Intro by Doug Kezirian
Road teams have shined at the betting window this season, and the Week 13 slate will test bettors. We could see five road favorites of at least seven points, which would tie for the most in a single week over the last 40 seasons.
"I really don't think home field matters that much," Adam Pullen, Assistant Director of Trading at Caesars Sportsbook, said in a press release. "In general, home field has mattered less and less, and it shows since we have bigger road favorites. People are still willing to lay the points on big road favorites because the matchups are just viewed as total mismatches and the home field isn't as accounted for."
So far, road teams have covered 57%, which would be the highest cover percentage for any season in the Super Bowl era. Additionally, road teams are winning games outright and could finish above .500 for the second straight season. The only time it has ever happened since the 1970 merger was in 2020.
"I'm not saying it doesn't matter at all. I guess people have differing views on that," Pullen said. "But it's based on the talent. If the talent on the field is not good, then the home-field advantage is lessened."
Every Friday during the season, betting analysts Doug Kezirian (13-21-2, 0-1 last week), Tyler Fulghum (9-23, 0-0), Joe Fortenbaugh (36-32-1, 2-5) and Anita Marks (186-175, 13-14), Fantasy and Sports Betting analyst Eric Moody (92-87, 7-12), ESPN Stats & Information's Seth Walder (49-42, 4-1) and Mackenzie Kraemer (4-11, 0-1), sports betting deputy editor David Bearman (24-20-1, 1-2) and Football Outsiders' Aaron Schatz (38-32, 2-4) will provide their top plays across the NFL landscape. (Records through Week 12.)
Here are their best bets for Sunday's Week 13 games.
Note: Lines from Caesars Sportsbook as of Wednesday (unless otherwise indicated).
Jump to: Cardinals-Bears | Buccaneers-Falcons | Chargers-Bengals | Vikings-Lions | Giants-Dolphins | Eagles-Jets | Colts-Texans | Washington-Raiders | Jaguars-Rams | Ravens-Steelers | 49ers-Seahawks | Broncos-Chiefs
Sunday's 8:20 p.m. ET game
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5, 47)
Schatz: The recent resurgence of the Kansas City offense isn't quite as resurgent as we want to think. Offensive DVOA of 24.2% over the last two games is very good, but it doesn't match the highs of the Kansas City offense from 2018 to 2020. And it is just two games, after all. What's really going well for the Chiefs is actually their defense. Believe it or not, since Week 6, DVOA says the Chiefs have had the second-best defense in the NFL behind the Patriots! That's definitely enough to make the Chiefs the clear favorite in this game, but 9.5 points is a pretty big line against a very average Broncos squad. One key will be for the Broncos to start their drives out with pass plays, not run plays. On first down this season, the Broncos rank ninth in DVOA when they pass but 28th when they run. The Kansas City defense on first down is 30th against passes but 10th against runs. As for betting this game, it would be nice to have that extra half point back to the earlier line of +10, and I would consider buying it.
Pick: Broncos +9.5
Marks: The Chiefs offense has scored 20 points or more once since Week 6, and last week the Cowboys defense held them to three points in the second half. Denver's defense is allowing less than seven red zone plays per game, and Vic Fangio has Patrick Mahomes' number. Mahomes has two passing touchdowns in three games against Fangio's defense.
Pick: Broncos +9.5, Mahomes under 2.5 TD passes (-180), Tyreek Hill over 2.5 rushing yards (-120)
Moody: Tyreek Hill is an integral part of the Chiefs' highly concentrated passing attack. He is averaging 11.3 targets and 84.7 receiving yards per game this season and has four games over 80 yards. As well as being a great receiver, Hill is also exceptional at gaining yards after the catch, averaging 31.5 per game. Whenever he catches the ball, he is a threat to score a touchdown. Hill has a significant advantage against the Broncos' cornerback and could be particularly lethal from the slot.
Pick: Hill over 79.5 receiving yards (-115)
Sunday's 4 p.m. ET games
Washington Football Team at Las Vegas Raiders (-2.5, 49.5)
Schatz: Did you realize that Derek Carr leads the NFL in passing yards this season? Sure, a lot of that was built up in the first three weeks of the season when he topped 380 passing yards for three straight games. But Carr has also beaten this prop in four of his last six contests, including throwing for 373 yards against Dallas last week. Meanwhile, the Washington Football Team defense is a major pass funnel, ranking seventh in defensive DVOA against the run but 30th against the pass. Low passing totals allowed over the last few weeks have primarily been caused by the quarterbacks Washington was facing, but Washington has still allowed over this number in five of 11 games this year, with another game just missing at 274. We estimate a 71% chance of Carr cashing in this prop.
Pick: Carr over 267.5 passing yards (-115)
Walder: Hunter Renfrow's receiving yards opportunity does not justify this line. His expected receiving yards per game (based on NFL Next Gen Stats data) has been just 51.8 this season. My first thought when I saw that number and this line was that his usage must have changed after the Raiders released Henry Ruggs. But that actually hasn't been the case. From Week 8 on, Renfrow's receiving yards per game has been even lower at 48.2.
Presumably, this high line is a reflection of the fact that Darren Waller will likely miss this game and that Renfrow posted 134 receiving yards last week. Should that increase our expectation for the former Clemson receiver by this much? I'm willing to wager it's a bit of an overreaction.
In addition, Rich Bisaccia has proven to be quite conservative on fourth down in a limited sample during his run as head coach. And being more conservative on fourth down results in more field-goal attempts, so I'm on Daniel Carlson's over.
Pick: Renfrow under 64.5 receiving yards (-115), Carlson over 1.5 FGs made (+100)
Moody: Carr has been sensational this season, averaging 310.4 passing yards per game. This includes six games with 300 or more passing yards and one game with over 400 yards. Las Vegas desperately needed a deep threat after the release of Ruggs, and DeSean Jackson finally appears to fit the Raiders offense. Carr is facing a Washington defense that allows the third-most passing yards per game (266) to opponents.
Pick: Carr over 267.5 passing yards (-115)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Rams (-13, 48)
Fulghum: The Rams should win this game, but that doesn't mean that it will be pretty. L.A. is in the midst of a serious transformation after starting the season 7-1. The Rams are onboarding unique talents like Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller while dealing with the catastrophic loss of offensive lynchpin and team captain Robert Woods. That said, the Jags are the tonic the Rams need at the moment. Against teams currently under .500 this season, Sean McVay's group is 5-0 with an average margin of victory +16.2 points per game.
Pick: Rams -13, under 48
Kraemer: The under has hit in six straight Jacksonville games and in nine of their 11 games this season, and I see no reason for that to change. Jacksonville's offense has not scored more than 23 points in a game all season, and Trevor Lawrence hasn't thrown multiple touchdown passes in a game since Week 1. Meanwhile, the Rams offense has hit a rut, averaging less than 5.8 yards per play in three straight games. With the Rams offense struggling and the Jaguars offense being inept, 48 points seems too high for this total. Plus, the Jaguars have only five interceptions all season, so the chances of another Matthew Stafford pick-six should be low.
Pick: Under 48
Baltimore Ravens (-4.5, 44) at Pittsburgh Steelers
Schatz: In general, roughly 20% of passes defensed will become interceptions. Much like looking at pressures is a better way to predict future sacks than past sacks, looking at passes defensed is a better way to predict future interceptions than past interceptions. Ben Roethlisberger has only six picks this year, but he's near the top of the league with 4.5 passes defensed per game. The Ravens have only five interceptions, but they have an above-average 4.6 passes defensed per game. Both of these ratios suggest that the odds of Roethlisberger throwing an interception this week are better than the odds you're going to get from your favorite sportsbook.
Pick: Roethlisberger over 0.5 INTs (-115)
Marks: Devonta Freeman is getting the majority of the volume in the backfield for the Ravens, out-touching Latavius Murray last week 17 to eight. The Steelers' rush defense has been horrible this season, allowing 4.8 yards per carry, and will be without T.J. Watt this week.
Pick: Freeman over 49.5 rushing yards (-115)
Moody: Mark Andrews is one of the league's most consistent tight ends. This season, he averages eight targets per game and has topped 50 yards in eight games. Lamar Jackson should continue to rely on Andrews often.
Pick: Andrews over 56.5 receiving yards (-115)
San Francisco 49ers (-3, 45.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Bearman: You hope it's not too late to jump on a trend, but a great trend is a great trend, especially when it passes the eye test. The Seahawks are 8-1-1 to the under this season, including 5-0-1 after a loss and 6-0 in conference games. Anyone who has watched the Hawks offense since Russell Wilson has returned from his finger injury (maybe too soon?) will gladly take under 45.5. Seattle has averaged 8.7 PPG, 65 rush yards per game and has been outgained by 145 yards per game.
Despite the horrible offensive numbers, Seattle has been in every game because its much-maligned defense hasn't been too bad, allowing 15.4 points per game over the last five contests. The Niners offense has been great recently, hitting 30-plus points in four of the last five games. They could get there again, but the Seahawks have not allowed 30 points since Week 3 and they'd still need to score 14-17 points, which is a stretch at this point. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the last time a Seattle game came close to the over (it was a push) was in Week 4 vs. these Niners. However, it was a 28-13 game until the closing seconds when a Trey Lance TD (and 2-pointer) pushed it at 49. The under is also 13-2 in Wilson's last 15 regular-season starts, regardless of opponent.
Pick: Under 45.5
Moody: Jimmy Garoppolo is averaging 234.2 passing yards per game this season, and in recent weeks the 49ers offense has thrived, with a delicate balance between their passing game and their running game. Garoppolo will be without Samuel, who is expected to miss one to two weeks due to a groin injury, so Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle will have to pick up the slack. Taylor Heinicke, Colt McCoy, Aaron Rodgers, Trevor Lawrence and Jameis Winston combined to average 260.6 passing yards per game against the Seahawks over the last five games.
Pick: Garoppolo over 222.5 passing yards (-115)
Marks: Even with a surgically repaired finger, Elijah Mitchell played 70% of the snaps for the 49ers last week and had 32 touches for 168 yards. Deebo Samuel is out, so Mitchell will be needed more than ever in both the rushing and passing attack.
Pick: Mitchell over 86.5 rushing yards (-120), Aiyuk over 59.5 receiving yards (-115)
Sunday's 1 p.m. ET games
Arizona Cardinals (-8, 44.5) at Chicago Bears
Fortenbaugh: Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are back at practice and the rest of the Arizona roster is well-rested coming off the team's bye week. Furthermore, the Cardinals currently rank fourth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.4 PPG) and sixth in opponent yards per play (5.3). But if you're still waiting for me to blow your mind, brace yourself, because here it is: On the road this season, Arizona is 6-0 both straight up and against the number while beating the closing spread by an average of 18.6 points per game! That's not how many points the team is winning by, it's how many points the team is beating the spread by! Good luck to the Bears, who currently rank 29th in the league in both scoring and yards per play.
Pick: Cardinals -8, Cardinals -2 in 6-point teaser with Vikings -1