Does one moment of genius make up for an otherwise uninspiring week? Let’s hope, because better is needed going forward beyond nailing the score of the Dolphins-Texans game. (A couple of absolutely killer beats didn’t help.) We’ll do our best with our NFL Week 13 predictions.
All lines are as of Wednesday and courtesy of Caesars.
NFL Predictions: Lock of the Week
Eagles -5.5; Eagles -240, Titans +196; O/U 44.5
The Titans consistently maximize their talent. That’s a testament to coach Mike Vrabel.
But as last week proved, discipline and effort aren’t enough against the best teams. Game-breaking players are needed, too. And beyond Derrick Henry, the Titans really don’t have any.
Just eight teams have fewer pass plays of 20 or more yards (30). That means to score touchdowns when Henry doesn’t break a long one, they either need short fields or long drives for touchdowns. Not surprisingly, the Titans rank 27th in net yards per drive (-4.8).
That is less than ideal against an Eagles team that allows the NFL’s second-fewest yards per play (4.8) but has shown a vulnerability for getting beat for long touchdowns in recent weeks.
Philadelphia hasn’t played its best football in a month. That’s due to change against a Titans club that is 1-4 against teams with winning records in 2022. The Eagles are 9-1 with a .439 strength of victory. The Titans’ seven wins were built on the backs of teams that are a combined .352.
Beasley: Eagles 28, Titans 16
Miller: Eagles 24, Titans 20
Robinson: Eagles 25, Titans 20
NFL Predictions: Upset of the Week
Vikings -3; Vikings -160, Jets +135; O/U 45.5
It’s a (Mike) White Christmas in Gotham.
Robert Saleh deserves credit for making the consequential decision to bench second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, who is simply not an NFL-caliber player at this point. And that courage was rewarded with the best passing performance of Week 12.
White ranked first in passer rating (149.3) and QBR (91.2) and was top-10 in points above average (6.0), expected points added (7.9), and expected points added on pass attempts (also 7.9).
The Jets don’t need that every week to win. They just need a quarterback who can make enough plays that their fourth-ranked scoring D isn’t wasted.
The Vikings should be used to facing tough defenses. This is their fourth-straight game against a team that ranks in the top 10 in EPA per play, and they just roasted a Patriots unit that might be the best in the league.
Minnesota’s issue hasn’t been scoring points. It’s been getting stops. They’ve allowed 96 points in their last three games.
Beasley: Jets 24, Vikings 21
Miller: Jets 27, Vikings 20
Robinson: Jets 24, Vikings 22
More NFL Predictions
New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills
Bills -4; Bills -205, Patriots +170; O/U 43.5
The Buffalo Bills rank first in Football Outsiders DVOA, which is a play-by-play value compared to the league average. The Patriots rank 11th as a team. However, New England has been better by that same metric over the past five weeks, as Buffalo has begun to sputter a bit offensively.
Josh Allen and the Bills passing attack hasn’t been as strong recently, which is a big problem for an offense reliant on their ogre quarterback producing at an MVP level. Meanwhile, the Patriots’ defense has been the best in the league since Week 7, even leading to the Jets benching Zach Wilson after his performance against that defense.
Still, it will take Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense playing well against a Bills defense that has remained strong over time. Meanwhile, New England’s offense hasn’t been much to write home about, even during their 5-2 run over the last seven games.
— Dalton Miller
Beasley: Bills 23, Patriots 21
Miller: Bills 23, Patriots 20
Robinson: Bills 26, Patriots 18
Washington Commanders vs. New York Giants
Commanders -2.5; Commanders -135, Giants +115; O/U 40.5
The Washington Commanders are on an absolute roll thanks to a defense finally living up to expectations, an offense that seems to do just enough to get by, and an awesome special teams unit. Meanwhile, the Giants are starting to show their warts after starting the season 6-1. They’ve lost three of their last four.
Washington’s rushing attack has turned a corner over the last few weeks. Scott Turner has found some wrinkles with Curtis Samuel, and Brian Robinson has played well since returning from a horrific offseason shooting. And while Taylor Heinicke is no world-beater under center, his flair for the dramatics and his ability to get Terry McLaurin the ball has helped Washington’s offense.
What was looked at as a weird stretch of underwhelming games for the two teams prior to the season has turned into two divisional games in three weeks with massive playoff implications. And with the rash of injuries in the Giants’ secondary, it will be tough for them to survive.
— Dalton Miller
Beasley: Commanders 21, Giants 19
Miller: Commanders 20, Giants 18
Robinson: Giants 22, Commanders 21
Atlanta Falcons vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers -1; Steelers -115, Falcons -105; O/U 43
The Atlanta Falcons are somehow only a half-game out of the division lead at 5-7. One could watch their offense and think it could be time to move on to rookie Desmond Ridder with how Marcus Mariota has performed recently, but it’s tough to pull that trigger until there’s no other choice. Mariota still provides value to the Falcons’ rushing attack, which remains solid even as the passing attack declines.
Meanwhile, the Steelers’ offense has started coming alive a bit over the past few weeks. Kenny Pickett doesn’t look like the next Dan Marino, but he’s started looking more comfortable behind his overperforming offensive line. But the biggest help has come from their improved rushing attack. After starting the season in a blender, Najee Harris and the Steelers’ run game has turned a corner.
The line seems right for this matchup with how both teams have been trending.
— Dalton Miller
Beasley: Falcons 22, Steelers 21
Miller: Falcons 28, Steelers 23
Robinson: Falcons 22, Steelers 20
Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens
Ravens -8; Ravens -420, Broncos +320; O/U 38.5
The Baltimore Ravens’ offense has not been the same recently. Their passing efficiency has tanked compared to where it was early in the season. However, it’s been the team’s defense that has consistently let them down, particularly in the fourth quarter. Baltimore took a two-possession lead into the fourth quarter against Jacksonville and squandered it. And when they retook the lead, they let that go as well.
Fortunately for them, the Broncos’ offense is on a milk carton. And now reports are surfacing that Mr. Unlimited is starting to lose the locker room. It probably didn’t take “reports” to know the defense is frustrated. We saw it on the face of Mike Purcell when he took out what seemed like all of his frustrations on Russell Wilson last week.
If Denver’s offense lays another egg against Baltimore, the whispers could start getting loud. But it would behoove the Broncos to figure things out with Wilson, considering his contract is crippling for the foreseeable future.
— Dalton Miller
Beasley: Ravens 24, Broncos 14
Miller: Ravens 27, Broncos 13
Robinson: Ravens 24, Broncos 14
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans
Browns -7; Browns -335, Texans +260; O/U 47
Storylines in the game aside, the Browns were already treading water as an average team with their backup quarterback distributing the ball to their stable of talented running backs and a newly energized Amari Cooper. Adding an MVP-caliber quarterback to that offense could supercharge it, especially against a team struggling as mightily as the Texans – where that MVP-caliber QB came from.
The Texans do have some intriguing pieces on defense with Jalen Pitre and Derek Stingley, though Stingley may not play, and there’s not much around that group. They don’t match up well with the multitude of weapons that the Browns have. The Browns’ defense also has issues, particularly in run defense.
Houston will likely lean on Dameon Pierce as long as they can in the running game before the score gets away from them. Unfortunately, it will be tough for Kyle Allen and the Texans’ receiving corps to catch up. The Browns passing defense is a bit better given the emergence of rookie Martin Emerson, who is taking advantage of Cleveland’s prodigious pass rush, led by Myles Garrett. It should be a shootout, but this time the Texans do not have Deshaun Watson.
— Arif Hasan
Beasley: Browns 28, Texans 20
Miller: Browns 30, Texans 17
Robinson: Browns 25, Texans 12
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions
Jaguars -1; Jaguars -120, Lions +100; O/U 51.5
Both the Lions and the Jaguars have turned in some surprising performances the past couple of weeks, and it should be interesting to see what happens when a team built through the trenches without a quarterback takes on a team that has a quarterback but doesn’t have the goods on the line of scrimmage.
Trevor Lawrence has been playing exciting football, and his ability to dissect defenses and make the right reads has kept the Jaguars in it. But the Lions defense has evolved over the season and it no longer features the singular focus on blitzing and man coverage. Lawrence will have to work for it against cornerback Jeff Okudah, who is expected to play this week. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph has been playing well recently, and second-overall pick Aidan Hutchinson is on a tear.
The Jaguars might make use of Travis Etienne to get by, a strategy the Lions themselves have been using with D’Andre Swift to be a high-level offense. More importantly, the Jaguars will need more from the player they drafted ahead of Hutchinson, Travon Walker, as well as from Josh Allen in order to slow down the Lions’ rushing attack. Without them or rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd playing well, it will fall entirely upon Trevor Lawrence – who may just be able to do it.
— Arif Hasan
Beasley: Jaguars 22, Lions 19
Miller: Lions 24, Jaguars 21
Robinson: Jaguars 28, Lions 23
Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Packers -4; Packers -190, Bears +158; O/U 43.5
Aaron Rodgers is the subject of a couple of different storylines, some related to on-field play and some a little less so. But he plans to play this week regardless, and we should see some excitement on the field as a result.
The Packers took care of the Bears somewhat handily in Week 2. But if Justin Fields can play this week, Green Bay will go up against an entirely different team than the one they took on to begin the season. The Bears, like the Packers, still have issues at receiver, and seeing Darnell Mooney go on injured reserve made a bad situation turn worse.
How they line up against Jaire Alexander and the Packers’ defense will be a good question, but it’s not as if the defense has taken advantage of all the talent they have. The Bears’ offensive line has been getting better, but the defense is a concern and will likely be the reason they could lose. Ultimately, the emergence of players like Christian Watson and the running capabilities of AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones could overpower Fields and David Montgomery.
— Arif Hasan
Beasley: Packers 23, Bears 21
Miller: Packers 17, Bears 16
Robinson: Packers 24, Bears 18
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Chiefs -2; Chiefs -135, Bengals +115; O/U 52.5
Sunday’s Chiefs-Bengals matchup is not only a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game but a redux of a 2021 Week 17 contest in which Kansas City allowed Ja’Marr Chase to post 266 receiving yards, the sixth-highest total this century. Chase, who’s missed four games with a hip injury, is slated to return for this Week 13 battle, as is Joe Mixon, who was last week sidelined by a concussion.
Kansas City has the best offense in football, but Cincinnati’s defense found a strategy that worked in that AFC title game. Coordinator Lou Anarumo dropped eight defenders into coverage on a season-high 35% of pass plays, stifling Mahomes and holding the Chiefs to just three points in the second half and overtime.
A Chiefs’ win would make them the overwhelming favorites to capture the AFC’s No. 1 seed. Meanwhile, the Bengals face a brutal schedule to end the season, so stealing a win at home would be especially helpful to their AFC North chances.
— Dallas Robinson
Beasley: Bengals 27, Chiefs 24
Miller: Chiefs 31, Bengals 27
Robinson: Bengals 29, Chiefs 26
Miami Dolphins vs. San Francisco 49ers
49ers -4; 49ers -205, Dolphins +170; O/U 46.5
It’s the Kyle Shanahan Bowl by the Bay, when a branch of his large coaching tree returns home. Mike McDaniel spent the vast majority of his NFL career working with Shanahan and apparently took good notes.
McDaniel is running Shanahan’s offense better than his old boss is.
The Dolphins outrank the 49ers in scoring (25.6 points per game to 22.6), points per drive (2.31 to 2.12), yards per play (6.3 to 5.9), yards per pass (8.1), red zone efficiency (64.1% to 55.6%) and EPA per play (.11 to .06).
But none of that matters if the Dolphins can’t block Nick Bosa, Charles Omenihu, and Samson Ebukam, who have 60 pressures between them.
That trio at full strength would have been a handful for the Dolphins.
But without Austin Jackson and possibly Terron Armstead, who are both hurt, it could be a long day for Tua Tagovailoa. Getting back leading rusher Raheem Mostert (knee) will help.
— Adam H. Beasley
Beasley: 49ers 27, Dolphins 19
Miller: Dolphins 27, 49ers 24
Robinson: Dolphins 27, 49ers 24
Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams
Seahawks -7.5; Seahawks -355, Rams +278; O/U 41.5
Here’s the bad news for Seahawks fans: Seattle gave up 576 offensive yards to the Raiders in Week 12, the sixth-highest total in the past five years. Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs became just the 11th player in NFL history to post more than 300 yards from scrimmage. And the Seahawks dropped out of the playoff picture by ceding the NFC’s seventh seed to the Commanders.
Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Luckily, Pete Caroll’s squad now gets to face a Rams team that has essentially been forced to give up on the season. Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp seem unlikely to return this season, Allen Robinson is already done for the year, and Aaron Donald has a high-ankle sprain. Seattle has no excuse for losing this game, and a win will place them back in Wild Card contention.
— Dallas Robinson
Beasley: Seahawks 24, Rams 17
Miller: Seahawks 28, Rams 15
Robinson: Seahawks 24, Rams 17
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Chargers -1.5; Chargers -125, Raiders +105; O/U 50.5
The Raiders’ key to success: Get to overtime.
After losing seven of their first nine games (which all ended in regulation), they’re undefeated in their last two — both of which went to overtime.
Perhaps the vote of confidence coach Josh McDaniels got from Mark Davis worked.
The most encouraging part for Vegas? The offense is clicking.
The Raiders in Week 16 rung up the Seahawks for 40 points and 576 yards (including 7.5 per play). That’s a bad matchup for a Chargers defense that has allowed 16 or more points in every game this season.
This is a rematch of the final game of the NFL season — which would have sent either team through with a tie. Instead, the Raiders went for the win in overtime — and sent their rivals home.
The stakes aren’t quite as high this time around, but if Las Vegas has any reasonable playoff hopes, they’ll need to beat the Bolts once again.
— Adam H. Beasley
Beasley: Raiders 27, Chargers 24
Miller: Chargers 30, Raiders 20
Robinson: Chargers 26, Raiders 23
Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys -11; Cowboys -600, Colts +430; O/U 43.5
The Cowboys and Colts clearly took different approaches to how they hired their coaches, but what matters more is talent on the field. Since the return of Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have been able to pair their elite defense with a high-level offense and can find multiple ways to win – especially after they’ve decided to use Tony Pollard more in their offense.
The Colts are too injured on defense, and they still haven’t recovered from losing former defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to the Bears, so it will be tough to keep up with the likes of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
After an initial uptick in play after the Jeff Saturday hiring, the Colts offense found itself back in the mud, giving up pressure after pressure and seeing Matt Ryan struggle to string together drives. Ryan has put together some heroic performances, but it’s still not enough and they can’t effectively use the talents of Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman or rookie Alec Pierce.
If they do somehow figure out their offense against an incredible pass rush and talented secondary, it should be a lot of fun. But that’s unlikely, especially because they need both sides of the ball to step up in a bigger way.
— Arif Hasan
Beasley: Cowboys 28, Colts 15
Miller: Cowboys 33, Colts 13
Robinson: Cowboys 30, Colts 17
New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers -3.5; Buccaneers -190, Saints +158; O/U 40
Saints head coach/defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been a regular thorn in Tom Brady’s side during the pair’s time in the NFC South. New Orleans has held Brady and the Bucs to three points or fewer in two of their five games over the past three seasons, although Tampa Bay emerged with a 20-10 victory in Week 2 of this year.
The Buccaneers looked to be getting back on track with consecutive victories over the Rams and Seahawks, but an embarrassing loss to the Browns in Week 12 has opened up more questions about their offensive process and head coach Todd Bowles’ game management abilities. Tampa Bay could get Leonard Fournette back this week, but All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs will miss the next month with an ankle injury.
Even without Wirfs, Tampa Bay’s offensive line shouldn’t have any trouble holding up against a Saints defense that generates pressure on just 17.8% of dropbacks, the fifth-worst rate in the league. Marshon Lattimore’s potential return should give this unit a boost, but New Orleans’ defense isn’t the elite unit it once was. If Andy Dalton struggles against the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston could see action against his former team.
– Dallas Robinson
Beasley: Buccaneers 23, Saints 17
Miller: Buccaneers 20, Saints 16
Robinson: Buccaneers 24, Saints 20
Season standings through 12 weeks
Adam Beasley: 103-76-1 straight up, 80-93-7 against the spread
Dalton Miller: 105-74-1, 79-94-7
Dallas Robinson: 118-61-1, 85-88-7