It’s the stretch run in the NFL, and there’s no time for chit-chat, so we’ll get right into our Week 13 against-the-spread picks.
First, here’s how the NESN.com trio of Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian fared last week.
Mike Cole: 7-8-1 (83-83-6 overall)
Andre Khatchaturian: 6-9-1 (82-84-6)
Ricky Doyle: 6-9-1 (79-87-6)
And here are their Week 13 picks with lines courtesy of OddsShark.
THURSDAY, NOV. 30
(-2) Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Redskins. It’s hard to remember a season unravel as quickly and emphatically as this Cowboys campaign has.
Ricky: Redskins. The Cowboys are too much of a mess to be trusted, even at home against a Redskins team that’s also dealing with injuries. Dallas’ offensive line isn’t the force it was last season, and Dak Prescott simply hasn’t been up to task while shouldering the load.
Andre: Redskins. Prescott hasn’t thrown a touchdown since Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, and the entire team has just two touchdowns in the last three games. It doesn’t help that Sean Lee is still out, too, and the offensive line is banged up. Since Zeke’s suspension, Dallas is 32nd in yards per play and 31st in yards allowed per play.
SUNDAY, DEC. 3
Denver Broncos at (-1.5) Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Denver has to win again at some point, right? Maybe it’s this week against a Dolphins team that allowed seven sacks last week in Foxboro.
Ricky: Broncos. This season has been a disaster for the Broncos. If they can’t beat the Dolphins, who rank 31st in yards per play (4.7) and 27th in opponent yards per play (5.7), then they might as well fire everyone.
Andre: Broncos. Both teams are limited offensively, but Denver is fifth in yards allowed per play. Also, opposing quarterbacks have been able to throw against Miami — completing 67.4 percent of passes against the Fins. The Broncos are also surprisingly good in third-down percentage over the last three games.
Detroit Lions at (-2.5) Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
Mike: Lions. Joe Flacco inspires zero confidence, and I also like the fact Detroit is coming off extra rest while Baltimore has a short week after playing Monday.
Ricky: Ravens. Baltimore’s offense remains an issue, but its defense looks legit. If the Ravens’ solid stable of running backs — Alex Collins, Buck Allen and Danny Woodhead — can combat Flacco’s ineffectiveness, it should be enough for a knock-down, drag-out win at home.
Andre: Lions. Baltimore crushes the bottom-feeders, but they’re 0-4 against winning teams. The Ravens have the most takeaways, but Matt Stafford has just six picks this season. The Ravens are known for forcing turnovers, but they have a minus-5 turnover differential in their losses against winning teams.
Houston Texans at (-7) Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. I can’t imagine teams playing back-to-back road games on short rest in December when they’re basically out of contention — like Houston — have had much success historically.
Ricky: Texans. The Titans are a far better team. There’s no denying that. But Tennessee is just 1-7 ATS in its last eight games against Houston, making this a backdoor cover waiting to happen.
Andre: Texans. It’s Week 13 and I still don’t know what to make of the Titans, who have won five of six but haven’t looked impressive in any of those wins. During this stretch, they have a negative turnover differential and Marcus Mariota has more picks than touchdowns. There’s just too much uncertainty surrounding Tennessee.
Indianapolis Colts at (-9.5) Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. Jacoby Brissett has been sacked 28 (!!!) times in the just last five weeks, which would tie him for sixth-most among quarterbacks for the entire season. And 10 of those sacks came in a 27-0 home loss in Week 7 to the Jags.
Ricky: Jaguars. As CBS Sports points out, Jacksonville has gone 6-0 SU and ATS in its last five games during an odd week (Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11). Take that into account. Or don’t. But either way, pick the Jaguars, who present a nightmare matchup for the Colts, whose head coach sounds like he’s on drugs or something.
Andre: Jaguars. “Sacksonville” leads the league with 41 sacks and a 10.2 percent sack rate and the Colts have allowed 46 sacks and a 11.9 percent sack rate.
(-3) Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jets. The Jets’ run defense has been stout, especially the last three weeks (3.5 yards per carry), while former Rookie of the Year front-runner Kareem Hunt has gone silent. That puts the pressure on Alex Smith to make plays, meaning I’ll gladly take the home team and the points.
Ricky: Jets. The Jets have been a good home bet this season — 5-1 ATS; tied with the Vikings for the best such mark in the NFL — and the Chiefs haven’t been able to get off the mat in recent weeks, mostly because their offense really isn’t that good once everyone catches up to their gadget plays. Also, the Chiefs haven’t beaten the Jets on the road since 2002, if you’re more of a history buff.
Andre: Chiefs. Kansas City is struggling, but they’re still holding opposing quarterbacks to a league-low 55 percent completion percentage. The Chiefs are desperate after losing two winnable games, and you have to think Darrelle Revis will want to stick it to his old team as he makes his Chiefs debut.
Minnesota Vikings at (-3) Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Vikings. Xavier Rhodes has done a number on Julio Jones, “limiting” him to 138 receiving yards over their last two meetings. This might also be a game where the Falcons’ tackling issues return against two players (Adam Thielen, Jerick McKinnon) who are among the league leaders in yards after catch.
Ricky: Vikings. The Falcons and Vikings are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in third-down offense. The difference? Minnesota also has the top-ranked third-down defense, while Atlanta is middle of the pack (16th) in that category.
Andre: Vikings. Minnesota is one of two teams ranked in the top eight in yards per play and yards allowed per play. They’re great on both sides of the ball, they limit turnovers and Atlanta struggles to force takeaways. The Vikings also have faced tougher competition over the last few weeks.
(-8.5) New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. Anecdotally, it feels like this game plays out the same the last few years: The Patriots come to town against an upstart Bills team looking for a signature win… and promptly lay the smack down.
Ricky: Patriots. The Patriots have won 12 of their last 13 games in Orchard Park, and they’ve averaged 38.6 points per game in their last five trips there. I’d say the Bills Mafia should start drinking earlier than usual for this one, but that pretty much would just be an all-nighter and there aren’t enough tables in upstate New York to withstand that type of debauchery.
Andre: Patriots. New England hasn’t allowed more than 17 points in a game since Week 4, and the illustrious visual below shows how much their defense has improved in terms of yards allowed per play from Week 1 until now.
San Francisco 49ers at (-3) Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Bears. Chicago remains a great bet at home, covering or pushing in nine of its last 11 games at Soldier Field. The Bears also have a plus point differential at home this season.
Ricky: Bears. Jimmy Garoppolo might give the 49ers a shot in the arm, but Chicago is much better at home and San Francisco’s issues extend beyond the quarterback position.
Andre: 49ers. The 49ers had the second-worst completion percentage, second-lowest passer rating and fewest touchdown passes from their quarterbacks. Garoppolo isn’t Tom Brady, but he sure as hell isn’t C.J. Beathard either. He’ll be able to improve those numbers.
(-1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
Mike: Packers. There’s still a path to the playoffs for Green Bay with a pair of winnable games the next two weeks, starting with Tampa and then Cleveland. If they can’t win those games and buy time until Aaron Rodgers *could* return, Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers should start packing.
Ricky: Packers. Tampa Bay has gone 1-8 in December road games since 2013. The Bucs also have lost 14 of their last 15 games in Green Bay. Brett Hundley and the Packers find a way.
Andre: Packers. Tampa allows the second-highest yards per pass and applies absolutely no pressure to the quarterback. Brett Hundley has been inconsistent, but he’s had to deal with tough defenses like the Vikings, Saints, Ravens and Steelers. The Bucs will be the weakest unit he’s faced by far.
Cleveland Browns at (-13.5) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Chargers. The Browns have been 13-point underdogs three times since the start of the 2015 season; they have covered the spread zero times in those games.
Ricky: Chargers. The surest bet in football? Picking against the Browns (0-11 SU, 2-9 ATS).
Andre: Chargers. Cleveland’s combined passer rating this season is 59.3 — the league’s lowest and 13 rating points fewer than No. 31 on the list. L.A., on the other hand, is coming off two blowout wins. They’re a team that’s had so much heartbreak over the years and you know they’re not going to sleep on any team — even the Browns.
Carolina Panthers at (-4.5) New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Saints. Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley both returned to practice this week for New Orleans, while the Panthers’ injury report Wednesday included Cam Newton, Devin Funchess, Ryan Kalil, Christian McCaffery and, of course, Greg Olsen. Eesh.
Ricky: Panthers. Saints cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley returned to practice Wednesday, which is an encouraging sign for a defense that’s looked suspect over the last two weeks. Still, the Panthers typically hold up well in New Orleans (12-4 ATS in their last 16 games there), and Carolina’s ball-control offense (highest time of possession in the NFL) could throw Drew Brees and Co. out of rhythm just enough to cover.
Andre: Saints. Going 11-of-28 might work for Newton against the Jets, but it won’t work against the Saints, who have a 1.5 yards per play differential since Week 3. Alvin Kamara is averaging more than seven (yes, seven!) yards per carry and leads the league in yards from scrimmage since Week 6.
(-7) Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Cardinals. I admit I’m not entirely sure how, but I think the Cardinals will find some success on the ground against a Rams team that’s allowed 100 yards or more on the ground seven times this season, and that will keep this score close-ish.
Ricky: Rams. It’d be easy for the Rams to waltz into Arizona and just expect a victory. But it seems like Los Angeles got the kick in the pants it needed two weeks ago by losing to Minnesota, as the Rams’ bounce-back win over the Saints in Week 12 was impressive.
Andre: Cardinals. Trap game. L.A. played in powerhouse slugfests against the Vikings and Saints the last two weeks and have highly anticipated showdowns against the Eagles and Seahawks in the next two. They might just overlook this game. Arizona is pretty decent at home, and Blaine Gabbert has been playing decent football.
New York Giants at (-7) Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Can you imagine anyone in the Giants’ locker room being inspired to play alongside Geno Smith and for Ben McAdoo?
Ricky: Raiders. Geno Smith. Hahaha. If I was the Raiders, I’d sign IK Enemkpali — the guy who punched Smith in the face a few years ago — just to be a real jerk.
Andre: Raiders. Oakland finally got its first interception of the year last year. They might be able to double or triple that against Smith, who has 36 interceptions compared to just 28 touchdowns in his career.
(-5.5) Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. How good are the Eagles? So good that this the first time since 2012 Seattle is a home underdog. The Seahawks, however, are good bets when getting points, as they’re 23-9-2 in their last 34 games as underdogs.
Ricky: Seahawks. Of the Eagles’ 10 wins, only one has come against a team with a winning record (Panthers on Thursday night in Week 6). Sure, they’ve been awesome (just three of those wins were by one possession), but playing in Seattle can be daunting, especially for a team still trying to prove itself amid surprising success.
Andre: Seahawks. In the past, you could argue Russell Wilson’s a game manager sheltered by a strong defense and explosive running game, who had a lot of heart and made timely plays. Now, he’s carrying the team on his back. And that defense, even with the banged-up “Legion of Boom” is averaging 4.2 yards per play since Week 9 and they’ll be able to keep this one close at home.
MONDAY, DEC. 4
(-5.5) Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 8:30 p.m.
Mike: Bengals. The Bengals tend to play the Steelers tough at home, and Pittsburgh has played down to its competition, going 2-5 against the spread in games it’s been favored by five points or more this season.
Ricky: Bengals. The Steelers usually play well in prime time. The Bengals usually don’t. But this seems like too many points for a hard-fought divisional clash with major playoff implications, especially with Cincinnati serving as the host.
Andre: Steelers. Pittsburgh has a huge advantage in the trenches — its second in sacks and has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks. The Bengals have allowed just 4.8 yards per play, but they’ve also ran more defensive plays than any other team. They’re on the field a ton and that’ll bite them against an explosive Steelers offense.
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