Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 13 NFL Picks

NFL StaffContributor INovember 29, 2018

Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Week 13 NFL Picks

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    Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

    Will this get any easier? Based on how Bleacher Report's expert NFL analysts are faring against the spread this season, it certainly can't get much harder.

    Picking every game, Gary DavenportBrad Gagnon and Brent Sobleski had another tough run in Week 12, dropping their combined record to 251-259-18. 

    Individually and as a crew, here's the damage through 12 weeks (last week's records in parentheses):

    1. Gary Davenport: 92-78-6 (7-8)

    2. Brent Sobleski: 81-89-6 (7-8)

    3. Brad Gagnon: 78-92-6 (5-10)

    Consensus picks: 83-87-6 (7-8)

    With December looming, we asked longtime sports betting analyst Dave Tuley if there might be some light at the end of the tunnel for the betting public or if the sportsbooks will continue to benefit from larger samples late in the season. 

    Tuley gave us some hope, but not enough to get carried away. 

    "There was a time less than a dozen years ago where I had a bunch of years in a row where I just killed it the second half of the year and in December," he said. "At that time, I felt like it was just the time of year when the good teams were being overrated and the bad teams were being underrated, and with parity what it was, the underdogs were doing a lot better at that time."

    But Tuley notes that neither the books nor the bettors have encountered consistently significant advantages in recent Decembers. 

    "As much as bettors want to think that we're getting smarter the more we see these teams play," he said, "obviously the oddsmakers are seeing the same things we are, and they're adjusting and making it tough as well."

    However, he still believes it's possible to pick out lines that have been exaggerated by midseason streaks and/or slumps. In particular, he pointed at the 7.5-point spread in favor of the New Orleans Saints in a road matchup with the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. 

    With that line, oddsmakers are suggesting the Saints would be favored by as many as 13 or 14 points if that game were in New Orleans, which does seem high considering the Cowboys are riding a three-game winning streak. 

    "That's [a reflection of] the way the Saints have been playing," Tuley said. "For the books to balance their action, they have to put it at that number."

    It's something to keep in mind as we enter the final month of the 2018 regular season. It might not save your season as a bettor, but if you've been following us all year, any advice helps. 

    Here's what Davenport, Gagnon and Sobleski are thinking heading into the first 16-game slate in more than two months. 


    Lines based on consensuses at OddsShark as of Wednesday.

New Orleans Saints (10-1) at Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Favorites are 12-2 against the spread on Thursdays this season, which could give an edge to the streaking New Orleans Saints in Dallas to kick off Week 13 on Thursday Night Football

    And sure enough, the majority of our analysts are siding with New Orleans, even as a 7.5-point favorite on the road against a division-leading opponent. 

    "The Cowboys have drastically improved in recent weeks," Sobleski conceded. "They've done so by feeding running back Ezekiel Elliott the ball and playing sound defense. It isn't a popular formula in today's wide-open NFL, but it works. However, the Saints are the NFL's best team, and the thought of slowing Drew Brees and his plethora of weapons is a difficult proposition. Meanwhile, the game's top-ranked run defense should be able to contain Elliott."

    Indeed, the underrated Saints D has quietly surrendered an NFL-low 73.2 rushing yards per game and 3.6 yards per carry, as Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins and Demario Davis are all playing superbly in the front seven. 

    However, our analysts didn't side with the Saints unanimously, because Gagnon is taking Tuley's advice along with the points. 

    "The Saints are far and away the better team," he said, "but that Thursday advantage felt by favorites could be negated by the fact both teams are going on regular rest following games on Thanksgiving. And let's not look past the fact home teams are 10-4 ATS on Thursdays this season. Dallas might not win this, but the Cowboys are playing well enough to keep it close against a Saints team that could be due for a back-to-earth performance sans left tackle Terron Armstead." 

    This is a tricky one to launch the week, but we wouldn't fault you for not being able to pick against a Saints squad that has won seven of its last eight games by double-digit margins. 

    Davenport: New Orleans (-7.5)
    Gagnon: Dallas (+7.5)
    Sobleski: New Orleans (-7.5)
    Consensus: New Orleans (-7.5)

    Score Prediction: New Orleans 31, Dallas 21

Arizona Cardinals (2-9) at Green Bay Packers (4-6-1)

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Regardless of whether the Green Bay Packers have a late-season run in them, the majority of our analysts are confident enough in Green Bay this week that they're willing to bet they'll beat the Arizona Cardinals by more than two touchdowns. 

    Despite their struggles this season, the desperate Packers do have a pair of blowout victories at home, while the rebuilding Cards are the only team in the NFC with four 18-plus-point losses this season. 

    "A two-touchdown spread in the Packers' favor makes this a sucker's bet," Sobleski said. "The same happened last week when the Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Chargers by 35 points. Plus, this is a must-win for Aaron Rodgers and Co. The Packers are a game-and-a-half behind multiple teams for one of the NFC's two wild-card spots. Head coach Mike McCarthy also knows he's coaching for his job right now. Green Bay will be fully prepared for the league's worst team."

    Still, Gagnon again isn't willing to lay that many points, citing the fact the Packers haven't looked right this season and might not have much life left. Yes, Green Bay easily beat the Miami Dolphins in its last home game, but that came after the Pack cut it close in a 33-30 victory over a bad San Francisco 49ers team at Lambeau. 

    You're allowed to be daunted by that 14-point line, but our top-picking analysts are less confident in Arizona than they are in Green Bay. 

    Davenport: Green Bay (-14)
    Gagnon: Arizona (+14)
    Sobleski: Green Bay (-14)
    Consensus: Green Bay (-14)

    Score Prediction: Green Bay 31, Arizona 14

Cleveland Browns (4-6-1) at Houston Texans (8-3)

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    Frank Victores/Associated Press

    For the first time in eight years, the Cleveland Browns have won consecutive games by 12 or more points. They're now looking to win back-to-back road games for the first time in four years. 

    It won't be easy for the suddenly dangerous Browns to end the Houston Texans' eight-game winning streak Sunday in the Lone Star state, but the majority of our analysts figure a confident Cleveland team can cover a six-point spread in favor of the home squad. 

    "I don't see the Browns as being significantly less talented than the Texans," Gagnon said. "They should have beaten the Steelers, Saints, Raiders and Buccaneers earlier this season, and they're playing their best football in years right now. Houston is due for a dud, while the Browns are rolling with nothing to lose. Even if Cleveland doesn't pull off the road upset, it should be able to keep things close against an opponent that is on short rest."

    But Davenport's dissenting opinion is a strong one, because his ATS record towers over both Gagnon and Sobleski. 

    "What the Browns have done since firing Hue Jackson (praise all things good and holy) has been impressive," he said. "Myles Garrett and the Cleveland front are going to get pressure on Deshaun Watson, and Baker Mayfield has ended the debate about the wisdom of John Dorsey making him the No. 1 overall pick. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Cleveland keeps this close—so much so that the growing spread makes me nervous. But the Texans are firing on all cylinders and playing excellent football both offensively and defensively. With a sneaky raucous home crowd egging them on, Houston wins by a touchdown and covers."

    For what it's worth, those among this group who pick against the majority as lone wolves are 45-43-1 this season. 

    Davenport: Houston (-6)
    Gagnon: Cleveland (+6)
    Sobleski: Cleveland (+6)
    Consensus: Cleveland (+6)

    Score Prediction: Houston 24, Cleveland 21

Baltimore Ravens (6-5) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are in free fall, while the Baltimore Ravens have won back-to-back games since making a change from the injured Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson at quarterback coming out of their Week 10 bye. 

    The unpredictable nature of this league could allow Atlanta to bounce back on extra rest at home against an opponent that could have trouble sustaining drives with the raw and unreliable Jackson under center. That might explain why our analysts don't unanimously agree that the team with the better record will clear a measly one-point spread in Georgia. 

    But once again, our two most successful predictors have formed a majority and muscled Gagnon out. 

    "This pick wasn't made with any great confidence in the new-look Ravens," Davenport said. "Or the old-look ones, for that matter. But the Ravens can run the ball. The Falcons can't. Baltimore can play defense. Atlanta doesn't. And the Ravens have something to play for. The Falcons don't. Baltimore will pound away, get in Matt Ryan's face and take this one on the road."

    The Ravens do a lot of things better than the Falcons, but Jackson has yet to bring his shaky arm on the road. It might just be a matter of time before an opposing defense takes advantage of his inexperience.

    The Falcons might not be equipped to do that Sunday, but that unknown element makes this a tough pick. 

    Davenport: Baltimore (+1)
    Gagnon: Atlanta (-1)
    Sobleski: Baltimore (+1)
    Consensus: Baltimore (+1)

    Score Prediction: Baltimore 26, Atlanta 23

Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Rarely in this exercise do we share the dissenter's opinion first, but Davenport has earned that honor with his .541 winning percentage against the spread. He's the only expert siding with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a 3.5-point home underdog against the slumping Carolina Panthers, mainly because he figures the Bucs should be able to put up enough points in Florida to keep up with their division rival. 

    "This line has two of everyone's favorite overused wagering tropes rolled into one—the home underdog and 'the hook,'" he said. "Of all the home 'dogs in a week packed with them, this is the one that felt right to me. It isn't that I expect the Buccaneers to win this game—the defense is atrocious, and the odds of good Jameis Winston showing up two weeks in a row can't be good. But this Tampa team can score with the best of them, and the Panthers are both reeling and aren't the same team away from Bank of America Stadium. Carolina wins a shootout in which that half-point could loom large."

    But Gagnon and Sobleski aren't willing to pick the Bucs merely out of fear of that hook. The former agrees Winston isn't likely to string together a second straight strong performance, but the visiting Panthers are just as unlikely to drop a fourth consecutive game.

    "Do you see what Christian McCaffrey is doing right now?" he said. "Dude's on fire, as is quarterback Cam Newton, who has posted six consecutive triple-digit passer ratings. The Panthers are far too talented to drop four consecutive games in the middle of the season, and that still-hot offense should be good for another 40-plus-point effort against the defensively inept Bucs. Thy dominated that defense in Week 9 and should be even more hungry now." 

    Davenport: Tampa Bay (+3.5)
    Gagnon: Carolina (-3.5)
    Sobleski: Carolina (-3.5)
    Consensus: Carolina (-3.5)

    Score Prediction: Carolina 33, Tampa Bay 26

Chicago Bears (8-3) at New York Giants (3-8)

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    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Unanimity at last! That's the good news for those seeking a united front from our analysts.

    The bad news is they might not be able to find a book willing to offer them a line on Sunday's matchup between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants. 

    That's because the status of injured Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky remains up in the air. On Wednesday, OddsShark listed only one 4.5-point spread in favor of the Bears, and all three of our experts were siding with the road team.

    "The Bears beat the Lions on the road on extremely short rest without Trubisky," Gagnon said. "Veteran backup Chase Daniel performed well in that game, and now he and his team have had extra time to prepare for a Giants squad that is probably deflated after blowing a potential season-saving victory last week in Philadelphia."

    That line might drop if Trubisky is ruled out and might climb if he gets the green light, but for now, the Bears look like a safe pick to our crew. 

    Then again, that crew went 4-7 on unanimous picks last week. 

    Davenport: Chicago (-4.5)
    Gagnon: Chicago (-4.5)
    Sobleski: Chicago (-4.5)
    Consensus: Chicago (-4.5)

    Score Prediction: Chicago 26, New York 20

Buffalo Bills (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-6)

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Miami Dolphins have yet to win a game by more than one score this season, and they haven't defeated the Buffalo Bills by more than a field goal in any of their last six matchups with their division rival.

    With that in mind, the majority of our experts believe the Dolphins are laying too much as a 4.5-point favorite for Sunday's meeting with the Bills in South Florida. 

    "In Miami's lone win since the middle of October, it scored only 13 points at home against the New York Jets," Gagnon said. "The Bills aren't a lot better than the Jets, but they aren't any worse. An underrated Buffalo defense has allowed just 31 points and has recorded four takeaways in back-to-back Bills victories, and quarterback Josh Allen is getting healthier. The Bills are hotter, healthier and have the more skilled quarterback, which should be enough to keep this within a field goal either way."

    Davenport disagrees, though, as Allen's Bills have laid eggs in several road games this season—including a 47-3 loss to the Ravens and a 22-0 loss to the Packers.

    Davenport: Miami (-4.5)
    Gagnon: Buffalo (+4.5)
    Sobleski: Buffalo (+4.5)
    Consensus: Buffalo (+4.5)

    Score Prediction: Miami 21, Buffalo 20

Denver Broncos (5-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

    The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals appear to be moving in opposite directions, and the majority of our analysts are siding with the hotter Broncos as a five-point road favorite against an opponent using its backup quarterback. 

    "The Broncos have had their struggles on the road this year," Davenport conceded, "but I'm still laying the points here with confidence. To say that the Bengals are falling apart doesn't do it justice. The defense hasn't stopped anyone in over a month, while the offense will be led Sunday by Jeff 'Who?' Driskel. Denver cruises to a third straight win and gets back to .500."

    But in his dissenting opinion, Gagnon notes the mysterious Driskel has a solid 92.2 passer rating on an admittedly small sample of 36 attempts, and that he's tremendously mobile. He should also have top wide receiver A.J. Green back from injury, and his team only needs to hang around to cover at home against an opponent that isn't the same outside of Colorado. 

    Still, the Broncos have clear advantages on both sides of the ball, and the element of the unknown may understandably make it hard to pick the Bengals right now. 

    Davenport: Denver (-5)
    Gagnon: Cincinnati (+5)
    Sobleski: Denver (-5)
    Consensus: Denver (-5)

    Score Prediction: Denver 27, Cincinnati 20

Los Angeles Rams (10-1) at Detroit Lions (4-7)

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    At least the embattled Detroit Lions are well-rested coming off a Thanksgiving home game in Week 12, right? However, their opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, are even more rested coming off a Week 12 bye. 

    With the Lions now 4-7 and past the point of desperation following a fourth loss in five games, none of our analysts are willing to pick them as a 10-point home 'dog against the Rams. 

    "I wouldn't necessarily be shocked if Detroit hung around or grabbed a backdoor cover at Ford Field against a Rams team that could have some trouble with a 10 a.m. PT kickoff," Gagnon said. "But last time Sean McVay had two weeks to prepare for an Eastern time zone opponent, Los Angeles put up 51 points on the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Rams have to remain hungry to keep pace with the 10-1 Saints, while the Lions might be toast. This is more likely than not to be a blowout."

    Davenport and Sobleski agree. With Matthew Stafford struggling, Kerryon Johnson hurting and Golden Tate gone, the as-good-as-dead Lions could have trouble keeping this respectable. 

    Davenport: Los Angeles (-10)
    Gagnon: Los Angeles (-10)
    Sobleski: Los Angeles (-10)
    Consensus: Los Angeles (-10)

    Score Prediction: Los Angeles 34, Detroit 21

Indianapolis Colts (6-5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8)

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    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    Like the Broncos and Bengals and the Lions and Rams, the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars are moving in opposite directions. And in this case, we're dealing in extremes, with the Colts having won five in a row and the Jaguars having lost seven straight coming into Sunday's meeting between the AFC South rivals. 

    Considering the state of the Jags, our analysts aren't expecting a correction. 

    "Andrew Luck and Co. are far more potent than the Bills offense the Jaguars just faced and lost to," Sobleski said. "Jacksonville, on the other hand, lost its biggest offensive threat when the NFL upheld Leonard Fournette's one-game suspension." 

    Throw in that the Jags are reeling following the firing of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and the demotion of well-paid starting quarterback Blake Bortles, and this feels like a no-brainer. 

    Jacksonville wins by making plays with its speedy defense, but that hasn't been happening lately and now they might not have top cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Meanwhile, Indianapolis has allowed a lone sack and Luck has thrown only three interceptions during its five-game win streak. 

    Vegas has presumably accounted for all of those factors. Divisional games are always somewhat unpredictable, and the Colts beat the Jags by only three points in Indy three weeks ago. Plus, the Colts have struggled on the road this season, while the Jaguars have played much better at home.

    But Jacksonville was still somewhat alive and much more intact until now. A four-point spread isn't high enough. 

    Davenport: Indianapolis (-4)
    Gagnon: Indianapolis (-4)
    Sobleski: Indianapolis (-4)
    Consensus: Indianapolis (-4)

    Score Prediction: Indianapolis 27, Jacksonville 20

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Oakland Raiders (2-9)

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    How bad are the Oakland Raiders? How good are the Kansas City Chiefs? Well, the Chiefs are the first team this decade to be favored by 15-plus points on the road, and yet the majority of our analysts are still backing Kansas City in Sunday's divisional matchup with the Raiders. 

    "Simple math tells us the Chiefs easily beat the massive spread," Sobleski said. "Since Oakland's Week 7 bye, the Raiders have surrendered 30.2 points per game while scoring 15.4 points on average. There's your 15-point spread, and that's not even taking into account the Chiefs' explosive offense. Kansas City has averaged 38.2 points per game over its last six contests."

    In dissent, Gagnon could—and in fact did—argue that while the Raiders have been outscored by an average of 15-plus points per game the last five weeks, the average margin for the Chiefs this season has "only" been plus-10. Both of Kansas City's losses came on the road, while the Raiders haven't lost by 15 or more points in Oakland since Week 1. 

    The Chiefs weren't quite as dominant as they are now, and the Raiders certainly aren't as bad as they are now, but it's worth noting that Oakland beat Kansas City 31-30 when the two met in the Bay Area last season. 

    So this won't be an easy cover, but we won't fault you if you've hit a point at which you can no longer ride with the destitute Raiders, no matter the spread.

    Davenport: Kansas City (-15)
    Gagnon: Oakland (+15)
    Sobleski: Kansas City (-15)
    Consensus: Kansas City (-15)

    Score Prediction: Kansas City 38, Oakland 20

New York Jets (3-8) at Tennessee Titans (5-6)

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Few teams have done the Jekyll-and-Hyde thing quite like the 2018 Tennessee Titans. Since their Week 8 bye, they have gone 2-2 despite not winning or losing a game by fewer than 14 points. 

    Those two losses came most recently, with Tennessee falling on the road to the Colts and Texans by a combined margin of 72-27. That might scare a lot of bettors away from an eight-point spread in Tennessee's favor for Sunday's matchup with the New York Jets, but two of our three experts believe it's time for a reappearance from Dr. Henry Jekyll. 

    "The Titans can't for the life of them decide whether to be good or bad," Davenport said. "This is the same team that has beaten both Super Bowl teams from last year but lost to the Bills and got shut out by the Ravens. They packed the whole good-bad dichotomy into one game last week, racing out to a 10-0 lead before running the dumbest 4th-and-1 call ever and getting waxed 34-7 the rest of the way by the Texans. Still, when last we saw the Titans in Nashville, they blasted the Patriots. The Jets are...not the Patriots. I don't love the size of this spread, but I think the Titans have a double-digit win in them."

    Yeah, the Jets are a team that lost to the Patriots at home by a double-digit margin last week, and a team that has now failed to score more than 17 points in five consecutive losses. They've been embarrassed on the ground the last two weeks, and that's exactly where the Titans excel. 

    And indeed, Tennessee has been perfect at home this season outside of that 21-0 aberration against the Ravens. 

    Still, they're laying too many points for Sobleski to get on board, and you're allowed to distrust them at this point. Mr. Edward Hyde probably isn't gone. 

    Davenport: Tennessee (-8)
    Gagnon: Tennessee (-8)
    Sobleski: New York (+8)
    Consensus: Tennessee (-8)

    Score Prediction: Tennessee 24, New York 13

Minnesota Vikings (6-4-1) at New England Patriots (8-3)

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings have won five of their last seven games to rejoin the playoff race in the NFC, but our analysts agree they're in the wrong place at the wrong time with a Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots. 

    "It seems like they've been doing it quietly, which is odd because the Patriots are so intensely covered," Gagnon said, "but New England has been killing it at home this season. They're 5-0 at Gillette Stadium with an average margin of victory of 13.8 points, and that includes a shorthanded win over the now-streaking Texans, a double-digit win over the now-red-hot Colts and a heavyweight victory over the first-place Chiefs.

    "And the Pats are especially potent in late-season home games. They've won 20 of their last 22 games played after Week 12 in Foxborough with Tom Brady serving as the primary quarterback. That's too high a mountain for a Vikings team that is only 2-2-1 on the road and is dealing with injuries to key starters Xavier Rhodes and Stefon Diggs."

    The Vikes offensive line—which ranks 30th at Pro Football Focus—has been terrible all season, while Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins has been mistake-prone and inconsistent. The New England defense has by no means been good, but that unit gets takeaways, and this is the kind of offense Bill Belichick loves to exploit. 

    Five points ain't enough. 

    Davenport: New England (-5)
    Gagnon: New England (-5)
    Sobleski: New England (-5)
    Consensus: New England (-5)

    Score Prediction: New England 30, Minnesota 21

San Francisco 49ers (2-9) at Seattle Seahawks (6-5)

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    David Seelig/Associated Press

    Why are the Seattle Seahawks only laying 10 points at home against the San Francisco 49ers? After all, Seattle has won eight consecutive regular-season games against San Francisco, and six in a row at home by an average margin of 28-11. 

    Our analysts don't get it. 

    "The Seahawks are for real," Gagnon said. "They haven't lost to a team from outside of Los Angeles since Week 2, and there's no shame in falling to either the Rams or Chargers this year. The 49ers reside in the same state, but they're closer to the Raiders' end of the NFL spectrum, and Seattle crushed Oakland 27-3 at a neutral site last month.

    "Meanwhile, the 49ers are a mess following the Reuben Foster fiasco and an 18-point loss to a pretty bad Bucs team. In the last week they've flown more than 5,000 miles from the Bay Area to Tampa to Seattle, and they're still on the road. The league has figured out quarterback Nick Mullens, who has gotten progressively worse with each start since relieving C.J. Beathard, and the defense has just five takeaways all season."

    Yeah, San Francisco is on pace to set a new record low in that category, which doesn't bode well for the team's chances of slowing down a Seattle offense that has scored 27-plus points in six of its last seven games. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is on fire, having thrown 20 touchdown passes to two interceptions while posting a 118.5 rating since Week 3, and that shouldn't change at home against a toothless and shorthanded defense.

    Davenport: Seattle (-10)
    Gagnon: Seattle (-10)
    Sobleski: Seattle (-10)
    Consensus: Seattle (-10)

    Score Prediction: Seattle 30, San Francisco 16

Los Angeles Chargers (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3-1)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Our gang is also in agreement that the hook is too much to give up with the Pittsburgh Steelers laying 3.5 points at home Sunday night against an opponent with a superior record, especially considering that Pittsburgh is coming off a mistake-plagued loss and Los Angeles is coming off a nearly flawless blowout win. 

    "I think the books are daring you to give up 3.5 points with the Steelers," Gagnon said, "and that's admittedly tempting because Pittsburgh has crushed its last three opponents at home, the Chargers are traveling three time zones over, and both teams could be due for corrections following extreme Week 12 results. But the Steelers have actually turned it over seven times the last two weeks, which is concerning, and the Bolts are 3-0 this season on long road trips."

    Indeed, Anthony Lynn's team hammered the Bills and Browns in 10 a.m. PT starts in the Eastern time zone and defeated the Titans in London. And last year they beat the Jets and Giants and hung with eventual AFC Championship foes New England and Jacksonville under the same circumstances.

    So they're battle-tested outside of Los Angeles. And while you might be concerned about star running back Melvin Gordon's knee injury, it's also worth noting that backup/pass-catcher extraordinaire Austin Ekeler is tied for second in the NFL with an average of 5.8 yards per attempt on the ground. 

    Add it all up, and it's easy to see why our crew is all over the road team Sunday night. 

    Davenport: Los Angeles (+3.5)
    Gagnon: Los Angeles (+3.5)
    Sobleski: Los Angeles (+3.5)
    Consensus: Los Angeles (+3.5)

    Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 28, Los Angeles 27

Washington Redskins (6-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles have covered just three spreads this season, while the Washington Redskins have failed to cover the spread on only four occasions. The majority of our experts believe those two trends are destined to be bucked with the Eagles laying 6.5 points in a critical matchup with the Redskins on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. 

    "I was back-and-forth on this pick," Davenport said. "The Eagles had trouble getting past the Giants at home last week, the Philly secondary is hot garbage, and Colt McCoy should be better under center with over a week's prep time to work with the starters. But I keep coming back to the idea that the Eagles could come into this game knowing that a win gets them—by some miracle—into a first-place tie with Washington and Dallas atop the division. I'm making a gut call and gambling that the Eagles still have something left in the tank."

    So is Gagnon, who isn't buying that McCoy and his 78.6 career passer rating can do much to exploit that depleted Philly pass defense. The Eagles might have been galvanized by last week's season-saving comeback against the Giants, while the equally banged-up Redskins appear to be fading with McCoy under center behind a depleted offensive line. 

    Philly also continues to possess a lot more top-end talent (let's not forget about Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett up front, or Carson Wentz under center), but Sobleski hasn't lost his mind either. Neither team has been trustworthy this year, and it's entirely possible Washington keeps this close. 

    Most NFC East battles are. 

    Davenport: Philadelphia (-6.5)
    Gagnon: Philadelphia (-6.5)
    Sobleski: Washington (+6.5)
    Consensus: Philadelphia (-6.5)

    Score Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Washington 17


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