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NFL Week 13 bold predictions: Tom Brady carves up Falcons, Patriots shine in primetime

Matt Johnson
NFL Week 13, Tom Brady
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 season has been a wild ride for football fans and NFL Week 13 will be no different. With the playoff race heating up and some of the best players competing for MVP and other honors, we’ll see plenty of great action this week.

After watching both the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints lose on Thanksgiving, two franchises are set to take the field on Thursday Night Football. The primetime matchup could deliver plenty of highlights, but a COVID-19 outbreak in Dallas does cast a cloud over the contest.

There are four teams with an NFL Week 13 bye, so we won’t get to see the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans. Fortunately, there are plenty of must-see games for the football world to enjoy on Sunday and Monday.

Let’s dive into our bold predictions for NFL Week 13.

Dallas Cowboys boat race New Orleans Saints on primetime

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Playing without CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper in Week 12, it took three quarters before Dak Prescott really settled in against the Las Vegas Raiders. But once he got settled in and the Cowboys’ offensive line got back on track, Prescott displayed the MVP-caliber form that helped Dallas reach the top of the NFL standings a few weeks ago.

Related: NFL Week 13 injury report updates

Our belief that Dallas boat races New Orleans doesn’t reflect entirely on the Saints’ defense. But it’s important to note this group isn’t playing up to its usual standard. In the last five games, opposing quarterbacks averaged a 111.5 passer rating with a 70.7% completion rate and an 11-4 TD-INT ratio against the Saints’ secondary.

If the Saints’ pass rush can’t consistently get home, Cooper, Lamb and Michael Gallup won’t have much trouble finding open space against New Orleans. Dallas just needs to put up 27-plus points against a Saints’ offense that can’t move the football, for this game to get ugly very fast.

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Tom Brady torches Falcons with 300-yard, four-touchdown game

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady has earned his reputation as the best quarterback in NFL history for a variety of reasons. Among them, he is better than anyone at bouncing back after a rough game. He didn’t look sharp against the Indianapolis Colts, averaging just 6.6 ypa with one interception and a few dropped picks. We expect a huge turnaround against Atlanta.

Destroying the Falcons is nothing new for Brady. He racked up 276 passing yards and five touchdowns in a blowout 48-25 victory in Week 2. Atlanta’s defense is improving, holding opposing quarterbacks to a 92.3 passer rating with only six touchdowns in the last five games. But with the NFL MVP race heating up and Antonio Brown potentially returning, Brady and Bruce Arians will see a golden opportunity to strengthen some stats with a monster performance.

Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson pummel Steelers into the ground

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was dreadful on Sunday Night Football, there’s no other way around it. WHile interceptions can at times be the result of dropped passes or deflections, Jackson’s turnovers reflected on his throws and awful decision-making. But he gets the perfect opportunity to rebound in NFL Week 13.

Read More NFL Week 13 defensive rankings

This isn’t the old Pittsburgh Steelers defense, far from it. In the past six games, opponents are averaging 160.3 rushing yards and 5.4 yards per rush with 10 touchdowns The numbers are even worse in the last three weeks, a stretch that has seen Pittsburgh surrender 586 total rushing yards and seven scores.

Baltimore’s rushing offense is one of the best in football and it has a shot at 200 yards on Sunday. The win will be nice, but reminding the Steelers they aren’t contenders will feel even better for Baltimore.

New England Patriots take control of AFC East

NFL: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The best game on the NFL Week 13 schedule will be played on Monday Night Football. The New England Patriots are atop the AFC East standings and a win would put this team in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the NFL playoffs. As for the Bills, this game offers them a chance to prove they deserve to be viewed as one of the best teams in the NFL.

It’s going to be a fascinating chess match when Buffalo’s offense takes the field. Quarterback Josh Allen enters with the second-highest passer rating (85.6) and the fourth-highest PFF grade (68.5) when pressured, per Pro Football Focus. But his recent play shows a different story. From Week 7-12, Allen ranked 17th in passer rating (62.8) under pressure and his passing grade fell to 43.1. Meanwhile, the Patriots have the sixth-highest pressure rate in the NFL (25.5%) and there are few better than New England at getting to the quarterback without blitzing.

Buffalo doesn’t have a rushing attack it can fall back on and it’s unlikely this team abandon its pass-heavy approach. It puts them in a bad position to win against a Patriots’ defense that held its last six opponents to 155.5 passing yards per game with a 52.1 passer rating, 17 sacks and 13 interceptions.

Combine New England’s coaching and defensive advantages with weaknesses the Indianapolis Colts exposed when they ran all over Buffalo for 264 yards, it’s easy to see how this game could unfold.