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Week 13 NFL Preview: People Are Sleeping On the Giants

Chicago Bears v New York Giants
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The Cowboys aren’t the only elite team in the NFC East. Here’s a preview of what to expect in Week 13 of the 2016 season:

Thursday, December 1

Finally: An Interesting Thursday Night Game (With Playoff Implications)!
Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys
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Dallas at Minnesota | U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on NBC
It took nearly the entire season, but the NFL will finally have an interesting Thursday night game when the Cowboys visit the Vikings in Week 13. Both teams are NFC playoff contenders at or near the top of the conference. If this game follows recent Thursday night tradition, it will probably be a poorly played contest that ends in a tie.

Thus far, no team has been able to truly stop Dallas (10–1) — and rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott — from running the ball. Minnesota (6–5) has the NFL’s third-best defense, but they rank 13th against the run. If the Vikings can’t stop the NFL’s rushing leader and force Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott into turnovers, Dallas should win and take a big step toward clinching a playoff spot. The Cowboys can qualify for the postseason with a win and a Buccaneers loss or tie or a Redskins loss.

Sunday, December 4

The Chiefs Win With Takeaways
New York Jets v Kansas City Chiefs
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Kansas City at Atlanta | Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
While Kansas City (8–3) has one of the best records in the AFC, both the Chiefs’ offense (28th) and defense (27th) are statistically awful. What gives? The opposition: KC leads the NFL in takeaways and turnover margin.

The Chiefs will need their defense to be a lot better this week to beat Atlanta (7–4). Thanks to quarterback Matt Ryan and NFC receiving yardage leader Julio Jones, the NFC South-leading Falcons test teams all day long. Kansas City will need to get pressure on Ryan and force a few turnovers to win this game on the road.

Drew Brees & Matthew Stafford Should Have Fun on Sunday
Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints
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Detroit at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
While the Lions and Saints will play inside the Superdome on Sunday, these two quarterbacks might rather just hold this game on a sandlot. Both Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford love to throw the ball on practically every down. They rank first and 12th, respectively, in the NFL in passing yardage and neither team’s defense is good enough to stop them.

New Orleans (5–6) is better than their record indicates. If Detroit (7–4) waits until the fourth quarter to try to win this one — something they do often — they might regret it.

Can the Dolphins Prove They Are a Playoff Team?
San Francisco 49ers v Miami Dolphins
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Miami at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Other than the league-leading Cowboys, no team has been hotter than Miami (7–4) over the past six weeks. Ever since the Dolphins started to rely on the running of Jay Ajayi to carry their offense, they’ve won six consecutive games while becoming a legitimate AFC playoff contender. Ajayi will face a test against the Ravens top-ranked run defense. If he can pass it, his team could start putting pressure on the Pats in the AFC East.

Baltimore (6–5) leads the mediocre AFC North, but the Ravens know their offense has to do more than set Justin Tucker up for 50-yard field goal attempts. If Joe Flacco can lead his team across the goal line a few times a game, Baltimore can potentially pull away from Pittsburgh in the division race.

People Are Sleeping On the Giants
New York Giants v Cleveland Browns
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N.Y. Giants at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
If you listen to NFL pundits — and they’ll keep talking even if you aren’t listening, anyway — you’ll hear how Dallas/Seattle/New England/Kansas City/Oakland are among the league’s best teams. The team you never hear about? The Giants.

New York (8–3) has won six consecutive games and they remain the only team that’s been able to beat Dallas this season. This week, the Giants face Pittsburgh (6–5), whose passing game will challenge their defense. Big Blue has the NFL’s fifth-best run defense, but that may not help them against Big Ben and the Steelers’ passing attack.

The combo of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. will create their own challenge for Pittsburgh. If New York can get a signature win this Sunday, they’ll put themselves in position to challenge the Cowboys, Seahawks and Falcons for the NFC title.

Other Games

Sunday, December 4
Los Angeles at New England | Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass. ; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Denver at Jacksonville | EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Houston at Green Bay | Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Philadelphia at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
San Francisco at Chicago | Soldier Field, Chicago; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Buffalo at Oakland | Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Washington at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Tampa Bay at San Diego | Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Carolina at Seattle | CenturyLink Field, Seattle; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC

Monday, December 5
Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

Bye Week:
Cleveland, Tennessee

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