After another exciting week of NFL action, we’re back to preview this crucial slate of Week 13 games. With so many playoff spots still up for grabs, the vast majority of the league still has a ton to play for here. There are some excellent fixtures on the card here, headlined by the 8-3 Patriots playing host to the 6-4-1 Vikings. Teams like the Ravens, Colts, Bears and Panthers will also be looking to improve their playoff position in the early slate of games. In our largest main Sunday slate of recent weeks, let’s take a look at our best bet on the board in each fixture, throwing in another 4-fold multi for good measure.
ATLANTA FALCONS VS BALTIMORE RAVENS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Mercedes-Benz Stadium
The Falcons enter this one at a disappointing 4-7 after losing each of their last 3 games. It was a dreadful rushing attack that cost them in New Orleans last week, with their Running Backs totalling only 6 yards on 12 carries. QB Matt Ryan has still been largely very good, completing 71% of his throws for 24 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions so far. Their poor 4-7 record is in in large part due to poor performances from the defence. The pass defence has been regularly gashed and the rush defence didn’t fare much better in New Orleans last week. With Lamar Jackson and the dynamic Ravens attack coming to town, this will need to improve here.
The 6-5 Ravens have gotten back on track in recent weeks, enjoying home wins in both of Lamar Jackson’s starts. He’s added a completely new element to the rushing attack, that ran all over Oakland last week to the tune of 242 yards and a touchdown. That said, he does have some weaknesses as a passer, failing to throw for over 200 yards and throwing only 1 touchdown to 3 picks. Fortunately, he has the excellent Ravens defence to help bail him out. This defence has allowed 24 points or less in 8 of their last 9 games and has a balanced pass rush and secondary. By limiting this high-flying Falcons passing attack, Baltimore can solidify a wildcard spot here.
Even after his impressive start to the campaign, I feel as though Lamar Jackson is getting overvalued by the bookies here. With a strong home-field advantage and the much better QB here, there’s too much line value to avoid taking the Falcons as a home dog. Falcons 27-24 Ravens.
CINCINNATI BENGALS VS DENVER BRONCOS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Paul Brown Stadium
The 5-6 Bengals have faded after a bright start to the season, comfortably losing 5 of their last 6 games, including an embarrassing home loss to Cleveland last week. QB Andy Dalton has struggled mightily in recent weeks without A.J. Green and suffered a thumb injury in the loss to Cleveland. RB Joe Mixon has been a bright spot for this offence, eclipsing 150 yards from scrimmage in his 21 touches. It’s been the Cincinnati defence that has struggled mightily of late, allowing at least 34 points in 4 of their last 5 games. The pass defence was carved up to the tune of 4 touchdowns by Baker Mayfield last week, a performance that will definitely need to improve here.
Consecutive wins over playoff contenders in the AFC have the Broncos right in contention for a wildcard spot. Rookie RB Phillip Lindsay has been excellent of late, rushing for 110 yards and a score in the win over Pittsburgh last week. QB Case Keenum continues to deliver average performances and holds this team back from being truly good. The Broncos defence has more than made up for this though, forcing 4 crucial turnovers against Pittsburgh last week. Von Miller continues to lead an excellent Denver pass rush and currently enjoys 10.5 sacks on the campaign.
With Jeff Driskel starting at QB, the Bengals are a very ugly underdog here. That said, I just can’t ignore the line value on them here. Case Keenum isn’t all that good and shouldn’t be laying this many on the road. I expect Cincinnati to at least keep this one close. Broncos 27-23 Bengals.
DETROIT LIONS VS LA RAMS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Ford Field
The Lions enter this one at 4-7 after 4 losses in their last 5 games. QB Matt Stafford has struggled mightily of late, totalling 3 touchdowns in his last 4 games and suffering a ton of sacks. The offence hasn’t eclipsed 22 points in 5 weeks and has been the primary reason for this recent slump. Defensively, the Lions have somewhat improved of late. The rush defence has been noticeably better since the acquisition of Damon Harrison, allowing just 38 yards against Chicago last week. Against this versatile high-flying Rams offence, they’ll need to be at their best here.
Los Angeles Rams
The 10-1 Rams enter this one fresh off their bye, after beating the Chiefs in one of the games of the season so far. QB Jared Goff was again excellent, throwing for 413 yards and 4 scores in a match-winning performance. RB Todd Gurley has also been fantastic so far, totalling a shade under 1500 yards and 17 touchdowns from scrimmage. In Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, Goff has one of the premier receiving duos in the league to throw to. Despite all their talent, the Rams defence has struggled of late, allowing at least 31 points in each of their last 3 games. Against a vulnerable Lions offensive line, I expect a resurgent display from a defensive line featuring Aaron Donald, N’Damukong Suh and Michael Brockers.
Prediction: Rams -9.5
With this number only climbing, I’m getting in under the key number of 10. I expect the Rams offence to have their way with a Lions defence that has struggled of late. Similarly, this Lions offensive line is no match for the ferocious LA pass rush. Rams 34-20 Lions.
GREEN BAY PACKERS VS ARIZONA CARDINALS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Lambeau Field
Green Bay Packers
The calls for Mike McCarthy to lose his job only intensified after the Packers lost their 4th game in their last 5 in Minnesota last week. It was an uncharacteristically poor display from Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked 4 times and failed to eclipse 200 yards of passing. RB Aaron Jones has been a bright spot of late, totalling 93 yards and a score in the loss. Defensively, the Packers delivered a middling performance in Minnesota. Whilst they shut down the rushing attack, they allowed Kirk Cousins to go off and outduel Aaron Rodgers with 342 yards and 3 scores. A long list of injuries really hasn’t helped this Green Bay defence that needs to perform better.
The 2-9 Cardinals enter this one off yet another disappointing performance as they were destroyed 45-10 by the Chargers. QB Josh Rosen struggled mightily, totalling just 105 yards and an interception on his 19 passing attempts. This meant there were no open rushing lanes for RB Davis Johnson, who only managed 63 yards on his 17 carries. Even the usually strong Cardinals defence struggled mightily here. They allowed QB Phillip Rivers to go off, totalling 28/29 completions for 259 yards and 3 touchdowns. The rush defence didn’t fare much better, allowing 30 carries for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns. Against a desperate Packers side, I don’t see this being a fun trip for Arizona here.
Prediction: Cardinals +14.5
They’re definitely an ugly underdog but there is too much line value on the Cardinals to ignore here. They were only 11-point underdogs against a better Chargers team last week. This defence can contain Aaron Rodgers, whilst David Johnson and Larry FitzGerald do enough on offence to cover. Packers 31-17 Cardinals.
MIAMI DOLPHINS VS BUFFALO BILLS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Hard Rock Stadium
The 5-6 Dolphins fought valiantly last week, but still ended up losing their 4th game in 5 to the high-flying Colts. QB Ryan Tannehill was serviceable in his return, completing 17/25 passes for 204 yards and 2 scores. The RB duo of Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake continues to lead the offence, combining for 173 total yards and 2 touchdowns. Defensively, the Dolphins continue to struggle. They were carved apart by Andrew Luck to the tune of 343 yards and 2 touchdowns, allowing a further 118 yards on the ground. With their season on the line, I expect them to come out firing in this one.
Despite their struggles this season, the Bills enter this one at 4-7 after winning their last 2 games. It was a dominant display from the rushing attack that got it done against Jacksonville last week, totalling 167 yards and 2 scores. QB Josh Allen did somewhat struggle however, completing just 8 passes for 160 total yards. The Bills defence has been very good this season and completely eliminated the Jacksonville passing attack last week. They allowed just 107 total passing yards, forcing 3 sacks and 2 interceptions in the process. Their rush defence did allow over 200 yards however, which will need to improve against this strong Miami rushing attack.
With Josh Allen in the fold, I’m much more confident in backing this Bills team. The Dolphins have been in poor form since their impressive 3-0 start and I’m just not confident enough to back them laying 5.5. Expect the Bills defence to come up big in a close one. Dolphins 20-17 Bills.
NEW YORK GIANTS VS CHICAGO BEARS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), MetLife Stadium
New York Giants
The 3-8 Giants have been much more competitive in recent weeks, winning 2 of their last 3 and falling by just 3 points in Philly last week. Eli Manning’s performances continue to improve, throwing for 297 yards and a score last week. Rookie RB Saquon Barkley has been very impressive so far, totalling a shade under 1400 yards and eclipsing 10 scores on the season. The New York defence has also improved of late, allowing 25 or less points in 5 of their last 6 games. Their strong front seven has been generating increased pressure on opposing Quarterbacks, whilst defensive backs Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins have made plays on the back end.
The 8-3 Bears have been one of the most impressive teams in the NFL this season and enter this matchup off the back of 5 straight wins. QB Chase Daniel did an admirable job filling in for an injured Mitchell Trubisky last week, who has had an underrated season himself. The Bears rushing attack will need to bounce back from its poor display last week to relieve pressure on the QB here. Defensively, the Bears have established themselves as one of the premier units in the NFL. Led by star pass rusher Khalil Mack, they haven’t allowed more than 22 points in any of their last 5 games, generating a ton of pressure on opposing Quarterbacks in the process.
Coming off extra rest this week, I’m expecting Chicago to pull out the road win and cover whether it’s Trubisky or Daniel at Quarterback. Their defence has been the best in the NFL this season and I can see them shutting down the Giants here. I think their strong rushing game also does enough to lead the way offensively. Bears 24-17 Giants.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS VS CAROLINA PANTHERS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Raymond James Stadium
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 4-7 Buccaneers enter this one off one of their better performances of the season, a 27-9 win over the 49ers. QB Jameis Winston had an efficient but clean performance, completing 29/38 passes for 312 yards and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Mike Evans quietly continues to be one of the best in the NFL, putting up 116 or more receiving yards in 3 of his last 5. It was a much-improved performance from the Buccaneers defence that really brought this one home. They completely limited the 49ers passing offence, allowing under 200 yards as they registered 4 sacks and 2 interceptions. A similar level of performance will be needed here to halt Cam Newton and Co.
The Panthers enter this crucial divisional matchup at a somewhat disappointing 6-5, losing each of their last 3 games. Cam Newton has been excellent in recent weeks, completing 25/30 passes for 256 yards against Seattle last time out. The Carolina rushing attack was also excellent, totalling 220 yards and a touchdown on 8.1 yards per carry. It was an uncharacteristically poor display from the Panthers defence that let the team down here. Whilst they shut the Seahawks running game down, they allowed 339 yards and 2 scores on just 31 pass attempts, over 11 yards per throw. Off the back of 3 straight losses, Carolina can get their season back on track with a win here.
Prediction:Under 56 points
Buccaneers totals have been tough to calibrate this season but this one is simply far too high for me. I expect Carolina to control this one on the ground and limit the total number of possessions. 56 points gives us a ton of room to play with. Panthers 27-23 Buccaneers.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS VS INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), Lucas Oil Stadium
The Jaguars nightmare season continued as they lost their 6th straight game last week, this time against the lowly Buffalo Bills. QB Blake Bortles struggled immensely yet again, passing for just 127 yards and 2 interceptions. This masked a resurgent performance from RB Leonard Fournette, who totalled 108 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns. Even the vaunted Jaguars defence has struggled of late, allowing 20 or more points in each of these 6 consecutive losses. They did limit Bills QB Josh Allen last week but allowing 167 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground just isn’t a recipe for victory for this side.
After a 1-5 start, the Colts have rebounded perfectly to win each of their last 5 games. Andrew Luck has been excellent lately with fantastic protection from his offensive line, completing 30/37 passes for 343 yards and 2 scores. Receiver T.Y. Hilton added an impressive 125 yards through the air, whilst Tight End Eric Ebron continued his red-zone success with 2 more touchdowns. On defence, the Colts haven’t allowed over 28 points in each of their last 5 games. They’ve done an excellent job of limiting opposing passing attacks and are playing excellent complementary football. A road divisional win here puts them right in contention for an AFC playoff spot.
Prediction:Under 48 points
The Jaguars have struggled offensively all year and I don’t expect Cody Kessler to change that. That said, I do think their strong secondary matches up well with the Colts here. I’m expecting a close and relatively low scoring game that Indy manage to pull out late. Colts 24-20 Jaguars.
HOUSTON TEXANS VS CLEVELAND BROWNS
Monday, December 3, 5am (AEDT), NRG Stadium
The 8-3 Texans enter this one off their 8th consecutive victory, thumping the Titans on Monday Night Football last week. It was an excellent display from the rushing attack that led the way, combining for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns. QB Deshaun Watson was also very controlled, throwing for 210 yards and 2 scores. The Texans pass rush also did an excellent job of getting to Marcus Mariota, registering an impressive 6 sacks. They did however allow him to complete 22/23 passes and will need to do a better job against the fast-improving Baker Mayfield.
The 4-6-1 Browns stuck it to their old coach Hue Jackson last week with a big win in Cincinnati. QB Baker Mayfield was outstanding last week, completing 19/26 passes for 258 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rookie RB Nick Chubb continues to feature heavily, totalling 128 yards from scrimmage and 2 scores last week. It has been resurgent performances from this Browns defence that has led to better results of late, holding the Falcons and Bengals to an average of just 18 points. They completely limited the Cincinnati passing offence last week, allowing under 6 yards per pass attempt in what was a smothering display.
This line is simply giving too much respect to the Browns here. Houston are a very balanced side on both sides of the ball and I expect their talent advantage to play out here. The front seven should have a field day against this Browns offensive line. Texans 27-20 Browns.
TENNESSEE TITANS VS NEW YORK JETS
Monday, December 3, 8:05am (AEDT), Nissan Stadium
The Titans enter this one at a disappointing 5-6, their playoff hopes suffering a blow against Houston last week. QB Marcus Mariota was a shining light, completing 22/23 passes for 303 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offensive line continues to struggle, allowing a whopping 6 sacks to the ferocious Houston front. Defensively, the Titans just weren’t good enough. They were carved apart on both the ground and the air in an unconvincing display.
New York Jets
The Jets recent struggles continued last week against New England, comfortably losing their 5th straight game. Josh McCown continues to struggle filling in for Sam Darnold, averaging just 6.1 yards on his 45 attempts last week. The rushing attack couldn’t really get going either, the two Running Backs combining for just 49 total yards. Defensively, this injured Jets defence didn’t have much of a chance against a thriving Patriots offence. They allowed an astounding 215 yards and a score on the ground, giving up a further 283 yards to Tom Brady in the air. At this point, the Jets are just playing out the string in another disappointing year.
Even with the Jets poor form of late, the Titans shouldn’t be laying 8 points to anyone. This offensive line continues to remain a problem and holds this team back. Expect New York to hang around in this one. Titans 21-17 Jets.
OAKLAND RAIDERS VS KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Monday, December 3, 8:05am (AEDT), Oakland Coliseum
The 2-9 Raiders fell back to earth last week, this time with a 34-17 defeat in Baltimore. QB Derek Carr struggled yet again, completing less than 50% of his passes for only 194 total yards. The rushing attack has continued to struggle in the absence of Beast Mode, totalling just 67 yards and 3.5 yards per attempt last week. Defensively, the Raiders rush defence was carved apart to the tune of 242 yards and a touchdown. They failed to put pressure on young QB Lamar Jackson, who was only sacked once. The special teams unit didn’t fare much better, allowing a whopping 70-yard punt return touchdown. Things don’t get any easier this week as they face a rested Chiefs side.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs travel to Oakland fresh of their bye, looking to somewhat avenge their epic loss to the Rams last time out. QB Patrick Mahomes was again excellent, throwing for 478 yards and 6 touchdowns, however his 3 costly interceptions proved the difference here. Receiver Tyreek Hill was again immense, totalling 215 yards and 2 scores. Tight End Travis Kelce also got in on the act, adding 10 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown of his own. It was a very poor performance from the Chiefs defence in this one, allowing a whopping 54 points. They were able to contain RB Todd Gurley, but allowing 413 passing yards and 4 touchdowns just won’t cut it. Fortunately, the struggling Raiders offence represents a good chance for this unit to get right.
Another very ugly underdog but there is too much line value on Oakland for me to pass up. Home underdogs by more than 2 touchdowns typically have a strong spread record and I expect the Raiders defence to do enough to keep this one close. Chiefs 33-21 Raiders.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS VS MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Monday, December 3, 8:25am (AEDT), Gillette Stadium
New England Patriots
The Patriots continued their excellent trend of rebounding off a loss, comfortably winning and covering against the Jets last week. Rookie RB Sony Michel was again outstanding, running for 133 yards and a score on his 21 attempts. Tom Brady delivered another efficient display, completing 20/31 for 283 yards and 2 scores. The Patriots defence also delivered a resurgent performance, limiting the Jets to just 74 rushing yards and only 6.1 yards per passing attempt. With the battle for the #2 seed in the AFC heating up, the Pats simply can’t afford to take their foot off the gas here.
The 6-4-1 Vikings appear to have gotten their season back on track last week with a crucial divisional win over the Packers. Kirk Cousins stole the show with 342 yards and 3 scores, with Receiver Adam Thielen contributing 125 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings excellent defence also stepped up big time in this one, sacking Aaron Rodgers 4 times and holding him under 200 yards. Whilst they currently sit as the #5 seed in the NFC, the Vikings have a very difficult schedule the rest of the way and will sense the opportunity for an upset here.
Prediction: Vikings +6
I haven’t had much success backing the Vikings this season, but I continue to see strong line value on them. Their defence matches up very well with this Patriots offence and they’ve got the talent on offence to pull off an upset here. Through the key numbers of 3 and 4, I’m confident backing Minny here. Patriots 24-23 Vikings.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS VS SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Monday, December 3, 8:25am (AEDT), CenturyLink Field
The Seahawks enter this one at 6-5 after a huge road win in Carolina last week. QB Russell Wilson was simply fantastic, throwing for 339 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 31 attempts. The rushing attack also kept things ticking over nicely, adding 75 yards, a touchdown, and an epic Chris Carson hurdle. Defensively, the Seahawks did just enough to limit Carolina. They allowed 470 yards and 3 touchdowns but managed 2 crucial interceptions to bring home the win. Now firmly in contention for a wildcard playoff spot in the NFC, the Seahawks have a very winnable fixture here at home to the struggling 49ers.
San Francisco 49ers
The 2-9 49ers enter this one in pole position for the #1 draft pick, having lost 8 of their last 9 games. QB Nick Mullens struggled mightily in Tampa last week, totalling just 221 yards and 2 interceptions as he was sacked twice. Running Back Matt Breida continued his excellent form so far this season, totalling 140 yards from scrimmage on his 17 touches. Defensively, the 49ers very much struggled in this one. They allowed over 100 yards and a score to a Buccaneers rushing attack that has largely struggled. Similarly, they allowed a comfortable 312 yards and 2 touchdowns to the often-maligned Jameis Winston. Things don’t get any easier for the Niners this week as they make the tough trip to Seattle.
With their strong recent form and elite home field advantage, I’m confident laying the 10 points with Seattle here. The Niners are playing for draft position now and I don’t rate either Mullens or Beathard as serviceable QB options. I expect a big day from Russell Wilson as the Hawks cruise to victory. Seahawks 33-13 49ers.