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Week 13 NFL game picks: Bills edge Pats to retake control of AFC East; Chiefs stay hot against Broncos

Gregg Rosenthal went 7-8 straight up and 8-7 against the spread on his Week 12 NFL picks, bringing his season totals to 98-81-1 and 92-86-1, respectively. How will he fare in Week 13? His picks are below.

The lines below provided by Caesars are current as of noon ET on Thursday, Dec. 2 unless otherwise noted below.


Miami Dolphins
ML: -200 · 5-7
New York Giants
ML: +170 · 4-7
  • WHERE: Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Dolphins -4 | O/U: 40.5

Daniel Jones' status is uncertain as of this writing. I don't think the Giants' offense can survive against this peaking, ravenous Dolphins group without him, especially if Kadarius Toney and Sterling Shepard don't return. It took half a season to warm up, but rookies Jaylen Waddle, Jevon Holland and Jaelan Phillips are making the case for this Fins front office to stay put. If Tua Tagovailoa leads Miami to a winning record, which is imminently possible at this point, owner Stephen Ross really wouldn't have any choice. This score is based on Jones starting; make it 27-17 if Mike Glennon is the guy. (UPDATE: Glennon will indeed be getting the start in Miami. On Friday, Giants coach Joe Judge said Jones hasn't been cleared for contract, ruling him out of Sunday's game.)

Indianapolis Colts
ML: -450 · 6-6
Houston Texans
ML: +350 · 2-9
  • WHERE: NRG Stadium (Houston)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Colts -10 | O/U: 45.5

Favorites have stunk for a month and some of the betting lines over the last few Sundays reflect that, shrinking every week. Perhaps it's the matchups in Week 13 or it's just time for a course correction, but I'm going against my usual inclination by giving away points in most of these games. The Texans' takeaways splurge is unlikely to continue against the Colts. It's much more likely that the Indianapolis defense, second in turnovers, forces Tyrod Taylor into a few mistakes. The only way the Texans cover is if they keep the Colts under 20 points, something that hasn't happened to Indy since Week 3. 

Minnesota Vikings
ML: -330 · 5-6
Detroit Lions
ML: +260 · 0-10-1
  • WHERE: Ford Field (Detroit)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Vikings -7 | O/U: 47.5

I've been impressed with how Mike Zimmer has kept his defense looking like the usual Vikings unit despite injuries. This is the right week to be without Patrick Peterson. And the loss of Dalvin Cook hurts less because, as Zimmer noted this week, Minnesota wasn't running it well anyway. The Lions' defense had some extra days of rest, hasn't given up more than 16 points in the three games since the bye and did a great job against the Vikes in Week 5. Detroit has lost by double digits only once since Week 7. With D'Andre Swift out, the talent disparity appears too great here. Could it be a rare normal Vikings game? 

UPDATE: With five Vikings starters out, including Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks and Dalvin Cook, I now have the Lions covering the spread (original score prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 17). All betting lines are current as of 11:45 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles
ML: -290 · 5-7
New York Jets
ML: +235 · 3-8
  • WHERE: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Eagles -7 | O/U: 45

Jalen Hurts' ankle injury is worth monitoring, as Gardner Minshew is getting extra reps in practice this week. Even if Minshew were to start, I'd like the Eagles to cover because power-running teams have ground this penetrating Jets defense into dust. New York is becoming a strong pass-rush team, which should be mitigated by Philly's refusal to pass. Zach Wilson didn't show a lot of development in his first start back in the saddle.

Arizona Cardinals
ML: -350 · 9-2
Chicago Bears
ML: +280 · 4-7
  • WHERE: Solidier Field (Chicago)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Cardinals -7.5 | O/U: 44

The Cardinals have been the NFL's best team when Kyler Murray plays and it isn't that close. They have a +101 scoring differential on the road, despite playing only two teams that currently have losing records. There isn't a defined weakness and their pass rush is consistent enough to scramble the Bears regardless of whether Andy Dalton or Justin Fields starts this game. This projected score assumes Murray starts.

UPDATE: Bears head coach Matt Nagy announced on Friday that Dalton will start vs. Arizona. Murray will be a game-day decision.

Los Angeles Chargers
ML: +145 · 6-5
Cincinnati Bengals
ML: -170 · 7-4
  • WHERE: Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | CBS
  • SPREAD: Chargers +3 | O/U: 50.5

The analytics and Brandon Staley's press conferences say the Chargers' offense isn't struggling. It's the Chargers' defense that can't get off the field, leading to the fewest drives in the league for the Justin Herbert-led attack. Both offenses in this game figure to go on long drives. The Bengals give up the short passes Herbert throws, while the Chargers' defense gives up most everything, especially the rugged 5-yard runs Joe Mixon likes. I have no idea what will happen in any game, but that's especially true in this one.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ML: -550 · 8-3
Atlanta Falcons
ML: +400 · 5-6
  • WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
  • WHEN: 1 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Buccaneers -11 | O/U: 50.5

The Falcons cut the Buccaneers' lead to three late in the third quarter when these teams first met in Week 2 before Tampa rode a wave of turnovers to a 48-25 win. That is typical of this veteran-laden Bucs squad's season. They take a while to warm up, then become undeniable. Cornerback Carlton Davis, should he return this week, will help a secondary led by a quiet All-Pro-quality season from safety Antoine Winfield Jr. 

Los Angeles Rams
ML: -700 · 7-4
Jacksonville Jaguars
ML: +475 · 2-9
  • WHERE: SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Rams -13 | O/U: 48

The Rams' defense has problems that the Jaguars are incapable of exposing. In five games since Jacksonville's bye week, Trevor Lawrence has led the Jags on exactly three touchdown drives that didn't come in garbage time. One of those "drives" ended with a 66-yard run by Jamal Agnew, who is now on injured reserve. I'd take the Lions over the Jaguars on a neutral field by three points.

Las Vegas Raiders
ML: -140 · 6-5
Washington Football Team
ML: +120 · 5-6
  • WHERE: Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
  • WHEN: 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
  • SPREAD: Raiders -2.5 | O/U: 49.5

Either the Raiders will finish this game 7-5 or WFT will finish this game 6-6, two outcomes I can't quite believe are possible. Washington's defensive turnaround without Montez Sweat and Chase Young defies all logic, although it's worth noting most of the Football Team's damage came against Cam Newton in his first start and this depleted version of Russell Wilson. Derek Carr should be able to find the holes in the zone in a game where there are likely to be a lot of long drives and few stops.

Baltimore Ravens
ML: -210 · 8-3
Pittsburgh Steelers
ML: +175 · 5-5-1

I can believe that the Steelers' offense is this bad. I can't quite believe the defense is this bad. T.J. Watt did not look like himself last week and is now in the COVID-19 protocol. Pittsburgh's defensive struggles to stop the run and cover outside receivers deep down the field figure to be a deadly combination against the Ravens. (In other news, Ben Roethlisberger is the lowest-graded non-Jets quarterback among all qualifiers in Pro Football Focus' grading.) 

San Francisco 49ers
ML: -170 · 6-5
Seattle Seahawks
ML: +145 · 3-8

The Seahawks have won 14 of their last 16 games against the 49ers dating back to the 2013 NFC Championship Game. The most recent Niners win came via their 2019 Super Bowl team -- and even that required Dre Greenlaw's tackle at the goal line to clinch it. That helps explain the point spread in this game, which basics like me will ignore. Seattle has a ridiculously low time of possession this season. The blame there is shared by the Seahawks' offensive three-and-outs and their bend-and-break defense. I am foolish enough to believe this is a perfect matchup for this version of San Francisco, and I might be giving Seattle's offense too much credit. If nothing else, the Seahawks have matchups on the outside they can win often enough to keep it close. 

Kansas City Chiefs
ML: -440 · 7-4
Denver Broncos
ML: +340 · 6-5
  • WHERE: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, Mo.)
  • WHEN: 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
  • SPREAD: Broncos +9.5 | O/U: 47

Nice job by NBC flexing into this game. Nice job by Denver winning last week to make it more interesting. I feel like I know what I'm going to get from the Broncos' offense, short on offensive tackles, against a revived Chiefs defense. They'll be passable, they'll break tackles in the running game and they'll probably play close to a draw. I have no clue what I'm going to get from either the Chiefs' offense or the Broncos' defense, two of the highest-variance units in the NFL. An improving Denver pass rush suggests that the best way to beat the Broncos is to run at their lightweight crew and avoid their talented secondary. Andy Reid, however, is not a man to do the obvious, especially coming off a bye.


Buffalo Bills
ML: -145 · 7-4
New England Patriots
ML: +125 · 8-4

This is such a fascinating matchup. The Bills embody so many of the league-wide trends from the last few years, while the Patriots embody so much of the counter measures taken by coaches to go heavy while their opponents go light, zigging while the rest of the league zags.

I believe that big-game experience matters. These Bills -- namely their secondary and defense overall -- have been in so many marquee matchups since Sean McDermott arrived. The Patriots' offense is powerful, improving and finding its way. But the unit hasn't played together long, and Mac Jones hasn't been tested liked this. I expect Buffalo and New England to split their two games over the next month. The most likely way for that to happen is for each home team to win and for Bill Belichick to make his adjustments in the rematch. Look for Josh Allen's running to make the difference this time. 


Dallas Cowboys
ML: -270 · 7-4
New Orleans Saints
ML: +220 · 5-6

Does this Saints team, with wins over the Packers, Patriots and Bucs, have anything left? Starting Taysom Hill at quarterback provides a necessary change of pace, but they didn't get healthy enough beyond quarterback. I had New Orleans covering this spread earlier in the week when I thought Alvin Kamara, Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead would return, but NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Jane Slater reported Thursday morning that all three will remain sidelined. The bigger question is whether this valiant Saints defense has another great effort in it. There may be no amount of game planning that can deal with Amari Cooper on the outside and CeeDee Lamb in the slot.

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