Showtime Mahomes or Joe’s joy – who prevails in an AFC heavyweight Clash? Who has more bite – the Lions or Jaguars? Will Tua & the Dolphins come out on top when they face the Niners’ no. 1 ranked D?
Miami Dolphins (8-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (7-4) (Dolphins +4)
What a mouth-watering matchup this promises to be. The two hottest teams in the NFL since week 8. Both unbeaten in that time. One has the league’s 2nd ranked scoring offense since week 8, the other has the league’s number 1 ranked scoring defense.
The 49ers are allowing just 10 points per game in that period. The Dolphins have averaged 33.8 points per game – scoring at least 30 points in each of their last 4. Something has got to give!
There’s also a sub plot here. The Dolphins 1st year head coach, Mike McDaniel is heading back to face the team where he enjoyed so much success as an offensive coordinator. It’s a first return since joining Miami for former Niners’ running backs, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson.
This isn’t so much about pride though as it is securing division titles and a place in the post season. The Dolphins begin week 13 tied for the lead in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills while the San Francisco 49ers hold a 1 game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West.
We saw last weekend both teams have defenses capable of making big time plays at key moments, but it is a big ask for the Dolphins to travel coast to coast and get the job done in San Francisco. That being said, they’ve risen to the challenge when required already this year – most notably against the Buffalo Bills – and they’ve got the top rated quarterback in the NFL this season, Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins haven’t lost a game, which Tagovailoa has finished this season and wide receivers, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are a big reason why. Both are the top 5 players in receiving yards.
The 49ers defense will have its’ hands full in this one and their pass rush will have to get home if they are to extend their unbeaten run. To that end, Nick Bosa will be looking to add to his 11.5 sacks and safety, Talanoa Hufanga may have to make another game changing play after forcing an Alvin Kamara fumble last weekend on the goal line.
Expect a close game. If it’s high scoring, the Dolphins will win. More likely it comes down to a field goal attempt as time expires.
PICK: Miami Dolphins +4
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7) @ Detroit Lions (4-7) (Lions +1)
In a Thanksgiving week of surprising score lines, the Detroit Lions came oh so close to pulling off perhaps the shock of the week! Tyler Bass made a 45 yard field goal with just 2 seconds left on the clock to break Detroit hearts and send Bills fans home happy. Yet, it’s a reflection of just how far the Lions have come this season that, that should leave them disappointed.
Meanwhile the Jaguars did pull off a dramatic upset. Putting together a 10 play, 75 yard touchdown drive in the final 2 minutes before successfully scoring on a 2 point conversion against the Ravens – to win by a point!
It all means both teams enter this week 13 matchup with a 4-7 record but having won 3 of their last 4 games and been involved in a number of once score defeats this season, I can’t help but feel the Lions have a little more going for them.
Admittedly, in their game winning drive, QB Trevor Lawrence looked a lot more like the quarterback Jacksonville thought they were drafting in 2021 and in the form of Christian Kirk and Travis Etienne, they do have playmakers. However, the Lions have playmakers themselves – notably receiver, Amon Ra St. Brown. At running back, De’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are one of the best one, two punches in the league and Jared Goff has unquestionably played better this season. On defense, rookie defensive end, Aiden Hutchinson has just been named the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month for November after recording 2 interceptions, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Despite losing to Buffalo, that performance was impressive. They have home field advantage – against a team who’ve recorded back to back wins just once in the last 3 years – and that could be key in what may prove to be an entertaining game.
PICK: Detroit Lions +1
Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) @ Cincinnati Bengals (7-4) (Chiefs -2)
This is the game of the week! A repeat of last season’s AFC Championship game. A matchup, which the Bengals might just feel they have the edge in after beating Kansas City home and away last season.
It’s easy to forget the Bengals started this campaign by losing their first two games. Since then, they’ve got better and better. They’ve gone 6 – 2 in that period and it’s worth remembering, that has been achieved without star receiver, Ja’Marr Chase for the last 4 games. Well, he’s expected to return for this matchup and the Bengals head into it on the back of a big road win over the Tennessee Titans.
As good as Cincinnati have been, to this point the Chiefs have been better. Their offense is the best in the league this season. They’ve scored more points than anyone else (326) and passed for more yards than anyone else (3467). QB Patrick Mahomes is looking for his 7th straight game with at least 300 passing yards. If he does achieve it, he’ll become the first player in NFL history to achieve that feat in a season twice. Tight end, Travis Kelce remains his top target with 73 receptions and 12 touchdowns but rookie running back Isiah Pacheco has become an increasingly important part of this offense and has now taken the starting role.
Ultimately, this is a matchup to be enjoyed and the Bengals will fancy their chances more if running back Joe Mixon is fit to suit up. There’s been some chat in the media leading up to this one as well and there’s no getting away from the fact that Patrick Mahomes has yet to beat Joe Burrow in an NFL game! That’s something he’ll be desperate to change and after losing to them twice last season, it’s something the Chiefs, as a team will want to address.
It’s a big time matchup – an AFC heavyweight clash! The Bengals had the wood over the Chiefs last season but it’s a brave man who bets against Patrick Mahomes!
PICK: Kansas City Chiefs -2