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Red Zone Returns – Week 13

Week 12 ended up as a week for the favourites but it’s all about the underdogs in Week 13 of the NFL season.

Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions are both looking to bounce back from bad games in Week 12. For the Lions, it’s nothing new. Their inconsistency has been an issue all season, and while they can pile up points on any team on any day, they’ve not been able to do it every day.

“The Lions will make things difficult with the ball and are always a puncher’s chance of victory no matter which team they face. They’re 2nd in total offence, 3rd in passing offence and 6th in rushing offence to pile up points on a near-weekly basis. However, Jared Goff’s last fortnight of football sums up where the Lions are likely to come up short at the pointy end of the season. The 100 points and 1,100 yards allowed in the three games since a Week 9 bye sum things up further.” Super Bowl LVIII Contenders & Pretenders

It looks like Week 13 could be one of those good days, though. They’ve had the extra time to rest and now take on a Saints team that has lost back-to-back games to the Vikings and Falcons without cracking 20 points. Similar to the Dolphins, the Lions take pleasure in beating up on the bad teams.

Expecting Jared Goff and the Lions to take better care of the ball, they should score plenty and comfortably clear the -4.5 line on the road.

Best Bet DETROIT LIONS -4.5 @ $1.94*

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Carolina Panthers are a bad football team. That makes motivation difficult enough at this point of the season before even considering they won’t have a 1st Round pick in the NFL Draft. Add arguably the worst owner in American sports to the mix, and it’s difficult to see the Panthers being able to fight it out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers across the full 60 minutes.

Poor already, the Panthers have struggled further on the road all season. Conceding 22.8 points per game in their five at home, Carolina has allowed the opposition to score 29.7 points per game while on the road.

The Buccaneers offence isn’t lights out. They’re 23rd in scoring, 20th in passing yards, 31st in rushing yards and 26th in total first downs. Still, Baker Mayfield is playing well enough that he should be able to orchestrate an improvement in a get right game at home.

If it’s not Mayfield getting it done in the air, Rachaad White is coming into this one on the back of his best game this season. He’s another that can find success against a Panthers defence who have allowed 124.9 rushing yards per game and 18 touchdowns this season.

Best Bet TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS -5.5 @ $1.94*

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles have been getting away with games recently. Undoubtedly a top two or three team in the NFL at the very least, they’ve relied on their depth and spread of talent across the park to make second-half comebacks to extend their winning streak over the last month.

This is a different challenge.

Much will be made of the 49ers offence. Brock Purdy is doing a superb job of putting it all together at quarterback and is never short of options. Christian McCaffrey is scoring for fun and Deebo Samuel is dominating both as a receiver and rusher. However, it’s on the defensive end that they’re improving and are vastly superior to the Eagles.

49ersDefensive RankEagles
1stOPP PPG20th
1stOPP TD-INT30th
T-1stOPP 20+ Yd PlaysT-16th
4thOPP Pass Rtg27th

The Eagles offence has managed to get them out of trouble in recent games but will struggle to reel in the 49ers if they give up an early lead. Jalen Hurts is the favourite for MVP at $2.50 and has the Eagles converting 62.8% of their visits to the red zone into touchdowns (4th in the NFL). But he will face a more difficult time getting up the field against the 49ers defence, allowing only 295 yards of total offence per game (5th-fewest in the NFL).

San Francisco have been waiting for this game since last season. It’s one circled on the calendar as a must-win. The start is incredibly important; as good as Purdy has been this season, he’s not chased games particularly well. If the 49ers win the early exchanges and assert themselves defensively, they should have enough points in them to secure a close win on the road.

Best Bet SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 1 TO 10 @ $2.64*

Miami Dolphins @ Washington Commanders

The Miami Dolphins are fringe Super Bowl LVIII contenders while the Washington Commanders played a leading role in kicking off Sacking Season with the removal of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio and defensive backs coach Brent Vieselmeyer.

At home or on the road, there isn’t a scenario where you’d tip the Dolphins to lose this one straight up. However, it’s a historically appealing spot to take the Commanders by the trends.

Home underdogs of seven points or more are 21-9-1 against the spread since the start of last year.

Washington is at +9.5 at the time of writing, but could yet creep up to and over ten as kickoff approaches and punters load up on the favourite.

They’ve not performed well defensively. In fact, they ranked in the bottom five in EPA per play since Week 7. However, they have enough on the offensive side of the ball to hang in the game.

Sam Howell, while prone to a turnover and being sacked, isn’t afraid to release the ball and Curtis Samuel played out his best game of the season last week. It’s not the most comfortable side to take of the week, but +9.5 and up is a big number that needs taking.

Best Bet WASHINGTON COMMANDERS +9.5 @ $1.90*

Denver Broncos @ Houston Texans

We’ve found a way to get on either the Denver Broncos or Houston Texans almost every week throughout the NFL season so it feels right to get involved here.

The anticipated coming back to earth for C.J. Stroud hasn’t really happened yet. While he’s not been perfect, even in bad games he’s found ways to make meaningful and match-winning contributions. Meanwhile, the Broncos have won five on the bounce. Again, Russell Wilson hasn’t been perfect at quarterback, but despite not producing too many expensive plays, he’s not turning the ball over and allowing the Denver defence to strap in and win games. The Broncos defence started the NFL season with historically poor numbers but could end up outperforming the offence by the end of Week 18.

They’ve produced 16 turnovers throughout the five-game winning streak. It’s an unsustainable rate, but we said that last week…

It’s a stern test for Stroud who has played well all year at home but is yet to cover the spread as a favourite in four attempts. Neither team looks likely to pull away from the other so getting a field goal on an in-form Broncos outfit appeals.

Best Bet DENVER BRONCOS +3.5 @ $1.90*

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