Week 13 of the 2023 NFL season is underway, and the Dallas Cowboys' 41-35 win over the Seattle Seahawks on "Thursday Night Football" was wild. It was the sixth game in NFL history with zero punts, including playoffs. Three of them have involved current Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, including two when he was the Packers head coach in 2014.
The Seahawks became the first team in NFL history to lose a game with 35-plus points and zero punts. Teams in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) were 64-0 when both elements occurred. There were 257 penalty yards between both teams, the most in a game since 2021. It featured the most first-half penalty yards since at least 1991 (180).
Since anything can happen when it comes to the NFL, what's next, you ask? Well, here are five bold predictions for this weekend's Week 13 slate.
Jordan Love, Packers continue win streak, upset defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs
Don't look now, but the Packers are starting to see signs that they may have hit on a third franchise quarterback in a row. Jordan Love struggled early in 2023, his first as Green Bay's full-time starter, but since the calendar turned to November he has played like a top-five quarterback. Yes, his 103.1 passer rating in November was the fifth best in the NFL.
Jordan Love's stats in 2023 season
* Fifth best in NFL
Love has tossed five touchdowns and no interceptions during the Packers' two-game winning streak against the Chargers and at the NFC North-leading Lions the last two weeks. He's even shown an ability to thread the needle for touchdowns like his predecessor, four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers.
On the other side of the Week 13 "Sunday Night Football" matchup, the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are struggling by their standards. Their 23.3 points per game, 364.9 total yards per game, 5.7 yards per play and 46% third-down conversion rate are all the worst of the Patrick Mahomes era, since 2018.
Love and the Packers follow the same formula as they did against the Lions last week, getting ahead early and holding on for a one-possession win against another division leader.
Texans rookies C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell erupt vs. improved Broncos 'D,' end Denver's five-game win streak
The Denver Broncos are on a five-game wining streak, which has run their record to 6-5, and it stands as the longest active streak in the league along with the Eagles' five-game streak. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been efficient all year, but the swift change in their defense's play has made the difference.
The Broncos have allowed just 80 points in the last five games combined, 16.0 per game across the winning streak since Week 7 (tied for the second-best in the NFL in this span), a massive departure from allowing 70 in a Week 3 loss to the Dolphins. Denver ranked as the worst pass defense across the board in Weeks 1-6 as a result, but now it is a top-five unit across the board since Week 7. A key to their rebound has been speeding up opposing quarterbacks.
The Broncos rank inside the top 10 in pressure rate (39.5%, 10th-best in NFL since Week 7) and blitz rate (37.4%, sixth-highest in NFL since Week 7) during the winning streak, metrics they were both around or below league average in prior. Linebacker Nik Bonitto is second in pressure rate (26%) during the win streak since Week 7, behind only Jaguars defensive lineman Josh Allen (27%), among those with a minimum of 75 pass rushes in this span. Bonitto's 19.4% quarterback pressure in 2023 as a whole ranks as the second-highest in the league behind only Cowboys All-Pro Micah Parsons and his 21.3% rate among those with at least 200 pass rushes.
Broncos pass defense in 2023 season
|First 6 Games
|Last 5 Games
* Last in NFL in Weeks 1-6
** Top five in NFL since Week 7
However, C.J. Stroud and Tank Dell will help power the Texans to victory and snap the Broncos' winning streak. Stroud's seven touchdowns to Dell are tied for the fourth-most by a rookie passer-receiver duo in NFL history, and Dell is only the third rookie in NFL history with at least five catches and a receiving touchdown in four straight games, joining Odell Beckham Jr. and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Stroud will continue ripping deep balls to Dell to cool off one of the NFL's hottest teams.
Falcons rookie Bijan Robinson goes for 100+ scrimmage yards and a TD for the third straight week
Through the first nine games of the 2023 season, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith seemingly forgot he and the team selected dynamic, do-it-all running back Bijan Robinson eighth overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. There were plenty of situations were Tyler Allgeier was getting more reps over Robinson, most notably near the goal line.
Smith has made amends the last two weeks, cranking up Robinson's touches per game into the 20s, where it should have been all year. As a result, Robinson has become the first rookie in Falcons history with over 100 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in consecutive games. Despite the increased volume, his yards per touch have remained a consistent 5.5, the same figure this season as 49ers Pro Bowler Christian McCaffrey.
Bijan Robinson stats in 2023 season
Against a struggling but talented Jets team in Week 13, Robinson keeps the good times rolling and puts up 100 scrimmage yards and a touchdown for a third week in a row, joining fellow rookies Jahmyr Gibbs and Devon Achane as members of their draft class to do so.
Panthers get their second win in first game without Frank Reich
Things are bad with the Panthers right now, to say the least. Their 1-10 start to 2023 is tied for their worst start to a season in franchise history. Owner David Tepper fired head coach Frank Reich just 11 games into his tenure as head coach. First overall draft pick Bryce Young's 5.4 passing yards per attempt is the lowest in the NFL and the lowest among 395 qualified quarterback seasons since 2012.
However, Young gets a favorable matchup in Week 13 against the Buccaneers. Since Week 6, Tampa Bay ranks bottom three in the league in completion percentage allowed (68%), passing yards per attempt allowed (8.5) and touchdown-to-interception ratio allowed (12-3). Tampa Bay has lost six of its last seven games including a disappointing 27-20 defeat at the Colts in Week 12.
It's Friday, and the 7-4 Browns don't know who will start in Week 13 at the 5-6 Rams. Rookie starter Dorian Thompson-Robinson remains in concussion protocol and didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday. That opens the door for 38-year-old Joe Flacco to make his first NFL start since Week 18 of last season.
The Rams are feisty team. Running back Kyren Williams totaled 204 scrimmage yards in two receiving touchdowns in their win against the Cardinals, and the wide receiver tandem of Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp present a tough coverage assignment.
However, the Browns, currently 3.5-point underdogs, will win no matter who suits up at quarterback on Sunday. Their defense is airtight, allowing 247.9 total yards per game. That's the fewest in the NFL, and it's a figure on pace to be the fewest total yards per game allowed in a season since the 2008 Super Bowl champion Steelers. Rams quarterback Matthew's Stafford's 60.8 completion percentage is the third-worst of any qualified quarterback in the NFL.
He will struggle against Myles Garrett and Cleveland's suffocating defense, allowing the Browns to sneak out of SoFi Stadium with a narrow road win.