Home Sports Headlines NFL Week 13 picks and power rankings, no bubble for playoffs, plus recapping Steelers’ wild win on Wednesday

NFL Week 13 picks and power rankings, no bubble for playoffs, plus recapping Steelers’ wild win on Wednesday

by Ryan

Guys, I have some big news: Week 12 is finally over! 

I’ll be honest, there were times over the past few days where I thought Week 12 was never going to end, it was like the Energizer Bunny, it just kept going and going and going and going. However, it’s now over, which means I can finally start talking about Week 13, which is good news for you guys, because this newsletter is jam-packed with information about Week 13. Of course, we’ll also be talking about the Steelers‘ 19-14 win over the Ravens

My main takeaway from that game is that I never knew I wanted Wednesday football, but now that I’ve had a taste of it, I need more, even if both teams looked a little rusty. There was a point leading up to this game where the Ravens went more than a week without practicing and let me just say that they looked like a team that went more than a week without practicing.

Although the scoreboard said yesterday’s game was boring, don’t let the final score fool you, because we got 60 straight minutes of insanely entertaining football. I mean, in the first nine minutes alone, there were three turnovers.  

I’m going to stop talking about the game because we’ll be going over it in the newsletter, so let’s get to the rundown. As always, here’s your weekly reminder to tell all your friends to sign up for the newsletter. All you have to do is click here and then share the link

1. Today’s Show: Recapping Steelers Wednesday win over Ravens

The fact that there was a game yesterday means that Will Brinson, Ryan Wilson and I teamed up for an impromptu Wednesday night podcast to rehash the Steelers 19-14 win over the Ravens. Brinson loves impromptu podcasts, Wilson does not. 

Here are three quick highlights from the game:

  • Steelers defense dominated. Not only did the Steelers defense hold Baltimore to just 219 total yards, but the unit also recorded a pick-six and recovered a fumble. The pick-six came in the first quarter after Joe Haden intercepted Robert Griffin and took it 14 yards to the house. In a game where the Steelers only won by five, it was a huge score.    
  • John Harbaugh not happy with the refs. Harbaugh didn’t blame the loss on the refs, but he clearly wasn’t happy with their performance. At the end of the first half, the Ravens failed to get any points despite being on Pittsburgh’s one-yard line. The reason they didn’t score is that time ran out on them. Harbaugh felt the Steelers should have been called for a delay of game after they took their dear old time getting off the pile following a play that came with just 20 seconds left. The Steelers took so long that Baltimore wasn’t able to get off its next play until the three-second mark. Harbaugh also wasn’t thrilled that a measurement in the final minute went against his team. On the play, the Steelers appeared to be about an inch short of a first down, which means it should have been fourth-and-inches, but the refs felt the ball was past the chains, which gave the Steelers a game-winning first down. 
  • Roethlisberger looked good. Although Big Ben’s stats don’t jump off the page at you (36 of 51 for 266 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), the fact of the matter is that Roethlisberger was on point. His numbers actually should have been better, but they weren’t because his receiving corps had a case of the dropsies. The Steelers dropped five passes I would consider easy and had a total of eight that they probably should have caught. If the receivers had brought their ‘A’ game,  there’s a good chance Big Ben would have thrown for nearly 325 yards. 

As for the podcast, not only did we dissect the game, but we also spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out if the Steelers can actually go 16-0. After Pittsburgh’s win, “worst 11-0 team ever” started trending on Twitter, which tells you all you need to know about how most NFL fans feel about this team. Out of me, Wilson and Brinson, none of us think the Steelers are going to go undefeated. That being said, Wilson is a Steelers homer, if he actually feels that way or if he’s trying some sort of reverse jinx. 

To listen to today’s episode — and subscribe to the podcast — be sure to click here.   

2. NFL Playoff projections heading into Week 13 

It took forever, but Week 12 is finally over, which is good news for all of us, because it means we can now start talking about what our playoff projections look like heading into Week 13. Every week, our number-cruncher, Stephen Oh of SportsLine, simulates the rest of the season a total of 10,000 times and then we use those numbers to project how each team is going to finish.  

Based on this week’s projections here is how each playoff race is going to shake out (Remember, this is NOT the current playoff standings, it’s where we’re projecting each team to finish based on their final projected record).  

1. Steelers (15-1)
2. Chiefs (14-2)
3. Titans (11-5)
4. Bills (11-5)
5. Browns (11-5)
6. Colts (10-6)
7. Dolphins (10-6)
First team out: Ravens (10-6)

If there’s one flaw in the NFL’s decision to expand to 14 teams it’s that only one team is going to be getting a bye in each conference. The Chiefs could end up going 15-1 or 14-2, but they won’t get a bye if the Steelers finish with a better record, which is what our computer is projecting. Imagine a 15-1 team not getting a bye. Yikes. Also, the computer apparently hates the Raiders, who didn’t come close to making the top-eight.  

1. Saints (12-4)
2. Seahawks (11-5)
3. Packers (11-5) 
4. Giants (6-10)
5. Rams (10-6)
6. Buccaneers (9-7) 
7. Cardinals (9-7)
First team out: Vikings (8-8) 

During an NFL season with 16 games, no team has ever made the playoffs with just six wins, but it appears the NFC East winner is on their way to doing that and the computer thinks the NFC East winner is going to be the Giants. I’m not sure if our projection computer has heard about Daniel Jones‘ injury, but I’m going to assume it has since it’s a computer and computers know everything. 

3. Pete Prisco unveils his Week 13 power rankings

Pete Prisco has been extra grumpy this week and I’m guessing that’s because his schedule got thrown completely out of whack. Prisco’s Power Rankings usually come out on a Tuesday, but he had to hold them until Thursday this week due to the Wednesday game. There’s a good chance Prisco doesn’t even know what day it is anymore since he usually keeps track of that based on when his Power Rankings come out. 

Anyway, let’s get to the rankings. Prisco’s top five has one newcomer this week in the Seahawks. Here’s a look at the top five teams in his rankings this week: 

  1. Steelers
  2. Chiefs
  3. Saints
  4. Packers (Up one spot from last week)
  5. Seahawks (Up two spots from last week)

I’m not going to spoil the rest of the power rankings here, but I am going to give you a few nuggets: 

  • The Colts had the biggest drop this week as they fell FIVE spots from fourth all the way down to ninth. The Ravens also took a small tumble from 12th down to 14th. In the NFC, the biggest drop went to the Rams, who fell four spots from sixth to 10th.    
  • Like the rest of us, Pete has no respect for the NFC East. Of the eight worst teams in his power rankings this week, four of them are from that division with the Giants (25th), Washington (26th), Eagles (28th) and Cowboys (29th) all ranked near the bottom. The crazy part is that one of those teams is actually going to make the playoffs. 
  • Apparently, Prisco is the one person in the world who has been highly impressed with Nick Mullens, because he bumped the 49ers up EIGHT spots following their Week 12 win over the Rams. The 49ers made the jump from 27th to 19th. The problem with the 49ers is that 40% of their wins have come against the same team (The 49ers are 5-6 and have beaten L.A. twice). I need to see them beat someone else before I can get on board with Prisco’s ranking and beating Buffalo would be a good start.
  • In a surprise to no one, the Jets are still ranked last.  

If you want to know where your favorite team ended up in Prisco’s Week 13 Power Rankings, be sure to click here. If you want to argue with Prisco over his rankings, you can do that on Twitter by clicking here. I argue with him all the time about everything. 

4. Week 13 NFL picks

Although I usually prefer to only give you small doses of Prisco each day, you’re getting an overdose today and that’s because, besides his Power Rankings, you’re also going to get his weekly picks. In case you haven’t noticed, we love to make picks here at CBS Sports and today, you’re going to get picks from Tom Fornelli and Pete Prisco. Fornelli writes our CBS Sports HQ PM edition newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. If you’re into gambling — and who’s not — that newsletter is loaded with picks from every sport, so you should definitely subscribe. As for Prisco, he’s actually been on a roll with his picks this year with the exception of last week, but I’ll chalk that one up to the fact that he was way more into Thanksgiving than he was into his picks. 

With that in mind, let’s check out one pick from each guy for Week 13: 

  • Prisco: Browns at Titans (-5.5). This game will feature the top two rushing attacks in the NFL and Prisco has a feeling that the Titans are going to be able to slow down Cleveland’s running backs, so I’m guessing you can figure out who he’s picking in this game. Prisco’s pick: Titans win 27-19 and cover. 
  • Fornelli: Patriots at Chargers (PK). Fornelli thinks this is going to be a one-score game and since the Chargers never win one-score games, the obvious pick here is the Patriots. Fornelli’s pick: Patriots 24-23 over Chargers. 

For a look at Fornelli’s three “Best Bets” for Week 13, be sure to click here. If you’re looking for the rest of Prisco’s Week 13 picks — he picks every game — be sure to click here.

5. QB Rankings: Patrick Mahomes still on top

For the past 12 weeks, Cody Benjamin has been locked in a room where he only does three things: He watches QB film, he writes the Wednesday newsletter and he sleeps. Although that doesn’t sound like much fun for Cody, it’s good news for us because we get his weekly QB rankings. 

Since the MVP award is almost always won by a quarterback, you could also look at this as a way to gauge who’s leading the MVP race. With that in mind, let’s check out the top-five and bottom-five quarterbacks in this week’s ranking. 

1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Russell Wilson
4. Deshaun Watson
5. Kyler Murray

28. Andy Dalton
29. Mike Glennon
30. Brandon Allen
31. Colt McCoy
32. Sam Darnold

One interesting thing about Cody’s list is that Tom Brady fell out of the top-10 this week. After a rough game in Tampa Bay’s loss to the Chiefs on Sunday, Brady fell from ninth to 12th. Also, I feel like I should mention that Andy Dalton is ranked way too low on this list. WHY DO YOU HATE ANDY DALTON, CODY?

Anyway, if you’d like to see how the rest of the rankings shake out this week, be sure to click here

6. Roger Goodell says there won’t be a playoff bubble 

After watching the Ravens-Steelers game get postponed three different times over the past week due to COVID-19, you might have thought that would be enough for the NFL to start putting together plans for a playoff bubble, but that won’t be happening. 

During an interview before Ravens-Steelers, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ruled out the possibility of creating a bubble like the NBA and NHL both did. 

“We don’t see the bubble as where we’re all in one location,” Goodell said on a conference call with reporters. “We feel strongly our protocols are working. We are willing to adjust and adapt those protocols and take additional steps but I don’t see us doing a bubble in a way a lot of media focuses on it.”

Basically, Goodell is ruling out the idea of a national bubble, which would have entailed all playoff teams in one conference flying to one city and playing the postseason there. For instance, the seven AFC teams could have flown to Los Angeles for all six AFC playoff games, but again, that won’t be happening. 

If there is a bubble, it will be a localized bubble, which basically means that any team making the playoffs might be required to live in a hotel for the duration of the postseason. For instance, the Steelers would move into a Pittsburgh-area hotel starting in January and then stay there until they’re eliminated or until they leave for the Super Bowl. 

There is definitely a risk-factor with the NFL’s decision to go without a national bubble. In the playoffs, there’s no margin for error when it comes to rescheduling games. If a game gets postponed three times — like Ravens-Steelers did — that means the playoffs and the Super Bowl would all have to be pushed back. Clearly, Goodell is confident that the NFL can finish out the season without that happening. 

7. The Kicker!

If you watched the game between the Ravens and Steelers on Wednesday, you may have noticed that John Harbaugh passed up the chance to have Justin Tucker attempt a 57-yard field goal in the second half, which was weird, because you should never pass up a chance to kick any field goal when you have Tucker. 

Although I would have definitely tried the field goal, I can see why Harbaugh didn’t and that’s because Heinz Field is arguably the most difficult stadium in the NFL for kickers. The stadium has existed since 2001 and in the 19 years it’s been open, the longest field goal that has ever been made in an NFL regular season game is 53 yards. Harbaugh was playing the odds and I have to say, if that’s how he plays odds, I would get pretty bored if I ever traveled to Las Vegas with him.

Unfortunately, I will not be traveling anytime soon due to the pandemic, so I’m just going to go back into my tiny mancave and start preparing tomorrow’s newsletter. See you guys Friday!

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