Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (5-6) at Dallas Cowboys (5-6)

After a convincing win on Sunday Night Football over the Kansas City Chiefs in week 9, the Cowboys were 5-3 and appeared to be back as a legitimate contender. However, the sky has completely fallen for them in the 3 weeks since then. Running back Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension was reinstated just a few days after the win over Kansas City. Left tackle Tyron Smith then injured his groin in practice. And then they lost linebacker Sean Lee in the first half against Atlanta. The Cowboys ended up losing that game by 20 after jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and they’ve lost all 3 games overall since that Kansas City game, by a combined 70 points. Making matters even worse, that win over Kansas City no longer looks impressive because the Chiefs have now lost 5 of 6, including losses to the Giants and Bills.

The good news for the Cowboys is that teams tend to bounce back after consecutive blowout losses. Teams are 46-32 ATS since 2002 off of 2+ straight losses by 21 or more. It’s counter-intuitive, but it makes sense, as teams tend to be overlooked, underrated, and embarrassed after getting blown out in back-to-back weeks. I don’t know for sure that Washington will overlook them or that Dallas will play better after being embarassed, but you could definitely argue that they are underrated, as they are coming off of 3 games against teams with top-10 rosters, the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers. Last week’s loss to the Chargers led to a significant line movement in this game, as the Cowboys have gone from being 3 point favorites on the early line last week to 2 point underdogs this week. That seems like an overreaction, given how talented the Chargers are.

The problem is the Redskins are a little underrated too, as they too have had a tough schedule. Prior to last week’s game against the Giants, the Redskins had the highest opponent win percentage in the league. Their record isn’t great at 5-6, but they beat the Rams (in LA), Raiders, and Seahawks (in Seattle) and came close against the Saints (in New Orleans) and the early season Chiefs (in Kansas City). They were underwhelming against the Giants, but that’s to be expected, as they were on a short week, coming off of a tough overtime loss in New Orleans the week before.

The Redskins also didn’t have left tackle Trent Williams in the lineup and they might have overlooked the Giants a little bit, given that it was their first easy game in weeks. Despite that, the Redskins still covered, winning by 10 as 7.5 point favorites. Now they get Williams back and they should be fresher and more focused on normal rest. Tyron Smith returned for the Cowboys last week, but Elliott still has 3 more games left on his suspension and Sean Lee remains out indefinitely, so I have the Redskins about 1.5 points better in my roster rankings.

The Cowboys also haven’t had much homefield advantage in recent years. Because they tend to attract fans throughout the country, their advantage at home is significantly less and that’s noticeable in the numbers. They are 33-28 on the road since 2010 (35-26 ATS), with a scoring differential of -0.07 per game, as opposed to 31-33 at home (22-42 ATS), with a scoring differential of +0.91 per game. Homefield advantage hasn’t even counted for a half point for them over the past 7 seasons. If the Cowboys were 6 or 7 point underdogs in Washington instead of 2 point underdogs at home, I’d like them a lot more this week.

Given the Cowboys’ lack of homefield advantage and that the Redskins are a more talented team on paper right now, I have this line calculated at even, so we’re getting some line value with the Cowboys, but not enough to be confident in them. I’d need the full field goal to place a bet on Dallas against the spread and I don’t think we’re going to get it. Unless that happens, this is a low confidence pick, though I will place a small bet on Dallas’ moneyline at +110. At the very least, this is a toss up game, probably more like 52/48 Dallas, so we’re getting some value with +110.

Also, by request, I’m going to be posting lines I lock in early in the week during my Thursday Night writeups this season, so readers can lock them in before they move. These are not all my picks for the week, just picks where I think the line may move in an unfavorable direction (usually underdogs). The rest of the writeups will continue to be posted over the weekend as normal.

NYJ +4 vs. KC (I would also take +3.5 and +3)

Dallas Cowboys 24 Washington Redskins 23 Upset Pick +110

Pick against the spread: Dallas +2

Confidence: Low

2017 Week 12 NFL Picks

Pick of the Week

TEN -3 @ IND

High Confidence Picks

BUF +10 @ KC

Medium Confidence Picks

NYJ +6 vs. CAR

ATL -9.5 vs. TB

BAL -7 vs. HOU

JAX -5 @ ARZ

Low Confidence Picks

LAC -1 @ DAL

NO +2.5 @ LAR

DET +3 vs. MIN

SF +7 vs. SEA

No Confidence Picks

NYG +7.5 @ WAS

NE -16.5 vs. MIA

CHI +14 @ PHI

PIT -14 vs. GB

DEN +5 @ OAK

CLE +8 @ CIN

Upset Picks

DET +130 vs. MIN

NO +110 @ LAR

Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)

I picked the Eagles to get a first round bye before the season and I have picked them every week this season, including Picks of the Week against the Chiefs, Redskins, and Cowboys. That’s because I’ve consistently thought they were underrated. It’s worked for me this far, as they are 8-2 ATS on the season. However, I am actually going to go against them this week because I think the lines have finally caught up with how good they are. I’ve also consistently thought the Bears have been underrated this season, picking them in 6 of 10 games (4-1-1 ATS in those 6 games).

The Bears are banged up defensively, with middle linebacker Danny Trevathan and outside linebacker Pernell McPhee not practicing on Friday and defensive end Akiem Hicks being limited, but they still have a solid defense. They also have an underrated offense, with a good offensive line, a strong running game, an improving receiving corps with 2nd round rookie tight end Adam Shaheen emerging and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman coming over from the Chargers, and #2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky improving as a starting quarterback. I have this line calculated at -13, so we’re getting 1 point of line value with the Bears at +14. It’s not enough to bet on them with any sort of confidence, but for pick ‘em pool purposes, they are the smarter choice.

Philadelphia Eagles 30 Chicago Bears 17

Pick against the spread: Chicago +14

Confidence: None

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-7) at Oakland Raiders (4-6)

This is one of my lowest confidence picks of the week. Both of these two teams are a little underrated and better than their record. Both of these teams are in relatively good spots with easy games against the Giants and Dolphins next on the schedule. I have this line calculated at -5, so we’re not getting any line value with either team. The reason I’m taking the Broncos is because they are starting a new quarterback. Paxton Lynch has the most upside of any quarterback on the Broncos’ roster, but he’s struggled in limited action, did not impress this off-season, and just started throwing a few weeks ago after a shoulder injury.

If he shows some of why he was drafted in the first round, the Broncos could keep this close or win this outright because the Raiders have defensive issues and the Broncos’ still have a top-5 defense. I’m not confident in Lynch at all, but, in a game that’s basically a coin flip, I’m willing to take the Broncos with Lynch under center and I would not be with Brock Osweiler or Trevor Siemian under center. He could be a disaster, which is why I don’t recommend betting on this one, but the Broncos make the most sense.

Oakland Raiders 20 Denver Broncos 16

Pick against the spread: Denver +5

Confidence: None

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Cleveland Browns (0-10) at Cincinnati Bengals (4-6)

The Bengals are in a terrible spot here, as they could look past the winless Browns with a huge home game against the Steelers on deck. Teams are just 36-67 ATS since 2014 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as big upcoming home games tend to present a major distraction for teams, and the Bengals are +7 currently on the early line. On top of that, favorites of 6+ like the Bengals are here are just 55-90 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs of 6 or more. Picking the Browns has been a pretty bad idea over the past couple years, as they’ve covered in just 4 of their last 20 games, but that’s pretty adequately priced into this line, as the Bengals as favored by 8 points, my exact calculated line. This is a no confidence pick, especially since the Browns have another tough game against the Chargers on deck, but this could be a major trap game for the Bengals, so Cleveland is my pick in pick ‘em pools. I can’t take them for any confidence though, as they could easily be down by 7 late and allow a return touchdown or screw up some other way.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Cleveland Browns 13

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +8

Confidence: None

Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (5-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

The Packers are obviously not the same team with backup quarterback Brett Hundley under center instead of Aaron Rodgers, as that’s about as big of a dropoff from starting quarterback to backup quarterback in the NFL. That’s not the only injury the Packers are dealing with though. They remain without their top-2 running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the year. On defense, Morgan Burnett will miss his 5th game of the season this week and stud nose tackle Kenny Clark and talented edge rusher Clay Matthews will join him on the sideline this week for the first time this season. Given their injury situation, they are one of the least talented teams in the league.

The Steelers are not at full strength either, so they won’t be able to fully take advantage of the Packers’ injury situation. Top cornerback Joe Haden remains out. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert was just suspended for the next 4 games. And talented rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss this game with a hamstring injury. They should still win this game pretty easily, but this line is pretty high at -14. The Steelers are still my pick because they have an easy trip to Cincinnati on deck. Big favorites tend to take care of business before being big favorites again, as favorites of 7+ are 66-42 ATS before being favorites of 7+ again the following week. This is my lowest confidence pick of the week though.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Green Bay Packers 13

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -14

Confidence: None

Jacksonville Jaguars at Arizona Cardinals: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-3) at Arizona Cardinals (4-6)

The Jaguars will be without cornerback All-Pro caliber cornerback Jalen Ramsey in this game, the first major injury they’ve dealt with on defense. That would be a huge blow to a lot of teams, but the Jaguars still have arguably the best defense in the league even without him and fellow cornerback AJ Bouye is more than capable of being a #1 cornerback. They don’t have a tough opponent either, as they head to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. The Cardinals once had one of the best rosters in the NFL, but they’ve lost so much talent, even just in the last year and now they have arguably the worst roster in the NFL.

Quarterback Carson Palmer, running back David Johnson, left guard Mike Iupati, offensive tackle DJ Humphries, safety Tyvon Branch, and outside linebacker Markus Golden are on injured reserve. Defensive tackle Corey Peters and wide receiver John Brown are out for this game as well. Defensive end Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson, safety DJ Swearinger, middle linebacker Kevin Minter, wide receiver Michael Floyd, and cornerback Marcus Cooper left in free agency. Right guard Evan Mathis retired. Middle linebacker Deone Bucannon, offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu are struggling and do not seem 100% back from their off-season injuries.

The Cardinals have made some nice additions like safety Antoine Bethea, cornerback Tramon Williams, defensive back Budda Baker, and running back Adrian Peterson, but that doesn’t come close to replacing what they’ve lost. They also have gotten next to nothing positive from their last 2 first round picks, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and linebacker Haason Reddick. I wish Ramsey was playing, but I still have this line calculated at -6.5, so we’re still getting some line value with the Jaguars, as I don’t think this line truly takes into account how bad the Cardinals are without all of the players they’ve lost due to injury. Last week they lost by double digits to the Texans.

The Cardinals are also in a tough spot because they have to host the Rams next week, a game in which they are 6 point underdogs on the early line. Teams are just 36-67 ATS since 2014 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more, as big upcoming home games tend to present a major distraction for teams. On top of that, if the Cardinals get down big early, a strong possibility, they could just quit with another tough game on deck. The Jaguars, meanwhile, have a nice, easy home game against the Colts on deck and should play well with no real upcoming distraction. They have a good chance to win by a touchdown or more, so Jacksonville is worth a bet as long as the line is less than 6.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 Arizona Cardinals 12

Pick against the spread: Jacksonville -5

Confidence: Medium