NFL Picks Week 13: 5 Wagers with the Most Value for Bettors
While there is no scientific formula to guarantee success in Week 13, we have a pretty good idea where each team sits by now, after 12 weeks of data.
Going toe-to-toe with Vegas oddsmakers is a risky business, and without any inside information, I’m basing these value plays off of instances where The Strip may overrate the public perception of an injury, hot streak or recent disappointment.
Recent injuries to starting QBs and elite teams with less desire to run up the score also provide angles worth further scrutiny.
All lines current as of 11/29/11
Kansas City Chiefs (+8) at Chicago Bears
Both teams are starting unproven quarterbacks, and eight points is a hefty spread for the Bears' Caleb Hanie (18-of-36, 2 TDs, 3 INTs in Week 12) to cover, even at home.
The Chiefs have certainly regressed during their four-game skid behind Tyler Palko, whose 47.5 QB rating in two-plus games is just not going to cut it in the NFL.
Backing Palko’s Chiefs on the road against a stellar defense is frightening, but no one outside the Palko household believes that Tyler is a better QB than Kyle Orton—and why not dust off the old Bear in a return to Soldier Field?
Orton can’t demand his way out of Kansas City this season, and Palko’s play has earned him the right to test a TD-plus spread against Caleb Hanie.
Denver Broncos (+1) at Minnesota Vikings
Despite the many questions surrounding Tebow’s passing, I’m surprised that the Broncos are underdogs heading into a possibly Peterson-less showdown.
Adrian would be unwise to return to action against the Broncos' stifling defense for the 2-9 Vikings, and in a game certain to be decided by a field goal or less, you have to like Tebow’s chances.
Be wary of any line that seems too obvious for the more nationally popular team, but give the Broncos' running game another vote of confidence against a top-selecting team next April.
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Houston Texans
The Atlanta Falcons rarely impress anyone, even in victory, and that’s the only reason I can give to explain why TJ Yates is putting up less than a touchdown.
Yes, the Texans defense is in the top five against both the run and pass, and yes, the Texans finally have Andre Johnson back in the lineup, but TJ Yates is—who is TJ Yates??
Only under the most dire of circumstances is it acceptable to rehash the Brett Favre conversation, but if I’m Texas, sitting at 8-3, I’ve already called his agent.
Atlanta has the second-rated run defense with which to stop Arian Foster, and they will easily cover three points if Mr. Yates is trusted to pass the team to victory.
New Orleans Saints (-9) vs. Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson and company have enough offensive clout to scare potential bettors away from taking the Saints, but now is not the time to doubt a Drew Brees juggernaut.
The Saints will cover the TD-plus spread by sprinting to an early lead against the Suh-less pass defense, negating Detroit’s recent success on the ground and forcing Stafford to rely on Nate Burleson and Titus Young.
Megatron’s three-game streak without reaching 100 receiving yards is no fluke, as opposing defenses vastly prefer to gamble against Young’s inconsistent routes and Burleson’s shaky hands.
The Saints truly appreciate the Who ‘Dat home-field advantage and won’t ruin their undefeated home record against their limited opponent.
Lock of the Week: Indianapolis Colts (+21) at New England Patriots
Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the Colts have a prayer in this game or even possess the desire to play football anymore, but there is no way Bill Belichick is going to reveal his best playbook on the Manning-less Luck-winners.
A far more likely recourse is to simply run BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead right down the Colts' throats and get this game over with as soon as possible.
The Patriots have no need to risk 5’9” Welker’s health or test Brady’s arm against a team they could beat with their practice squad (and will).
The Colts' Jim Caldwell is fighting for his job and just promoted unheralded Dan Orlovsky (first start since 2008) to combat Bill Belichick in a move that suggests the Colts are still trying.
Burning the clock on the ground may be the best game plan Caldwell has to keep the score close, and you have to like a three-touchdown underdog in a game where both teams have ample reason to run.