Having just wrapped up Week 12 in odd fashion with Wednesday afternoon football in Pittsburgh, it's time to get right back to work on the Week 13 NFL board. Here's a look at three teams on an uptick and three on the wrong side of the curve as we head down the home stretch in December.
I hesitate to put the Texans in this category with the news that WR Will Fuller will miss the remainder of the season due to suspension after taking PED's. With that being said, there's no question Houston has been a different team since ridding itself of former head coach Bill O'Brien. While the Texans do draw a tough opponent in the Colts this Sunday, the fact that they're just a field goal underdog is telling. They might be catching Indy at the right time off back-to-back bruising battles with the Packers and Titans.
Is it time to start believing in the Browns? Their schedule has unquestionably done them plenty of favors to this point but now things toughen up with a trip to Tennessee on Sunday followed by a home date with the Ravens next week. There's certainly a path to the playoffs in Cleveland though, as it also has two games left against the Giants and Jets later in December. If the Browns can continue to hide an ineffective Baker Mayfield in their offensive scheme they can keep piling up victories.
I like the way the Seahawks have gone about their business in the last two weeks, successfully bouncing back from a tough stretch to deliver key wins over the Cardinals and Eagles, allowing a grand total of only 38 points in the process. Now comes the reward - consecutive games against the Giants and Jets (both at home, no less). The potential is there for Seattle to run the table from here, with its other games coming at Washington, at home against the Rams and at the 49ers.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have shown a lot of promise this season but we'll see if that tough 35-31 loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago continues to have hangover effects moving forward. It certainly looked that way last week as Jon Gruden's squad was torched 43-6 by the lowly Falcons. A 'get right' spot awaits this Sunday as Las Vegas stays on the road to face the hapless Jets. If the Raiders can't earn a win in that game it might be time to start thinking about 2021.
While Covid protocols obviously put the Broncos in a really tough spot against the Saints last Sunday, things aren't likely to get much better this week - even with a real starting quarterback. That's because Denver is heading to Kansas City for a primetime date with the Chiefs. The last time these two AFC West rivals hooked up it was the Chiefs rolling to a 43-16 win. A similar scoreline would come as no surprise this week with Kansas City installed as a two-touchdown favorite.
With three losses in their last four games the Cardinals have fallen on hard times at the absolute worst time. Perhaps the injury to QB Kyler Murray's shoulder has had more of an effect than the team has let on as their offense just hasn't looked the same in the last two weeks. Murray completed just 23-of-34 passes for 170 yards, no touchdowns and an interception against a beatable Patriots defense last Sunday. After a stretch that saw him throw three touchdowns in three of five games he has tossed a grand total of only three in his last three contests. With key injuries on the defensive side of the football they desperately need a lot more production out of their once-vaunted offense.