Week 13 finds the NFL in an interesting spot. On one hand, the league appears to be plowing right ahead through COVID and all the concerns that it brings. As we’ve seen, they’d rather have a team play with no quarterback than introduce a Week 18 situation. As for this week, the slate isn’t particularly amazing on paper. In fact, the best matchup in terms of records is Browns-Titans. However, given that there are only five games left for every team––except for the Bucs and Panthers, who are on their bye––the magnitude of winning these games is greater as the playoff picture rounds into shape. Can the Cardinals hold off the Vikings, 49ers, and the suddenly emerging Falcons? Can the Pats run the table and squeak into the 7 seed? These are some of the intriguing storylines that make this Week 13 better than it may seem. With that said, let’s get into some of these weird lines:
Last Week’s record (week 10): 1-2 (probably 2-1 if Chubb ran into the endzone instead of running out at the 1-yard line)
Overall record: 7-5
Eagles (+8.5) @ Packers
This is a classic “nothing logical about this matchup for the underdog makes sense to pick them to cover given how they’ve played recently, so that’s why I like them to cover” game. Carson Wentz has sucked: In his last four games, he has averaged 195 passing yards and 1.75 turnovers. Meanwhile, the Eagles have slipped out of first place in their division, while the Packers sit at 8-3 with a commanding lead in their division. The Rodgers-Adams connection has been elite, and the Eagles top corner, Darius Slay, has a calf injury and just got torched by D.K. Metcalf on Monday night. But I like the Eagles to cover the 8.5 and potentially even win outright because they have a history of rising to the occasion with their backs against the wall. Just last season, coming off of two losses, including a home loss to the Lions, they won in Green Bay 34-27 despite the Packers being undefeated and being the favorites entering the game. The recipe for that win was a turnover-free game from Wentz, a strong running attack with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, a great safety blanket presence in Zach Ertz, and making the Packers one dimensional offensively. Interestingly enough, the Eagles are adding Jordan Howard to the active roster for today’s game, they should make it a priority to utilize Miles Sanders more after he was given just six rushing attempts on Monday, and Ertz is being activated off the IR and will play for the first time since Week 6, which should give a jolt of energy into the Eagles offense. Additionally, last season, coming off of consecutive losses and playing the Bills in Buffalo, the Eagles pulled off the upset on the then 5-1 Bills, and then this season, winless after the first three games, including a pathetic tie against the Bengals, Philly traveled to San Francisco and won there as the underdog on Sunday Night Football. Doug Peterson might be coaching for his job here today, and so, with their backs against the wall again, I expect the Eagles to at least cover the 8.5.
Saints @ Falcons (+3)
In any professional sport, including the NFL, it is difficult to beat the same opponent twice within a short amount of time. (This NBA season could produce a lot of 1-1 splits between two seemingly lopsided opponents as teams will be commonly playing each other twice in the same city within a couple-day stretch due to COVID.) Last week, the Colts were favored by three at home to the Titans, but it was almost obvious that the Titans would win simply because they had just lost to the Colts just 17 days before. So, do we really think that the Falcons will lose to the Saints again in just a two-week stretch. Will Taysom Hill really beat the same team twice in 14 days? Last season, for reference, the Saints lost to the Falcons at home, and then beat them on the road just 18 days later. And in 2017, the Saints lost in Atlanta by 3, and then returned the favor and beat the Falcons at home just 17 days later. The point is, these two teams are super familiar with each other, and it’s not typical for a team to lose twice to the same team within a short period of time. The Falcons really need this game to keep their playoff hopes alive, so I expect them to cover the three, and perhaps win outright.
Lions (+3) @ Bears
I’m not very passionate about this pick, especially in comparison to the two previous picks, but I just don’t think the Bears should be favored by more than two against anyone except the Jets, Jaguars, and the Burrow-less Bengals. The Bears are awful. They haven’t won a football game since October 18. October 18th! That’s just one week after the Lakers won the NBA Finals! Additionally, the Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia, so they should have a little bit more of a pep in their step today without him at the helm. (By all accounts he was a terrible coach for them.) Now, no Golladay and no Swift doesn’t make me confident in the Lions offense, and with Jeff Okudah out at corner, Allen Robinson should have another good game for the Bears, but Stafford should be able to piece together a reasonable game and Trubisky, although I think he should do fine today, is always good for one or two terrible plays. Detroit hasn’t beaten Chicago since 2017, but I think they cover the three today.
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