NFL Week 13 Lock Picks
As the NFL season enters the final month, four teams are racing towards the finish line with winning streaks of at least five games – Dallas (10), Miami (six), the New York Giants (six) and Oakland (five). There have been 106 games decided by eight points or fewer and 99 games decided by seven points or fewer through Week 12, both the most such games in the first 12 weeks of a season in league annals. Should we expect more close games in Week 13? Here are three games I consider NFL betting locks.
NFL Week 13 Lock Picks
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 30, 2016
LA Rams at New England Patriots (-13.5)
I can’t guarantee you that New England covers that big spread, the largest on the board, but there’s no way the Pats lose to a Rams team traveling across country for an early start. The Patriots improved to a 9-2 record with the win over the Jets last week and have now had a winning record for 16 consecutive seasons. That mark ties the San Francisco 49ers (1983-98) and the Dallas Cowboys (1970-85) for the most consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger. The Patriots will play against the Los Angeles Rams for the first time since a 14-0 loss at Los Angeles on Sept. 13, 1992. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one win away from becoming the winningest quarterback in NFL history. Brady reached the 200-win mark in 261 career starts, 31 fewer than the 292 by Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, the Rams start a guy with zero wins: Jared Goff. He makes his third career NFL start.
Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders (-3)
I like Oakland here as long as QB Derek Carr is hurt. Carr participated in the Raiders’ pseudo walk-through practice at team headquarters on Tuesday and threw the ball with little issue, two days after dislocating his right (passing) pinkie in a 35-32 victory over the Carolina Panthers. He said after the game, and on the radio Monday, that he did not expect any ill effects from the injury once the swelling subsided. Carr passed for 315 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Carolina. Carr, who orchestrated the game-winning drive which culminated in kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s 23-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, has nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2015, the second-most in the NFL (Detroit’s Matthew Stafford with 10). The Bills aim for their third consecutive win after last week’s 28-21 victory versus Jacksonville. Running back LeSean McCoy rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. McCoy has nine rushing touchdowns this season, tied for the second-most in the AFC.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5)
Over the past five seasons, the Panthers and Seahawks are tied for the league’s best record in December/January regular-season games (19-5, .792). The teams have combined to represent the NFC in each of the past three Super Bowls – Seattle (XLVIII and XLIX) and Carolina (50). The Seahawks lead the regular-season series 5-3, but lost the last meeting 27-23 in Seattle last Oct. 18. But three recent playoff games have been the most memorable games in the series, two won by Seattle and the most recent by Carolina, a 31-24 win in a divisional playoff game in January. Reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton threw for 35 touchdowns last season. This year, Newton has just 13, on pace for 19, while his passer rating has also fallen from 99.4 to 81.4. He also hasn’t been the same runner, averaging a career-low 4.2 yards per attempt. The Seahawks hold a three-game lead in the NFC West and are seeking their fifth consecutive postseason appearance. Russell Wilson is 12-2 (.857) in his career at home (including the playoffs) in games played after December 1. I like Seattle here.