NFL Picks Week #13 (2021 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #13)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
Written Wednesday December 1st, 2021 at 1 PM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
Last week, we picked up a 1-2 record against the spread (ATS) on official picks, but we went 3-1 on unofficial picks, also called “leans.”
Overall this season:
- 25-16-1 record on official picks
- 17-15-1 record on unofficial picks (“leans”)
Let me present you my best bets in the NFL for Week 13, including our fourth 5-star pick of the 2021 season!!!
PICK #1 (5 STARS): ARIZONA CARDINALS -7.5 AT CHICAGO BEARS
At the time I wrote this article, both Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were on the good side of questionable to play. That means they have more than a 50% chance of returning to action. That’s great news for Cards fans, obviously.
Arizona is clearly capable of beating a 7.5-point spread. Indeed, in 7 of their 9 wins this season the margin of victory was 10 points or more.
The numbers also suggest that betting road favorites coming off their bye week is a profitable betting angle. Good teams tend to make good use of the extra time in order to game plan appropriately against their next opponent.
I just read a report mentioning quarterback Justin Fields is practicing on Wednesday despite cracked ribs. I’m not so sure he will suit up this Sunday. If he does, he will certainly be limited. If he doesn’t, Andy Dalton will be under center. In the three games where Dalton played the majority of the game, the Bears offense generated 14, 13 and 16 points. That’s awful.
To top it all off, Chicago may be without their top wide receiver, Allen Robinson, and their best defensive player, linebacker Roquan Smith. The status of defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is also in limbo, although he seems more likely to play.
Arizona holds a 4-1 record ATS when facing a team with a losing record. They are also 22-7 ATS on the road against teams with a losing record.
Meanwhile, Da Bears have not performed very well against tough opposition. As a matter of fact, their last 20 games against teams with a winning record translated into a 6-14 record ATS. The team also lost ATS the last four times they were home underdogs.
So, even though the Cards will be traveling through three time zones to play an early Sunday game, I still like them to crush Chicago at Soldier Field.
PICK #2 (3 STARS): DETROIT LIONS +7 VS MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Putting money on a team whose record is 0-10-1 certainly feels uncomfortable. But I will still do it since I tend to prefer going against the grain, just like I did when I took the Jets to upset the Titans in Week 4.
The Lions get additional time to rest after playing on Thanksgiving. The revenge factor also goes in full effect since Detroit lost 19-17 on a last-second 54-yard field goal by Greg Joseph back in Week 5.
I also want to bring to your attention the fact that the Vikings will be on the road for the fourth time in five weeks. More importantly, two of those road games occurred on the West Coast, so we are talking about long trips.
Sure, Minnesota owns a 5-2 ATS record over their last seven trips in Detroit. However, they have beaten the spread just once the last eight times they were favorites, and they are 0-6 ATS when facing teams with a losing record. They just have trouble destroying weaker squads. If you look at their schedule this year, their largest margin of victory was 13, while their other four victories came by a margin of seven points or less.
Both starting running backs will be out: Dalvin Cook for the Vikings and D’Andre Swift for the Lions.
How has Detroit performed after scoring 14 points or less in a game? Under such circumstances, they have beaten the spread the last five times it happened.
In summary, I’m putting a bet on Detroit +7 points, especially considering they are better equipped to run the ball, while the Vikes rank dead-last in terms of yards-per-rush allowed.
PICK #3 (1 STAR): BALTIMORE RAVENS -4 AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The Ravens have enjoyed nice success, historically speaking, in Pittsburgh. In fact, they are 5-1-1 in their last seven trips at Heinz Field. Baltimore also owns a nice 5-2 record ATS on grass.
These two teams are facing each other for the first time this season. Last year, Pittsburgh won both meetings, so we have the “double division revenge” betting strategy on our side.
You may be stunned to hear that the Steelers defense is ranked 31st in yards-per-carry average. That does not bode well for them considering they are facing a Ravens team that loves to keep the ball on the ground. Also, stud linebacker T.J. Watt is on the wrong side of questionable.
The home-field advantage seems to be fading for Pittsburgh. Did you know the Steelers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven home games?
The betting public overvalues home teams coming off consecutive road losses, expecting them to magically play better in front of their home fans. In this specific situation, the home teams held a 69-96-7 record ATS over many seasons. Since Pittsburgh is coming off road losses in L.A. and Cincinnati, this betting angle recommends going with Baltimore.
Good news for Ravens fans and bettors: linebacker Patrick Queen seems okay after getting hurt last week, while run-stuffer Calais Campbell seems to have a shot to be back on the field.
So, I am betting on the Steelers to sink even deeper and getting smashed by Baltimore this weekend.
Just for fun, here are four additional picks. Unlike the ones I just shared with you, I don’t like them enough to put money at risk, but they would be my next choices if I was forced to place more bets this week. I usually call them “leans”. Here they are:
- New England Patriots +3 at Buffalo Bills (The Pats have now won six straight games, thanks to efficient play from rookie Mac Jones and a stifling defense. Last year, the Bills won both meetings against New England, including a 38-9 beatdown on national television. Do you think Bill Belichick remembers that game? I think so. He will find a way to slow down the Bills offense, who is not as good as last year anyway. And the injury to star cornerback Tre’Davious White hurts the Bills defense a lot.);
- Seattle Seahawks +3.5 vs San Francisco 49ers (A few factors are pointing in San Francisco’s direction, but I still have to go with Seattle. This line seems too high to me, especially with Deebo Samuel and Fred Warner out for this game. Samuel has been doing everything on the field, and the Niners offense will sorely miss him. Seattle is 7-2-1 ATS at home against San Francisco.);
- New Orleans Saints +4.5 vs Dallas Cowboys (I liked this play much better when it looked like Amari Cooper was going to miss the game, but the latest reports suggest he will be there. I would still lean towards taking the Saints who are at home and probably getting Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram back. Also, all signs are indicating that Taysom Hill might finally be under center for the Saints. Their offense needs a spark. I say New Orleans loses a tight game and they cover the spread.);
- Las Vegas Raiders -2.5 vs Washington Football Team (The Raiders are getting three extra days of rest after playing last Thursday, while Washington loses one due to playing the Monday nighter. Also, the Raiders offense relies on its passing attack, which turns out to be Washington’s weakness on defense. Indeed, they are 31st in the league in terms of passer rating allowed. Washington basically has just one good wide receiver, Terry McLaurin, who should be well covered by Casey Hayward.).
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Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next week my friend!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)