By News Team
3rd December 2021
The NFL AFC play-off race is again the focus in a Week 13 which features three pivotal games between contending teams.
We’ve previewed all these key matches below.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are coming off a statement game against the Steelers and welcome the Chargers for a match that has an AFC Wild Card feel to it.
There was no shortage of bright spots in the Bengals’ 41-10 win in Week 12, but all eyes will be on Joe Mixon this Sunday after his dominant showing last time out.
Cincinnati’s star RB rumbled for 165 yards and two touchdowns on that day, picking up 5.9 yards per carry – a potential problem for the Chargers’ run defence, which has continually plagued their season.
Should the Bolts decide to sell out on stopping the run game, that would leave Joe Burrow plenty of time and space to operate.
Justin Herbert, his counterpart young gun from the 2020 first round, will face more of a pass rush while not leaning on much of a power running game.
Los Angeles beat Cincinnati 16-13 in Week 1 last season, but Burrow should have more than enough in his arsenal to see off Herbert and the Chargers this time round.
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are suddenly in desperation mode against the Ravens, who can take command of the AFC North with a convincing road victory.
Baltimore can once again rely on the running game against a shaky Pittsburgh defence, but the Ravens must protect the football better.
The Ravens aren’t getting many style points of late with Lamar Jackson producing some sloppy passing with more turnovers recently.
However, Jackson’s boys are still battling on to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the Steelers’ putrid run defence will surely be carved wide open in the secondary.
The Steelers will look to keep it close with their quick passing game and tough running from Najee Harris, but with big Ben Roethlisberger lacking mobility Pittsburgh have no Plan B. And Jackson can exorcise his turnover demons and keep the Ravens flying high.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
We’re treated to an early Christmas cracker as the Bills go up against the hottest team in the NFL on Monday Night Football.
Mac Jones faces his toughest test yet as a rookie QB, in a hostile environment, tough conditions and with first place on the line against a nasty defence.
The Patriots also have a daunting defence that will contain the big plays from counterpart Josh Allen. These are the two best scoring defences in the league, so it’s going to be tight.
This is a bit of a grinding game for both sides with limited rushing success, so the unique dual threat playmaking of Allen will make the difference in a game that stays tight and rather ugly deep into the fourth quarter.
Historically the Pats own the Bills, and it should stay that way. As the 4/6 favourites, a Bills win seems likely, with the Patriots 13/10 on the Money Line. The total for this game is 43.5 points, while you can find Total Match Touchdowns under 4.5 at 21/10.