Scott Shapiro's Week 13 NFL 4-Pack
Week 13 got started with one of the best defensive efforts of the season as the Dallas Cowboys ran their record to 7-5 with a 13-10 victory against the New Orleans Saints. A number of meaningful games highlight a full slate in the National Football League on Sunday.
Here is this week’s 4-Pack:
New England Patriots (-5) vs Minnesota Vikings
As expected the Patriots came off their bye week and handled the Jets in Week 12, 27-13. Now “Brady’s Bunch” head home to take on a Vikings team coming off a near must-win game on Sunday night against the Packers.
The Patriots had won 6 in a row before getting dominated in a 34-10 loss to the Titans before their week off and were not at their best off the bye despite a two-touchdown victory in MetLife Stadium. However, they are still in great position to get a first-round bye come playoff time.
Based on history one can expect New England to kick things into high gear as we enter December. They are a very strong 65-40 ATS in December dating back to 1996 and have covered 8 of their last 9 in the year’s final month. I will be surprised if they do not play their best football to close the regular season.
Minnesota has been a bit of a disappointment after being one of the favorites to win the NFC before the season started. They come into this out of conference battle off of two primetime divisional games against their two arch rivals, so the question is not only are they good enough to play with the Patriots on Sunday in Foxborough, but will they be ready to fire their best shot.
The Patriots have thrived against quality competition at home of late evidenced by their 8-2 record against the number in their last 10 games at Gillette Stadium when favored by 3.5 to 7 points. They appear to be in a good spot again in this one.
Lay the points with the AFC Champs. My play of the week!
Week 13 NFL Pick- New England Patriots (2 units)
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) vs Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens limped into their bye week back in early November on a three-game losing streak and were forced to hand over quarterback duties to rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson. John Harbaugh’s squad responded well after the week of rest with two wins at home to get themselves right back in the hunt for a wild card spot. However, the recent victories came against two of the worst teams in the NFL at the moment in the Bengals and the Raiders.
The Falcons have not been world-beaters in 2018, but they are probably better than their 4-7 record suggests heading into December. Julio Jones is having another All-Pro year and rookie wideout Calvin Ridley has shown he was worth the first-round draft pick Atlanta used on him in April. Atlanta has been ravaged by injuries on defense, but they have team speed and are likely to get star linebacker Deion Jones back in the lineup in Week 13. They have missed Jones dearly throughout most of the season, but his return should help them contain Jackson, who has done much of what has been asked of him, but nearly all of that has come on the ground and not through the air.
Jackson makes his initial start away from home on Sunday where Baltimore is 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games on turf and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 non-conference contests. I am sure the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner will make plenty of plays with his legs, but I am not sure he will be able to limit his mistakes and make big throws in a hostile environment.
The Falcons end a three-game losing streak.
Week 13 NFL Pick- Atlanta Falcons (1 unit)
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) vs Los Angeles Chargers
The Steelers were one of the NFL’s hottest teams just a couple weeks back after whooping the Panthers on Thursday Night 52-21, but my how things can change quickly. Pittsburgh needed a near miracle to “gut out” a 20-16 win in Jacksonville and last week lost a tough one 24-17 in Denver. The good news for Steelers’ fans is their team returns to Heinz Field for a Sunday Night battle with the Chargers.
Pittsburgh lost earlier this year on Sunday night to the Ravens, but other than that they have been deadly on primetime. They are 4-0 on Monday night dating back to 2015 and had won five consecutive games under the lights on Sunday’s prior to the Week 4 loss to Baltimore. They should bounce back off of the two, subpar efforts in a big way.
The Chargers have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and bring an 8-3 record with them to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. They rebounded from a tough loss to the Broncos two weeks back with a 45-10 beatdown of the hapless Cardinals. However, the win did come with a price as Los Angeles lost star running back Melvin Gordon. The star running back's absence, combined with Los Angeles's troublesome habit of losing big games, has me high on a Steelers team in need of a rebound game.
Pittsburgh rebounds from a couple of poor outings away from home and win by a touchdown or more.
Week 13 NFL Pick- Pittsburgh Steelers (1 unit)
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (O/U 45)
A big game in the NFC East ends the Week 13 action on Monday night. The Redskins head to the “City of Brotherly Love” to take on the Eagles.
Both teams have dealt with a ton of key injuries in 2018. The Redskins have been playing with a makeshift offensive line and their backup quarterback Colt McCoy, while the defending champions have lost key players on both sides of the ball.
Like last week against the Giants, I expect the Eagles to use the running game to protect their banged-up secondary, while the Redskins struggle to contain the one strength the Eagles still have on defense - their front four.
The defensive lines control the game making it difficult to get in the end zone.
Week 13 NFL Pick- UNDER (1 unit)
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 32-26-5 (+3 units)