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Fade Material: NFL Week 13 Predictions

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (C) works against Denver Broncos J.D. Walton (L) and guard Chris Kuper at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on October 30, 2011. Detroit crushed Denver 45-10. UPI/Gary C. Caskey

If it weren’t for a Jets-Bills “shootout” I would have went 4-0 last Sunday. But seeing as how I’ve struggled all year with my NFL picks, I’m grateful for a 3-1 week. The Browns, Falcons and Broncos were my winners, while the under in the Jets-Bills contest was the lone loser. That puts me at 21-24-2 on the season.

Bengals @ Steelers, 1:00PM ET
If the Bengals lose today their playoff hopes certainly won’t be dashed. But if they can’t beat Pittsburgh or Baltimore in the regular season, what makes them think they can beat either team in the playoffs? Or beat New England in the playoffs, for that matter? The Bengals have the revenge factor on their side after the Steelers beat them just three weeks ago in Cincinnati and have played hard all season. I think the Bengals, at the very least, will keep things close today in the “Steel City.”
THE PICK: BENGALS +7

Falcons @ Texans, 1:00PM ET
With T.J. Yates under center and the Falcons on a mini-roll, Atlanta would seem like a great bet at -1. But the Falcons have a couple of injury issues that are worth noting. First and foremost, their top corner Brent Grimes is out following knee surgery and their starting nickel back Kelvin Hayden is out with a toe injury. Thus, the inexperienced Christopher Owens will start for Grimes and the extremely inexperienced Dominique Franks (a fifth-round pick from 2010) will fill in for Hayden at the nickel. Granted, even if I were starting at corner for Atlanta the Texans aren’t going to be throwing much with Yates. Houston will rely on its running game and defense to win this one and with Michael Turner and Julio Jones banged up, I like the Texans to pull off the small upset.
THE PICK: TEXANS +1

Chiefs @ Bears, 1:00PM ET
I was shocked when I saw the opening line for this game, which was Bears -9. The spread is down to 7, which makes more sense, but I still think it’s too high. I don’t trust Mike Martz to put Caleb Hanie in successful situations and furthermore, to revolve his offense around Matt Forte, which is what he should do. The Chiefs are extremely limited offensively with Tyler Palko under center but at least this will be his third consecutive game as the starter. He should be more comfortable and confident in his abilities and I expect Kansas City’s defense to keep this game close, just like it did last week versus Pittsburgh.
THE PICK: CHIEFS +7

Lions @ Saints, 8:20PM ET
This one could get ugly quickly. The best way to beat an elite quarterback like Drew Brees is to pressure him with your front four and then drop the back seven into coverage. That’s hard to do on its own and it gets to be an even bigger challenge for a team like Detroit that will be without its best defensive tackle in Ndamukong Suh. The Lions also have a slew of defensive backs out with injury and just don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Saints. I like New Orleans to roll.
THE PICK: SAINTS -9

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2011 NFL Week 13 Odds & Point Spreads

Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie celebrates a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter of the NFL NFC Championship football game in Chicago, January 23, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Four odds of note:

Colts –20.5 @ Patriots, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
I about fell over when I first saw the opening line for this game, which was actually New England –21. But the spread makes sense. First of all, the Colts haven’t covered in seven straight weeks so oddsmakers have to push the envelope to see what price bettors will be willing to pay in order to keep fading Indy. Secondly, New England is just two weeks removed from covering a 17-point spread against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football, so oddsmakers realize that bettors are at least willing to lay that number when it comes to wagering on the Pats. But 20.5? For a NFL game? Dear, Barbara.

Falcons –1.5 @ Texans, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to wagering: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The Texans are starting T.J. Yates at quarterback against a Falcons team that has won two straight games and is chasing down a playoff berth in the NFC. Why wouldn’t you lay the 1.5 points on Atlanta? All they have to do is win, basically. That said, the Texans knew as soon as Matt Schaub went down for the season that no matter who was playing quarterback, their defense and running game would have to carry them. The Falcons have been inconsistent on offense all season and while their run defense has been stout, they will be tested by the Texans’ excellent rushing attack. Plus, Atlanta could be without two of its top three cornerbacks as Brent Grimes (knee) and Kelvin Hayden (toe) are both expected to miss this Sunday. Beware the trap.

Raiders +2.5 @ Dolphins, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
Speaking of traps, the 3-8 Dolphins are a 2.5-point favorite against the 7-4 Raiders who are battling the Broncos for the AFC West crown? Hello, Oakland and the points! Again, beware the bet that looks too good to be true. Miami’s defense has been a rock over the past couple of weeks and the Fish were one big play/stop away from beating the Cowboys last Thursday. Miami clearly hasn’t given up on the season despite its record and will probably enjoy playing the role of spoiler from here on out.

Chiefs +9 @ Bears, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
Who is going to lay nearly 10 points on a Caleb Hanie-led Chicago team after his performance last Sunday in Oakland? The Chiefs failed to cover as a 17-point underdog two weeks ago in New England but they nearly came from behind and beat the Steelers last Sunday night. I think there’s going to be plenty of Kansas City backers come Sunday, so it’ll be interesting to see if the line moves, and by how much, come Sunday. The Bears are much tougher at home than they are on the road, plus they have Matt Forte, Devin Hester and a (usually) stingy defense. But Hanie radically changes what Mike Martz wants to do on offense and it’s tough envisioning them covering a 9-point spread.

2011 NFL Week 13 Point Spreads

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2010 NFL Week 13 Odds

New York Jets Jayson Taylor forces a fumble and sacks New England Patriots Tom Brady in week 2 of the NFL season at New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on September 19, 2010. The Jets defeated the Patriots 28-14.   UPI /John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Jets (9-2) @ Patriots (9-2), 8:30PM ET, Monday
After that 49ers-Cardinals debacle last Monday night, ESPN owes fans one. Fortunately for them, we get to cash that favor this week with a battle of two 9-2 AFC East teams fighting for the top seed in the playoffs. Round 1 went to the Jets back in Week 2 and if they can beat the Bill Belichick’s again this Monday, they’ll essentially be up two full games over their division rivals. Tom Brady completed 20-of-36 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns against Rex Ryan’s defense earlier this season, but he also threw two costly interceptions. Can he get the best of gang green this time around?
CURRENT ODDS: PATRIOTS –3.5

Steelers (8-3) @ Ravens (8-3), 8:20PM ET
The Sunday Night Football game hits another home run this week. The Ravens own a tiebreaker over the Steelers by virtue of their win earlier this season in Pittsburgh, but that victory came during Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension. Big Ben was in a walking boot after the Steelers’ win in Buffalo on Sunday and could be limited in practice throughout the week. He says he’ll play, but if he’s immobile then the Ravens’ aggressive front seven could have a field day. Pittsburgh better hope its banged up offensive line is up for the challenge this week. This should be a knock-‘em-down, drag-‘em-out kind of a fight between two heavy-hitters in the AFC North.
CURRENT ODDS: RAVENS –3

Falcons (9-2) @ Bucs (7-4), 4:15PM ET
Do the Falcons ever catch a break? After facing the Bucs, Ravens, Rams (on the road) and Packers in consecutive weeks, Atlanta will once again face a playoff contender when it travels to Tampa this Sunday. The good news is that the Falcons face the Panthers twice in their last five games. The bad news is that the Saints and Bucs are breathing down their necks in the NFC South, so they can’t afford to take a week off. Both of their losses came on the road this year and the Bucs played them tough in the Georgia Dome a month ago. Bettors, be weary of a trap.
CURRENT ODDS: FALCONS –2

Cowboys (3-8) @ Cowboys (6-5), 4:15PM ET
Given what has transpired over the past couple of weeks, this game is incredibly intriguing. Thanks to interim coach Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are playing with a renewed sense of confidence and could have beaten the Saints last week had Roy Williams not fumbled in the closing minutes, which set New Orleans up for its game-winning touchdown drive. On the other side, the Colts have looked overmatched the last two weeks and are now on the verge of dropping to .500 on the year. Peyton Manning looked horrid last Sunday night against the Chargers and while Dallas’ defense can be had, the ‘Boys are playing much better on that side of the ball these days. If Peyton Manning puts together his third straight poor performance, there will be no doubt that someone in the media will start to question if age is starting to catch up to him.
CURRENT ODDS: COLTS -5

2010 NFL Week 13 Odds & Over/Under Totals

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