Week 13 of the 2021 NFL season is here, with the all-important month of December arriving to start to weed out the true contenders from the pretenders. This week features a pretty strong Thursday Night Football matchup between the Cowboys and the Saints, along with a couple of excellent primetime matchups between the Broncos and Chiefs (Sunday Night Football) and the Patriots and Bills (Monday Night Football).
Let’s not talk about my 5-10 record in Week 12. We need to move past it quickly, like the Falcons after an embarrassing loss. I’m all the way down to a barely-above-500 43-42-1 record on my (shortened) season. Let’s see if I can keep above water with my picks in Week 13.
Thursday Night Football: Dallas Cowboys (7-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-6)
The pick: Saints (+170)
Spread: Cowboys -4.5 | Over/Under: 48.5 | Moneyline: Cowboys -200, Saints +170
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Despite my picks going downhill in a hurry, I’m going to stick with my “kiss of death” by picking the Saints once again. New Orleans is making a switch at quarterback, finally using the player they’re paying an obscene amount of money to in Taysom Hill. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are fresh off another disappointing outing against the Raiders. Dallas should be getting Amari Cooper back for this game, which could help them get back on track, but I’ve got to stick to my guns here.
New York Giants (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-7)
The pick: Dolphins (-210)
Spread: Dolphins -4.5 | Over/Under: 41 | Moneyline: Dolphins -210, Giants +175
The Giants pulled off quite the defensive performance in Week 12, completely shutting down the red-hot rushing attack of the Eagles and holding on for a narrow victory. Miami, meanwhile, is one of the hottest teams in the league after rattling off four straight victories. The Dolphins defense has finally started to play at the level we expected based on last season, and while their offense is still not exciting, it’s good enough to take care of business against New York.
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) at Houston Texans (2-9)
The pick: Colts (-400)
Spread: Colts -8.5 | Over/Under: 45.5 | Moneyline: Colts -400, Texans +300
The Colts were very close to pulling off a big upset over the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, but couldn’t seal the deal in the final moments. They still feature one of the league’s better defenses and a dynamic rushing attack led by arguably the NFL’s best running back in Jonathan Taylor. The Texans just lost to the Jets with a hobbled Zach Wilson at QB. This one is easy.
Minnesota Vikings (5-6) at Detroit Lions (0-10-1)
The pick: Vikings (-310)
Spread: Vikings -7 | Over/Under: 47 | Moneyline: Vikings -310, Lions +245
The Vikings continued their run as the most up-and-down team in the NFL by losing to the 49ers in Week 12, but they get a cupcake matchup this week against the still-winless Lions. Not much to say here: the Vikings should be able to take care of business.
Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) at New York Jets (3-8)
The pick: Eagles (-290)
Spread: Eagles -7 | Over/Under: 45 | Moneyline: Eagles -290, Jets +230
Speaking of inconsistent teams, the Eagles’ resurgent offense just fell off a cliff against a previously-beatable Giants defense. That’s certainly concerning, but pretty much every team has had their share of bad games this season. This week, Philadelphia gets an opportunity to face a far inferior opponent in the Jets—who, despite an injured Zach Wilson, did manage to scrape by the Texans last week. I think the Eagles have a good game and get the win on Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals (9-2) at Chicago Bears (4-7)
The pick: Cardinals (-380)
Spread: Cardinals -7.5 | Over/Under: 45.5 | Moneyline: Cardinals -380, Bears +290
The Cardinals return after a much-needed bye week, where the rest has hopefully helped QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins return to full health. There’s also the benefit of playing a severely-depleted Bears team, who could muster only a two-point win over the Lions on Thanksgiving. This is a great opportunity for Arizona to show the world they’re the NFL’s most consistent team.
Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
The pick: Bengals (-165)
Spread: Bengals -3 | Over/Under: 50.5 | Moneyline: Bengals -165, Chargers +145
I really wanted the Chargers to take control of their division and make the AFC as a whole more interesting, but they can’t seem to get out of their own way. Now they have to face an ascending Bengals team that has recovered from a midseason slump and seems to be firing on all cylinders once again. Cincinnati has the edge in this one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) at Atlanta Falcons (5-6)
The pick: Bucs (-550)
Spread: Bucs -11 | Over/Under: 50.5 | Moneyline: Bucs -550, Falcons +400
The Falcons have managed to stay relevant by beating the bad teams on their schedule, but when tested against good teams the results have been...less than stellar. A very good team awaits in Week 13 in the Bucs, who just survived a tough game against the Colts. Atlanta did manage to make the first meeting between these teams interesting for three quarters, before falling apart late. I think that scenario could happen again, but I could also see Tampa Bay running away with this one.
Washington Football Team (5-6) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)
The pick: WFT (+120)
Spread: Raiders -2.5 | Over/Under: 49 | Moneyline: Raiders -140, WFT +120
I said it last week, but this Washington team has moxie. Taylor Heinicke might not be a great NFL quarterback, but he’s certainly a fun one to watch and he gives this team a chance every single week. The Raiders have been one of the NFL’s more maddening units this season, and are fresh off an overtime upset of the Cowboys in Week 12. I really don’t trust Las Vegas, so I’m going with the WFT to pull off upset.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) at Los Angeles Rams (7-4)
The pick: Rams (-720)
Spread: Rams -12.5 | Over/Under: 47 | Moneyline: Rams -720, Jaguars +500
The largest spread of the week comes in Los Angeles, where the slumping Rams get a chance to reverse their fortunes against an uninspired Jaguars team. While the Rams have been far from impressive in recent weeks, they’re simply too talented to let Jacksonville hang around in this one.
Baltimore Ravens (8-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)
The pick: Ravens (-210)
Spread: Ravens -4.5 | Over/Under: 44 | Moneyline: Ravens -210, Steelers +175
Another AFC North clash awaits in Week 13, with the division-leading Ravens taking on the horribly boring Steelers. I can’t think of a team I’ve enjoyed watching less than Pittsburgh this season, but these games against Baltimore have generally been spicy. The Ravens certainly have the advantage here, but the stakes are very high for the Steelers. A loss here essentially buries them in both the division and the conference.
San Francisco 49ers (6-5) at Seattle Seahawks (3-8)
The pick: 49ers (-165)
Spread: 49ers -3.5 | Over/Under: 46 | Moneyline: 49ers -165, Seahawks +145
Even with Russell Wilson back, the Seahawks are one of the toughest watches in football this season. I don’t think anyone saw their fall from 12-4 a season ago to this—one of the worst teams in the NFL. After losing a close game to the WFT, Seattle now gets to face the rival 49ers. While San Francisco has been far from a juggernaut, they’ve been a lot better than Seattle this season. While the weakened NFC makes just about anything possible, a loss here all but mathematically eliminates any hope of a miraculous playoff run for Seattle.
Sunday Night Football: Denver Broncos (6-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)
The pick: Chiefs (-450)
Spread: Chiefs -10 | Over/Under: 47 | Moneyline: Chiefs -450, Broncos +340
A big divisional matchup between the frisky Broncos and the resurgent Chiefs awaits on Sunday Night Football. The odds seem to really believe that Kansas City has recovered from their early season struggles, and considering their 4-game winning streak, I’m inclined to believe as well. Denver has shown a propensity for some upsets, however, so this could be closer than anticipated.
Monday Night Football: New England Patriots (8-4) at Buffalo Bills (7-4)
The pick: Patriots (+135)
Spread: Bills -3 | Over/Under: 43.5 | Moneyline: Bills -155, Patriots +135
A defensive slugfest likely awaits between two of the NFL’s top units in the Patriots and Bills. As much as I’d like to see Buffalo get the win and retake control of the division, I just don’t trust them based on how hot-and-cold they’ve been in recent weeks. New England is nothing if not consistently good—they may not be great, but they don’t really need to be in 2021. That consistency could be the key to pulling off the upset on Monday Night Football.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.