Beating the Spread: Week 13 Picks

Our Week 13 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

As a group, we had more wins than losses last week (12-8) despite another poor performance from me.  The newcomers, Justin and Brennan, continue to show us veterans how it’s done.  Let’s see if we can make up some ground on them this week!

The Colts garnered the most support with three of us expecting them to cover a near double-digit spread against the Texans.  Pats/Bills and Cards/Bears drew some divisive picks among the staff and everybody has a thought on a total except for me.  Brennan likes big favorites again this week, Justin is doubling up on the Football Team/Raiders matchup, Erik likes a couple of small underdogs, and I have some home underdogs that I think can at least keep it close this week.

Gamblers know that 60% is the magic number to come out ahead, so that’s the goal again this season.  We didn’t make it last year, which just motivates us, even more, this season.  Every week the four of us will pick five games against the spread or on the over/under.  We’ll track the picks every week and see where we end up.  Feel free to play along in the comments or find us on Twitter!

Let’s get to the lines and picks for Week 13!

The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

 

Week 13 Betting Lines
Away Home Line O/U
Colts Texans Colts -9.5 46
Cardinals Bears Cardinals -8 45.5
Giants Dolphins Dolphins -3 41.5
Vikings Lions Vikings -7 47
Eagles Jets Eagles -6.5 45
Chargers Bengals Bengals -3 50.5
Buccaneers Falcons Buccaneers -11 50.5
Football Team Raiders Raiders -2.5 49.5
Jaguars Rams Rams -13 48
Ravens Steelers Ravens -4 44
49ers Seahawks 49ers -3 45.5
Broncos Chiefs Chiefs -10 47.5
Patriots Bills Bills -3 43.5
Staff Picks

 

Analysis

 

Justin Dunbar: Justin puts together an article analyzing some of his picks in more detail.  Check out his Week 13 Betting Preview for more! Here are some snippets from his first two picks for this week.

This becomes a no-brainer. In my opinion, the Chargers are simply the better team, and this game should be much closer to pick-em. That isn’t the case, though, which is why you should jump on the opportunity to pick the better team while also getting points. Isn’t it fun when it works out like that? LAC +3

I believe there is a clear difference between these teams, and 2.5 points do not justify it. Without it crossing the key number of three, take the Raiders here. LV -2.5

What if the reign of the Patriots is back in action? That’s the fear of many football watchers who prefer overall parity. Coming off of six straight wins, New England will be coming into Buffalo on Monday Night Football with a chance to establish a 1.5-game lead over the Bills, which would give them the cushion they need to potentially lock up the #1 seed. Well, in my opinion, that won’t come to fruition. We have a matchup between the league’s most pass-happy offense (Bills) and one of the most run-heavy offenses (Patriots), and when that’s the case, I’m going to trust the pass-heavy offense to score points. That’s particularly true against the Patriots, who run the most amount of man coverage in the NFL; Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis each rank in the top-13 versus man coverage. Diggs, with 145 receiving yards and three touchdowns the last time these two teams met, is a particular problem for New England’s man-heavy defense, and there’s no reason to expect them to suddenly contain him this year. Then, there’s New England’s schedule during their six-game winning streak:
Jets
Chargers
Panthers
Browns
Falcons
Titans
Outside of the Chargers, none of these teams are the staple of efficient offensive play right now. The Bills offense, which ranks sixth in yards/play, is a completely different monster for New England to handle. While some may say to trust Bill Belichick, I’ll hedge my bets with the more explosive team with the better offense and a defense that has performed better this season. BUF -3

Any time I can fade the winless Lions, I’m going to do so. The Vikings, despite having a losing record, have a positive point differential and have a top-ten offense based on yards/play. The Lions, meanwhile, rank last in PFF coverage grade, and second-worst in overall PFF defense grade. Do we think this defense is going to contain an offense led by PFF’s third-highest graded passer, throwing passes to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen? I don’t think so, and extra scoring increases the blowout potential here. I know the Vikings have played exclusively close games this season, but that ends here. MIN -7

The Washington Football Team is on a three-game winning streak, and their identity has changed during that time. Over the past three weeks, they have the fifth-lowest early-down pass rate, looking to grind out games by sustaining long drives and keeping the opposing offense on the field. Based on my Raiders bet, I don’t believe this will work, but it can slow down the game substantially. Then, there is the fact that Washington’s offense simply isn’t very good. Taylor Heinicke is only PFF’s 29th highest-graded passer and has one of the league’s lowest big-time throw rates (3.1%). Meanwhile, Las Vegas will be without tight end Darren Waller in this game, and could also attempt to lean on running back Josh Jacobs. If both running backs are the featured part of their offenses, that means one thing: a game with not a lot of plays, and not a lot of scoring. With a noticeably high total considering the state of Washington’s offense, I’ll gladly take the under here. WSH/LV Under 49.5

 

Brennan Rampe: The Colts lost a tough game to the defending champion Buccaneers, but they showed they can hang with anybody. The final score was 38-31, and turnovers sealed their fate. On the other side, the Texans lost at home to the Jets, and that’s a sign that a football team is flawed. They’re headed toward a top-five draft pick and an offseason full of questions surrounding the future of Deshaun Watson. The Colts are 6-6 and there is no room for error if they want to make the playoffs in the loaded AFC. It’s possible that they can make it, but they might have to win every single game left on the schedule. The Colts dominated the Texans 31-3 in the first meeting, and I believe the Colts will blow out the Texans again, as there is a huge difference in talent and coaching. I’ve avoided large spreads recently, but I’m confident about this game. Inside the Numbers: Indianapolis is 7-4 against the spread as road favorites under Frank Reich. IND -9.5

The Cardinals might be the top team in the NFC. They score 30 points almost every week, and the defense is loaded with talented playmakers as well. They even managed to win two divisional matchups on the road with backup quarterback Colt McCoy, which showed off their resiliency. The Bears, however, are having a tough season. The drafting of Justin Fields will probably pay off a couple of years from now, but Fields is struggling behind a bad offensive line and the playcalling and coaching of Matt Nagy, whose firing is inevitable. Last week, the Bears did just enough to beat the winless Lions, winning on a last-second field goal. The Cardinals are undefeated on the road so far, and Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins should return after missing several games due to injuries. The Cardinals should win big on the road while “Fire Nagy” chants break out at Soldier Field. Inside the Numbers: Chicago is 6-8 against the spread as a home underdog under Matt Nagy. ARI -8

The Bengals dominated their divisional arch-nemesis Steelers, winning 41-10 and sweeping them for the first time since 2009. This team has a good chance to make the playoffs, which is honestly surprising, as not many people thought they would even get close to doing so. The Chargers have been very inconsistent this season, and that was made clear in a loss to the Broncos. Sometimes they’ll score 40 or more points, and then they’ll barely score at all, like last week. I think the Chargers will give this Bengals defense more of a challenge than the Steelers did, and the Chargers defense has struggled this year. That’s a little odd, as they hired Brandon Staley to fix a defense that blew big leads regularly last year. The Bengals should score plenty themselves. Joe Mixon should do great against one of the league’s worst rushing defenses, and the talented wide receiver trio should catch some touchdowns. I think the first meeting between Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert has the potential to be a shootout. Inside the Numbers: Cincinnati averages 28 points a game and Los Angeles averages 24.  CIN/LAC Over 50.5

The Ravens got the win against the Browns, but it wasn’t easy. The offense scored only 16 points, and Lamar Jackson threw a career-high four interceptions. The defense, however, was dominant, and that was why the Ravens were able to win. The Steelers are in trouble right now. Their defense has given up 40 points in consecutive games, and Ben Roethlisberger isn’t playing well. The AFC is very loaded, and they are behind the Bengals and Ravens in their division. The Steelers defense will probably struggle to defend Jackson, who is the most athletic quarterback they have faced all year. After a bad start to the year, the Ravens defense has allowed fewer than 20 points in the last two games and should be able to limit the Steelers’ offense. These two teams are on different paths, and I like the Ravens to win by at least a touchdown. Inside the Numbers: Baltimore is 41-37-5 against the spread in division games under John Harbaugh. BAL -4

The Patriots, after a 1-3 start, are all of a sudden 8-4 and one of the best teams in the AFC. The defense has returned to form, and the offense is playing great, mainly due to Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate Mac Jones. Jones, despite being the fifth quarterback taken in the first round, has been the best of them so far. The Bills are playing good football but sadly lost their top cornerback Tre’Davious White to an ACL injury in their win over the Saints. This will have a huge impact on their talented defense. The Patriots have one thing the Bills don’t have at all, and that’s a consistent running game. They have a great rotation with Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. This is going to be a very important divisional showdown. I think the Bills will probably win, but I think it’s going to be a very close, hard-fought game. Inside the Numbers: New England is 15-11-1 against the spread in divisional games since 2017. NE +3

 

Erik Smith: I feel like I’ve had a pretty good read on this Colts team, and I like their chances of blowing out the Texans in Houston. Jonathan Taylor will be able to hit his top gear on the turf, and the Colts will be more than happy to turn this into a matchup of opposing running games with Rex Burkhead on the other side. I respect the way the Texans have played this year, but this feels like a game where they could get bludgeoned by Taylor and the Colts. IND -9.5

I’m not super high on the 49ers on the season, but this Seattle team is in a free fall. While the Seahawks try to figure things out on offense, the 49ers will be on the other side pounding the run game, play after play. I haven’t seen much ability for the Seahawks to block long enough to get the deep passing game open, and there isn’t much left when that isn’t working. Maybe this is the week that Russell Wilson gets back to his old form, but I’m willing to bet his struggles continue for one more week. SF -3

It’s heat check time for the Patriots, and I’ll take the three points and see what happens. Buffalo has been up and down, while New England has been rock solid and had a defined identity. It’s a big challenge on the road in Buffalo, but we saw the Patriots almost knock off Tom Brady in his homecoming, so I don’t think this game is too big for them. In an ugly game, the Pats might win this one outright. NE +3

I almost picked the Jets to cover here at home, but ultimately decided that I don’t trust their defense. So that plays into the over, where Jalen Hurts should have his way with the Jets D, while Elijah Moore and the Jets passing game should contribute enough positive and negative plays to put points on one side of the scoreboard or the other. A big day from Hurts should but this one over for us. PHI/NYJ Over 45

I don’t love the Washington Football Team, but they know who they are. I have no idea who the Raiders are, and I expect Washington to wear the Raiders down on the ground, their biggest defensive weakness. If Darren Waller can’t play, we’re in even better shape here, leaving Derek Carr and Hunter Renfrow left to battle on their own. Both teams have a surprisingly decent shot at the playoffs, but Washington is the team that seems to have a roadmap to success. WFT +2.5

 

Bryan Sweet: Don’t look now, but Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are starting to come around.  The Chiefs have won four in a row and now come out of their BYE with an eye separating from the rest of the AFC West with simply a one-game lead over the rest of the division.  Kansas City has owned this matchup recently, winning the last five between the two, and three of those have been by margins wider than the spread in this one.  I think the Chiefs ascend to the class of the division beginning this week with an easy victory over Denver.    KC -10

Look, I know the Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFC and are getting healthy coming out of a BYE, but getting more than a TD on a home underdog and weather that looks like it’s going to be cold, windy, and maybe even some snow.  Sportscars don’t do well in bad weather and I can see a slugfest with Arizona escaping with a victory late.  Kyler Murray seems to be trending towards playing but DeAndre Hopkins is still a question mark.  I’ll take the points and ride with the home ‘dog this week.  CHI +8

Despite entering the game at 6-6 and two games behind the Titans in the AFC South, the Colts feel like the best team in the division right now.  Jonathan Taylor is playing at an MVP level and Carson Wentz is starting to get more comfortable with his weapons at WR and TE.  Houston is playing out the season and is overmatched in almost every area in this game.  I think Indianapolis builds a big lead and rides Taylor to an easy victory as they look to close the gap on the Titans.  IND -9.5

Seattle simply hasn’t looked the same since Russell Wilson injured his finger in Week 5 and San Francisco comes in with wins in four of their last five games and 30+ points in each of those wins.  However, Seattle was able to secure a seven-point victory in San Francisco in Week 4, and playing in front of the 12th Man is no easy feat.  I can see a low-scoring affair with the winner being the last team to score and I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle ended up on top again.  I’ll take the points and the home team for a second time this week.  SEA +3

I backed the Eagles last week and they let me down as the offense just couldn’t get going and Jalen Hurts had arguably his worst game as a pro tossing four INTs in the loss.  This week,  Philadelphia travels to MetLife Stadium to face a team that has been inside seven points in only one of their losses.  I don’t think this will be a good game to watch, but I think the Eagles can rebound and handle a bad Jets team.  If I can get this under seven, I’m all in.  PHI -6.5

 


 

What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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