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DraftKings is offering up a new free-to-enter pool for the 2022 NFL season. It runs for the first 17 weeks of the season, and users are allowed to pick their five favorite spreads each week. You’re also allowed one self-appointed bye week, meaning each player will pick 80 games by the end of Week 17. The players who do the best will have a chance to take home part of a $100,000 prize pool, plus millions in bonus prizes.
Let’s take a look at my five favorite picks for NFL Week 13.
The Pick: Steelers +1.5
The Steelers are a team I’ve been riding in recent weeks, and I’m going right back to the well in Week 13. They’re listed as small road favorites against the Falcons, who still have everything to play for in the NFC South. They’re only 0.5 games behind the Buccaneers for the division lead, so every game matters for them.
The only issue is they’re not that good. They rank 31st in the league in yardage differential, with only the Texans ranking worse in that department. They started the year strong from an against-the-spread perspective, but they’ve come crashing back to reality in recent weeks. They’ve now lost three of their past four games, and their lone win was a three-point home victory vs. an equally bad Bears team.
The Steelers’ numbers don’t jump off the page, but it’s important to remember that they’ve played most of the year without T.J. Watt. With their star pass-rusher on the field this season, they’ve posted a 3-1 record. Their lone loss was against Cincinnati, and there’s no shame in losing to the Bengals. I like their chances of picking up another win this week.
The Pick: Browns -6.5
I almost never bet large favorites, and when I do, it’s typically with a team that’s much better than the Browns. However, we are getting just a smidge of line value in this spot. Cleveland is up to -7.0 on DraftKings Sportsbook, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this line continued to rise leading up to kickoff.
The Browns have their flaws – particularly on defense – but the Texans have the potential to be a disaster. The only excuse for starting Kyle Allen for the second straight week is that the team is clearly tanking. They’re in a prime position to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and I don’t think they have any intention of giving it up with a couple of meaningless wins.
Allen is not going to have much help in this contest either. The team has already ruled out Brandin Cooks, leaving the team with minimal talent on that side of the ball. Nico Collins and Dameon Pierce are above-average skill-position players, and Laremy Tunsil is an excellent left tackle. Other than that, this team is grabbing at straws.
The Dolphins were up 30-0 at halftime last week, but they ultimately chose to show mercy in the second half. With DeShaun Watson making his debut for the Browns, don’t expect them to be nearly as kind.
The Pick: 49ers -3.5
This is probably my favorite spot of the week. I absolutely love the 49ers to take care of business against the Dolphins.
For starters, Miami has become extremely overvalued. Tua Tagovailoa is getting legit MVP consideration, and the team is a perfect 8-0 in games where he starts and finishes. However, their last five wins have all come against a cupcake schedule, and they’ve also had some very close calls. They managed to win by six points against the Steelers without Watt, four points against the Lions, and three points against the Bears. Even their impressive early-season wins have asterisks: The Ravens blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead, and the Bills outgained them by 285 yards.
Now, they have to take on a 49ers squad that is absolutely rolling. They’ve been firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, and they’ve kept each of their past four opponents off the scoreboard in the second half.
The 49ers' defensive line should be able to feast against the Dolphins’ banged-up offensive line. The team is expected to be without both starting offensive tackles, including their best lineman in Terron Armstead. After Armstead got injured last week, Tua was sacked four times in three drives. Part of the reason the Dolphins called off the dogs against the Texans was they felt the team couldn’t properly protect their franchise quarterback. If they struggled that much against Houston, how in the world are they going to contain Nick Bosa and company?
The Dolphins also play very little defense, and the 49ers have one of the best collections of skill-position players in the league. I like their chances of dominating both sides of the ball in an easy victory.
The Pick: Bengals +1.5
This line opened at Bengals +3.0, but the sharps have been all over the home underdogs. Cincinnati has been rolling of late, winning five of their past six games, but they remain on the periphery of the AFC playoff picture. They’re currently in sixth place in the conference at 7-4, so they need to keep winning.
That’s good news for bettors. Cincinnati has been the best team in football at covering the spread since the start of last season, posting a record of 26-12. They’re 13-3 against the spread as underdogs, so this is a situation that should suit them well.
The Chiefs own the best record in the conference, but they have some flaws. Specifically, their defense remains very exploitable. Their offense has still carried them to a 9-2 record, but they’ve played some close games against good teams. Both of their wins over the Chargers came by a field goal, and they needed overtime to get past the Ryan Tannehill-less Titans. They also suffered a loss to the Bills, so this team is far from infallible.
The Pick: Colts +11.5
It’s no secret that I am very high on the Cowboys. I think they’re the best team in the NFC, possessing an elite defense and very good offense. This team has no glaring weakness, which is not something that can be said about most teams.
However, I think the Colts are better than most people realize. Their record is obviously terrible, but they’re a respectable 4-5-1 in games started by Matt Ryan. They’ve also played well since Jeff Saturday took over at head coach. They managed to win against the Raiders and had hard-fought losses against the Eagles and Steelers, so this team is not ready to mail it in.
Ultimately, the Colts have just one loss by more than 10 points with Ryan at quarterback, and it came on the road in Week 2 against the Jaguars. Jacksonville is clearly better than we thought at the time, so that loss doesn’t look nearly as bad in retrospect. I don’t expect the Colts to win this game, but I think they can make it closer than expected.
Year-to-Date Results: 43-17 (3-2 last week)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.