As the season heads towards the final stretch, it’s harder to pick upsets that are likely to happen given it’s fairly clear who is good, bad and only okay. That hurts to write because I like to bet on money lines for obvious reasons and the real money in those lies in upsets. With that said, there is one game this weekend I’m fairly confident will end in an upset and two that probably won’t. So let’s take a look at some of the best bets you can make this Sunday:
A Tad Over/A Tad Under: Week 13 NFL Betting Lines
Money Line Upset
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers (-2.5), O/U 45
It’s time for Tad’s favorite way to beat spreads to make its now weekly appearance: take advantage of the home-field advantage. This is usually the best way to sort out how to beat spreads and call upsets because, for some reason, Vegas invests a lot in home-field advantage ignoring the context surrounding the game.
That context is the return of Jameis Winston. The Bucs have underwhelmed this season for sure but Winston’s return could be the thing that revitalizes the team. In the four games he played in before getting hurt, Winston led the Bucs to a 2-2 record which included a close loss to the New England Patriots.
Doug Martin will likely be out with a concussion but Jacquizz Rodgers proved he can fill in as the team’s starter earlier this season when Martin was serving his suspension. Rodgers had 191 total yards and a touchdown in that span.
The Packers meanwhile looked better against the Steelers in a narrow 31-28. This is concerning as the Bucs currently rank dead last in total passing defense but Hundley has only shown one good performance and there is no evidence that last week’s three-touchdown performance was anything more than a fluke.
If Hundley does keep performing well, Green Bay’s defense also resides in the bottom half of the league so this game will turn into a shootout. Let me ask this question: if you were going into a game that you know would be high scoring, would you rather take Jameis Winston or Brett Hundley?
So if you’re looking for an upset this week, this is likely your spot. As I said before, this game will likely turn into a shootout so taking the over on this game is likely the best move as well.
Other Upset Possibilities: San Francisco 49ers over the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions over the Baltimore Ravens, Minnesota Vikings over Atlanta Falcons
Beat The Spread
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints (-5), O/U 48
In a weekend full of pretty interesting games, this definitely is near the top of the list of the games I am looking forward to. The Saints have suddenly seemed to fix their inept defense from last year to now ranking in the top half of the league in most categories. Meanwhile, the Panthers are on a hot streak winning their past four straight games.
I’m not sure if Carolina will be able to pull away with this one because the Saints can chew up a lot of time should they get a lead with their running back duo. With that said, this game should remain close throughout with a surging Panthers offense that has scored 80 points in their last two games and a Saints offense that ranks 2nd in the league.
Of course, it’s always a risk betting a team either pull off the upset or essentially losing by a field goal but these two teams are pretty similar and that almost always ends with close results. While both offenses are hot, both the Panthers and Saints defenses rank in the top 12 in terms of points allowed per game so it’s safe to take the under on this one.
Other Beating The Spread Possibilities: Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Seattle Seahawks
Cover The Spread
New York Giants @ Oakland Raiders (-8), O/U 41.5
Normally I would advise against betting on any game that will feature a new starting quarterback on either team but that’s because we don’t know what to expect from them. In this case, we know exactly what to expect from Geno Smith as he starts his first game as a Giant and it isn’t anything good.
Smith wasn’t able to beat out Ryan Fitzpatrick two years in a row and unfortunately was hurt last year before showing us anything different than his measly 72 passer rating. While Oakland’s defense has been pretty atrocious this season, they’ve performed well against the lesser quarterbacks they’ve faced. They beat Jay Cutler, Josh McCown and the combo of Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian last week.
All of those quarterbacks are arguably better than Geno Smith. The Raiders will be missing both their top receivers but the Giants secondary has been notoriously bad this season and depending on Marshawn Lynch isn’t a bad backup plan.
Oakland’s defense should handle themselves just fine against the Smith-led Giants enough to beat them by multiple scores and cover the spread. Oakland’s offense is likely to explode for points and the Giants will probably be able to score some against the Raiders a little bit so the over on here is a safe bet.
Other Cover Possibilities: Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals