The garland is hung and, quite frankly, it's really annoying. I love Christmas and I love all the football happening in December, but I am here on an anti-garland-on-the-mantle crusade. Every year in December, my wife hangs the garland and every night I turn on the TV and I can't see the bottom line or the scoreboard. WHY MUST WE HAVE THE GARLAND???
Anyway that's my Cranky Christmas Complaint of the year. Let's get to the picks, which, frankly, you could complain about the last few weeks. I need to get better going into Christmas to afford presents for everyone, so let's get the party started this week.
Picks and best bets below and make sure to listen to the Week 13 Best Bets Pick Six Podcast and subscribe.
NFL Week 13 Picks
Detroit (4-7) at Chicago (5-6)
1 p.m. ET (FOX)
This is pretty elementary to me. The Bears are terrible and continue to wallow in their own misery. The Lions just fired their head coach and are obviously going to bounce back this week. Also, there's a lot at stake here! The entire CBS team (individually and without consulting) picked the Bears to finish last in the division. Bears fans got mad. Real mad. If the Bears lose this game, they're probably going to finish last. That would sting and probably result in some firings at Halas Hall. No one roots for that, of course. But you have to see how flaunting a fraudulent 5-1 record was going to burn you. If you don't, you're probably standing in a pile of lava.
Projected score: Lions 24, Bears 17
Best Bet: Lions ML (+130 or better)
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Cincinnati (2-8-1) at Miami (7-4)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
How did we go from Joe Burrow vs. Tua to Brandon Allen vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick?? 2020 is a hell demon and she is unstoppable. The Dolphins defense is good, very good maybe, but I just don't think you can take -- *checks notes* -- Fitzpatrick as an 11.5-point favorite in any situation. That's not an insult to Fitzpatrick, it's more of a "let's be realistic" nod. Are the Dolphins that much different than the Giants from last week? Eh, not sure. Better pass defense, worse run defense, better quarterback? I'm taking the double-digit points here.
Projected score: Dolphins 21, Bengals 17
Best Bet: Under 42.5
New Orleans (9-2) at Atlanta (4-7)
1 p.m. ET (FOX)
People love to look at these games and expect big points, but I think this is a free under spot. Sean Payton is shortening games with Taysom Hill because he's, you know, Taysom Hill. Matt Ryan isn't playing well and he'll be worse against this Saints defense, which has quietly evolved into one of the five best defensive units in the league. Atlanta wasn't good on offense last week, the Raiders just turned it over. I think the Saints steal it, don't love the spread, but the under is a good bet. That 43 last week was the most fraudulent 43 you will ever see in an NFL game. New Orleans scored 31 against a practice squad wide receiver. This could be like 19-16 honestly.
Projected score: Falcons 21, Saints 18
Best Bet: Under 45.5
Las Vegas (6-5) at N.Y. Jets (0-11)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Upset special here, and I was on it before the Raiders laid that massive egg against Atlanta in Week 12. This line should be Jets +10 and it's a comfortable win, but we have to sweat now. The Raiders want to run and you can't against Quinnen Williams right now. Josh Jacobs looks unlikely to play and Derek Carr has not historically been great in tough weather spots. It should be cold and windy in this one, a similar spot to the Jets win over the Raiders last year. I smell an upset.
Projected score: Jets 17, Raiders 10
Best Bet: Jets +9
Jacksonville (1-10) at Minnesota (8-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Jacksonville is a live dog here. The Vikings have been much better the last few weeks, but basically because they let Kirk Cousins throw the ball. Dalvin Cook will run the ball plenty but this could turn into a shootout and end up with tons of points. Mike Glennon is a good quarterback! Legit -- he's a billion times better than Jake Luton and that's only because he's a professional quarterback who's been doing this for a decade. That matters. Give me the double digits here but I would hedge with the Dalvin Cook over rushing yards props. If Dalvin hits, the Vikings probably cover and there's a nice window.
Projected score: Jaguars 35, Vikings 31
Best Bet: Over 52, Dalvin Cook over prop, Jags ML
Cleveland (8-3) at Tennessee (8-3)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Browns will get Myles Garrett back, but it's Derrick Henry SZN. Dude is running wild and I don't see a scenario where Mike Vrabel just stops leaning on him (outside of Tennessee having a big lead late). A.J. Brown is just as terrifying in the passing game and Denzel Ward is currently "unlikely" to play in this game, which is a huge deal for Cleveland. Baker Mayfield hasn't challenged anyone down the field, but this has the feeling of a bunch of huge plays and a ton of points being scored. I'd lean towards Cleveland but like the over better. I'd be looking at Nick Chubb and Henry rushing yard overs, Kareem Hunt over on catches and Brown anytime TD props here.
Projected score: Titans 31, Browns 28
Best Bet: Henry/Chubb rush props, Brown anytime TD, over
Indianapolis (7-4) at Houston (4-7)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
There's a lot of heat surrounding the Texans right now -- they're not dead for the playoffs, some people will tell you! -- but I'm not buying it. Deshaun Watson is playing some GREAT football, no doubt about it. Even without DeAndre Hopkins, he's still thriving. But with Will Fuller now gone, he basically has to lean on Brandin Cooks and ... Jordan Akins? I think Indy can lock down the Texans and will unleash Jonathan Taylor for a big day in this one. Watson and Cooks might have good stats at the end of things, but it should be garbage time production.
Projected score: Colts 34, Texans 28
Best Bet: Over Jonathan Taylor rush yards
L.A. Rams (7-4) at Arizona (6-5)
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
The Rams are my favorite bet of the week. They're just a bad matchup for the Cardinals, a belief I've held for several weeks now. DeAndre Hopkins is great, but Jalen Ramsey can neutralize him. Kyler Murray would be in trouble with Aaron Donald hawking him down anyway, and now he's got a bum shoulder and wants to avoid running. Limit Kyler on the ground and you can really minimize what the Cards do on offense. I think the Rams roll here and feed their trio of talented backs.
Projected score: Rams 27, Cardinals 14
Best Bet: Rams -3, Under 46
N.Y. Giants (4-7) at Seattle (8-3)
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX)
It is VERY easy to see that both of these teams are going to come out and try to run the ball at quality defensive lines standing across from them. Eventually the Seahawks will start winging it around a little bit and we should see D.K. Metcalf get loose, although James Bradberry is not an easy matchup at all. I think the Seahawks will win, but I also think this will be an ugly slopfest for most of the game and reeks of a great under to play.
Projected score: Seahawks 21, Giants 14
Best Bet: Under 47.5
Philadelphia (3-7) at Green Bay (8-3)
4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Anyone eyeing this game has to be dealing with some PTSD from Week 12, when Carson Wentz rolled down the field and completed a mostly meaningless Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers with just a few seconds left and then converting a somewhat shocking two-point conversion, giving him the victory ... against the spread. The same could happen here, it feels like. R.J. White mentioned a Packers teaser on the site and on the podcast -- I kind of love it and would recommend it. I can't call it MY best bet, because it's not, but I'm including it below. Also go ahead and bet Davante Adams to score the first touchdown here. 60 percent of the time it hits every time and it's like 5-1 every week.
Projected score: Packers 28, Eagles 21
Best Bet: Packers in a teaser, Davante Adams first TD (4-1 or better)
New England (5-6) at L.A. Chargers (3-8)
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
This is pretty simple: the Chargers are the better team and they're more talented, but this is Bill Belichick vs. Anthony Lynn and that makes this a no-brainer bet on the Patriots. Belichick routinely gives his team an advantage with his in-game decision making. Lynn is the Bill Belichick of Bad Decision Making. Give me the Pats and the coaching advantage. Austin Ekeler should keep smashing in the receiving game too.
Projected score: Patriots 21, Chargers 20
Best Bet: Patriots (pk), Austin Ekeler over receptions/receiving yards
Denver (4-7) at Kansas City (10-1)
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
The Broncos aren't great, but they were 15-point dogs to the Saints and Taysom Hill WITHOUT A QUARTERBACK. And now they have three quarterbacks and they're playing a worse defense and they're basically the same underdog? It's too much. I don't want to get in the way of Patrick Mahomes, but 14 points in a divisional NFL game is too high. I like the Broncos here and think the under is a pretty decent play too.
Projected score: Chiefs 24, Broncos 17
Best Bet: N/A
Washington (4-7) at Pittsburgh (11-0)
Monday, 5 p.m. ET (FOX)
The national disrespect for the Steelers is probably out of control, but they're clearly not the best undefeated team we've ever seen this late in the season. They're also probably not the worst? They're somewhere in between -- a really good football team that finds ways to win games amid a pandemic that has made football tough in 2020. They're not bludgeoning average opponents, though, and Washington will hang tough here with a stout defensive line. I wouldn't expect much scoring in this one and I think Pittsburgh wins close at best.
Projected score: Washington 14, Pittsburgh 13
Best Bet: Washington +8.5
Buffalo (8-3) "at" San Francisco (5-7)
Monday, 8:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)
No longer a home game for the 49ers with California kicking football out of the state. But I still like San Francisco to take care of business here and linger around the playoff picture with a surprising win over the Bills. Kyle Shanahan is cooking right now and he knows how much this game means for the 49ers' playoff hopes. They'll turn Josh Allen over a few times and run the ball effectively to steal a win.
Projected score: 49ers 24, Bills 21
Best Bet: 49ers +1
Dallas (3-8) at Baltimore (6-5)
Tuesday, 8p.m. ET (NFLN)
I don't even know how to handicap this game because there's no line and we don't know about Lamar Jackson. I would lean towards the Ravens at less than 10 because they'll run the ball, assuming Lamar plays. Check back on the podcast for an official pick.
Projected score: TBD
Best Bet: N/A