Let's face it: The Indianapolis Colts are awful without Peyton Manning.
They rank dead last in scoring defense (29.7 points allowed per game) and 30th (of 32 teams) in scoring offense (13.6 points per game).
And there is little doubt that the Patriots are capable of beating down the Colts by 50-plus points as the Saints did on national television earlier in the year. With no love lost between these two teams, there would be no expectation for Bill Belichick to take his foot off the pedal at any point if or when the Patriots are crushing the Colts.
With that said, giving more than 20 points to another NFL team is too risky. After all, only twice has a favorite of 20-plus points covered the spread in nine matchups, although they have won all of them straight up.
On the other hand, there is no way I can trust a Colts team that has failed to win a game this year and is switching to Dan Orlovsky as its quarterback. Granted, Curtis Painter is no Peyton Manning, but I'm not sure that Dan Orlovsky is even a Curtis Painter.
If I had to pick this game, I would expect a Patriots victory and a Colts cover, but I am avoiding this game at all costs.
Here are my three picks for Week 13:
Miami Dolphins (-3) Over Oakland Raiders
Over the past four weeks, the Dolphins have been nearly perfect and have had many opportunities last week to keep their winning streak alive, although they lost by one point to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Either way, Miami has the added benefit of three extra days to rest and prepare for the Oakland Raiders, who are making a cross-country trip for an early game.
The Raiders will be without wide receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford in addition to Darren McFadden for another week. While Michael Bush has shown that he is more than capable of picking up the slack in the running game, Carson Palmer has only one passing touchdown in his past two games and the Dolphins have allowed only two passing touchdowns in their past four games.
Miami's run defense is one of the league's best as they have allowed only 97.5 yards per game and only the San Francisco 49ers have allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than the Dolphins (three). On the other hand, Oakland has allowed a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry and are giving up 135.3 rushing yards per game.
While Miami's defense is playing much better over their past four games, so is the offense under quarterback Matt Moore. In his past four games, Moore has a 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he's completing more than 67 percent of his passes during that span.
New York Jets (-3) Over Washington Redskins
While I don't trust Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, I trust Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman even less, although the Jets have allowed six touchdown passes and have no interceptions in their past three games.
Redskins running back Roy Helu is coming off the first 100-yard rushing game of his career (although he had a 100-yard receiving game four weeks ago). While coach Mike Shanahan has indicated that Helu will get a heavy workload again, the Jets have been much better against the run recently than they were at the beginning of the season.
Excluding quarterbacks and wide receivers, the Jets have allowed running backs to rush for only 3.23 yards per carry (141 attempts for 456 yards) since Week 6.
With five games to go, the Jets are 6-5 and one game behind the Cincinnati Bengals, who have a tough matchup on the road in Pittsburgh for the final playoff spot. In other words, the Jets are right in the thick of things as far as their playoff hopes are concerned. On the other hand, the Redskins are unlikely to make the postseason even in the very unlikely event that they win out.
The Jets are 10-4 against the spread (ATS) in their past 14 games versus teams with a losing record while the Redskins are 2-5 ATS in their past seven games overall.
[Our Poll of the Day: Will Helu have more carries than Tim Tebow this week?]
Houston Texans (+3) Over Atlanta Falcons
Although I picked the Jets over the Redskins, it's hard to resist taking a home underdog, especially when that team is 8-3 and tied for the best record in the AFC.
Granted, the Texans are without starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup quarterback Matt Leinart, but is there a big dropoff between Leinart and rookie quarterback T.J. Yates? To me, Yates looked as good as (if not better than) Leinart last week. With that said, the Texans' offense has tons of talent surrounding Yates to compensate for the loss of the Matts.
Texans running back Arian Foster has four 100-yard rushing games as does backup Ben Tate and Foster has three 100-yard receiving games. While the Falcons are one of three teams to not allow a 100-yard rusher this season, they face their toughest challenge with the talent of the Texans' backs. (The Niners and Patriots are the other two teams yet to allow a 100-yard rusher.)
For the Falcons, they are dealing with injuries themselves. Running back Michael Turner and receiver Julio Jones were limited participants in practice on Friday and are listed as questionable on the team's injury report. In addition, the team will be without its best cornerback Brent Grimes.
Either way, the Texans defense is much improved from last year as they rank second in scoring defense (16.3 points allowed per game) and first in overall defense (268.4 yards allowed per game). They rank second in sacks (35) and are tied for sixth in interceptions (15).
For the rest of our Week 13 picks, click here.
If you're looking for our fantasy football rankings for Week 13, you'll find them here.
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