2013 NFL Week 13 Preview — 5 Intriguing Storylines to Watch
NFL teams have little more than a month until the playoffs start. Here are five storylines we’ll be watching this weekend:
Which Birds Will Fly Highest?
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia — Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. (ET)
Both the Philadelphia Eagles (6-5) and Arizona Cardinals (7-4) came into the 2013 NFL season with lots of questions. Their respective fan bases must love the answers they’ve gotten so far. The Eagles are tied with Dallas atop the NFC East, and the Cardinals are tied with the 49ers for the final NFC wild card spot. Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles hasn’t thrown an interception yet this year, but maybe he’s due: the Arizona secondary is tied for third in the league with 15 picks.
A Jets-Dolphins Game That Means Something
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ — Sunday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. (ET)
It’s not the AFC East showdown that it often was in the 1980s, but this Sunday’s Dolphins-Jets game has playoff implications. Sure, they are mediocre, second AFC wild card implications, but still. New York (5-6) and Miami (5-6) are both in the six-team scrum for the final AFC playoff spot. The team that wins this game could put itself in position for a post-season appearance. Struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith starts for the Jets, while the Dolphins offense hopes Lamar Miller can fill in for the injured Daniel Thomas at running back.
The Rams Roll Into San Francisco
Candlestick Park, San Francisco — Sunday, Dec. 1 at 4:05 p.m. (ET)
Though several teams have longer win streaks, no NFC team has played better than the Rams over the past two weeks. St. Louis (5-6) has dominated Chicago and Indianapolis in back-to-back wins, averaging 40 points and showcasing Tavon Austin as their prime offensive weapon. San Francisco (7-4) righted itself in Monday’s win over the Redskins, but the 49ers have struggled with the Rams several times over the past three seasons. Niners’ QB Colin Kaepernick could tell Austin a thing or two about being considered the NFL’s next-big-thing.
Chiefs — Broncos: The Sequel
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; Sunday, Dec. 1 at 4:25 p.m. (ET)
Wasn’t it just two weeks ago that this match-up allegedly featured the two best teams in football? Time flies. While the Chiefs and Broncos remain tied on top of the AFC West, each team has serious issues. Denver (9-2) blew a 24-point lead in last Sunday night’s loss to New England, and worries are mounting over Peyton Manning’s seemingly annual late/post-season fade. Kansas City (9-2) lost its last two games, but the real worry is the health of pass rushers Tamba Hali (ankle sprain) and Justin Houston (dislocated elbow). Both players could miss the game, which would mean less pressure — externally, anyway — on Manning and the Broncos.
An NFC Title Game Preview?
CenturyLink Field, Seattle; Monday, Dec. 2 at 8:30 p.m. (ET)
The New Orleans Saints (9-2) have the NFC’s most productive passing attack, but quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham don’t have to face Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary every week. The Saints are also more comfortable inside the Superdome, as opposed to outside at a very loud CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks (10-1) have the NFL’s best record, and they seem to be a Super Bowl contender. Plenty of Saints fans want revenge on Seattle for knocking the then-defending Super Bowl champs out of the playoffs in January of 2011.