Oddsmakers know exactly what they're doing by Week 13 of the NFL season, which means finding good value when picking against the spread becomes increasingly difficult.
With the first 12 weeks of the season already in the books, the powers that be in Vegas have had plenty of time to figure out all 32 franchises and use that information to create lines that are likely to become reality.
If the lines this week are any indication, fans are in for a great week of NFL action. Here's a look at the slate, including a slew of razor-thin lines that predict plenty of games going down to the wire:
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Cleveland Browns||-7||Jaguars|
|Tennessee Titans||Indianapolis Colts||-4||Colts|
|Chicago Bears||Minnesota Vikings||-1||Vikings|
|Miami Dolphins||New York Jets||-2||Jets|
|Arizona Cardinals||Philadelphia Eagles||-3||Eagles|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Carolina Panthers||-8||Buccaneers|
|New England Patriots||Houston Texans||+7.5||Patriots|
|Atlanta Falcons||Buffalo Bills||-3||Bills|
|St. Louis Rams||San Francisco 49ers||-8||Rams|
|Denver Broncos||Kansas City Chiefs||+5.5||Chiefs|
|Cincinnati Bengals||San Diego Chargers||-1||Chargers|
|New York Giants||Washington Redskins||+1||Giants|
|New Orleans Saints||Seattle Seahawks||-4.5||Saints|
Spread Info According to Covers.com
Jets Will Stay Alive in AFC Wild Card Hunt with Win over Dolphins
A fierce Miami pass rush getting points against Geno Smith should be easy money, right?
Well, not so fast.
Yes, the Dolphins boast a top-10 pass rush with 33 sacks through 11 games. And yes, Smith has thrown 18 interceptions already and hasn't done much to prove he can succeed against that kind of pressure. However, Smith's ineptitude has overshadowed a great Jets defense that has shined this season—especially at home.
With the run game hobbled, it's going to be on Ryan Tannehill to win this game on the road. Considering the Dolphins haven't won a road game since Sept. 15, that's a tall order.
Philip Rivers, Home-field Advantage Gives Chargers Edge over Bengals
Perhaps the closest game of the week on paper is an important AFC matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the San Diego Chargers.
San Diego is one of approximately 50 teams gunning for the sixth and final AFC seed at 5-6. Cincinnati is looking to widen the gap atop the AFC North at 7-4, so both teams have plenty on the line in terms of playoff implications.
But the main difference between these two should be quarterback play. Philip Rivers has been brilliant when playing in San Diego this season. He's thrown nine touchdowns to just two interceptions and completed 67 percent of his passes in four home games.
Andy Dalton, meanwhile, has been an entirely different quarterback when on the road. While he's thrown 17 touchdowns to six interceptions in Cincinnati, he has just four touchdowns and nine interceptions on the road as the Bengals are 2-4 as the visitor this season.
Expect Dalton to struggle a bit as Rivers has a big day and leads the Chargers to a narrow victory.
Saints Will Keep Things Interesting with Seahawks
There's no doubt that the Monday night matchup between the Seahawks and Saints is the weekend's most highly anticipated game. They are the NFC's No. 1 and 2 teams right now and could very easily have a rematch in the playoffs for a Super Bowl berth.
Oddsmakers see the Seahawks as a 4.5-point favorite right now, and that's understandable. They are undefeated at home and usually boast one of the league's best home-field advantages.
Who wins this matchup?
However, counting the Saints out in this one would be a mistake.
The Seahawks will be forced to match up with the Saints' explosive passing attack without defensive back Brandon Browner. He figures to be out with a groin injury according to ESPN. With Jimmy Graham drawing attention away from the Saints' deep receiving corps, being down even one defensive back can be detrimental.
It's not as if the Saints are your typical Saints defensively either. Rob Ryan has this group playing well, as they are third in the league against the pass and 15th against the run.
The Saints might not pull this one out, but they should keep it within a field goal as they are just about the only team in the NFC that can unseat the Seahawks.