Welcome to the Week 13 edition of our NFL Bets of the Week column. Here, I’ll strive to identify a handful of games I feel have profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sports and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics for one game. We’ll strive for quality over quantity here as well — the focus will only be on spots that seem to truly be advantageous. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager that we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Let’s take a quick look at how things went in Week 12 and follow that up with a leap into two interesting scenarios for Week 13.
Recapping Week 12
Week 12 winners: Patriots -9, Patriots moneyline, Giants +6 (lean)
Week 12 losers: None
Season record to date:
ATS Picks: 17-10 (.630)
ATS Leans: 2-1 (.667)
Moneyline: 7-6 (.538)
Over/under: 1-1-1 (.500)
Week 13 NFL Betting Picks
Carolina Panthers (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
Over/Under Total: 55
How They Fared in Week 12
The Panthers dropped a 30-27 decision to the Seattle Seahawks. Sebastian Janikowski nailed a game-winning 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Seahawks the win. The last-second defeat, Carolina’s first at home this season, sullied a stellar effort by Christian McCaffrey, who rushed 17 times for 125 yards and a touchdown and brought in all 11 of his targets for an additional 112 and another score. Cam Newton compiled 319 total yards (256 passing, 63 rushing) and a pair of touchdowns through the air while D.J. Moore totaled eight receptions for 91 yards.
The Buccaneers snapped a four-game skid with a 27-9 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Tampa got a stellar performance from Jameis Winston, who commemorated his return to the top job with 312 yards and two touchdowns. Peyton Barber made a rare visit to the end zone as well, while Mike Evans racked up six receptions for 116 yards to lead the receivers. The Bucs defense arguably put together its best effort of the season, sacking 49ers rookie quarterback Nick Mullens on four occasions and intercepting him twice.
Notable Matchups and Metrics
The Panthers have some drastic home/road splits. The disparity is evident on both sides of the ball. Carolina is scoring 20.4 points per road game as compared to 30.8 at home. Meanwhile, they’re yielding 28.6 points per contest away from Bank of America Stadium. That’s a sharp increase from the 23.2 they’ve allowed on their home field. There’s also a drastic difference in Carolina’s ground attack when they travel. The Panthers average an NFL-best 174.7 rush yards per game on their home turf. That number tumbles all the way down to 94.8 in their away contests. Unsurprisingly, McCaffrey’s 4.3 yards per carry on the road pales in comparison to his 5.3 home figure.
In turn, the Buccaneers are a much more effective team at Raymond James Stadium. Three of their four wins have transpired there. The Bucs are averaging an eye-popping, NFL-high 365.8 passing yards per game at home. And on the other side of the ball, even their much-maligned secondary has served as a reasonable facsimile of an NFL pass defense at home: 241.2 passing yards allowed per game. That may rank only middle-of-the-pack in the league, but it’s a dramatic improvement over 301.8 on the road.
Moreover, both teams have displayed recent trends that support the possibility of the Bucs playing better in this spot than the oddsmakers predict. Yes, the Bucs were in poor form against the Giants at the Meadowlands in Week 11 while allowing 38 points. However, they’ve yielded just 12 combined points to the Redskins and Niners in their last two home games. That’s led to Tampa allowing an average of a stingy 186.7 passing yards per contest over the last three. Since Mark Duffner took over for Mike Smith at defensive coordinator, Tampa is second in the NFL in sacks, fifth in third-down defense, and 10th in pass defense.
Then, the Panthers have seen a near four-point drop in their scoring average over their last three games, averaging 22.3 points over that span. That’s a notable downturn from their 26.1 points per game seasonal figure. The arrow is pointing in the opposite direction on the other side of the ball. Carolina has yielded an average of 34.0 points over their last trio of contests. That number is largely influenced by a 52-point outburst against them by the Steelers. It also represents a significant uptick from their 25.6 seasonal number.
For the most notable matchup of all, these two teams met in Week 9 in Carolina. The Panthers won handily by a 42-28 score. However, Ryan Fitzpatrick still touched up the Panthers for four touchdown passes. Adam Humphries brought in half of those as part of an eight-catch, 82-yard day. Carolina didn’t see Winston at all in that contest. They could be running into a sharper quarterback than they remember from last season. The 2015 first overall pick has completed 76.0 percent of his 54 attempts and generated a 4:1 TD:INT over his last five-plus quarters of play.
One final note with respect to injuries — the Panthers could find themselves particularly short-handed at receiver. Devin Funchess did not practice Wednesday due to the back injury that cost him Week 12. And Torrey Smith continues to be very limited by his ongoing knee issues. Finally, Curtis Samuel missed Wednesday’s practice with a hamstring injury.
By the Numbers
The Panthers are 5-6 (45.5 percent) against the spread this season. That includes a 1-4 mark (20.0 percent) as an away team and an 0-2 tally as an away favorite.
The Buccaneers are 3-1 (75.0 percent) as a home underdog since the beginning of the 2017 season, besting the spread by an average of 6.1 points. Tampa is also 2-1 (66.7 percent) versus the number after a win this season.
Three of the last five games between these two squads have been decided by three points or less.
The Final Word
The Panthers come into Tampa a reeling team and have been exponentially better at home. Then, Tampa has the advantage of already having played at home last week. Moreover, they may have gained some much-needed confidence with their performance versus the 49ers.
The defense has been much more productive in terms of impact plays in recent weeks while Winston has been razor-sharp since replacing Fitzpatrick early in the third quarter of the Week 11 loss to the Giants. Even if DeSean Jackson is forced to miss the game with the thumb injury he’s currently managing, the Bucs have the depth on offense to withstand his absence. At minimum, they have enough to come in under a manageable number on their home field.
The Pick: Buccaneers +3.5
Buffalo Bills (4-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-6)
Over/Under total: 40.0
How They Fared in Week 12
The Bills secured their second consecutive victory by handing the Jacksonville Jaguars a 24-21 defeat. Buffalo’s defense stole the show, limiting Jaguars QB Blake Bortles to 127 yards passing, sacking him on three occasions, and picking him off twice. Leonard Fournette was enjoying success on the ground (18 carries, 95 yards, two TD), but his involvement in a third-quarter fracas resulted in his ejection.
Rookie signal-caller Josh Allen returned to action from an elbow injury and compiled 259 total yards (160 passing, 99 rushing) and both a passing and rushing touchdown. Rookie wideout Robert Foster struck again downfield, hauling in a 75-yard touchdown from Allen in the first half.
The Dolphins appeared to be on the way to celebrating Ryan Tannehill’s return to action from a shoulder injury with a key road win over the Colts before collapsing in the fourth quarter. Like the Panthers, Miami was done in by a field goal as the clock flipped to triple zeros. Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning 32-yard field goal capped a comeback from a 24-14 fourth-quarter deficit for Indy. Miami allowed Andrew Luck to throw for 343 yards and three touchdowns.
On Miami’s end, Tannehill was solid while throwing for 204 yards and two scores. Kenyan Drake racked up 96 total yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown. That said, he appeared to aggravate a shoulder injury in the second half and missed some time during the latter portion of the contest.
Notable Matchups and Metrics
The Bills may have snuck up on their last two opponents, but their defensive performances in each contest were the real deal. Prior to the aforementioned impressive effort against the Jaguars in Week 12, Buffalo manhandled the Jets in Week 11. Buffalo handed New York a 41-10 defeat in which they picked off Josh McCown twice and sacked him three times. Over their last three games, the Bills have allowed a minuscule average of 116.3 passing yards per contest.
The Bills have given opposing offenses trouble through both the ground and air for much of the season. Buffalo is tied with several teams for seventh-lowest yards per carry allowed (4.2). Then, they’re yielding a league-low 193.7 passing yards per game. And several of the Bills’ defensive metrics paint them as a more effective unit on the road.
The Bills allow 23.7 points per game outside Ralph Wilson Stadium compared to 26.0 per game at home. Buffalo is also yielding almost seven fewer rushing yards per contest on the road (108.2, compared to 115.0 at home). And they’re averaging one more sack per contest in away games (3.0).
In turn, the Dolphins come into Sunday’s contest reeling not just from their aforementioned heartbreaking loss to Indy but from losses in four of their last five overall. Miami has allowed 27-to-42 points in that quartet of defeats. Stopping the run consistently has especially been a problem. Miami is allowing 5.4 yards per rush over their last three games, up from their 4.8 season figure.
Then, on the other side of the ball, the Fins are averaging a scant 16.3 points per game over their last three — a full four points fewer than their 2018 average. That’s also the fourth fewest in the NFL over that span. They’re surrendering 3.7 sacks per contest during that stretch as well, up from a 2.5 season figure. Plus, only the lowly Cardinals have averaged fewer passing yards over the last three games than the Dolphins. Miami is gaining just 156.0 yards through the air during that sample, down from a season average of 207.0. Granted, two of those games came with Brock Osweiler under center. But Tannehill garnered a modest passing yardage total himself in his first game back.
The Bills defense against the pass certainly doesn’t shape up as the cure for what ails Miami’s moribund air attack. The fact that Buffalo has recorded as many sacks (28) as the Dolphins have given up also don’t help the home team’s cause.
And Tannehill could well be down his most trusted receiver in Week 13. Danny Amendola is apparently very questionable to play with the knee injury that limited him to just 12 snaps against Indy. Plus, the frequently fragile DeVante Parker is now dealing with an AC joint injury that had him sporting a non-contact jersey at Wednesday’s practice.
By the Numbers
The Bills are 7-6 against the spread as an away underdog in the Sean McDermott era, including 3-3 this season. Buffalo is 4-4 versus the number in division games during that stretch. The Bills are 7-5 against the spread after a win since the beginning of last season as well, including 2-1 this season.
The Bills also swept the Dolphins last season, and their pair of 2016 losses to Miami were by three points apiece.
The Final Word
The Bills have been more effective at home. However, they’re certainly not without the talent to play respectably on the road, especially where weather isn’t a factor. Buffalo has already handled both the Vikings and Jets in convincing fashion on their respective home fields. They also come into the game with momentum after consecutive victories.
The Dolphins do have a strong home record and have performed well against the spread at Hard Rock Stadium. However, they’ve been far from sharp there recently, and the team is in a tailspin compared to earlier in the season. Miami could have enough for the straight-up win, but I’m leaning toward Buffalo playing well enough for a cover.
The Lean: Bills +5