Week 13 NFL picks against the spread
The bye weeks are over, the stretch run is here, and it’s about to get good. Picks for a full 16-game slate plus best bets!
Thanksgiving football means tradition, turducken, and another Detroit Lions loss, but it also means Christmas is coming and the NFL stretch run is here. Every team has had its bye week, so it’s a full 16-game slate from here on out. The division leaders are beginning to separate themselves, but the wildcard hunt is fuzzier than ever. Jeff Driskel and Cody Kessler will make their first starts at quarterback this weekend, while Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel are back for more. The QB disparity has never been greater; maybe that’s why a whopping six games feature a TD-or-more favorite.
But quarterbacks alone don’t win and lose games. This time of year, it takes a full 53-man roster plus coaching, scheming, depth, and a little bit of luck (or a lot of Luck in Indy’s case). We continue to float around .500 on the season on bets, still trying to claw our way into the playoff picture ourselves. Let’s see if we can get a little momentum going with some Week 13 picks…
The stay aways
Buffalo +4.5 at Miami
Josh Allen’s Buffalo Bills are on a two-game winning streak! Some would’ve been surprised to see the Bills win two games all year. They have four now! And they play the Jets and Lions next, so there’s a real chance of a five-game win streak, which would get Buffalo to 7–7. NBC even listed the Bills on their playoff graphic. The AFC, everyone! Buffalo has the league’s best pass defense and has won three of their last five in Miami.
Green Bay -14 vs Arizona
How often is a December team with four wins a 14-point favorite? Green Bay is 4–6–1 and needs to run the table to even have a shot at the playoffs, but they’re 3–1 against teams with losing records and Aaron Rodgers has done it before with his back against the wall. Arizona has already lost three times by 34+ and has one of the worst offenses in league history through 12 weeks.
Los Angeles Rams -9.5 at Detroit
As good as the Rams seem to be, you might be surprised to find out that six of their last seven wins were by one score. On the other hand, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh are going to eat this terrible Lions offensive line alive. Detroit isn’t scoring anymore. They’re averaging 16 ppg over their last five and are missing their opening day RB and both WRs. They just don’t have the guns to keep up with this Rams offense.
The trap games
New York Giants +5 vs Chicago
The Bears have struggled on the road, with two losses plus late comeback wins against the Lions and Cardinals and just one comfortable road win against Nathan Peterman. The Giants have played in nine one-score games and always seem to hang around. Throw in another possible Chase Daniel start, this time against a team ready for him, plus a Sunday night Bears game against the Rams looming next week, and this is a classic trap game.
Jacksonville +4 vs Indianapolis
The Colts have won five in a row and the Jags have lost seven straight. But Jacksonville might get an emotional boost now that they’ve finally moved on from Blake Bortles, and the Jags still have a top-3 pass defense. Indianapolis may be missing Marlon Mack and over reliant on their pass game, so that could spell trouble. Indy travels to Houston next week and might be peeking ahead, but the home team has won seven of eight in this rivalry.
Cleveland +6 at Houston
Houston is probably thinking about that incoming Indy visit too, but they best not overlook these Browns. Cleveland is on their first win streak in four full calendar years, and they now have 8 of 11 games in which they’ve either won or covered this line. Baker Mayfield has the offense humming, and Cleveland still has a playoff long shot at 4–6–1. Houston has won eight in a row, but all eight are against teams that were not playing great ball at the time. This is low-key a great game between two teams playing great ball. What a world.
Denver -4.5 at Cincinnati
This feels like a shocking line at first, but dig a little deeper. Denver just beat the Chargers and Steelers, and they’ve had one of the league’s best defenses of late. The Broncos have really only played two bad games all year. The Bengals defense is in shambles, allowing almost 38 ppg over their last five, and Jeff Driskel will have to make his first QB start while being chased around by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb all game. This could be the end for Marvin Lewis.
Baltimore +1.5 at Atlanta
Can you beat Baltimore? You better have a run defense. Atlanta’s has been bottom five all season, and that’s a problem against Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards. Baltimore has one of the league’s best defenses and the Falcons suddenly can’t score, under 20 points in each of their last three. The Ravens opened as three-point favorites before people remembered how good Matt Ryan is at home, but Vegas might have had it right the first time.
Tennessee -8 vs New York Jets
The Titans are 5–4 with a full Mariota game, and their remaining five games are against the Jets, Jaguars, Giants, Redskins, and Colts. Four of those are at home, where Tennessee is 3–1 this year, so this team has a real shot at running the table to 10–6. The Jets have lost five games in a row. During that stretch, they’re scoring 11 ppg with an an average losing margin of over 17.
The big ones
Pittsburgh -3.5 vs Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday night)
This game will tell us a lot about the Chargers, who have played only two good teams (the Chiefs and Rams) and lost to both by double digits. Pittsburgh is coming off two ugly road games, but they’re a different team at home and they always show up when the lights are on. I’m going with my gut on this one — this feels like one of those Steelers clap-back games where Pittsburgh cruises and suddenly looks like an AFC team to beat.
Washington +6.5 at Philadelphia (Monday)
We need to stop treating the Eagles like the defending Super Bowl champs. They may be the champions, but they sure as heck aren’t defending anymore. The D is playing guys off the street at corner and had no shot against the Saints or Giants the last two weeks. The Redskins offense is nothing special, but it won’t take much against this defense. Philadelphia’s offense is mediocre and the defense is bad. They shouldn’t be a TD favorite against more than a few teams. Washington is +225 to win outright and +450 to win a division they’re leading. Colt McCoy is the anti-Aslan. He is not good, but he is safe.
Minnesota +5.5 at New England
I’m drinking the purple Kool-aid again. History says always take the Pats at home. Tom Brady has played 19 seasons. He’s 112–19 at home. That’s one home loss per season, for those of you who are bad at math. Then again, New England is 5–0 at home this year so they have to lose one of the three remaining home games, right? History may not be on our side, but what about the present? This Patriots offense is not totally clicking, and they’re a bottom ten pass defense and awful against slot WRs like Adam Thielen. Minnesota’s defense is back, the #1 DVOA in football since Week 6. I think the Vikings pass rush can get to Brady, and I’m not sure Brady and Gronk have it anymore. Maybe New England is just waiting to round into shape at the perfect time … or maybe they’re finally starting to fade.
Week 13 best bets
New Orleans -7 at Dallas (Thursday)
The Saints have lost once all season, and it took 48 points to beat them. They haven’t even won by single digits since September, and they’re better indoors like they will be in Dallas. Drew Brees is so good these days he’s literally making up dudes to throw TDs to. On Thanksgiving he threw a touchdown to a dude named Dan Arnold that’s apparently from my hometown, and I had never even heard of him. Dallas is on a nice little hot streak, but they keep catching teams like the Jags, Eagles, Falcons, and Redskins at the right time. This is not the right time to play New Orleans. There may not be a right time.
Seattle -9.5 vs San Francisco
Seattle has won nine in a row against the 49ers, six by double digits. The Seahawks are 5–0 this season against teams with a losing record, three of those wins by double digits. Seattle is suddenly in the driver’s seat for an NFC wildcard spot at 6–5 with four home games left, plus three games against San Francisco and Arizona. You want that NFC 5-seed and a trip to some mediocre NFC East opponent, and Seattle has the inside track.
Carolina -3.5 at Tampa Bay
The Panthers need to turn this ship around in a hurry. They’re on a three-game losing streak and still have a road trip to Cleveland plus two games against the Saints. Tampa is a great place to start. Carolina has won nine of 11 in this rivalry, and six of those wins were by 14 or more. Earlier this month, they were up 35–7 on the Bucs before halftime. Bet on Cam Newton and Christian McCaffrey shredding this Tampa defense.
Kansas City -14.5 at Oakland
Speaking of shredding a D, the Chiefs have scored 37 points seven times already. Kansas City had five turnovers plus 13 penalties for 135 yards against the Rams AND SCORED 51 POINTS ANYWAY. The Raiders have allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL and a league-worst 8.8 yards per pass attempt. And if you’re worried about a road rivalry, the Chiefs have won eight of 10 against Oakland, averaging 34ppg on the road. Road 14.5+ point favorites have covered seven of their last 10, and Andy Reid’s like 700–1 coming off a bye. The Raiders already have seven losses by 14 points. Update: distractions galore with the Kareem Hunt news. The Raiders are still terrible, but you need to stay away from this now. Goodbye lock or best bet, hello Raiders cover?