by Blake Krantz
Week 13 of the 2015 NFL season started Thursday night, with yet another blunder by a group of officials who have seemed destined to make a questionable call at the end of a close game primetime.
As the clock expired with the Green Bay Packers trailing the Detroit Lions 21-23, the Lions’ Devin Taylor was called for grabbing the facemask of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, although in reality he barely grazed his facemask before dragging Rodgers down by the shoulder pad.
Of course, on the extra play the Packers scored on a 61-yard “Hail Mary” pass to tight end Richard Rodgers, handing Green Bay a shocking 27-23 victory in a game which the Lions were leading 17-0 at halftime.
In other news, the Denver Broncos and new quarterback Brock Osweiler have won two straight games in Osweiler’s first two career starts, and the young quarterback will look to pick up a third career win Sunday in San Diego.
The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers should both bounce back from losses this week, with favorable matchups at home against the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts.
I see Pittsburgh, which is one of five 6-5 teams in the AFC at this point, receiving a wild card spot in the playoffs and potentially traveling to Foxboro in the second round.
Among the other key matchups in Week 13 is the battle between the two teams from the Meadowlands in New Jersey, as the Giants and Jets will face off Sunday.
Both teams are squarely in the running for a playoff spot, with the Giants tied with the Redskins for the NFC East division lead at 5-6 and the Jets with a 6-5 record that puts them in wild card contention in the AFC.
Although the Giants are technically the “home team,” this is obviously meaningless against the Jets, who I see winning this game. Despite a likely spectacular catch and 20-point fantasy performance from Odell Beckham Jr, the Giants defense will simply not be able to hold up against the Jets passing attack.
Jets wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker will both have highly productive games to lead the Jets to victory in this one.
Finally, however irrelevant these teams may seem by name-value, the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders has heavy playoff implications.
At 5-6, Oakland has fell behind the large group of 6-5 teams in the AFC, including Kansas City, and the Raiders need a big win at home against a divisional foe to maintain their playoff hopes, and I believe that they will get it.
In what could potentially be an under-the-radar shootout, Derek Carr and the Raiders offense will prove triumphant over Kansas City simply due to the disparity at quarterback in this matchup, further closing the gap between many AFC teams as the playoff race continues towards Week 14.