With only five weeks left in the regular season, we are now entering the witching hour as the league's best fight it out for playoff spots.
The Chiefs, Steelers, and Packers all hold comfortable leads in their respective divisions, but nobody has clinched their division crown quite yet. We see close races in virtually every other division, so while the season is nearing its end there will be plenty of important football over the next five weeks.
Football fans were treated to some spectacular fantasy performances in Week 12 from the likes of Derrick Henry, Tyreek Hill, and Nick Chubb who gave their fantasy owners a chance to know what it feels like to be the Kansas City Chiefs. Week 13 includes a few games with major playoff implications including a divisional matchup between the Rams and Cardinals as well as an AFC game between the Browns and Titans who are both fighting to climb to the top spot in their divisions.
Let's take a look at our Week 13 power rankings based on what we've seen so far this season.
32. New York Jets (0-11, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - While there are a few teams that could challenge for the number one spot on this list, nobody can compete with the Jets for the title of worst team in the NFL right now.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10, Last Week 31, +/- 0) - The Jags were competitive with a very good Browns team in Week 12. James Robinson turned in another great week with 159 total yards and a touchdown.
30. Detroit Lions (4-7, Last Week 30, +/- 0) - Head coach Matt Patricia and GM Bob Quinn were both fired this past week. The Lions should be thinking about Kansas City OC Eric Bieniemy for the position as he appears to already be linked to former Chiefs and Browns GM John Dorsey. It would be a an upgrade in a two for one deal.
Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are fired. Lions fans rejoice. https://t.co/KAaVlpJSJS— Drunk Matt Prater (@Drunk Matt Prater)1606593540.0
29. Chicago Bears (5-6, Last Week 29, +/- 0) - The Bears have lost five straight and even with a strong performance from David Montgomery they were trounced by Green Bay 41-25.
28. Cincinnati Bengals (2-8-1, Last Week 28, +/- 0) - Without Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon in the lineup the Bengals fell to the Giants last week in a close one. Their outlook isn't good without their rookie QB.
27. Denver Broncos (4-7, Last Week 27, +/- 0) - We question why the NFL decided to move the Steelers and Ravens game twice, but forced the Broncos to play with no quarterback on their roster.
There was a game today. The final score is what it is. Undrafted rookie WIDE RECEIVER @Kendall_Hinton2 came off… https://t.co/2fLnu2Ulab— Denver Broncos (@Denver Broncos)1606693603.0
26. Dallas Cowboys (3-8, Last Week 26, +/- 0) - Now in the top five for next year's draft which may allow them to draft a quarterback, just not one named Trevor Lawrence.
25. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7-1, Last Week 23, - 2) - How quickly the NFC East division crown changes hands. Now sitting in third place after a loss to the Seahawks on Monday night.
24. Los Angeles Chargers (3-8, Last Week 22, - 2) - We were hoping for a shootout between Justin Herbert and Josh Allen but it was a ho-hum game that saw the Chargers drop to 3-8 on the year.
23. Carolina Panthers (4-8, Last Week 20, - 3) - The Panthers' playoff chances are about as good as Adam Gase being a head coach in the NFL next season.
22. New York Giants (4-7, Last Week 24, + 2) - The Giants now lead the NFC East, but we think that Washington is the better team and both are 4-7.
Saquon Barkley: "Sundays are the toughest days, but the last three weeks, they've been pretty good."— Art Stapleton (@Art Stapleton)1607004976.0
21. Atlanta Falcons (4-7, Last Week 21, +/- 0) - The Falcons blew out the Raiders last week, so you'd think they would get a bump up the rankings. Unfortunately for them their path to a wild card birth isn't just about getting wins. They'll need a combination of collapses from multiple NFC West teams, the Bucs to lose a few, and/or needing the Vikings to lose a few key games.
20. San Francisco 49ers (5-6, Last Week 25, + 5) - Raheem Mostert helped spark the 49ers offense with a touchdown in his return. Somehow this team keeps themselves in contention for a playoff spot despite the injuries they've endured.
Raheem Mostert playoff schedule: Vs. WFT @ Dal @ Ari If Mostert gets back to his full strength he’s a league winner.— Christian Calatayud (@Christian Calatayud)1606493357.0
19. Houston Texans (4-7, Last Week 19, +/- 0) - Houston moved up five spots after their Thanksgiving Day game win and haven't played another game since last week's rankings were released. They remain at 19 for this week's list.
18. Las Vegas Raiders (6-5, Last Week 16, - 2) - The Raiders got crushed by the Falcons and have now dropped two in a row. Not the time of year to go on a losing streak and give the Chiefs an even bigger division lead.
17. Washington Football Team (4-7, Last Week 17, +/- 0) - Washington held the division lead for just three days after their win on Thanksgiving. They still are ahead of the Giants in our power rankings which is a nice consolation prize for the second place Washington Football Team.
16. New England Patriots (5-6, Last Week 18, + 2) - Bill Belichick used some Jedi mind tricks to make the Cardinals' Isaiah Simmons take a bad unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a hit on Cam Newton that setup the eventual game winning field goal for the Patriots in Week 12.
If isaiah Simmons did this to tom Brady he would be banned from the nfl lmao but since it’s cam newton he’s good https://t.co/47Oh3lzvgt— John (@John)1606683938.0
15. Baltimore Ravens (6-5, Last Week 14, - 1) - The Steelers proved to be too much for the replacement squad Ravens team on Wednesday afternoon. The Ravens have lost three straight now and have allowed the Browns to establish a foothold on second place in the AFC North.
14. Minnesota Vikings (5-6, Last Week 15, + 1) - The Vikings escaped with a 28-27 win against the Panthers in Week 12 as Carolina missed a potential game winning field goal to end the game. It was Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson who led the offense as they connected for two scores on the day.
13. Los Angeles Rams (7-4, Last Week 12, - 1) - A loss to the 49ers not only allowed Seattle to take the division lead, but it allows San Francisco to remain within reasonable striking distance to overtake them later in the year.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-4, Last Week 13, + 1) - The Dolphins have kept pace with the Bills all season and are only a game out from a tie for the division lead. If Tua Tagovailoa is unable to play again next week they have Ryan Fitzpatrick who has proven he can lead this team to wins.
Here is Tua Tagovailoa at Dolphins practice today. You can see the tape around his wrist/thumb area. https://t.co/r0Y6oF1XwR— Clay Ferraro (@Clay Ferraro)1606935170.0
11. Arizona Cardinals (6-5, Last Week 9, - 2) - Let's not forget that if not for the personal foul penalty they took at the end of the game, the Cardinals would likely be 7-4 right now. This is still a good team, but Kyler Murray has begun to struggle.
10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, Last Week 7, - 3) - The Colts got blown out by the Titans in Week 12 and a typically good defense was gashed by Derrick Henry. The Colts hope to bounce back this week in another tough divisional matchup with the Texans.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5, Last Week 6, - 3) - The good news for the Buccaneers is that they've already built a nice buffer between themselves and the Falcons in their division for second place. The bad news is they can't afford to keep losing because the NFC West should be competing for two wild card spots with every team still in the hunt.
8. Cleveland Browns (8-3, Last Week 11, + 3) - Cleveland continued their winning ways against the Jaguars as they've won three in a row. Jarvis Landry had a breakout game and caught his first touchdown of the season. The Browns have a difficult game against the next team on our list in Week 13.
2020 has been quite a season for the Cleveland Browns. - Clinched a .500 season for the first time since 2007 - F… https://t.co/IUKGxmqJ06— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS)1606685307.0
7. Tennessee Titans (8-3, Last Week 10, + 3) - The Titans moved back into the division lead in the AFC South and move up three spots in our rankings this week. Tennessee and Cleveland is a game of the week contender for Week 13.
6. Buffalo Bills (8-3, Last Week 8, + 2) - The Bills got a win over the Chargers last week, but nobody on looked particularly great offensively for Buffalo including Josh Allen. That will need to change as the AFC is going to be crowded with teams looking for playoff spots.
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-3, Last Week 5, +/- 0) - DK Metcalf is one of the most explosive weapons in the NFL and Russell Wilson continues to feed him the ball which is yielding positive results for the Seahawks.
Darius Slay every time he has to cover DK Metcalf https://t.co/ZJoDeo8b86— NFL Memes (@NFL Memes)1606794789.0
4. Green Bay Packers (8-3, Last Week 4, +/- 0) - Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns to four different receivers against the Bears last week. They have the Eagles, Lions, and Panthers over the next three weeks.
3. New Orleans Saints (9-2, Last Week 3, +/- 0) - The Saints keep marching and it looks like it's going to be toward a first round bye and homefield advantage throughout most, if not all of the playoffs.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-1, Last Week 2, +/- 0) - When watching the Chiefs it feels like they should be at the top of this list, and maybe they should be. They're FindBet's Super Bowl favorite as long as Patrick Mahomes continues to perform at an MVP level as he has been.
.@dwilson_6 had the mic against the Bucs 🎙 https://t.co/IGhTRyiit4— Kansas City Chiefs (@Kansas City Chiefs)1606958100.0
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-0, Last Week 1, +/- 0) - The Steelers escaped with a win on Wednesday against the Ravens. Baltimore was without Lamar Jackson and their top two running back options. The Steelers remain at number one this week out of respect for what they've accomplished and still touting an unblemished record. But it really feels like the Chiefs are the better team right now.
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It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.