NFL Betting Predictions: Week 13 Opening Line Report and Picks
Amazing how much can change in less than a calendar year. The Los Angeles Chargers tied for the AFC lead with 12 victories last season and might have gone to the Super Bowl if only Philip Rivers and Co. had been in the opposite side of the bracket from Tom Brady and the Patriots and been able to avoid them somehow - Rivers has never beaten Brady.
Entering 2019, Coach Anthony Lynn had complete job security and the Bolts were considered legitimate contenders to win their first Super Bowl , but then All-Pro safety Darwin James got hurt in the summer (yet to play), Melvin Gordon held out into the season and Rivers stared playing more like Joan Rivers.
Los Angeles comes out of its bye week at 4-7, so the season is over from a playoff standpoint. Lynn's job status is very tenuous considering he already fired an offensive coordinator (who clearly wasn't the problem) and Rivers might be playing his final weeks in a Chargers/NFL uniform. Rivers will be 38 on Dec. 8 and has nine kids, so it might be time to hang them up. His contract is up after the season, and I don't know why the Chargers would re-sign him at some crazy-high number when Rivers has regressed badly.
The Chargers could have won their past two games but for a combined seven picks from the likely future Hall of Famer (he does have the regular-season statistics for Canton, but not much in the way of a playoff resume). Rivers is too much of a franchise icon for Lynn to bench him for Tyrod Taylor this year, but I can promise you that the team is either going to sign someone this offseason - when Marcus Mariota came out of Oregon, the organization lusted after him and he'd come fairly cheap - and/or draft someone in the first round next April. The fact that Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa got seriously injured could help the Chargers in a way as it might push Tua down the first round a bit. They could give Rivers a one-year swansong deal and let Tua sit a year behind him to learn.
Saw a couple of interesting props during the bye regarding the Bolts, and I assume they will be reposted this week:
*-What happens first: Rivers announces wife is pregnant with baby No. 10 (-160) or he announces his retirement (+120)? Dude, get snipped!
*-Who announces they will retire first: Eli Manning (-200), Rivers (+200) or Ben Roethlisberger (+300)? I'd go with Rivers there as he already is commuting daily from San Diego to Los Angeles.
The Chargers are one-point favorites this Sunday in Denver. The Broncos upset L.A. 20-13 in Week 5. Rivers stunk then too in throwing two picks. Joe Flacco wasn't much better but is now out for the season.
Here are some other Week 13 early lines that caught my eye. We won't touch on the Thanksgiving night game (Saints at Falcons) or Monday's (Vikings at Seahawks) because we will be previewing them individually here at Doc's. Picks are ATS.
Browns at Steelers (+1.5, 40): I promise you that the officials will have very quick whistles in this one if there are any extra-curricular activities - guessing both teams will be formally warned by the league too - in the wake of the brawl between these teams in Cleveland's 21-7 home win in Week 11 on a Thursday night. Myles Garrett had his appeal of an indefinite suspension upheld last week. There was no freaking way the NFL was going to allow him to take the field for this one after he almost killed Mason Rudolph. During the appeal hearing, Garrett alleged that Rudolph directed a racial slur at him just prior to the brawl. Are you surprised he went to the race card? Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey's three-game ban was cut to two; naturally, two and not one so he would also miss the rematch after pouncing on Garrett. Who starts at QB here for Pittsburgh? Rudolph was benched for rookie Devlin Hodges in Sunday's comeback win at winless Cincinnati. My guess is Hodges, and we should find out Tuesday. Pick: Steelers.
49ers at Ravens (-4.5, 46): Baltimore on a short week as it visited the Rams on Monday night , so needless to say this line would change dramatically if MVP favorite Lamar Jackson got hurt or something. Very possibly a Super Bowl preview as the 49ers continue one of the toughest three-game stretches in modern NFL history. They routed beat division-leading Green Bay on Sunday night, the division-leading Ravens were playing better than any team in the league entering Monday and then they visit New Orleans, the favorite to win the NFC and a division leader, in Week 15. Very interested to see what Jackson does against the Niners' No. 2 defense after he blew up the Patriots' No. 1 unit in Week 9. Pick: Love the under.
Raiders at Chiefs (-10, 54): Who would have guessed back in mid-September that this game would be one of the most important of Week 13? In Week 2, the Chiefs beat the Raiders 28-10 in their last-ever visit to Oakland. Kansas City did nothing in the first quarter and trailed 10-0, but then Patrick Mahomes had one of the greatest quarters by any QB in league history. He threw four touchdown passes and for 278 yards in the second, the most by any player in an NFL quarter since Drew Brees had 294 in the fourth against Atlanta on Nov. 9, 2008. Neither team scored in the second half. The Chiefs come off their bye week, which should allow Mahomes to be close to 100 percent with his knee injury. Oakland clearly was caught looking ahead to this one as it was crushed at the Jets on Sunday. Pick: Chiefs, although I'll be shopping/waiting for -9.5.
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