For The Win: Week 13

NFL picks against the Las Vegas lines.

Here we are again this year, back for more NFL picks. It is with great pleasure that I begin my second season writing this column. As someone who has won and lost their fair share of money on the NFL (and many other sports), this is bound to be a fun and unpredictable ride. Join me, won’t you?

As with the format in previous years, this article will help those of you who compete in confidence pools and in ranking selections, which may come in handy on those Las Vegas trips. Games are rated based on preference for both the point spread and other angles (such as totals or over/unders) with 1-3 “Stars”, which basically highlight the best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars are not preferred one way or the other, but will still be covered, discussed and a winner will be predicted for those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools.

It was yet another week when erring on the side of the underdog bore fruit, with the less fancied teams going 10-5 against the spread (ATS) and road teams recording a 10-5 record across the week. My suspicion in last week’s column was that there were too many lines that screamed ‘too easy’, so instantly the dogs became more intriguing. That took this column’s tally to 9-6 for the week and, with a few key Best Bet selections, took the Best Bets winning percentage to a tidy 57.8% for the season. The beat goes on in Week 13, with more Covid-19 affected games afoot.

Note that the over/unders are taken from VegasInsider.com

CLEVELAND at TENNESSEE (-5.5) (Over/Under 54)

Winners of three straight, the Browns (8-3) should be one of the darlings of the league. And yet, week after week, the commentary drifts towards a sexier topic, a more well-rounded team. The formula used by Cleveland to salt away games – relying on a two-headed backfield and a strong offensive line – does not win many plaudits in the 2020 NFL, but it is effective. Holding serve for the rest of the season should secure a postseason berth for the woebegone franchise. Vegas has deigned to make the unloved Browns a 5.5-point underdog against a Titans team that, just a couple of weeks ago, was in the doldrums. The spidey senses are tingling already.

The Titans have gone 2-2 ATS as the home favorite this season and certainly their formula will mirror that of Cleveland: plenty of the ground game and Derrick Henry, whose performance last week reminded everyone that come playoff time, the King comes to play. The Browns have been a bend but don’t break defense all season long and the return of Myles Garrett for this game would be welcome. Denzel Ward’s match-up with A.J. Brown will be worth monitoring as well. Relying on Baker Mayfield in a negative game script is always risky, but this number feels off.

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