Week 13 Picks

Posted: 12/06/2015 by levcohen in Football

After the two months of BYE weeks and the three Thursday games last week, we’re back to being able to enjoy a stacked Sunday schedule. Enjoy it while you can, because it’ll only be five weeks, but there are 14 games today, including nine 1:00 games. The majority of those games, of course, don’t look that appealing to watch on the surface, but when there are so many games in one day, there are definitely going to be some dandies. Seattle-Minnesota, Houston-Buffalo, and the night game, Indianapolis-Pittsburgh, look like the three best games on the schedule, but I’m sure the rest of the slate won’t disappoint.

*= upset pick

New York Jets (6-5, 5-5-1) at New York Giants (5-6, 6-4-1):* – Neutral site game
Spread: Jets favored by 2.5
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: Both of these teams have been very inconsistent recently, and this game could go in a lot of different directions. The turning point, I think, might be Darrelle Revis’s concussion, which will keep the star cornerback out of his second consecutive game. Without Revis, Dolphins’ #1 receiver Jarvis Landry burned Antonio Cromartie and the Jets to the tune of 13 catches for 165 yards and a score. This week, Cromartie gets to face… Odell Beckham Jr., one of the best receivers in football. I expect a fifth consecutive 100+ yard game for Beckham and a bounce-back game from Eli Manning, who’s only played two good games in his last six and is due for a big game. Giants win 27-23.
Giants cover
Over

Arizona Cardinals (9-2, 6-5) at St. Louis Rams (4-7, 4-6-1):
Spread: Cardinals favored by 3.5
Over/under: 43
My prediction: The Rams have lost four in a row, but they did beat the Cardinals in Arizona back in October, when the Cardinals were playing better than they are now. Todd Gurley had a huge game in that meeting, and he’s going to have to have another big game if the Rams want to have any chance of upsetting their division rivals again. Arizona has failed to cover three of their last five, but they’ve won all five of those games, and I think the Rams and their horrific offense are being given a little too much credit here. Cardinals win 21-14.
Cardinals cover
Under

Atlanta Falcons (6-5, 4-7) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6, 6-5):
Spread: Falcons favored by 1
Over/under: 46.5
My prediction: They might have decent records, but make no mistake about it: these two teams are both pretty crappy. The Falcons have lost five of their last six despite being favored in every one of those six games. Meanwhile, the Bucs have also had a very easy schedule (third easiest to this point, while the Falcons have gone up against the easiest) and responded with limited success. So when both teams are bad, I’d normally take the one that’s home over the one that is 1-7 against the spread as a favorite. But you know what? I just have a weird feeling about the Falcons in this one. In the positive sense. Falcons win 24-20.
Falcons cover
Under

Seattle Seahawks (6-5, 4-6-1) at Minnesota Vikings (8-3, 9-2):*
Spread: Seahawks favored by 2.5
Over/under: 43
My prediction: The Vikings are really good, especially at home. Since they got destroyed by the Niners in week one, the Vikings are 8-2 and 9-1 against the spread, and they’ve given up more than 23 points just once in that span. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have scored at least 29 points in three straight games, so this is a sneaky strength vs. strength game. And I’m going to take the Vikings, because I have more confidence in their defense at home than I do in Seattle’s offense. Plus, Adrian Peterson is always a good player to have on your side. Vikings win 20-16.
Vikings cover
Under

Houston Texans (6-5, 6-5) at Buffalo Bills (5-6, 5-5-1):
Spread: Bills favored by 3.5
Over/under: 41.5
My prediction: The Texans have looked really good recently, especially defensively. But they’re going to drop a game sometime soon, and I think this will be that game. The Bills have the ninth ranked offense (by DVOA), and the Texans have the ninth ranked defense, so this should be a good, fair matchup. It’ll come down to the wire, but the Bills should end up on top. I don’t know why they’re getting the extra half point, though. Bills win 24-21.
Texans cover
Over

Baltimore Ravens (4-7, 2-7-2) at Miami Dolphins (4-7, 4-7):
Spread: Dolphins favored by 4
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: Bleh. Not a game I’m going to be watching. I don’t know why the Dolphins are being favored by four points against anyone, as they’ve looked really bad recently. Then again, Matt Schaub is Baltimore’s quarterback, so I guess it does make some sense. I’ll reluctantly take the Dolphins 24-17.
Dolphins cover
Under

Cincinnati Bengals (9-2, 9-1-1) at Cleveland Browns (2-9, 4-7):
Spread: Bengals favored by 7.5
Over/under: 44
My prediction: I’m always nervous when Andy Dalton’s Bengals are giving this many points on the road. They’re going up against Austin Davis and the Browns, but there’s something about this Cincinnati team that scares me. Should it? Probably not; they’re 9-1-1 against the spread for a reason. But I still have my reservations. Bengals win 27-20.
Browns cover
Over

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7, 6-5) at Tennessee Titans (2-9, 4-7):*
Spread: Titans favored by 3
Over/under: 43.5
My prediction: The Titans have been very close to a lot of wins; they’ve lost four games by three points or fewer. But after I picked them to win as one point home underdogs against Oakland and saw them cough up the lead, I’m not sure I like them enough to pick them as favorites. The Jaguars have a lot more offensive firepower and I expect that to be the difference in a close one. Jaguars win 24-21.
Jaguars cover
Over

San Francisco 49ers (3-8, 5-6) at Chicago Bears (5-6, 7-4):
Spread: Bears favored by 6.5
Over/under: 42.5
My prediction: Maybe the Bears don’t stink. They’ve won three of their past four games, all on the road, and their last two home games have been close losses against Denver and Minnesota, both good teams. They’re just 1-4 at home, but that shouldn’t matter against a dreadful Niners team that is 0-5 away from home. Bears win 31-14.
Bears cover
Over

Denver Broncos (9-2, 6-5) at San Diego Chargers (3-8, 4-7):
Spread: Broncos favored by 5.5
Over/under: 44.5
My prediction: Don’t let San Diego’s win in Jacksonville fool you; this is still a bad football team, especially defensively. The Chargers will have a lot more trouble moving the ball against the Broncos, while Brock Oswiler and especially Denver’s running game should have a great game against one of the softest defenses in the league. And remember: Chargers fans don’t show up to games, so the Broncos will probably have the vast majority of fans. All of this points to an easy road win. Broncos win 30-13.
Broncos cover
Under

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5, 6-5) at Oakland Raiders (5-6, 6-5):
Spread: Chiefs favored by 3
Over/under: 45.5
My prediction: After five consecutive wins over some pretty tough competition, could this be the week that the Chiefs become complacent? Perhaps. It’s certainly happened before to Andy Reid-led teams, and I’m sure it will happen at some point over these final five games, all of which could be easy KC wins. But I don’t think it’ll happen here, with a playoff spot still far from assured and the Raiders just a game behind the Chiefs. Kansas City is the much better team, and should win easily if they play like they have been playing. Chiefs win 24-18.
Chiefs cover
Under

Philadelphia Eagles (4-7, 4-7) at New England Patriots (10-1, 5-4-2):
Spread: Patriots favored by 8
Over/under: 49
My prediction: After opening at Patriots -13, this spread moved more than any other this week, going as low as 7.5 before settling at 8. Normally, you would expect Patriots games, and especially Patriots home games against teams that have given up 45 points in consecutive games, to have spreads moving in the other direction as the public gets involved in the betting. But a lot of the “smart,” professional money is on the Eagles, because their quarterback is coming back from injury and because the Patriots are missing Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, among others. I’d like to think I’m smart, but I have to take the public’s side here. There’s no way I’m picking the Eagles to lose by fewer than eight points, at least until they show me something. Patriots win 34-24.
Patriots cover
Over

Carolina Panthers (11-0, 9-2) at New Orleans Saints (4-7, 4-6-1):
Spread: Panthers favored by 6
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: This is a little bit like the last game. The public is all over the team that’s dominated all season, but the spread is still inching down because there’s a legitimate reason to go with the underdog. In this case, that reason is simple: the Saints are getting more points at home than they have in the Drew Brees era, and they’re usually very good at home. And it’s true that they are 1-0 as home underdogs this year, with a victory over the then-overrated Falcons. But their last home game was a loss to the Titans. They’re 3-2 at home, but they haven’t had a true, resounding, Saints home win all year, and they’ll be without #2 receiver Willie Snead this week, which, along with Brandin Cooks’s matchup with Josh Norman, means that Brees will be bereft of weapons. Meanwhile, the Panthers have been great all season, but they’ve been even better in recent weeks. The Eagles and/or Saints might keep their respective games close, but I don’t expect either of them to win. Panthers win 35-20.
Panthers cover
Over

Indianapolis Colts (6-5, 6-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, 6-4-1):- Lock
Spread: Steelers favored by 9
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: The Steelers are favored by 9? But Matt Hasselbeck, the 40-year old wonder, is 4-0 as a starter! This spread is so disrespectful to Hasselbeck and the Colts, who have covered six of their past seven spreads! I’m joking… kind of. Hasselbeck is playing well, all things considered, but the full-strength (besides Le’Veon Bell) Steelers are clearly the better team. And it’s the Steelers who really need to win this game, especially with games against Denver and Cincinnati coming up. I’m very confident in Big Ben and Pittsburgh here against Indy’s mediocre defense. Steelers win 28-17.
Steelers cover
Under

Dallas Cowboys (3-8, 3-8) at Washington Redskins (5-6, 5-6):*
Spread: Redskins favored by 3.5
Over/under: 42
My prediction: I’m going to take the Cowboys here. Why? Because this is the NFC East we’re talking about, and because I think the Redskins are still a really bad team. Dallas isn’t good either, but weird things happen in divisional games. Cowboys win 20-17.
Cowboys cover
Under

Upset picks:
Cowboys over Redskins
Jaguars over Titans
Giants over Jets
Vikings over Seahawks

Lock of the week:
Steelers over Colts

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