NFL Week 13 Betting Picks: Against the Spread
Week 12 Recap: While the Texans (-3 at Lions) and Falcons (+3 vs. Raiders) cashed easily last week, the Jets (+7 vs. Dolphins) stood no chance and the Giants (-6 at Bengals) were back-doored by a late Cincinnati touchdown. The 2-2 week kept me right around .500 for the season at 18-17-2 ATS for the year. Hopefully, we saved our best for last and the first weekend of December kicks off what turns out to be a great month of picks.
- Spread: Titans -5.5
- O/U: 53.5
- Time: 1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday, December 6, 2020
The Browns are guaranteed their first non-losing season since 2007, when they went 10-6 with Derek Anderson under center. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, which is the longest active drought in the NFL, although they’re in a good position to do so this season at 8-3.
That said, the Browns continue to struggle when they’re forced to step up a weight class. According to ESPN Stats & Info, they’ve lost 19 straight games versus opponents that are five-plus games above .500, which is the second-longest active streak in the NFL (the Lions have lost 27 straight versus similar opponents). Cleveland’s last win against an opponent that was five-plus games above .500 was the 6-1 Patriots back in 2010.
While the Browns and Titans appear to be similar offensively because of their high percentage of designed runs (Cleveland has called a designed run a league-high 49.6% of the time this season while Tennessee has done so at the third-highest rate at 47.4%), there’s a key difference between the two teams. Tennessee’s passing game can work independently of its running game, whereas Cleveland’s passing attack is often dependent on Nick Chubb and the running game opening passing lanes for Baker Mayfield. When the Browns face an opponent that contains Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Mayfield can’t get into a rhythm, and the offense stalls.
In fairness, the Browns played two games in gusty winds this season (one against the Raiders and one versus the Texans), which hampered their ability to move the ball through the air. Still, even in perfect conditions like last week in Jacksonville, Mayfield misfired to open receivers and failed to take advantage of a bad Jaguars pass defense. This has been a theme at times this season with Mayfield, who can be taken out of rhythm in the passing game when the Browns can’t force opponents to commit extra defenders into the box.
On the other side, the Browns will have their hands full with Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown and Tennessee’s passing game, but the focus will be on Henry, who averaged 2.5 yards after contact per rush in Week 12. Henry punished Colts defenders for trying to bring him down on first contact, as he did all of last December when facing worn-out defenses at the end of the year. I believe we’re about to see a similar performance out of Henry this month.
NFL ATS Week 13 Pick: Tennessee Titans -5.5
- Spread: Pick’em
- O/U: 47.5
- Time: 4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, December 6, 2020
From a coaching standpoint, this will be one of the biggest mismatches in Week 13. On one side you have the master when it comes to attention to detail, Bill Belichick. On the other side is Anthony Lynn, who continues to struggle with clock management, the use of timeouts and situational football.
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