The Buffalo Bills got Week 13 off to an unsurprising start by dispatching of the division rival New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. Buffalo was favored in the game despite being the road team, so it wasn't necessarily all that surprising to see the Bills pull off a win.
With 30 of the league's 32 teams in action this weekend, we could be in for some surprises -- or simply some dominating performances. That's what we're here to talk about. In this week's version of our bold predictions piece, let's take a look at a few games where some very big things could happen.
Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears one more time
In 28 career starts against the division rival Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers has a 23-5 record, and one of the five losses came in a game where he left due to injury after just two pass attempts. Overall, he's 593 of 877 (67.6%) for 6,782 yards (7.7 per attempt), 63 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions against Chicago, good for a 109.9 passer rating. He hasn't lost a game to Chicago since December of 2018, and during the seven-game winning streak, he's thrown 18 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Both the Titans and Eagles want to run the ball down their opponents' throats. Both the Titans and Eagles are very capable of stopping the run. (The Titans have had arguably the league's best run defense all season, while the Eagles, though they've struggled against the run of late, have been much better in that area since acquiring Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, and Jordan Davis is back in practice.) On Sunday, they'll each do both of those things. The Eagles will bottle up Derrick Henry. And the Titans will bottle up Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders. That'll put the pressure on the respective passing games to move the ball -- and scenario that heavily favors the Eagles, because Hurts has former Titan A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, and the Titans do not.
TruMedia tracks yards after catch going back quite a while. In the stats site's entire database, the league record for yards after catch in a game was set by Washington back in Week 17 of the 2014 season, when it totaled 307 yards after catch in a game against the division rival Dallas Cowboys. With Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Christian McCaffrey all on the field at the same time this weekend, and with Mike McDaniel and Kyle Shanahan scheming them into position to succeed, one of these two teams is going to top that mark. And considering the single-game high for YAC so far this season is 230, it's going to be quite impressive when they do.
Last year in the AFC title game, the Chiefs led the Bengals 21-10 at halftime. Patrick Mahomes was 18 of 21 for 220 yards and three touchdowns at the break, and even though Kansas City failed to score on its final drive of the first half, it looked a whole lot like the Chiefs were in control. We all know what happened next: The Bengals changed their defensive scheme at halftime, started dropping eight defenders into coverage and taking away all deep and even intermediate throws, and Kansas City's offense ground to a half. Mahomes went 8 of 15 for 55 yards and two interceptions in the second half, while also taking four sacks. That's not going to happen this time around. Kansas City has built its offense to take advantage of when defenses try to force them into the same types of throws that Cincinnati did last year, and with Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster, can repeatedly move the ball down the field in smaller chunks with relative ease. Cincinnati surely won't show up with the exact same plan anyway, but whatever it is, Mahomes, Andy Reid, and Co. will be ready for it and come away with a win where they light up the scoreboard.
Cowboys bury Matt Ryan in avalanche of sacks
As we detailed on Friday morning, the Cowboys have a pass rush that is:
Dallas has generated pressure on a league-best 43.7% of opponent dropbacks, according to TruMedia. That pressure rate is a full 6% higher than that of the next-closest team, the New England Patriots (37.7%). The distance between the Cowboys and the second-place Patriots is larger than the one between the Patriots and the Buccaneers (32%), who reside in 22nd place. That Dallas has accomplished this despite blitzing only 26.2% of the time -- a rate that checks in slightly below the league average of 26.6% -- makes it all the more remarkable.
Matt Ryan has been a sitting duck in the pocket for much of this season, getting dropped on on career-high 7.6% of his dropbacks and leading the league in yards lost on sacks despite sitting out two games. He's been sacked multiple times in eight of his 10 starts, and five-plus times in three of them. The Colts offensive line is not equipped to deal with what Dallas has up front, and on Sunday Night Football, we'll all see just how true that is.