As we reach the final month of 2022, we have also reached Week 13 of the NFL season. As some teams wonder what went wrong between the summer and now, other teams have their fans dreaming about a playoff berth to start the year along with postseason glory come February. Here now is my take on every single game that will be played during week 13 in the NFL along with some thoughts on what every team has done this season, and what lies ahead in the coming months.
Buffalo -3.5 (8-3) at New England (6-5): Take away the Patriots two games against the Jets over the past month and New England is not only a sub-.500 team, but is also out of the AFC playoff picture to start December. Bills QB and MVP candidate Josh Allen has fallen out of first place in the AFC East thanks to a tough loss against the Vikings Veterans’ Day weekend before winning twice in Detroit due to an historic snowstorm. Buffalo is tied with Miami atop the division, but are second based upon current tiebreakers, which makes this came huge for the team’s chances of winning the division and making their road to the Super Bowl easier. The Vikings showed Buffalo how to defeat the Patriots last Thursday night and the Bills will learn their lesson well. Despite being on the road for the third straight week Buffalo -3.5 is the play for me here.
Pittsburgh (4-7) at Atlanta -1.0 (5-7): No one in the NFC South is out of the divisional title race yet, with the Falcons only a half-game behind the Buccaneers, while the Steelers take their trip down to Dixie at the bottom of the AFC North despite their Monday night win in Indianapolis. We found out that without talented players, Mike Tomlin isn’t going to draw more out of his team that they have, which is why his streak of above .500 season will end in early January. Marcus Mariota has proved to be a quarterback who can hit his stride and string together touchdowns and even wins, but also play bad enough to have teams looking for other options. In short, he will make a great backup QB for most of his career who might catch lightning in a bottle in the right place one day. With the Falcons in the playoff hunt, it is difficult to pick against them at home when average players generally perform better, so it’s Atlanta -1.0 in this early Sunday game.
Green Bay -4.5 (4-8) at Chicago (3-9): With the confirmation that he has been playing hurt, it is no wonder that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are having one of their worst seasons in franchise history. It also makes me wonder why Rodgers is even suiting up for this NFC North battle … perhaps is it only to defeat the Bears one more time in his career before turning over the starting job to Jordan Love, or maybe Green Bay believes that 9-8 is still possible this season. For Chicago, it is clear Justin Fields has proven himself to be the lesser of all the running QBs in the league as his production is nowhere near that of players named Hurts, Jackson or Murray, leaving the Bears with decisions to make next season, namely will Fields still take the field. While I don’t expect Rodgers to finish the season in uniform, he will be for this game, which means the Packers are still the better team and should win this divisional rivalry game. Green Bay -4.5 to win.
Jacksonville -1.0 (4-7) at Detroit (4-7): If the NFL had a Future’s Game like other sports did, players from both the Jaguars and Lions would appear it in as both look as thought they are trending in the right direction for 2023. Don’t like seeing Detroit as a home underdog here, but the Jags are probably a slightly better team, which also means they are ripe to be picked off in an upset. Believe it or not, both of these teams have played well this season and could, under different circumstances, have a better record than each of them do; this tells me that this could be one of the best games of the weekend for fans (and prop bettors) to enjoy. Taking the points and the Lions.
NY Jets (7-4) at Minnesota -3 (9-2): The Vikings have wins over the Bills and Patriots in the last three weeks, posting 33 points in each game, with the game in between being a 40-3 blowout loss to the Cowboys. Do oddsmakers really see more Dallas the Buffalo or New England in this Jets team? Probably so because of their running game and the team’s new QB Mike White, who took over last week and posted a win over the Bears. New York doesn’t have much offensive talent, but with White behind center, are now able to take shots down the field, something Zach Wilson rarely did. Getting into a shootout, however, is not the way the Jets will win this road game, so liking Gang Green means a lower scoring close game, something they have done before to other teams, such as the Bills. The Vikings are better and at home, so laying the points is my play here, but this will be a one-score game in either direction when these team walk off the field.
Washington -2.5 (7-5) at NY Giants (7-4): The bloom is off the Giants’ rose this season with a win over Houston the only thing keeping them from starting December on a four-game losing streak. New York only posted 24 points against the Texans, who never felt out of their game, and have failed to surpass 20 points in their three losses, that tells me the rest of the league has caught up to the Giants’ limited offense and they will limp home toward to the finish line this season. As for Washington, despite leading all of professional sports in off-field distractions, they are poised to pass the Giants in the NFC East standings with a win this weekend, the first of two games these teams will play over the rest of the season. The Commanders started their current three-game winning streak with an 11-point victory over Philadelphia, which is why they are a road favorite over a less talented Giants team this weekend. Washington is trending up while New York is trending down coming into this game, so, after this divisional showdown, there will still be a 7-5 team at the bottom of the standings, the Giants. Washington -2.5 for the win and the easy cover.
Tennessee (7-4) at Philadelphia -5.0 (10-1): The NFL’s first 10-win team this season will need to keep their foot on the gas for most, if not all of December thanks to the rebirth of the NFC East. The Titans, despite being in first place in the AFC South also seem to be one play short when it comes to challenging the NFL’s elite teams after coming up short to Kansas City and Cincinnati. Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts has become what many felt Kyler Murray would be in Arizona and Lamar Jackson would have continued to be after his MVP season; and with Philly’s offensive line seemingly unstoppable, Hurts seems to have a better formula for postseason success than the other players. At this point, it is Super Bowl or bust for the Eagles having been the best team in the NFC at least, and perhaps the entire NFL from Week One. As the cold weather descends upon the Northeast, Mother Nature may make the Philadelphia offense one dimensional more than opposing defenses. In this game, laying less than a touchdown makes the Eagles -5 the best play.
Denver (3-8) at Baltimore -8.5 (7-4): Stories of an average to poorly attended birthday party for Broncos’ QB Russell Wilson reached social media this week with those who were there saying only half the Denver players showed up. Detractors pointed out that Wilson has not always been kind to his new AFC West teammates, and they made their feelings clear by skipping his party; others might just say with a 3-8 record, what’s the point of going to the party if you feel like you won’t be part of the team in 2023. For the Ravens, last week defeat to Jacksonville dropped them back into a tie with Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North, with Cleveland and Pittsburgh at 4-7. The Ravens feasted on the NFC South over the last month with wins over Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Carolina. They now have another lay up win on their schedule to start December and maintain their share of the divisional lead. It is clear little, if anything is working well in Denver, and with Wilson under a new contract, those around him will pay the price. Hard to see a path to victory for the Broncos here or seeing them staying within ten, Ravens -8.5 to win and cover.
Cleveland -7.0 (4-7) at Houston (1-9-1): I wonder if the 11-game suspension of Deshawn Watson was appealed on the grounds that the NFL wanted this week to mark the return of the embattled quarterback if the appeal would have been upheld. That is, after all, the only reason to watch this game and I would expect interviews from some of those who filed a lawsuit against Watson to be interviewed since some are expected to attend this game. Don’t worry, I am sure CBS will have wall-to-wall coverage of the entire story during the broadcast (NOT!). As for the game itself, yeah, Watson does make the Browns better, however, Sherlock Holmes could send Dr. Watson and Cleveland would still be favorited by a field goal on Sunday afternoon. Is there any way for Houston to win this game? Yes, if Deshawn Watson tries too hard and makes a ton of mistakes; and even then, Cleveland should win this game and give the Texans a lower first-round draft pick in 2023 after this miserable season. Browns -7 to win and cover.
Seattle -7.5 (6-5) at LA Rams (3-8): The Rams have taken the Super Bowl hangover to new depths this season as they are on target to have a double-digit losing season, making fans in Detroit happy as the Lions hold LA’s first round pick in next year’s draft. In the Pacific Northwest, the Geno Smith MVP express has been derailed by the Seahawks QB returning to his well-established losing ways, something commentators were trying to forget over the first half of the season. Seattle is now a game behind the 49ers in the NFC West, with many seeing San Francisco making a deep postseason run come January. Nevertheless, this is a “get right” game for Pete Carroll’s team and a chance to keep their names in the postseason hunt after 12 games, and with the Rams banged up and likely reason to cash out, giving up the 7.5 points should be easy for bettors like me this week.
Miami (8-3) at San Francisco -4.0 (7-4): Do we dare call this a late season Super Bowl preview? Many are predictions (actually, they are changing their previously made incorrect predictions) that at least one if now both of these divisional leaders will reach the big game come February. Miami streaks into this game winners of five straight, but none of them having a winning record, while the ‘Niners have won four straight with only one win over a team above .500, the 6-5 Chargers. So, perhaps talk to the Super Bowl is a bit premature to start December, talk to me in a month. The Dolphins are all about streaks, winning their first three before losing their next three, and now with a five-game win streak. The ‘Niners started off slowly, losing to Chicago and Denver, scoring ten points in each game, with the middle of October seeing Atlanta and Kansas City hand them two more losses before Halloween. Now they are atop the NFC West and heading in the right direction, with only their head coach Kyle Shanahan in the way of another title run. I don’t believe in Tua Tagovailoa, and I do believe in Jimmy Garoppolo, so this pick is easy, San Fran. -4 to win.
Kansas City -2.5 (9-2) at Cincinnati (7-4): Tiebreakers and home field in the AFC title game could be on the line in this AFC showdown of top five scoring offenses. KC scores over 29 points a game to lead the NFL with the Bengals posting nearly 26 for fifth best; and with each team yielding over 21 points per game on defense, the over/under of 52.5 might just be for the first half. The Bengals broke the two-year hold Kansas City had on the AFC by reaching the Super Bowl last year, and these teams could be giving us a playoff preview late Sunday afternoon. Patrick Mahomes seems to be having more fun playing QB for KC now that Tyreek Hill is with the Dolphins, and the Super Bowl loss has done little to affect the confidence of Joe Burrow in Cincy. As for the game, I hope this is an old-fashioned AFL shootout with 40+ points put on the board by both teams since that’s exactly what the NFL wants in 2022 to make bettors of all kinds happy. Who will win … KC has proven to be more focused this year, but at home, give me the 2.5 points and the Bengals to cover if not win a field-goal game.
LA Chargers -1.5 (6-5) at Las Vegas (4-7): Winning the AFC West is not likely for the upstart Chargers this season, but with a chance to pad their record over the Raiders, earning an AFC Wild-Card spot is definitely in their control. Quarterback Justin Herbert is single-handedly keeping this team involved in the postseason chase, and the Chargers are going to be a force in 2023 if they can keep their QB healthy and add some more talent to their roster. On the other hand, the Raiders have proved to be an ongoing train wreck since the Jon Gruden error, I am era, began despite it ending last year. This team’s roster is inconsistent and the play of their stars outside WR Devante Adams has been shaky at best, leading to their poor record. The Chargers need this road game in the worst way, but their stats say they in a too-close-to-call dogfight; I have faith in Justin Herbert however, which is why giving up the 1.5 points is easy for me. LA to win and cover in the desert.
Indianapolis (4-7-1) at Dallas -11 (8-3): The Jeff Saturday Experience reaches Sunday Night Football this weekend as the Colts head to Big D to take on the Cowboys. Saturday took over the head coaching job in Indy three games ago, going 1-2, but losing his last two. The ‘Boys took over second play in the NFC East with wins over the Vikings and Giants while the Giants lost before falling in Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Colts returned to QB Matt Ryan under their new head coach, with the former Falcon looking older by the week while Tony Pollard has proven to be the better option for the Cowboys at running back, surpassing the overrated and overpaid Ezekiel Elliott in production. Dallas knows what it takes to win so far this season, but for those of us outside the Metroplex, doesn’t Jerry’s World need to mix things up a little bit by having the franchise with the Lone Star on their helmets sign Odell Beckham, Jr.? If you want to watch a good team implode before your eyes and under the cluelessness that is personified by head coach Mike McCarthy, let #13 join the Dallas Cowboys later this month. As for this game, despite the big number, Big D has the better team this year and Dallas -11 should win and cover, but barely.
New Orleans (4-8) at Tampa Bay -3.5 (5-6): Tom Brady drove his former head coach Bruce Arians out of Tampa Bay as part of his return to the Buccaneers; however, with TB12 running the show, it appears the team isn’t as good as many though during the preseason. Blame it on the divorce of Brady missing so much practice time during camp and the season if you wish, but as the future Hall of Famer will tell you, there are no excuses, only results, and for Tampa Bay, the only reason to bring back Brady was to make a Super Bowl run … and right now they need a win to reach .500. If it wasn’t for the fact the entire NFC South was so bad, talking about the Saints on Monday Night Football would be left to those who have players on their fantasy team or have a parlay dependent upon someone from the Bayou. This team is rebuilding, pure and simple, and even if they win and move closer to first place, 5-8 team shouldn’t speak the word playoffs, period. If Brady and the Bucs can’t win this game to get back to .500, they the NFC South should be relegated to the XFL next spring and forced to win there in order to return to the NFL. Tampa Bay -3.5 since only the Buccaneers “need” this game, while the Saints need higher draft picks and better players.
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