Beating the Book: Steelers, Jaguars Take Care of Business + Full NFL Week 13 ATS Picks

Beating the Book: Steelers, Jaguars Take Care of Business + Full NFL Week 13 ATS Picks

This article is part of our Beating the Book series.

Welcome to the Week 13 edition of Beating the Book!

We're coming off of another positive week overall, going 9-7 ATS and 12-4 SU, while hitting our best bet (BAL -3.5) to move to 8-4 on the year. The positive momentum continues to build, though we're nowhere near where we'd like to be.

Luckily, we have six more weeks to make some hay, beginning with a Week 13 slate that, fittingly, brings us 13 matchups with six teams on bye. On Thursday night, the Seahawks' gauntlet of a schedule continues, as they head to Dallas to take on the red-hot Cowboys, who took care of the Commanders in their latest home blowout on Thanksgiving. Dallas isn't quite a double-digit favorite for the fourth straight week, but the 9.0 points they're handing Seattle is the second-highest spread on the board. 

The Dolphins take over as the biggest favorites this week, giving 9.5 to the down-on-their-luck Commanders in Washington. Meanwhile, the Jags are big favorites at home against Cincinnati on Monday night, while the Chiefs and Chargers are also favored by at least 6.0 points.

With sincere apologies to Panthers-Bucs and Falcons-Jets, easily our game of the week takes place in Philly, where the 10-1 Eagles will welcome in the 49ers. Despite leading the NFC by a full 2.0 games, the Eagles are 3.0-point dogs at home – an indication of just how dominant San Francisco has looked this season when at full strength.

You can find my thoughts on that game,

Welcome to the Week 13 edition of Beating the Book!

We're coming off of another positive week overall, going 9-7 ATS and 12-4 SU, while hitting our best bet (BAL -3.5) to move to 8-4 on the year. The positive momentum continues to build, though we're nowhere near where we'd like to be.

Luckily, we have six more weeks to make some hay, beginning with a Week 13 slate that, fittingly, brings us 13 matchups with six teams on bye. On Thursday night, the Seahawks' gauntlet of a schedule continues, as they head to Dallas to take on the red-hot Cowboys, who took care of the Commanders in their latest home blowout on Thanksgiving. Dallas isn't quite a double-digit favorite for the fourth straight week, but the 9.0 points they're handing Seattle is the second-highest spread on the board. 

The Dolphins take over as the biggest favorites this week, giving 9.5 to the down-on-their-luck Commanders in Washington. Meanwhile, the Jags are big favorites at home against Cincinnati on Monday night, while the Chiefs and Chargers are also favored by at least 6.0 points.

With sincere apologies to Panthers-Bucs and Falcons-Jets, easily our game of the week takes place in Philly, where the 10-1 Eagles will welcome in the 49ers. Despite leading the NFC by a full 2.0 games, the Eagles are 3.0-point dogs at home – an indication of just how dominant San Francisco has looked this season when at full strength.

You can find my thoughts on that game, as well as the entire Week 13 slate, below. As is the case every week throughout the regular season, we'll start with Thursday and go game-by-game, picking each contest against the spread. Our best bet will always be highlighted in gold.

Last week: 9-7 ATS; 12-4 SU; best bet won (BAL -3.5)

On the season: 86-89-5 ATS, 110-70 SU; 8-4 best bet

Best calls of Week 13:

  • For as historically great as the Browns' defense has been this season, going on the road in Denver with a limited quarterback is a difficult task. I'll ride with the Broncos to win another tight game and somehow, someway force their way into the AFC Wild Card picture.
  • This should be a spot where the Steelers can grind out another one of their signature, ugly wins. Browning is the primary concern, but the Bengals' defense has also slipped of late, allowing 460 yards to San Francisco, 544 to Houston and 405 to Baltimore.

Worst calls of Week 13:

  • Any lingering Patriots mystique is completely gone, and it's entirely possible New England could lose this game straight up. With that said, this is a classic 'Bill Belichick with an extra week to prepare for a very bad quarterback' spot. We'll hold our breath and take the Pats.
  • Based on what we've seen the last two weeks, it wouldn't be surprising to see Jordan Love move the ball against this Lions defense, but I like Goff to get back on track and lead a two-score victory.

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Thursday Night Football

Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys (-9.0)

Dallas is coming off of its third straight win (SU and ATS) as a double-digit favorite and continues to do nothing but lay waste to bad teams at home this season. In wins over the Jets, Pats, Rams, Giants and Commanders, Dallas has outscored its opponents 205 to 60.

While Seattle doesn't qualify as a bad team, the Seahawks are limping their way through an incredibly difficult portion of their schedule that includes a rematch with the Niners in Week 14 and a game against Philly the following week.

Seattle managed just 220 yards of total offense against San Francisco on Thanksgiving and ran only 18 total plays in the first half. A pick-six by Jordyn Brooks kept the Seahawks somewhat in the game for a few possessions, but it never felt like Geno Smith and Co. had any real chance to hang around. 

At some point, it feels like Dallas due for another "what the hell was that?" type of game, but I don't think we get it this week. Cowboys roll to another big win at home over a Seahawks team that's converted fewer third downs than the Patriots this season.

The pick: Cowboys 30 – Seahawks 17

Sunday Early Games

Los Angeles Chargers at New England Patriots (+6.0)

Thankfully, we talked ourselves out of using the Pats in the Circa Million contest this week, but that doesn't mean I was not highly leveraged on New England in some other interests. At this point, I don't even know what to say. We were banking hard on the "Bill Belichick versus a bad, inexperienced QB" narrative that's essentially been bulletproof for 20 years. But somehow, some way, the Pats found a way to commit three turnovers and botch a 34-yard field goal to force overtime.

Now sitting at 2-9, this Pats season has reached almost unfathomable levels of incompetence. Any hope of a late-season rally feels completely dead, though the Chargers giving six points on the road feels like an equally dicey proposition. LA's defense actually showed well against Baltimore on Sunday night, but the offense hinges entirely on Keenan Allen and a diminished version of Austin Ekeler.

On paper, the Chargers should have enough to get the job done against a free-falling team like the Pats, but I can assure you it will not be comfortable in any way, shape or form.

The pick: Chargers 21 – Patriots 13

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints (+4.0)

A week ago, I was praising the Lions for finding a way to rally back and beat the Bears following a disastrous start. What I did not expect was an arguably even more disastrous start against the Packers on Thanksgiving, of all days.

Detroit is still in prime position in the NFC North, but turnovers and some slippage on defense are real concerns. Over the last month, Detroit has allowed 503 yards to Baltimore, 421 to the Chargers, 334 to Chicago and most recently 377 to the Packers. The advanced numbers aren't any kinder.

Meanwhile, Detroit has committed three or more turnovers in three of its last four games – something it did only once in its first seven. Going up against the Saints' defense won't be an easy test, but the Lions may be catching New Orleans at the right time. Not only did the Saints fail to score a touchdown against Atlanta last week, but they also lost two more receivers – Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed – to injury. 

Even when at full strength, the Saints have struggled to put up points this season. They've also been horrendous in the red zone (1-of-5 on Sunday with two turnovers). Detroit is exploitable right now, but New Orleans is too banged up to take advantage. 

The pick: Lions 27 – Saints 21

Atlanta Falcons at New York Jets (+3.0)

We pulled off the impossible last week and picked a Falcons game correctly. I don't have the heart to look back on our season-long record, but my guess is we're roughly 2-9 in any game involving Atlanta.

We'll look to move to 3-9 this week as the Falcons head to New Jersey to take on entrenched starter Tim Boyle and the Jets. Last week's loss to the Dolphins went about as expected, right down to an extremely "only the Jets" 99-yard pick-six by Miami to close the first half

Offensively, the Jets didn't look much different with Boyle at the helm, but it's hard to argue with the decision to bench Zach Wilson, even if it simply came down to change for the sake of change. Either way, New York has posted 155 and 159 yards of total offense in its last two games. That's certainly not going to get it done against Buffalo and Miami, and it's not even enough to hang in with Atlanta. 

I fully expect Desmond Ridder to make 2-to-3 awful plays – including at least one pick-six – to keep the Jets' hopes alive, but Atlanta should be able to control the clock and grind out a thoroughly unsatisfying victory. Jets can cover at home, however.

The pick: Falcons 16 – Jets 14

Arizona Cardinals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5)

It took 11 games, but the Steelers finally out-gained an opponent this season. They did so by nearly 200 yards over the Bengals in Week 12, underscoring a result that was much closer than the game actually felt. Pittsburgh still has a long way to go, but it's hard to read the first game of the post-Canada era as anything but a step in the right direction. 

After consecutive road games in Cleveland and Cincinnati, the Steelers now return home to face a Cardinals team that just allowed its highest yardage total of the season to the Rams in a 37-14 demolition. As has been the case for much of the season, Arizona started fast and looked as though it was prepared to keep up in a shootout, but the Cardinals eventually wilted as the defense fell apart. Entering Week 13, Arizona is dead-last in defensive EPA, 31st in pressure rate and is allowing opponents to score on 44 percent of their possessions. 

Pittsburgh will likely make this more difficult than it needs to be, but we're backing the Steelers to cover the 5.5 at home.

The pick: Steelers 23 – Cardinals 16

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (+2.0)

The Colts have emerged as one of my favorite watches on a weekly basis. They're not good, but they're certainly not bad. And if nothing else, they're always down for a shootout.

I'm not sure that's what we'll get against the stuck-in-the-mud Titans offense, but Indy is one of the worst run defenses in the league, so this should be a decent spot for Derrick Henry, who was mostly bottled up in the first meeting between these teams in Week 5. Tennessee is coming off of a win over the Panthers, but the Titans did most of their heavy lifting in the first half before punting on all four of their second-half drives.

With Jonathan Taylor sidelined, the Colts will turn back to Zack Moss, who should be set for a high-volume afternoon against a solid run defense. This may not be a game Indy can win on the ground, however, so we need to mentally prepare for another ride on the human roller coaster that is Gardner Minshew.

Give me the Colts to pull out a narrow victory, but the Titans can cover at home.

The pick: Colts 24 – Titans 23

Miami Dolphins at Washington Commanders (+9.5)

You never quite know what to expect from the Commanders, although lately they've been a bit more predictable – and not in a good way. Washington carries a three-game losing streak into Week 13, during which they've given up 489 yards to Seattle, 431 yards (and 45 points) to Dallas and lost to Tommy DeVito by two scores. The Commanders' defense has not forced a single turnover during that stretch, while the offense has coughed it up eight times. On top of that, Washington fired its DC, Jack Del Rio, this week – typically, not something you want to do before facing the Miami Dolphins.

On one hand, it would be very Commanders-like to randomly find a way to hang around in this game, but I can't quite get there based on what we've seen from Washington of late. Give me Miami to approach a 40-point day and win big.

The pick: Dolphins 37 – Commanders 24

Denver Broncos at Houston Texans (-3.5)

Deep down, I hate all of the AFC South teams outside of Jacksonville and couldn't agree more with Trevor Lawrence's assessment.

With that said, this Texans team is real and it's scary. At no point this season did I ever think I'd be scared to death of C.J. Stroud, Tank Dell and Nico Collins leading a potential game-winning drive. While Houston has had a couple of trip-ups, including last week against a good Jags team, the Texans' offense has been a consistent force (we're choosing to forget about the Panthers debacle).

Houston now catches a red-hot Broncos team coming off of a convincing win over an elite defense in the Browns. On paper, going from Cleveland to Houston should benefit the Broncos, but they're also facing a much, much better offense than the dynamic duo of DTR and PJ Walker.

The Texans have landed in a few shootouts already this season, and while that may not be Denver's M.O. – they've won by running and screening opponents to death – I think we see plenty of points. In a back and forth game, I want to be on the side of the Texans' explosive offense – especially at home. Unsurprisingly, Houston leads the NFL with 33 pass plays that have gone for at least 25 yards.

The pick: Texans 29 – Broncos 24

Sunday Afternoon Games

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-5.5)

A downright banger in the NFC South to kick off the afternoon slate. Carolina is a complete mess right now as it plays its second of three consecutive road games. Despite sitting at 1-10, the Panthers don't feel to me like a complete embarrassment on the field – they're simply boring, over-matched on offense and have no ability to generate chunk plays. Carolina ranks ahead of only New England in explosive passes (25+ yards) on the season and is near the bottom of the league in big-play runs (10+ yards), as well.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers fell flat against Indy last week but are still very much alive in the NFC South. Tampa Bay isn't exactly an explosive offense in its own right, but I like the Bucs to hold Carolina under 20 points for a sixth straight week and take care of business. This could be the seventh straight game in which the Panthers fail to reach 300 yards of total offense. Parting ways with Frank Reich won't wake up this offense.

The pick: Buccaneers 24 – Panthers 17

San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5)

The 10-1 Eagles continue to churn through a murderer's row of a mid-season schedule. They've already faced the Cowboys, Chiefs and Bills in consecutive games and now welcome the Niners to Philly before heading out to Dallas in Week 14.

While Philly may not be winning games as convincingly and some would like, it's tough to poke holes in the recent resume. The Eagles getting 2.5 points at home is a bit jarring, and feels a little disrespectful, frankly, but it speaks to just how dominant San Francisco has been when at full strength.

I absolutely expect this to be a close game that Philly can win at home, but the 49ers should be able to exploit a defense that's hemorrhaged yards to Washington, Dallas and Buffalo. While Philly was able to contain Patrick Mahomes and the drop-prone Chiefs, KC still racked up 168 rushing yards.

Cautiously, I'll take the 49ers to win by a field goal on the road and set up what I hope will be a rematch in the NFC Championship Game.

The pick: 49ers 27 – Eagles 24

Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)

This is one of the more confounding games on the Week 13 slate. Los Angeles is coming off of perhaps its best game of the season, but that came against what may be the worst defense in the NFL right now in Arizona. The Rams can't bank on having nearly the same level of success on the ground against Cleveland, and LA's inability to get Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua going in recent weeks is a bit concerning.

Meanwhile, the Browns are in dangerous territory at quarterback. Dorian Thompson-Robinson is in concussion protocol, PJ Walker is PJ Walker and the other option is Joe Flacco. At this juncture, it's anyone's guess who will get the start, but Cleveland will once again be playing with one arm tied behind its back.

Even so, the Browns' defense should be able to make life difficult for Matthew Stafford, so I don't see the Rams running away with this game. If Amari Cooper (ribs) and/or Myles Garrett (shoulder) are out, I may change my tune, but for now we'll ride with the Browns to lose by a field goal and get the cover on the road.

The pick: Rams 23 – Browns 20

Sunday Night Football

Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers (+6.0)

Are the Green Bay Packers going to… make the playoffs? Many are asking. Getting a win over Kansas City would go a long way toward propelling the Packers in the right direction, but there plenty of other winnable games on their remaining schedule. First, though, they'll attempt to hang tough with Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs offense that came alive last week after falling behind 14-0 to the Raiders.

Green Bay is obviously coming off of its best win of the season, but the Packers did get three (3) Jared Goff fumbles to help push them to a 29-22 win. Regardless, Jordan Love has played the three best games of his career over the last three weeks, and the long-awaited emergence of Christian Watson gives the Packers a much-needed big-play threat.

With that said, going from facing the Chargers and Lions to an elite Chiefs defense is a big step-up in competition. I like Green Bay to hit a few big plays and hang around, but this should be a good spot for the KC defense to keep Love in check. Green Bay has also struggled against the run all season, and particularly of late, surrendering big yardage to Pittsburgh (205), LA (150) and Detroit (140) on the ground. 

The pick: Chiefs 27 – Packers 20

Monday Night Football

Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars (-8.5)

As much of a relief as it is, as a Jags fan, to not have to face Joe Burrow, it's a shame that much of the luster has worn off of this matchup. After the Burrow injury, this line ballooned to Jags -8.5 in a hurry, and rightfully so.

Cincinnati has enough talent around Jake Browning to still make this interesting, and knowing the Jags they'll likely commit a bizarre turnover or two to keep the Bengals in it. But the bigger concern for Cincy is the defense, which had already begun to backslide even before Burrow went down. Over the last five games, the Bengals have allowed an average of 429.4 yards per game, including 421 to the Steelers in Week 12. Teams have been able to run all over Cincinnati – that's not a strength for the Jaguars, but this could be a week to get Travis Etienne back on track.

Again, I don't expect the Jaguars to make it easy on themselves, but they have enough offensive firepower to beat a limited quarterback and a shaky defense by two scores at home.

The pick: Jaguars 30 – Bengals 20

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Whalen
Now in his 10th year with the company, Nick is RotoWire's Senior Media Analyst, a position he took on after several years as the Head of Basketball Content. A multi-time FSGA and FSWA award winner, Nick co-hosts RotoWire's flagship show on Sirius XM Fantasy alongside Jeff Erickson, as well as The RotoWire NBA Show on Sirius XM NBA with Alex Barutha. He also co-hosts RotoWire's Football and Basketball podcasts. You can catch Nick's NBA and NFL analysis on VSiN and DraftKings, as well as RotoWire's various social and video channels. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @wha1en.
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