NFL Week 13 Betting Recap
Week 13 of the NFL was another wild week of action! Eli Manning got benched for Geno Smith, and then Giants owner John Mara realized that Geno Smith was still Geno Smith and fired the head coach and the GM and put Manning back in place as the starter. The Steelers and Bengals had another all-out war of a game that saw several players get taken off the field on stretchers and the Browns still don’t have a win! Here I will recap all the week’s betting action and give you games to start evaluating for next week. Let’s get started!
The Cowboys Show Signs of Life
When Ezekiel Elliot got suspended, many were quick to bury the Dallas Cowboys. They just couldn’t win without their star running back, could they? Well, most of you were right as the Cowboys looked abysmal without Zeke carrying the load and dropped their first three games after the suspension started. This week they got back to the team that they were supposed to be, a team that pounds the rock on the ground 30 plus times a game. They tried to let Dak Prescott lead the way, and I am sorry to break it to you Cowboy’s fans, but he is nowhere near good enough to carry a team throwing the ball 40 times a game.
The Cowboys rushed the ball 42 times, compared to just 22 pass attempts for Prescott and rolled 38-14 over the Washington Redskins. It was a return to normalcy for the Cowboys, and it looks like handing the ball off to Alfred Morris is a lot better game plan than trying to turn Dak Prescott into Aaron Rodgers.
Dallas plays its next two games on the road, at the New York Giants and at the Oakland Raiders, both very winnable games. Then they get Zeke back for the final two games of the year against the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles. I don’t think they will be able to pull off the miracle and climb all the way back into the playoff race, but the ball is in their court now, and if they continue to run the ball like they did this week they are going to be really tough to beat down the stretch. Next week Jerry’s boys are -4.5-point favorites on the road against the Giants. I am going to hope that head coach Jason Garrett does himself a favor and continues running the ball and if he does, the Boys will roll over the G-men and easily cover the spread.
For the Redskins, they are officially in really bad shape. At 5-7, they will need to win out and get some help to sneak into the playoffs. The one good thing they have on their side is that their last four games are all very winnable. Matchups against the Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos, and Giants could see the Redskins go undefeated the rest of the way out and get to 9-7. Will it be enough to snag that last wild card spot? Doubtful, but there is a chance. The ‘Skins are getting 7 points against the Chargers this week, and I will be backing the road team.
The Chargers may have fooled some of you guys into thinking they are a decent team with their three-game win streak, but I am not buying it. Let’s take a closer look at that win streak. They beat the Bills during the one-half Nathan Peterman experiment, that saw the rookie QB throw five picks in the first half, fluke. They beat the Cowboys without Ezekiel Elliot, with Dak Prescott doing his worst Tom Brady impression, fluke. And finally, they beat the Browns, the 0-12 Browns. So, are the Chargers any better right now than they were when they started the season 0-4? Probably not. Give me the Redskins and the points.
Don’t Sleep on the Minnesota Vikings
We aren’t seeing a lot of media attention surrounding the Minnesota Vikings and I have no clue as to why not. If you don’t think this team is a legit Super Bowl contender, you are crazy. This week, the Vikings marched into the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons’ house and came away with a hard-fought victory 14-9. It was the Vikings 8th straight victory and was a huge statement in the NFC. Coupled with the fact that the Eagles lost, the Vikings are in the hunt for the number one seed in the NFC.
Unlike the Chargers, would have cobbled together a win streak on the back of some soft scheduling, the Vikings are playing a who’s who of the best teams in the conference and are beating them all. The last three games the Vikings beat the first place Rams, the defending conference champions Falcons, and a Detroit Lions team that is very much alive in the wild-card race. The Vikings have all but clinched the division title and if they win this week at Carolina, they will have to be the favorites to win the NFC.
The Vikings are -2.5-point favorites this week at Carolina. The Panthers have been very good at home so far, this season, only dropping games to the Eagles and the Saints, two first-place teams. But the Vikings are yet another first-place team to play at Carolina, and I see them walking out with a victory. This defense is really that good. Case Keenum has that swagger about him and the running game has been solid with Latavious Murray and Jerrick McKinnon running wild. Great defense, good running game, game manager QB, sounds a lot like a recipe for a title. I will be laying the points on the road next week.
The Falcons now find themselves at 7-5 and on the outside looking in on the playoffs. This week is an absolute must win if the Falcons are going to have any real shot to make the playoffs. They just can’t afford to fall back to the pack of several teams one game behind them. It is another tough task this week as the Dirty Birdz will host the New Orleans Saints. The Saints have won nine out of their last ten games, with the lone slip up against an elite Rams team.
Drew Brees and company are running on all cylinders and this offense is going to prove to be very tough for Atlanta to stop. It is rare that the Falcons find themselves home underdogs, especially against a divisional opponent, but I think this Saints offense is going to be too much for the Atlanta D to handle and I expect them to score early and often. You can expect a shootout type of game, but when all the dust settles, the Saints will win and cover, essentially ending the season of their hated rivals. It was a downer of a season for Atlanta, and I see it coming to a proverbial end on Sunday.
The Pats Win the Game but Lose Gronk
The New England Patriots are once again the best team in the AFC. Early in the season, all the hype was around the Kansas City Chiefs, now the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a lot of attention, but the fact remains, the Patriots are the best team in the AFC, and it’s not close. This week the Patriots went into Buffalo and used a shutdown defense and power running game to get the job done and win 23-3.
Tom Brady mostly just sat back and watched as Dion Lewis and some guy named Rex Burkhead ran all over the Bills defense. Brady failed to throw a touchdown, which almost never happens, but he didn’t need to as the Pats rolled up close to 200 yards on the ground. It’s not that Brady couldn’t have thrown for 350 and four scores, its that this team is good enough that he didn’t need to and that’s scary.
The one downside for New England is that the normally playful Rob Gronkowski, showed a bit of his dark side, as he dropped the people’s elbow on Tre’Davious White and gave the defender a concussion. It was a vicious and completely uncalled-for attack that garnered Gronk a one-game suspension. It could have been much worse, as many in the media were calling for up to three games for the hit. You just have to wonder where this will leave the superstar tight end with head coach Bill Belichick. Belichick has shown very little remorse for players that want to cause distractions over the years. Will Gronk get a pass or will Bill trade him to the Toronto Argonauts for a 12 pack of Bud Light?
The Patriots will look to make it 9 straight wins next week when they travel to Miami to play the Dolphins as -12.5-point favorites. My over-under on Jay Cutler pick-sixes in this game? 1.5. All joking aside, the Dolphins always seem to play the Patriots tougher than they should, and without Gronk, the Pats won’t be at full strength. These teams just played each other two weeks ago in Foxboro, and the Pats won by 18 but that was against Matt Moore, and as much as I love to hate on Jay Cutler, he ain’t no Matt Moore. Shift the game to Miami, sit Gronk on the bench, throw in a dash and Jay Cutler, and I think we find a cover for the home team next week.
The Eagles Come Back to Earth
The Philadelphia Eagles have been the talk of the NFL over the last several weeks. Carson Wentz looked like the league MVP and the Eagles forgot how to lose, as they strung together nine straight wins. Well, they ate a big slice of humble pie this week when they traveled out west and got spanked by the Seattle Seahawks, 24-10. Wentz ended up having a decent game, but the Eagles couldn’t establish the run and the Seattle pass rush pressured him all day long.
I am not going to put too much credence behind this performance. Seattle is a tough place for anyone to play and the ‘Hawks are a good team. I think if you are the Eagles you just chalk this one up to a tough week and focus on locking up that number one seed in the NFC, so you don’t have to come back to Seattle again in the playoffs. Speaking of that number one seed, it will be on the line as the Eagles continue a rough patch of games and have to play once again on the West Coast, this time against the Los Angeles Rams.
This is as tight of a game on the schedule as there is this week and the Rams are currently -1-point favorites. The Rams have been great against the pass this year and weak against the run so if the Eagles are going to be able to pull off the road upset they will need to get LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi going early. This one is too close to call, but if I were forced to make an early week pick, I would lean towards the side of the Rams at home.
The Seahawks are poised for another playoff run. To be completely honest, I am not even sure how they keep winning with no running game. I guess Russell Wilson is just that good. Seattle is just one game behind the Rams for the division lead, and remember the ‘Hawks beat the Rams in LA earlier this season, so they hold the current tiebreaker. It is a brutal road game for the Seahawks this week as they will head across the country to play the best pass defense in the league, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It is going to be strength vs. strength, and something will have to give. Will Russell Wilson be able to dominate what might just be a historically good pass defense or will they find some way to run the ball? Or will the Jags grind out another low scoring win? The Jags have held opponents to 10 points or fewer in seven games this season and are only giving up 14 points a game. This is a great matchup of two really good teams and I am going to back the Jags at home. The Seahawks offense is too one dimensional, and if they try and throw the ball 45 times against Jacksonville, they are going to regret it.
The Steelers and Bengals Slug it Out… Literally
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals have become known for hating each other and putting vicious hits on each other’s players. Over the years, we have seen some big hits and dirty plays in this matchup, but this week’s game was even worse, as multiple players left the field on stretchers.
I won’t go too far into this as every talking head on ESPN is covering the topic today but there just isn’t any room in the NFL for this type of play anymore. There were multiple intentionally vicious attacks that were meant to hurt people, and hurt people, they did. It made what was a very exciting football game take a back seat to the violence we were all watching. Both teams look to have lost the anchors of their defenses moving forward in Shazier and Burfict, and you have to wonder if it was worth it for the Steelers. At 10-2 the Steelers needed to put this silly rivalry behind them and just go get a win Monday night, and they didn’t. Now they are without Shazier and Antonio Brown may miss time as he got lit up as well. The Steelers have another rivalry game next week against the Baltimore Ravens and here’s to hoping the Steelers learned their lesson and won’t go to war with the Ravens. I won’t be able to make a pick on this game until I know the status of all the injured Steelers, so stand by later in the week for my pick on this game.
It was a week filled with lots of controversy and some great games. Next week we have several marquee matchups that could very well decide which teams make the playoffs and who our division winners will be. I love late season NFL football as the pressure gets turned up to the max and the games get more physical, as every team is scrapping to stay alive. Stay tuned later in the week for my individual game breakdowns where I will show you what games to target and what side you want to be on.