Week 13 of the very unique 2020 NFL season is here.
With COVID-19 concerns in several games, be sure to check injury reports as we get closer to kickoff. Our experts Drew Dinsick, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans combine to give their opinions on every game.
All odds as of Thursday evening, from VSiN's NFL odds page.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-3, 44.5)
Youmans: It’s almost an auto-play to bet on a team the week after the coach gets fired. I don’t blindly play any angle, but the coaching change angle is one of my favorites and it’s 2-0 ATS this season. Houston fired Bill O’Brien after starting 0-4 SU/ATS, and the Texans (-6.5) beat Jacksonville 30-14 the next week. Atlanta fired Dan Quinn after starting 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS, and the Falcons (+ 3.5) hit the road to beat Minnesota 40-23 the next week. Detroit’s players seemed to welcome the news of coach Matt Patricia getting fired after the Thanksgiving Day massacre, so expect a rejuvenated Lions team this week.
This matchup in Week 1 was my worst betting beat of the NFL season. The Bears came back from a 23-6 fourth-quarter deficit to win 27-23 on three Mitchell Trubisky touchdown passes. Trubisky is back at the controls of the league’s fourth-worst scoring offense (19.6 ppg). The offensive line is a mess and the rushing attack is weak. Coach Matt Nagy’s speech about the need for Chicago’s coaches and players to “wake up” is unlikely to go over well in the locker room considering Nagy has appeared clueless since the start of the 2019 season. Matthew Stafford needs more help, so hopefully Kenny Golladay and D’Andre Swift are inspired to return from injury this week. Regardless, I’ll continue fading the Bears, who have dropped to 5-6 after their phony 5-1 start.
Pick: Lions + 3
Tuley: You have to plug your nose to bet -- or watch --- this game the way these teams have been playing. The Bears have lost five straight but still have a shot at the playoffs. The Lions are playing their first game after Patricia was finally fired, so I would tend to lean toward them as we often see teams get at least a short-term boost after a coaching change (players auditioning for the interim or future coaching staff, etc.).
The + 3 is too short for me to back the Lions, but I will start my teaser portfolio here and combine with this week’s other advantage teasers that capture the key numbers of 3 and 7: Texans + 9 vs. Colts, Raiders -2 at Jets, Falcons + 9 vs. Saints (note: my least favorite of the bunch), Cardinals + 9 vs. Rams, Steelers -1.5 vs. Washington and 49ers + 8.5 or + 9 vs. Bills. As I’ve written before, I usually stick to two- or three-team six-point teasers, so mix and match those options according to your own handicapper.
Pick: Pass, except for Lions teased up to + 9
Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins (-11.5, 42.5)
Tuley: Yes, the Dolphins are 7-4, continue to play well whether it’s Tua Tagovailoa or Ryan Fitzpatrick in the starting lineup and just covered as 7.5-point road favorites at the Jets. And, yes, the Bengals are 2-8-1 and are without rookie QB Joe Burrow, but this line shouldn’t be double digits. Cincinnati has been surprisingly competitive all year at 7-4 ATS and just covered in a 19-17 loss to the Giants. Brandon Allen was only 17-for-29 for 136 yards, but he also had some dropped passes and the offense should be more in sync this week. The Bengals should be able to stick around, as the Dolphins will be content to get out with the win.
Pick: Bengals + 11.5
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5, 51) at Houston Texans
Dinsick: The Texans are riding high and finally playing up to their preseason potential, but they face a step up in competition this week, drawing the Colts team coming off an embarrassing performance against the Titans in Week 12. The major element in this handicap revolves around player availability; Houston will be without its most important weapon, seeing Will Fuller get suspended for the remainder of 2020 and Indianapolis is facing attrition to the strength of its offensive line, losing Anthony Castonzo to injury while Center Ryan Kelly will be limited.
It is fair to question whether Watson will be able to continue to perform at his recent outstanding level (currently No. 4 in EPA per play and completion percentage over expectation among all QBs this season) in the absence of Fuller, who has been his most valuable asset over the last two seasons. In addition, the Colts will get back key defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry, players who have led the Colts to the No. 8 defense in EPA conceded per play. That suggests this will be a hard-fought contest won in the trenches, not the high-scoring shootout that the total is implying. This opens up an opportunity to bet the under as a fair price is 49 by my numbers.
Pick: Under 51
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings (-10, 52)
Tuley: The Vikings looked dead in the water against the Panthers before rallying for a 28-27 win to stay in the NFC wild-card hunt at 5-6. It showed me that while they’re playing better than earlier in the year, they still shouldn’t be trusted to cover big numbers (they failed to cover as 3-point home favorites vs. the Panthers, and let’s not forget they were coming off an embarrassing 31-28 loss to the Cowboys as lofty 7-point home chalk). The Jaguars are a lowly 1-10 SU, but they’re a more respectable 5-6 ATS and the offense looked better with QB Mike Glennon taking over. Last week, they got the back-door cover in a 27-25 loss to the Browns as 7-point dogs. I expect the Jaguars to stay close the whole game, but it’s nice to know they can rally with Glennon if needed.
Pick: Jaguars + 10
Dinsick: It has been a bizarre and disappointing 2020 for Jacksonville to this point. The Jaguars are on their third starting QB with Glennon, and after winning their opener, they’ve lost 10 straight; general manager Dave Caldwell has also been relieved of duty after seven years. The coaching staff in Jacksonville is presumably the next up on the chopping block but they have their team playing hard as evidenced by their tough cover against the Browns at home last week. The defense is still weak against the run and extremely poor defending the pass, currently conceding a league-worst 0.337 expected points per dropback, which sets Kirk Cousins and his dangerous wide receiver duo up for a monster day. Glennon’s newfound success could make things interesting as Minnesota is also below league average defending the pass, and the fair total considering these offenses is 55 by my numbers so the over is very much in range.
Pick: Over 52
Las Vegas Raiders (-8, 47) at New York Jets
Tuley: I’m 3-2 ATS betting on the Jets this year, so I shouldn’t feel too bad when they lose like they did 20-3 to the Dolphins on Sunday. Still, that was an ugly game to watch. But, hey, at least I wasn’t among all those who bet the Raiders -3 vs. the Falcons in their even uglier 43-6 loss. While I think it’s ridiculous that the same Raiders team is now laying more than a touchdown on the road, I can’t get myself to trust the Jets again. There’s a better chance that the Raiders bounce back from their embarrassing performance.
Pick: Pass, except for Raiders teased down to -2
Dinsick: Week 12 was a waking nightmare for the Raiders, as everything that could go wrong did; between penalties earned and fumbles lost, the offense had its sloppiest performance of the season, chalking up an impossibly bad -0.68 expected points per play. The market fairly downgraded them on the result but the Raiders draw a picture-perfect matchup in the Jets to serve as a bounce back in Week 13. A confident Raiders team was upset by New York in 2019 but now on the outside of the playoffs looking in, they must focus their attention and take care of business this time around.
The Las Vegas offense has been very strong on the season despite falling out of the top five based on their stinker last week; Derek Carr and Co. present a brutal mismatch for a Jets pass defense that is struggling to generate pressure and has conceded the 31st overall EPA per dropback this season. Fair price on this game is over 10 points by my numbers, so I don’t mind laying the points with the road favorite, who hopefully will be adjusted to the East Coast travel given this is their second straight week in the Eastern time zone.
Pick: Raiders -8
New Orleans Saints (-3, 45.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Tuley: This line was sitting at Saints -3 most of the week and looked like it might go to -3.5 as several books went to -3 -120, but it has reversed as of Thursday night and has dipped to -2.5 at the South Point and Circa. The Falcons are certainly more competitive than they were before Dan Quinn was fired, but the Saints are among the top teams in the NFC and I would need more than a field goal to fade them with a straight bet. Besides, despite all the hype around Swiss-Army-Knife-turned-QB Taysom Hill, the defense has been carrying the Saints lately and we just saw them shut down this Falcons offense two weeks ago in a 24-9 win. This is the teaser I’m least confident this week, but I’ll use on a few tickets.
Pick: Pass, except for Falcons teased up to + 9 or + 8.5
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (-5.5, 54)
Tuley: This is one of the best matchups in Week 13 with both teams at 8-3 and playoff-bound. The Browns are a little tempting at this price, but I like the Titans (my value bet at 40-1 to win the Super Bowl from earlier this year) and I’m not looking to fade them with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry playing such great complementary football. I do love the Under in this game as both teams should rely on their great running games and keep the clock running. The Browns also get DE Myles Garrett back this week.
Pick: Under 54
New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks (-10, 47)
Tuley: The Seahawks tend to play a lot of close games. Seattle’s defense has been sieve-like and more like the Legion of Gloom this season (allowing an NFL-worst 418.1 yards per game) as it lets teams stick around and/or get the back-door cover like the Eagles did against them on Monday night. Meanwhile, the Giant’ defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points since Week 8 (I don’t want to make that big of a deal about it as their opponents since then have been Washington, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, but it’s still a confidence booster). I would prefer if Daniel Jones were able to play, but Colt McCoy can take what the defense gives him (which can be a lot) and keep the G-Men in this game.
Pick: Giants + 10
Los Angeles Rams (-3, 48.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Youmans: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is still bothered by a shoulder injury, which is part of the reason his production has declined. Murray has only three touchdown passes, including one via Hail Mary, in the past three games. The shoulder issue is also causing him to run less frequently, as Murray has 10 rushing attempts for 46 yards in the past two games. Defensive coordinators also seem to be figuring out the Arizona offense and coming up with new ways to contain Murray, the diminutive dynamo. The Rams’ defensive front puts pressure on quarterbacks, and Jalen Ramsey is an elite cover corner who can handle Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins. The coaching edge clearly goes to Sean McVay, who is 6-0 with five double-digit wins against the Cardinals the past three seasons. (While most books have moved to -3, DraftKings and William Hill are still offering the Rams -2.5, so play the favorite now and lay less than a field goal.)
Pick: Rams -2.5
Tuley: This is the third of four cases this week where we have a home underdog of + 3. The Cardinals, my NFC dark horse pick, have let me down a little as they’re 6-5, though still in the playoff hunt. I still feel they’re the right side here at home, though the Rams defense concerns me here. Again, give me + 3.5 and I’m probably on-board. As for the Over/Under, both teams are 8-3 with the Under as their totals have been inflated, so I’ll take the Under here as well.
Pick: Under 48.5
Dinsick: Certain divisional matchups occasionally force you to make plays outside of your numbers and the Rams-Cardinals game qualifies as such this week. These teams are reasonably similar overall strength this season, and Rams have an outstanding defense complemented by an average offense while Murray’s emergence has carried a strong Cardinals offense assisted by an average defense. Most of the game specific matchups favor the Rams in my opinion, as Ramsey can provide excellent coverage on Hopkins, Aaron Donald will make quick work of the Cardinals mediocre offensive line and when not under pressure Jared Goff has shown flashes of the quarterback who took these Rams to the Super Bowl just two years ago.
The real mismatch, however, is with the coaching where McVay has consistently had the Cardinals number during his tenure; as Youmans noted, McVay is 6-0 both SU and ATS versus Arizona, winning by an average margin of 23 points and covering the spread by an average of 15 points. Few matchups like this exist in the NFL and I will expect that McVay continues his dominance over Arizona until proven otherwise.
Pick: Rams -3
Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers (-8.5, 46.5)
Tuley: The Eagles fell to 3-7-1 and out of first place in the NFC Least, but it seems odd that people are calling for coach Doug Pederson’s job less than three years removed from leading Philadelphia to its first Super Bowl win. I definitely think the Eagles are being underrated (they’re the best 3-7-1 team that I can remember) as they did rally to cover the 6.5-point closing line vs. the Seahawks on Monday night with their Hail Mary TD and two-point conversion. That performance came a week after losing in a rainstorm in Cleveland, so I didn’t downgrade much for that performance. Granted, QB Carson Wentz’s league-leading 19 turnovers is a constant concern, but I still don’t think the Packers (8-3 SU, but overrated in my book) are more than a TD better than the Eagles.
Pick: Eagles + 8.5
New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers (PK, 47.5)
Youmans: Remember when several talking airheads in the national media expressed outrage that so many NFL teams passed on veteran quarterback Cam Newton as a free agent and allowed New England to steal the former MVP for a bargain price? Well, that buzz has been killed by Newton’s dull play. He has four TD passes and nine interceptions on the season. Last week, he passed for only 84 yards and threw two picks in the Patriots’ 20-17 victory over the Cardinals. It’s not easy to bet against the better quarterback -- Chargers rookie Justin Herbert -- in this matchup, but the coaching mismatch simply points to the Patriots. Anthony Lynn and the Chargers find clumsy ways to lose games. I’ll side with Bill Belichick and not overthink this.
Pick: Patriots PK
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-14, 51)
Tuley: We know it’s hard to bet against the Chiefs, but they’re just only 6-5 ATS despite a 10-1 SU record as they tend to let lesser teams stick around. The Broncos obviously lost ugly to the Saints last week and were blown out 43-16 by the Chiefs in their earlier meeting in Denver, but they get Drew Lock and their other real QBs back and have been competitive in most of their other games this season. They should be able to stay within two touchdowns, or at least get the back-door cover like the Buccaneers did against the Chiefs this past Sunday.
Pick: Broncos + 14