NFL Week 13 best bets: Trio of teams to take care of business at home
We've already lamented Jake Elliott's 59-yard field goal upending the round-robin moneyline parlay, but Zay Flowers needs some reprimanding. Given the nature of football, if you can avoid playing one snap and thereby reduce the likelihood of injury to a key player by even 0.1%, you do it. Flowers had 40 yards to slide down and end the Ravens' game with the Chargers, but he was more interested in dancing than saving his defenders some risk.
Does that sound like crying over spilt milk since those two plays cost us a perfect Sunday? It sure is! But a 32-19-4 (62.7%) season against the spread doesn't allow for complaining about much.
Best bets ATS
We've already discussed the five underdogs with a shot to win outright relative to their price, and as always, they're worth a look against the spread.
However, there are more plays worth making this week.
This isn't usually a situation where we want to back the Steelers - they're not an underdog, nor is this any rivalry. However, the initial boost the Cardinals received from Kyler Murray's return is waning, with just 319 and 292 total yards against mediocre defenses indoors. Now, Murray and Co. go on the road to take on Pittsburgh's defense - in what's expected to be rainy conditions. The Steelers' defensive metrics are only average, but they can create the turnovers that have plagued Murray's career.
At 7-4 and still transitioning offensively away from Matt Canada's play-calling, the Steelers should be focused on improving rather than taking anyone lightly. They get that chance against an Arizona team that has a similarly poor run defense to the Bengals, who Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren took advantage of last week. Back home and with a chance for two wins in five days to all but secure a playoff spot, the Steelers get a rare convincing win against a team nearing checked-out status.
Pick: Steelers (-6)
Since we're in the business of getting the best number possible, we'll hope the Titans win this week to possibly tweak next week's lines in our favor.
The Titans' run defense is so much better than their pass defense, which matches up nicely with Indianapolis, now without Jonathan Taylor and relying on Zack Moss to be effective and Gardner Minshew to be efficient on the road - even though he did little at Carolina and Jacksonville.
The Colts won the first meeting by holding Derrick Henry to 43 yards on 12 carries but lost their best run-stuffing defender, Grover Stewart, for six games due to a PED suspension. He's back next week, but in his absence, the Colts have faltered against mid-tier runners like Jerome Ford, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Rachaad White, as well as the inefficient running games of the Saints and Panthers.
Pick: Titans (+1)
By the time you read this, we may have confirmation that we get to bet against Joe Flacco (presumably) one last time. It seems like a long shot for Dorian Thompson-Robinson to clear concussion protocol, which means it'll be Flacco and maybe (unfathomably) a better number to bet if Amari Cooper, Myles Garrett, and Denzel Ward can play. How effective will those stars be given they all have upper-body injuries that could lead to premature exits again?
The Rams have either won or been competitive against Super Bowl contenders when Kyren Williams has played. The Notre Dame product offers both a weapon on the ground and an outlet for Matthew Stafford.
The Browns have won games thanks to an oppressive defense at home, but they're allowing 5.8 yards per play on the road. The Rams' offensive line doesn't get much credit, but it is fifth in the NFL in sack percentage allowed and should be able to handle the banged-up Browns, who tend to give up explosive runs at the best of times.
Pick: Rams (-3.5 but wait to see if -3 becomes available)
Moneyline upset of the week
Patriots (+200) over Chargers
If you could bet on things like "Brandon Staley gets fired on the plane ride home," I'd be interested. Instead, we'll have to settle for backing the Patriots on the moneyline. New England was getting beat by Mac Jones' sacks and turnovers, but with a week of practice as the starter, Bailey Zappe should keep things simple in running an offense against a defense that emptied the tank against Lamar Jackson last week.
Offensively, Keenan Allen may also be out, at which point one wonders what's left for the Chargers. This sets up like L.A.'s road game against the Jets in Week 9. Of course, the Chargers won that contest, but they only recorded 191 total yards of offense. If that's all the Pats have to compete with, they're more than live to replicate their Week 7 upset of Buffalo.
Best 6-point teaser / Moneyline parlay
49ers ML / Jaguars ML (+105)
We missed the 49ers when they opened -1 at Philadelphia, climbing to a field-goal favorite. The Eagles are on their third showdown game in 13 days, with big names on defense peppered throughout the injury report, while healthy San Francisco hasn't played in 10 days. Out of respect for Philadelphia, we'll remove the spread and pair the Niners with the Jaguars on Monday night since Jacksonville should be able to beat Jake Browning and the reeling Bengals.
Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.