Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Sunday's Essentials - Week 13
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Packers (-6.5/44.5) at Giants, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: The total opened at 47 and has been bet down in part due to reports of truly awful weather that should spell trouble for both teams. Snow and rain will likely slow both down, though the Pack has won its coldest game at Lambeau in Week 10 over Carolina and the only time it saw rain, rolling past the Broncos. Green Bay was favored at home and covered in both of those games, but sharp money still came in on New York early when this number opened at 6.5.
Offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga sprained his MCL in last week’s loss to the 49ers in an injury that looked much worse when it occurred, but he’s likely to be a game-time decision. New York has already ruled out Golden Tate due to a concussion and won’t have tight ends Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison in addition to safety Jabrill Peppers. Saquon Barkley has really struggled in gaining just 29 yards on his last 27 carries and went out of his way to say his health isn’t a factor in his lack of production, so we’ll see if playing in horrible weather will help him get back on track. He’s got a history of excelling in nasty weather.
Redskins at Panthers (-9.5/39.5), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Coming off their first victory since mid-October, Washington makes the short trip to Charlotte looking to win consecutive games for the first time since winning three straight in October in 2018. That run started against the Panthers with a 23-17 win that was Washington’s first over Carolina since 2006. Christian McCaffrey was held to just 20 rushing yards on eight carries, so he’ll be looking for a little redemption in the rain as the Panthers look to snap a three-game losing streak. His team has allowed 20 or more points in all but one game this season, but does catch a break since the ‘Skins have been anemic on offense all season and arrives with the lowest scoring output in the entire NFL.
Rookie Dwyane Haskins got his first win as a starter against the Lions last week and led the team to 19 points, the most they’ve managed since Week 2. RB Derrius Guice has provided a spark and rookie Terry McLaurin leads all first-year receivers in yardage, so both played a role in setting up last week’s game-winning field goal and will look to help pull off an upset here. Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, a mainstay who has made 139 consecutive starts, will miss his first game as a pro due to a concussion. Backup safety Deshazor Everett is going to play, but the ‘Skins look a little thin in the middle and DT Da’Ron Payne is questionable to play. Carolina has serious offensive line issues they’re dealing with as left tackle Greg Little (ankle) is doubtful and Taylor Moton (knee) is questionable to play.
49ers at Ravens (-5.5/45), 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Rain will be part of the equation throughout the game since all of Baltimore will wake up to a steady downpour that isn’t supposed to relent until the early evening. Lamar Jackson’s worst game at quarterback this season came in a rainy 26-23 OT win in Pittsburgh in which he was picked off three times and he was just 9-for-20 in Seattle despite running for 116 yards and a score. The Ravens won that game thanks to a pair of defensive scores, so you can’t imagine that the offense is very excited about the weather considering the offense has piled up 172 yards in clear conditions over the past four games with Jackson throwing 13 TDs without being intercepted. Center Matt Skura was lost for the season last week, so undrafted rookie Patrick Mekari will step in. It will help Baltimore’s continuity up front if guard Bradley Bozeman can play through an ankle injury. RB Mark Ingram is a go after an ankle tweak.
San Francisco’s defensive front has been one of the league’s best all season but will have to chase Jackson around without Dee Ford, who joins WR Dante Pettis in being sidelined for this clash. The 49ers have adequately replaced LB Kwon Alexander but his absence will likely be felt against Jackson and Mark Ingram. Slippery receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was targeted seven times last week, catching five passes for his first two-touchdown effort since Week 1, so he’s as healthy as he’s been all season and could emerge as the x-factor here. San Francisco WRs Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) and Deebo Samuel (shoulder), TE George Kittle (ankle) and RB Matt Breida (ankle) are all set to play through their nagging ailments. The total has dipped a point from the opening number despite more public money in on the under.
Titans at Colts (-1/43), 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Ryan Tannehill is making himself some serious money come offseason. He became the first Tennessee QB since the late Steve McNair to throw for two scores and run for two more in last week’s impressive win over Jacksonville that also showcased how much easier it is for RB Derrick Henry to get loose when teams have to worry about the passing game too. A victory over the Colts would keep them in the thick of the AFC South race and offers a leg up on the sixth and final playoff spot. Indianapolis is in exactly the same boat and at home for this one, but they open December with decidedly less momentum on the heels of a tight loss to the Texans, their third setback in four tries. With road games in Tampa, New Orleans and Jacksonville left to close out the months, it’s important that Indy holds serve at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Money came in on Tennessee early despite news about Henry struggling with his hamstring as he was limited on Wednesday and Thursday, but he’s set to participate. DE Cameron Wake went on IR, but corner Adoree Jackson is set to play. Quenton Nelson, the league’s top left guard, was also limited in practice and is going to participate, but the Colts are extremely banged up with WR T.Y. Hilton (calf) and Parris Campbell unlikely to go. Tight end Eric Ebron went on IR, so it’s important that Mo Alie-Cox return to lend Jack Doyle a hand. RB Marlon Mack is again out, so Jonathan Williams will again be the featured back. Indy got great news with rookie corner Rock Ya-Sin and safety Khari Willis available. Indianapolis has dominated recent meetings between these teams, winning 19 of 22, including three straight. The Titans won 19-17 in Week 2 behind three Jacoby Brissett touchdown passes.
Eagles (-4/46.5) at Dolphins, 1 p.m. ET, FOX: Since the Bills did Philly a huge favor with their Thanksgiving day upset, the opportunity to even the NFC East is there once again for the banged-up Eagles. After managing a combined 19 points against the Patriots and Seahawks in frustrating home losses, the offense is hoping that getting Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor back will help QB Carson Wentz snap out of his slump. RB Jordan Howard isn’t expected to return and TE Zach Ertz is looking to fight through a hamstring injury, so rookie Miles Sanders and reserve tight end Dallas Goedert will need to step up as x-factors. Tackle Lane Johnson is returning to the mix and should supply a boost.
The Dolphins’ two-game surge may ultimately derail the Colts, but the Bills and Browns have each beaten them by 17 points over the past few weeks. They’ll face the Jets, Giants and Bengals next, so Miami has a chance to put together another winning streak with their depleted heart-and-hustle group. WR Albert Wilson will play, but Preston Williams and Jakeem Grant all went on IR. With Kelan Ballage getting the bulk of the carries, Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn’t have much help. DeVante Parker will need a big game against the Eagles secondary since the Dolphins will likely need to score points to pull the upset. Foles should get back on track against a secondary missing safety Reshad Jones, CB Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley. Replacements Ken Crawley, Ken Webster and Steven Parker are all questionable. Temperatures will be in the high 70s.
Browns (-2/39) at Steelers, 1 p.m. ET, CBS: Cleveland looks to continue its comeback from the dead as it tries to get back to .500 for the first time in months by pulling off a sweep of Pittsburgh here. A Steelers’ win will keep them in the thick of the AFC wild card race, but they’re moving in on to Plan C at quarterback with undrafted rookie Ducky Hodges in the lineup ahead of Mason Rudolph following his benching last week. This will be the first time the teams are seeing each other since that wild brawl featuring Myles Garrett and Rudolph broke out at the end of a 21-7 Browns’ win on Nov. 14, so the teams can’t even pretend that enough time has passed for everyone to have gotten over it. Head coach Freddie Kitchens was seen wearing a “Pittsburgh Started It” t-shirt on Friday, so count on this being physical and potentially downright ugly. Thunderstorms are expected to be a part of the equation around halftime and rain should be present throughout.
Hodges again won’t have Juju Smith-Schuster due to a concussion and can’t lean on RB James Conner to hand off to or Maurkice Pouncey to snap and anchor the line since the All-Pro center is serving the final game of his suspension for his actions in the Garrett incident. Tackle Alejandro Villanueva is dealing with a shoulder issue but should play, as should corner Artie Burns. A shaky front could struggle against the Browns despite Garrett’s absence since Olivier Vernon is expected back in the fold. The Steelers’ defense has been the driving force for the team since acquiring safety Minkah Fitzgerald and hope to help out the offense by creating turnovers against Baker Mayfield. The Browns have their own issues on offense with tackle Greg Robinson sidelined and TE Daniel Njoku still out. Cleveland is looking to sweep Pittsburgh for the first time since 1988.
Rams (-3/47.5) at Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX: Watching how the Rams respond from getting their doors blown off on Monday night in a 45-6 home loss to the Ravens will be telling since Sean McVay has led a charmed life thus far. Last year’s NFC champions will host Seattle next week before visiting Dallas and San Francisco and closing with a home game against the Cardinals. Running the table definitely gives them a chance to make the playoffs considering the competition and the fact the Vikings can get caught, but there’s no room for error left. If L.A. gets up off the mat, it can at least make things interesting for the month. Considering how awful things looked in the second half, there’s also a chance that the team drops a collective Sonny Liston and fails to come out of their corner this month. McVay’s message immediately after Monday’s bloodbath was to not let the loss linger. They got on the plane and will take the field in Glendale, so there’s that.
The Cardinals are in an underdog role again and have only been a favorite once this season, so even with L.A. coming off such a huge collapse, they’re a home dog that has dropped four straight outright but has still been among the better ATS teams, coming in 7-3-1 in that department. Kyler Murray aggravated a hamstring injury but is expected to try and play through it. With Chase Edmonds also set to go, the Cards have their top three backs available with David Johnson and Keyon Drake available alongside a speedy receiving corps. The Rams will have something to prove after getting carved up by Jackson and get another crack at a speedy dual-threat quarterback if Murray looks like his usual self. Brett Hundley is his backup.
Chargers (-3.5/37) at Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS: Although both teams are out of the playoff picture, this matchup is somewhat compelling because it will mark rookie Drew Lock’s debut as the Broncos quarterback. The second-round pick is replacing Brandon Allen, who failed to complete even 50 percent of his passes in dropping two of his three starts. Lock had his preseason cut short by a thumb injury but came off IR this week and has been taking first-team reps, so we’ll see if he’s established some chemistry with WRs Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick in addition to tight end Noah Fant, who all look capable of making a dent against defenses at this level. Lock is expected to have a long leash since the Broncos are hoping he’ll get his feet wet this month and hang on to the gig with some momentum established entering next season.
This could be the beginning of the end for Philip Rivers as the Chargers’ quarterback since his play of late has been dreadful and Tyrod Taylor may be better suited to run an offense that has struggled as much as they have up front. Tackles Russell Okung and Sam Tevi are hoping to play today, so it’s possible that we’ll see a resurgence from L.A. here since the weather is likely to cooperate with temperatures expected to climb into the 40s at Mile High and winds likely to be mild. Chris Harris shut down Keenan Allen when these teams played in L.A. on Oct. 6, so look for that matchup to play a big role. Austin Ekeler had 15 catches for L.A. in the Week 5 loss but isn’t likely to have as heavy a workload with Melvin Gordon back.
Raiders at Chiefs (-11/50), 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS: Oakland is looking for an upset to enhance their playoff hopes, but the spread moving from 8.5 to its current point tells you how the betting public thinks that’s going to go. Most eyes will be on this game in the 4 p.m. window and will witness exactly how windy the conditions at Arrowhead will get and which offense will flourish in spite of it. Sharp money was all over the early forecast and bet down the total from 54.5 to where it is now, which appears to be the shrewd move unless turnovers play a large role.
The Chiefs offense should be back at full strength with Tyreek Hill back, although how limited he is by the hamstring injury that knocked him out of the team’s pre-bye Monday night win at the Chargers remains to be seen. LeSean McCoy will be in the mix and could get more touches with Damien Williams ruled out with a rib injury. Kansas City’s offensive line should be back intact and Andy Reid dropping a few wrinkles coming off a bye should concern Raiders DC Paul Guenther, who has gotten some solid work out of his unit despite a ton of injuries. The Raiders will have safety Lamarcus Joyner out there after he was limited by a hammy, so expect the Chiefs to test him so long as the winds on the field allow it.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA