NFL Week 13 best bets and expert picks for the Sunday slate. Find best bets for NFL Week 13 featuring Broncos vs. Texans, 49ers vs. Eagles, Lions vs. Saints, Dolphins vs. Commanders, and Panthers vs. Buccaneers.
NFL Week 13 Best Bets
We’re onto Week 13 of the NFL season, and this week’s slate is loaded with exciting matchups. In this article, you can find best bet breakdowns for some of the biggest games of the week. Check out the Lineups YouTube page for coverage of all of the NFL games this week. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 16-16-1 (-0.6 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 13-8 (+4.3 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 14-15-1 (-2.1 units)
Denver Broncos at Houston Texans
Sean Payton has righted the ship in Denver. The Broncos have won five straight games for the first time since 2015, the year they won the Super Bowl, and they could be on their way to their first playoff berth since their championship run. However, a difficult matchup awaits this week as the Broncos travel to Houston to face the upstart Texans.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has exceeded preseason expectations, lighting up opposing defenses and ranking third in the league with 8.4 yards per attempt. Stroud has brought new life to the Texans’ offense, and receivers Tank Dell and Nico Collins have struck fear into opposing defensive backs every week as Houston ranks 3rd in passing offense DVOA and 6th in EPA.
Denver’s defense has turned a corner after a disastrous start to the season, and they rank 7th in defensive EPA since Week 6. However, much of that improvement has been keyed by incredible turnover variance – over that span, an astonishing 25% of all drives against the Broncos have resulted in a turnover. If you remove turnovers, the Broncos are 22nd in defensive EPA and 29th in success rate since Week 6.
The Broncos’ offense still leaves a lot to be desired, as Russell Wilson has become largely a one-read quarterback. Wilson is 5th in EPA+CPOE in the first quarter of games, but he declines after that point once the scripted portion of the game has passed. The Texans will force Wilson to complete passes over the middle of the field with DeMeco Ryans’ umbrella zone defense, and Wilson has struggled to do so all year.
Denver has relied on a balanced attack with Javonte Williams seeing a huge rushing workload, but the Texans rank top five in EPA and success rate against the run. Wilson will have to make plays against a Houston secondary that has gotten healthier in recent weeks, and I have serious doubts about his ability to do so.
The Broncos still rank just 22nd in net yards per play over the last three weeks, while the Texans rank 9th over that span. The Broncos are dead last with -2.2 net yards per play on the road, while the Texans are 11th with 0.5 net yards per play at home. The Texans are the better team in this game, and getting the key number of 3 with the home favorite represents strong value. Don’t be shocked if Houston wins by double digits.
Best Bet: Texans -3
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Amidst an incredibly lost season, the Panthers finally made the move to fire Frank Reich and clean house in their offensive staff with quarterbacks coach Josh McCown and running backs coach Duce Staley also out the door. Interim coach Chris Tabor is looking to bring some “fun” to the team over the final stretch of the season, but I’m more excited to see the offensive tweaks.
Frank Reich is a well respected coach around the NFL, but it’s not exactly a well kept secret that he wanted the Panthers to draft C.J. Stroud and not Bryce Young. Regardless of how you feel about Young, it’s impossible to deny that Reich’s coaching was a limiting factor for this offense as he refused to embrace RPOs, play action, and screen passes, claiming it didn’t fit “his system”.
I’m expecting Young to look a lot better in an offense better tailored to his strengths as he’s shown flashes of his upside throughout the year. This week provides a great opportunity to start as the Buccaneers are 29th in defensive EPA since Week 7. Injuries to linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White as well as cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean have hurt the defensive production.
Meanwhile, Carolina’s defense is getting healthier this week with cornerback Jaycee Horn, safety Jeremy Chinn, and edge Yetur Gross-Matos activated off Injured Reserve. They’ll be facing a Tampa offense that ranks just 22nd in DVOA and has Baker Mayfield dealing with an ankle injury he suffered last week. The Bucs also can’t take advantage of Carolina’s big weakness in run defense as Tampa ranks dead last in rushing success rate.
Mayfield has been an easy quarterback to fade as a favorite throughout his career as he’s 13-24-1 ATS in that role (35.1%). That drops to 3-10 ATS (23.1%) as a favorite against a divisional opponent. Todd Bowles, meanwhile, is just 40-50-5 ATS (44.7%) in his career as a head coach. Meanwhile, teams often get a bump after firing their head coach, as we saw earlier this season with the Raiders.
Saying the Panthers have been a disappointment is putting it mildly, and Schwartz will give you all of the reasons below why this is the worst team in the NFL. However, they’re getting healthier on defense and the changing of the guard on offense can only be a good thing for Young. The Buccaneers shouldn’t be favored by more than a couple of points here given the product they’ve put on the field this season.
Best Bet: Panthers +5.5
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
This might be the most highly anticipated matchup of the young NFL season, and the 49ers have certainly had it circled after losing to the Eagles in the NFC Championship. Brock Purdy suffered a brutal elbow injury in that game, effectively leaving the Niners without a passing game as journeyman Josh Johnson offered little production.
Purdy has quickly answered any questions about his injury recovery or whether his run at the end of last season was a flash in the pan. The second-year quarterback leads the NFL with 9.4 yards per pass attempt and has been the league’s most efficient passer by adjusted EPA per play. In this matchup, Purdy faces an Eagles secondary that has allowed the fourth-most passing yards per game and ranks 24th in coverage per PFF.
Philadelphia’s secondary has let them down this year, and while they rank sixth in pressure rate, it hasn’t been enough to keep them from ranking 17th in defensive DVOA. That’s in stark contrast to a Niners offense that leads the NFL in DVOA and EPA despite offensive tackle Trent Williams and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, two of their most important players, missing time earlier this year.
With Samuel joined by Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle, this offense is multi-faceted and nearly impossible to prepare for, with offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan calling plays. Shanahan has assuredly been preparing for this game since that ill-fated trip to Philly earlier this year. The Eagles’ defense is in trouble after being on the field for 92 snaps against the Bills last week.
Explosive plays should be on the menu for the 49ers’ offense as they rank 2nd in explosive play rate (14.1%), while the Eagles have allowed the third-most explosive plays (11.8%). Explosive plays are defined as 15+ yard passes or 10+ yard runs and first-year defensive coordinator Sean Desai hasn’t shown an ability to slow them down.
The Eagles will need to rely on their offense to overcome their defensive deficiencies, and I expect Jalen Hurts to succeed. He’s the rightful MVP favorite for his repeated late-game heroics and has been the seventh-most efficient quarterback by EPA+CPOE. However, he still isn’t fully healthy as he suffered a leg injury earlier this year, and he’s facing a tremendous pass rush with former first overall pick Chase Young entering the fray.
The 49ers rank 10th in pressure rate this season despite ranking 30th in blitz rate, and they could be facing an offensive line missing right tackle Lane Johnson, who is a crucial pass protector. I expect Nick Bosa and friends to wreak havoc, and while the Eagles should be able to run the ball, the 49ers rank top 5 in DVOA and EPA against the pass.
Luck has been a significant factor for the Eagles this season, as I broke down earlier this week. The Eagles haven’t outgained an opponent in total yardage since Week 7, and they have the highest luck rating in the league per TeamRankings. While Philadelphia has a 10-1 record, advanced metrics indicate they’ve been lucky, and they have the third-worst DVOA of any 10-1 team since 1981. They’re overdue for a loss, and that’s coming this week.
San Francisco is simply a much better team – they average 1.6 net yards per play; the Eagles average 0.2. The 49ers rank 2nd in overall DVOA and net EPA; the Eagles rank 9th and 7th, respectively. Steam hit the 49ers heavily earlier in the week when this game opened at a pick ‘em, driving it all the way to the key number of 3. I’d still bet the 49ers at -3 as I expect a decisive win over an Eagles team flying too close to the sun.
Best Bet: 49ers -3
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
The Lions defense is not only showing cracks in their once impressive armor, but they look to be completely broken as the coverage has fallen off a cliff. While injuries have hampered this unit, it’s apparent that Aaron Glenn’s scheme is simply not working.
That scheme revolves around the linebackers creeping up in coverage while the safeties drop back. That exposes them against the mid throw, an area of the field that the likes of Justin Herbert, Justin Field, and Jordan Love have all shown to exploit. Derek Carr is a capable passer in his own right, now in a position to routinely move the sticks into scoring position.
Worse yet, opposing offensive coordinators have laid the blueprint of how to slow down the Lions front four in a pretty simple fashion. The blueprint is to just routinely throw double teams at Aidan Hutchinson with a running back ready to chip, daring someone else to beat them in singular coverage. That has yet to be seen, meaning opposing quarterbacks are finding themselves with plenty of time to work with in a clean pocket.
Even with the Saints group of pass catchers being plagued by injuries, they should find little resistance in their efforts to exploit the gaps in coverage. Michael Thomas is on IR while Rashid Shaheed and Chris Olave are questionable, setting up to be a breakout game for the exciting AT Perry.
On the other side of the ball, Jared Goff is playing at as low a rate as possible as his turnover issues have continued to plague him two games in a row. It was especially unsettling to see against the Packers defense, a well below average unit who had no issue with rattling Goff in a collapsing pocket.
Goff now needs to get back into a rhythm against a much tougher defense, a Saints defense that is in a position to take advantage of an injury riddled Lions offensive line and routinely collapse the pocket. Expect Goff to continue to struggle in the midfield as the Saints defense ranks sixth in Def Rush Success Rate and ninth in Def Pass Success Rate.
With Goff and the Lions offense in a position to struggle against a stout Saints defense, as well as Derek Carr facing little resistance with the pass attack, take the Saints at the current spread of +4.5. For how bad the Lions have looked they should not be a -4.5 favorite over anyone. Play this down to +3 and sprinkle some pizza money on the Saints moneyline.
Best Bet: Saints +4.5
Week 13 Wong Teaser
Are the Dolphins starting to prove that they are an actual Super Bowl contender? After weeks of looking like nothing more than a tier B team, the Dolphins are starting to show signs of improvement on the defensive end which is what has held them back against elite competition.
That is in large part the return of Jalen Ramsey, a superstar lockdown corner who has given a major boost in production in the Dolphins secondary. Since his return, Miami has been able to shift their coverage towards the opposite side as Ramsey has shown to hold his own on his side of the field. Miami has since jumped to 15th in Def DVOA.
Since his return, the Dolphins defense has ranked in the top five in Def DVOA. Granted that was against very weak competition, facing the New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, and New York Jets in three of their last four games. Still, it’s a massive improvement and one that can give the lowly Washington offense fits throughout most of the contest.
On the offensive end, it should be business as usual for Tua and company as they face one of the weakest secondaries in football. It’s gotten so bad for the Commanders that they now rank 32nd in Def Pass DVOA. Their secondary is inexperienced and constantly allows playmakers to get behind them, potentially setting up for a monster Tyreek Hill game.
As for the Jaguars, they find themselves in one of the best stylistic matchups that they could ask for. Not only do they get the benefit of taking on backup quarterback Jake Browning, who is a massive drop off in production from Joe Burrow, but the Jags strengths directly exploit the Bengals weaknesses.
Especially when on offense as the Bengals secondary has been getting exposed after a hot start to the season. When the Bengals coverage is not creating Havoc, they have actually mightily struggled in coverage. They currently rank 30th in Def Pass Success Rate, playing right into Trevor Lawrence’s hands as he thrives in that department. The Jags clock in at sixth in Pass Success Rate and will be in a position to routinely move the sticks.
Should Travis Etienne be able to give it a go, he will be in a prime bounce back spot as the Bengals have also struggled to stop the run. They clock in at 29th in Def Rush DVOA and 27th in Def Rush Success Rate, giving the Jags offense the potential for much needed versatility. Expect the Jags to set a scoring pace too fast for Browning and company to keep up with, making them a prime Wong Teaser piece.
Best Bet: Dolphins -3 / Jags -2.5 Wong Teaser
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I will be the first to admit that there have been times at which I have been too high on these Bucs, but I’m fairly positive that it’s impossible to be too low on these Panthers. This is perhaps the worst team of all time when you consider the fact that they’re not even tanking; the winless Browns and Lions got the first pick out of their historically-incompetent campaigns, but the Panthers will be sending that asset to the Chicago Bears as part of the Bryce Young trade.
The Carolina secondary was one of the team’s few positives this year, but the wheels have fallen off due to injuries. The unit is expected to get some reinforcements in the form of Jaycee Horn and Jeremy Chinn this week, but after a good amount of time away from the game, and a limited practice workload for each this week, it’s hard to know how they’ll be able to contribute against the still-excellent wideout duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Teams find success when they can force Tampa to be completely one-dimensional, which doesn’t take a lot; the Bucs have one of the worst rushing offenses in the league by most metrics, but Carolina’s ground defense is the very worst by DVOA, EPA, and success rate- the whole trifecta. They’ll at least have to respect the possibility of the run, which will give Baker Mayfield the ability to sit back and dissect the secondary, which will be especially easy given the fact that Carolina blitzes at the 10th highest rate in the league, but is 30th in pressuring passers.
On the other side of the football, things are completely broken for the Panthers. Bryce Young was simply the wrong choice at the first overall pick, and it perhaps unjustly cost Frank Reich, who would have preferred CJ Stroud, his job. To be fair to young, he’s not surrounded by much talent, as the Carolina o-line ranks bottom-five in most categories, and their skill group is almost-unanimously considered to be among the league’s worst few.
The bottom line is that this is a bottom-three offense by most metrics going up against a defense that generally ranks at or above league average- especially against the run, which should force the Panthers to rely on Young much more than they’d like to. You could argue that they’re in for an interim bump or dead cat bounce, however you’d like to refer to it, but there just might not be enough talent in place to be lifted up by a change in scheme or motivation level.
Speaking of motivation level, Tampa absolutely needs this one to stay in the NFC South race, a contest in which they are currently very much alive. I’m expecting one of their best performances of the year in a must-win situation in front of their home crowd, all while facing the definitive worst team in the entire league. 5.5 is a bit of a strange number, but it’s definitely a good value; all the Bucs need to do is win this cupcake of a game by a touchdown and you’ll cash this bet.
Best Bet: Buccaneers -5.5 (play to -6.5)
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
Yes, the Eagles have gotten pretty lucky this season and probably should not be 10-1; Wayne published a phenomenal article on this very point that I’d encourage you to all check out. This would be a great sell-high point on a team whose record is not reflective of their play to this point.
That being said, you can only sell high if the odds are actually being placed accordingly, and that’s not what we’re seeing. It seems like the market understands what this Philly team is, and if anything, is overreacting to that information; the Birds are three-point underdogs at home, where they’ve lost with Jalen Hurts at the helm just once in the past two calendar years. This is a marquee game, as an NFC Championship Game rematch- and potentially preview- and will be treated as such by both the organization and fanbase. Motivation levels on the field will be incredibly high, and the crowd will be absurdly raucous.
The Birds also match up really well with San Francisco on paper. They’re 21st in the NFL in blitz rate, and sixth in pressure, giving them the ability to put heat on Brock Purdy without pulling men out of coverage. Purdy is PFF’s eighth-ranked passer when kept clean, but falls all the way down to 18th among qualifiers when pressured. We saw this play out in the Browns and Bengals games, a pair of losses in which he really struggled while being pressured on nearly half of his snaps in each contest.
Another big issue for the Niners is that their ground defense is pretty terrible, compared to what you would expect from this unit. They’re 20th in DVOA against the run, 24th when it comes to EPA and 25th in success rate. Philly’s offense ranks fifth, fifth, and third in those same categories, definitely not a surprise given the pedigree of their o-line and the ground-based element that Hurts himself brings, in addition to the effective running back based aspect of the rushing offense.
Beating the Eagles at home is hard. It’s brutal in December amidst rain showers when you’re used to California weather, and it’s borderline impossible if you can’t stop the run, cover wideouts, or execute your offense when the quarterback is pressured. Maybe the Niners will stay in this game- they’re a great team, and a very well-coached one- but they’re not going to cover a full field goal.
Best Bet: Eagles +3 (play to PK but switch to ML below +3)