Thanksgiving was kind to us, as we went 11-4-1 ATS in Week 12. About time.
I've been painted as a "Lions h8er" by the kind people in Detroit, and I should have leaned into that instead of taking Jared Goff to blow out the Green Bay Packers. I also hoped the QB change would spark the New York Jets, which it did not, and then the Houston Texans' 58-yard game-tying field goal came up just short. But as I said, we won a lot more than we lost last week.
Week 13 should be fun. The Denver Broncos and Texans face off in a matchup with massive playoff implications, an NFC Championship rematch takes place in Philadelphia and Patrick Mahomes takes his first trip to Lambeau Field. Here's a look at what I'm thinking this week. As always, credit to the CBS Sports research team for making me sound smart.
All odds come courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook
Top five picks ATS record: 27-30-3
Overall ATS record: 78-95-7
Straight up record: 105-75
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) at New York Jets
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
I hope Aaron Rodgers isn't bringing some kind of weird juju with him as he returns to practice as a limited participant. I'm sure the team is excited he's back, but that team hasn't been very good. Tim Boyle didn't look like an upgrade over Zach Wilson, and who knows how much longer this talented defense can continue to shoulder the load. It felt like things fell apart a bit last week against the Miami Dolphins.
As for the Falcons, they are back on top in the NFC South after defeating the New Orleans Saints. Jessie Bates III had an epic 90-yard pick-six, and Bijan Robinson went off for 123 total yards and two touchdowns. I'm going to trust that Arthur Smith continues to lean on his star rookie, and the defense can outplay Boyle.
The pick: Falcons -2.5
Projected score: Falcons 13-10
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5.5)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS, Paramount+)
I'm not sure if you've heard, but things are not going well for the Panthers. With the firing of Frank Reich, they became the first team in NFL history to have three midseason head coach firings in a five-season span. They have the worst record in the NFL at 1-10, and don't own their 2024 first-round pick to help in the rebuild.
I believe firings can spark teams, like we saw with the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but what is there to spark in Carolina? Rookie quarterback Bryce Young is struggling, his offensive line is one of the worst in the league and getting worse with each week and then the defense is banged up.
I don't think the Buccaneers are contenders, but I do like Mike Evans, who caught six passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Indianapolis Colts. The last time he played the Panthers, Evans exploded for 207 yards and three touchdowns!
The Bucs are 7-4 ATS this season, and 5-1 ATS vs. the Panthers in their last six meetings. I'll take the Bucs with the number under six points.
The pick: Buccaneers -5.5
Projected score: Buccaneers 23-10
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
A lot of weird stuff going on for the Browns right now. First of all, they remained on the West Coast all week after their terrible loss to the Broncos, and in said terrible loss to the Broncos, Cleveland lost quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson to a concussion, wide receiver Amari Cooper exited early with what appeared to be a ribs injury and Myles Garrett suffered a shoulder injury. We are actually on Joe Flacco watch, who !
As for the Rams, they are still one of the more underrated teams in the NFL. Sean McVay's squad destroyed the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, 37-14, behind Kyren Williams, who appears to be one of the best running backs in the league. He recorded 204 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns vs. Arizona, and is averaging 109.3 total yards per game.
The Browns are trending in the wrong direction without Deshaun Watson, and this week, either Flacco will be under center in his first action of the year, or DTR with virtually no practice.
The pick: Rams -3.5
Projected score: Rams 22-14
San Francisco 49ers (-2.5) at Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox, fubo)
If we discount regular-season finales where the best teams sit their starters, the Eagles are the first 10-1 or better team to be a home underdog since at least 1970! Is it for good reason? Late Sunday night, this line was 49ers -1.5. It was bet up to 49ers -3, and right now is at 49ers -2.5.
I'm not bringing any sexy data from research for this one. The 49ers have revenge on their minds, while the Eagles are coming off of two emotional come-from-behind victories in a row against good teams. Philly had to rally to beat the Kansas City Chiefs on the road, then on a short week rallied to beat the Buffalo Bills at home in the pouring rain in overtime. Congratulations to the Eagles for two incredible wins, but can they make it three in a row? That's a tough ask for anyone, especially against a physical team like the 49ers.
The 49ers are 3-1 SU and ATS vs. teams currently with a win percentage of .600 or higher. I'll take the team out for revenge in this NFC Championship rematch/preview.
The pick: 49ers -2.5
Projected score: 49ers 26-21
Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN, fubo)
The Bengals defense allowed the first 400-yard game from the Steelers in 59 tries, while the offense recorded 222 yards of total offense with Jake Browning at quarterback. The run offense was frightening, as Joe Mixon managed just 16 yards on eight carries. Now, Cincinnati statistically has the worst rushing offense in the NFL (75.8 rushing yards per game).
As for the Jags, they are flying high. Trevor Lawrence has scored six total touchdowns in the last two games, and just threw for a season-high 364 yards against the Texans. He's been playing good football, and at home vs. a backup quarterback, the Jags should win by double digits.
The Jaguars are 8-3 ATS this season, which is tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the second-best ATS record in 2023.
The pick: Jaguars -8.5
Projected score: Jaguars 24-13
Other Week 13 picks
Cowboys (-9) 30-20 over Seahawks (Thursday)
Titans (+1) 17-14 over Colts
Lions 28-26 over Saints (+4)
Texans 23-20 over Broncos (+3.5)
Chargers (-6) 20-13 over Patriots
Steelers (-5.5) 21-14 over Cardinals
Dolphins 27-24 over Commanders (+9.5)
Chiefs 24-20 over Packers (+6)