Betting tips for Week 13 of the NFL season
Week 13 NFL Underdog Betting Picks
Just one losing week as we head into December with our underdog picks. Now 21-8 ATS (72.4%) this season with 16 outright underdog winners, let's see if we can stay tough through rough weather and continue to stay ahead of the leading online sportsbooks as teams push towards the playoffs and the expanded 14 team NFL playoff schedule.
Week 12 was a 2-0 week on these pages with the Lions (+3) eating the turkey for spread bettors but failing to add the pumpkin pie in a 16-14 defeat. We passed on Sunday, but missed some home underdogs winners like the Dolphins. But we rushed to the window on Monday night as the Football Team closed as an underdog and smashed Seattle worse than the 17-15 final. The WFT was one of 12 teams that out-rushed their opponents by at least 30 yards, and those teams went 10-2 ATS and are now 89-31-1 SU and 91-29 ATS (75.8%) this season - just above the historical average I've documented for nearly two decades. Washington rushed a week-high 43 times in victory, and teams that run the ball at least 30 times in a game are now 100-16 SU and 91-25 ATS (78.4%).
Ironically, two teams that both rushed 30 times and had more than 200 rushing yards lost in Week 12 - Tennessee and Philadelphia. Why? Both teams had four turnovers and a minus-4 turnover margin in defeat. There is not a more telling statistic to SU and ATS wins in the NFL than a 2 or 3 turnover differential. Teams that are plus-3 or more in turnovers in a game are now 27-2 SU and 28-1 ATS. Teams that are exactly plus-2 in turnovers are 32-6 SU/ATS.
Positive Turnover Margin Leaders
Colts (+13), Patriots (+10), Bills (+9), Packers (+9), Buccaneers (+8), Cardinals (+8)
Negative Turnover Margin Leaders
Jets (-15), Jaguars (-13), Titans (-7), Chiefs (-7), Ravens (-7), Falcons (-7)
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Check out the early injury reports heading into Week 13 action, and let's shoot for more birdies on the pro football gridiron and hope the ball bounces our way. The five year record on these pages posting underdog picks is 123-87 ATS (58.6%) with 64 outright underdog winners.
You'll see in my notes below that there is not much to like on the underdog log this week as we evaluate the match-ups and betting lines. In fact, in some of my statistical analysis and rushing yards review, four home underdogs all appear to have a decided negative edge in the rushing yards projections - Falcons, Texans, Jets and Steelers. Three of them are at least 7 point underdogs, which would normally be attractive until you look at the match-ups and point of attack play. Home underdogs are also losing this year at a higher 2/1 rate while also just 29-38-2 ATS. Yet underdogs overall are better than 54% ATS, and our game selection management underdog picks are much better at 21-8 ATS.
A light week of picks, and now no underdog picks for the first time in five seasons after further review. I'll chip-in a few totals I've bet. Chargers and Bengals over the total in a shootout is expected, but must check the weather as rain is also in the forecast in Cincinnati and still evaluating the Chargers offensive line issues, as they are without at least two starters this week. I also bet the Raiders and WFT under the total with more rushing by both teams projected. Both teams have offensive line issues and injuries, and Raiders QB Carr will be under more pressure this week and without his favorite target TE Darren Waller (knee). Not certain Carr will be able to take advantage of a WFT defense that ranks 30th in explosive pass rate on deep balls.
Player Prop: Chargers RB Austin Ekeler is likely in for a big game with short screens and more receiving yards and total yards. His receiving yards prop is 42.5 and receptions 4.5, and rushing yards prop is 51.5 at one leading online sportsbook. His rushing/receiving total yards is 98.5. Those prop numbers can have greater fluctuation as you compare at top online sportsbooks as they are posted.
NFL Week 13 Underdog Picks
I'll pass with making underdog selections for this week, but below I've fired some betting angles that are in play for Sunday games.
Team Notes and Rushing Stats
The perception of the Steelers defense is not reality, and I noted Pittsburgh was a phony fraud weeks ago. The Steelers have allowed a league-worst 195 rushing yards per game over their last three contests while going 0-2-1 and now 5-5-1 in last place in the AFC North.
The Dolphins have won 4-straight games to get to 5-7, but Miami is still No. 30 in the NFL in rushing at 80 yards per game and just 83 rushing yards per game during their winning streak. The Dolphins defense has delivered, allowing just 264 YPG during the 4-game winning streak and less than 4.7 yards per play. But are wins over the Texans, Jets and Panthers with poor quarterbacks and play enough to swim with the fish? A season-best win over the Ravens offers support in a Thursday night game that buried bettors with the leading online sportsbooks cashing in on the home underdog. That game looked one-sided from a rushing yards standpoint, and Miami only had 60 rushing yards but held the Ravens and QB Lamar Jackson to a rare sub-100 rushing yards. Remember, Baltimore had 2 turnovers to zero for the Dolphins, and you know how that usually turns out.
The Bears were a home underdog of interest, and while still unimpressed with Chicago, the Bears defense has held each of its last three opponents to less than 300 yards and outgained them all. But the Bears still averaged less than 100 rushing yards per game against those three sub-par defenses (BAL better). Arizona's run defense is a weakness and can be exploited. But too many injuries and issues for the Bears, and no word on the starting quarterback, which I would prefer Andy Dalton over rookie Justin Fields. Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins return after missing three games with injuries, and the Cardinals (9-2) are off a bye. The Bears three previous games against winning teams SF, TB and GB all resulted in double-digit losses with two of them at home.
Seattle's struggles continued last week as we called for and noted going back to Week 3 when the Vikings smashed the Seahawks as an underdog winner. The line move to the Seahawks as favorite on the road at Washington this past Monday night was one of the strangest I have seen this season. I bet more on the WFT, added teasers as an underdog taking them up to +7.5 and cashed on the first half +0.5 despite Seattle returning the 2-point conversion at the end of the first half to tie the game 10-10. Then, more bets on Washington +3 in the second half. What was going on? The top online sportsbooks had so much money bet on Seattle, that they had to make Seattle a favorite again, DESPITE the Seahawks rushing for just 14 yards in the first half with less than 10 minutes time of possession. If you followed my rushing guidelines, you already knew Washington had a very strong chance to cover the game just based on rushing stats. The Football Team did just that scoring the first TD of the second half in their 17-15 win that was not close. Seattle has now lost the stats and had few yards than their opponent in 10 of 11 games this season. Seattle is tied with the NY Jets running the ball a league-low 22.1 times per game, and a league-worst 15.7 times per game over their last three contests. No, I'm not betting on the Seahawks as a home underdog against the 49ers (-3.5) even if the situation offers some support. These stats are real and tell the sorry story in Seattle this season. By the way, the 49ers are one of five teams in the NFL that average at least 30 rushing attempts per game. That includes a league-high 41 times per game over their last three contest. The Niners are up to 131 rushing yards per game this season to rank No. 2 in the NFC (178 over their last 3 games). Point of attack dominance should continue.
The Patriots are the hottest team with six straight wins and covers heading into the big first place showdown Monday night against the Bills. But I've discussed and learned over many years that playing a rookie QB at Buffalo in that stadium, weather and fans is one of the toughest places for an inexperienced quarterback. So even with Rookie of the Year leader Mac Jones, a top-rated quarterback with 70% completions and playing with poise, I won't be backing the Patriots as an underdog, as Jones will have to pass more to get this victory. That will be very difficult with the weather forecast. Buffalo has the stronger run defense allowing 20 yards per game less than New England and the Bills 3.9 yards per rush defense leads the AFC. The Patriots have allowed 135 rushing yards per game over their last three games at 5.5 yards per rush. So while Buffalo's running game is not top-level, it is equal to the Patriots at 115 YPG despite running less. Quarterback Josh Allen adds the mobility dimension, and he and the Bills are a better bet when looking at the weather. Advance forecast calls for an 80% chance of rain with winds greater than 25 miles per hour and stronger gusts possible. The total has been bet down to 43 and will drop further. This line would have been Bills favored by closer to a touchdown in mid-October. The Patriots surge and winning streak has affected the market and perception. Still, good luck Mac. If he shows well and wins, the Rookie of the Year is wrapped up. I'm not betting on it.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay