The NFL season is into Week 13, and it’s getting harder and harder to ignore just how careful bettors need to be when laying the points.
If you blindly faded favorites all season long, you’d be doing quite well through 12 weeks. Betting favorites are just 76-98-6 this season, a cover rate of just below 44%. Road favorites have been even more of a red flag, failing to cover in 43 of 72 chances this season.
Keep that in mind as you handicap the NFL Week 13 slate, and you might want to pay special attention to these three games where the favorites could be on the wrong side.
(-7) Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans
It’s possible Cleveland builds off an emotional win last week in Deshaun Watson’s long-awaited debut. But it’s also possible Watson, playing his first game since Jan. 3, 2021, has some rust to shake off. That’s especially true in a new system with teammates he hasn’t had any real opportunities to work alongside. While Watson will want to show out for his new team while making his old team pay, don’t be surprised if the Texans are motivated in this one, too. Houston obviously doesn’t have much to play for down the stretch, but this is the kind of game for them to rally around and put forth a strong effort. Cleveland is also coming off that overtime performance in which they had to put forth a ton of effort to come back and knock off Tom Brady’s Bucs. Neither team has a good defense, so maybe the Texans can keep pace and keep things close.
(-1.5) Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
The Josh Jacobs injury might complicate this situation, but given how the line has moved closer and closer to a pick, it does get your attention. If Jacobs does play, the Raiders are a live dog at home. Which is kind of the point of calling the Chargers a favorite to avoid. They do have the higher ceiling of the two teams, but the Raiders’ stats across the board are as good if not better than LA … yet Vegas is catching points at home? We saw the Chargers struggle in a similar situation last week, too, in Arizona.
(-11) Dallas Cowboys vs. Indianapolis Colts
This thing opened at 9.5 and is already up to 11 and could go higher, so that’s something to keep in mind. It feels like too much of an adjustment off of a Monday night performance in which the Colts had a chance to win. Jeff Saturday got in the way of that, understating the fact that Indy will be on the wrong side of a coaching mismatch in every game. That being said, the Colts present some potential challenges for the Cowboys. The Indy defense is pretty legit, ranked 12th in defensive DVOA. The Dallas offense certainly has taken some strides with Dak Prescott back, but they’re still one of the NFL’s most run-heavy teams (48.4%, seventh). Only San Francisco allows fewer yards per carry than Indianapolis, which boasts the No. 7 rushing defense by EPA.