How to Bet Week 13’s Best NFL Games, Including 49ers-Ravens and Patriots-Texans
Paul Bovi of VegasInsider.com and Patrick Meagher of VSiN break down Week 13's best NFL games
This is NFL Best Bets, a recurring series in which professional sports handicappers lend us their insights and picks for the most intriguing matchups for each week of the football season.
For this edition of Best Bets, Paul Bovi, a sports betting expert from VegasInsider.com who’s been handicapping games for three decades, and Patrick Meagher, the host of Betting Across America on VSiN, shared their opinions on five games on the NFL’s slate of Week 13 matchups, including Sunday afternoon’s clash between the first-place San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get to it.
6-5 Titans (+125, +3, O/U 43.5) at 6-5 Colts
With both teams still alive in the AFC South division race as well as the wild card standings, this is a game the Colts and the Titans both need desperately. The Colts have been solid at home this season (4-2), while the Titans have only won two games away from Nashville, with their last road victory coming all the way back in Week 4.
Bovi’s take: “The Titans exploded for 42 points, including 35 in the second half, of their 22-point rout of the Jaguars in Week 12, a game that saw QB Ryan Tannehill toss a pair of touchdown passes while also picking up two on the ground. Tennessee has compiled a 4-1 record since Tannehill took over the starting job, and hasn’t fallen short of the 20-point plateau with him under center. While Sunday against the Jags was a blowout, they were fortunate to escape with wins over the Chargers, Chiefs and Bucs during this Tannehill run. Indy comes in off a heartbreaking loss to the Texans in a game they could easily have won if not for a few untimely drops by their wideouts. Prior to that, they had prevailed in four of the last five with QB Jacoby Brissett taking the snaps. We’ll go with the Colts to bounce back at home and cover the short number.”
Meagher’s take: “In Week 2, the Colts went to Tennessee and beat the Titans 19-17. Both teams had success running the football in that matchup. The difference now is Ryan Tannehill is a clear upgrade over Marcus Mariota at quarterback for the Titans. He’s been much more efficient and risk averse. So oddly, the over has hit in the Titans’ last five games, where they’re 4-1 straight up. The Colts, however, have been a dominant home team. They’re 10-2 straight-up in their last 12. But they’re playing without tight end Eric Ebron, running back Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton is banged up. Without him, they lack explosiveness. I think this is going to be a game where the teams want to run the football. I think this is going to come down to defense, just like Week 2. I like under the total.”
Our Pick: Look for Tannehill to crack and lay the points with the Colts.
10-1 49ers (+225, +6, O/U 46) at 9-2 Ravens
There’s no better game on the Week 13 schedule than the first-place 49ers traveling to Baltimore to take on the first-place Ravens. Both teams can run the ball effectively and have defenses that allowed a combined 14 points last week against the Packers and Rams. Last time Lamar Jackson took on an elite defense — the Patriots’ — he shredded it like tissue paper for 37 points.
Bovi’s take: “With both teams at or near the top of their conference and each coming in off of a primetime domination of an esteemed opponent, this one is being hailed as a possible Super Bowl preview. Baltimore has collectively outscored their last two opponents, the Texans and the Rams, 86-13, while the Niners showcased their superior defense in a 37-8 smothering of the Packers. Aaron Rodgers barely topped 100 yards passing on 33 attempts while he was sacked five times by San Fran. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has spearheaded what has become an unstoppable offense as he has rushed for an average of 80 yards per game on a shade over seven yards per carry. For the Niners, it’s been all about the defense while QB Jimmy Garoppolo has stepped up when he’s needed to. With the Niners back near full strength with tight end George Kittle and wide receiver Emanuel Sanders back in the lineup, we’ll call for a close game and side with the Niners plus the points.”
Meagher’s take: “The public bets on the recency effect, what they last saw. Well, what the public last saw was the 49ers pummel Green Bay on Sunday night and the Ravens put on a show against a Rams defense that’s pretty good. This one’s fascinating to me because the 49ers are a complete team, but the Ravens are actually built to beat them. The 49ers, while really good at pressuring the quarterback, are just 19th in the NFL against the run. They give up over 111 yards per game on the ground and the Ravens rush the ball for over 200 yards per game. This is a Baltimore team that is brutally efficient on offense right now. As far as the 49ers are concerned, the return of George Kittle at tight end was huge for what coach Kyle Shanahan can do schematically with that offense. You saw him blow up against Green Bay. It’s just a huge element. I love both of these offenses. I love the over in this matchup because I think both offenses are going to explode.”
Our Pick: It’s a tough one to call, so look for points and take the over.
6-5 Raiders (+390, +10, O/U 51.5) at 7-4 Chiefs
In what should be a wild one thanks to the struggles of both defenses, the Raiders take on their division rivals with the opportunity to grab a share of first place with a win. By their standards, the Chiefs have been poor at home this season (2-3), but they’ll be happy to welcome a Raiders team that has been even worse (1-4) away from the Black Hole in Oakland.
Bovi’s take: “The Raiders came up empty on Sunday as they were manhandled by the Jets 34-3 after scoring the first points of the game. Their pass defense has been atrocious at times, as was the case on Sunday, as Sam Darnold compiled a 127 quarterback rating while completing 20-of-29 passes for 315 yards in windy conditions at the Meadowlands. Oakland and Kansas City squared off earlier in the season, with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes amassing 443 yards on 30-of-43 pass attempts, with well over 300 of those yards coming in the first half. KC led at the break 28-10 and the second half was scoreless. With the current forecast for 20-mph winds in Kansas City on Sunday, the passing game could be compromised, which would favor the Raiders given the Chiefs less than stellar run defense. Based on that we’ll grab the points.”
Meagher’s take: “I love this spot for the Raiders this week. It opened at 8.5 and got bet up to double digits at 10. The Raiders got embarrassed against the Jets last week 34-3. The Raiders have been resilient. This is similar to what happened to the Raiders earlier in the year where they got blown out in Week 3 at Minnesota and then the next week they turned around and beat the Colts in Indy where they are awesome. Kansas City’s defense is all-time bad and they’re 32nd against the run. Oakland running back Josh Jacobs averaged about 8.25 yards sa carry against this Kansas City defense — which has gotten worse — in Week 2. On offense for the Chiefs, Tyreek Hill should play, but his hamstring injury is going to limit him. Since coming back from his kneecap injury, Patrick Mahomes hasn’t necessarily done what we expect from him. This is a situational bet, but I love the Raiders catching 10 points here with their run game.”
Our Pick: Ten is a big number. Take the Raiders and the points.
10-1 Patriots (-175, -3, O/U 45) at 7-4 Texans
Bill Belichick and the Patriots know the Texans well, as this is the fifth year in the row they’ll be playing Houston. Unfortunately for the Texans, who are coached by former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and have many former New England staffers on the payroll, the Patriots have won in every one of those years and haven’t lost to the Texans since 2010.
Bovi’s take: “The Patriots were once again outgained, but they held on to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 13-9 in a game played in rain-soaked conditions. The Patriots scored seven points off a blocked punt. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot broke out of his slump as he gained 86 yards on 21 carries, but Dak Prescott was unable to connect with his receivers at key points in the game, while star wide receiver Amari Copper was held without a catch. The Texans’ offense appeared much improved in Week 12 as star wide receiver Will Fuller returned from a calf injury and hauled in seven passes for 140 yards and Houston got the better of Indy, 20-17. Given the Patriots’ lackluster offensive showing this year along with their susceptibility to the run, we’ll back the Texans to get the primetime win.”
Meagher’s take: “This is going to be the most heavily bet game of the weekend by a lot because it’s Sunday night. This number opened with the Patriots laying 4.5 points on the road. Early sharp action on the dog, that being the Texans, forced this number down to the key number of three. That is the most common margin of victory in the NFL by far. So, the public is betting New England. However, the sharp action has been on the Texans. The problem with the Patriots is that Tom Brady just hasn’t been very good. The Patriots have been dominant on defense and their special teams have been ridiculous, but it’s kind of unspoken that Brady isn’t what we expect him to be. The one thing you can do against the New England defense is run the ball. New England’s given up an average of 4.6 yards a carry on the ground. That’s not good. And Houston, surprisingly and quietly, has been a great run team this year. They’re averaging five yards per carry. If you’re going to bet the Texans, I would wait because I think you can get the key hook of 3.5. The Texans at home catching the 3.5 would be key. But, I would pass on this game.”
Our Pick: The Patriots have Houston’s number. Lay the points.
8-3 Vikings (+130, +3, O/U 49.5) at 9-2 Seahawks
Despite their stellar records, both of these teams find themselves trailing in their respective divisions in the NFC, and a loss for either team would be a big blow to capturing first place. The Vikings have been decent on the road (3-3) this season, while the Seahawks have been surprisingly mediocre at home (3-2), with the majority of their victories (six) coming away from Seattle.
Bovi’s take: “In Week 12, the Seahawks held the Eagles to nine points as Philly was short their right tackle along with receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor, as well as running back Jordan Howard. Adding to Philly’s woes were quarterback Carson Wentz throwing a pair of interceptions to go along with three fumbles, two of which were recovered by Seattle. The Vikings are coming in off a bye and kept Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen in check as they defeated the Broncos 27-23 in comeback fashion their last time out. Prior to that, quarterbacks Dak Prescott, Matt Moore, Case Keenum and Matthew Stafford combined to complete 95-of-142 passes for 1,166 yards along with 8 touchdowns and two interceptions. Minnesota’s pass defense has been vulnerable this year. The Seahawks have benefitted from injuries to the opposing team’s skill position players in their last two games, the latter which they won in overtime. Look for a competitive game that features points. Grab the over.”
Meagher’s take: “You’ve got two of the NFL’s hottest teams in what could be an NFC playoff preview. One of the things about Minnesota is that they’ve won six of seven but they haven’t really beaten anybody. But quarterback Kirk Cousins has simply been stellar. Since Week 4, he has an 18:1 touchdown to interception ratio, which is the best in football. He’s been absolutely awesome. Why I like Seattle in this matchup is a Pete Carroll defense that hasn’t been a Pete Carroll defense this year seems to be rounding into form. On Monday Night Football, Carroll’s 10-4-1 against the spread in his past 15 games. The Vikings are just 2-10 against the spread over their past 12 on Monday night. Cousins has been awesome, but if you take a look at who Minnesota’s beating … I love the Seahawks in this spot.”
Our Pick: Given the history, lay the points with the Seahawks.
Last Week’s Picks: 3-2, Season: 33-27
Editor’s note: Lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, weather reports and other factors. Make sure to double-check odds before betting.