Featured post

Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

NFL Week 13 Picks 2019 (November 28-December 2)

I'm sure I am not the only one who has been dealing with an illness at this time of the year, but I caught a cold that went far beyond the usual 'man flu' that can affect the body during the winter months.

It has been an illness which has made me a touch lethargic, although I am hoping I am over the worst of it now.

With Thanksgiving Day being a huge day for NFL fans, my only disappointment is that I can't partake in what has been an annual tradition with some of my best mates. Usually I will spend the evening with a friend who celebrates the day and invites us over for dinner and of course with all of the Thanksgiving Day Games on full view.

He is a Dallas Cowboys fan so loves having the chance to host us all together, but this year this stupid cold means I will have to watch with medication rather than the ice cold beer I would expect to be enjoying.

The thread is also going to be a shorter one this week because I have not really been in shape to write a few thoughts down earlier in the week. I will hopefully be back to full strength by Week 14, but it is what it is.

Looking back at Week 12 shows I came away with a 4-2 record which means another winning week for a third time in a row. I am not patting myself on the back though and instead getting back to work as I look to keep the trend going with all teams completing their Bye Weeks.

It means a busy five weeks remaining of the season as we draw closer to the NFL PlayOffs, but I won't be happy unless I can keep the wins coming. After a poor few weeks the momentum is with me, but I have yet to have the kind of week that will really begin to get this season turned around as I want.

Hopefully that can begin on Thanksgiving Day through to the rest of the Week 13 games to come this weekend.

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions Pick: If the Chicago Bears were playing in the AFC they would feel they are still very much in the Wild Card race, but being in the NFC means they are right on the brink of elimination. That might not be an official elimination just yet, but Chicago are three games behind the Minnesota Vikings who currently hold the Number 6 Seed and at 5-6 there really is no room for error for the Bears in what has been a miserable season for them.

The off-season is likely going to be very interesting with the feeling that either Matt Nagy or Mitchell Trubisky will need to be moved on, while there may also be a reason for both of them to depart Chicago. The Bears were supposed to be a contender so being under 0.500 with two thirds of the season played is not good enough.

At least the Chicago Bears have won two of their last three games which is better than what can be said for the Detroit Lions who are 3-7-1 for the 2019 season after losing for the fourth time in a row in Week 12 at the Washington Redskins. Matt Patricia might be worrying about his role as Head Coach, but Detroit have not been helped with injuries and they could be down to their third string Quarter Back on Thanksgiving Day in the game Detroit have annually hosted.

For a long time Detroit found it very difficult to play on Thanksgiving Day, but they have been a bit better in this position in recent years. Having Matthew Stafford at Quarter Back is a big help, but injury could see his season come to an early end and the issue at the position has been compounded by Jeff Driskel's hamstring issue.

It means David Blough is being prepared for his first start in the NFL having entered the League as an undrafted Free Agent after a solid College career with the Purdue Boilermakers. The unfamiliarity of the Chicago Defense playing on a short week with little preparation for Blough could benefit the home team, but this remains one of the best Defensive units in the NFL and it is a huge test for a Quarter Back making his first start at this level.

Detroit have to put together a strong game plan to help Blough and they should have a chance if they can stick to the run even though injuries have affected the Running Back corps too. Bo Scarbrough has taken over the main Running Back duties from Kerryon Johnson and he has shown he is capable of playing at this level with a couple of big games from him.

Pounding the rock against the Chicago Bears is not easy, but they have not been as stout in their last three games on the Defensive Line as they have for much of the season. However the Bears won't have someone like Matt Stafford to worry about at Quarter Back which may mean the Linebackers edging closer to the line of scrimmage and looking to shut down Scarbrough and force Detroit to beat them through the air.

The Lions had almost 100 yards on the ground against Chicago earlier this month, but they were helped by a mobile Quarter Back and I doubt David Blough will move as well as Jeff Driskel. If Scarbrough can't pound out some big runs on the ground, Detroit will find it very difficult to throw the ball with an inexperienced Quarter Back who is going to be sitting behind a porous Offensive Line when it comes to pass protection.

Last week the Bears showed a bit of life in the pass rush and they managed to take Driskel down twice in the first game. A less mobile Quarter Back might not be able to negotiate a way around the pressure while David Blough could struggle to decipher what he is seeing in front of him and I like the Bears to be able to contain what the Lions can bring to the table.

When it comes to the spread the bigger question is about the Chicago Offensive unit which has been the main reason the team are stuck at 5-6 in 2019. Field Goal kicking remains inconsistent, but the big questions have been about Quarter Back Mitchell Trubisky as it feels him and Head Coach Matt Nagy are on different pages.

Trubisky can only blame himself for some extremely inaccurate play, but he did throw three Touchdown passes in the win over Detroit earlier this month. He also had a pretty decent game against the New York Giants once he got hot in the second half and Trubisky should be able to pick up from where he left off in that one.

The Quarter Back has not been helped by the fact that Chicago have struggled to run the ball with the decision to trade away Jordan Howard and replace him with David Montgomery not working. The Offensive Line have not played as well as last season, but the Running Backs have also been a part of that and that has not helped Trubisky, although that is no excuse for missing wide open Receivers in the passing game.

Chicago are unlikely to be able to run the ball with any consistency in this one and that could be a problem when it comes to the Detroit pass rush against a struggling Offensive Line. However Mitchell Trubisky should be able to see some spaces in the Detroit Secondary and has players who can make big catches for him to help move the chains in this one.

It is hard to trust the Bears as a big road favourite when you think of how erratic the Offense has been throughout the season, but I do think the Defensive unit can contain Detroit for a second time in 2019. If they can restrict them to 14 or fewer points again, the Bears should find enough to cover this mark.

The Lions are 0-10-1 against the spread in their last eleven Thanksgiving Day games as the underdog and in the last two seasons they have been beaten by Divisional rivals Minnesota and Chicago. Losing to the struggling Washington Redskins in Week 12 has effectively ended Detroit's season and I think Mitchell Trubiskly will be able to have a better game than David Blough to lead his team to a successful Thanksgiving Day here for the second season in a row.

Chase Daniel helped the Bears win as 3 point favourites here last season against Matt Stafford. As bad as Trubisky has been, he can lead the Bears to a win by around a Touchdown mark against inexperienced David Blough and I will look for Chicago to cover.

Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: Jerry Jones was understandably frustrated with the performance of his Dallas Cowboys in the narrow Week 12 loss at the New England Patriots and the whole Coaching staff has been put on notice. The fans have long been against Jason Garrett as the Head Coach, but Dak Prescott continues to divide opinion and Dallas are going to need a big day from the Quarter Back as they take the national spotlight on Thanksgiving Day.

A non-Conference game might not have looked that appealing when the schedule was released, particularly as it was against an AFC East team not called New England, but the Buffalo Bills have shown they mean business. The Bills moved to 8-3 in Week 12 and they are remain two games behind the Patriots in the Division, but firmly on course for a PlayOff spot through the Wild Card race.

The Dallas Cowboys are also in a PlayOff spot going into Thanksgiving Day, but things are tight in the NFC East and the feeling is that the Philadelphia Eagles have a better remaining set of games. Those two teams meet later in the season too, but Dallas will want to put some pressure on the Eagles by winning on Thursday night and moving 1.5 games clear.

It looked like the Coaching staff were getting back to basics in Week 12 as the Cowboys tried to ride Ezekiel Elliot to success, although the conditions in Foxboro had to have played some part in the game plan. Kellen Moore and Jason Garrett will do well to stick to feeding Elliot where they can in this one too even though the Dallas Offensive Line had been struggling to really get their running game on track in recent games.

If they can pick up from where they left off against New England, the Dallas Offensive Line should be able to push for a couple of big gains in this one. Ezekiel Elliot will be running up against a Buffalo Defensive Line which has allowed 4.6 yards per carry in their last three games and this might also be important to open up some passing lanes for Dak Prescott.

The numbers have remained impressive from Prescott, but the performance in Week 12 was really bad even accounting for the tough conditions. Failing to wear a glove until the second half suggests preparation could have been better, but I do think Prescott will bounce back even against a very tough Buffalo Secondary.

He won't be helped by the fact that Amari Cooper is banged up, but the likes of Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, Blake Jarwin and Jason Witten do provide options in the passing game. Prescott has been well protected at Quarter Back so even the much respected Buffalo pass rush may not be able to get to him, although I do think the Secondary is playing well enough to at least prevent Dallas from blowing them away.

A bigger test for the Bills is going to be on the other side of the ball as people have yet to be really convinced they have enough Offensively to have a big impact in the PlayOffs. Buffalo have not really played many of the top teams in the NFL to really show who they are and Josh Allen and company are going to be challenged by an under-rated Dallas Defense.

However I do think Buffalo will be confident they can produce on the day with Allen capable of being a threat as a runner as well as a passer. Frank Gore moved to Number 3 in the all-time rushing yards list and coupled with Devin Singletary I do think the Bills can establish the run even though Dallas have a Defensive Line which can stiffen up.

Running the ball is key to just open things up for Josh Allen with the play-action and run-pass option plays key for the Quarter Back. He has a couple of decent Receivers who can have big games with John Brown playing well and Cole Beasley looking to remind his former team of his abilities.

Throwing against the Dallas Secondary is not easy, but they don't have players who will wipe out a Receiver like Buffalo do and I think that will help Josh Allen here. The Bills can come out on Thanksgiving Day looking to show the nation they are a team who are as good as the record suggests.

Buffalo have been a good road team to back and Dallas don't have a very good record against the spread when hosting a team with a winning record. The Cowboys do have a point to prove after going down to the Patriots, but they are only 2-7 against the spread in their nine Thanksgiving Day games under Jason Garrett who has to be feeling the heat.

I can see the Bills doing enough to control the clock and they can play good enough Defense to at least keep this one close so I will back the visitors with a start on the spread.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons Pick: If things go right this long weekend, the New Orleans Saints could confirm their position in the NFL PlayOffs which begin in January. The Saints moved to 9-2 with an important win over their nearest rivals the Carolina Panthers in Week 12 and that means they are 4 games clear in the Division with just five games left to play.

To put it simply, if the Saints win this week and the Panthers lose, New Orleans are going to be one of the six teams playing in the NFC portion of the PlayOffs.

Don't think that is the limit of the ambition of Sean Payton and his New Orleans team though as they chase the top Seed in the NFC. At 9-2 the Saints are only a game behind the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans host them in Week 14, although I doubt that is going to be a distraction as they prepare for a Thanksgiving Day game at rivals Atlanta Falcons who actually upset the Saints just three weeks ago.

Consecutive wins for the Atlanta Falcons out of their Bye Week suggests the players are still very happy to play for Dan Quinn, but they looked pretty much like the team that has been on view for nine weeks prior to those back to back wins. The loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dropped the Falcons to 3-8, but they will dearly love to play spoiler for New Orleans when they host the final Thanksgiving Day game of the weekend.

Austin Hooper remains on the sidelines for the Falcons, but Devonta Freeman looks set to play on Thursday and that is a huge boost for the team. Freeman might not have a huge game running the ball behind the Atlanta Offensive Line which is helping produce just 3.2 yards per carry in their last three games, but he is a huge boost for Matt Ryan as a check-down Receiver coming out of the backfield and at least slowing down some of the pass rush pressure New Orleans are expected to generate.

Matt Ryan has had nice statistical games, but those don't mean he is in top form but rather he is putting up numbers as the Falcons chase games. It is always going to be difficult playing behind a porous Offensive Line, although somehow the Falcons managed to keep him upright for the first meeting between these teams as New Orleans only produced a single Sack on the day.

Ryan does have some big time Receivers to call upon even though Marshon Lattimore looks set to give the New Orleans Secondary a boost. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley could make some plays for the Falcons, but I expect the New Orleans Defensive unit to make a much bigger effort to slow down the Falcons than they did at home and the Saints can use their pass rush to pressure throws from the Quarter Back.

While I expect a bigger effort from the Defensive unit, I can't help but think the New Orleans Offensive output is going to be significantly better than the 9 points produced the first time they played this NFC South rival. Drew Brees did have almost 300 passing yards in the game, but he was also Sacked six times and the lack of a running game really prevented the Saints from doing what they are used to on that side of the ball.

I expect things to be different on Thanksgiving with Alvin Kamara looking healthier, although I can't ignore the fact that New Orleans have a banged up Offensive Line in play. That could lead to more Atlanta pass rush pressure, although the Sacks in the first meeting is really the exception to the rule with how they have played in 2019.

The Falcons have largely failed to bottle up the run so both Kamara and Latavius Murray should have better games, while Kamara is also a big threat catching balls out of the backfield. Atlanta's Defensive Line is allowing 4.9 yards per carry in recent games and I expect the Saints to have better success in this one, while Drew Brees should be able to find open Receivers down the field.

Michael Thomas is next to impossible to stop and I think he has another big game against the Falcons, while Brees has largely looked after the ball and should avoid the Interceptions on which the Atlanta Secondary will try and thrive.

Motivation and revenge is a big angle for New Orleans in this Week 13 game and this is a team who are 8-1 against the spread when set as the road favourite playing with revenge against a Divisional rival. Last year the Saints beat the Falcons on Thanksgiving Day by 14 points at home and they covered the spread and I think they are suitably motivated to narrowly cover again in this one.

Over the years New Orleans have tended to be much stronger at home compared with the road, but the layers look to have adjusted too far with that in mind if the 24-8 record against the spread in the last thirty-two road games the Saints have played is anything to go by. They are playing in a Dome here in Atlanta so should be very comfortable with the surroundings and I like New Orleans to cover here.

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers Pick: Two weeks ago the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers underlined how much these two AFC North teams really don't like one another. One of the most controversial finishes to any NFL game I have ever seen saw Myles Garrett rip off Mason Rudolph's helmet and then decide to swing it out his head and that led to multiple fines for players as well as Garrett and Maurkice Pouncey suspended with both absent for this Week 13 game.

Things are going to be tense at Heinz Field and there is plenty on the line for both the Steelers and Browns who looking to be chasing the only Wild Card spot that is going to be available assuming the Buffalo Bills at 9-3 are well on the way to taking the other. The AFC North lead looks to be gone for both of these teams as the Baltimore Ravens continue their own roll and so both sets of players will be well aware of what they are playing for on Sunday.

It was the Cleveland Browns who deservedly won the Week 11 game between these teams and they have now won three in a row to get back to 5-6 while looking more like the team that we expected to see at the start of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers will also be feeling pretty good about themselves having bounced back from that defeat to the Browns to beat the Cincinnati Bengals which keeps them above 0.500 and also means they have won five of their last six.

The Steelers have been pretty strong at home all season and they have to be respected for that, certainly more than the spread suggests considering they are bigger underdogs this time than when these teams met in Cleveland in Week 11. Part of the factor might be the decision made by Pittsburgh at Quarter Back as they give the ball to the third string Devlin Hodges in place of Rudolph who had a terrible outing against the Bengals last week.

There will be some pressure on Duck at Quarter Back because he is going to be without JuJu Smith-Schuster at Wide Receiver and James Conner is doubtful at best at Running Back. The Steelers have struggled to run the ball without Conner who has been a key figure coming out of the backfield although Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels are capable of filling it.

A problem for the Steelers is that the Browns have clamped down on Running Backs as the Defensive Line have improved and that only means more pressure on a Quarter Back who they will want to protect as much as possible. At least Garrett's suspension just weakens the Cleveland pass rush, although even then I would imagine the Browns will be able to get the better of an Offensive Line that is missing their heartbeat in Pouncey.

All in all it makes it difficult to know how Pittsburgh will move the ball with any kind of consistency against this improving Browns Defensive unit and that means they are going to have to rely on their own Defense which has played at a strong level for much of the season.

I do think they can have success in this one too with the level the Steelers are producing, although we saw two weeks ago that the Browns can do just enough to move the chains. Nick Chubb had a strong day running the ball and him and Kareem Hunt are going to be key for the Cleveland Browns as they will be looking to pound the ball up front against what has been a pretty stiff Pittsburgh Defensive Line in recent games.

While I don't think either Running Back is going to dominate on the ground, the Browns have shown they can get those established while also having both being a big threat coming out of the backfield.

That might be the best way to get things opened up on the ground as Baker Mayfield will need a lot of help considering how well the Pittsburgh Secondary have played. Mayfield has been well protected at Quarter Back, which is key for the road team who have not been favoured here for almost thirty years, and he does have some talented Receivers who can make one or two big plays that gives Cleveland the chance to move the ball.

I do think it is going to take one or two big plays to separate these teams on the day and those are more likely to come from Baker Mayfield than Duck Hodges. There is no doubt that this spread is a bad one when you think Cleveland were a shorter favourite to win at home when these teams met two weeks ago, but I think the layers are factoring in the game manager that Pittsburgh have placed at Quarter Back.

The Browns are 4-1-1 against the spread in the last six against the Steelers and I do think they are the better team. I would not take this on if the spread moves to a full Field Goal start in favour of the home team, but I believe the Browns are able to win on the day and they should have enough to cover this mark with the skill players making one or two big plays to change the momentum in favour of the road team chasing the final Wild Card spot in the AFC.

Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants Pick: There are some real levels of excitement around the Green Bay Packers and what they may be able to achieve as they search for a return to the PlayOffs. However two losses in their last three games and both very disappointing means they have dropped to 8-3 and there is going to be work to do if the Packers are going to finish ahead of the Minnesota Vikings within the Division.

That could be the difference between hosting a PlayOff game or having to win three road games to reach the Super Bowl and the Packers are looking to recover from the manner of the loss at the San Francisco 49ers in Week 12.

Green Bay might not have been able to ask for a much better opponent than the New York Giants who have lost seven in a row and are looking for a high Draft Pick to help change the culture of the team. Daniel Jones has become the starting Quarter Back for the team having taken over from Eli Manning and there have been flashes of what he can bring to them, although injuries and a lack of talent on the Defensive unit have hurt them.

The Giants are due to face their NFC East rivals Philadelphia next, but that is on Monday Night Football and I think the full focus can be on this home game after narrowly losing to the Chicago Bears in Week 12. New York have to find more consistency when they have the ball in their hands, but the Receiving corps look a little healthier than a couple of weeks ago and the Giants can get Saquon Barkley back on track even if the Running Back is far from at 100%.

Barkley has not enjoyed much success of late, but the Packers have struggled to stop the run and it might be as good a chance to get back on track as the star Back can ask for. You could think the Packers will look to make sure they contain Barkley and force Daniel Jones to beat them through the air, but the Secondary play has been far from ideal and Green Bay have to be a lot better all around to earn a success out of this fixture.

One area where Green Bay should be able to thrive is with their pass rush and I would expect them to get after Jones if he is in obvious passing situations. If Barkley is a little banged up, the Packers should at least force some errant throws from the Giants Quarter Back and at least give their team a chance of stalling some drives.

There will be one or two concerns with how the Green Bay Defensive unit have been playing, but perhaps even more about the Offensive side of the ball. Despite having Aaron Rodgers at Quarter Back and with injuries clearing up on the Receiving unit, the Packers have been held to 11 points or fewer in the two losses suffered in the last three games and that is simply not what is expected with the talent available to them.

I would imagine Green Bay can get back on track against the New York Giants who have struggled Defensively throughout 2019. They have shown improvements on the Defensive Line when it comes to defending the run, but I don't think the Giants will be able to completely erase Aaron Jones who is also a big threat catching the ball out of the backfield.

The holes in the Secondary are much more clear to see and I do think Rodgers and company will have a chance for a much better passing game than what we saw against the 49ers. The Giants have not really been able to generate a consistent pass rush and that should mean Rodgers gets a bit more time than he has enjoyed in his defeats and the Packers can bounce back with a big win on the road.

This is a big number, but New York are just 5-15-1 against the spread in their last twenty-one home games. Backing a top Quarter Back off a loss is never a bad position to be in either and Green Bay have covered in their last four games following a loss too.

Green Bay can't afford to drop another game with the Vikings breathing down their necks and I think we see a much more complete effort as they take this one by around a Touchdown on the road.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts Pick: The most open Division in the NFL might be the AFC South which has one game separating their top three teams while all of those are still involved in the PlayOff race via the Wild Cards too.

In Week 13 two of those teams meet when the 6-5 Indianapolis Colts host the 6-5 Tennessee Titans. The game might be a bigger one for the Titans because they have already dropped the first game between these teams and would have a difficult mountain to climb if they lose the tie-breaker for any Wild Card spot, while the Colts are trying to avoid back to back losses to a Divisional rival having been beaten on Thursday Night Football by the Houston Texans in Week 12.

There is no doubt the momentum is with the Titans who have won four of their last five games to get back into contention in the AFC. On the other hand Indianapolis have lost three of their last four games and that might be a factor in the home team being favoured by less than a Field Goal.

Another might be the absence of TY Hilton which removes the biggest Receiving threat the Colts bring to the table, but we have seen the team become a run first one anyway. Marlon Mack is out, but Jonathan Williams filled in admirably in the loss to the Texans and that was a much tougher match up on paper for the Colts Offensive Line when it comes to trying to establish the run.

As much as we know Mike Vrabel wants his Titans team to be tough in the trenches on both sides of the ball, the Tennessee Defensive Line have been far from a strength up front in recent games. On the other hand Indianapolis have shown they like pushing teams around and I think Williams and the Running Backs will have a strong day for a team averaging 5.3 yards per carry in their last three games.

That will just make life easier for Jacoby Brissett at Quarter Back even though his passing numbers have been far from strong in recent games. Brissett hasn't needed to do a lot, but I think he can make plays from third and manageable spots against a Titans Secondary almost averaging 300 passing yards against them in recent games.

I don't expect Brissett to be dealing with a lot of pass rush pressure and so the Colts have every chance of having a successful Offensive outing even without some key skill players.

Tennessee will believe they can also have a big day running the ball like they have been in their last few games, especially with Derrick Henry once again looking to come into his own in December. The Titans Offensive Line have racked up some big numbers against teams who are perhaps not that strong when it comes to stopping the run, but that is not the case in this game against a Cols Defensive Line which has improved thanks to important injuries clearing up.

Stopping the run might be the key to slowing down the Tennessee Offense which looks to have come alive with Ryan Tannehill at Quarter Back in place of Marcus Mariota. If the Colts can at least play as they have been, they will feel they can contain Henry and at least force Tannehill to beat them through the air while also being able to unleash their pass rush whenever the Titans are in third and long spots.

In reality Tannehill should be able to make some plays too as he continues his fine form at Quarter Back for his new team. The Indianapolis Secondary isn't a bad one, but Tannehill has some decent Receivers and he seems to have found a chemistry with them which should produce some successful drives.

However it is the potential of the Indianapolis pass rush and the expected better balance of the home team on the Offensive side of the ball which should make the difference for them.

The Colts are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight home games against Tennessee and they are 40-19 against the spread in their last fifty-nine games following a loss. They are a well Coached team and I think that is going to be key for Indianapolis who have had a few extra days off to recover and prepare for this game.

Indianapolis have also covered in their last seven against their Divisional rivals and I will look for the Colts to cover in this one.

Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs Pick: The AFC West is down to a two horse race and it is the chance for the Kansas City Chiefs to take complete control of the Division and a big step towards the PlayOffs. They are currently a game clear of the Oakland Raiders and can complete the double over Oakland which effectively means having a three game lead with four games left to play.

No one associated with the Chiefs will underestimate the importance of this game, especially not with the New England Patriots in Foxboro up next. At 7-4 the Chiefs look in a good position to make the PlayOffs, but back to back losses would certainly change the picture considerably and that won't be lost on anyone with the Chiefs set to come off a Bye Week.

While the Chiefs were resting, the Oakland Raiders missed a big chance to move alongside them at 7-4 when laying an egg in the blow out loss to the New York Jets in Week 12. Dropping back to 6-5 means the Raiders are right in the middle of a Wild Card battle in the AFC and another loss will be a blow for Jon Gruden and his men who have overachieved so far this season and look to have a manageable end to the season following this game.

Everyone will be looking for a reaction in the Oakland camp when they visit their AFC West rivals. The entire Offense have to play better than they did in New York last week, but there is a feeling that they can do that especially if the Kansas City Chiefs have not got things right on the Defensive side of the ball.

The big flaw in the Kansas City Defensive scheme is an inability to stop the run and this suits opponents both in terms of being able to move the chains and managing the clock while also cooling down Patrick Mahomes on the sidelines for long stretches. For much of the season the Raiders have been able to run the ball well enough and they will be looking for a big all around game from Josh Jacobs who is set to become the first 1000 yard rookie rusher in their history.

Jacobs will need to establish the run to just ease the pressure on Derek Carr at Quarter Back. While Carr has had a very good season, it is clear that he needs the run game to support him and it will be key to easing up any Kansas City pass rush pressure that is generated. The Secondary have not really been tested as teams have been able to run the ball as easily as they have, but the Chiefs are far from a team who are expected to shut down the pass and I think Carr has enough weapons in the passing game to have some success.

The Raiders will feel they can move the chains in this one with that in mind, but they don't really want to be involved in a shoot out with an Offensive power like the Chiefs. Damien Williams is going to be missing at Running Back, but the Chiefs should be able to rip off some big yards on the ground and that is only going to make Patrick Mahomes' life that much easier when it comes to throwing the ball.

The last few games have seen the Oakland Raiders have seen the Secondary step up their play, but I also think that is partly down to the struggles to contain the run. We all know that Andy Reid is not someone who is going to want to run the ball over and over, but his Chiefs team can make some big plays on the ground and will also use their Running Backs in screens and check downs to really keep the Offensive unit moving.

It opens things up for the big play that Reid and Mahomes want to dial up and the availability of Tyreek Hill is very important to them. Sammy Watkins is also going to be involved and Mahomes is a capable runner when it comes to the pocket breaking down so I can't help but think he is going to have a big game here.

Kansas City beat Oakland by 18 points on the road earlier this season and Andy Reid has long been one of the most successful Head Coaches when coming out of a Bye Week. The Chiefs are also 5-1 against the spread in their last six home games against the Oakland Raiders and they have dominated their AFC West rivals in recent games too.

Jon Gruden does have his Oakland team playing hard and they can't be anything near as bad as they were in the loss to the Jets last week. They have been a team who can bounce back from losses, but I think a focused Chiefs team come out of their Bye Week and put a statement win on the board against their closest rival in the Division.

New England Patriots @ Houston Texans Pick: Over recent years the New England Patriots have regularly reminded the Houston Texans how much work still needs to be done to compete with the very best of the Conference. Surprisingly this game was not flexed out of the Sunday Night Football slot in favour of the Baltimore Ravens versus the San Francisco 49ers, but this is a good game in its own right although the Patriots head into it as the road favourite.

If the PlayOffs were to start today both the Texans and Patriots would be taking part after the big win Houston had over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. That has given them the sole lead in the AFC South, although there is much work to be done over the final five weeks for Houston to earn a post-season spot.

Things are much more comfortable for New England who are almost certainly going to be playing in the PlayOffs, although you wouldn't guess by some of the body language of players after wins. Ultimately that is the kind of standard New England set for themselves and there is plenty of motivation for them over the last five games as they look to hold off the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East and, perhaps more importantly, the Baltimore Ravens for the Number 1 Seed in the Conference.

It means they can't afford to overlook any opponent after the Ravens secured the tie-breaker with a blow out win over New England at home. The Patriots have the Texans this week and the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 14 which could also be a chance to lay down a marker for the PlayOffs and Tom Brady and company won't be heading to the south for anything but another win.

The Patriots have won eight in a row against Houston since 2012, but there are some concerns about them that need to be fixed this week. Offensively there are major question marks about the team and Tom Brady has not always looked like he is at 100% which is going to make earning some rest at the end of December and early January important to the Patriots.

Last week the conditions in Foxboro meant having to lean on the running game, but New England might make a decision to use the run more this week of their own accord. As good as the Texans have been up front for much of the 2019 season, injuries on the Defensive Line may just have weakened them and last week the Indianapolis Colts bullied them with their backup Running Back having plenty of success.

New England have not been as strong running the ball as Indianapolis, but I do think they will be looking to establish the run to open things up for Brady. As long as the Patriots don't fall massively behind the chains I think Brady will be happy with the down and distance, especially as the Houston pass rush has not been as effective since JJ Watt went down with an injury.

Tom Brady doesn't have the consistent Receiving threat of previous seasons, but there are enough playmakers to believe they can have some success in this one. However there is no doubt the main role of the Offensive unit is to make sure they don't lose the game and there will be a new Kicker in town which means they will rely on the Defensive unit as much as they have throughout 2019.

The New England Defense is playing as well as any in the NFL, although I am not putting them up there with historic Defensive units just yet. One of the weaker ares of the Patriots is the Defensive Line when it comes to stopping the run and you just know Houston are going to want to pound the rock with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson.

I would expect Houston be able to rip off some big gains, but they have to avoid penalties or getting behind the chains in down and distance. Both Hyde and Johnson have been able to rip off some big gains, but they have not always been as consistent as the Texans would like and I imagine Bill Belichick and his coaching staff will have spent the week trying to work out the best way to stop Houston from winning in the trenches.

That is no disrespect to Deshaun Watson at Quarter Back, but the Patriots will know he is playing behind a vulnerable Offensive Line when it comes to pass protection. Stephon Gilmore is one of the best Corner Backs in the NFL and he will be looking to follow DeAndre Hopkins around the field so the Patriots will be looking to make Houston rely on the pass to beat them in this game.

As good as Watson is and is going to be in the NFL, I do think he can be rattled by the pressure that a team like New England can bring. With the better Coaching likely to be coming from the visiting sideline, I do think Houston are going to have a difficult day in trying to snap their losing run to New England.

Houston have had a few more days to prepare for this game after playing on Thursday Night Football in Week 12, but that might not be enough for a team who are just 1-5 against the spread in their last six home games. New England have played well enough on the road and I think Bill Belichick out-coaches Bill O'Brien in a good looking game to be played on Sunday Night Football.

MY PICKS: Chicago Bears - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Buffalo Bills + 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Cleveland Browns - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Indianapolis Colts - 1 Point @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Kansas City Chiefs - 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
New England Patriots - 3 Points @ 1.86 Coral (2 Units)

Week 12: 4-2, + 3.20 Units (12 Units Staked, + 26.67% Yield)
Week 114-3-1, + 1.48 Units (16 Units Staked, + 9.25% Yield)
Week 104-3, + 1.10 Units (14 Units Staked, + 7.86% Yield)
Week 94-4, - 0.64 Units (16 Units Staked, - 4% Yield)
Week 82-4, - 4.20 Units (12 Units Staked, - 35% Yield)
Week 72-4, - 4.10 Units (12 Units Staked, - 34.17% Yield)
Week 66-3, + 4.84 Units (18 Units Staked, + 26.89% Yield)
Week 54-5, - 2.72 Units (18 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 43-6, - 6.54 Units (18 Units Staked, - 36.33% Yield)
Week 35-2, + 3.28 Units (12 Units Staked, + 27.33% Yield)
Week 23-4, - 2.70 Units (14 Units Staked, - 19.29% Yield)
Week 14-4, + 0.16 Units (15 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Season 201945-44-1, - 6.84 Units (177 Units Staked, - 3.86% Yield)

No comments:

Post a comment