By Scott Kacsmar
The NFL has a Week 13 schedule that features the NFC’s Game of the Year between the 49ers and Eagles. We have multiple NFL picks for that game, but we are also looking at the Falcons trying not to lose to another bad quarterback, Tyreek Hill’s pursuit of 2,000 yards, Bailey Zappe facing the Chargers, and Pittsburgh showing more offense at home against Arizona.
In recapping our Week 12 NFL picks, it was a good week that could have been great. We nailed the quarterbacks both rushing for touchdowns in Bills-Eagles (+338), the unders were no sweat at all in Giants-Patriots and Bears-Vikings, and C.J. Stroud and his receivers delivered for our Houston parlay that wisely ignored the final score (+190). But the Steelers didn’t score enough points in Cincinnati and Kansas City scored too many after halftime to take down our otherwise solid picks. But we still have several weeks left to hit a perfect 7-for-7 week.
Each Friday, we will share seven NFL picks that we are including in our bets for the weekend. These can be prop picks, spreads, totals, alternate lines, moneylines, teasers, same game parlays, etc. We like to think outside the box instead of just telling you Jacksonville beating Cincinnati without Joe Burrow is a good pick. You can play the picks separately or parlay your favorite choices together.
Note: Picks are ranked in order of confidence (highest to lowest).
1. 49ers-Eagles: Big Players –> Big Plays –> Big Games
This game should look a lot different than the 2022 NFC Championship Game where quarterback play barely existed with Brock Purdy’s elbow injury on the opening drive and an unimpressive game from Jalen Hurts.
But even in that 31-7 blowout, Christian McCaffrey and Hurts both found the end zone with a rushing touchdown. They have been almost automatic at doing that each week. McCaffrey recently had his 17-game touchdown streak snapped, but he has scored in the last two games, including 2 rushing touchdowns against Seattle last week. The 49ers can always use him as a receiver too for a score, so he has a variety of ways of scoring.
Hurts has rushed for a touchdown in 8-of-11 games this season. It may be worth pointing out that the brutal Washington pass defense accounts for 2-of-3 games where Hurts did not run one in as he threw 6 touchdowns in those games. But Hurts likes to use his legs in the big games against the tougher teams, and we’ve seen him rush for multiple touchdowns against the Chiefs and Bills the last two weeks. He should get at least another one here.
Let’s not overthink this one. The top touchdown scorer on each team will find the end zone and may even get it done before halftime.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Christian McCaffrey Anytime Touchdown Scorer & Jalen Hurts Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+191 at FanDuel)
2. Falcons-Jets: Don’t Let Tim Boyle Join the List, Atlanta
I know, I don’t really trust the Falcons (5-6) either. But the Jets have been so bad on offense, failing to surpass 13 points in any of their last 5 games since the bye week.
The Falcons have been mediocre on defense, but this is a game that could help the stats. Then again, we have already seen the Falcons allow rookie Will Levis to throw 4 touchdown passes in his NFL debut, Joshua Dobbs lead a comeback win off the bench after just joining the Vikings, and Kyler Murray also led a 25-23 comeback win in his first game in 11 months for Arizona.
That was a really bad 3-week stretch for this Atlanta defense, but it rebounded last week by keeping the Saints out of the end zone. New Orleans settled for 6 field goal attempts, making a handful of them.
Getting lit up by Tim Boyle would fit the Atlanta resume, but the Jets barely let him throw the ball beyond 5 yards against the Dolphins. Nathaniel Hackett coached the worst offense in 2022 (Broncos) and he is doing the same thing this year as the coordinator of the Jets.
We’ll trust the Falcons to allow few points in this one and win the game. However, the Falcons have their own offensive issues and both quarterbacks have an over/under line of fewer than 180 passing yards in this game. Expect a low score for both, but we’ll go with the Atlanta win by 1-13 points.
Atlanta’s Arthur Smith has coached 45 games since 2021, and he only has 2 wins by 14 points. That means he has 17 wins by 1-13 points. Tease the alternate spread out to +14.5 if you want an extra point of comfort, but we’ll take the close win at +130 odds.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Falcons by 1-13 Points (+130 at FanDuel)
3. Dolphins-Commanders: Tyreek Hill and the Pursuit of 2,000 Yards
Tyreek Hill is still on pace for 2,046 receiving yards, which would give him the NFL’s first 2,000-yard receiving season. He would need all 17 games to do it, but he can still get there with the way he’s been playing.
He gets a great matchup this week as Washington is the No 32 scoring defense and has trouble guarding receivers down the field. The Commanders also traded away pass rushers Montez Sweat (Bears) and Chase Young (49ers) at the deadline, so they have little pass rush either.
Washington fired defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio last week, but it is hard to expect much to change in a week. The roster limitations are still there, and the speed is still there for Hill and Miami.
Look for the Dolphins to challenge them deep again with Hill, who has 7 games this year with 100 receiving yards and a touchdown together. We are picking him to do those things again in this matchup.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Tyreek Hill 100+ Receiving Yards & Tyreek Hill Anytime Touchdown Scorer (+138 at FanDuel)
4. Chargers-Patriots: Time to Zappe the Chargers
It sure sounds like the Patriots are benching Mac Jones and starting Bailey Zappe in this game, but we are still waiting for official confirmation of that going into Friday morning. But the sportsbooks already have props listed for Zappe with an over/under of just over 200 passing yards against the No. 32 pass defense.
But we are steering clear from the New England quarterback in this one. We have a 2-leg parlay that includes the Patriots covering the spread (+5.5) and running back Rhamondre Stevenson topping over 60.5 rushing yards.
The Patriots have been struggling mightily on offense, but Stevenson has been thriving anyway. He has cleared 80 rushing yards in each of the last 3 games, and that’s after not rushing for 60 yards in any of the first 8 games this season.
If it is Zappe, then that could be an improvement for the offense as he gets a bad defense at home, and he fared well as a starter last year when he had a week to prepare. He has not looked good off the bench this year, but a week of practice against a lousy defense can do wonders.
But the main reason to like the Patriots to cover the spread is the defense forcing the Chargers into more mistakes. The Chargers dropped passes and had bad turnovers in Green Bay, then they turned it over four more times against Baltimore last week. They are not in a good place right now, and for all of New England’s struggles, it has not allowed more than 10 points in back-to-back games.
This should be low scoring, which helps the Patriots cover, and do not be surprised if they win the game outright. The Chargers tend to save their biggest blunder games for when they face Bill Belichick’s team. Belichick’s days may be numbered in New England, but so are Brandon Staley’s for the Chargers.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Patriots +5.5 & Rhamondre Stevenson Over 60.5 Rushing Yards (+177 at FanDuel)
5. Cardinals-Steelers: Running It Back
It was disappointing to see the Steelers finally have their first 400-yard game on offense since 2020 and only score 16 points from it in Cincinnati. That’s why we want to back the offense to deliver in their first home game without Matt Canada as they take on one of the worst defenses from Arizona. We have a 4-leg parlay for this one:
- Jaylen Warren 40+ Rushing Yards
- Najee Harris 40+ Rushing Yards
- Pat Freiermuth 25+ Receiving Yards
- Steelers ML
Not only is this running it back from last week for the Steelers, but we’re hoping the Arizona defense performs similarly to how it did against the Rams, which was terrible football. Matthew Stafford threw 4 touchdowns, including a pair to tight end Tyler Higbee. The Rams had two running backs rush for big yardage as Kyren Williams (143) and Royce Freeman (77) both cleared 75 rushing yards.
The Steelers are unlikely to produce numbers that big, but they have the right offense to do damage in a similar way. The running game has really taken off in the last month with 4 consecutive games of over 150 rushing yards. Jaylen Warren has established himself with a league-high 5.8 yards per carry, and he has rushed for at least 49 yards in each of the last 4 games. Najee Harris has looked solid too, and he’s had 99, 35, 82, and 69 yards over his last 4 games.
That means Harris and Warren both cracked 40 yards on the ground in 3-of-4 games coming into this one. Harris probably gets there in Cleveland if Kenny Pickett didn’t play so awful, but he should be better against this Arizona defense.
The Steelers also have to get Pat Freiermuth involved. The tight end had a career game with 11 targets, 9 catches, and 120 yards in Cincinnati. He had 60 yards in his first 5 games this year as injuries derailed his season. But Freiermuth cleared 25 yards in 12-of-16 games last year. It would be madness to neglect him this week after what he did last week. The big change from Canada, at least based on last week, is using the middle of the field, and that is where Freiermuth is most dangerous. I will want to eat my keyboard if he finishes this game with 1 catch for 8 yards.
Finally, take the Steelers to win as a 5.5-point home favorite against a bad team. It’s the kind of spot they have disappointed at in the past, but Kyler Murray is the kind of quarterback that T.J. Watt and company can get to with pressure and make things rough on the Cardinals. The offense should be better at finishing drives this week at home. It should be Pittsburgh’s day to shine, which probably still means a 24-20 win by the skin of their teeth against a 2-10 team. But that’s where the Steelers are right now.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Steelers ML & Jaylen Warren 40+ Rushing Yards & Najee Harris 40+ Rushing Yards & Pat Freiermuth 25+ Receiving Yards (+309 at FanDuel)
6. Prime-Time Unders for the Win (Chiefs-Packers and Bengals-Jaguars)
After watching the Cowboys survive Seattle in a 41-35 game on Thursday night, you might be hesitant to bet on the unders in the next prime-time games, Chiefs-Packers (O/U 42.5) and Bengals-Jaguars (O/U 38.5).
But Thursday night hasn’t been too bad in the scoring department this year. It’s the Sunday and Monday night games where offense goes to die:
- In 12 Sunday Night Football games this season, the over is 2-9-1, and none of the losing teams have scored more than 20 points.
- Under 42.5 points would have hit in 8-of-12 SNF games, including the last 4.
- The under is 13-1 on Monday Night Football this season, and 10-of-14 games had fewer than 39 points.
- The only MNF game to go over was Browns-Steelers, which had the lowest total (39) and was helped by two defensive return touchdowns by Pittsburgh.
- No team has scored more than 27 points on Monday night this season.
Unless you’ve been betting the unders, these games have been a nightmare for getting props to hit. So, we are going to play the unders together for both SNF and MNF, and there are good reasons for both regardless of this late-night lull we’ve been witnessing all season.
The Packers and Chiefs last met in 2021 and it happened to be Jordan Love’s first NFL start. He struggled as expected, but it was a 13-7 final in Arrowhead, the lowest-scoring game (20 points) of Patrick Mahomes’ NFL career. Mahomes also finished with 166 passing yards, his lowest game he started and finished in his career. We know the Chief have had some issues on offense this year and currently rank outside of the top 10 in scoring.
While Love has been very good for Green Bay the last few weeks, he is getting a great Kansas City defense that has allowed more than 21 points once this season. Even that game was misleading as all 24 of Denver’s points came on drives that started at the 50 or better thanks to the Chiefs’ turnovers. The defense had a terrible start in Vegas last week but calmed down wonderfully and only allowed 3 points the rest of the way.
It could be a tight game in Green Bay, but we’ll sooner think 23-17 and the under rather than a 27-20 game that goes over.
As for Monday night, you get one of the most unpredictable teams for scoring this year in Jacksonville as you don’t know when they’ll score 37 or 3 points. Similar things can be said about the defense. But they catch a break in hosting the Bengals without Joe Burrow. They lost 16-10 to the Steelers last week in a low-scoring game. Jake Browning did not look horrible, but he also didn’t inspire much confidence, completing a couple of passes to Ja’Marr Chase that were deflections that could have easily been intercepted too. The Jaguars are very good at creating turnovers this year too, so it is hard to see the Bengals scoring much.
But the Jaguars also have their problems in running the ball effectively, and the Bengals have been known to come up with turnovers in big spots too. The total is quite low, but we’ll trust the Monday Night Muck to continue with another under hitting.
Hell, a 20-17 finish would be a great sign that we had an enjoyable game to watch after all in this one, and that would still satisfy the under. We are riding the Monday Night under until it steers us wrong this season.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Parlay – Packers-Chiefs Under 42.5 & Bengals-Jaguars Under 38.5 (+258 at FanDuel)
7. 49ers-Eagles: Parlay for the NFC Game of the Year
We did a big Same Game Parlay for Eagles-Chiefs in Week 11 and the moneyline ruined that one after the Chiefs dropped the ball (literally) in the fourth quarter. We wised up this time and did not pick a winner, but instead we have a 7-leg parlay that has a script focusing on the over hitting with a lean to the 49ers having a good game offensively. But you cannot count out those Eagles from keeping it close either.
- Over 47.5 Points
- Brock Purdy 250+ Passing Yards
- Brandon Aiyuk Over 63.5 Receiving Yards
- Chrisitan McCaffrey 4+ Receptions
- Jalen Hurts 25+ Rushing Yards
- 49ers +7.5
- Eagles +11.5
Over 47.5 points: The late-afternoon window is where the big shootouts are happening this season. Praise be this game isn’t in prime time. The over is 16-8 (66.7%) in Philadelphia’s home games under Nick Sirianni, the highest hit rate in the league since 2021. All five home games for the Eagles this year have gone over 47.5 points, and usually with ease. This won’t be a 31-7 game this time.
San Francisco passing props: Look for the 49ers to show what they could have maybe done last year in the title game if Brock Purdy didn’t get injured on the opening drive. He has gone over 250 yards in 7-of-11 games this year, and the Eagles face more pass attempts than any defense as teams tend to abandon the run and attack them through the air. That’s also why it should be a good game for Brandon Aiyuk, the team’s best route runner, and do not be surprised if the 49ers throw often to Chrisitan McCaffrey instead of running him into that wall up front.
Jalen Hurts’ rushing: It gets lost in the Purdy injury and 31-7 final, but Hurts was not impressive in the title game. He only threw for 121 yards and averaged 4.84 yards per attempt against this defense, which is still a great one. He did rush for 39 yards and a touchdown. Hurts has rushed for at least 25 yards in 12 of his last 14 games going back to the 2022 postseason. That number would have been 13-of-14 if he didn’t lose 4 yards on kneeldowns against Miami (finished with 21 yards). In big games, he usually tends to rely on his legs even more. He rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown against the 49ers in 2021 as well. He should get at least 25 in this game.
49ers +7.5: The 49ers are actually a 2.5-point road favorite in this game, a rarity for a 1-loss team at home to be the underdog. That’s usually bad news for the favorite, but the 49ers are a very strong team that is used to dominating teams. We feel very good about them not losing this game by more than a touchdown, if not winning outright. Eagles -7.5 is a bet that would have hit in only 3-of-11 games this year.
Eagles +11.5: Just as the 49ers win a lot and rarely get blown out, the same is true for Philadelphia. The Eagles have not lost a game by more than 11 points since their 31-15 loss in Tampa Bay in the 2021 NFC wild card round. That is 31 straight games with Eagles +11.5 cashing. The only time Sirianni and Hurts ever lost a home start by more than 11 points was a 42-30 loss to the Chiefs in early 2021. They are a better team now and used to winning games in a bigger variety of ways. The Eagles are 9-1 in close games this year compared to 1-3 for the 49ers.
If you really want to spice it up, you can add our earlier pick from above to this parlay to give Hurts and McCaffrey touchdowns. Hopefully the game will live up to the hype. After the Bills and Eagles played the Game of the Year last week, it will be hard to surpass that.
But anything should be better than the disappointing 2022 NFC Championship Game we had to sit through.
Scott’s NFL Pick: Same Game Parlay – Over 47.5 Points & Brock Purdy 250+ Passing Yards & Brandon Aiyuk Over 63.5 Receiving Yards & Jalen Hurts 25+ Rushing Yards & Christian McCaffrey 4+ Receptions & 49ers +7.5 & Eagles +11.5 (+825 at FanDuel)