NFL Week 13 Predictions: Getting Tuned Up

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Greetings, everyone. Listed below are my straight selection records for two differing stretches in the 2021-22 NFL season.

Weeks 1 – 8 : 79-43 (.647)

Weeks 9 – 12 : 32-26 (.551)

The first eight weeks were great. The last four have been horrible.

Blame the bye weeks? Maybe it’s the effect with the number of team injuries?

Nope. I’ve just been bad. The NFL has put misery into my life.

For these last six weeks, I need to get some sort of momentum going before entering the postseason run. 

I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I will do what it takes to do it. If that means more hours on top of finals week, then that’s what it takes. But one thing is for sure – I’m tired of these mediocre weeks.

Week 13 has a lot on the slate, highlighted by a plethora of divisional matchups. The teams that are on the border of making the playoffs are going to start picking up pace. On a much different scale, I need to as well.

It’s time for me to start showing you all that the NFL can’t tune me up anymore. It’s winning time.

TEAMS ON WEEK 13 BYE: Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Tennessee

Last Week’s (Week 12) Pick Record: 9-6

My Overall 2021-22 Pick Record: 112-68

Note: All betting information comes from BetMGM (https://sports.in.betmgm.com/en/sports/football-11)

Thursday, December 2, 2021

8:20 PM

Dallas Cowboys (7-4) vs. New Orleans Saints (5-6)

Spread: Dallas (-4.5)

Here comes the matchup of the Thanksgiving losers! While the Cowboys and the Saints both underperformed last Thursday, they are looking to make it up with this primetime matchup. QB Dak Prescott will be looking forward to the anticipated returns of WRs CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper for this matchup, but will likely be without RB Ezekiel Elliott. New Orleans fields a good defense, but just got thrashed against an elite offensive force last week (Buffalo). I believe they respond and challenge Dallas all evening. The Saints also benefit by getting at least a portion of their first-team offense back on the field (QB Taysom Hill, RB Alvin Kamara, and RB Mark Ingram), leading to a statement upset win in the Superdome.

My Pick: New Orleans defeats Dallas, 26-23

Sunday, December 5, 2021

1:00 PM

New York Giants (4-7) vs. Miami Dolphins (5-7)

Spread: Miami (-4)

The Dolphins have been a very interesting team to me. They started off the season as the worst team in football (personal opinion) and then somehow have managed to reel off four straight victories under second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa’s command. It is remarkable to see Miami fight back into the AFC playoff hunt. Unfortunately, I think it will all end this week. New York, while a disappointing 4-7, will play better than their record indicates. RB Saquon Barkley is finally turning a corner, and the defense balled out against Philadelphia in Week 12. Both will play crucial roles this week against a talented, yet capped Miami roster.

My Pick: New York defeats Miami, 19-16

Indianapolis Colts (6-6) vs. Houston Texans (2-9)

Spread: Indianapolis (-8.5)

“Lock of the Week.” The Colts proved me wrong. In a game where I thought they had no chance, they hung with Brady and Co. up to the final possession. RB Jonathan Taylor continues to be special, but QB Carson Wentz actually deserves some credit too. The way that he is performing (12th in QBR) with WR Michael Pittman Jr. as his only real receiving threat is impressive. Their defense is legit too, with LB Darius Leonard making All-Pro noise yet again. I don’t know why the line for this game is only a point above a touchdown because Indianapolis wins this unevenly matched divisional game without question.

My Pick: Indianapolis defeats Houston, 29-14

Minnesota Vikings (5-6) vs. Detroit Lions (0-10-1)

Spread: Minnesota (-7)

The loss of RB Dalvin Cook to a shoulder injury in Week 12 surely is likely to put a damper on Minnesota’s running attack. Unless it doesn’t. This week, keep an eye out for RB Alexander Mattison to duplicate Cook’s rushing output against a weak Detroit front. The intermediate passing connection between QB Kirk Cousins and WR Justin Jefferson will keep the Detroit defense from zoning in on Mattison, leading to Minnesota firmly controlling this low-scoring NFC North matchup. 

My Pick: Minnesota defeats Detroit, 24-14

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3) vs. Atlanta Falcons (5-6)

Spread: Tampa Bay (-10.5)

The defending champions have certainly been tested this year, especially over the last few weeks. QB Tom Brady has been playing decent but nowhere near his early-season form. The defense is again suffering through injuries in the secondary and has had to rely heavily on their intense front seven to defeat teams. It won’t be bad to lean on that this week, as the Falcons are in the bottom third in the NFL in terms of pass blocking win rate. Led by the trio of LB Devin White, LB Shaquil Barrett, and DE Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa Bay should swarm QB Matt Ryan and the dreadful Atlanta attack.

My Pick: Tampa Bay defeats Atlanta, 31-17

Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) vs. New York Jets (3-8)

Spread: Philadelphia (-6.5)

Oh, my. So much for having faith in you, Philadelphia. QB Jalen Hurts was horrific in the Eagles’ Week 12 loss to division rival New York, throwing three interceptions. He needs to be much better if the Eagles want to challenge the Cowboys for the NFC East crown. Luckily for Hurts, without S Marcus Maye, the Jets don’t have much on defense to put up a fight. However, if Philly was playing anyone else this week, I would pick against them.

My Pick: Philadelphia defeats New York, 31-20

Arizona Cardinals (9-2) vs. Chicago Bears (4-7)

Spread: Arizona (-7.5)

This one is a tricky one for me. We should finally see the return of QB Kyler Murray, which means Arizona is back to being explosive. Chicago is fresh off a long week of preparation after their close Thanksgiving win against Detroit. While QB Justin Fields may have a shot to play, Arizona’s defense has been strong all year, even without DE J.J Watt. The linebacking unit of Jordan Hicks, Isaiah Simmons, and rookie Zaven Collins have powered the defense all year, and they will continue to do so by limiting Chicago’s basic offensive scheme in this NFC matchup.

My Pick: Arizona defeats Chicago, 27-14

Los Angeles Chargers (6-4) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

Spread: Cincinnati (-3)

I believe that fireworks are in store for this matchup. A duel between two sophomore quarterbacks (Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow) with ascending rosters that are hopeful for an AFC playoff appearance is exactly what I want to see. I think the Chargers are more ‘talented’ (S Derwin James is the best player on the field), but the Bengals are just playing better. For the second week in a row, RB Joe Mixon proves his worth against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, and Cincinnati wins back-to-back games against AFC West opponents off their Week 11 bye.

My Pick: Cincinnati defeats Los Angeles, 30-27

4:05-4:25 PM

Washington Football Team (5-6) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

Spread: Las Vegas (-2.5)

Since their bye, Washington has actually come out and put themselves in the thick of the NFC East race. Three straight victories probably have head coach Ron Rivera feeling excited. I get the feeling WFT found their identity because, since their Week 9 bye, RB Antonio Gibson has logged eighty-one touches. That is McCaffrey-esque. Unfortunately for WFT, the Las Vegas front seven has been good against opposing backs in 2021, and traveling out west doesn’t help matters. With the run attack limited, I don’t think QB Taylor Heinicke will have enough to win this closely contested game on the road.

My Pick: Las Vegas defeats WFT, 24-19

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) vs. Los Angeles Rams (7-4)

Spread: Los Angeles (-13)

“Short and Sweet.” Los Angeles has lost two straight games and they are not happy. QB Matthew Stafford has begun to unwind and the defense hasn’t been great since the addition of OLB Von Miller. While they are struggling, the talent gap between them and Jacksonville is way too large. I feel as though it will be hard for Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer to gameplan much of anything. Los Angeles responds in a big way in front of the Hollywood crowd to reestablish their presence in the NFC playoff race.

My Pick: Los Angeles defeats Jacksonville, 34-13

Baltimore Ravens (8-3) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5-1)

Spread: Baltimore (-4.5)

After QB Lamar Jackson’s horrific performance (four interceptions) against the Cleveland Browns in Week 13, I have a hard time picking the Ravens. While I do think they are the team to beat in the AFC North, they certainly look vulnerable as we near the end of the regular season. Luckily, the Steelers have completely lost their momentum as QB Ben Roethlisberger has gone into a tailspin. I have a feeling that this game will be slow-paced, but Jackson responds to last weeks’ horror story by having an efficient Week 13 outing against a division rival on the road.

My Pick: Baltimore defeats Pittsburgh, 23-16

San Francisco 49ers (6-5) vs. Seattle Seahawks (3-8)

Spread: San Francisco (-3.5)

This one doesn’t sit well with me. Seattle has been on a downhill spiral, even since the return of Pro Bowl QB Russell Wilson. Injuries and a lack of defensive identity have cost this team a 2021 playoff berth and their long winning record streak. Although they probably know their postseason chances are slim, they would love nothing more than to spoil a division rival’s recent momentum. WR Deebo Samuel (groin) is doubtful to play in Week 13, leaving San Francisco down their best playmaker on offense. Because of this, watch the potential matchup between TE George Kittle and S Jamal Adams. The winner of this individual matchup may dictate the outcome of the game. I believe Adams and the defense do just enough to hold San Francisco below twenty-five points and allow Wilson to pull off a classic comeback win.

My Pick: Seattle defeats San Francisco, 28-24

8:20 PM

Denver Broncos (6-5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4)

Spread: Kansas City (-9.5)

The line may seem generous for an AFC West showdown, but Kansas City has made Denver their little brother as of late. The Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2015. That’s unheard of. Unfortunately for the Broncos’ faithful, I expect the losing streak to continue this week. QB Patrick Mahomes is beginning to find his MVP form and the defense has been playing better too. However, Denver’s getting healthier, and their convincing Week 12 win against Los Angeles was no joke. I expect them to hang in the game, but ultimately, Kansas City will retain the division lead.

My Pick: Kansas City defeats Denver, 30-23

Monday, December 6, 2021

8:15 PM

New England Patriots (8-4) vs. Buffalo Bills (7-4)

Spread: Buffalo (-3)

“Game of the Week.” The perfect way to end Week 13, if you ask me. A true battle for the pole position in the AFC North. This late in the season, a victory here is monumental. I called it from the beginning – QB Mac Jones has been great all year. But while Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and this defense have been in games like these before, he hasn’t been. He’s going to see a Buffalo defense without star CB Tre’Davious White, so it may help him. However, in games like these, transcendent quarterbacks rise to the occasion. I think QB Josh Allen will ultimately beat the elite New England defense and bring Buffalo back to the top of the AFC East.

My Pick: Buffalo defeats New England, 23-20

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Gavin Smith

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