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Week 13 NFL Picks

DeVonta Smith

Week 13 NFL Picks

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. I’ve been Gridiron Experts’ Pick ‘Em columnist for the past few seasons, and I’m glad to be back at it again! We’re hoping to have even more 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. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

Tampa Bay (-10.5) @ Atlanta

Tom Brady and the Bucs head to Atlanta, fresh off a victory over the surging Colts. Atlanta escaped Jacksonville with a 21-14 win last weekend and will look to start a winning streak with a win over Brady & Co on Sunday. Atlanta has been inconsistent this year, as they find jolts of energy to put points on the board, and then seem to fall flat, as evidenced by their two-week stretch against Dallas and New England where they totaled 3 points. QB Matt Ryan has his best weapon, Cordarrelle Patterson, back from injury, and Patterson quickly made an impact, scoring twice against Jacksonville. With TE Kyle Pitts also garnering some attention, Ryan will need to be at his best to keep up with the defending champs. Brady also got some reinforcements with a fully healthy Rob Gronkowski back in the fold. Gronk was spectacular against Indianapolis, logging 7 catches for 123 yards last week. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin there to take attention off of Gronk, Brady should have plenty of options all afternoon on Sunday. Atlanta struggles to pressure the passer, so I can imagine Brady will be at his best on Sunday. However, the Falcons’ secondary is pretty decent. While I think Tampa will roll in this game, I see a late backdoor cover coming for Atlanta… 10.5 just might be too many points. Buccaneers 30-20.  

Arizona (-7.5) @ Chicago

The Cardinals might finally see the return of their two best players, as QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins returned to practice this week. Murray has missed the past three games, and Arizona is itching to get their star quarterback back on the field. Murray certainly brings a completely different dynamic to the offense with his rushing upside, and this is something that Chicago will have to contend with, as they rank middle-of-the-pack in scoring defense. Chicago’s chance lies in the fact that they rush the passer well, ranking 2nd in the NFL with 32 sacks. They’ll need to get to Murray early and often to keep their offense in the game. Speaking of the Bears’ offense, it’s left a lot to be desired, ranking 29th in the NFL in yardage and points scored. Whether it’s veteran Andy Dalton under center or rookie Justin Fields, this team will need to play its best game of the season to keep up with the Arizona offense. For Chicago to contend, they’ll need to control the clock, rush Murray, and get RB David Montgomery going early. While it’s possible, I just don’t see it happening. Look for Murray’s return to energize Arizona, and for the Cardinals to pull this one off on the road. Cardinals 31-20.

Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati (-3)

Joe Burrow and the Bengals dismantled the Steelers last weekend, while the Chargers fell to the Broncos in Denver. The primary difference between these two squads is the success of their defense. Los Angeles ranks 29th in points allowed while Cincinnati ranks 6th. More specifically, the Chargers rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per game. Joe Mixon has been incredibly effective this year, accumulating yards and scoring touchdowns at a scorching rate. I expect Mixon to continue his hot streak on Sunday, and pace the Bengals attack all afternoon, opening windows for Burrow to pepper Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins with targets in the play-action passing game. While Justin Herbert has quite a few weapons of his own, he just hasn’t been able to consistently get the Chargers over the hump. I expect this game to be close, but give Cincinnati the edge with Mixon in the backfield, and the home crowd supporting them to cover the spread in the process. Bengals 24-20.

Minnesota (-7) @ Detroit

After falling in San Francisco last weekend, Kirk Cousins will take the Vikings to Detroit to get back on track against the winless Lions. To make matters worse for Detroit, they’ll likely be without RB D’Andre Swift who was injured on Thanksgiving. Without Swift, Jared Goff’s only true weapons are TE TJ Hockenson and RB Jamaal Williams. Neither of these defenses particularly jump off the page, but Minnesota does have a major advantage offensively. Despite the loss of Dalvin Cook, RB Alexander Mattison has proven to be incredibly effective in relief so far this year. Should Mattison continue his success rushing, it’ll open up windows for Cousins to target young stud WR Justin Jefferson, and the ever-reliable Adam Thielen. While Detroit has proven to be scrappy, I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Vikings. I see Minnesota cruising to a 2-score victory here, and covering the spread in the process. Vikings 26-14. 

Indianapolis (-8.5) @ Houston

The Colts fought to the bitter end last week before falling to the defending champs, Tampa Bay. On the other hand, Houston lost to the Jets at home. QB Tyrod Taylor has taken control of the Houston offense and gives them a more dynamic look than rookie QB Davis Mills did. Taylor is doing all he can to pace this offensive attack that is starving for playmakers. The exception is WR Brandin Cooks, who has logged over 700 yards on the season, despite inconsistent QB play. Otherwise, this Houston offense isn’t particularly threatening, ranking dead last in the NFL in points scored and total yards per game. Their defense also ranks bottom 5 in points allowed, making it hard to side with the Texans here. Indianapolis is led by RB Jonathan Taylor, who leads the NFL in rushing with 1,205 yards and 14 TDs. Taylor’s effectiveness has certainly helped QB Carson Wentz, who has been efficient and effective when throwing the ball, especially to WR Michael Pittman Jr. With the chips on the table in the AFC Playoff race, I expect the Colts to take care of business in Houston with a strong dose of Taylor, and a sprinkling of Wentz when needed. Colts 28-18.

New York Giants @ Miami (-4)

The Giants surprised many last weekend, holding the Eagles offense to 7 points and knocking off Philly. Don’t look now, but the Giants have won 3 of their last 5 games, and are finding their groove defensively, especially at home. In fact, over their last 3 home games, the defense has allowed a total of 26 points. With that said, they’ll be on the road to take on the Dolphins this week. Miami, on the other hand, continued their hot streak, winning their 4th game in a row. QB Tua Tagovailoa has improved this season and led the Dolphins back to the ranks of the relevant in the AFC. He might see the return of WR DeVante Parker and has benefitted from the breakout of rookie WR Jaylen Waddle. With that said, Miami has not found a consistent rushing attack as of yet, ranking 31st in the league in rushing yards per game. The Giants rank 26th against the run and 17th against the pass, so Myles Gaskin will need to be at his best to successfully exploit this Giants defense. The question will be: Can the Giants score enough points to win? QB Daniel Jones has been incredibly inconsistent this year and is lacking his full complement of weapons with WR Kadarius Toney very questionable to play. Jones is also on the wrong side of questionable and Mike Glennon would start in his absence. He’ll need to rely on WR Kenny Golladay, and RB Saquon Barkley, who hasn’t quite looked like himself since returning from an ankle injury. In the end, I do think the Giants will keep it close, but worry about their offensive consistency. I think that Miami will continue its winning ways at home. I would probably pick the Giants against the spread here with Jones at the helm… but I can’t do it with Mike Glennon running the offense. Dolphins 25-20. 

Philadelphia (-6.5) @ New York Jets

The Jets snapped their 3 games losing streak in Houston last weekend, while the Eagles’ offense fell flat against the Giants. It seems that Philly either finds a ton of success offensively or lays a dud with very little in between. Most of this is due to the singular approach of this offense. If you can stop Hurts, you’ll stop the Eagles. When QB Jalen Hurts can run and keep defenses on their toes, the team has major success. However, if a team can effectively scheme against Hurts’ strengths, things can get ugly for Philly. Hurts’ best options this year have been rookie WR DeVonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert. However, Hurts is also the team’s leading rusher, which is puzzling, given the fact that Philly has Miles Sanders available to carry the load. Instead, Sanders only touched the ball 10 times last week, while Boston Scott mixed in. With all of that said, Philly has found ways to make Hurts effective and will hope to continue that trend. The Jets will rely on QB Zach Wilson to lead their charge, but Wilson’s knee is admittedly unstable. With a revolving door at RB (Michael Carter on IR) and only WR Corey Davis as a real threat in the receiving corps., I worry about New York’s ability to keep up with Philly here. The Jets rank dead last in points allowed per game, and 27th in points scored. Is it possible that the Jets pull off the upset at home, or even keep it close? Definitely. Is it something I’m going to bet on? No.  Eagles 26-18.

Washington @ Las Vegas (-2.5)

The Football Team is creeping back into the playoff picture with 3 straight wins. Las Vegas won their first game in 4 weeks on Thanksgiving, knocking off Dallas in Jerry World on a late field goal. Derek Carr leads the NFL in passing yards, but will likely be without his highest-profile weapon, TE Darren Waller. Foster Moreau has filled in valiantly over the past two years, and I expect him to do so again against this spotty Washington defense. Otherwise, the Raiders’ receiving options are the breakout Hunter Renfrow, and speedy veteran, DeSean Jackson. The Football Team ranks 30th against the pass so far this year, so look for Carr to keep it rolling. Las Vegas’ defense hasn’t been great as a whole, as they rank 30th in points allowed. With Antonio Gibson looking more healthy, I expect Washington to lean on their RB to pace their offensive attack. With QB Taylor Heinicke playing solid football, he’ll look to connect with WR Terry McLaurin and the now healthy TE Logan Thomas. Washington also ranks 6th in time of possession. With a steady dose of Gibson and efficient QB play, I do think Washington has a chance to pull this upset and keep their streak alive. Look for Thomas to find some holes against the Raiders who struggle against TEs, and for the Football Team to steal a road win in Vegas. Football Team 28-27.

Jacksonville @ Los Angeles Rams (-13)

Both of these teams have lost 3 in a row, and one of them will break their losing streak on Sunday. Los Angeles, however, has been a much better team this year, with a 7-4 record despite their recent slide. QB Matthew Stafford lost WR Robert Woods for the season but gained a new weapon in WR Odell Beckham, who hopes to rekindle his career in Los Angeles. Otherwise, Stafford has WRs Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson to target, and RB Darrell Henderson Jr. to balance the LA attack. Jacksonville also ranks 27th in sacks on the year, so Stafford will seemingly have time to read the field and pick apart the Jaguars’ secondary. On the other side of the ball, QB Trevor Lawrence leads a Jaguars offense that ranks 2nd to last in scoring. The only true dynamic weapon that Jacksonville has is RB James Robinson, who is a bit hobbled at the time of writing. TE Dan Arnold is on injured reserve, and neither WR Marvin Jones nor Laviska Shenault has found consistent success this year. There are too many question marks in Jacksonville, and I see them struggling to score and keep up on the road in Los Angeles. Give me the Rams to win and cover. Rams 30-16. 

FYI: If you also play Daily Fantasy Sports, like DraftKings, this might be a game to target. I would look to possibly make with Matthew Stafford, so lock him into your NFL Optimizer.

Baltimore (-4.5) @ Pittsburgh

While the Ravens stumbled to a sloppy 16-10 win over the Browns last week, the Steelers got embarrassed by the Bengals. Now, these two teams will face off in the tightly contested AFC North. Baltimore’s offense has fallen flat the past few weeks, but luckily for the Ravens, the Steelers looked even worse on Sunday. QB Ben Roethlisberger looks to be losing some steam and has trouble linking up with his weapons- WRs Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson for game-breaking plays. That used to be how the Steelers operated, but unfortunately, those days seem to be over. QB Lamar Jackson still paces this Ravens offense, which has been hampered by the injury to WR Marquise Brown. Hopefully, Brown gets back to his full-speed self soon and gives this team the deep threat it needs to offset its run-first approach. In the meantime, Jackson will continue to focus on TE Mark Andrews who has been fantastic this year. On Sunday, I expect Baltimore to do just enough to win and cover the spread on the road. I do think that Jackson will outplay Ben and that the Ravens defense will do enough to lead Baltimore to a victory. Ravens 20-14.

Denver @ Kansas City (-9.5)

After a Bye week, Kansas City is back in action. The Chiefs seem to be figuring things out, having won 4 in a row, and sitting atop the AFC West. They’ll face a formidable opponent on Sunday night with Denver coming to town at 6-5. Last week, the Broncos knocked off the Chargers in Denver, holding Los Angeles to only 13 points. Aside from a slight hiccup against Philadelphia, this Denver defense has shut down quite a few teams and allowed kept the Broncos in almost every game. On the other side of the ball QB Teddy Bridgewater has led a balanced attack that can focus on the run or the pass in any given week. When he’s tossing the ball around, Bridgewater keys in on WRs Jerry Jeudy, and Courtland Sutton, along with TE Noah Fant. With that consistent trio at his disposal, Bridgewater has been efficient when he needs to be and has led this team to a winning record in a tough division. On the ground, the Broncos have employed the tandem of Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams at RB. The Chiefs, with QB Patrick Mahomes, are more pass-happy, as usual. Mahomes has amassed 3,200 yards passing so far this year, good for 5th in the NFL. With All-Pro WR Tyreek Hill on the outside and the league’s best TE, Travis Kelce in the middle, secondaries have trouble shutting down this Kansas City attack. Furthermore, with RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire back in the fold, Mahomes has every weapon at his disposal. While I do think that Kansas City’s rebound is real, I can also recognize how strong this Denver defense is. I expect this to be a close game until the end, but feel that I trust Mahomes’ ability to orchestrate a game-winning 4th quarter drive more than I do Bridgewater. I like Kansas City to take the win but will pick the Broncos +9.5. Chiefs 28-21.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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