Beating the Book: Steelers Win in Atlanta, Ravens Bounce Back + Full NFL Week 13 Picks and Predictions

Beating the Book: Steelers Win in Atlanta, Ravens Bounce Back + Full NFL Week 13 Picks and Predictions

This article is part of our Beating the Book series.

Welcome to the NFL Week 13 edition of Beating the Book. We made an inspiring, late rally last week, but after getting off to a red-hot 0-3 start on Thanksgiving Day, we couldn't quite claw our way back to .500.

It's been a tough few weeks here at Beating the Book – I'll be the first to tell you that. And from a best bets perspective, it's been even worse. After the Giants' no-show against Detroit in Week 11, the Seahawks allowed the Raiders – the Las Vegas Raiders – to rack up nearly 600 yards of total offense, including the game-winning, 89-yard touchdown run.

We're down bad, there's no doubt about that, but we have no choice but to trudge onward. 

With only two teams on bye (Arizona and Carolina), Week 13 brings another loaded slate, beginning with a massive divisional matchup between Buffalo and New England on Thursday Night Football. As of Wednesday, four teams are favored by more than a touchdown, but only one game carries a double-digit spread (Colts-Cowboys). 

On the contrary, five games currently feature a spread of a field goal or less, headlined, of course, by a big cat battle in Detroit between the Jaguars (-1.0) and Lions. Fresh off of a Monday Night Football win over the Colts, the Steelers are also 1.0-point road favorites in Atlanta, while the Chargers are 1.5-point favorites at Las Vegas.

As always, before we dig in on Week 13, let's take our customary look back at the best and worst calls from my Week 12 picks.

Last week: 6-9-1 ATS; 10-6 straight up; best bet lost (Seahawks -3.5 vs. Raiders)

On the season: 84-89-7 ATS; 114-65-1 straight up; 3-9 best bets (yikes)

Best calls of Week 12: 

  • This is one of those so obvious it might be too obvious spots, and we know to beware of double-digit dogs, but I'm taking the bait once again. Give me the Dolphins to win big at home.
  • In a mild upset, I'll take Pittsburgh to get to Ryan, force at least one turnover and win a close, ugly game to close out the week.

Worst calls of Week 12:

  • As much of a disaster as the Broncos are, and will continue to be, I still trust this defense against any team except the Raiders. All Denver may need to win this game is one touchdown and a couple of field goals.
  • In a bounceback game for Geno Smith and Kenneth Walker, I'm not only taking the Seahawks to cover at home, I'm also locking them up.

NFL Week 13 Betting Predictions, Props and Best Bets for Every Game

As will be the case every week throughout the regular season, we'll start with Thursday Night Football and go game-by-game, picking each contest against the spread. My best bet will always be highlighted in gold.

All odds this week via BetMGM, as of Wednesday at Noon ET. If you don't have a BetMGM account yet, you can use this BetMGM bonus code for a generous welcome bonus.

Thursday Night Football

Buffalo Bills (-4.0) at New England Patriots

On paper, this should be one of the most competitive weeks of the season, so it's only right that we start out with one of the better TNF matchups of the year. While Buffalo comes into this game having won six of its last eight, it's been more than a month since the Bills have looked like a truly dominant team.

Since beating Kansas City at Arrowhead in Week 6, the Bills have slogged their way through a sloppy home win against Green Bay, blown games against the Jets and Vikings and beaten the Browns and Lions in less-than-convincing fashion. I know, I know, every week can't be a 20-point blowout, but it feels like something is missing for Buffalo.

The Pats, meanwhile, piled up over 400 yards of offense – including 364 yards through the air – against Minnesota on Thanksgiving night, but the defense and special teams let New England down. Sitting at 6-5, this isn't a true must win for the Pats, but a loss would keep them in last place in the AFC East and be a major blow to their postseason chances. We also have to consider that New England is breaking out the throwback uniforms. Tell me you're not intimidated by that smile.

That's what I thought.

New England hangs around at home and we get a close game. Pats cover, but the Bills win outright for their first division victory of the season.

The pick: Bills 27 – Patriots 24

Sunday Early Games

Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.0) at Atlanta Falcons

It's probably too little too late for Pittsburgh, but with key pieces back on defense they're starting to look more like a traditional Steelers unit. That defense forced two key turnovers and kept Jonathan Taylor in check last week and will now face another run-first attack in the Falcons.

I'm not convinced Pittsburgh has figured much out on offense, though Najee Harris avoiding a serious injury – and potentially playing this week – is a major sigh of relief. With this game taking place in the Roddy White Dome, where the Falcons are 4-1 straight up in their last five, I like their chances to move the ball and make this a close game. Nonetheless, the Steelers' defense is the unit I trust most here.

While the Falcons also wearing their throwback unis does make me think twice, I'll lock up the Steelers on the road.

The pick: Steelers 23 – Falcons 21

Denver Broncos (+8.5) at Baltimore Ravens

Are the Ravens the most confounding team in the NFL right now? At 7-4, with a win over the Bengals, Baltimore is still in control of the AFC North, but losing to the Jaguars – after managing just 13 points against Carolina in Week 11 – is at least semi-alarming.

The common thread between all four of the Ravens' losses has been blown leads. Baltimore saw a 21-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate against Miami in Week 2. The Ravens then blew a 20-3 lead against the Bills, as well as a double-digit fourth-quarter advantage against the Giants two weeks later. While they never led by double digits last week, the Ravens held a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter and were up a touchdown before The Drive by Trevor Lawrence.

With the exception of the Texans, bless their hearts, there's no better get-right matchup than the Broncos right now. On paper, Denver's defense should be well-equipped for Lamar Jackson and a concerningly limited Ravens passing attack. But the Denver offense has been so inept, that it's constantly forcing the defense into bad situations. Last week, the Broncos lost the time of possession battle 37:03 – 22:57 to Sam Darnold. SAM. DARNOLD.

I don't know if this version of the Ravens is capable of running away with a game, but we know for a fact that Denver cannot move the ball. I'll take the Ravens to win and cover, but I don't expect it to be overly convincing.

The pick: Ravens 20 – Broncos 10

Green Bay Packers (-4.0) at Chicago Bears

As of publication, this game is a stay-away as we await word on both starting quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers appears intent on pushing through a broken thumb, as well as an oblique injury, while Justin Fields' status remains clouded at best. With Fields sidelined last week, the Bears didn't put up much of a fight against the Mike White Jets.

The Packers piled up 30 points on Philadelphia but simultaneously allowed the Eagles to rush for the second-most yards in a game this decade (376, to be exact). Green Bay's defensive preparedness has been its biggest weakness all season. If Fields plays, the Bears will be able to move the ball, but the Packers will be able to do the same against what might be the worst unit in the league right now – and one that lost Eddie Jackson in Week 12.

Even with the quarterback situation unknown, I'll give a slight lean to the Packers with the expectation that Rodgers ends up playing. Packers win outright, (barely) cover and Rodgers moves to 25-5 against the Bears in his career (including playoffs).

The pick: Packers 28 – Bears 23

Jacksonville Jaguars (-1.0) at Detroit Lions

It's time to consider the possibility that Trevor Lawrence is going to be a very, very good NFL quarterback. After a rocky-at-best start to the season, Lawrence has strung together three of the five best games of his career against the Raiders, Chiefs and Ravens.

The fourth quarter against Baltimore, in particular, was the best Lawrence has looked thus far. Over the last three weeks, he hasn't thrown a pick and holds a 116.1 QB rating. In his previous four games combined, Lawrence had four picks, with only two TDs, to go with a 70.7 rating. This might shock you, but Lawrence's play in the Jags' four wins has been night and day compared to their seven losses:

Lawrence in wins (4): 78.1 COMP%, 263.3 YDS/G, 9 TD, 0 INT, 4 sacks, 120.6 rating, 9.0 air yards/attempt

Lawrence in losses (7): 60.1 COMP%, 228.9 YDS/G, 7 TD, 6 INT, 17 sacks, 78.4 rating, 5.9 air yards/attempt

With Lawrence (potentially) turning the corner, the Jags' offense is suddenly a dangerous unit – especially with Travis Etienne looking like he avoided a major injury last week. Jacksonville has struggled on the road this season, but Lawrence has actually been better away from Fred Taylor Field.

While the Jags are coming in hot, I'm a bit surprised they're road favorites here. Detroit came up short against Buffalo on Thanksgiving, but that was a very winnable game that nearly pushed their streak to four in a row. This line feels like an overreaction to a narrow loss, as well as a relatively improbable home win for the Jags.

This is my least-confident pick of the week, but I'm rolling with the home team. In many ways, my entire life has been one long lesson on not trusting the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The pick: Lions 27 – Jaguars 25

Cleveland Browns (-7.0) at Houston Texans

The time has come. Like it or not, Deshaun Watson will be back under center – and also in shotgun, at times – for the Browns this week. While the Texans are the best pure matchup in the league at this point, this game obviously carries plenty of non-football storylines. It's impossible to decipher exactly how much Watson's history in Houston will play into the result, but it's certainly not a plus for the Browns.

More than anything, it's vital to keep in mind that, come Sunday, it will have been exactly 700 days since Watson played in a real NFL game. That is a lot of days. He did see brief action in the preseason, and he's been ramping up at practice in recent weeks, but it's completely unrealistic to expect Watson to step in and look like his old self.

Putting the Watson narrative aside, this should nonetheless be a smash spot for the Cleveland offense. While the Texans' rush defense hasn't been as bad as you might think, this is still a lopsided matchup for Nick Chubb and the Browns' offensive line. On the other side, Houston will once again roll out Kyle Allen, who comes in scorching hot off of last week's two-interception performance against Miami.

I fully expect Houston to embrace the Watson return chaos and make this a game for two or three quarters. Cleveland won't lose, but I'll take the Texans to cover the touchdown – something they've done twice already this season.

The pick: Browns 23 – Texans 17

New York Jets (+3.0) at Minnesota Vikings

Another tough matchup in a week of tough matchups. The 9-2 Vikings continue to skate by on a weekly basis, with their most-recent win over New England moving their season-long record in one-score games to 8-0. Does Minnesota still have a worse point differential than the Jaguars? Yes, they do. Thank you for asking. But at least the Vikings are back in positive territory (+5) on the year.

On the other side, the Jets got a boost from Mike White last week, but it's difficult to separate White's impact from the benefit of facing the Bears' defense. I'm pretty comfortable saying White is an upgrade over Zach Wilson, but this week will tell us significantly more about how much of an improvement he truly is.

Given my lingering reservations about White versus a non-Bears defense, and with the Vikings playing at home for the fifth time in six weeks, I'll side with Minnesota to win and cover.

The pick: Vikings 24 – Jets 20

Washington Commanders (-2.5) at New York Giants

I know the Giants are banged up, and it feels like things may be coming full circle after a suspiciously hot start, but the Commanders giving 2.5 on the road is a statement line. To Washington's credit, it has completely flipped the narrative on its season, ripping off six wins in seven weeks. Beating the Eagles at Philly in Week 10 is the standout win during that stretch. The other five came against favorable opponents in the Bears, Packers, Colts, Texans and Falcons.

Readers of this column know where I stand on the Giants. I've maintained all along that their record is inflated. The injuries on the offensive line are a massive concern, but I have to go with the value here and take the Giants to muck this game up and find a way to cover at home.

The pick: Commanders 19 – Giants 17

Tennessee Titans (+5.5) at Philadelphia Eagles

Many weeks, this would be the number one game on the slate, but in a loaded Week 13 it somehow might be only the third or fourth-best matchup. Philadelphia giving 5.5 points at home seems about right to me, though on the whole it feels like the Titans continue to be slightly undervalued.

Tennessee is the kind of team that controls game flow and slows down elite teams, but at some point the Titans are going to need to actually beat a good team. All four of the Titans' losses are defensible – Bengals, Chiefs, Bills, Giants – but their seven wins have come over the Raiders, Colts (2x), Commanders, Texans, Broncos and Packers. Those teams have a combined record of 23-44-2.

As usual, I trust the Titans to keep this game close, and Derrick Henry should be able to get back on track against an Eagles run defense that's down to 29th in EPA. Eagles win another nail-biter, but the Titans cover.

The pick: Eagles 23 – Titans 20

Sunday Late Games

Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) at Los Angeles Rams

Seattle's defense and offensive line have taken huge steps back over the last two weeks, so we can't completely write off the Rams. With that said, Aaron Donald will not play in this game. Allen Robinson joined Cooper Kupp on IR. And Matthew Stafford is considered doubtful-at-best, as of Wednesday.

Chances are, Seattle will find a way to make this more difficult than it should be. But this version of the Rams simply isn't equipped to win football games. Los Angeles hangs around for a half before Seattle pulls away.

The pick: Seahawks 27 – Rams 17

Miami Dolphins (+4.0) at San Francisco 49ers

The NFL declining to flex this into the Sunday Night window – and instead forcing those with only one TV to flip back and forth between this and Chiefs-Bengals – is a complete travesty. I know the Cowboys are the Cowboys, but how is it legal to put the Colts in primetime yet again? 

Anyway, this is a fascinating matchup on a number of levels. The Dolphins' passing game might be the most dangerous in the league. Tyreek Hill leads the NFL in receiving, while Jaylen Waddle ranks fifth. With six weeks remaining, they're on pace to become the first set of teammates since 2014 to rank in the top-five in receiving yards.

Because I've been getting a lot of questions about this: No, Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon never finished in the top-5 for the Jaguars. Just wanted to clear that up.

On the other side, the 49ers' defense is once again rounding into form at the right time. But the Niners' schedule has been exceptionally soft, so it's fair to wonder whether recent games against New Orleans, Arizona (with Colt McCoy) and the Rams have goosed those numbers. Still, the 49ers haven't allowed a second-half point since October 23rd.

Similarly, the Dolphins' schedule hasn't exactly been a gauntlet of late, with their last five games coming against Houston, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh. Each of those defenses rank in the bottom half of the league in EPA, and four of the five rank 26th or worse.

Both coaches are obviously familiar with each other, so it'll be fascinating to watch the chess battle – particularly when the Dolphins are on offense. Miami's offensive line without Terron Armstead is a major concern, but if Tua is able to get the ball out quickly, the Dolphins can pile up points against any defense. Meanwhile, Christian McCaffrey did not practice Wednesday and could be in jeopardy of sitting out.

Under the assumption that McCaffrey does play, I'll take the 49ers to grind out a close win at home, but Miami gets the cover.

The pick: 49ers 27 – Dolphins 24

Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) at Cincinnati Bengals

The other monster game in the late window is a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game – one of two come-from-behind wins for Cincinnati over KC in the span of four weeks. 

Much like last season, when the Bengals were 7-4 entering Week 13, the offense seems to be finding its rhythm – a scary trend for the rest of the AFC considering Ja'Marr Chase has missed the last four games. All indications are that Chase will be back for Week 13, as should starting running back Joe Mixon. Kansas City has a few injuries of its own – most notably, Kadarius Toney – but for the most part the Chiefs are healthy, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

With Chase coming back, Cincinnati's offense is going to put up points. But in what's felt like a statement season for Patrick Mahomes, this is the ultimate statement game. It's his version of Josh Allen and the Bills winning at Arrowhead back in Week 6.

Cautiously, I'm rolling with the Chiefs to win and cover.

The pick: Chiefs 31 – Bengals 27

Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5) at Las Vegas Raiders

I'm starting to wonder if this Raiders season is all one elaborate prank geared toward me losing as many bets as possible. I can't get myself to go back and check, but I am 100 percent sure I've been wrong about more Raiders games than any other team – it's probably not even close.

After back-to-back letdowns against the Saints and Jags, followed by The Loss of the Century to the Colts, I thought we could safely leave the Raiders for dead. Boy was I wrong. Over the last two weeks, Derek Carr has passed for over 600 yards in overtime wins over the Broncos and Seahawks. Suddenly, Josh Jacobs is the No. 1 running back in fantasy. I don't know what to believe anymore.

Of course, the Raiders face none other than the LA Chargers this week. Of course they do. It's a team that's virtually guaranteed to keep things close. Four of the Chargers' last six games have been decided by three points or less, including last week's 25-24 heart-attack-inducing victory over Arizona.

Jacobs aggravated a calf injury in Week 12, so his status could ultimately swing this line by the time Sunday rolls around. With Jacobs potentially limited, I'm going to walk directly into the belly of the beast and pick against the Raiders for the third straight week.

Fully expecting this game to end one of three ways:

  1. A walk-off safety
  2. A blocked extra-point returned for a touchdown
  3. A field goal that hits the crossbar and bounces 120 yards in the opposite direction, through the uprights, to give the other team three points 

The pick: Chargers 30 – Raiders 28

Sunday Night Football

Indianapolis Colts (+11.0) at Dallas Cowboys

Any wildly unlikely chance the Colts had to push for a Wild Card spot in the AFC essentially evaporated on Monday night. Indy has shown that it'll be a more competitive team week-to-week under Jeff Saturday, but the reality is this is not a talented roster. The offensive line has crumbled, and Matt Ryan will almost certainly be pummeled by a ferocious Cowboys pass rush.

Give me the Cowboys to win their first of three straight AFC South matchups with ease.

The pick: Cowboys 30 – Colts 17

Monday Night Football

New Orleans Saints (+3.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

These are definitely two football teams – that we know for sure. Coming into last week, the Buccaneers had one question to answer: Coming out of a bye, did they truly fix anything on offense after finally getting the ground game going against Seattle? 

Sunday's soul-crushing overtime loss to Cleveland provided a clear answer: No, absolutely they did not fix anything. The Bucs' offense was back to its usual self, humming along to the tune of 17 points on 13 drives. Nearly half of those drives ended in a three-and-out, including two near the end of regulation when one first down would've essentially ended the game.

On back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter, the Bucs punted from the Cleveland 37 and the Cleveland 48-yard-line. Tampa is back to having no confidence in its running game, while the passing game is a mix of four-yard slants to Chris Godwin and just chuck it up there and see what happens go-balls to Mike Evans.

Luckily for Tampa, the Saints' offense hasn't looked any better. While they handled the lowly Rams in Week 11, the Saints combined to score 23 points in their other three November games. On paper, the Bucs should be able to win this game with defense.

With both offenses likely struggling, I think we get an ugly, low-scoring game. With that being the script, I'll take New Orleans to cover, but I'll side with the Bucs to move to 6-6 and take full command of the NFC South (this is a real sentence). 

The pick: Buccaneers 20 – Saints 17

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
Now in his 10th year with the company, Nick is RotoWire's Senior Media Analyst, a position he took on after several years as the Head of Basketball Content. A two-time FSWA award winner, Nick co-hosts RotoWire's flagship show on Sirius XM alongside Jeff Erickson. He also co-hosts RotoWire's Football and Basketball podcasts. You can catch Nick's NBA and NFL analysis on VSiN and DraftKings, as well as RotoWire's various social and video channels. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @wha1en.
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