Darnell's NFL Week 13 Breakdown
Las Vegas Raiders (-7.5) @ New York Jets (47)
This matchup shapes up to be a battle of an inept offense versus a terrible defense. The Las Vegas Raiders will travel to New York to battle the winless Jets. The Raiders have the worst defense in the NFL. They do not have the ability to stop anyone consistently. Conversely, the Jets have the worst offense in the NFL. They appear to not have the ability to move the ball consistently against anyone. This should be interesting to see which of these dynamics plays out. Jalen Richard and Josh Jacobs, (the tenth ranked running back according to Pro Football Focus) are both questionable. Jacobs has been a steady force for the Raiders. Believe it or not, the Jets have the fourth best rushing defense in the league. This means that the Raiders cannot take their running back situation lightly. I am still holding out hope that the Jets will grab a win at some point this season, but until then I think they’ll play hard.
Cincinnati Bengals (+11.5) @ Miami Dolphins (42)
I didn’t think the day would come so soon that the Miami Dolphins are 11.5-point favorites, and I wouldn’t argue about it. We have arrived at this time. The Bengals quarterback situation looks absolutely atrocious after losing their rookie of the year candidate, Joe Burrow. Burrow is ranked 19th in quarterbacks. His backups, Brandon Allen and Ryan Findley have not played enough to be ranked on their own. PFF does however have Burrow 50% better than both of them. The eye test on the field definitely confirms this. The Bengals offense disappeared completely when Burrow went down. The Dolphins has been an opportunistic defense as of late. If Findley plays nearly as bad as he did last week, this game won’t be fun. Tua Tagovailoa is questionable with his thumb injury. He is ranked 34th in quarterbacks. The Dolphins will have a decent upgrade if Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the start. He had a good start to the season and is ranked 21st in the NFL. With the Dolphins right in the thick of things in the playoff hunt, they will look to keep winning to keep pace with their competition.
Cleveland Browns (+5.5) @ Tennessee Titans (54)
It seems that the Cleveland Browns find themselves in interesting games consistently. This game against the Tennessee Titans should be fun. These teams boast two of the top four rushing attacks in the NFL. Derrick Henry is the second-best ranked running back according to PFF and Nick Chubb is fourth. The Browns have the best run blocking offensive line in the league. When Chubb gets a rest, the 16th best running back, Kareem Hunt spells him. This is a deadly one-two punch. The Browns have been without Odell Beckham Jr. for over a month and I think this caused the Browns to solidify themselves as a run heavy team. The Titans have the eighth worst defense in the league. This is a problem for them, but having a top five running back, a top ten quarterback, and two top 11 wide receivers will mask a lot of defensive problems. Both teams are 8-3 and will want to further push for the playoffs. The Browns once again are involved in one of my favorite games of the week.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+9.5) @ Minnesota Vikings (52)
The Minnesota Vikings are the best bad team in the NFL. The have a top five quarterback, running back and wide receiver. They have the third best passing attack with the best wide receiving corps when it comes to route running. Their problem is that they give up a huge amount of points each game. They are in the same conversation as the Raiders, Seahawks and even the Jets in terms of how many points they’ve given up. Fortunately for them, they get to host a team that’s been even worse defensively in the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) @ Houston Texans (51)
This AFC South matchup pits two teams that are on the far opposite ends of the hill from their last game. The Houston Texans showed off on Thanksgiving and crushed the banged-up Detroit Lions. Deshawn Watson went nuts and so did Will Fuller. Unfortunately, Watson won’t be throwing to Fuller for the rest of the season. Fuller was suspended six games for PEDs. Losing the fourth best receiver in the NFL cannot be beneficial for Houston. Thankfully the 4th ranked Watson has two more top 50 receivers to step up and help this team win. The Colts defense was absolutely shredded by Derrick Henry and the Titans. The Colts were banged up on their defensive line and that led to Henry running wild. The Colts were in a tough spot after playing a very competitive game versus the Green Bay Packers and winning in overtime. They will want to ride the momentum from this game and not have a let-down against a division foe that will be ready for them. Houston has a top ten offense, but their bottom five defense causes them to have a very subpar record. This is a game that the Colts should win, but Houston won’t go without a fight.
New Orleans Saints (-3) @ Atlanta Falcons (46)
Taysom Hill has more victories than the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets combined. He has not been good as a quarterback. He honestly has been Tim Tebow with a better supporting cast. That opinion may ruffle some feathers, but that’s how I feel. Regardless, he has led his team to two straight wins since taking over the starting quarterback role. Their win last week was in a matchup with a bad offense with literally no quarterback. One of these wins was against this same Falcons team that they are facing Sunday. The Falcons have been a middle of the road team offensively and defensively. They will look to get revenge on this team. Having the seventh ranked wide receiver, Julio Jones would be beneficial to them. He is listed as questionable. If he were to miss it would be a big blow to the Falcons offense. The Saints would be able to lock on to Calvin Ridley and force other receivers to beat them. The Saints have the best record in the NFC and are on their way to having home field advantage in the playoffs. Mathematically, if the Falcons lose, they will officially be out of the division race.
Detroit Lions (+3) @ Chicago Bears (44)
The banged-up Detroit Lions will travel to Chicago to take on a Bears team that was dismantled by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Lions offense have struggled as of late without Kenny Golladay. He is the 17th best receiver in the league. Deandre Swift has also missed the last two games. I anticipate him back, which should take a lot of pressure off of Matt Stafford and this offense. Swift is the 27th ranked running back. I think he would be better if the coaching staff was more consistent with his workload. Thankfully, that coaching situation is changing. Matt Patricia was fired a few days ago. The Lions should have made this move weeks ago. Typically, players like to play harder when a coach is fired. This is so that they can show the world that the reason for their lack of success was the coach and not them. The Bears have Allen Robinson, who is a top 15 receiver in the league. Unfortunately for him, he has a bad quarterback throwing to him. Mitch Trubisky is one of the worst ranked quarterbacks in the league. Nick Foles is not much of an upgrade, so Robinson’s talent seems to be going to waste. The Bears cannot afford to lose another game because that will put them further under .500 and will end their chances of having double digit wins. It seems like the Lions will want to play to build chemistry for next season with the interim coach.
New York Giants (+10) @ Seattle Seahawks (48)
The Seattle Seahawks and their fantastic offense will host the New York Giants. The Giants have a top ten defense in the NFL, but with the fourth worst offense, I am not sure if they will have the fire power to compete with the high-powered Seahawks. Believe it or not, Daniel Jones is the 12th ranked quarterback according to PFF. He may miss this game because of his hamstring injury. If he does, his veteran backup Colt McCoy will start. McCoy has started 28 games in his lengthy NFL career. I can’t imagine that McCoy will be any more effective than Jones has been this season. Russell Wilson is the third best quarterback in the league. I think he and his receivers can make up if Chris Carson misses the game. He has been banged up for the last several weeks. There will be a drop off from Carson to the next running back because Carson is the 4th best running back in the league. The Seahawks will look to continue to distance themselves from the Los Angeles Rams in the division race. The Giants will look to keep their division hopes alive.
Los Angeles Rams (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals (48.5)
This NFC West matchup is another good game that we are looking forward to. That is the theme that we run in to when the best division in football matches up. The Los Angeles Rams have the fourth best defense in the NFL. They will need this defense to step up against a fast-paced and dynamic Arizona Cardinal offense. Offensively, the Rams are more balanced with all three of their main wide receivers ranked in the top 70. The Cardinals have the seventh best receiver in Deandre Hopkins, but their next best receiver is Christian Kirk. This indicates to me that if Jalen Ramsey can contain Hopkins, the Rams will have the clear advantage in receivers. Kyler Murray have been battling some shoulder soreness lately, and this has drastically changed the way he has played the game. He has run a lot less in the past couple games. Kyler Murray’s ability and willingness to run could be an x-factor in this game, so the Cardinals will hope he can go full strength. The Rams lost their second game to the San Francisco 49ers in dramatic fashion, which made the division race that much more interesting. The 49ers would have been out of reach if they lost that game, but all four teams are still alive for a playoff chance. Arizona lost an ugly game to the New England Patriots, so both teams are looking to get off of their slide.
Philadelphia Eagles (+9) @ Green Bay Packers (47)
The Philadelphia Eagles will travel to Green Bay to take on one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. Aaron Rodgers have been fantastic this year. The Eagles, being bottom ten in coverage, enter a dangerous place against the number one quarterback and number one wide receiver in the NFL. In December, to see a team so bad still be very alive to make the playoffs is so weird. With only three wins on the year, the Philadelphia Eagles are one game out of first place. Although they may need some help to win the division, the fact that they have a tie on their record may actually help them in the long run. The Eagles are running out of games that they can afford to lose if they want to sneak into the playoffs. I personally feel like Jalen Hurts just need to be unleashed. He is a dual threat and Carson Wentz has not been good at all. He is ranked 30th, which is worse than Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles. The Packers have an incredible offense, and will look to continue the momentum that they have been building.
New England Patriots (+1) @ Los Angeles Chargers (47)
The New England Patriots take their ground and pound offense to Los Angeles to take on the rookie of the year and the Chargers. Austin Eckler has been back into the fold and is making an impact. I really enjoy the weapons that these Chargers possess. They have the fifth best receiver in the league, Keenan Allen, and a quarterback who loves to target him. The Patriots tend to like to take away a team’s number one weapon, so we will have to see if they have what it takes to take away Allen. The Chargers have a middle of the pack run defense, so the Patriots will have the advantage in that department. They have the third best rushing attack and the second best run blocking offensive line. No matter what happens during the season, it never feels like Belechik is out of the race until he is out of it. The Patriots will look to continue winning games in order to gain a spot in the expanded playoffs.
Betting tip of the week: Near the end of the season, you have to be careful. Some teams will lay down because there is nothing to play for. Their playoff hopes are gone, and they are just playing to collect a game check. Pay attention to these situations and tread cautiously.