NFL Week 13 Picks
After a season where I won the Gridiron Experts Staff Pick ‘Em contest, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I went 64.5% straight up, and 55.4% against the spread… so I’m hoping to replicate that success this year. Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. Last week, I had a pretty solid week. I went 10-4 straight up and 7-7 against the spread. Additionally, my lock of the week came through (10-2 for the season). We hope to replicate that same success this week!
You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with the staff.
Chicago (-3.5) @ Detroit
With a game early Thursday afternoon and Jeff Driskel’s hamstring banged up, the host Lions certainly have a tough task ahead. If Driskel isn’t healthy enough to play, the Lions will turn to David Blough to replace him. Detroit has also turned to RB Bo Scarborough in the backfield, given their recent string of injuries. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones will have to find holes in the Chicago secondary if they want to keep this game close. Look for Chicago RB David Montgomery to excel in this matchup, as Detroit has struggled against the run at times this year. I think the Bears will rely on physical play to give them the edge against the banged-up Lions. The Chicago defense is still quite stout, despite a mediocre season, and I think that they’ll give a gimpy Driskel fits on Thanksgiving (or a healthy Blough, for that matter.) The Bears won this contest in Week 10, and I think we’ll see a repeat performance on Thursday. Bears 17-12.
Buffalo @ Dallas (-6.5)
Dallas is coming off a tough defeat in New England. Make no mistake, though, the Cowboys hung in there with the Pats on a cold, rainy night in Foxborough. That’s not easy to do. I think this team is for real, and they’ll face a large test with Josh Allen and the 8-3 Bills coming to Jerry World. Buffalo knocked off Denver convincingly last week but hasn’t had a real standout win so far this season. We’ll have an awesome WR/CB matchup to watch in this one. Amari Cooper has thrived at home and will likely see a whole lot of Tre’Davious White, who has been fantastic for the Bills this year. Dallas will need to control the clock with Ezekiel Elliott, and for Dak Prescott to convert on third down. Additionally, it’ll be key for the Dallas defense to keep an eye on QB Josh Allen constantly. Allen has been strong in the run game this year and is a threat to take off at any moment. I do believe the Dallas LB corps can limit Allen’s rushing upside, and that the Cowboys offense is potent enough to outscore Buffalo. I think Dallas should enjoy the home cooking and will win this in a one-score game. Cowboys 28-23.
New Orleans (-6.5) @ Atlanta
After being favored last week, the Falcons fell at home to the Bucs on Sunday. Matt Ryan just couldn’t find his groove against a porous Tampa secondary, and the Falcons eventually fell by two scores. New Orleans, on the other hand, squeaked out a win against the Panthers. Atlanta has been terribly inconsistent since their Bye week– flashing signs of being a great team, and signs of being terrible. Drew Brees will aim to exploit an Atlanta secondary which Jameis Winston picked apart last week. The difference is that Brees won’t make the puzzling throws into coverage that Jameis did. Therefore, expect Atlanta to force fewer turnovers than they did last week. New Orleans’ defense is also more formidable than that of the Bucs’ defense. I believe that the Saints will keep the heat on Matt Ryan, making things very difficult for the veteran, who might also be without star WR Julio Jones who has yet to log a practice in this short week. Offensively, Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray form a terrifying tandem in the backfield. Both excelled last weekend, with Murray having his most efficient showing in recent memory. When you add in the MVP Candidate WR Michael Thomas to the fold, New Orleans just has too many weapons for Atlanta to keep up. Saints 30-21.
San Francisco @ Baltimore (-5.5)
We’ve got an epic battle brewing in Baltimore. Many have theorized this could be a potential Super Bowl showdown in February, and I couldn’t be more excited to see how it plays out. I’m not going to go on and on about how amazing Lamar Jackson is… because he’s that good… and then some. But it will be interesting to see how Jackson fares against a truly elite defense in San Francisco. Jackson’s dual-threat nature not only opens up the passing game but also paves the road for Mark Ingram to run downhill. Ingram has been incredibly productive this year and provides a great complement to Jackson when running in between the tackles. Jackson’s receiving corps has been efficient but isn’t filled with stars or massive game-breakers. While Hollywood Brown has had his moments, Jackson’s threat to take off and run at any moment invariably pulls the linebackers towards the line of scrimmage and opens up space downfield… that’s the true danger of this passing attack. San Francisco’s defense will have to contain the stud QB, and I believe that Robert Saleh will cook up a gameplan to limit Jackson (because shutting him down is impossible.) Rest assured, Lamar will still get his… but I think that Saleh’s game-planning could slow down the MVP frontrunner enough to keep San Fran in the game. Then, it will be up to Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers rushing attack to outscore Baltimore. With all-world TE George Kittle now healthy and performing better than he ever has before, and Emmanuel Sanders making some clutch grabs, it makes San Fran tough to defend. In the end, I think this game will come down to one touchdown… and late in the game, I’ll take Jackson right now over anyone. Ravens 28-24.
Washington @ Carolina (-9.5)
Despite the Redskins’ win last week over the Lions, I still don’t think they’re an incredibly strong team. The Panthers, on the other hand, hung tough with the Saints in New Orleans. I don’t think Washington has the defensive playmakers to slow down Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore. Despite Kyle Allen’s up and down season, I think he’ll make enough plays to pace the Panthers’ attack. Look for McCaffrey to bolster his MVP case in this game, and for the Panthers to force multiple turnovers. I think the Carolina defense will confuse Dwayne Haskins and that the Panthers should win comfortably. Panthers 28-14 (LOCK OF THE WEEK).
New York Jets (-3.5) @ Cincinnati
Andy Dalton is back. Will it matter? Probably not. The Jets’ victory over the Raiders was impressive in many ways… but Sam Darnold’s performance stood out the most to me. I feel that he’ll be able to continue his success against this Bengals secondary that hasn’t been able to stop anyone this year. With Darnold’s connections with Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson strengthening, the breakout of TE Ryan Griffin, and Le’Veon Bell returning to elite form, look for the Jets to make it 4 straight and win this one on the road. Jets 24-18.
Tennessee @ Indianapolis (-2.5)
The Titans are 4-1 since Ryan Tannehill took over as the starting QB. Tannehill isn’t threading the needle or uncorking deep balls left and right… but he’s making the throws he needs to for this team to compete. More importantly, he is taking the focus off of RB Derrick Henry, who has been one of the league’s best over the past season and a half. Henry & Tannehill absolutely decimated the Jaguars defense last week, and the Titans are on a bit of a hot streak. The Colts are missing their RB Marlon Mack. While Jonathan Williams has proved as a sufficient replacement, the offense just hasn’t had that spark since Mack left. Jacoby Brissett will aim to hook up with TY Hilton and Jack Doyle and keep pace with the Titans at home. However, I like the hot hand and feel that Henry should shine again, Tannehill will prove to be a dual-threat as he has been the past 5 weeks, and rookie WR AJ Brown will make another big play or two. I’ll take the Titans with an upset in Indy. Titans 27-24.
Tampa Bay @ Jacksonville (-0.5)
Tampa Bay played one of their best games last weekend, knocking off the Falcons in Atlanta. Jameis Winston personified chaos yet again, throwing for 3 TD and 2 INT en route to a 35-22 victory. Winston has been erratic, to say the least, this season. His 20 INTs lead the league. He’ll be faced with a Jacksonville team that’s lost its last 3 games, not to mention their best player, Jalen Ramsey, earlier this season. After the Titans torched this Jacksonville defense last weekend by land and by air, I feel that the Bucs will do the same. Look for Jameis to throw for multiple TDs (with a few INT sprinkled in, of course) and to connect with his stud WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin often. Nick Foles will have trouble in this contest because the Bucs’ formidable run defense should limit Leonard Fournette’s effectiveness and force Foles to make plays. There’s only so much of a spark that DJ Chark & Dede Westbrook can provide, and I think that Tampa Bay will pull off this upset in Jacksonville. Buccaneers 28-27.
Oakland @ Kansas City (-9.5)
The Raiders lost last week’s contest to the Jets by a score of 34-3. I know the Jets have been better as of late, but that’s a very concerning result for a team that was in the thick of the Wild Card race. With Andy Reid having 2 weeks to prepare for this game, and the Chiefs having some time to get healthy, I don’t like Jon Gruden’s odds in this one. Look for Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to pick apart this Oakland secondary all day. With Oakland’s offense in disarray as it was in East Rutherford, I can’t imagine they’ll be able to keep up with the reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. After seeing the Raiders play last week, how could I pick them? I’ll take Kansas City to win this game comfortably at home. Chiefs 33-20.
Philadelphia (-9.5) @ Miami
The Dolphins still haven’t found their groove. Cleveland absolutely embarrassed them last weekend, as they got out to an early lead and never looked back. Philly didn’t fare much better, as the Seahawks controlled the game and knocked them off as road underdogs. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense just couldn’t find a rhythm, and it didn’t help that they were without their two top WRs. Zach Ertz played a huge part of the gameplan, but ultimately, it was too much to overcome. The Dolphins have been scrappy, despite their terrible season and Ryan Fitzpatrick finds a way to make scores respectable, given enough game time. I think the Eagles will win this game and control it from end to end… but I also think that the Eagles’ secondary is something Fitzpatrick will exploit given enough attempts. The Eagles’ offense hasn’t exactly been effective as of late, so I don’t believe we’ll have a blowout on our hands. I think that Fitz will score a meaningless touchdown late to pull the Dolphins within the spread. I’ll take Philly straight up, but Miami with the points. Eagles 28-21.
Green Bay (-6.5) @ New York Giants
Both of these teams had terrible Week 12 results. The Giants fell to the Bears in Chicago by a score of 19-14, while the Packers got absolutely embarrassed by the 49ers on Sunday Night. New York has now lost 7 in a row, and their QB Daniel Jones is developing a concerning propensity for fumbling the football. The Giants do have Saquon Barkley, and getting him the ball early and often might be their only chance to stay in this game. While the Packers certainly aren’t riding high like they were earlier in the year, I think that they have a lot of talent on their team. I don’t believe that New York has anyone in the secondary that can contain Davante Adams, and expect a huge game from Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target. Look for RB Aaron Jones to get more involved in both the passing and running game, and for Green Bay to take this game on the road, covering the spread in the process. Packers 30-20.
LA Rams (-2.5) @ Cardinals
This might be recency bias, but I don’t like how the Rams are playing as of late. Over their last 3 games, they’ve averaged less than 12 points. Yuck. Jared Goff is playing horribly so far, posting 11 TD to 12 INTs. Not exactly ideal for a preseason NFC frontrunner. Todd Gurley’s season has been clouded by questions surrounding his workload. He’s also averaging 4.1 yards per carrying, which isn’t exactly Gurley-like. Arizona touts a fresh new offense, and their rookie QB Kyler Murray has posted a respectable season so far. They’ve lost their last 4 games, but two of those losses were by a combined 13 points to the dominant 49ers. Right now, I think the Rams are reeling, and they’re not at their best. If the Cardinals can contain Aaron Donald, I think they can pull this one off as the home underdog. Look for Kyler to make enough big plays, and for Arizona to protect their house. Cardinals 24-23.
LA Chargers (-2.5) @ Denver
Brandon Allen? Drew Lock? Who will it be? The Broncos have a couple of sparks on their offense with WR Courtland Sutton and RB Phillip Lindsay playing well as of late. However, their quarterback play has been so bad, it’s negated all the positivity put forth by Sutton & Lindsay. On the other side, the Chargers are playing better and have recent wins over Green Bay and Chicago to show for it. RB Melvin Gordon is coming back to form, and Philip Rivers has done enough to put TE Hunter Henry and WR Keenan Allen in a position where they can produce. I also think that the Chargers’ defense is quite strong and should be able to exploit whichever QB suits up on Sunday. Look for LA to cause a few turnovers, and for DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to have big games. When it comes down to it late in the game, I have zero confidence that Denver will be able to run an effective Two Minute Drill. Given that, I’ll take the Chargers to win and cover on the road. Chargers 24-20.
Cleveland (-2.5) @ Pittsburgh
The Browns are hot and have won 3 in a row. They’ll need to win out to have a shot at a wild card berth… so there’s going to be a lot on the line in this divisional showdown. Let’s not forget, Cleveland knocked off the Steelers two weeks ago by a score of 21-7, absolutely dominating in the process. At this time, it looks like the Steelers will be without their two best offensive weapons– James Conner and Juju Smith-Schuster. Duck Hodges will also start at QB for the Steelers in this contest, making things worse for the hometown Steelers. He’ll need to rely on the likes of RBs Benny Snell & Jaylen Samuels, and WRs James Washington and Diontae Johnson to make plays. Not exactly ideal. While the Browns won’t have DE Myles Garrett in this one, their defense has been playing well. I still think they’re a better team offensively when everything is ticking, and it sure does look like the Baker to Odell connection is growing more lethal by the day. WR Jarvis Landry has also been on a tear as of late, and his effectiveness has opened up more for the game-breaker, Beckham. Nick Chubb has also been quite good, and the return of Kareem Hunt has jumpstarted the entire offense. While the Steelers have an edge defensively, I think that the Cleveland skill players will make enough plays to put them over the top. Much like my take on Denver above, I’m also just not convinced that Duck Hodges will be able to execute a late-game comeback at this juncture. I’ll take the Browns to win and cover, even in the hostile Pittsburgh environment. Browns 28-25.
New England (-3.5) @ Houston
New England’s defense absolutely shut down one of the league’s best offenses last week when the Cowboys came to town. Now, they’ll travel to Houston to tangle with Deshaun Watson and the AFC South-leading Texans. Watson is one of the game’s best, but he hasn’t played a defense like New England’s yet this year. In their 11 games, the Patriots have only ceded 117 points total– that’s less than 11 points per game. They also rank 4th in sacks, 1st in INTs, and they have the best coach of all-time calling the shots. Watson has his weapons, with a potent 1-2 punch of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller on the outside, but they’ll be facing a scary secondary in this one. The Houston secondary isn’t exactly the same… in fact, its something I expect Tom Brady to exploit. Look for Julian Edelman and James White to feast on this Houston defense, and for Brady to play mistake-free football. While Watson will certainly have his moments, I think that Bill Belichick will concoct a game plan to limit Watson’s effectiveness. I think the Pats should take this one and cover the spread in the process, even in enemy territory. Patriots 27-21.
Minnesota @ Seattle (-2.5)
This should be a fun matchup, as this game will have major playoff implications. These teams are a combined 17-5 this year and are vying for position in the playoff race. The Vikings have won 6 of their last 7 and are looking to make a run at the divisional title with the Packers faltering. Seattle has won 7 of their last 8, and Russell Wilson is making his case for MVP votes with each win. Wilson’s backfield is a bit cloudy at the moment, as starter Chris Carson has been fumbling the ball a ton as of late. Look for Rashaad Penny to become more involved. If these fumble woes continue, he might even take over altogether. Wilson will rely on WRs Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, along with emerging TE Jacob Hollister. Minnesota has been surging as of late on the strength of their stud RB, Dalvin Cook. He has been utterly extraordinary this year, as his 1,017 rushing yards ranks 3rd in the NFL. Kirk Cousins has also played well this year, connecting often with WR Stefon Diggs. The Vikings would benefit from the return of Adam Thielen, but his status remains up in the air ahead of this Monday Night contest. In the end, it’s hard to bet against Seattle at home in a prime time game. Under Pete Carroll, the Seahawks are 28-5-1 in Primetime games. This is precisely the type of game that Wilson excels in and I don’t see why that will change on Monday Night. Give me Russ & Co. to win and cover. Seahawks 27-22.
Enjoy the games! Until next week…