The NFL playoffs are only five weeks away and several bubble teams are facing must-win scenarios in Week 13 to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans, a pair of 8-3 teams, are the marquee game this week. The LA Rams and Arizona Cardinals also meet in an AFC West divisional skirmish, where the Rams are eyeing a division title and looking to retain their current NFC wild-card spot.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to lose a game this season, but face a challenging quick turnaround to play a Washington team that’s not good, yet still fighting for a division title.
The New Orleans Saints are on the verge of becoming the third NFL team with double-digit wins, joining Pittsburgh and Kansas City.
The New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, and Baltimore Ravens can’t afford to lose any games if they expect to throw down in the playoffs in January.
The gap between the haves and the have-nots continues in the NFL because Week 13 also features multiple double-digit spreads with four underdogs at +10 or more, including the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, and NY Giants.
Game of the Week: Ground and Pound
Cleveland Browns (8-3) at Tennessee Titans (8-3)… The top two rushing attacks square off. The Browns (161.4 ypg) lead the NFL thanks to a 1-2 punch with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, while the Titans (158.2 ypg) are second-best thanks to the Derrick Henry one-man wrecking crew. The Titans are the real deal, but will the Browns be exposed as poseurs? LINE: Tenn -5.5
Left Coast Game of the Week
LA Rams (7-4) at Arizona Cardinals (6-5)… The Cards generate the second-highest amount of yards per game, yet only rank #8 in scoring with 27.6 ppg. They’ll have to do a better job in the red zone if they expect to knock off the Rams in this NFC West battle. The Cards come into their first meeting of the season as a +2.5 home dog. The Rams look to rebound after a disappointing loss against San Francisco in Week 12. The Rams are 3-0 after losses this season. LINE: AZ +2.5
Playoff Bound Studs vs 4-7 Duds
New Orleans Saints (9-2) at Atlanta Falcons (4-7)… The Atlanta Falcons picked off the Las Vegas Raiders last week. The Saints have yet to lose a game without Drew Brees in the lineup. Aside from the undefeated Steelers, the Saints have the second-longest winning streak of the season with eight wins in a row. The well-balanced Saints are ranked #1 in overall DVOA, ranked #5 in fewest points allowed (20.5 ppg), and ranked #4 in scoring (29.6 ppg). LINE: New Orleans -3
Indianapolis Colts (7-4) at Houston Texans (4-7)… The Texans won two straight and three of their last four games after starting the season 1-6. They’re well-rested after a Turkey Day victory over Detroit. After consecutive wins over the Titans and Packers, the Colts lost an ugly 45-26 rematch against the Titans in Week 12. These two teams meet twice in the next two weeks. LINE: Indy -3.5
Bubble Teams: Pats, Raiders
New England Patriots (5-6) at LA Chargers (3-8)… The Pats are still in the playoff hunt, but they’ll have to run the table and win the rest of their games. The Chargers have two wins in their last six games, but those were against the lowly Jags and Jets. Rookie QB Justin Herbert will most likely win the Rookie of the Year, and he’s closing in on Baker Mayfield’s record for most rookie TDs. LINE: Pick’em
Las Vegas Raiders (6-5) at New York Jets (0-11)… Sam Darnold hasn’t thrown a touchdown in four games, which is one of the reasons the Jets are ranked dead last in scoring (13.8 ppg). We’ve been fading the LOL Jets every week this season because the Jets are 3-8 ATS. The Raiders are currently on the AFC wild-card bubble, so don’t expect them to take it easy on the JV squad. LINE: LVR -8.5
NFC Least vs. Good Teams
New York Giants (4-7) at Seattle Seahawks (8-3)… Two NFL division leaders meet, yet the Seahawks have twice as many wins (8) than the Giants (4) heading into Week 13. Danny Dimes injured his hamstring in last week’s win over the Bengals, and backup QB Colt McCoy will start. The G-Men won three straight to secure first place in the “NFC Least,” but now they face one of the top offenses in the NFL. Seattle averages 31.5 ppg, while the Giants put up a meager 19.5 ppg for third-worst in the league. LINE: Seattle -10
MNF: Washington (4-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0)… Washington still has a shot at a playoff berth by winning the NFC East, but their outlook is grim this week. Pittsburgh’s stingy D allows only 17.1 ppg. The unbeaten Steelers play on Monday Night Football, but still face a “short week” after a Wednesday game against the Ravens. LINE: Pitt -8
Philadelphia (3-7-1) at Green Bay Packers (8-3)… The Eagles dropped three in a row, yet still have a shot the postseason due to the bum fight brewing in the NFC East. The Philly boo birds want Carson Wentz benched in favor of Jalen Hurts. The Eagles can’t buy a touchdown and they’re up against the Packers, the highest-scoring team in the league (31.7 ppg). Davante Adams leads the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions, despite missing two games. LINE: GB -8.5
Bad Cat Teams
Detroit Lions (4-7) at Chicago Bears (5-6)… This is definitely not the Titans and Browns. Da Bears saw their skid reach five games. Mitch Trubisky will start at QB against the Lions, who play their first game since Matt Patricia got fired. LINE: Chicago -3
Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1) at Miami Dolphins (7-4)… Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) practiced this week, but he’ll be a game-time decision. The Fins are 5-1 in their last six games thanks to a stifling defense that allows only 18.6 ppg. LINE: Miami -11.5
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) at Minnesota Vikings (5-6)… The Jags lost 10 in a row and have yet to win a game this season. The Vikes are only 2-4 at home this season, but went 4-1 in their last five games after a dismal 1-5 start. This game should also double as the Poo Emoji NFL Game of the Week for Week 13. LINE: Minny -10
Prime Time Games: Mahomes, Allen, and L-Jax
SNF: Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1)… The Chiefs are a favorite by two touchdowns, but they better not get caught sleep-walking in this divisional game. The Broncos will be thrilled to get their quarterbacks back after that FUBAR no-QB situation last Sunday against the Saints. LINE: KC -14
MNF: Buffalo Bills (8-3) at San Francisco 49ers (5-6)… The Niners are the home team, but this game will be played in Glendale, Arizona (home of the Cardinals) due to COVID restrictions in Santa Clara. The Bills were just in Arizona two weeks earlier, where they lost a 32-30 heartbreaker on the “Hail Murray” pass. The Bills Mafia are a tad concerned because the Bills have not won a Monday Night Football game since 1999. LINE: Pick’em
TNF: Dallas Cowboys (3-8) at Baltimore Ravens (6-5)… Another week, another Tuesday Night Football game due to COVID rescheduling. The Ravens are in must-win mode while stuck on the AFC wild-card bubble. LINE: TBD ?