ve picked games sparingly because this year is so screwy, throwing traditional trends out the window. But I’m trying to get over .500, sitting at a game under. So, fresh off Wednesday Afternoon Football, here goes:


Last week:    3-1

Season:         8-9


New Orleans (-3) at Atlanta

I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker. I’m going to pursue the definition of insanity by going against the grain yet again, but I really like the Falcons in this spot. Three teams are still unbeaten in divisional play at 4-0, including the Saints. A season has never featured three or more 6-0 teams within the division since realignment in 2002, and between the Saints, Bills, and Steelers, someone is due to trip up. I’m saying it’s the Saints, winners of eight straight but still employing Taysom Hill under center. The Falcons didn’t crack the end zone two weeks ago against New Orleans but are coming off a 43-point showing against the Raiders. I like them to keep their strong second half going, just as they did last year. Pick: Falcons.

New England at L.A. Chargers (even)

The Patriots are hanging around. Surprised? You really shouldn’t be. They probably won’t make the playoffs, but they’re not going away that easy. A perfect patsy (pardon the pun) awaits in the Chargers, who should hope they can get to a lead that’s safe against the Patriots — you know, like, 35 points with three minutes left — if they want to get win number four. But Cam Newton is slowly getting back on track and the Patriots are coming off an upset win over Arizona, and L.A. barely hung on against the Jets in their last home game. This will be close, but take Bill Belichick over Anthony Lynn. Pick: Patriots.

Philadelphia at Green Bay (-9)

It feels counterintuitive, but remember that the Eagles were the only visiting team to win at Lambeau Field last year (and that was in a traditional environment). The Eagles’ offense has been dismal pretty much the whole year (but go figure, their season-high for points, 29, was also the most allowed by the Steelers all year). Still, Green Bay also has some pressure to win this game to keep pace in the NFC. It doesn’t seem like it would or should be, but this just has the feel of an unnecessarily close game for the Packers, coming off a blowout of Chicago but not forgetting their scare against the Jaguars in the home game prior. Pick: Eagles.

Washington at Pittsburgh (buying to -7 at -130)

Everyone thinks the Steelers are frauds, huh? The last time people thought there was a sexy upset pick, the Bengals, they got slaughtered. Apparently the Steelers were ripe for the picking that week, too, having barely beat Garrett Gilbert and the Cowboys. Same story here. Ugly win over the Ravens on a Wednesday afternoon. WFT playing well and in a first-place division tie. The Skins are going to do it! Right? Eh. Not so fast. The Steelers are 11-0 for a reason. 16-0 is still going to be tough, but it’s not out of the question. Perfection isn’t ending this week, though. Pick: Steelers.

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