Expert NFL Picks for Week 13, Including Jets-Vikings, Titans-Eagles and Chiefs-Bengals
A trio of handicappers offer their insights on five of this week's best 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 professional football season. Here are our Week 13 NFL picks.
You’ve got places to go, people to see and possibly some wagers to make, so let’s get right to it with some help from Thomas Gable, the director of race and sportsbook at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, sports betting reporter Josh Appelbaum of VSiN and Odds Assist CEO Dave Rathmanner.
New York Jets (+3, O/U 44.5) at Minnesota Vikings
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Vikings listed as a 3-point home favorite. The public is laying the points with Minnesota after their big win over the Patriots on Thanksgiving. However, despite receiving 72% of bets, the Vikings have remained frozen at -3. Why haven’t they ticked up to -3.5 or -4? This looks like a sharp line freeze on the Jets, with bookmakers more concerned about contrarian New York bettors than the public backing Minnesota. Dogs who missed the playoffs the previous season, like the Jets here, are 72-53 ATS (58%) this season. I’ll take Jets +3.
Gable’s Guess: I’m not quite sure what the Jets are doing at quarterback. Mike White looked tremendous and yet they’re saying Zach Wilson could still get his starting job back. We know White will be starting here against Minnesota, but I think if they bring Wilson back at some point they’re probably going to lose the locker room. We’ll see. With White at quarterback, the Jets should have enough firepower to keep up with the Vikings. We know how important Justin Jefferson is to Minnesota’s offense. He has 1,232 receiving yards this season, right behind Tyreek Hill for the league lead. It’ll be up to Sauce Gardener to contain Jefferson on Sunday. In the two Minnesota losses this year, Jefferson has only averaged 40 yards per game. Shutting him down is the key. The Jets are 3-1 ATS this year as road underdogs. As long as this game stays on 3, I’m going to take the Jets.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Vikings will host the Jets Sunday with a few days of extra rest coming off a Thanksgiving night win, while the Jets are traveling to Minnesota off a home win against the Bears. Mike White looked good as the Jets new starting QB, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns against the Bears. Now he gets to face a Vikings pass defense that ranks worst in the league by allowing 276.1 yards per game. While the Jets have one of the tougher defenses in the league, the Vikings have a lot of weapons on offense and should be able to get some points of their own. Minnesota is 8-2 to the over in their last 10 home games. I’ll take over 44.5.
Our Pick: Laying the points with he Vikings at home.
Washington Commanders (-2.5, O/U 40.5) at New York Giants
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Commanders listed as a short 1-point road favorite. The public is grabbing the points with the trendy dog Giants, yet the line has moved further to the Commanders to -2.5. This indicates some sharp action on the unpopular contrarian favorite. Washington is 6-1 over their last seven games and Taylor Heinicke is 11-2-1 ATS over his last 14 starts. I’ll ride the hot hand and follow the line move. Give me the Commanders to win the game on the moneyline at -135.
Gable’s Guess: The Commanders have played themselves into playoff contention behind their great defense and believing in Taylor Heinicke. He’s 5-1 as a starter this year. For whatever reason, they respond to him and he’s been leading the way and having success. The Giants have outplayed expectations thus far as well. It’s kind of amazing one of these teams will be sitting with eight wins after Sunday as neither of these teams was expected to win eight games all year. The Giants were obviously missing quite a few players on Thanksgiving, but with the extra days off they’ll hopefully get a few guys back on the offensive line. We’ve seen Saquon Barkley contained the last three weeks and the Washington defense will be looking at that blueprint. In the last seven games, Washington’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points. I’m expecting more of the same and I’ll be taking the under.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is an NFC East battle of two teams heading in opposite directions. After a hot start, the Giants have dropped three of four games and star RB Saquon Barkley has been struggling to get it going on the ground. It won’t get any easier for him against the Commanders’ eighth-ranked rushing defense. Washington has won six of seven games, including three in a row, heading into this one. Washington QB Taylor Heinicke is 5-0-1 against the spread this season. This line opened -1 and has been bet up to -2.5. More money is being bet on Washington despite more tickets on the Giants. Follow the money and play the Commanders at -2.5 or better.
Our Pick: The Commanders seem to play better later in the season. Laying the points.
Tennessee Titans (+4.5, O/U 44.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Eagles listed as a 6.5-point home favorite. The public is split down the middle and doesn’t know whether to take the points or lay them. However, despite this even ticket count, we’ve seen the line move from Titans +6.5 to +4.5. This indicates wiseguys grabbing the points with the road dog. Dogs who failed to cover the previous week are 41-27 ATS (60%) this season. Mike Vrabel is 4-2 ATS as a dog this season and 22-13 ATS (63%) as a dog in his career. I’ll take Tennessee +4.5. I’m also interested in using the Titans in a teaser (+4.5 to +10.5), which passes through the two most important key numbers (3 and 7).
Gable’s Guess: This defensive line for Philadelphia will be tested in a way it hasn’t been all season with Derrick Henry. The Titans’ defense has also one of the best at stopping the run, so it’s kind of going to be strength-on-strength there with Jalen Hurts running the ball from the quarterback spot for Philadelphia. In Tennessee’s last five games, they’ve only given up only 349 yards on the ground combined. That happens to be less than what the Eagles gained on Sunday night against the Packers. I just really like Titan coach Mike Vrabel in an underdog role. I’m going to take the points with Tennessee.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This is not a good time for the banged-up Eagles defense to be facing off against one of the best running backs in the league in Derrick Henry. The Eagles are allowing 4.7 yards per carry and that could let Tennessee keep the Philly offense on the sideline, limiting the number of opportunities they will have to make big plays. The Titans are one of the better teams in the league at limiting rushing yards by opposing quarterbacks. That could impact Jalen Hurts’s ability to create plays with his legs, which is a big part of the Philadephia game plan. Look for the Titans to keep this one close in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. Play them at +5 or better.
Our Pick: The Titans have been playing some good football. Taking the points with Tennessee.
Miami Dolphins (+3.5, O/U 46.5) at San Francisco 49ers
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the 49ers listed as a 4.5-point home favorite. We’ve seen this line tick down to 3.5 early in the week before some San Francisco buyback raised the number back to 49ers -4 at some shops. I’m a little wary of the fact that the Dolphins are a trendy dog receiving 75% of bets. However, Miami matches quite a few systems for me. Sweet spot dogs +3.5 or more are 66-39 ATS (63%) this season. Tua is 9-4 ATS (69%) as a dog in his career while Kyle Shanahan is just 19-28 ATS (40%) as a favorite. I’ll take the points with the Dolphins.
Gable’s Guess: I think what separates these two teams is defense. Both teams feature a lot of playmakers on offense but the Niners’ defense coming off a shutout of the Saints is just in a different class than Miami’s. San Francisco’s defensive front is going to need to generate more pressure than they did against Andy Dalton to be successful against Miami. The Dolphins are entering a pretty tough stretch of their schedule starting with this game. After this, they have the Chargers and the Bills also on the road. Miami’s defense is pretty average. They rank 19th in points per game allowed and 16th in yards per game allowed. They’re gonna be tested here. We’ll see if the Dolphins are a real contender in the AFC over this stretch. I’m taking the points with Miami.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: The Dolphins enter this one as winners of five in a row. Looking closer at the win streak, it’s not all that impressive. Their five straight wins are over teams with a combined 16-39-1 record. The Dolphins have only covered the spread once in five road games this season. Meanwhile, the 49ers have won four in a row and their defense has gotten back to form. They have allowed only 10 points per game in those four wins. Jimmy Garoppolo has done a fantastic job taking care of the ball and hasn’t thrown an interception during the four-game winning streak. The 49ers are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 at home. Overall, the 49ers are the better team. Look for them to get the win and cover Sunday against a Dolphins team that is traveling across the country.
Our Pick: Not sold on Miami as a contender. May be proven wrong, but laying the points with San Fran.
Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5, O/U 52.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
Appelbaum’s Assessment: This line opened with the Chiefs listed as a 3-point road favorite. The public is rushing to the window to lay the short spread with Mahomes. However, despite receiving 82% of bets the Chiefs have fallen from -3 to -2.5 or -2.. This signals sharp reverse line movement on the Bengals, with pros backing the home dog. Joe Burrow is 14-7 ATS (67%) in his career as a dog. I’ll take the points with the Bengals. I’m also interested in a Cincinnati teaser +2 to +8, which goes through the key numbers of 3 and 7.
Gable’s Guess: The Chiefs are looking for some measure of revenge here as the Bengals beat them twice last season, including in the AFC Championship Game. Burrow outplayed Mahomes in both of those meetings and the Chiefs’ defense isn’t exceptional against the pass so look for him to have another big day. Since 2019, Mahomes is 33-3 in the months of November, December and January. Two of those three losses were to the Bengals last season. Mahomes is playing like the MVP and the Chiefs look like one of the only teams you can really trust at this point. They are in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but they need to vanquish the demons from a year ago. The Bengals have played themselves back into playoff contention, they’re going to need everything to go right to hang with the Chiefs. I’m going to lay the points with Kansas City.
Rathmanner’s Reckoning: This should be a high-scoring game. The Chiefs come in averaging 29.6 points per game and the Bengals come in averaging 25.9 points per game. The Chiefs rank first in yards per game and the Bengals are sixth, so both teams can move the ball and will try to match each other score for score. The Bengals should be getting receiver Ja’Marr Chase back to help their offense keep up with the Chiefs. Running back Joe Mixon also looks set to return from a concussion, giving the Bengals another weapon to work with. Also, the weather does not look to be an issue for Sunday. I’ll take the over between these two high-powered offenses.
Our Pick: Believe in the KC revenge factor. Laying the points with Mahomes and Co.
Last Week: 2-1; This Season: 25-31-2
Editor’s note: Betting lines fluctuate throughout the week based on injuries, the weather and other factors. Make sure to double-check the odds before making your own Week 13 NFL picks.
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