For the first time in a long time we are back to a full 16-game slate of games with all of the bye weeks now concluded heading into the final stretch-run of the regular season. I want to take this time to update the readers at home of how yours truly has been doing in game picks since rolling out this segment back in Week 5. Before that however, Thanksgiving did not treat me well against the spread going 0-3 with a few near misses, I’m talking a measly point here, but overall last week I went 7-7-1 ATS and 10-5 straight up.
Since Week 5, I have compiled a 54-52-6 record against the spread (48% hits) with a 74-40 record straight up to go with that. Clearly, like most I can call a winner without nailing the lines. Still, if you roll with the right bets you can bring home some good cash and outside of a few really bad weeks, I have been nothing but consistently good and around the 60% mark which I’m hoping to get the total hits number up to. I have five full slates to get that done. No pressure.
Time to jump in. All lines courtesy of Bovada in Las Vegas.
Thursday Night Football: New Orleans Saints (10-1) at Dallas Cowboys (6-5): DAL +8, Confidence: 7
I don’t know if anyone can really be confident betting against this wagon of a Saints roster with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees playing some of the best football of his career. The matchup between the Saints high-powered offense and the Cowboys defense in the one to key on here. Leighton Vander Esch has carved out a huge role in the middle of the Dallas defense as a rookie and has led their charge back into the NFC East race. Dak has played great football and Ezekiel Elliott has been a machine. This is going to be a really great Thursday night game and while I like Sean Payton‘s Saints to win the game, I’ll take Dallas and the 8 points at home.
Baltimore Ravens (6-5) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7): ATL -1, Confidence: 7
This is one of the tougher games to call on the schedule. You never know what you’re going to get on any given Sunday from either one of these two teams so it’s a tough bet. Lamar Jackson has taken over for the Ravens and they have ran it down the throat of the opposing teams with their dual-threat QB and Flacco out. Even though Baltimore has the team still in the hunt in the AFC and the coaching advantage, I’m rolling with the high-powered Falcons offense and Matt Ryan in a dome at home. I don’t see the Ravens being able to match points with the Falcons on the road and Atlanta isn’t completely eliminated from contention just yet, it’s a long-shot, but it starts this week at home.
Denver Broncos (5-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-6): DEN -5, Confidence: 9
Well, the Bengals season is officially over. Not only did they get embarrassed at home by the Browns, they lost their QB for the season with a thumb injury. Might this be the year Marvin Lewis is finally sent packing? Time will tell, but the Hue Jackson decision certainly doesn’t bode well for him. The Broncos on the other hand are riding high off a home win over the Steelers with their great defense and solid QB play from Case Keenum so I will have zero issue swallowing the 5 points on the road against Jeff Driskel and the Bengals.
Los Angeles Rams (10-1) at Detroit Lions (4-7): LAR -10, Confidence: 8
The Rams are well rested off a bye and get a road matchup indoors against a Lions team that just lost at home to Chase Daniel and the Bears. Jared Goff & Sean McVay should tear up this Lions unit with two weeks to prepare so I have zero issue swallowing the 10 points for an elite Rams team who we last saw win a shootout with the Chiefs on Monday night. I still don’t for the life of me understand how Detroit beat New England earlier this year, but I digress.
Arizona Cardinals (2-9) at Green Bay Packers (4-6-1): ARZ +14, Confidence: 7
Aaron Rodgers may be in his last few weeks with Mike McCarthy as a head coach and it is for the best. He needs a fresh start as do the Packers after years of struggles and disappointment despite one of the greatest guys to ever play the position. I like the Cardinals getting two touchdowns in this spot. Everyone will be looking for Green Bay to send a message and beat down Arizona in route to running the table and making the playoffs. Not this year, this Packers team is far too flawed. I like some pieces, but they need an overhaul of the coaching staff. Josh Rosen and the Cardinals come in and keep in tight, before the Packers get it done late and win the football game. I’ll take the 14 points here even though I expect Green Bay to win the game.
Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) at Houston Texans (8-3): HOU -6, Confidence: 7
I’d probably take the Browns if the line was 7 or more because I think the Texans win by a touchdown, but this should be a QB show between Deshaun Watson and Baker Mayfield. The Browns have played much better football under Gregg Williams with more discipline, but they are not in the same realm as the Texans who are playing really great football right now, especially at the QB position and on defense. Houston wins at home making it 9 in a row, but Baker makes it a hard-fought battle.
Indianapolis Colts (6-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8): IND -5, Confidence: 8
The Jags are a mess. Not only did they bench Blake Bortles (sucks) for Cody Kessler (probably even worse), but they fired OC Nathaniel Hackett who is close friends with head coach Doug Marrone (he’s not far behind). This team has crumbled since shooting their load against the Patriots in Week 2, and the Colts meanwhile are red-hot with a healthy Andrew Luck. Frank Reich has the program turned around and Indy is ticketed back for the playoffs.
Buffalo Bills (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-6): MIA -3.5, Confidence: 7
I get the more complete team at home with an offense that hung with the Colts last week and only have to swallow 3.5 points? Like it, I love this pick. Miami is a borderline AFC playoff team and the Bills, well, aren’t. Ryan Tannehill is back and the Dolphins will be back at .500 after Sunday.
Chicago Bears (8-3) at New York Giants (3-8): CHI -4, Confidence: 7
The Bears will more than likely have Chase Daniel starting again on Sunday, and he did a serviceable job stepping in on a short-week and winning the football game. All you have to do is manage the game and not turn it over with that defense anchored by Khalil Mack. The Giants have looked better over recent weeks, but I’ll swallow the 4 points for a Bears team on the road with their backup QB. Chicago is five times more talented than New York and have a much better coaching staff.
Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7): CAR -3.5, Confidence: 10
The last two weeks I’ve been all-in on the Panthers and fallen victim to their lack of execution. This week on the road against Jameis Winston and an inferior Bucs team, they will bounce-back. Christian McCaffrey may have to carry the offense himself like last week, but the Panthers need a win and a resounding one to stay in position to secure a wild card spot in the NFC. Riverboat Ron and his team will do their job on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-9): OAK +15.5, Confidence: 5
I’m not that excited about this pick, but it’s outside the box so I’m rolling with it. The Chiefs are off a bye week and have their high-powered offense rearing to go against a mediocre Raiders team. Patrick Mahomes may very well drop 50+ points and throw for 6-7 TD’s, but the Raiders still have Jon Gruden and Derek Carr and the KC defense is brutal. At some point, the Raiders have to put up a fight instead of rolling over week-after-week and this is exactly the spot where they rise to the occasion and don’t completely get destroyed. I’m not crazy, the Chiefs will win, but the score might look a little something like 45-35.
New York Jets (3-8) at Tennessee Titans (5-6): TEN -8, Confidence: 8
The Titans are one of those teams you just can’t grab a pulse on. Two weeks in a row they had great wins over playoff teams in Dallas & New England and they respond with two thumping’s at the hands of divisional opponents. Mike Vrabel has to get this team and season back on the rails and fortunately for the Titans they return home to take on a beat-up and broken down Jets team. Back to .500 in Nashville, swallow the points.
Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) at New England Patriots (8-3): NE -6, Confidence: 7
I’ve thought long and hard about this pick and it’s probably the toughest for me of the week, but I’m sticking with the Patriots here. Despite how Minnesota has looked in recent weeks and the great talent they have on both sides of the ball, two things stick out to me. The Patriots at home are 5-0 and have played their best football all season. 4:25 start time for America’s Game of the Week on FOX and they will win a close game late by Tom Brady doing his thing. The second reason? Go back and look at Kirk Cousins track record against teams over .500, it’s not so hot. Add that to the fact he’s gotta travel to Foxboro to play Tom Brady and I don’t like his chances. This one will be back-and-forth for a while, but the Patriots win by at least a touchdown to cover.
San Francisco 49ers (2-9) at Seattle Seahawks (6-5): SEA -10, Confidence: 7
Seattle has finally won me over with several big wins in recent weeks and the Quarterback play from Russell Wilson. The 49ers meanwhile have been treading water despite the good young offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, they just don’t have the talent to compete in games like this without their franchise Quarterback. They got handled by Tampa Bay for crying out load, what exactly do you think the Seahawks will do to them at home? This one will be ugly, take Seattle and swallow the 10 points.
Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1): LAC +3.5, Confidence: 9
I went against Big Ben and the Steelers last week on the road in Denver and was rewarded. I’ll do the same this week with a more complete Chargers roster on the road in Pittsburgh. I like Phillip Rivers and the Chargers to come in and flat out win the football game. The Steelers don’t have the man-power to slow down LA even without Melvin Gordon and Nick Bosa will harass Rothlisberger all game. Even if the Chargers were to lose, it won’t be by more than a last-minute field goal. Lock this puppy in.
Washington Redskins (6-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6): PHI -6, Confidence: 8
I wanted to pull for the Redskins, I really did. Then, their offensive line all got hurt at once and Alex Smith snapped his leg. Now, they’ve gone ahead and claimed a troubled linebacker who was released for a domestic violence issue. Washington will be distracted internally from this move and will suffer this week. The Eagles chance to get back in the division is this week with Dallas playing against the Saints and we could be looking at a three-way tie in the NFC East come next week. I’ll take Carson Wentz and the Eagles at home to win and cover by a touchdown.
Alright, there are my Week 13 NFL picks and before I depart I’ll leave you with a few bonus CFB picks for conference championship weekend:
-UCF -3 vs. Memphis (AAC)
-UGA +14 vs. Alabama (SEC)
-Northwestern +15 vs. Ohio State (B1G)
-Oklahoma -8 vs. Texas (BIG 12)