NFL WEEK 13 PICKS: Staying hot by barking on nine dogs in 12 games

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BEST BETS

DENVER BRONCOS (6-5) at HOUSTON TEXANS (6-5)

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LINE: Houston by 3.5

CHEWABLE: In case you missed it, yours truly was 13-3 last week, including 3-0 on best bets. It took a dozen weeks, but I’m officially en fuego … Speaking of hot, the Broncos are right there with the Eagles as owners of the current longest (five games) winning streaks in the NFL, yet they are still an underdog of more than a field goal against the Texans? Undoubtedly it has something to do with the way they’re winning, which doesn’t seem sustainable. Denver is +13 in turnover ratio during the streak, which is +5 better than any other team over the last five games. And then, of course, there’s the C.J. Stroud factor. The Texans’ sensational QB has averaged 366.5 passing yards while becoming the first rookie in NFL history to eclipse the 300-yard mark in four straight games. Houston should still be perturbed by its 24-21 loss to the Jaguars last week when Matt Ammendola’s last minute 58-yard field goal try bounced off the crossbar … Stroud’s streak could continue against the Broncos, who are 23rd against the pass but have improved significantly. Denver also has allowed a league-worst 155.2 rushing yards against per game, which could mean another big day for Devin Singletary … Houston’s defence is the opposite. Eighth against the run but a poor 27th versus the pass. Watch for the chemistry between Russell Wilson and Courtland Sutton to continue its development … The never-bet-against-a-streak thing does apply with the Broncos, because they can’t keep stealing possession, especially against a team like the Texans, who have given the ball away a fifth-lowest 11 times all season. But I’m also not going to disrespect Wilson, who is 34-16 ATS as a dog, by saying the Broncos won’t keep this one close, especially against a Texans team that is 0-4 as a favourite, with three of those games at home.

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TAKING: DENVER +3.5

SCORE (O/U 47.5): Texans 28, Broncos 27

CAROLINA PANTHERS (1-10) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-7)

LINE: Tampa Bay by 5.5

CHEWABLE: Taking the team that currently holds the No. 1 draft pick in 2024 to not only cover but win this week is a ballsy move. But it’s also very tempting. Here’s why: Since 2018, a total of 13 teams have canned their coach during the season. Those teams were a combined 31-78-3 (.290) before the firing, and 8-5 (.615) in the first game with the interim coach. Also, since 2010, teams that fire the head coach are 15-10 ATS in the first game after pulling the trigger … Is getting rid of head coach Frank Reich and two of his assistants, then putting the reins in the hands of assistant special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, somehow going to make Bryce Young instantly better? No, but the No. 1 pick overall couldn’t be any worse than he was last Sunday, his fourth straight game of less than 200 passing yards over which he has averaged 168.6 yards. That’s almost 200 yards per game less than Stroud, which prompts the question: Should owner David Tepper not have fired general manager Scott Fitterer instead of three coaches? … Young should be able to get something going against the Bucs, who have the second-worst pass defence in the league … Meanwhile, the Panthers rank fifth against the pass, while only the Chiefs and Jets have allowed more production to outside receivers than Carolina. That will make things difficult for Mike Evans to collect tosses from Baker Mayfield, who already is hobbling with a bad ankle … The Panthers are 24th against the run, but the Bucs hand the ball regularly to Rachaad White, who did have his first 100-yard game of the season last week against the Colts but before that was averaging a brutal (for a lead back) 45.9 yards per game.

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TAKING: CAROLINA +5.5

SCORE (O/U 37): Panthers 21, Bucs 20

CINCINNATI BENGALS (5-6) at JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-3)

LINE: Jacksonville by 8.5

CHEWABLE: Bengals quarterback Jake Browning is not horrible. The replacement for Joe Burrow proved that in his first start, a 16-10 loss to the defensively stout Steelers last week, in which he completed more than 73% of his passes (19 of 26) for 227 yards, a TD and a pick. Trevor Lawrence is not a MVP candidate. In 11 games he has 12 TD passes and seven interceptions … The Jaguars are fourth against the run, which likely means a quiet night coming out of the backfield for Joe Mixon. But they are also 28th against the pass, and it looks like Tee Higgins could return from a hamstring injury to give Browning  another prolific target … The Jags had 445 yards of offence in last week’s close win over the Texans that marked their seventh in eight games. Basically, they should be able to cruise to top spot in the AFC South, but this spread is way too high against a Bengals team desperate to stay alive in the wild card race.

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TAKING: CINCINNATI +8.5

SCORE (O/U 38.5): Jaguars 27, Bengals 24

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LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (4-7) at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (2-9) 

LINE: L.A. Chargers by 5.5

CHEWABLE: The Chargers are not as bad as they look. They have dropped three in a row, but their 20-10 loss to the Ravens last week was only the second time they have been beaten by more than a field goal. Miami edged them by two, Tennessee beat them by three, Dallas beat them by three, Detroit beat them by three and Green Bay beat them by three. The Patriots, on the other hand, are a mess. They have lost their last four and scored a total of 13 points in their last two, and their points differential of -100 is by far the worst in the AFC …  The Chargers still have the worst pass defence in the league, allowing an average of 280 yards per game, but that weakness will not be exploited by the Patriots. Mac Jones has been pulled from the last two games, while he and Bailey Zappe have combined for three TD passes and seven interceptions during the current four-game slide … The Patriots have won the last seven meetings and 10 of the last 11, but they also used to have a guy named Tom Brady under centre. More recently, they are 1-6 ATS as an underdog this season and 3-13 ATS as a dog over the last two … The Chargers will again miss Joey Bosa, but they have the three best offensive players in the game with Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler. 

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TAKING: L.A. CHARGERS -5.5

SCORE (O/U 47.5): Chargers 24, Patriots 14

DETROIT LIONS (8-3) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (5-6)

LINE: Detroit by 4

CHEWABLE: The Lions’ defence has turned dreadful of late, including the 29-22 Thanksgiving Thursday loss to the Packers in which Jordan Love threw for 268 yards and three TD passes. In the last five, Detroit has allowed an average of 29 points and slipped to 20th against the pass. Normally, this would lead one to consider backing the Saints, but Derek Carr’s receivers — Chris Olave (concussion), Rashid Shaheed (thigh) and Mike Thomas (knee) — have left him for the infirmary. Olave was limited in Wednesday’s practice, so there’s a chance he could play. If not, Carr’s targets will be A.T. Perry, Lynn Bowden Jr. and Keith Kirkwood, a troika that has  combined for seven catches this season and just 54 in their careers. Hence, New Orleans will hope for success with Alvin Kamara taking handoffs and pitchouts, but only four teams have allowed fewer rushing yards than Detroit’s average of 91.4 allowed per game … The Lions will be able to move the ball along the ground with David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs against the Saints’ 23rd-ranked run defence, and Amon-Ra St. Brown will be a factor without the injured Marshon Lattimore (ankle) shadowing him … The Lions will easily maintain a trend that has seen them put together a 3-0 ATS record as a road favourite this season.

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TAKING: DETROIT -4

SCORE (O/U 46.5): Lions 28, Saints 17

ATLANTA FALCONS (5-6) at NEW YORK JETS (4-7)

LINE: Atlanta by 2.5

CHEWABLE: The Jets have to be inspired to see Aaron Rodgers back on the practice field, and they’re going to want to give him a little extra fuel to complete his miraculous comeback in time to join them in a run at a playoff spot. That alone should help them avoid a fifth straight loss against a team that leads its division with a sub-.500 record … The Falcons halted a three-game winning streak by rushing for 228 yards in a 24-15 win over the Saints last week. The same formula could have success against the Jets, who are a putrid 31st against the run. But this week, Gang Green can stack the box without much concern that the quarterback will beat them, because Desmond Ridder won’t be effective against the Jets’ strong secondary. The Jets are going to have to rely on a big day from explosive running back Breece Hall and the Rodgers factor, while following a trend that has seen them go 22-9 ATS at home following a home loss the last 31 times that scenario has presented itself.

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TAKING: N.Y. JETS +2.5 

SCORE (O/U 34): Jets 13, Falcons 10

ARIZONA CARDINALS (2-10) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-4)

LINE: Pittsburgh by 5.5

CHEWABLE: Who didn’t see this coming? The Steelers had more than 400 yards of total offence for the first time in 46 games last week, a 16-10 victory over the Bengals coming days after they fired Matt Canada, who had been their OC for the previous 45. They almost certainly will move the chains with ease again on Sunday against the Cardinals, who rank 26th in average yards allowed … Pat Freiermuth was Steelers QB Kenny Pickett’s favourite target last week, catching nine passes for 120 yards, but nothing like that kind of production should be expected against the Cards, who are fourth-best in the league when it comes to defending tight ends, allowing just 37.5 yards per game. They will be able to pound and ground Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren against the Cards, who are 30th against the run … Arizona has only won once since Sept. 24, and that was a 25-23 squeaker against the Falcons in Week 10, Kyler Murray’s first game game for ACL surgery. But proceed here with caution. This will be the first game for James Conner against the Steelers, who made him a third-round pick in 2017 and with whom he spend four seasons. Conner, who was born and raised two hours from Pittsburgh in Erie, Pa., can be counted on to have a big game against a Steelers team that ranks 22nd against the run but has improved since the return of Cameron Heyward. This reeks of another “win ugly” for the Steelers, who are 35-44 ATS the last 79 times they were favourites of 4-plus points.

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TAKING: ARIZONA +5.5

SCORE (O/U 41): Steelers 24, Cardinals 20

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (6-5) at TENNESSEE TITANS (4-7)

LINE: Indianapolis by 1

CHEWABLE: The Colts have won three in a row but their list of victims — Bryce Young, Mac Jones and Baker Mayfield — has been underwhelming, to say the least. They have also now lost RB Jonathan Taylor (thumb) for a few weeks, but he is being replaced by Zack Moss, who had 23 carries for 165 yards as Indy defeated the Titans 23-16 in Week 5 … The Titans sent Frank Reich to the unemployment line with a 17-10 victory over Carolina last week, which stopped their own three-game losing streak. While QB Will Levis failed to exceed 200 passing yards for the third week in a row, he also didn’t turn the ball over again. The Titans relied on Derrick Henry, who had 18 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns, but he’ll have trouble finding daylight against the Colts’ 11th-ranked run defence, which held him to 43 yards on 13 carries in the first game. Levis will have to continue to be responsible and while outplaying Gardner Minshew … Decision-swaying numbers: The Titans are 4-1 at home, where they are 3-0 SU as a dog, and coach Mike Vrabel is also 12-5 SU as a home dog since taking over the team in 2018.

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TAKING: TENNESSEE +1

SCORE (O/U 42.5): Titans 20, Colts 17

MIAMI DOLPHINS (8-3) at WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (4-8) 

LINE: Miami by 9.5

CHEWABLE: Probably the best thing that could have happened for those who want to back the Dolphins here is their 34-13 win over the Jets last week, in which Tua Tagovailoa passed for just 243 yards with one TD and two picks. While that was against a defence that ranks sixth in average passing yards allowed, Tua and the Fish will re-establish their status as the league’s best aerial attack against the Commanders, who have allowed an NFL-high 29.2 points per game against while also giving up the most passing touchdowns and third-most passing yardage … Following their 45-10 loss to the Cowboys last Thursday, the Commanders fired DC Jack Del Rio, which leaves the defensive play-calling duties with head coach Ron Rivera. But unless the former Bears LB is a miracle worker, he won’t be able to stifle Miami’s missile attack … The Dolphins had no trouble disposing of the Jets on Black Friday, but in the win they lost pass rusher Jaelan Phillips, one of their best defenders, to a season-ending Achilles injury. Theoretically, that means more time for Washington QB Sam Howell, who not only has been sacked more than any other quarterback, but also leads all the league in attempts, completions and passing yards. He now will face a defence that has improved dramatically with the return of key members from the injured list … Beware of the dog: the Commanders are 5-2-1 when getting points.

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TAKING: MIAMI -9.5

SCORE (O/U 49.5): Dolphins 37, Commanders 24

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (8-3) at PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-1)

LINE: San Francisco by 3 

CHEWABLE: Kyle Shanahan says he has no idea how his team can be favourites on the road against Philadelphia, the only winner of 10 games this season and at the same venue in which the Niners lost the NFC Championship game by a 31-7 margin just 10 months ago. It probably has much to do with the fact that game would have been much closer had the Niners not lost Brock Purdy to a elbow injury after he completed his first four passes and that backup Josh Johnson was terrible, and that San Fran fumbled three times and the Eagles didn’t turn the ball over at all … The most valuable non-quarterback in the NFL is Christian McCaffrey, who had 106 yards from scrimmage in the title game and heading into Week 13 had a 154 yard lead in the race for the rushing title. “Run CMC” will have a yard time finding space against the No. 3 ranked Eagles run defence, but the same goes for Philly RB D’Andrew Swift, who has averaged six yards a carry with 26 attempts over the last two games against the Bills and Chiefs and now faces the Niners, who are No. 2 against the run … The Eagles are expected to get All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson back for this one. His return will help the running game and buy more time for Hurts against the Niners imposing pass rush. The one distinct edge San Fran has is in pass defence. Niners are ranked 12th while the Eagles, because of trouble defending outside receivers, are 29th … It comes down to which is the bigger motivating factor, the Niners seeking revenge or the Eagles seeking respect. I actually believe the Niners are the better all-round team, but I’m siding with the  home dog that never expected to be one.

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TAKING: PHILADELPHIA +3

SCORE (O/U 47.5): Niners 30, Eagles 28

CLEVELAND BROWNS (7-4) at LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-6)

LINE: L.A. Rams by 3.5

CHEWABLE: Joe Flacco will start for the Browns if Dorian Thompson-Robinson doesn’t emerge from concussion protocol, and would that really be a bad thing for Cleveland? Flacco, 38, threw five TD passes and three interceptions in five games for the Jets last season. The worst thing about him is his lack of mobility, but DTR can run and he threw three picks in his first of just three career starts. More concerning is that Myles Garrett (shoulder) was one of 10 Browns to miss Wednesday’s practice. If he can play, and coach Kevin Stefanski is optimistic he can, all is not lost for the visitors as they remain in the battle for the AFC North title … The Rams were offensively dominant in their 37-14 win over the Cardinals last week — including 143 rushing yards for Kyren Williams in his return from the IR — but Arizona does not defend well. Cleveland’s defence is still the best in the NFL, and it will keep the Browns in the game no matter who their QB is.

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TAKING: CLEVELAND +3.5

SCORE (O/U 40): Rams 17, Browns 14

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (8-3) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-6) 

LINE: Kansas City by 6

CHEWABLE: No longer is Jordan Love a turnover machine, and no longer can the Packers be discounted from the NFC wild card race. Green Bay has been SU winner while being an underdog the past two weeks, including an impressive 29-22 Thanksgiving Thursday victory in Detroit. Love dissected the Lions secondary and now has eight TD passes with only two interceptions in his four games … The defending champs defeated the Raiders 31-17 last week for their second win in four games. They still have a stellar, fourth ranked defence, an explosive running RB in Isiah Pacheco, Travis Kelce and Patrick Mahomes, but they’re also stuck with a group of slippery-fingered receivers who have helped K.C. jumped to a commanding leading in the NFL’s most passes dropped department with 24. If neither RB A.J. Dillon nor Aaron Jones can play, the Packers will not be able to take advantage of a Chiefs run defence that has slipped to 19th … Green Bay could have as many as four of their injured defensive backs return for this one, including All-Pro CB Jaire Alexander, as well as stud LB De’Vondre Campbell. Banking on at least some of the sidelined defenders to return for the crucial showdown at Lambeau.

TAKING: GREEN BAY +6

SCORE (O/U 42.5): Chiefs 23, Packers 18

NFL Week 13 selections
NFL Week 13 selections

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