NFL Week 13 picks, odds: Steelers stun Ravens, Patriots upset Bills and Bengals down Chargers


I’m not sure how much food I ate over Thanksgiving Weekend, but I’m pretty sure I gained roughly 17 pounds, which is kind of a coincidence, because I think that’s also how many picks I got wrong in Week 12. Sure, there weren’t even 17 games played and the math doesn’t add up at all, but when you eat turkey for five meals a day for five straight days, nothing makes sense. 

The only good news to come out of the weekend for me is that I didn’t catch COVID, but unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Cowboys. The organization is dealing with a mini-COVID outbreak, which is going to keep Mike McCarthy from coaching on Thursday after he tested positive. 

Apparently, COVID went after everyone over Thanksgiving, because there are going to be a lot of key players missing from a lot of teams this week. 

If my picks are bad this week, I blame COVID. 

Alright, let’s get to the Week 13 picks. 

Actually, before we get to the picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here. If you don’t click over, I won’t be offended. However, I will be offended if you don’t sign up for CBSSports.com’s NFL newsletter, which I’m in charge of. 

If you do sign up, it’s like an early Christmas present for both of us: I get more sign-ups and you get an email from me five days per week, which means signing up is really like five presents in one. If you want to subscribe, all you have to do is click here and enter your email address. I promise not to spam you and I promise not to send you pictures of my cat.

Also, I would like you guys to know that I recorded a podcast on Monday night with Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson and we spent 45 highly entertaining minutes debating whether the Seahawks should think about blowing things up and starting over. Russell Wilson wants out. Pete Carroll is on the wrong side of 70. And it just feels like it might be time for the move on to the next chapter. If you want to listen, and you definitely should, you can do that below. 

Alright, let’s get to the picks. 

NFL Week 13 PicksL.A. Chargers (6-5) at Cincinnati (7-4)

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Latest Odds:

Cincinnati Bengals
-3

We’re 13 weeks into the season and I have to admit, I still have no idea what to make of the Chargers. Every time you think the Chargers are about to turn the corner and become a Super Bowl contender, they go out and fall flat on their face. If they had beaten the Broncos on Sunday, they would have been in first place heading into Week 13, but instead, they got embarrassed. I also got embarrassed because I picked them to win. 

The Chargers started the season 4-1, but they’re just 2-4 since then. I’m not exactly sure why the Chargers have fallen apart over the past few weeks, but my main working theory is that it’s because they’re the Chargers and falling apart is what they do. 

One reason they’re falling apart is because they can’t stop the run. I now know why Chargers coach Brandon Staley goes for it all the time on fourth down and it’s clearly because he wants to do everything possible to make sure his defense doesn’t ever get on the field, because if they’re on the field, that means that Chargers are probably going to lose. Through 12 weeks, the Chargers are surrendering 145.3 rushing yards per game, which is ridiculously bad when you consider that no other team in the NFL is even surrendering 136 yards per game. When it comes to having a bad run defense, the Chargers are the best in the NFL, except being the best here actually means you’re the worst, so it’s not really something you want to brag about. 

If the Bengals are smart, they’ll just give the ball to Joe Mixon 47 times in this game. I really want to pick the Bengals here…. However, I am slightly worried about picking against the Chargers and that’s because this is an odd-numbered week and the Chargers NEVER lose in odd-numbered weeks. For some reason, they forget how to play football during even-numbered weeks, but during odd numbered-weeks, they’re the 1985 Bears. 

In odd week games this season, the Chargers are 5-0 while averaging 33.0 points per game. However, in even week games, they’re 1-5 with an average of 18 points per game. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Actually, I take that back, it’s more like the “Fast and the Furious” movies. As someone who has seen every “Fast and the Furious” movie at least 19 times, I can tell you for a fact that all the odd-numbered movies are good and all the even-numbered ones are horrible, which basically sums up the Chargers entire 2021 season so far. I’m starting to think the Chargers might want to have a “Fast and the Furious” marathon or something if they want to end this even-number week curse. By the way, if you’ve never seen a “Fast and Furious” movie, I recommend starting with the fifth one because it’s the only one I’m in. 

The Chargers are 5-0 in odd weeks, the Bengals are currently the fifth-seed in the AFC playoffs and I was in “Fast Five.” I’m starting to feel like five is a theme here, so I’m going to take the Bengals by five in a game that’s fittingly being played on December 5. 

The pick: Bengals 31-26 over Chargers. 

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Washington (5-6) at Las Vegas (6-5)

4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)

Latest Odds:

Las Vegas Raiders
-1.5

We’re 13 weeks into the season and I have to admit, I still have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to picking Washington’s games. They’ve played 11 games and so far, I’m 3-8 picking those games. When it comes to picking Washington games, it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, it doesn’t matter who’s favored to win, no matter what I pick, the opposite is going to happen. if I pick them to win, they’re going to lose. If I pick them to lose they’re going to win. However, I have a secret weapon this week and that weapon is a magic coin. 

Before the 2021 season started, someone on Reddit decided to simulate the Raiders entire season by flipping a coin to determine the winner of each game and all I have to say is that this coin is better at predicting games than I am. Through 12 weeks, the coin is a perfect 11-0 predicting Raiders’ games. 

My personal record picking Raiders’ games this year is 5-6, so obviously I’m in no position to be doubting what the coin says and the coin says the Raiders are going to win. The coin picked the Raiders to beat the Cowboys and now it is picking the Raiders to beat Washington. 

That being said, if the Raiders don’t win, we can go ahead and blame me. When it comes to picking Washington games, I’m almost always wrong so there’s a 50% chance that I’m going to jinx the magical coin out of existence by picking the Raiders here. 

For the record, if the coin didn’t exist, I probably would still go with the Raiders here. They’re averaging 296.5 yards through the air this year, which is the second most in the NFL and they’ll be going up against a Washington defense that can’t stop the pass. Also, Washington is 0-4 against AFC teams this year and I’m starting to think they just can’t beat any team from that conference. 

If the Raiders do win and coin ends up being right again, they should really give some serious thought about possibly hiring the coin as their next coach. 

The pick: Raiders 30-23 over Washington. All hail the coin. 

Baltimore (8-3) at Pittsburgh (5-5-1)

4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

Latest Odds:

Baltimore Ravens
-4.5

I’ll be honest here, I have no idea what to make of this game. On one hand, you have the Steelers, who I’m pretty sure gave up about midway through the third quarter against the Bengals on Sunday. The Steelers used to have a vaunted defense, but I don’t think it qualifies as vaunted anymore after giving up 41 points in EACH of the past two weeks.  

As for the Ravens, they’re going into Sunday after a week where Lamar Jackson played arguably the worst game of his career. Jackson was downright awful against the Browns, but the Ravens were still able to win because the Browns decided to start a quarterback who basically has the same amount of injuries as someone who was just hit by a bus. The only thing that’s been worse than the Steelers defense over the past few weeks is the Ravens offense. 

Over their past three games, the Ravens have averaged just 14 points per game. The Ravens offense has progressively been getting worse since Week 10 when Baltimore got blown out by the Dolphins, who decided to blitz Lamar on nearly every play. That doesn’t mean the Steelers are going to do that, but it does mean that Mike Tomlin will probably implement some of that into his defensive game plan. 

At 5-5-1, the Steelers season basically hangs in the balance this week. If they lose, they’re definitely not winning the AFC North and they’re likely not making the playoffs. I do not like to pick against desperate teams, especially when they’re playing at home against a division rival. The Steelers are one of only two teams in the NFL that Lamar Jackson doesn’t have a winning record against — he’s 1-1 — and I don’t think that’s going to change after this week. 

The pick: Steelers 19-16 over Ravens. 

New England (8-4) at Buffalo (7-4)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Latest Odds:

Buffalo Bills
-2.5

Based on what I know about Bills fans, there’s a 97% chance that this Monday is going to go down as the top-selling day ever in the history of the folding table industry. This is one of the biggest regular season games that the Bills have ever hosted and you can bet that Bills fans are going to respond appropriately by spending their day jumping through folding tables that have been set on fire. 

Not only will first place in the AFC East be on the line in this game, but this will also mark the FIRST TIME in franchise history that the Bills have hosted a Monday night game in the month of December. I’m guessing the Bills didn’t get any before this because the NFL likely assumed that humans couldn’t survive outside for more than nine seconds during a December night in Buffalo, which is a fair assumption. 

These two teams met on a December Monday night in New England last year and the Bills ended up completely destroying the Patriots 38-9, which in hindsight might have been a bad idea, because now, I feel like Bill Belichick would love nothing more than to totally embarrass the Bills on national television, and if anyone can totally embarrass the Bills, it’s Belichick. The man has basically made a career out of embarrassing the Bills. 

Over the past 15 years, Belichick is 25-5 against Buffalo. Although the Patriots got swept last year, they still almost pulled off an upset in their first meeting with the Bills, which was a 24-21 Buffalo win. Even in the middle of a huge rebuild, Belichick almost beat the Bills. When the Patriots went on their big free agent spending spree during the offseason, I’m 99% sure that every move they made was done with the sole purpose of ensuring that they would be able to destroy the Bills this year. 

I don’t think they’re going to destroy the Bills on Monday night, but I do think Belichick is going to leave Buffalo with a win. 

The pick: Patriots 23-20 over Bills. 

NFL Week 13 picks: All the rest

Cowboys 24-17 over SaintsBuccaneers 34-24 over FalconsCardinals 27-17 over BearsVikings 23-16 over LionsDolphins 30-20 over GiantsEagles 27-20 over JetsColts 31-17 over TexansRams 27-16 over Jaguars49ers 31-24 over SeahawksChiefs 30-17 over Broncos

BYES: Browns, Titans, Packers, Panthers

Last Week

Best pick: Last week, I predicted that the Packers would upset the Rams in Green Bay and guess what happened? The Packers upset the Rams in Green Bay, which was the most predictable game ever. If thousands of years of human civilization has taught us one thing, it’s that people who don’t live in cold weather hate cold weather. Also, people who live in California hate traveling to any place that’s not California. When you combine those two things with the fact that Matthew Stafford has suddenly turned into a pick-six machine, there was no way the Rams were winning. If you’re wondering how bad the pick-sixes have gotten with Stafford, he now has the longest pick-six streak of any quarterback since 2013 and he’s also now thrown the sixth-most pick-sixes in NFL history (26). 

Worst pick: I was thinking about taking a vacation to Florida next year, but not now, because I HATE FLORIDA after what happened to me in Week 12. There are three NFL teams located in Florida and I whiffed on every single one of their games. I picked the Colts to beat the Buccaneers. I picked the Jaguars to beat the Falcons and I picked the Panthers to beat the Dolphins. None of those things happened. My picks were so bad that I won’t be surprised if I get banned from the entire state for the rest of my life. My 19-month old daughter will probably be sad that we’ll never get to go to Disney World, but when she hears how bad my picks were, she’ll understand. 

Finally, if you guys have ever wondered which teams I’m actually good at picking, here’s a quick look: 

Teams I’m 9-2 picking this year: Texans, 49ers, Rams, Lions, Steelers (8-2-1), Colts (10-2)Longest current streak of picking a team’s games correctly: Steelers (8-0-1 since Week 3)

Teams I’ve been the worst at picking this year: Saints (3-8), Washington (3-8). Longest active streak of picking a team’s games wrong: Broncos (0-6 since Week 6 after going 5-0 picking their games to start the season)

Picks Record

Straight up in Week 12: 7-8 (0-3 picking Florida teams, 7-5 picking everyone else)SU overall: 108-71-1

Against the spread in Week 12: 6-9ATS overall: 87-90-3 

Exact score predictions: 3Exact score, wrong winner: 2

You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he’s not doing one of those things, he’s probably watching Fast Five for the 47th time this week. 

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