Week 13 picks back up Sunday morning, following three games on Thanksgiving. The Turkey Day festivities saw the Detroit Lions pound the Green Bay Packers, and the Dallas Cowboys come back from 14 down to defeat the Oakland Raiders.
The Lions win gives them a half game edge on the Chicago Bears, but more importantly, it drops the Packers a game and a half back in the NFC North. The Cowboys win gives them the slight edge on the Philadelphia Eagles, over whom they hold the tiebreaker edge in the NFC East.
The San Francisco 49ers host the St. Louis Rams later today. It's obviously important for both teams, but a Rams loss just about knocks them from playoff content. They are hanging on by a thread for now. A 49ers win does not guarantee anything, but it gets them a big divisional home win they might eventually need in a potential tiebreaker with the Arizona Cardinals.
Here is a rundown of some of the more pertinent Week 13 matchups.
Battle of the birds
The Arizona Cardinals travel east to face the Philadelphia Eagles, in a battle of two of the hotter teams in the NFC. The Cardinals have won four straight, while the Eagles have won three straight. The Cardinals need a win to stay near the top of the wildcard race. The Eagles need a win to remain tied with the Cowboys at the top of the NFC East.
Rooting interest: But of course we're rooting for the Eagles. The Eagles are still in the wildcard hunt as well, but given how the NFC Least is looking, I think we can pull for them today.
Can the Panthers handle the "new-look" Bucs?
The Carolina Panthers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a matchup that is suddenly just a little bit more interesting than most of us probably expected a few weeks ago. The Panthers are rolling, having won seven straight games. They host a Bucs squad that has suddenly won three straight after losing their first eight games of the season.
The Panthers have a one-game lead in the wildcard race, which gives them the leg up to face the NFC East champ. The Bucs were in contention for one of the top picks in the draft, but they've started turning things around. They are getting solid QB play from Mike Glennon, and some decent running from Bobby Rainey and solid defensive efforts. They face a Panthers squad that is doing just about everything right at the moment.
Rooting interest: We're rooting for Schiano men. Go Bucs!
NFC North action, Part 2
The Packers and Lions got things going for the NFC North on Thanksgiving, and the Bears and Vikings wrap it up on Sunday. The Bears are 6-5, while the Vikings are 2-8-1, and the Vikings are still a point favorite. The Vikings managed a tie against the Packers last week, and I imagine that combined with another week of Josh McCown has the oddsmakers seeing money coming in for Minnesota.
Rooting interest: I don't mind seeing the Bears drop a game back in the NFC North. Go Vikings!
Home field advantage potentially on the line
The Seattle Seahawks host the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football this week in a matchup of the top two teams in the NFC. The Seahawks are three games up on the 49ers and Cardinals, while the Saints are a game ahead of the Panthers. A Saints win gives them a leg up on the Seahawks, but they still could leave the weekend only a game up on Carolina. A Seahawks win all but locks up home field for them as they would be two up (plus the tiebreaker) on the Saints, and no worse than three up on the 49ers with only four games to go.
Rooting interest: I'm pulling for the Saints, although a tie wouldn't be all bad!