After enduring a week that became much more important than football, it is time to move forward. Not forget, but continue on while supporting Eric Berry and his fight against cancer.
This week, the Kansas City Chiefs host the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football, in what surely will be the most emotionally-charged atmosphere in quite some time. Denver will still be in first place of the AFC West with a loss on Sunday due to tiebreakers, but the crown will be up for grabs. A win for the Broncos all but assures them of the division for a fourth straight year.
Personally, I can't wait for this game. Sure, Thursday stunk, but one game does not make the season. It's about battling through adversity, something this team has proven capable of overcoming all year.
Without further adieu, here are the Week 13 picks. Happy Thanksgiving.
Denver Broncos (-1) at Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Verderame: Chiefs 41, Broncos 20
How's that for a pick? It's honestly not a homer pick, but more of a pick of the heart. With Berry's situation, I believe this team will rise up as one and play for him. By all accounts, this is a very close group and I expect the emotion to be off the charts both in the stands and on the field.
Sometimes in life, adversity allows for people to come together and perform better than anybody could have previously imagined. If Denver has any chance, it better get out in front early. If the Chiefs score first, I see this game being overcome by a tidalwave of emotion. When two teams are evenly matched, it is often who wants it more. On Sunday, Kansas City will leave no doubt who the game meant more to.
Joel Thorman: Broncos 30, Chiefs 24
The Chiefs have kept it close with the Broncos over the last two years so they do the same here. I'm just not convinced the Chiefs can beat Manning, who has only lost to the Chiefs once in 13 tries.
Seth Keysor: Chiefs 31, Broncos 20
I'm picking almost as much with my heart as my head here. But the fact is the Broncos barely beat the Chiefs in Denver, and that was largely due to the Chiefs offense struggling. While the offense still isn't exactly singing along, Travis Kelce and De'Anthony Thomas have seen expanded roles that make it much more dangerous. Additionally, the return of Donnie Avery will matter more than people think it will, even if it just shows up as a couple of SHOTS taken deep. The Chiefs keep things interesting in a game they come fired up to win.
Matt Conner: Broncos 30, Chiefs 20
Lots of reason to at least consider the Chiefs - from Arrowhead to the growth of the team to the way they played them tough in Mile High - but I think we're seeing the start of a short Chiefs slide that will reach three straight, unfortunately.
Clay Wendler: Chiefs 28, Broncos 24
The Broncos could barely handle the Chiefs in Denver without Jamaal Charles for most of the game. Additionally, Marcus Cooper has since been benched, which means Peyton Manning won't have an easy target to pick on. Throw in Arrowhead and 10 days of preparation and the Chiefs should be able to pull this one out.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-7)
Nothing says Thanksgiving like a Lions team ready to disappoint. However, Chicago (5-6) comes to town at the perfect time, helping Detroit (7-4) get right for a playoff push. Matthew Stafford has been bad this season (13 TDs, 10 INTs) but he's still better than Jay Cutler.
Pick: Lions 30, Bears 20
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys (-3)
Both of these teams are solid and I expect each to gash the other with a solid run game. The difference is at quarterback. Philadelphia (8-3) is starting a turnover-prone Mark Sanchez while Dallas (8-3) has Tony Romo, who is much more dependable unless it is playoff time. Rolling with Romo.
Pick: Cowboys 24, Eagles 23
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-1)
I can't wait to watch this game. San Francisco (7-4) is still outside the playoff picture but has ripped off three consecutive wins. Meanwhile, Seattle (7-4) looked dominant against Arizona last week, perhaps getting back to their roots a bit. This game is in Levi's Stadium though, a tough spot for the defending champs.
Pick: 49ers 17, Seahawks 14
San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens (-7)
This is a game rife with AFC playoff implications. San Diego (7-4) is the sixth-seed right now but faces a brutal schedule the rest of the way. Baltimore (7-4) is generally tough at home and can get after the quarterback, something that doesn't jive well with the Chargers' bad offensive line.
Pick: Ravens 27, Chargers 17
Cleveland Browns at Buffalo Bills (-2.5)
Another important AFC contest between two teams who are usually out of it by Labor Day. Buffalo (6-5) needs this game to stay in the race while Cleveland (7-4) is in a similar spot. The tiebreaker here goes to the Bills, because Ralph Wilson Stadium is going to be jumpin'.
Pick: Bills 20, Browns 17
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-7)
Tennessee (2-9) is hot garbage and has no quarterback. Houston (5-6) is lukewarm garbage and has no quarterback.
Pick: Texans 24, Titans 20
Washington at Indianapolis Colts (-10.5)
With all the chaos surrounding Washington (3-8) at the moment, it is tough to see it putting up much of a fight. Colt McCoy is probably more dangerous than Robert Griffin, but I expect Indianapolis (7-4) to win easily. Andrew Luck and the boys are way too potent for Washington's defense.
Pick: Colts 37, Washington 17
New York Giants (-2.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
New York (3-8) is atrocious, but Jacksonville (1-10) has actually cornered the market on being more atrocious. Honestly, the Jaguars could burn that stadium to the ground and play at an abandoned high school field, and people would just think it was some large 9th graders getting after it.
Pick: Giants 27, Jaguars 19
Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
Both of these teams stink, but Minnesota (4-7) is a little less putrid. Carolina (3-7-1) just seems disinterested in playing any kind of quality football. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to break out against a porous Panthers defense.
Pick: Vikings 26, Panthers 21
BONUS... This week, we break out hilarious tweet of the week (via @Knightwolfbr):
Ron Rivera on NFC South: "Some people think it's embarrassing. I don't." Says losses by Saints, Falcons last weekend gave CAR new life.— Joe Person (@josephperson) November 26, 2014
New Orleans Saints at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5)
New Orleans (4-7) is flat out embarrassing. Three straight home losses at a venue like the Superdome is a disgrace. Pittsburgh (7-4) is a good home team that sans a horrific loss to Tampa Bay has not lost a game at Heinz Field this season. Seems like a blowout is coming.
Pick: Steelers 34, Saints 19
Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams (-7)
St. Louis (4-7) is in a great spot. Oakland (1-10) won a game last week so all the passion about not going winless is out the window. Meanwhile, the Rams can just continue playing poorly but still win by double digits.
Pick: Rams 37, Raiders 21
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cincinnati (7-3-1) should be able to pull this one out. The Bengals have a tendency to lose ridiculous games at the worst possible time, but Tampa Bay (2-9) is pathetic. Even Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton can't help the Buccaneers enough.
Pick: Bengals 24, Buccaneers 13
Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) at Atlanta Falcons
This is an interesting matchup. Arizona (9-2) is clearly the better team but goes on the road against a desperate team who has a better quarterback. Of course, Atlanta (4-7) has Mike Smith. Dear God, Mike Smith. Oh the humanity.
Pick: Cardinals 23, Falcons 16
This is perhaps the best game of the season. Green Bay (8-3) is absolutely rolling behind the superb play of Aaron Rodgers. In the AFC, New England (9-2) is playing like a house of fire, with Tom Brady looking poised for his sixth Super Bowl appearance. We might be seeing this game again in a few months.
Pick: Packers 31, Patriots 27
Miami Dolphins (-7) at New York Jets
Let's save time with this one. Miami (7-4) needs to win and will hammer New York (2-9). Rex Ryan is losing his job and the Jets will hire some other clown to guide them to a 4-12 campaign in 2015.
Pick: Dolphins 28, Jets 10
Last Week: 12-3 (7-7-1 ATS)