NFL
December 2, 2021

Week 13 NFL Game Picks: Will the Patriots Continue Their Hot Streak?

The absolute insanity in the NFL this year has put everything we thought we knew into a blender. The absence of dominant teams is fun but also difficult for betting purposes.

The playoff push is underway, and the margin for error is tiny. The storylines go well beyond the obvious though. And we're going to break down the key question within each matchup in Week 13.

This storyline will determine the matchup's outcome. I'll also provide a pick for each game, with odds courtesy of DraftKings.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints 

Storyline: Can Dallas Stop Their Skid?

Dallas was sitting in a premier position just two weeks ago before being rocked by Kansas City, and dropping a shocker against Las Vegas. The Cowboys' offensive struggles are tied to inconsistent blocking and the absence of Amari Cooper. With Cooper set to return, the 'Boys better fire on all cylinders to overcome a short-handed Saints team on the road or things could go from bad to worse. 

New Orleans certainly has their own flaws to deal with in terms of playmaking. But this coaching staff has done an extraordinary job with their limited talent and will force Dak Prescott to be sharp. I think the Cowboys win a tight, uncomfortable game on "Thursday Night Football."

Pick: Saints +4.5 (-110)

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans 

Storyline: Does Jonathan Taylor Take Over?

For my money, Jonathan Taylor is the NFL's MVP this season. The Colts have been surging into playoff relevance after a slow start and proving to be an elite betting option. They've covered in six of their last nine games and should do so again this week.

Houston earned some goodwill with strong back-to-back outcomes against superior Miami and Tennessee teams but then lost as a favorite to an awful Jets squad. They'll crash against a good Colts squad that can produce an efficient offense.

Pick: Colts -8.5 (-110)

Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears

Storyline: Will Kyler Murray Be Rusty?

Finally, it seems as though the Cardinals will have Kyler Murray back. The Cardinals are still 9-2 despite missing their star and a few of the team's best playmakers for a few games. Easing back into action against the lowly Bears should lead to a solid win.

Chicago has a ton of injuries and no real way to win this game barring an epic Cardinals collapse. This is my lock of the week if Murray plays.

Pick: Cardinals -7.5 (-105)

New York Giants at Miami Dolphins 

Storyline: Will Daniel Jones Make It Out Alive? 

Miami might be on the verge of a historic comeback from a disastrous start. With four straight wins and poised to face a bad Giants team, the Dolphins are hitting their stride and they're being led by a surging Tua Tagovailoa.

The Giants have a bunch of banged-up veterans, but they are expected to have Daniel Jones under center. No matter who is under center, the Dolphins should be able to force several turnovers and for the offense to take advantage of a limited set of playmakers on the Giants' defense.

Pick: Dolphins -4.5 (-110)

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions 

Storyline: Which Vikings Team Shows Up?

Minnesota either plays up to Super Bowl-contender level or plays down to their competition. They're incredibly frustrating to watch and to bet on any given week. At 5-6, they're fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive this week against the winless Lions.

Minnesota will win, but they'll play down to a tough Detroit team that has barely missed earning a win in the last three weeks. This isn't an overly interesting game or a line that I love since both teams are hard to predict.

Pick: Lions +7 (-110)

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets 

Storyline: Can the Eagles and Jalen Hurts Rebound?

It seemed as though the Eagles had figured everything out until they were smacked by the Giants last week. Jalen Hurts now must get back on his efficiency horse and lead his team to their third win in four games. Repeating their seven-point, four-interception output simply cannot happen again.

For the Jets, each game is about developing their young core. Zach Wilson must be fed more of a role each week to build this unit for 2022. Philadelphia's 11th-ranked pass defense won't make it easy on him, and the Eagles will soar to a cover.

Pick: Eagles -7 (-105)

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals 

Storyline: Do The Chargers Respond To Pressure?

This is the last week for the Chargers to perform or get off the pot. The pressure is immense for them to beat a fellow playoff hopeful in Cincinnati. A loss this week would put the Chargers in a considerable hole moving forward.

The Chargers' playmakers must step up with explosive plays to handle Cincinnati's dangerous offense. I'm not optimistic they'll slow Joe Mixon, however. The Bengals' pass defense must contain Justin Herbert's big arm, but their defense has done a generally good job at preventing big plays all season.

Pick: Bengals -3 (-115)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons 

Storyline: Will the Bucs' Road Woes Resurface?

The Buccaneers' splits between road and home games are insane. They're a mediocre, poor defensive team on the road and an unstoppable force at home. They must get the No. 1 NFC seed at this rate, even if they won on the road in Week 12.

Their Week 13 foe shouldn't offer a ton of resistance in terms of a high upside. I don't love the large line though and prefer to bet on the over hitting for the eighth straight time between these teams. Tampa's injured secondary means Matt Ryan will find numerous opportunities for big plays.

Pick: Over 50.5 (-105)

Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders 

Storyline: Which Pass Defense Steps Up?

Derek Carr is on pace for a top-five passing yard season in the NFL, and the Washington Football Team has the 30th-ranked pass defense. It's safe to assume Carr will be playing backyard football all afternoon, and it's impossible to have much confidence in how Washington will attack Vegas.

I loved seeing WFT utilize talented rusher, Antonio Gibson, in a larger role last week. With three straight wins coming with little in common leading to that success besides improved defensive play, I'm looking for regression. Vegas may not be great but they have their identity and stick to it, which projects to a cover and win.

Pick: Raiders -2.5 (-110)

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Rams 

Storyline: The Rams Must Use This Game as a Springboard

The Rams have been a massive flop over the last month despite their gaudy star pickups. That will change this week as they springboard into a difficult remaining schedule. The Jaguars are merely playing out the season with a young roster and possibly a lame-duck coaching staff.

Trevor Lawrence, if he has time to throw, should find some chunk plays against a struggling Rams secondary. Jacksonville will need to toe the line of staying balanced and aggressive considering the Rams' strength is stopping the run, and exposing Lawrence to obvious passing situations will lead to sacks and turnovers.

Pick: Rams -12.5 (-115)

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers 

Storyline: Can the Steelers Save Their Season?

The Steelers have endured what feels like three seasons already in 2021. Their slow start, followed by a four-game win streak, and then an 0-2-1 stretch, has left them fighting for their lives this week. If they lose to the Ravens, the Steelers are likely dead in the water at 5-5-1 as their peers surge ahead.

Baltimore has their own set of flaws and injuries but continues to come up with dominant plays in the clutch, and their defense still has enough talent to win. This is a classic bout of the better team wins, but the home rival covers in an ugly, season-defining game. Look for Pittsburgh to scrounge just enough together to give the Ravens a close game.

Pick: Steelers +4.5 (-110)

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks 

Storyline: Do the Seahawks have a solution?

Seattle has been abysmal at talent acquisition and development over the last five years, and they are now paying the price. The writing on the wall is clear, it's time to completely tear everything down and start over. They're one of the worst rosters in the NFL and star quarterback Russell Wilson has clearly lost his fastball.

Meanwhile, the 49ers have to be fired up to turn the trends in this rivalry. They've won just two-of-10 against Seattle, and with three wins in a row saving their season, have major momentum. Watch for San Francisco to steamroll Seattle.

Pick: 49ers -3.5 (+100)

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs 

Storyline: Can Anyone Slow Down Kansas City?

Denver offers the best defense possible to slow the Chiefs' suddenly dominant offense, and they've given Patrick Mahomes headaches in the past. But they have the uncomfortable position of playing Andy Reid after a bye week, which is a death sentence. However, the 10-point line is a non-starter for me.

Instead, the total is a great play. Denver has gone under in five straight games and Kansas City in five of six. This is a surprisingly high line considering Denver's defensive potential and the improvement from the Chiefs.

Pick: Under 47.5 (-110)

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills 

Storyline: Do The Patriots Win a Seventh Straight Game?

This six-game hot streak from the Patriots is wild. They're red-hot and have great consistency across the board. However, they're not an incredibly talented team or offer high offensive upside, so their clock is ticking on when they'll be exposed.

Buffalo has the potential but hasn't been consistently good either. Josh Allen and the offense is hit or miss, and Bill Belichick will do his best to confuse the unit into turnovers. I like the Patriots to at least lose closely if not an outright win.

Pick: Patriots +3 (-110)

Photo: Getty Images

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