2018 NFL SEASON
Week 13: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) SUNDAY EDITION
Week 12 results: 10-5 (wins); 6-9 (v. spread); 7-7-1 (O/U)
Week 12 results: 10-5 (wins); 6-9 (v. spread); 7-7-1 (O/U)
Season totals: 115-59-2 .661 (wins); 82-88-6 .482 (v. sp); 95-78-3 .549 (O/U)
Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS).
Drew Brees is aiming for the record books this season, and the Saints defense is finally playing at a high level.
New Orleans Saints 10-1 (-7) @ Dallas Cowboys 6-5 (52): Saints 34-24
Thursday, 8:20 PM, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Saints are the best team in the NFL, hands down. The offense speaks for itself (37.2 ppg), but it’s the top-ranked run defense that’s turning heads, especially the past three weeks (12.7 ppg allowed) after allowing 35 points Week 9 to the Los Angeles Rams. New Orleans is also 5-0 on the road this season, scoring just a point under their season scoring average at 36.2 ppg. The Cowboys just happen to play indoors, for all intents and purposes, so the Saints should feel right at home. The Cowboys are no slouches themselves, especially at home (4-1), for once, and are winners of three straight games and flying high after the acquisition of Amari Cooper. His presence has finally opened up the offense and allowed the run game to explode. It’s the Cowboys 7th-ranked total defense that has really kept Dallas in most games, however, allowing the 3rd-fewest points in the NFL (19.4 ppg). That defense will be tested on Thursday night, and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence put up plenty of bulletin board material with his profanity-laced tirade about beating New Orleans. The Saints are just the better team, perhaps even on the defensive side of the ball, because if any team can stifle Ezekiel Elliot, it’s the Saints, and despite how good the Cowboys defense has been, the Saints are a record-breaking type of offense. Saints should win and cover easily.
Baltimore Ravens 6-5 (+1.5) @ Atlanta Falcons 4-7 (48): Ravens 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Ravens are 2-0 (after losing three straight) since going with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, but Baltimore doesn’t even know who they’re starting Sunday, which doesn’t bode well for a team fighting for their playoff lives. It also doesn’t help when you’re on the road facing Matt Ryan and the Falcons stellar wide receivers. Having said that, the Ravens are the top-ranked defense across the board so those Falcons might stay grounded and lay another egg.
Chicago Bears 8-3 (-4) @ New York Giants 3-8 (44.5): Bears 23-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: Rain; high 50s)
Reasons: The Bears might be without quarterback Mitch Trubisky again Sunday and are still 4-point favorites on the road, which tells you as much about the Giants being terrible as it does about the Bears defense (7th sacks; 4th total defense; 3rd scoring defense; 2nd turnover ratio; 1st INT). The weather could be bad, which might stall the Giants passing game, otherwise New York is playing for their lives. If only their defense could take advantage of a backup quarterback.
Buffalo Bills 4-7 (+4) @ Miami Dolphins 5-6 (40): Dolphins 21-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL (Weather: 20% storms; low 80s)
Reasons: The Bills have the second worst offense in the league in both total offense and scoring (14.6 ppg), but have pretty good defense. The Dolphins are statistically terrible at everything except intercepting the ball (1st), as I say every week, but those INTs help the Dolphins with their turnover ratio (7th). The Bills have also won two-straight, although to weak competition (NYJ; JAX), while the Dolphins have lost two-straight, although to great competition (GB; IND). The Dolphins are fighting for their playoff lives so I suppose they get the nod.
Von Miller will be looking for Andy Dalton Sunday, but he won't find him.
Denver Broncos 5-6 (-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals 5-6 (45): Broncos 27-24
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Sunny; low 60s)
Reasons: Things aren’t looking good for the Bengals, whose offense seems to be getting worse by the week and is beginning to look like their league-worst defense (32nd total defense & scoring defense). Now that Andy Dalton is gone, laugh if you want, but it’s over. The Broncos have life and a decent team to begin with.
Los Angeles Rams 10-1 (-10) @ Detroit Lions 4-7 (55.5): Rams 31-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Ford Field, Detroit, MI (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: Both of these teams are coming off long periods of rest, the Rams having their bye Week 12 and the Lions having played Thanksgiving, but only one of these teams is loaded with talent and good.
Indianapolis Colts 6-5 (-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars 3-8 (47): Colts 26-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, FL (Weather: Chance of rain; low 80s)
Reasons: The Colts have won five straight, but only two of those games have been close and one was against the division rival Jaguars, and that was in Indianapolis. Having said that, the Colts are still four-point favorites on the road, which tells us Jacksonville is in a tailspin of epic proportions. The Jaguars are without Leonard Fournette (SUS), and can’t score points anyway, while the Colts are averaging nearly 30 ppg, including 36 ppg during their five-game win streak.
Cleveland Browns 4-6-1 (+6) @ Houston Texans 8-3 (47): Texans 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Reasons: The Texans have won eight-straight games after starting 0-3 and suddenly they do everything well to exceptionally well, like sacking the quarterback (7th), for instance. The talent is finally living up to the hype and JJ Watt’s health has remained intact, so the Texans have a top-10 defense again to compliment an offense that can be explosive at times, as in last week’s game against the Titans stellar defense. The Browns broke several embarrassing streaks last week and have turned a new leaf, but their best chance Sunday is probably to cover.
Time to work that magic that everyone seems to think you possess, Aaron Rodgers.
Arizona Cardinals 2-9 (+14) @ Green Bay Packers 4-6-1 (44.5): Packers 24-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI (Weather: Wintry mix; low 30s)
Reasons: The Cardinals haven’t been anywhere cold and wet in probably a year and the Packers are as desperate as they’ve ever been. I don’t give the Cardinals any shot at winning, but I hate 14-point spreads. In this case, however, it’s only because of the weather.
Carolina Panthers 6-5 (-3.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-7 (54.5): Panthers 30-27
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL (Weather: Rain; low 80s)
Reasons: The last time these division rivals played the Panthers blew them out 42-28, but these Bucs are wild cards (not literally) and capable of anything, including offensive explosions any week with either Jameis Winston or Fitzmagic. Tampa Bay is just as capable of imploding with the help of their 31st-ranked scoring defense (30.7 ppg), but then again, so is Cam Newton and River Boat Ron. The Panthers should be able to take advantage of the turnovers Tampa Bay will undoubtedly supply (32nd TO ratio) and steal a win on the road to help increase their playoff chances.
New York Jets 3-8 (+8) @ Tennessee Titans 5-6 (40.5): Titans 23-17
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: Sunny; low 60s)
Reasons: The Titans had just turned the corner and were looking like a team on the rise before losing two games in a row by an average of 22.5 points ppg. The Jets, on the other hand, are just abysmal; New York has lost five straight games by an average of 17.2 ppg. The Titans are playing at home with playoff hopes, so they get the nod, but will they win by eight points when they can barely score 17 ppg?
Kansas City Chiefs 9-2 (-14.5) @ Oakland Raiders 2-9 (55.5): Chiefs 31-20
Sunday, 4:05PM, Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, CA (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)
Reasons: The Chiefs were finally forced to come to public terms with Kareem Hunt’s alleged assault this week as video of the February event surfaced and Hunt was subsequently released. Kansas City is still loaded with talent, some of which somehow survived their own horrifying domestic assault case and remain in the NFL (Tyreek Hill), so they’ll be fine this week against the hapless Raiders, but things could get shaky heading towards the playoffs unless the Spencer Ware transition is seamless.
Russell Wilson has the Seahawks in the playoff hunt again, and the defense hasn't skipped a beat since the Legion of Boom left.
San Francisco 49ers 2-9 (+10) @ Seattle Seahawks 6-5 (46): Seahawks 27-21
Sunday, 4:25 PM, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA (Weather: Mostly sunny; low 60s)
Reasons: The Seahawks are yet another 6-5 team clogged in the middle of the NFL looking to make the playoffs, so the floundering 49ers are the perfect team to slide into Seattle and get gutted. Enough fish puns, but the Seahawks should handle the 49ers with ease Sunday, they have to. I’m just not sure about those ten points, though.
Minnesota Vikings 6-4-1 (+5) @ New England Patriots 8-3 (49.5): Patriots 28-24
Sunday, 4:25PM, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA (Weather: Rain; low 40s)
Reasons: The Vikings come into Foxborough needing a win to stay in the playoff race, but that might be tough considering the Patriots are doing Patriots things <insert cheating joke here> and it’s December, that time of year when New England turns it on. Add that to the fact the Vikings are no longer weather-tested and we begin to understand the five-point spread considering how well-matched these teams are statistically. It’ll be first-class offense versus first class defense as well as mediocre offense versus mediocre defense Sunday afternoon, as these two disciplined teams that excel in various different aspects of the game offer a view into a potential Super Bowl matchup. Don’t laugh…
Los Angeles Chargers 8-3 (+3.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 7-3-1 (51.5): Steelers 27-24
Sunday, 8:20 PM, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA (Weather: Partly cloudy; low 40s)
Reasons: If we thought the New England Patriots v. Minnesota Vikings was good get a load of this game, a potential AFC Championship preview between arguably the best two teams in the conference. If we’re talking total offense/defense and scoring offense/defense these teams are top-10 across the board, except the Steelers rank 12th in PA (22.6 ppg), a measly 0.2 ppg from 10th (Minnesota) in the league. The biggest difference is the Steelers turn the ball over too much (26th TO ratio) and aren’t very disciplined on offense (31st PEN), but the Chargers are without Melvin Gordon, which is a huge blow to overcome in the face of a Steelers team at home with a defense that has been playing much better.
Washington Football Team 6-5 (+6.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles 5-6 (45.5): Eagles 24-21
Monday, 8:15 PM, Lincoln Financial Stadium, Philadelphia, PA (Weather: Partly cloudy; high 30s)
Reasons: This is your classic NFC East divisional battle with playoff implications towards the end of the season, and by classic, I mean no one expected Washington to be atop the division and only a few of us expected the Eagles to be this terrible. Yet, here we are, despite Washington being the only team in the NFL with a winning record and a negative point differential and Philadelphia being a returning Super Bowl champion that seemingly improved in the off-season. The Eagles still have a chance to turn their season around, but it’s only because they’re in a division with teams like Washington. You didn’t think those 6.5 points were because of Alex Smith, did you?
Stay tuned for the remaining Tuesday’s Gone: Week 13 #NFL Game Reviews coming Wednesday!