NFC West Week 13 Preview and Predictions

The playoff race is heating up, and Week 13 could provide a clearer picture of what January may look like.
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NFC West Week 13 Schedule

  • Sunday, December 6th - 1:05PM: Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals (FOX)
  • Sunday, December 6th - 1:25PM: New York Giants @ Seattle Seahawks (FOX)
  • Monday, December 7th - 5:15PM: *Buffalo Bills @ San Francisco 49ers* (ESPN)

                                                                       * Game played in Arizona*

Current NFC West Standings

1st- Seahawks: 8-3

2nd- Rams: 7-4

3rd- Cardinals: 6-5

4th- 49ers: 5-6

General Week 12 recap and Week 13 overlook:

Over the last several weeks, there has been a lot of shuffling around in the NFC West standings. Week 12 was no different, as the Seahawks climbed into first place after beating the Eagles, on the road, for the second time this calendar year (their other victory was the 2019 Wildcard Playoffs).

Meanwhile, the Cardinals suffered an “uh-oh” loss against the Patriots. They’re still in an ideal spot to make the playoffs, but the pressure is on to avoid another loss which would be a big hit to the playoff chances.

The 49ers were able to keep their playoff hopes alive by beating the Rams 23-20. The victory marks the second consecutive season that the 49ers swept the Rams, and head coach Kyle Shanahan now has a 5-3 edge over Sean McVay in their head-to-head matchups.

Looking ahead to Week 13, the most likely flip-flopping figures to be the Rams and Cardinals. Assuming the Seahawks beat the Giants, who may be without Daniel Jones, second place is still up for grabs. If the Cardinals beat the Rams, they’ll be in possession of second place. If the Cardinals lose and the 49ers beat the Bills, the Cardinals will remain in 3rd place, despite the teams having the same record, because the Cardinals hold the tie-breaker.

The playoff race is heating up, and Week 13 could provide a clearer picture of what January may look like.

Here’s a deeper dive into each matchup:

Buffalo Bills (8-3) vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-6)

2020 Team Stats (Bills on left side - 49ers on right side)

  • Points Scored Per Game: 27.2 - 23.7
  • Passing Yards Per Game: 280.2 - 270.2
  • Rushing Yards Per Game: 104.4 - 112.0
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 25.6 - 23.1
  • Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 258.2 - 217.6
  • Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 129.6 - 108.7

Storyline: How will the 49ers perform after abruptly moving to Arizona? Can they keep their playoff hopes alive?

Last weekend, as the 49ers were traveling to Los Angeles to play the Rams, they found out they could no longer practice nor play in the county of Santa Clara. After a few days of surveying their options, they worked out a deal to share the Cardinals’ facility. The team's entire operation has moved to Glendale, Arizona.

The Monday Night Football game against the Bills will mark the first home game of the San Francisco 49ers of Santa Clara of Glendale, Arizona. Luckily, the team has been much better on the road this season than at home. That is evident with their 1-4 home record and 4-2 away record. 

In this matchup, I like the 49ers to win. Here’s why:

Identity. 

When Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel are in uniform, the team has an identity. They know who they are, and it doesn’t matter who's playing quarterback. Run the ball, and get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quick. That is when the 49ers are at their best, as evident in both their wins against the Rams, and their win against the Patriots.

That sounds like a simple formula, and maybe it is. In the events that Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel can’t get it going, the 49ers are as well equipped with alternative options as they’ve been all season.

Jeff Wilson is back, and was running extremely hard last week. Brandon Aiyuk will be in uniform Sunday, and he is a passing-game threat at all levels of the field. Then there’s Kyle Juszczyk who has been featured much more frequently in the game plan the past couple weeks. Not to mention the emergence of Richie James.

This offense is as loaded as it’s been all season and, even with a backup quarterback at the helm, I see them producing around 27 points against this middle-of-the-road Bills defense. The Bills have allowed the 18th-most passing yards this season, and the 25th-most rushing yards. The ball can be moved on them with ease, and I believe this Nick-Mullens-led offense will do just that.

Defensively, the 49ers are going up against their Achilles heel. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is mobile, and has a rocket arm. The majority of the struggles on defense for the 49ers this season have come when they face mobile quarterbacks or quarterbacks with big arms who have receivers capable of bringing in deep passes.

That is exactly what they’ll be going up against this Monday night. Allen has totaled 29 touchdowns this year: 22 through the air, six on the ground, and one receiving. Slowing down Allen is the first step towards winning the ball game and keeping the 49ers playoff hopes alive.

If the 49ers lose this game, they aren’t completely removed from playoff contention. But they'll no longer control their own destiny. 

I see the 49ers winning this matchup in a game that goes down to the wire for the second consecutive week.

Score Prediction: Bills 24 - 49ers 27

Los Angeles Rams (7-4) @ Arizona Cardinals (6-5)

2020 Team Stats (Rams on left side - Cardinals on right side)

  • Points Scored Per Game: 23.9 - 27.6
  • Passing Yards Per Game: 274.6 - 255.8
  • Rushing Yards Per Game: 124.6 - 155.9
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 19.5 - 23.5
  • Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 223.5 - 245.6
  • Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 93.2 - 123.4

Storyline: Which team will walk away from this game with less pressure?

This is an incredibly important game for both the Rams and the Cardinals. Without knowing the result of the 49ers game, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on both teams. Whichever team loses, the 49ers will be right on their tail regarding the playoffs, if they beat the Bills.

The 49ers hold the tie-breaker over the Rams, and the Rams want to do everything in their power to separate themselves from the lingering team. On the other hand, the Cardinals will have the same record as the 49ers, but currently hold the head-to-head edge. The two teams meet again later this month.

Looking at the matchup between these two teams, it truly is a game that could go either way.

The Rams certainly have the more balanced team, but Kyler Murray is the type of quarterback who can take over any given game. Earlier this year, the Rams faced two similar teams in the Bills and the Seahawks. Both teams feature a mobile quarterback and solid receiver play. The Rams lost to the Bills in Week 3, but beat the Seahawks in Week 10. The bout against the Seahawks should have the Rams ready for this game.

I’d like to give the Rams the edge, but I can’t comfortably do it. Last year, the Rams were 8-5, and lost two consecutive games down the stretch to blow their playoff chances. We’ve seen them crumble at the end of a season before.

Bottom line, I don’t trust neither the Cardinals, who haven’t been in playoff contention under Kliff Kingsbury until this year, nor the Rams.

Ideally I wouldn’t have to pick a winner here. But I have to. I’ll take the Rams because they have the best player on the field, Aaron Donald.

Score Prediction: Los Angeles Rams 25 - Arizona Cardinals 20

New York Giants (4-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (8-3)

2020 Team Stats (Giants on left side - Seahawks on right side)

  • Points Scored Per Game: 19.5 - 31.0
  • Passing Yards Per Game: 216.7 - 292.4
  • Rushing Yards Per Game: 113.4 - 117.2
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 23.0 - 27.6
  • Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 263.5 - 342.9
  • Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 95.4 - 89.3

Storyline: Contest or no contest? The competitiveness of this game between two division leaders depends on the health of Daniel Jones.

If anyone were to guess the record of a division leader going into Week 13, no one in their right mind would say 4-7. Yet, the Giants are in first place with that record.

They picked up their latest victory in a win against the Bengals, but quarterback Daniel Jones hurt his hamstring. In came backup and former 49er Colt McCoy, who did nothing to secure the victory. McCoy finished the game 6 of 10 for 31 yards, but the Giants struggled to move the ball once he entered the game in the third quarter. Luckily, the Giants’ defense rose to the occasion as they forced a game clinching strip-sack on Brandon Allen.

With Jones’ status up in the air, this game could get ugly real quick for the Giants. If Jones does not play, the Seahawks legitimately could win this game by 30 or more points. However, if Jones does play, the Giants have the potential to play well enough to steal an upset. They fight hard, and nearly upset the Buccaneers earlier this season. That’s how drastic the difference is between Jones and McCoy.

Jones has yet to practice this week, and it is looking more likely that McCoy will start. That will make for a not-so-fun afternoon for the Giants.

In the events Jones does play, don’t be surprised if he gives the Seahawks a run for their money. Jones has led the Giants to four wins in their last seven games, and has them atop the NFC East.

With no Jones I see a blowout. With Jones, I see the Giants losing in respectable fashion. Regardless, the Seahawks should win this game with ease. 

Score prediction: Giants 9 - Seahawks 39

SI Writer Predictions 

WriterRecordLAR @ AZNYG @ SEABUF @ SF

Grant

23-14

LAR

SEA

SF

Leo 

20-17

LAR

SEA

SF

Jack

20-17

LAR

SEA

SF

Nick 

20-17

LAR

SEA

SF

Jose

19-18

AZ

SEA

BUF

Maverick

19-18

LAR

SEA

SF

Follow me on Twitter: @NinerNick_22