I didn't give out any picks in Week 12. I was still broken after my college team, the Tennessee Volunteers, blew the easiest path they'll ever have to the College Football Playoff by getting trounced by then unranked South Carolina. I've already vented about that abysmal performance and the torture of being a Tennessee fan, which you can read here:
Now, after a week off to regroup, I'm ready to go undefeated in Week 13 after back-to-back 3-4 outings. We're still 44-34 overall with the Lock of the Week hitting at a 75 percent rate. So let's go make some money in this critical Week 13 of the NFL.
Philadelphia Eagles -4.5 vs. Tennessee Titans
The Titans play a grueling style of football that allows them to keep most games they play in close. But I think they'll just be outmatched in Philadelphia this week. I won't put Jalen Hurts in the elite category just yet, but he has definitely been playing at an elite level for most of this season. Tennessee struggles when going up against a top QB, with three of their four losses being to Buffalo (Josh Allen), Kansas City (Patrick Mahomes), and Cincinnati (Joe Burrow) last week. Their game against the Bills looks to set up pretty similar as against the Eagles: a road game against an explosive offense with a mobile quarterback, plenty of weapons, and a defense who can create turnovers. As a result, I don't expect this game to be particularly close. Another factor in this game could be A.J. Brown, the former Titan, who might have an outstanding day against his former team like some players do against their old squads. I'm taking the Eagles to win by a touchdown or more.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions Over 51.0
It feels like Lions games are Over machines, and that's because Detroit has the worst defense in the league in terms of both yards and points allowed per game. And that's a huge green light for me, as the Jaguars' offense seems to be figuring things out under Trevor Lawrence, who just led his team on a game-winning TD drive in the last two minutes against Baltimore a week ago. This game will be played in Detroit, where the Lions have gone over in four of their six games. And interestingly, the over/under ratio for Jacksonville this season is 1-5 at home, but 4-1 on the road. This has been a result of not only strong offensive performance on the road, but also very poor defensive efforts. Therefore, Jared Goff and company should be in for a big day, but perhaps still not as big as the Jags, who I expect to pull this one off. I like a score of about 31-27, but it could get even higher when it's all said and done.
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens Under 39.5
Now, in complete opposition, the Broncos could hardly be any more of an Under lock than they are. 10 out of Denver's 11 games this season have stayed under the point total. Let me repeat that in case you missed it: TEN out of Denver's ELEVEN games this season have stayed UNDER the point total. And it's not like these numbers have been in the high forties or fifties either; they've consistently hovered right around the 40 mark, if not lower. The Broncos' offense is entirely inept and they seemingly have no leadership on the offensive side of the ball. They've scored 20 points just twice all year and are averaging a pathetic 14.3 points per game. Baltimore's defense ranks in the top half of the league and while they haven't been spectacular, Denver's offense consistently brings out the best in opposing defenses. I'm simply riding the trend on this one and taking the under yet again as the Broncos travel across the country for a 1pm Eastern matchup.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears Over 45.0
I've liked the overs in Bears games in recent weeks, and with Justin Fields cleared to give it a full go against their division rivals, I'm on it again this week. I was initially skeptical about this game given the way the Packers have struggled on offense this season, but they could be in line for a bounce back against a bottom tier Chicago defense. Reports indicate Aaron Rodgers will be good to go as well despite a thumb injury he suffered last week. But even if something happens to Rodgers this game, Jordan Love looked quite good in his small sample of playing time in the second half of the Philly game. Christian Watson has turned into a massive weapon at receiver for Green Bay and could help provide a spark to the offense, and the one-two punch of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon could prove to be more than the Bears' defense can handle. Green Bay still has a shot at the postseason, but they'll need to turn it on asap and likely win out to have a chance. In what would typically be a low-scoring affair, this week's Packers/Bears matchup could turn into a shootout.
Miami Dolphins +4.0 at San Francisco 49ers
Both teams are rolling into this matchup on win streaks and as leaders of their respective divisions, so it's sure to be a hotly contested affair. And while I think the Niners are set up well to potentially make a deep playoff run in the NFC, I'm looking at the quarterback matchup in this one. The Dolphins have arguably the two most explosive receivers in the whole league, and their overall talent on offense is better than San Francisco's in my opinion. The biggest difference, however, is that Tua Tagovailoa is superior to Jimmy Garoppolo in every aspect of QB play. I'd give the defensive edge to the 49ers and it's certainly beneficial to them that they'll be playing in Levi's Stadium, but I don't see San Francisco's play style leading to a win by any more than a field goal. In fact, I think the Dolphins will win this game outright and extend their win streak to six games, tying them again at the top of the AFC East with Buffalo.
Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Over 44.5
This Cowboys offense feels tough to stop right now. Ever since Dak Prescott's first game back from injury, Dallas has not fallen short of 28 points in any of their four appearances. They've also exploded for 49 and 40 points in two of those wins. This week, they'll be going up against a Colts defense that's been riddled with injuries and has made poor offenses look better than they should. This is the Sunday night game this week, and it unfortunately has a chance to get real ugly with the Cowboys entering as 10.5-point favorites. However, I think the safest play here is the over. Indy has been better offensively since Matt Ryan regained the starting QB position a few weeks ago, and with Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman in the offense, there are guys who can make plays and set up touchdowns despite weak offensive line play. There's also potential for some big defensive plays by Dallas to lead to easy points the other way against a somewhat turnover prone Colts team. Take the over and at least enjoy the pay day if the game gets out of hand early on Sunday night.
Lock of the Week: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 40.5
I remember taking the under in the first matchup this season between these two teams, and it hit with ease. I was shocked at how bad the Buccaneers had been offensively at that point, and 11 weeks later, my feelings haven't changed. Both of these offenses are limping into this contest, both from an injury standpoint and in terms of their efficiencies. Tampa Bay has surpassed 22 points just once all season (a 41-31 loss to Kansas City) and all but two of their games have stayed under the point total. However, they've remained at the top of the NFC South due partially to the weakness of their division (the Saints included) but also because of how well their defense has covered up their miserable offense. New Orleans has had a couple anomalous games where they've exploded for points, but by and large have also been very inconsistent from a point scoring standpoint. They've only managed 43 total points over their last four games, an average of just over 10 per game, including a goose egg last week against a tough 49er defense. I'm expecting another low-scoring battle in this pivotal divisional matchup, something along the lines of 17-13 one way or the other, if not lower.
Written by Nick Swatson