Week 13 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Kyler Murray Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season continues Sunday, December 6th
  • Our Best Bets were 2-3-1 in Week 12 (17-21-1 overall, -5.57 units)
  • Read below for analysis on the Week 13 NFL slate and our favorite ATS picks

Week 12 belonged to the dogs. Underdogs were 11-5 last week, bringing them to 101-77 (57%) against the spread for the season.

As for us, despite an undefeated Thanksgiving Day card, the rest of our picks flopped, dropping us to 17-21-1 on the season.

This week, we’re hoping the underdog trend continues for at least one more Sunday, as a trio of dogs have caught our attention.

Week 13 ATS Picks

Matchup Spread Pick Units Risked
Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals LAR (-3) ARZ (+3) 1
Cleveland Browns vs Tennessee Titans TEN (-6) CLE (+6) 1
New Orleans Saints vs Atlanta Falcons NO (-2.5) ATL (+2.5) 1

Odds taken Dec. 3rd at FanDuel. See bottom for rest of Week 13 Picks.

Pick #1: Cardinals Upset Rams

Our card begins with an NFC West showdown between the 7-4 Los Angeles Rams and the 6-5 Arizona Cardinals. Both teams are coming off losses, but it’s LA that is a 3-point road favorite.

The Rams have never lost to the Cardinals under Sean McVay, but this Arizona squad is capable of replicating the success of each of the three teams that have beaten LA this season.

All four of the Rams losses have come against blitz happy teams (Buffalo, Miami, San Francisco x2) and only three teams blitz more frequently than the Cardinals.

Pressure has long since been Jared Goff’s Achilles heel, and this season is no different. Goff is completing just 42.3% of his passes under duress, and is averaging only 4.2 yards per attempt.

His Pro Football Focus grade plummets from 88.3 in a clean pocket to 29.3 when facing heat, and he’s thrown twice as many interceptions (6) as touchdowns (3) under pressure. Last week, versus an aggressive 49ers pass rush, he threw two picks, including one that was housed, and absorbed two sacks.

Arizona isn’t quite as talented as San Francisco on defense, but they have been lights out versus the pass over the last three weeks. They’ve racked up four interceptions, six sacks and have allowed just 5.94 yards per attempt. Last Sunday, they held Cam Newton to a laughable 84 yards through the air, and they rank 12th overall by DVOA.

On offense, the Cards have struggled over the last two weeks, but that could be because Kyler Murray’s shoulder was more hurt than he was letting on. Arizona called only three designed runs total in back-to-back losses, while calling an average of 5.7 per outing in the first nine games of 2020.

Now three weeks removed since suffering the injury, I like Murray and the Cards’ chances of bouncing back here. Three of Arizona’s five losses have come by 3 points or less, and only one has been by more than a touchdown.

Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker

Pick #2: Browns Cover vs Titans

Next up, is a clash between a pair of 8-3 teams that should be closer than oddsmakers currently expect. The Tennessee Titans are a 6-point favorite over the Cleveland Browns, but the underdogs have some things working in their favor.

Cleveland does two things well: They run the ball and they rush the passer. The Titans have surrendered 14 all-purpose TD already to enemy running backs, and Nick Chubb is in the midst of one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history.

He’s averaging 6.25 yards per carry this season, which is only .13 yards off the Modern Day NFL record set by Jamaal Charles in 2010. He’s averaging 138.7 rushing yards since returning from injury, and he’s been imperative to the Browns’ success this season.

Cleveland is 6-1 with Chubb in the lineup in 2020, compared to 2-2 without. They’re averaging 103.5 more rushing yards in games that he’s played, and have a point differential that is 34 points higher.

As for the defense, yes they’ll have their hands full with the NFL’s reigning rushing king Derrick Henry, but they have a significant advantage in the trenches. Tennessee’s O-line ranks 25th in QB knockdown percentage allowed and pass rush win rate.

That’s music to Myles Garrett’s ears, who is the fourth highest rated pass rusher according to PFF, a top-three DPOY candidate, and one of only four players with at least 9.5 sacks.

Pick #3: Falcons Over Saints

Finally, we have a rematch from Week 11 as the New Orleans Saints visit the Atlanta Falcons. The Taysom Hill experience is off to a 2-0 start for New Orleans, and they’re currently a 2.5-point favorite. Not everything however, is gravy in Saints land.

Hill’s insertion as the starting QB has erased the value of New Orleans’ biggest threat. Alvin Kamara has seen just 25 total touches over the last two weeks, and only one catch. The league’s most dangerous receiving back was averaging 7.4 receptions and 72 receiving yards in his previous nine games, but is an afterthought in this version of the offense.

The Saints have been succeeding by running the ball, as Hill completed just nine passes against Denver for 78 yards. That strategy won’t work against the Falcons, who are one of the league’s premier run stuffing groups. Only five teams allow fewer rushing yards per game than Atlanta, and they’re fresh off limiting a powerful Las Vegas ground game to 2.9 yards per carry.

The Falcons offense meanwhile, hung 43 points on the Raiders without Julio Jones. He’s reportedly on track to play this week which dramatically increases Atlanta’s offensive ceiling.

They’ll have plenty of game tape on Hill, and if their defense performs at the same level as last week, they’ll certainly be live to end New Orleans’ eight game winning streak.

Week 13 Quick Picks

  • Bengals (+11.5) vs Dolphins: Miami is the superior team but it’s awfully difficult to cover an 11.5-point spread in a game that projects for just 42.5 points.
  • Lions (+3) vs Bears: Laying points with Mitchell Trubisky is not something I can bring myself to do.
  • Colts (-3.5) vs Texans: Deshaun Watson’s passer rating dips by 20 points when targeting receivers not named Will Fuller this season.
  • Vikings (-10.5) vs Jaguars: A dream spot for Minnesota who will get receiver Adam Thielen back in the mix after he missed last week’s game due to COVID.
  • Jets (+9) vs Raiders: Sam Darnold has gone four straight games without a passing TD. If he can’t get the job done against this porous Las Vegas secondary, it might be time to sit him down for good.
  • Seahawks (-10.5) vs Giants: Daniel Jones is doubtful. His replacement Colt McCoy is 7-21 in his career against the spread.
  • Patriots (-1) vs Chargers: Bill Belichick owns rookie quarterbacks plan and simple.
  • Eagles (+8.5) vs Packers: This line seems a shade too high given the fact that Philly’s pass rush has wreaked havoc on Aaron Rodgers in the past.
  • Chiefs (-13.5) vs Broncos: Tough to envision a scenario where Denver is able to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and the defending champs.
  • Ravens (-7.5) vs Cowboys: Dream spot for Lamar Jackson if he’s healthy enough to play. Dallas ranks 32nd in points allowed and 24th in yards allowed per game.
  • Washington (+7) vs Steelers: Washington catches a banged up Pittsburg squad on just four days rest. The Football team meanwhile, has been off since Thanksgiving Day.
  • 49ers (-1) vs Bills: Line opened Buffalo -2.5 but has moved 3.5 points in San Fran’s favor. Follow the sharp money.

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