NFL Picks Week 13 Against the Spread: Which Underdogs Will Cover?
Las Vegas oddsmakers have been on the mark during the 2011 NFL regular season and sports bettors will need to prepare for some major adjustments down the stretch.
Favorites hold a slim 84-83-8 against-the-spread (ATS) advantage heading into Monday night's showdown between the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints, while the under is 87-86 on the year.
The New England Patriots win the award for the largest spread of the season thus far, opening as 20.5-point home favorites against the Indianapolis Colts this weekend.
Let's take a closer look at Week 13 of the season from a betting perspective.
Tennessee Titans at Buffalo Bills
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The Tennessee Titans have to be pleased with Chris Johnson running for 190 yards on 23 carries in Sunday's 23-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as three-point home favorites.
Turnovers will be a major part of this outcome, especially with Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck throwing two interceptions.
The Buffalo Bills jumped out to a 4-1 record this year due to a plus-11 turnover margin in that span, but that's quickly changed to committing seven more miscues than their opponents in losing five of six contests.
Bettors will find that the Titans are 3-0 ATS versus teams with a losing record this year, which is better than the Bills 3-8 ATS mark when the betting odds are within a field goal on either side.
Pick: Tennessee Titans (+2)
Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears
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Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie will get an opportunity to clean things up after throwing three interceptions in Sunday's 25-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders as three-point road underdogs.
The former Colorado State Rams signal-caller completed 50 percent of his passes for 254 yards.
Kansas City will take to the road for two consecutive games, dropping a 13-9 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers as 10.5-point home underdogs, which puts them in a bad situational spot.
Teams that face the Steelers are terrible bets the following week, especially when playing the final game of a weekend.
Bettors will find that the Chiefs are 1-3 ATS as a road underdog of 7.5 to 10 points, while the Bears have covered two of three when laying that type of number.
Pick: Chicago Bears (-8)
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins
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The Oakland Raiders are still in control of the AFC West, but first-year head coach Hue Jackson will try to keep his team focused on this week's trip to South Beach, especially with a game against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers on deck.
Oddsmakers sent out an interesting line for this contest, establishing the Miami Dolphins as 2.5-point home favorites, knowing they'd attract underdog money.
Miami is 2-0 ATS as a favorite and I expect a sloppy performance from the visitor that's making the long trip across the country.
Pick: Miami Dolphins (-2.5)
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the best bets in the National Football League when playing on the road, posting a 5-0 ATS record this season.
That's about to change this weekend, facing a Pittsburgh Steelers side that has tallied an 11-1 ATS record in December when coming off a victory and facing a revenge-minded opponent the following week.
Rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are a year away from really making some noise in the AFC North division.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
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The Cleveland Browns are going to attract plenty of sharp action this weekend due to the struggles of the Baltimore Ravens to beat lesser opponents on the road.
It's important to note that the Ravens are 3-0 ATS on the road in this series, while looking forward to a break against the winless Indianapolis Colts at home the following week.
Browns second-year quarterback Colt McCoy welcomed back running back Peyton Hillis this past week, dropping a 23-20 decision to the Cincinnati Bengals as 6.5-point road underdogs.
Expect a focused performance out of the Ravens after receiving extra rest off an impressive 16-6 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens (-6.5)
New York Jets at Washington Redskins
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The oddsmakers established a very curious opening line in this contest, sending out the New York Jets as 3.5-point road favorites, watching it fall by a half-point immediately in the early wagering.
That's a curious movement in the betting odds when over 90 percent of the action has come in on the travelers in this contest, something that I'm not about to join in on.
New York is 1-4 ATS on the road this season, with its only cover coming in a 27-11 win over the Buffalo Bills as 2.5-point road underdogs.
The Washington Redskins showed some fight in scoring 16 points in the final frame in a 23-17 road win over the Seattle Seahawks.
I like that in a home underdog.
Pick: Washington Redskins (+3)
Atlanta Falcons at Houston Texans
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The Atlanta Falcons definitely have the type of defense that could stifle the Houston Texans due to their quarterback situation, ranking second in the NFL in allowing just 83.5 rushing yards per game.
Early wagering has definitely seen sharp bettors jump at the opportunity of playing the home underdog in this contest despite the problems under center, something that gains more strength when looking at Sunday's situation.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith is 2-7 ATS off back-to-back straight-up wins, while the Texans are 3-0 ATS this year in games with a spread of three points or less on either side.
Houston's top-ranked defense in allowing just 268.4 yards per game will win the game in rookie quarterback T.J. Yates' first NFL start.
Pick: Houston Texans (+2)
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Potentially the most surprising line on the odds board in Week 13, the Carolina Panthers bring in the sixth-best rushing attack and face off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' lackluster rush defense.
Tampa Bay ranks 30th in the league in stopping the run and just allowed the Tennessee Titans to run for 202 yards on 35 carries in last week's 23-17 loss as three-point road underdogs.
The Buccaneers 5-14 ATS home record the past two-plus seasons has this looking like a mammoth trap game for sports bettors.
Tread carefully, but I'm going in.
Pick: Carolina Panthers (+3.5)
St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers
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Before laying this type of number with the resurgent San Francisco 49ers, bettors should definitely know that they haven't played in this situation in quite some time.
The oddsmakers are certainly tired of getting killed by first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, bringing in a 9-1-1 ATS mark through 11 games.
The St. Louis Rams grab the cash with this inflated line.
Pick: St. Louis Rams (+13.5)
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
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The sharpest move in the betting market this week is undoubtedly found in this particular matchup, as early wagering has driven this line down two full points in some spots.
Dallas is looking dead ahead to a divisional showdown with the New York Giants, while the Arizona Cardinals must win out to potentially score a playoff berth.
The Cardinals are a dangerous 3-1 ATS as a home underdog of 3.5 to 7 points, especially with this being the first of three consecutive games inside University of Phoenix Stadium.
Expect a lot of Cowboys' fans to occupy the desert this weekend.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys (-4.5)
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
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Due to the oddsmakers leaving it open for bettors to take the New England Patriots as 20.5-point home favorites, I have no choice but to take the underdog in this contest.
The Indianapolis Colts will definitely catch wind that they will be the NFL's largest underdog of the year Sunday.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and friends simply need to win to continue their stranglehold on the AFC East.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts (+21)
San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars
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The San Diego Chargers want no part of flying across the country to play a seemingly meaningless game, falling three games behind the Oakland Raiders in the AFC West divisional standings.
Jacksonville brings in the league's fourth-best defense, giving up just 292.5 yards per game, while also possessing a bruising rushing attack led by running back Maurice Jones-Drew
Down go the Chargers on Monday Night Football.
Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars (+3)