Thanksgiving is behind us, and the NFL stretch run officially is here.
Week 12 finally came to an end Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh, and another strange slate is in store for Week 13. Here’s hoping things go a little smoother this week.
NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian once again will make their against-the-spread picks for Week 13, for every game — whenever they’re actually played.
First, however, here’s how they fared last week.
Here are their Week 13 picks.
SUNDAY, DEC. 6
Cincinnati Bengals at (-11.5) Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
Mike: Dolphins. Still don’t know how Cincinnati covered last week despite being out-gained 386-155 by the Giants. Water finds its level this week, especially against a Miami team that’s better than New York.
Ricky: Dolphins. Remember when Miami looked like one of the worst teams in NFL history to begin last season? The turnaround has been remarkable. Since beginning 0-4 ATS under Brian Flores, the Dolphins since have gone 17-6 ATS. Their defense holds up against bad teams, which the Bengals certainly qualify as with Joe Burrow sidelined.
Andre: Bengals. The Dolphins have allowed the second-fewest points in football, but have allowed the 12th-most yards per play and are 28th in yards per play differential. Long story short, they are a fraud and I don’t trust them getting 11.5 points. This could also be a big lookahead week for the Dolphins, who have a game against the Chiefs looming in Week 14.
Cleveland Browns at (-5.5) Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Titans. Cleveland has a bunch of injuries in the secondary, including Denzel Ward and Ronnie Harrison. Don’t be surprised if the Titans light it up through the air, not just the ground.
Ricky: Titans. The Browns rank 31st in run stop win rate, according to ESPN Analytics, suggesting this could be another huge week for Derrick Henry, who tends to hit his stride this time of year.
Andre: Titans. Both teams have excellent running attacks, but the Browns’ rush defense is weaker. The Titans also don’t turn the ball over and are second in turnover differential. Finally, the Titans have won in big spots before. They’ve beaten some quality opponents like Indianapolis, Baltimore and Buffalo. Meanwhile, all of Cleveland’s losses have come against winning teams.
Detroit Lions at (-3) Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Mike: Lions. Did you see how ex-Lions celebrated the firing of Matt Patricia? Gotta figure that feeling was shared inside the building, and Detroit will get a little spark in their first week without him. A similar fate could await Matt Nagy if the Lions win this, too.
Ricky: Lions. Neither team is very good. And I’ll even concede the Bears probably are better. But maybe firing the head coach and general manager will spark the Lions, especially if either D’Andre Swift or Kenny Golladay returns this week to boost the offense.
Andre: Bears. The problem with Chicago is that they can’t beat any good teams. They are 1-5 against teams with winning records and 4-1 against teams with losing records. Fortunately for the Bears, the Lions are not a good team as they rank 27th in yards per play differential.
(-3) Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Mike: Colts. Indy looked awful last week, and Houston looked great. But the Texans are without Will Fuller, and we saw last year how much different their offense was without him. Tough spot here against a Colts defense looking to get right after last week’s Titans embarrassment.
Ricky: Texans. Betting against Deshaun Watson in favor of riding the Philip Rivers roller coaster is just not something I can stomach this week, even if the deck otherwise is stacked against Houston.
Andre: Texans. Will Fuller is out, but he’s not what makes the Texans’ offense great. That would be Watson, who has 15 touchdowns and no picks in his last six games against some pretty quality opponents. Houston’s biggest weakness is its rush defense, as they allow the most yards per carry in the NFL. However, Indianapolis ranks 30th in yards per carry and will likely not expose that weakness.
Jacksonville Jaguars at (-9.5) Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Mike: Jaguars. The Vikings are gonna score a million points, but might the Jags do the same? Jacksonville has some offensive playmakers, and the Minnesota defense is a little banged up. Minnesota might ease off the gas here with far more important games left on the schedule and leave the backdoor open in the process.
Ricky: Vikings. Historically, the Vikings have performed well against the spread under Mike Zimmer, especially at home, as favorites and/or when facing out-of-division opponents. Thus, this week should be a layup, even before factoring in Jacksonville’s awful defense and the likelihood of quarterback Mike Glennon crashing to earth after the Jags were oddly competitive last week against the Browns.
Andre: Vikings. It might be time for me to stop calling Minnesota one of the “best bad teams” in the NFL and start calling them a decent team, since they’re only one game out of a playoff spot. The Vikings rank fourth in yards per play differential and are second in yards per play. Kirk Cousins also is second in the league in yards per pass attempt and he’s going up against a Jacksonville defense that allows the most yards per pass attempt.
(-7.5) Las Vegas Raiders at New York Jets, 1 p.m.
Mike: Raiders. Looked for reasons to take the Raiders, but I kept coming back to “Well, they’re not the Jets, so … ” Vegas is getting Trent Brown back, which should definitely help as they look to take out their frustrations after last week’s embarrassment.
Ricky: Raiders. The ceiling for the Jets’ offense is just so low every time they take the field.
Andre: Jets. The Raiders have a negative yards per play differential and have no business being a 7.5-road favorite against any team, including the Jets. The Raiders rank 31st in rush defense on Pro Football Focus. On the flip side, the Jets’ rush defense ranks fourth by the same metric. Vegas is 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards.
(-3) New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Mike: Falcons. Julio Jones and Todd Gurley both returned to practice this week, and Atlanta might have its full offense for the first time in forever. Defense is the issue, but having seen Taysom Hill so recently, I have to think the Falcons will be better prepared this time around.
Ricky: Falcons. The Saints might’ve been in trouble last week if the Broncos had a healthy quarterback, because Taysom Hill hardly looked the part while starting under center for New Orleans. It’s also reasonable to think Raheem Morris and the Falcons learned a little something from facing Hill two weeks ago. Could we see Jameis Winston?
Andre: Saints. New Orleans hasn’t allowed more than 100 rushing yards in a game since Week 5. They held Todd Gurley to just 26 yards in Week 11 and he might not even play this week. Hill had no problem against the Falcons in his first career start, completing 78 percent of his passes against a defense that allows the third-most yards per pass attempt.
(-3) Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Rams. LA has made Kyler Murray look bad in two games. He’s completed less than 60 percent of his passes and has just 70.5 passer rating. Assuming Jalen Ramsey is able to slow down DeAndre Hopkins, it’s tough to see the Cardinals scoring much.
Ricky: Rams. The Cardinals’ offense has lost its rhythm, a product of opponents blitzing more frequently and Murray perhaps dealing with an injury. This is a challenging spot for the unit to get right, as the Rams’ defense is excellent against the pass and the run.
Andre: Cardinals. The Rams have beaten the Cardinals in six consecutive games by an average margin of 23.2 points. The last meeting was only decided by seven points, though. Arizona is at home, they’re getting points and they’re hungry to finally beat the Rams for the first time in a long time. Kyler Murray will take advantage of a Rams defense that allows the sixth-most rushing yards per carry to quarterbacks this season.
New York Giants at (-10) Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.
Mike: Seahawks. In the last two games, Daniel Jones averaged more than 8 yards per attempt, a considerable jump from the 6 yards per attempt through nine games. He would have been an interesting matchup against this Seahawks defense. Alas, Colt McCoy won’t be able to replicate that recent success.
Ricky: Seahawks. Backing a team led by McCoy on the road against a team led by Russell Wilson just isn’t something I’d like to entertain right before the holidays.
Andre: Seahawks. Seattle has the third-best rush defense on PFF. New York already has a poor running attack and now they’re using McCoy at quarterback. No idea how they score at all in this game — even if Seattle has allowed the most air yards in the NFL this year.
New England Patriots at (PK) Los Angeles Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Patriots. It almost feels too obvious to just sit here and say “Well, Bill Belichick is much so much better than Anthony Lynn,” but Bill Belichick is just so much better than Anthony Lynn.
Ricky: Patriots. It’s hard to bank on much week to week when it comes to the 2020 Patriots. They still have a decided coaching advantage in most matchups, though, and that’s especially true here.
Andre: Patriots. Since 2005, the Patriots are 57-9 against quarterbacks who have fewer than 16 starts in their career. Those quarterbacks have a combined 68 touchdowns and 78 interceptions in those games. Some of those guys were J.T. O’Sullivan, Matt Flynn and Seneca Wallace, but I’ll still always take Belichick going up against a rookie QB.
Philadelphia Eagles at (-9.5) Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m.
Mike: Eagles. I had the Packers as my lock on “The Spread,” but I have changed my mind. If the Eagles follow the similar game plan they used to beat the Packers last season — rushing for 176 yards and keeping it simple for Carson Wentz — there’s reason to believe they keep it inside the number.
Ricky: Eagles. Philadelphia is disruptive enough at the line of scrimmage defensively — the Eagles have the NFL’s highest-graded pass rush, per Pro Football Focus — that it might be able to throw off Aaron Rodgers a bit and keep this game within the number. The Eagles just need to show some semblance of life offensively.
Andre: Packers. Philadelphia has an excellent pass rush, but the Packers’ offensive line will neutralize it. They’ve only allowed 12 sacks all year. Aaron Rodgers will feast against the Eagles, who have the 25th-ranked coverage defense in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Denver Broncos at (-14) Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m.
Mike: Broncos. Denver moved the ball well (411 yards) in Week 7 vs. Kansas City but committed four turnovers. If the Broncos protect the ball a little better here, the defense certainly is good enough to keep it close.
Ricky: Chiefs. Kansas City has dominated this head-to-head matchup in recent years. And even though the Chiefs haven’t been steamrolling anyone recently, this feels like an opportunity for them to flex their muscles, especially with the Broncos capable of so little on the offensive side — quarterback or no quarterback.
Andre: Chiefs. Kansas City is 4-0 ATS in their last four games when favored by 11 points or more. Their biggest weakness is their rush defense, but the Broncos may be trailing for a long time in this one and they might have to play catch up by throwing the ball.
MONDAY, DEC. 7
Washington Football Team at (-10) Pittsburgh Steelers, 5 p.m.
Mike: Washington. Ricky filled out his pick before me, but I pretty much have the same thoughts he does below (as noted on “The Spread,” this week). I’m even eyeing Washington on the money line around +320.
Ricky: Washington. I am all in on the Football Team winning this game outright and ending Pittsburgh’s bid at perfection. Washington, conservatively, has a top-five defense, which poses a serious problem in tandem with a ball-control offense that leans heavily on its talented running back duo (on the ground and through the air). This obviously has been a strange week-plus for the Steelers, whereas Washington is well-rested and feeling good about its chances in the NFC East.
Andre: Washington. The Steelers’ rush defense used to be a strength, but now it’s a weakness. Over the last five weeks, they’ve allowed the most yards per carry in the NFL. Antonio Gibson is averaging 5.4 yards per carry during that same span.
(-2.5) Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers, 8:15 p.m.
Mike: 49ers. Weird, weird game. The 49ers’ defense had been solid and got even better last week with the return of Richard Sherman. The combination of Sherman and safety Jimmie Ward can neutralize Buffalo’s aerial attack, while Kyle Shanahan schemes up an offensive attack to expose the Bills’ middling defense.
Ricky: 49ers. Not only might this be a lookahead spot for the Bills, who host the undefeated Steelers next Sunday night. It also has the makings of a disastrous outing for Josh Allen, as the 49ers are so well coached. San Francisco is getting healthier, too, and Shanahan should be able to expose Buffalo’s rush defense, which Pro Football Focus grades as the NFL’s worst.
Andre: 49ers. The 49ers are getting healthier, are at home and they actually have a much better yards per play differential than Buffalo. I’ll take the points whenever that’s the case. The Bills rush defense stinks and Raheem Mostert should be able to have a field day against them.
TUESDAY, DEC. 8
(-7.5) Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens, 8:05 p.m.
Mike: Ravens. Perfect get-right spot for the Ravens, who now desperately need a win to stay afloat in the AFC playoff hunt.
Ricky: Ravens. The Cowboys stink, and the Ravens are due to get back into the win column at some point — right?
Andre: Ravens. The Cowboys have allowed 1,720 rushing yards this season. They might hit the 2,000 mark this week against the run-centric Ravens.