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Week Thirteen NFL Picks, Aiding And A'Betting: Falcons-Buccaneers, Steelers-Ravens, Jets-Patriots

The lines are out and the picks are in for NFL Week 13. Atlanta takes a five-game winning streak on the road to Tampa, and the AFC shines in a pair of night games to end the weekend.

Lucky week 13 is here, and the playoff picture will be easier to see a few days from now. Atlanta visits Tampa Bay in a huge NFC South match-up, bubble teams like Kansas City and San Diego can help themselves, and the AFC's four-headed dominance will shatter in half.

The picks:

Houston @ Philadelphia (-8). There aren't many conspiracy theorist bones in my body, but at least a few joints were tingling after Andre Johnson escaped suspension this week. As he was opening the proverbial can on Cortland Finnegan, I knew my fantasy team would be without his services for at least a week. However, one small fine and no missed games later, he will take the field - in an NFL Network-televised game. Did the league's reaction have anything to do with wanting Houston's biggest star on their telecast? You bet your bippy. Had this happened to any other Texan, or Johnson before any other game, that suspension is a no-doubter. But hell, nice timing, Andre - and my fake team's chances are all the better for it. PICK: Houston

Atlanta (-3) @ Tampa Bay. Overconfidence, we meet again. My head is still buzzing from last week's win, and I just can't fathom a way the Falcons fall on Sunday. This is, of course, dangerous and foolhardy behavior, as I believe my exuberance alone can pry a win from Atlanta. So please, give me some convincing reasons the Falcons can lose - I need some level-headedness before kickoff. PICK: Atlanta

New Orleans (-6 1/2) @ Cincinnati. ESPN's 2010 NFL Playoff Machine drained an hour of my life this morning, as I predicted winners for every remaining game to see how the postseason would shake out. And prepare Falcons fans, because New Orleans will be coming to the Georgia Dome for the NFC Championship Game (having gone on the road to beat Seattle and Green Bay). I've lived in Atlanta most of my 34 years, and that match-up would create this city's highest excitement level since the 1991 World Series (and yes, I'm including the Olympics). My hands are shaking just thinking about it. PICK: New Orleans

Chicago (-5) @ Detroit. Ok, so nobody believed in Chicago until Sunday's win over Philadelphia, and now everyone is convinced this team will make a playoff run. You know what that means, right? DREW STANTON POWER. Now that the Bears bandwagon is standing room only, it's obvious Detroit is going to tip it over (or, more likely, Jay Cutler will go all Cutler-tastic and throw four picks). Easy-peasy. PICK: Detroit

San Francisco @ Green Bay (-9). So the most shocking revelation from last Sunday's game wasn't Matt Ryan's last minute drive, or Aaron Rodgers leading Green Bay in rushing, or even finding out ancient elder statesman Tony Gonzalez is five days YOUNGER than me. No, I learned something I'd always assumed wasn't the case: Green Bay fans are pricks. Ok, hold on. I don't like to make blanket generalizations, so let me back up: all Packers fans who were in the Georgia Dome last Sunday are pricks. That's better. Anyway, I can honestly say I didn't taunt, didn't go back-and-forth, didn't ask for anything, but still got called a number of profanities to my face, including being told to "suck that, bitch" by a 13-year-old girl sitting behind me (whose father beamed at his pride and joy). I'd always thought Green Bay fans were salt-of-the-earth, small town types, but apparently they're struck more in the Philly mold (the only worse NFL fans I've encountered, which is a big duh). Silver lining, though: the Falcons probably made enough money from Sunday's beer sales to pay for all of next year's draft picks. PICK: Green Bay

Jacksonville @ Tennessee (PICK). Easily the most boring "important" game of the week, not surprisingly from the tastes-like-paste AFC South. Keep bottled water handy, because this game will dry your mouth out something fierce. PICK: Jacksonville

Denver @ Kansas City (-9). PICK: Denver

Cleveland @ Miami (-5). It's looking like Jake Delhomme again for the Browns, which means we're living in a world where Colt McCoy's presence offically sways my pick. Because I had Cleveland all kinds of written down before this latest injury update. PICK: Miami

Buffalo @ Minnesota (-5 1/2). Oh, you poor, pathetic Bills - fate hates you, Lady Luck hates you, and God hates at least one of you (poor Stevie Johnson). The good news? Upcoming games against the Pats, Jets and Dolphins almost guarantee a top-three pick in next year's draft! PICK: Buffalo

Washington @ NY Giants (-7). PICK: Washington

Oakland @ San Diego (-12 1/2). In the old "Bloom County" comic strip, a cockroach named Milquetoast would sneak into bedrooms and whisper subliminal messages into a sleeper's ear. I'm thinking ol' Milky has been up to his old tricks, this time all the way out in California. "Psst, Darren McFadden - remember, you're draft bust Darren McFadden of the Oakland Raiders. You can't rush for more than six yards next week." "Psst, Philip Rivers, the Chargers are Super Bowl-bound. You can't not throw four touchdowns this week." After showing some life in October and early November - going four of five - the Raiders have lived up to their lack of expectations, losing back-to-back games by a combined 68-20. Any realistic chance of the playoffs is gone with the wind. On the other hand, the Chargers have begun to play with fire, overcoming a 2-5 start by winning four straight and looking like a playoff lock. No reason to think the trends stop here. PICK: San Diego

Dallas @ Indianapolis (-5). With the multiple injuries to its supporting cast, Indianapolis shouldn't be favored by five over anyone (except, of course, Arizona and Carolina, which would be pick-'ems against Georgia State). In fact, according to my Playoff Machine shenanigans, Jacksonville wins the AFC South and Peyton finds himself on the couch during the first round - with Eli. PICK: Dallas

St. Louis (-3) @ Arizona. Derek Anderson should have plenty to laugh about when he sees what Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson do to Arizona's defense. PICK: St. Louis

Carolina @ Seattle (-6). Brought to you by Ny-Quil! (Man, I'm being a grumpus today.) PICK: Seattle

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-3). Brought to you by Moscone's Bail Bonds! The AFC could be decided by the weekend-ending night games, with Part One coming from the chilly confines of Baltimore (expected game-time weather: 34 and windy). Big Ben is probably wearing a protective boot as you read this, but he's also saying he'll start without reservation. Knowing that, the choice is easier. PICK: Baltimore

NY Jets @ New England (-3 1/2). After last week's Arizona/San Francisco stinker, Monday Night Football catches a break with the 9-2 AFC powers facing off. If the Patriots emerge victorious here, home field advantage is theirs for the taking - and maybe a New England/Atlanta Super Bowl? Woah, let's not get ahead of our - Dimitroff vs. his old team! Boston College's Matt Ryan vs. Boston's team! Will MC Hammer update "2 Legit 2 Quit" for 2011?! These stories are writing themselves! PICK: New England

Last week: 8-8-0
Overall: 97-72-7

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.