Entering Week 13, a majority of the league still has something to play for this season. That’s because 20 teams are either in the playoffs or within one game of a postseason position. Yet, it’s an interesting week with most games featuring one of those teams still having motivation for 2018 against one playing out the string.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
For example, the Carolina Panthers visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carolina has lost its past three games but is still in the wild-card chase, while Tampa Bay is closing a disappointing season under embattled coach Dirk Koetter. The Panthers have the NFC’s best December record over the past five years at 17-7 and are 3.5-point road favorites on Sunday. Carolina has covered its past five in Tampa, winning four.
The Houston Texans are in control of the AFC South and have become the first team in league history to win eight straight games following an 0-3 start. Could be a bit of a trap game Sunday for the Texans as they are on a short week and hosting the improving Cleveland Browns, who are +6. Houston has failed to cover its past seven December games.
The biggest line on the board is the Kansas City Chiefs, with the AFC’s best record and off their bye week, giving 15.5 points to the AFC-worst Oakland Raiders. Not often you see a home team getting more than two touchdowns in the NFL. Oakland is 1-14 straight up in its past 15 as a dog.
Like the Chiefs, the Los Angeles Rams also come off their bye and are big road favorites: Los Angeles is giving 10 points to a nothing-to-play-for Detroit Lions squad. Detroit has won six of its past seven at Ford Field when hosting a West Coast team, and it is an early 10 a.m. Pacific time start for the Rams.
Arguably the biggest game of Week 13 is the Sunday night matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, who are -3.5 at home. Pittsburgh catches a break here in that Chargers Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon and his 13 total touchdowns will miss the game with a knee injury. The Steelers are coming off an upset loss in Denver but have covered six in a row following a defeat.
Finally, Week 13 closes with an NFC East matchup on Monday as the Washington Redskins visit the Philadelphia Eagles, with the home side a 6-point favorite. The Redskins have covered six of the previous eight against their rivals.