Week 13 NFL Picks: Dissecting Closest Calls Against the Spread

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 21:  Quarterback Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints drops back to pass against the Atlanta Falcons during a game at the Georgia Dome on November 21, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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:


Week 13 NFL Picks Against the Spread
Jacksonville JaguarsCleveland Browns-7Jaguars
Tennessee TitansIndianapolis Colts-4Colts
Chicago BearsMinnesota Vikings-1Vikings
Miami DolphinsNew York Jets-2Jets
Arizona CardinalsPhiladelphia Eagles-3Eagles
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCarolina Panthers-8Buccaneers
New England PatriotsHouston Texans+7.5Patriots
Atlanta FalconsBuffalo Bills-3Bills
St. Louis RamsSan Francisco 49ers-8Rams
Denver BroncosKansas City Chiefs+5.5Chiefs
Cincinnati BengalsSan Diego Chargers-1Chargers
New York GiantsWashington Redskins+1Giants
New Orleans SaintsSeattle Seahawks-4.5Saints
Spread Info According to Covers.com

Jets Will Stay Alive in AFC Wild Card Hunt with Win over Dolphins

Nov 17, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) straight arms Buffalo Bills free safety Aaron Williams (23) on a run during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 37-14. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffm
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

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

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 17:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers during their game at Sun Life Stadium on November 17, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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. 

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. 


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