Time for the NFL Week 13 picks! Make sure to listen to the podcast with KAM and Sam this week to get caught up on everything you need to know about both the NFL and college football. Now here are the picks, previews, and commentary from the rest of the team at The Footballl Pod:
***These are Wednesday lines for Week 13. If you pick later in the week and need help with adjusted lines just find me on twitter, and I'll help you out. That's what friends are for!***
***Looking for our College Football Championship Week picks?! No problem! Click here!***
Washington (-1) @ Dallas:
***Editor's Note: Rick York was able to survive the Cowboys embarrassing loss to the Chargers on Thanksgiving, but large of amounts of food and especially drink helped him to get through. What happens this week if Dallas has another poor showing in front of a national audience on a Thursday game?***
R.I.P., Dallas Cowboys 2017 Season. Last week's embarrassing Thanksgiving loss to the LA Chargers all but put an end to any remaining Playoff hopes. The Cowboys needed a win to improve to 6-5 and at least hang around the Wildcard discussion. Instead, the Cowboys have fallen back to 10th place in the conference and totally out of reach of the postseason unless they make a miracle run. Losing Ezekiel Elliott on offense and Sean Lee on defense have been particularly crippling. Without Lee, the defense has still shown some first half toughness, but inevitably falls apart in the second halves of games. Without Elliott, the offense - especially Dak Prescott - looks totally lost and overwhelmed. Elliott, Lee, and a couple other key Dallas players that are out of the lineup now may be back for the last couple weeks of the season. But what kind of record will the Cowboys have at that point? 6-8? 5-9? At least they have the apparently Eli Manning-less Giants to beat up on once more this season, which is a nice reminder for Cowboys fans that things could be worse. But that may end up being one of the few highlights of 2017.
Speaking of lousy NFC East teams, Dallas hosts Washington this week in a game that gives me some hope. But I'm not exactly holding my breath. The Redskins have had their own struggles this year, and they don't look much better than the Cowboys on either side of the ball. If you had the displeasure of watching Redskins-Giants last week, you know how bad the Skins can look. So this Thursday the game may come down to who can manage a few scores and avoid costly turnovers. It'll likely be ugly.
The next three weeks are entirely winnable games. But even if that happens, an 8-6 record going into the final two weeks doesn't seem good enough to be in a solid position to compete for the Wildcard in the NFC this year. Especially when Dallas is already on the wrong of head-to-head tiebreakers with Atlanta, LA, and Green Bay. I'll keep watching and go with the Cowboys to win this game, because even with one foot in the grave, it's an interesting train wreck to witness. And I hate the Redskins.
Minnesota (+2.5) @ Atlanta:
If the Playoffs started today, both of these teams would be part of a competitive NFC field. Minnesota has been on a tear. The Vikings have won seven in a row, and after beating the Lions in Detroit on Thanksgiving, the NFC North is theirs to lose. In the conference, Minnesota trails Philadelphia by a single game in the race for the top overall seed for the Playoffs. Atlanta faces much stiffer competition in the NFC South. The Falcons are 7-4, but trailing 8-3 Carolina and 8-3 New Orleans. Unless the South sends three teams to the Playoffs - which is rare but possible this year - Atlanta needs to win conference games like this one to stay in the race. They have the home field advantage and that's why they're favored. But this line opened at (-2.5) and hasn't budged. Vegas apparently thinks Minnesota is the slightly better team and didn't want to give Atlanta the full three points for being at home.
That's easy to understand after the way the Vikings dominated the Lions last week. The Vikings outgained the Lions by well over 100 yards, easily won the turnover battle, and controlled the clock by a 35-25 margin. Minnesota is looking better every week. Atlanta has enjoyed a recent resurgence as well. The Falcons have won three in a row and their offense looked as good as we've seen all year in their win over Tampa last week. They got the ball to Julio Jones early and often and it paid dividends. Who knew? Jones caught 12 passes for over 250 yards and 2 touchdowns, and the Falcons cruised. Jones will spend most of this week matched up with Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes. But even if Rhodes, a great cover corner, can limit the targets to Jones, the Falcons offense has been rolling. Atlanta has put up 34 points in each of the last two games, including a win at Seattle. It's unlikely they'll get 34 against this excellent Vikings defense, but I do like the Falcons to get the win and the cover at home, especially since a field goal does it:
Kansas City (-3) @ New York Jets:
***Editor's note: Hopefully you were smart enough to listen to Greg Armstrong when he told you to take the Carolina Panthers to cover 4.5 over the New York Jets last week. If you're keeping score, Greg is an unbelievable 10-1 ATS picking Jets games this season. In between sports talk radio segments and his work for TurnOnTheJets.com, we caught up with Greg to get his take on the Jets game this week.***
Kansas City looks awful. The Chiefs once fun offense has been watered down and reduced to a combination of Alex Smith skip passes, check downs, and bad decisions. Kareem Hunt has fallen off the face of the planet and Travis Kelce is fed up having to run routes for Smith. The Chiefs have lost their last two games to teams that have scored 12 and 16 points, respectively. This sounds indicative of the a league bottom-feeder, not a team that started the season 5-0.
Last week New York continued with its trend of being pesky for three and a half quarters before eventually falling short to a superior team. It was the Carolina Panthers this time around. A late Josh McCown fumble was recovered and returned for a touchdown by the Panthers and that sealed the deal. In spite of that loss, the Jets are going to have to come out with a similar game plan this week. They need to get pressure on Smith and force him to beat them over the top. They can't give up the underneath routes and let him beat them with check downs. That would play too much into the Chiefs game plan. Since Smith doesn't throw downfield anymore, their only option is to get the ball to Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and some of their other play-makers in the open field. The Jets need to take this away and not allow the Chiefs to get big plays from low-risk passes.
On offense, the Jets need to more of what they've had recent success doing. Get the ball into Robby Anderson's hands. Nobody has been able to stop him when they make him an integral part of the game plan. Also, keep going to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, especially in the end zone. Just hope and pray that his touchdowns don't get called back. The Jets also need to limit the penalties that they always seem to get at the most inopportune times.
I'm hesitant to say that the Jets blow out the Chiefs. The last time I predicted a win like that, the Jets scored ten points and lost an ugly game to Tampa Bay. But the Chiefs look dead. The team doesn't want to play for Smith, but Andy Reid doesn't want to pull Smith. Can you see the issue there? That makes it hard to have any faith in the Chiefs keeping it particularly close. The Jets will play a complete game, limit themselves to one dumb penalty, and one turnover. Anderson will extend his streak to six straight games with a touchdown, and Seferian-Jenkins will finally have a touchdown that stands. My prediction for the final score: Jets 34 - Chiefs 16.
***For more on Kansas City's recent struggles, check out Jeremy DeBottis's weekly Chiefs commentary.***
New England (-10) @ Buffalo:
Buffalo looked good last week taking their shot at the NFL's new favorite punching bag, the Kansas City Chiefs. (You know it's gotten bad in KC when you lose to the Bills and the Giants in back-to-back weeks.) But there's no time for Buffalo to celebrate with New England coming to town. The Patriots have won 29 of the last 33 in this series! That sounds like something you'd read in a college series, like "Tennessee has beaten Vanderbilt in 29 of the last 33 meetings..." Oh wait, never mind. Back to this game... The Patriots are a pretty sure thing to win, but can they cover ten points on the road? It's hard to bet against them after they just covered the largest point spread in the NFL this year - 17.5 points - when they beat Miami by 18. As of late, New England seems to cover every week. The Patriots are 5-0 ATS in their last five games. It helps that the New England defense is playing significantly better than what we saw from them in September. New England has limited each of its last seven opponents to 17 points or less. The Bills hardly have an explosive offense. They got back on track with the win in KC last week, but it only required them to score 16 points. It won't be so easy against New England. There's no need to overthink this one. Patriots to cover:
Tampa Bay (-1) @ Green Bay:
***Editor's note: Kimberly Ann Maley is still recovering from the last second Green Bay loss in Pittsburgh last week, but it didn't prevent her from leading a good discussion on the podcast this week regarding the positives to take away from that game. Check her preview and ATS pick for Buccaneers/Packers!***
Green Bay enters a critical stretch this week in which they cannot afford to lose any of their next few games. It starts with Tampa Bay coming to Lambeau this Sunday, and Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston is expected to start after missing three games with a shoulder injury. If only the same were true for Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. Winston has been effective when he's played this year. He has four games this season with at least 300 passing yards, but he may not have all of his supporting cast for this game. Both teams are actually pretty banged up going into week 13. Tampa Bay will be without two starting offensive lineman and could be without starting running back Doug Martin. Green Bay is without Ty Montgomery yet again, although with his first full season with the Packers has been a bit of a disappointment, averaging only 3.8 yards per attempt. Aaron Jones is questionable going into Sunday's game, which puts a lot of pressure once again on rookie Jamaal Williams, and of course quarterback Brett Hundley.
Carolina (+4.5) @ New Orleans:
It's a huge NFC South game in the late afternoon time slot on Sunday when Carolina goes to New Orleans. The two teams are currently tied at 8-3 for the division lead. But the conference is so competitive this season that both really need this game. You could argue the Panthers need it even more since the Saints won the teams' first meeting in Charlotte back in September. Avenging that loss in New Orleans won't be easy. The Saints are 4-1 at home this year, with the only loss coming from New England way back in Week Two. Since then, the Saints are not just unbeaten at home, but they're 8-1 overall. They were on an eight game winning streak before losing to the Rams in Los Angeles last week. New Orleans will try to get back on track against Carolina, and the game plan is sure to include a lot of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Saints duo is now on pace to become the first pair of teammates to ever have 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season, a remarkable feat. But Carolina will put up a fight. The Panthers have the NFL's third-best rushing defense, giving up only 83.2 YPG on the ground. The Saints have the league's third-best rushing offense at 142.1 YPG. This is an excellent "strength versus strength" match-up. Since that could be a stalemate, the Saints may need to rely on Drew Brees more on Sunday. While Brees hasn't been the focal point of the New Orleans offense like previous years, he showed us in the comeback win over the Redskins two weeks ago that he can still carry this team when needed. He's also been very good against Carolina in recent years. The Saints are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games against the Panthers. I'll go with that trend to continue and take the Saints at home:
New York Giants (+10) @ Oakland:
Eli Manning's career can become a polarizing debate for football fans. Especially Giants fans. Say anything about Eli, no matter how factual, and you'll be met with a loud and simple response of "TWO RINGS!!!!!!" It's become a little comical as the Giants have floundered in recent years and Eli has hardly looked like Aaron Rodgers in blue. But the truth of the matter is that Eli was a pretty darn good quarterback between 2005 and 2012. And yes, they won two Super Bowls. And yes, most organizations outside of New England would love to have had that success, even if those were the only two years that the Giants had any real success in the Manning era. Two rings is two rings.
The last five years (including 2017) of the Manning era, however, have not been so great. Again, be careful when you point this out to Giants fans, but the team made the Playoffs once in that time. The result was an embarrassing loss in Green Bay. So zero Playoff wins in the last five years and a regular season record of 32-43. By NO MEANS is all of this futility Eli's fault. If you want to pinpoint blame on a single person, that individual is Jerry Reese. Reese inherited an excellent roster when he took over as the Giants GM in 2007. Manning was in place, along with a great offensive line (maybe the best in football from 2007 - 2011), a great defensive line, and no real weaknesses. The Giants won the Super Bowl that year. Four years later they did it again, but that team was running on fumes. They won the NFC East at 9-7 that year, got hot for a month, and Eli was the best he's ever been. If you want to make the case for Eli as a Hall-of-Famer, watch his last regular season game against Dallas that year, followed by his four Playoff games and cite his success in those five games over and over. My favorite was the NFC title game in San Francisco. Eli took a beating from an excellent 49ers defense that day. He hung in there and made excellent throws all day long. It was one of the best performances I've ever seen from any quarterback ever. Period.
But the Giants had a little bit of luck on their side when the 49ers fumbled a punt return late in that game. Then they played one of the weaker Patriots teams we've seen in recent years in the Super Bowl. Saying "weaker Patriots teams" may be an oxymoron, but I don't think anyone would argue that the 2011 Patriots was Bill Belichick's best roster. The Giants won their second Super Bowl, but that masked a lot of the roster problems that were becoming apparent to anyone that watches all of their games. Over the next couple years the roster got old, injured, and outdated. This was especially true on the offensive line. Most of these guys had been drafted or signed between 2001 and 2004. Their replacements should have been drafted and worked into the lineup all along. But Reese failed miserably here. He had no real plan to replenish the roster and that was apparent by 2013 when the team started 0-6. Again, the poor season was not entirely Eli's fault. But he wasn't exactly carrying the team either. He led the league in interceptions that year and threw a lot more picks than touchdowns. Anyone that was paying attention knew that Eli wasn't quite the same quarterback by 2013. Or if you're capable of being an honest Giants fan you were able to acknowledge that Eli must have a great offensive line. He's not Russell Wilson. Never was. So when his line fell apart, and consequentially the run game too, Eli was a very mediocre quarterback. Reese was the GM. For him not to understand that Eli's ceiling with an excellent line was the Super Bowl, but his floor with a poor line was losing season after losing season, is completely unacceptable.
The Giants fumbled through the next couple years and as fans got restless, Reese somehow avoided the limelight and any blame. Without an offensive line, they were wasting the last few years of Manning's prime. Tom Coughlin, the two-time Super Bowl winning coach who won and exceeded expectations at every stop in his coaching career (just ask Notre Dame fans), became Reese's scapegoat. Coughlin was forced out of the job after the 2015 season and Reese replaced him with Ben McAdoo.
McAdoo is the man who now draws the vast majority of the fans disdain. Just this week he announced that Eli will no longer be the starting quarterback for the 2-9 New York Giants. If you follow the Giants you're familiar with the entire backstory by now. Giants fans have come to Eli's defense. "It's not Eli's fault that he has the worst offensive line in football, no run game, and a bunch of injured receivers..." Fair enough. But lost in all of this, as usual, is that Reese is the manager that made every decision that got them here. Reese failed to replenish Ernie Accorsi's fantastic roster that he once inherited. Reese told us this offensive line was good to go in preseason. Reese decided that building a fantasy football roster of receivers rather than linemen would work. (Recall that this team started the season 0-4 when Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard were all healthy and playing...) And yes, it was Reese that hired McAdoo after forcing Coughlin out.
Giants fans, get mad at McAdoo all you want. And yes, he seems rather incompetent by NFL head coaching standards. Defend Eli all you want for how much better he could have been over these past five years if he had a decent team around him. Be outraged at the way they're sending him to the bench to play two quarterbacks that will never be more than NFL backups. But please, finally, just realize that all of this stems from the GM's decision-making over the past decade. And if you really want to take a deep dive, question why ownership has kept this guy around for so long. The 2011 Super Bowl run was a LONG time ago. If the Packers, Patriots, Seahawks, or Steelers went to the Playoffs once in six years and hadn't won a postseason game since the 2011 season, it would be a big deal. Ownership and the fan base, both, would question management. Yet somehow Jerry Reese escapes this accountability. He made Coughlin the scapegoat a couple years ago. Will Giants fans allow him to make Eli the scapegoat now? Or will they demand that ownership do something about the sad state of the New York Giants? Because that's the real reason for the outrage over the Eli benching. I think Giants fans know that Eli is no longer the quarterback that can lead them to any postseason success. But he's the last man standing from the roster that Accorsi built that won the franchise two championships. So there's a sentimental outcry over the benching, even if fans know deep down inside that the team's going nowhere fast, no matter who plays quarterback these last five games. And yes, we know that they need to draft a quarterback if possible next year. But the Eli benching comes across as Reese and McAdoo trying to pinpoint all of the 2-9 blame on him, rather than accepting responsibility for the crappy roster they've built. I'm glad to see Giants fans outraged, but where were they the last five years when the GM made terrible decision after terrible decision?
Oh yeah, the Giants have a game to play on Sunday. They travel to Oakland to meet up with a Raiders team that's also a mess. Not nearly as bad as the Giants, but certainly underachieving so far this year. My advice is stay away from picking this game if you can. But if you just can't resist, take the Raiders, very much still alive in the AFC West, to cover here:
Philadelphia (-5.5) @ Seattle:
A month ago I would have been a lot more excited for this game. But Seattle is struggling and Philadelphia is rolling. The Seahawks defense is still good enough to shut down bad teams, like the 49ers last week for example. But two weeks ago they hosted Atlanta and the Falcons were too much for them. Philadelphia is a better version of Atlanta, so the somewhat depleted Seattle defense will have a difficult time containing the Philly offense that hasn't scored less than 30 points in their last five games. (Philly hasn't scored less than 20 all year...) On the other side of the ball, expect to see Russell Wilson running for his life all night. Wilson has accounted for 26 of Seattle's 27 touchdowns scored this year. He should be an MVP candidate this year because the Seahawks would be completely lost without him. He'll do his best to keep the Seahawks in this game, but it won't be enough. The Philly defense is being a little overlooked right now due to Carson Wentz and the offense's success. But the Eagles now rank ahead of the Seahawks in both total defense and scoring defense. Philadelphia has too many advantages on both sides of the ball. Eagles to cover:
Pittsburgh (-5) @ Cincinnati:
Picking the Steelers game may be my least favorite part of the week now. Seriously, not joking at all. Just when I thought Pittsburgh was ready to move into New England's neighborhood, they struggled as a two touchdown favorite last week and needed a last-second 53 yard field goal to win. I guess it could have been worse; they could have lost as a 14.5 favorite. Instead, they kept pace with New England at 9-2 and tied for the best record in the AFC. Now they head down to Cincinnati which should be another sure thing for Pittsburgh, but we've learned nothing's for sure with the Steelers. I'd been hyping their defense and how well it had played all year up until last week. Then they allowed Brett Hundley to pick them apart. Hundley had an excellent game against the Steelers, throwing for well over nine yards per attempt, three touchdowns, no turnovers, and a 134.3 passer rating! Raise your hand if you played Hundley in daily fantasy... So was last week an anomaly or a sign of any weaknesses for the Pittsburgh defense? Or was it simply more of the same behavior that we've seen from them for a few years now? They generally play down to the level of their competition. Sometimes it comes back to haunt them, like in Chicago this year. Sometimes they narrowly escape, like Sunday night. Sometimes, but not nearly enough, they play up to their ability, like the Tennessee win on Thursday night a couple weeks ago. The Steelers are now 6-5 ATS on the year, which makes perfect sense. They exceed your expectations slightly more than half the time. They can get away with this in the regular season, but if you're a Steelers fan this has to concern you come Playoff time.
As for Sunday, Pittsburgh will meet up with a Cincinnati team that may be a little better than their 5-6 record indicates. The Bengals have a pretty decent defense this year. They rank 13th in total defense, but they're especially good against the pass. They only allow 203.8 YPG, the fifth best in the league. They're also a top ten scoring defense, giving up just under 20 PPG. Offensively, the Bengals have gotten better in recent weeks as Joe Mixon has become their primary back. All of that being said, these are the Andy Dalton-led Bengals. And the Steelers beat them by two touchdowns a few weeks ago. I'll go with the Steelers to cover and hopefully not regret this decision:
Did you like our NFL picks this week? Hate the picks? Want to play along and teach us how to pick? Let our experts know what you think:
|Sam finally had a decent season in 2016 and hit a 55% success rate on his NFL picks. So your best bet is to fade his picks this year. It won't hurt his feelings.|
|The voice of thefootballpod.com, KAM's so good that she's been known to pick both NFL and college games. She'll share her picks as long as you don't trash talk her Packers.|
|Need power picks and the power sweep, both? Then look no further than Kevin's picks. This Western Pennsylvania football product knows the game as well as anyone.|
|She's not only the best bartender in town, but #PaytonsPicks set the pace in 2016, to the tune of a 56% success rate! Catch her if you can. Or just wisely follow her picks.|
|He's our resident Cowboys expert, so you'll hear from Rick a lot this year. As for his picks, #RicksLocks are as money as Dallas playing as the one seed in the NFC Playoffs.|
|Founder of theredbeat.com, and a contributor at turnonthejets.com, Greg is the newest member of the team. He's the biggest Jets fan we know (and willing to admit it...)|
|After making the rounds on the podcast circuit for years, we finally have our Kansas City Chiefs expert weighing in, writing columns, and picking games. So pay attention!|
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