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NFL Predictions Week 13: Odds, Predictions and Advice for Ideal Underdogs

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2018

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield stands on the field in the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Gary Landers/Associated Press

Outside of resurgences from teams like the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos in recent weeks, there hasn't been much room for upsets as the NFL heads toward Week 13. 

That's bad news for would-be bettors, as oddsmakers are getting bold. 

Three double-digit lines sit on the Week 13 schedule and seven overall check in at seven or more points. The three-point lines and fewer are hard to find this week as oddsmakers clearly settle into a comfort zone when it comes to protecting the house. 

But like a blitz up the middle, a smart underdog pick here or there can disrupt things, so let's identify a few after a look at the full schedule. 

       

Week 13 NFL Odds

New Orleans (-7) at Dallas | O/U 53

Denver (-4.5) at Cincinnati  | O/U 43

Arizona at Green Bay (-14) | O/U 44.5

Baltimore (-3) at Atlanta | O/U 49

Buffalo at Miami (-7) | O/U 40.5

Carolina (-4) at Tampa Bay | O/U 56

Chicago (-4) at N.Y. Giants | O/U n/a

Cleveland at Houston (-4.5) | O/U 48

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Jacksonville | O/U 48

L.A. Rams (-9.5) at Detroit | O/U 54.5

Kansas City (-15) at Oakland | O/U 55.5

N.Y. Jets at Tennessee (-9.5) | O/U n/a

San Francisco at Seattle (-10) | O/U 46

Minnesota at New England (-4.5) | O/U 48.5

L.A. Chargers at Pittsburgh (-3.5) | O/U 51.5

Washington at Philadelphia (-6.5) | O/U 44

          

Buffalo at Miami (-7)

Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

Here's an interesting one. The team on a two-game winning streak is a seven-point underdog against the team that has lost two straight. 

Granted, the underdog Buffalo Bills haven't exactly been great this season, hence the 4-7 record. But a roster severely lacking in talent is starting to show signs of life down the stretch around first-year quarterback Josh Allen, who put up 160 yards and a touchdown during a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and added another 99 yards and a score as a rusher. 

But it is the rookie's lack of hesitation to stretch the field deep that should have a team like the Miami Dolphins worried: 

Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats

Josh Allen averaged 18.3 air yards per pass attempt in the @buffalobills 24-21 win against the Jaguars, the highest AY/Att in a single-game over the last three seasons (minimum 14 attempts). #JAXvsBUF #GoBills https://t.co/U00gUHbM5J

Those Dolphins haven't been able to stop much this year as it is while coughing up an average of 25.7 points per game and ranking 29th against the rush. 

To their credit, the Dolphins finally got Ryan Tannehill back under center in Week 12, only to lose to the Indianapolis Colts in 27-24 fashion despite his pair of touchdown passes. Tannehill should even out, but he isn't going to resurrect a team that started 3-2 anyway and has lost three of four. 

The Bills are playing at their peak right now, hence a 41-10 blowout of the New York Jets before pouncing on a down Jaguars team that still boasts an elite defense. Allen's threat through the air and ability as a runner should give the Dolphins fits all game. 

Prediction: Bills 24, Dolphins 20 

       

Carolina (-4) at Tampa Bay

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

It should say quite a bit that the Carolina Panthers aren't favored by more against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

On paper and based on quarterbacks, the Panthers are a vastly superior team. Somebody might want to alert the Panthers to this detail, though, as they have dropped three games in a row against competent competition (Pittsburgh, 52-21) as well as mediocre (Detroit, 20-19). 

Before the odd downward trend, the Panthers beat the Buccaneers 42-28 in Carolina, getting two touchdowns from Newton while Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed four scores and two interceptions. 

But since, Carolina is in a free fall and the Buccaneers have turned back to Jameis Winston, who has looked solid over his last two games, totaling four touchdowns and one interception while winning his last start: 

NFL @NFL

312 yards. 2 touchdowns. 117.4 passer rating. Jameis Winston's (@Jaboowins) highlights from the @Buccaneers' 27-9 win over the 49ers! #SFvsTB #GoBucs https://t.co/QBGestnKv2

While the Buccaneers haven't been winning many games, most of their contests after a Week 5 bye have been close, which is impressive given the miserable state of the secondary and lack of a running game. 

Familiarity here will help the Buccaneers at home. If Fitzpatrick was carving up the Panthers on the road, Winston should be able to capitalize on some of the same themes—especially after three consecutive opponents have improved upon the blueprint of exploiting Carolina. 

It won't be pretty by any means, but this feels like a late score from Winston against a vulnerable defense will tie up this season series and give bettors an underdog win. 

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Panthers 27

      

Cleveland at Houston (-4.5)

Frank Victores/Associated Press

Why not ride the wave? 

Granted, the proper response is asking which wave? The Cleveland Browns are red hot with Baker Mayfield under center after a change at head coach—but the Houston Texans haven't lost since Week 3, ripping off eight consecutive wins. 

The Browns cruised past the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, getting a 28-16 win before coming out of the bye and bullying the Cincinnati Bengals on the road, 35-20.

Over that span, Mayfield has been as efficient as it gets while throwing for seven touchdowns and no interceptions: 

Marcus Mosher @Marcus_Mosher

Here is Baker Mayfield's passing chart since the #Browns fired Hue Jackson. https://t.co/N2etEyuHBQ

With Mayfield, it isn't just about beating up on bad defenses over this run. He's moving the pocket to make tight throws in a way most rookies can't. It helps the offense has received 260 rushing yards and two touchdowns over the course of those two wins from rookie rusher Nick Chubb, who also happens to have 80 or more yards in four of his last five outings. 

This isn't meant to undersell the Texans by any means. But Deshaun Watson and Co. are a known commodity by comparison. He's thrown for 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions this year while getting more comfortable as he goes after last year's injury, and his defense has tallied 34 sacks while only permitting an average of 20.2 points per game. 

But Houston's resume over the win streak includes taking advantage of spotty opponents like Washington, Tennessee, Miami, Jacksonville and Buffalo, so it's not like the run solidified Watson's team as an unstoppable force. 

The problem here is how the Browns offense continues to develop alongside Mayfield now that those in charge of calling the plays are making solid decisions. It puts the Texans at a disadvantage from a preparation standpoint, which should allow the Browns to run their offense at will, controlling the clock and taking a second-half lead the distance. 

Prediction: Browns 28, Texans 27

         

Odds via OddsShark  

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