NFL Week 13 Picks Against The Spread: Selecting This Week's Winners
It's December and you know what that means... MORE FOOTBALL!
On a more serious note, however, the changing weather does toss a new dynamic into this week's games. Can teams withstand the bitter cold and high winds? For most of the NFL, it's just business as usual.
But some warm-weather teams (Miami, Jacksonville, Tennessee, Houston, Dallas, Arizona) might struggle playing football up north where the sun isn't shining any more.
So with that knowledge in mind, here are this week's picks.
Note: I've already previewed all of the games here in my weekly picks column, but without the spread. For more detailed info on each game please see my original column here.
Houston at Philadelphia (-8.5)
Shutting out a team that has Rusty Smith starting at quarterback should not be a cause for celebration in Texans camp. This week they face a real team: the Eagles.
Both teams have high-octane offenses, so it's difficult to imagine a blowout. Philadelphia will win by a touchdown.
Note: This pick was made prior to Thursday's game but, because of the news cycle, was not published until Friday. I swear, really.
Washington at NY Giants (-7)
The Redskins lost to the Vikings last week. Any team that is bad enough to lose to Minnesota should be manhandled by the Giants. Good luck staying on your feet, McNabb.
Denver at Kansas City (-8.5)
Considering the Chiefs got absolutely crushed the first time they played Denver this season (49-29), picking Kansas City to win by more than a touchdown seems a bit silly.
The Chiefs should win, but it will be a relatively close game.
Jacksonville at Tennessee (-3)
No idea why the Titans are the favorite in this one. No team that gets shut out by Houston should ever be favored to win, especially against a pretty good Jacksonville team.
I like the Jaguars to win this one outright.
San Francisco at Green Bay (-9)
Some may point to Frank Gore's season-ending injury as evidence that the 49ers are sunk. But I don't believe that.
Gore is a great player, but the San Francisco offense overused him. This is a team that also has guys like Michael Crabtree (one of the league's best young receivers) and Vernon Davis (literally impossible to cover).
Brian Westbrook won't be that much of a downgrade from Gore, and the 49ers will be able to keep this game to within a touchdown.
Cleveland at Miami (-4.5)
The only time in the last five weeks that the Browns have lost by more than 4.5 points was Week 10 against the New York Jets, and that's a game that went to overtime.
Cleveland doesn't get blown out (largest margin of defeat this season is 18 points) and Miami isn't capable of blowing a team out (largest margin of victory this season is 16 points). Guess what that means?
Buffalo at Minnesota (-5.5)
The Bills have looked good lately. The Vikings have looked like the Vikings (and not the 2009 version).
Also, the Bills haven't lost by more than three points since Week 5. It'd be a minor miracle if they were to lose by at least six to Minnesota.
Chicago (-5) at Detroit
Interesting factoid here: the Lions already lost to the Bears this season by exactly five points.
Vegas is betting on a repeat performance, but I can't see it. The Bears are too good and the Lions are still the Detroit Lions. Enough said.
New Orleans (-6.5) at Cincinnati
Here are the Bengals' margins of loss for their last eight games, in chronological order: 3, 3, 7, 8, 6, 6, 18, 16.
Now here are the Saints' margins of victory in their last five games, excluding their loss to Cleveland in Week 7: 15, 10, 31, 15, 3.
Does anybody really expect this game to be close?
Oakland at San Diego (-13)
Don't get too excited by the Chargers stomping of Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Or by their stomping of the Broncos a week before. This is still a team coached by Norv Turner, after all.
The Raiders look terrible after losing by a combined score of 68-20 in the last two weeks. But they've got enough fight in them to keep this game within two touchdowns.
Carolina at Seattle (-6)
Any time the two starting quarterbacks in a game are Jimmy Clausen and Matt Hasselbeck, you know it's going to be a game that is won on the ground.
These two teams would be lucky to put up 30 points between them, so a line of six seems rather high.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay (+3)
The Bucs are wildly overrated even with a 7-4 record, and Matt Ryan will show the NFL exactly why that is.
The Falcons already beat Tampa Bay by six points earlier this season, and the Bucs were lucky to be that close.
St. Louis (-3.5) at Arizona
Derek Anderson might have something to prove in this game if he wants to keep his starting job, so this game should be close. Or he'll be benched after the first quarter and the Rams will win easily.
I don't think Anderson deserved to be attacked by the media, and I think he's good enough to do something about it. Look for him to silence his critics with a big game.
Dallas at Indianapolis (-5.5)
Manning's looked unusually human against two very good teams (Chargers, Patriots) the past two weeks. Lucky for him, the Cowboys are not a good team. The Colts need a big victory and this is their chance.
Can't set the point margin high enough for this one.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore (-3)
These two teams are about as evenly matched as you can get. They've played once this season and the Ravens won by three, so the line seems appropriate.
But the Steelers didn't have Ben Roethlisberger in that game. They have him now. He alone should be worth three points.
NY Jets at New England (-3.5)
Some might be surprised to see the Patriots favored in this one. But considering that the game is on New England's turf, and that the Patriots look as good as ever, a 3.5 line is probably fair.
Belichick has something to prove in this game, however, and he never loses to the same team twice.
This game will be close, but I don't think it will be that close.