The points are flowing in unlucky Week 13 of the NFL season, with four teams getting double digits from the bookmakers and two others (Jacksonville and Philadelphia) teetering on the cusp of a 10-point spread.
A pile of points can be tempting when making your NFL betting picks and predictions, especially when you’re confined to only playing point spread pups every week. But remember, when you’re asking a double-digit dog to cover the spread, you’re asking a terrible team to suck just a little less. I’ve found that more often it’s a better strategy to ask a so-so team to play a little better.
We’ll be doing a bit of both in our NFL Underdogs picks for Week 13.
Cleveland Browns (+6) vs Tennessee Titans Pick
The Browns have lost just once since October 25, but those victories have come against some pretty cushy competition. And to take further shine off that success, Cleveland has covered the spread just one time in that five-game span.
But before we bash Baker and the Browns, this team did find itself in less-than-ideal conditions in a couple of those matchups, slowing down an offense that has started to find its footing again. The return of RB Nick Chubb has kick-started the Cleveland ground game and Mayfield – while missing some inexcusable throws – is coming off his best game since Week 7.
The Titans rolled the Colts in Week 12, scoring 45 points on the broad back and thundering thighs of RB Derrick Henry. That dominating performance has puffed up this point spread (as have concerns around another COVID outbreak at the Browns’ facility this week) to the key number of six and lines up the Titans for a letdown after a huge divisional revenge win.
This Week 13 game is a mismatch in pace, with the Titans running plays every 25.84 seconds (third fastest) and the Browns moving methodically at 28.60 seconds per play. Cleveland has boasted an average time of possession of 32:35 since Chubb’s return (fourth-most in the NFL during that span) and will tear up the turf with him and Kareem Hunt, sucking the energy from that Tennessee attack.
Add in a solid rushing defense – 4.1 yards allowed per carry – and the return of standout pass rusher Myles Garrett keeping Ryan Tannehill on edge, and I’m taking the Browns to stay within six points in the Music City on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Cleveland +6 (-110)
New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Chargers (+1) Pick
Los Angeles is a desperate team with its only bright spot over the past month being a victory against the Jets—and a far from convincing one at that. The Chargers are back home and welcoming a familiar foe for head coach Anthony Lynn, who battled Bill Belichick plenty during AFC East stints with New York and Buffalo.
However, this time around Lynn has the potent passing game, and the Patriots are battling against defensive mediocrity. Sure, the Hoodie is 19-5 SU versus rookie quarterbacks but he’s trying to improve on that record with a stop unit giving up massive gains through the air, allowing 9.2 yards per pass and a near 71-percent completion percentage to QBs on the road.
Los Angeles’ rookie passer Justin Herbert has played fantastic inside the shiny new SoFi Stadium, boasting a passer rating of 103.6 as a host and completing 69 percent of his passes for 10 touchdowns—with only two interceptions. To boot, he got standout RB Austin Ekeler back last week (129 total yards), adding a much-needed element to this offense.
PREDICTION: Los Angeles +1 (-110)
Washington Football Team (+10) vs Pittsburgh Steelers Pick
As of this writing, Pittsburgh still has to play Baltimore on Wednesday afternoon. That lingering Week 12 matchup, which should have been played on Thanksgiving Thursday, has impacted the Week 13 slate and bumps this game from Sunday to Monday at 5 p.m. ET.
Take a frustrating week with a short turnaround, on top of a possible letdown (off a divisional rivalry), on top of a potential lookahead (Pittsburgh at Buffalo in Week 14) and you have the club sandwich of situational spots working against the Steelers.
Washington is well rested and ready, having enjoyed a mini-bye after chowing down on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The Football Team has won two straight and has covered in four of its last six games going back to Week 6, thanks in large part to a defense ranked fifth in DVOA at Football Outsiders and a pass rush that has collected 36 sacks on the season.
I’m getting down on this double-digit spread now, knowing there are more potential negatives than positives to come out of that Steelers-Ravens game. And negatives will shrink this spread.
PREDICTION: Washington +10 (-110)
Last week: 3-0 ATS
Season: 20-16 ATS
NFL Week 13 Betting Card
- Cleveland +6 (-110)
- Los Angeles Chargers +1 (-110)
- Washington +10 (-110)
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