Sunday Countdown: Your weekly NFL guide

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Philadelphia @ Seattle Seattle Seattle Seattle Seattle
Carolina @ Tampa Bay Tampa Bay Carolina Carolina Carolina
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
Atlanta @ Houston Atlanta Atlanta Houston Atlanta
N.Y. Jets @ Washington N.Y. Jets N.Y. Jets N.Y. Jets N.Y. Jets
Indianapolis @ New England New England New England New England New England
Oakland @ Miami Miami Oakland Oakland Oakland
Denver @ Minnesota Denver Denver Denver Denver
Tennessee @ Buffalo Tennessee Tennessee Tennessee Buffalo
Kansas City @ Chicago Chicago Chicago Chicago Chicago
Baltimore @ Cleveland Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore
Dallas @ Arizona Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas
Green Bay @ N.Y. Giants Green Bay New York Green Bay Green Bay
St. Louis @ San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco San Francisco
Detroit @ New Orleans New Orleans New Orleans New Orleans New Orleans
San Diego @ Jacksonville San Diego San Diego San Diego Jacksonville
Week 13 Record 12-4 11-5 13-3 10-6
Overall Record 129-63 127-65 134-58 132-60
More picks: Experts | SportsNation: Pick Week 13

Countdown Confidential

By Bob Holtzman and Colleen Dominguez

Will weather affect Packers? What stands between the undefeated Green Bay Packers and a return trip to the Super Bowl is seven games. All of them will likely be outdoors in cold-weather cities.

"The ball hurts," wide receiver Greg Jennings said about catching passes from strong-armed quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the cold. Tight end Jermichael Finley was more descriptive. "It's like a knife just cutting you," Finley explained. "It stings like a mother. You just have to suck it up and catch the ball."

Greg Jennings
Andrew Weber/US PresswireEven when the weather gets nasty, Greg Jennings expects to catch plenty of passes.
So far the Packers have played three games in domes and haven't dealt with anything more than some rain in San Diego. That will almost certainly soon change with December games in New York and Kansas City and as many as five games in December and January at Lambeau Field.

"Obviously we're going to have to start to rely on the run a little bit more," said Jennings, who leads the Packers with 58 catches and 835 receiving yards. "But at the same time, in the same breath, passing the ball is what we do."

In last year's playoffs the Packers ran the ball the majority of the time in outdoor, cold-weather wins in Philadelphia and Chicago. Green Bay threw it the bulk of the time in indoor wins in Atlanta and the Super Bowl in Dallas. That may be the blueprint again this year as the weather turns colder, but it certainly doesn't sound like it.

"[The weather] won't change the way we play," coach Mike McCarthy said "You look at some of the cold-weather games that we've played in, we still went with four wideouts, five wideouts and still just ran our offense. Our quarterback is very gifted with the ability to throw the ball in bad weather."

The Packers should get a break this weekend. Sunday's forecast at MetLife Stadium calls for temperatures in the 50s.

-- Bob Holtzman

Tebow gaining confidence: Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow admits his confidence is growing every day. When asked if he smiles when he sits back and thinks about the past several weeks, Tebow said, "I continually try to smile a lot." And why shouldn't he?

Riding a four-game win streak, Tebow said earlier this week leadership is something that has to be earned, and in talking to his teammates you get the clear sense he's accomplished that. Defensive end Elvis Dumervil told me, "Tebow's our guy, man, he's the team quarterback, we believe in him we, we rally around him."

That's high praise from a member of a defense that some say has been overshadowed by all of the attention surrounding Tebow. Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey said good-naturedly, "When you have No. 15 at quarterback, it's kind of hard to get any attention from him. He's the magnet for it."

Bailey added, "We're not asking for it, we can be unsung heroes all year if we have to be."

The Broncos' defense isn't exactly going unnoticed, though. In the past four games, it has given up an average of only 15 points. Combine that with rookie Von Miller and a now-healthy Dumervil posting 10 sacks between them in those four games, and it's hard not to be aware of what the defense has been doing.

The Broncos are hoping Miller, who had surgery on his right thumb earlier this week, will be able to go Sunday against the Vikings. The chemistry between Miller and Dumervil is evident.

Dumervil put it simply when he said, "We both have the same love for hitting quarterbacks." They're a 1-2 punch that gives Tebow and his teammates yet another reason to smile these days.

-- Colleen Dominguez

MVP Watch

By Mike Sando

Great efforts to more fully appreciate quarterback contributions should, in theory, reward Tim Tebow for leading the Denver Broncos to repeat victories despite weak passing stats. The opposite has been true. Tebow ranks 31st out of 35 qualifying players in Total QBR, the ESPN stat measuring how quarterbacks affect win probability across a wide array of categories. Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats, a founding father of such metrics, recently tried hard to find additional ways to appreciate Tebow's contributions, but it was an uphill fight.

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
Another week, another NFL passer rating above 110. Rodgers actually ranks behind Drew Brees and Tom Brady in expected points added through the passing game, but he outpaces both in contributions through rushing and opponent penalties. It's news whenever Rodgers throws an interception. He has one in his last five games. Rodgers plays his final five games outdoors in cold-weather cities, but he can produce across all climates, it appears.

2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
What a spectacular performance against the New York Giants. The sensational passing has been there all season. The juke Brees used to free himself for that scrambling touchdown offset any style points lost through Brees' comical attempt at dunking the ball over the crossbar during his vertically challenged celebration. Brees is warming up and still has four indoor games remaining.

Complete story | SN: Ranker

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