One Key for Each Week 13 NFL Matchup
By Omar Noujoum on December 2, 2016

Cowboys @ Vikings

Will we finally get an entertaining Thursday Night game? It's been an awful season for Thursday Night Football, with just about every game turning into a complete snoozer by the second half. After being spoiled with Thanksgiving games a week ago, the 10-1 Cowboys and 6-5 Vikings could give fans a show. No team is more exciting to watch than the Cowboys right now, but the Vikings have only lost one game at home this season.

Pick: Cowboys

Chiefs @ Falcons

Julio Jones vs. Marcus Peters In his second NFL season, Marcus Peters has risen to the elite ranks at the cornerback position. His 13 interceptions in just 26 career games is an absurd stat. Enter Julio Jones, an elite player in his own regard. With Jones and Matt Ryan completely in sync this season, it's been hard for anyone to stop the big WR. Peters will be tasked with doing so.

Pick: Falcons

Lions @ Saints

Does Brandin Cooks still matter? In the process of a 49-point performance for the Saints last week, Brandin Cooks saw a whopping zero targets. After being Drew Brees' top target for the early part of his career, Cooks has begun to give way to rookie Michael Thomas. Still, expect Cooks to have the ball thrown to him at least a few times this week.

Pick: Lions

Rams @ Patriots

Perhaps an effort to re-integrate Martellus Bennett? Superstar Rob Gronkowski has multiple health issues at the moment, and it's tough to predict when he'll be ready to go at full strength. Until then, the Patriots have to get TE Martellus Bennett going. Bennett hasn't found the end zone since week five, and has 36 yards over the last two games. The Patriots are rolling, but they're going to need TE production down the road.

Pick: Patriots

Broncos @ Jaguars

Who will suit up for this one? There are plenty of notable names on both sides of this matchup that might not play Sunday. Among them are QB Trevor Siemian, RBs Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon, C Matt Paradis, WR Allen Hurns and TE Julius Thomas. If Siemian can't go, rookie QB Paxton Lynch will get his second start of the season. Denver needs a win to get back into the playoff picture.

Pick: Jaguars

Texans @ Packers

Do the Packers have a running game? Green Bay was able to ride a red-hot Aaron Rodgers to a MNF victory, ending a four-game losing streak. Moving forward, they're going to have to establish some production in the ground game to balance their offense out. The loss of Eddie Lacy has loomed large on the Packers offense. They'll try to run the ball with some success on Sunday.

Pick: Packers

Eagles @ Bengals

Will anyone step up in the absence of AJ Green?- Last week, the answer was no. Andy Dalton and the Bengals passing game struggled in a loss to the Ravens. This week, they'll look to get Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd more involved in the offense. It would behoove the Eagles to force Dalton to win the game for his offense.

Pick: Eagles

Dolphins @ Ravens

Jay Ajayi vs Ravens Defense. Don't look now, but the Dolphins are right up there among the hottest teams in the NFL. The resurgence of the ground game, led by Jay Ajayi, has made all the difference for the Dolphins offense. This week, Ajayi and company are matched up against one of the best rush defenses in the league. Whoever gets the best of that matchup will likely leave with a win.

Pick: Ravens

49ers @ Bears

Battle of Futility. It can't get much worse for either of these teams. The 49ers are sitting at 1-10 and haven't been able to slow down an opposing offense in weeks. The Bears have been decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. Something's got to give this week. The Bears will also be without Jay Cutler for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, announced today.

Pick: 49ers

Bills @ Raiders

Derek Carr the nine-fingered MVP? All Derek Carr did last week was dislocate a finger on his throwing hand in two places. Oh yeah, and he led his Raiders to a comeback victory over the Panthers. Carr has trust himself front-and-center into the MVP conversation. The kings of the AFC at the moment, Oakland will look to stay hot against the Bills this Sunday.

Pick: Raiders

Giants @ Steelers

OBJ vs Antonio Brown. Last week, these two wideouts combined for five TDs. Few measure up yo the talent that Beckham and Brown both have. The edge? Le'Veon Bell has begun to steamroll over opposing defenses both as a runner and a pass-catcher. The Giants come is with six straight wins, but it's never easy to win as a road team in Pittsburgh.

Pick: Steelers

Redskins @ Cardinals

Last chance for the Cardinals? It's been quite the disappointing year for the Cardinals. After storming to a 13-3 finish last season, they've already doubled their loss total this season. The reasons? For one, their as banged up as any team in the league. Carson Palmer looks like he just might be spent as an NFL QB. They need a win this week just to stay somewhat relevant in the playoff picture.

Pick: Cardinals

Buccaneers @ Chargers

Bucs on the rise? Don't look now, but the Buccaneers have a winning record and are in the thick of things in the NFC. The combination of Jameis Winston and Mike Evans has been lethal of late, making quick work of the Legion of Boom this past Sunday. The return of Doug Martin has added extra punch to the offense as well. Tampa is not to be taken lightly. The Chargers aren't too bad either, however. They're fresh off of their bye week.

Pick: Chargers

Panthers @ Seahawks

Sunday Night blowout? The Panthers of 2015 are long gone. Or at least, they're on the IR. It's not easy trying to win football games with an O-line like the one the Panthers have been fielding. To compound the issue, their defense has taken a noticeable step back this season. Luke Kuechly, their best defender, is out with a concussion. All of this bodes poorly for their chances of escaping Seattle with a win.

Pick: Seahawks

Colts @ Jets

Is the Jets offense showing signs of life? Although they weren't able to hang on to the lead, the Jets didn't look so bad against the Patriots this past Sunday. They're still not a quality NFL team. Quality NFL teams are set on who their starting QB is. That being said, Ryan Fitzpatrick looked capable against New England, re-establishing a solid connection with Brandon Marshall. A key in this one with be the health of Andrew Luck, returning following a concussion.

Pick: Jets

Photo Credit: Star-Telegram

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