Shapiro's Week 13 NFL picks: Raiders will bury the Jets
The lead up was extremely chaotic and it took until Wednesday to get through all the games, but the NFL was once again able to reward football fanatics with top-tier sports entertainment in Week 12.
The Saints, Chiefs, and Steelers kept things rolling in their quest for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, while the Raiders and Rams were unable to avoid letdowns after primetime contests a week ago.
It was a positive week in my quest to finish the tumultuous 2020 season with a winning record. The Bills-Chargers game was not the shootout I expected, but the Dolphins stifled the hapless Jets and the 49ers kept hope alive with an important road victory in Los Angeles. I will take the 2-1 record against the number any week!
On to Week 13!
Las Vegas Raiders vs. New York Jets
Sun, December 6 2020, 6:00 PM
New York Jets
Las Vegas Raiders
There is no way to get around it. The Raiders embarrassed themselves in a 43-6 defeat to the Falcons in Week 12.
They failed to protect the football, they were unable to take advantage of an Atlanta defense that has given up the most explosive pass plays in the league, and they struggled to stop an offense that was missing Julio Jones. It was tough to watch.
The public is likely to stay away from Las Vegas after that performance, but I am willing to draw a line through the terrible effort. The Raiders were in an obvious letdown spot, after they lost a tight game to division rival Kansas City and had to travel cross-country to take on an inferior, out-of-conference opponent.
They should have played better, but the good news is Jon Gruden’s crew is in a perfect get-right spot against the winless Jets.
Last week, New York continued on its trek toward the first overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, which will likely land the Jets Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As it has done often this season, the Jets defense hung in for awhile but received no help from the offense and eventually gave way in a 20-3 loss to the Dolphins. They are all but certain to remain winless against a Raiders team motivated by last week's embarrassment.
Look for Derek Carr to bounce back against a Jets pass defense that has yielded a league-worst 71.8% completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks. The Jets have also struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks, and they are likely to have no answer for tight end Darren Waller and surging rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs.
The Vegas defense was put in tough spots all game in Atlanta but should rebound against an offensive unit that has averaged a pathetic 13.8 points per game.
Buffalo Bills vs. San Francisco 49ers
Tue, December 8 2020, 1:15 AM
San Francisco 49ers
The defending NFC champions have not had things easy in 2020. San Francisco has dealt with a plethora of key injuries and now has been forced away from home because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Kyle Shanahan’s team headed into its bye week on a three-game losing streak and in last place in the loaded NFC West, but it pulled together and found a way to beat the Rams a more than touchdown underdog Sunday.
The victory over Los Angeles did not come without more injuries. The Niners placed a pair of cornerbacks on injured reserve, but their offense is as healthy as it has been in weeks. They got their best receiver, Deebo Samuel, and lead running back Raheem Mostert back in Week 12 and should get rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk back in time for their matchup against Buffalo.
With most of his weapons at his disposal, look for Shanahan to find weaknesses in a Bills defense that has improved but has not been what most expected at the start of the season.
Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense should find some success against the Niners, but they are not the same when receiver John Brown is not on the field.
Look for San Francisco to play with desperation and find a way to win another game against a quality opponent.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
Sun, December 6 2020, 6:00 PM
The Colts were in a tough spot in Week 12. They encountered a Titans team that sought revenge, after it lost to Indianapolis in Week 10.
The Colts were also without a number of key contributors on defense, including star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Tennessee ran the ball down the Colts’ throat in its 45-26 victory.
Indianapolis is unlikely to be at full strength in time for its matchup with Houston, but the Colts are still in a great spot to regroup from the poor performance.
The Texans lost their top receiver, Will Fuller, and their best cornerback, Bradley Roby, for the season because they violated the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Houston also lacks the power running game Tennessee used to manhandle the Colts.
Indy will bounce back and beat Houston going away.