Each week through the 2019 season, former NFL defensive back and current BBC analyst Jason Bell will highlight five things to look out for that weekend. Watch Jason twice a week on the BBC.
Here are some key things to look out for in Week 13.
San Francisco 49ers at the Baltimore Ravens is the game of the week. The main thing I'm excited about is Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense verses the defense of San Francisco. The 49ers have one of the best defenses in every category except rushing defense. This is something they don't do well. Baltimore on the other hand are the number one in rushing offense. If San Francisco can stop the run on defense they have a chance, but it will be a very interesting matchup.
It's always tough to play in Seattle at the Seahawks. You have to wonder how the Minnesota Vikings are going to slow Russell Wilson down? The defense of the Vikings is very good at stopping the run and they can get after the passer. However, their defensive backs have not been playing well. The corners have been giving up big plays. Russell Wilson will look to use that to his advantage. He'll want to get big plays down the field verses the secondary and the corners of the Vikings. The only way the Vikings can win this game is with Kirk Cousins being hot throwing the ball. If the defense of Seattle has any weakness, it's covering the pass. Kirk Cousins in another prime-time game needs to come through with the play-action pass.
O'Brien vs Belichick
What's really cool about this game is Bill O'Brien and Bill Belichick facing each other. They used to be on the same staff at New England Patriots. They have similar thoughts and philosophies. They will both be familiar with the way each other coaches. Tom Brady will be hoping to get some confidence back in the team. The Houston Texans defense is not dominant, nor are they good on third downs. So, it could be a chance for Brady and his offense to get back up to speed. However, the battle is going to be with Deshaun Watson, and the Texans offense verse the very good defense of the Patriots. Watson loves making chunk plays down the field so the Patriots man coverage will be tested. Let's see if Will Fuller, DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson can make magic again.;
If the Oakland Raiders had won last week, I would have been more excited about this game for them. I know they are going to bounce back and play hard. The problem is their defense is horrendous. When you're going against an offense that has Patrick Mahomes it's a recipe for disaster. I think Kansas City Chiefs will win this game because the defense won't be able to slow them down. The Raiders do have a good offense. I think Jon Gruden's plan will be to run the ball effectively and score lots of points. He can't be patience because he'll need to outscore Kansas City if they have any chance of beating them.
Who is looking good for the playoffs?
As we get to the business end of the season it's important to look at what defenses are getting better. You can't always trust the stats because they look at all the games from the start of the season. I like to look at who has improved in the last five games. Usually offenses start fast and defenses catch up because there is film out there. The defenses that are getting better now will be the ones that have the best chance of success in the playoffs. Right now, I'm watching for any hiccups within these teams. The San Francisco 49ers defense has been good all year, as has the New England Patriots. The Baltimore Ravens defense is really starting to suffocate teams. This is why they are looking like an elite team. They have improved more than the rest of the teams. They are starting to look like one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL.