Week 13 of the NFL Season is a crucial time. We’ve hit December, adding more meaning to many of these matchups, and we’re right in the crucial stretch for the Fantasy Playoffs. Most start Week 14, meaning you have just two weeks to get those wins and make it right. It’s also a fun time for games as we typically start to see weather, injuries and the rigors of a long season take its toll. As always, below are the five games on the Sunday slate I’m most excited to see.
Sunday Early Games:
Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
This is a battle of teams competing for the Wild Card who also have a shot at a division crown. The Bengals are a game back of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Meanwhile, the Chargers sit at 6-5, in a gaggle with the Raiders and Broncos just one game back of the Chiefs. Both teams feature second-year quarterbacks trying to establish themselves and bring their teams back to competitive relevance. I’m most excited to see this Justin Herbert versus Joe Burrow matchup and hope it’s the first of many with the playoffs on the line. Neither team can afford a loss in the competitive AFC landscape, so the pressure is on. This is clearly THE game in the early window on Sunday.
Sunday Late Games:
Washington Football Team (5-6) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)
Both these teams were left for dead as recently as last week and both have fought back to playoff relevance. Washington started dreadfully but it is rounding into shape on offense and defense, part of a pack of NFC teams at 5-6 or 5-7 competing for the final playoff spot. The Raiders, meanwhile, looked to be sliding away from relevance, having lost three straight to slip to 5-5. Then they bested the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and found themselves in a three-way tie a game back of the Chiefs in the competitive AFC West. Which team will keep its playoff hopes alive? This should be a fun chess match.
Baltimore Ravens (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)
It hasn’t been pretty for the Ravens of late but they’ve found ways to win. They not only sit atop the AFC North, the Ravens currently boast the best record in the conference. The Steelers, meanwhile, have been up-and-down. Worse yet, the defense has been a civ in recent weeks, allowing 40-plus points in losses to the Chargers and Bengals. AFC North battles are always fierce, particularly among these teams. The Steelers can ill-afford a loss if they want to remain in the playoff race, while the Ravens are looking to maintain a bit of distance from the Bengals in the North and the rest of the AFC leaders. Will it be some magic from Lamar Jackson or a little resurgence from Ben Roethlisberger?
San Francisco 49ers (6-5) at Seattle Seahawks (3-8)
This is a tale of two teams moving in opposite directions. With three straight wins, including over the Rams and Vikings, the 49ers have moved over .500 and right back into the thick of the race for the NFC Playoffs and the NFC West. The Seahawks, meanwhile, have lost four straight, including the last three post-bye week with Russell Wilson back at the helm. The offense has been flat and the defense hasn’t been enough. They’re on the cusp of ensuring a sub-.500 season with another loss, unless they can begin a turnaround with a tough divisional matchup. Deebo Samuel is out, giving the 49ers one less weapon but the offense has been clicking and the 49ers are looking for a big win that would put the Seahawks down for the count in the 2021 season.
Sunday Night Game:
Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
The Chiefs, fresh off a bye, are alone atop the AFC West. While their position was predictable in August, the path to get there certainly wasn’t. The Broncos, meanwhile, have had a wild run. The team was 3-0 in September, lost four straight and has seemingly alternated wins and losses ever since. After a Week 11 bye the Broncos came out hard and bottled up the Chargers. With four AFC West games left in the final six, the Broncos need to fight hard against divisional foes if they want a shot at the division. More intriguing is that a win in Kansas City on Sunday night would vault them into first in the AFC West. The NFL flexed this game to Prime Time expecting a good show, let’s hope we get one.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.