Thanksgiving football, a fantastic slate of close games; what else could we ask for in Week 12. We’re at the time of the year where we can really start focusing on playoff races and award races, which truly makes it the best time of the football calendar.
Today, let’s take a look at the Week 13 slate. Every week, I’ll be providing my projections on the outcome of each game, and then contextualizing what to do with that information: best bets, teasers, parlays, survivor picks, and much more!
These projections started with me using projected PFF grades to decipher the true talent of every team. From there, I utilized those projections to establish each team’s offense and defense rank, which allowed me to derive how talented each team is compared to the average team with a neutral field; as the season goes, I’ll be analyzing PFF data and other key metrics to continue to update each team’s offense and defense ranking. Adding in an adjustment for home field, and, what do you know, each game had a projection! The combination of the foundation of it starting objectively, and then the mixture of subjective analysis to make it less of a “blind” projection, will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. You can consider these, based on the subjective touch, predictions instead of pure projections, but, hey, it gets us in the same place!
Enough rambling; it’s time to get to the point of this article! Let’s completely preview Week 12 from a betting perspective!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus
Week 13 Personal Projections
LAC (+3) at CIN
We’re finally getting a Justin Herbert versus Joe Burrow matchup! The two top quarterbacks from the 2020 draft have been fantastic this season, but they could not have been coming off of different games. Whereas Burrow’s Bengals won a 41-10 slaughter of the Steelers, the Chargers fell to 6-5 with a tough 28-13 loss in Denver. This week, however, I believe these two teams’ respective fortunes will be flipped.
The Chargers’ offense feels like a disappointment to many, but they are averaging the fifth-most yards/play (6) in the NFL. Yes, they only rank 14th in points/game, but there’s no reason to expect that gap to remain. Missed fourth-down conversions and field goals have come back to bite them this season, but that’s extremely volatile on a week-to-week basis; improved luck there could have them in position for a “boom” week.
Cincinnati has had a lot of success as a run-first team as of late, but I think that new identity will come back to bite them here. Yes, the Chargers run a defensive scheme that induces opposing offenses to run the ball, which is why they are tied for third-worst in rushing yards allowed/attempt (4.7). Yet, if the Chargers’ offense performs at the level they’re capable of, that strategy becomes much less effective. This is a team that relies a lot on big plays from receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, yet Los Angeles is in the top-12 in fewest explosive passes allowed; it’s all tied to their defensive scheme under head coach Brandon Staley. I seriously worry about how this passing offense will fare against this style of defense, and if they become too reliant on their rushing attack, they could fall behind to a team with a very strong passing attack.
In a battle between a pass-heavy offense and a run-heavy offense, I’ll always side with the former. Based on yards/play and other metrics, Los Angeles has the better offense here, while the defenses are quite similar. Then, you add in that I’m getting three points here? 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?
LV (-2.5) vs WSH
Here comes the Washington Football Team!
Since their bye week, Washington has won three straight games and is currently in the playoffs as the #7 seed. Thus, the hype around them is starting to rise, with talks of whether Taylor Heinicke is the team’s future at the quarterback position. However, I believe this has been overblown.
Heinicke has played better as of late, but he still has more turnover-worthy plays (3.4%) than big-time throws (3.1%), while he is also just PFF’s 29th-graded passer. On the other side, Derek Carr has been terrific this season, ranking as PFF’s ninth-graded passer; he also is tied for fourth in yards/pass attempt (8.3). I think it’s safe to say we have a massive offensive mismatch here.
Yes, Washington’s defense has allowed just 19.2 points/game over their past five games. At the same time, they’re still without pass rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat, which could be bad news facing the Raiders. Carr has a 7.8% big-time throw rate with just a 1.9% turnover-worthy play rate when kept clean, and most of his issues have come when pressured. Meanwhile, Washington has been shuffling their slot cornerbacks around all year, and now has a tough task having to face Hunter Renfrow. Expect a big game from Carr here.
Carr should have a terrific game here based on the matchup, making the offensive mismatch here substantial. Plus, Las Vegas’ defense has been better in practically every metric! I believe there is a clear difference between these teams, and 2.5 points does not justify it. Without it crossing the key number of three, take the Raiders here.
MIN (-1) at DET
PHI (-0.5) at NYJ
ARI (-2) at CHI
These are the top three spreads that can be teased under three points, which is what you’re looking for when teasing a specific team. All three of these teams have very clear paths to victory on Sunday against inferior teams, which is all you need here. Some crazy upset will happen, because why not, but the process here seems sound.
Parlay (Four Games and Eight Games)
LAC (+3) at CIN
LV (-2.5) vs WSH
BUF (-2.5) vs NE
MIN (-7) at DET
WSH at LV (Under 49.5)
BAL at PIT (Over 44)
DEN (+10) at KC
DEN at KC (Over 47)
I’m forcing myself to deliver an eight-game parlay, which is a worse option than the four-game parlay this week. There aren’t as many totals to get excited about here, but I think 49.5 points is too much for a Washington/Raiders game that could be slowed down by Washington’s ball control, run-heavy mindset. On the contrary, we can fade the Steelers’ defense with the low 44-point total against the Ravens, while any total under 50 for the Chiefs is worth betting on. As for the spreads, I don’t see any reason as to why the Vikings, who still have a positive point differential, should be laying just seven points against a winless Lions team; the Bills also have the far superior passing attack to the Patriots, whose recent stretch has been guided by playing inferior teams. The four-game parlay is one that I’m excited about this week, so look to that over a larger parlay.
LAR vs JAX
MIN at DET
The Rams are the largest favorites of the week, but you probably already used them when they had a three-game stretch against the Giants, Lions, and Texans. Thus, I think the Vikings offer value this week. I see no reason why they shouldn’t take care of business against a winless, banged-up Lions team, and they don’t have any more soft matchups after this; the Colts, on the other hand, still get to face the Jaguars one more time.
Parting Bold Predictions
Justin Herbert Throws For Twice As Many Yards as Joe Burrow
Taylor Heinicke Throws Three Interceptions, Derek Carr Has Three Touchdowns
Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins Are Held To Less Than 100 Yards Combined
Remember, these are BOLD predictions! All of these align with my previous betting picks, but allow us to get a bit spicy here. Enjoy an exciting week of football, and please remember to bet responsibly!
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)