The bye weeks are over, so even with a trio of games on Thanksgiving there are plenty of options to choose from on the Week 13 Sunday slate. Here are the six I like most as I hope to rebound from my worst week of the season.
Every game in the tight AFC South is a big one, but this contest between two 6-5 teams is even larger given the Texans’ (7-4) one-game lead in the division with five to play.
Tennessee comes in feeling good about themselves, having won three of their last four, including a 42-20 victory against Jacksonville in Week 12, but they face a challenging task against a team that has had their number of late.
Indianapolis lost a tough one in Houston last Thursday, but Frank Reich and his staff have had extra time to regroup and prepare for their second meeting of the season with the Titans. They won the first game in Nashville 19-17 behind three touchdown passes from Jacoby Brissett and have beaten Tennessee in three straight. They once again will be without running back Marlon Mack, but they still ran the ball well behind one of the league’s top offensive lines in their narrow defeat in Texas.
Colts facing what amounts to a must game vs. Titans.
Will be without:
TY Hilton (calf)
Marlon Mack (fractured hand)
Eric Ebron (IR with ankle issues)
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) November 28, 2019
I am not sold that Indy will score a ton on Sunday, but I like their chances to do what Jacksonville could not do a week ago, stop Derrick Henry. Henry ran all over the Jaguars, but he meets a much stiffer matchup against a run defense that ranks ninth best in the NFL allowing just 97 yards per game.
Look for Indy to make Ryan Tannehill beat them with the forward pass. The ex-Miami signal caller has played well in his new home, but I am not confident he can get the job done on the road against a defense like the Colts. Indy finds a way in a near must win for Frank Reich’s squad.
NFL free pick: Indianapolis (-2.5)
The Raiders have found ways to win close games all year long, but in Week 12 they were exposed by Sam Darnold and the suddenly red-hot New York Jets. The Jets took advantage of a poor Oakland defense and held Jon Gruden’s offense to just a first quarter field goal in their 34-3 rout in MetLife Stadium. Now the Raiders must rebound quickly as they head to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs.
Quarterback Derek Carr has struggled big time in Arrowhead Stadium throughout his career. He has completed just 55.3% of his passes, and has thrown just three touchdowns in five games in K.C. Most importantly, he is 0-5 in these divisional battles on the road. The former second round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft has also had his difficulties in cold weather. In fact, he is a poor 2-9 in games played below 50 degrees. The early forecast looks like cold and windy on Sunday afternoon.
The Chiefs have not been nearly as good as they were in 2018, but they come off their bye week and should have star wide receiver Tyreek Hill back in the lineup after leaving their game in Mexico City with a hamstring issue. They should light up a poor Raiders pass defense.
— Chiefs Focus (@ChiefsFocus) November 27, 2019
Patrick Mahomes and crew beat the Raiders in Week 2, 28-10, and last year crushed them in Arrowhead, 35-3. I look for them to once again take it to Oakland on Sunday afternoon.
NFL free pick: Kansas City (-10)
The Packers offense looked awful on Sunday night against the Niners, but they face a much different foe in Week 13 as they head to North Jersey to take on the Giants.
San Francisco’s front four was far too much for Green Bay’s offensive line to deal with in Week 12, especially given the early loss of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who left the game with a knee injury and is not expected to play in this one. This is a big loss for the Pack, but even without the veteran RT, they should be able to provide Aaron Rodgers with ample time to make plays against an already poor secondary that now will be without safety Jabrill Peppers. Peppers will miss the next few games with a traverse process fracture, an injury the Giants defense can ill afford. I expect Rodgers to have his way in a bounce-back spot on Sunday afternoon.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 25, 2019
The Green Bay defense has made big plays, but when they are not sacking the quarterback or creating turnovers they have struggled to stop the opposition from scoring points. It has been a bit of a struggle for second-year running back Saquon Barkley in 2019 after an incredible rookie season, but he should finally make a few big plays in this matchup.
Davante Adams has a field day and rookie QB Daniel Jones does his share for the home team in a potential shootout in MetLife.
NFL free pick: OVER (44.5)
Tampa Bay comes off an impressive victory in Atlanta, but now plays back-to-back road games in a spot they have not performed well in over the years. The Bucs are 3-14 ATS in their last 17 against AFC South foes, 6-13 ATS in games where the spread is three points or less, and 0-5 ATS in 2019 coming off games away from home.
It is difficult to back the Jaguars after an ugly effort in Nashville in Week 12, but they should have much greater success stopping the Tampa rushing attack after once again getting dominated by Derrick Henry. They also are in a get right spot for a passing game that has struggled since Nick Foles took over the offense. The Bucs pass defense ranks 31st in the NFL, and will have a hard time covering breakout WR D.J Chark.
2019 WR Fantasy Football PPG leaders 🔥
1. Michael Thomas 23.9
2. Chris Godwin 21.3
3. Mike Evans 19.1
4. DeAndre Hopkins 18.3
5. DJ Chark Jr. 17.4
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 26, 2019
The public is on Tampa, but I like the Jags.
NFL free pick: Jacksonville (+1)
It was a tough start to the season for second-year QB Sam Darnold, between being diagnosed with mononucleosis and failing to value the football, but he has turned things around against lesser competition over the last few weeks. He should find continued success in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon where head coach Zac Taylor has turned back to veteran signal caller Andy Dalton. Look for Dalton to provide a spark for a Bengals offense that was inept behind rookie Ryan Finley.
— Mark Slaughter (@MarkVSlaughter) November 27, 2019
This number is just too low.
NFL free pick: OVER (41)
I know it sounds silly to worry about a lack of defensive intensity in the marquee matchup of the weekend, but that is my concern in this inter-conference contest between two teams that have their sights set on the Super Bowl.
San Francisco comes off a huge defensive performance against the Packers and has another massive NFC game against New Orleans next week that could be for homefield advantage come January. The Ravens defense owned the Rams on Monday night and has been extremely impressive of late, but may struggle a bit to stop the zone running game of the Niners.
Look for the Ravens offense to have another big game and for Kyle Shanahan’s unit to do enough to get this one OVER the total.