For the first time since Week 3, no team will have a bye in Week 13, giving me 14 games to choose from on Sunday, as part of the “PodcastOne Sportsnet Challenge.”
I went 3-2 in Week 12, bringing my record on the season to 40-20 with the money line.
There’s only five weeks left in the regular season, so let’s finish strong. Here are my picks for Week 13:
CAROLINA PANTHERS over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
-This will be the third straight week that I’m picking the Panthers to win. Hopefully it’s not the third straight week that I get it wrong. Carolina has lost three straight games — to Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Seattle. I picked them to beat Detroit and Seattle, and they couldn’t get the job done. So now, here I am, picking the 6-5 Panthers to snap that three-game losing skid and handle their business against a 4-7 Buccaneers team that they’ve already beaten back in Week 9, which was actually Carolina’s last win. Tampa Bay is coming off a win over the San Francisco 49ers, but the Buccaneers still have the second-worst defense in the NFL, allowing 31 points per game. Carolina can still realistically make the playoffs as a Wild Card team in the NFC, so this is a must-win game in a desperate situation. The Panthers are a 4-point favorite in Tampa Bay Sunday at 1 p.m. They can’t afford to lose this one. And they won’t. Give me Carolina.
LOS ANGELES RAMS over Detroit Lions
-The 10-1 Rams are tied with the New Orleans Saints for the best record in the league. Unfortunately for LA, New Orleans won their only meeting of the regular season, giving the Saints the head-to-head tiebreaker and the No. 1 seed in the NFC. If the playoffs began after Week 12, the Rams would be the No. 2 seed. Their schedule is much easier than the Saints’ schedule though, as the Rams only face one team that’s currently above .500 in their final five games. The 4-7 Lions shouldn’t be much of a challenge for these Rams, who are coming of the bye. But it is in Detroit Sunday at 1, so there’s always a chance for a back-door beat if you take LA as a 10-point favorite. I’m just taking the Rams to win the game, as they should against a Lions defense that allows 26 points per game. I’ll take the Rams to win their third straight.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS over Oakland Raiders
-Like the Rams, the Chiefs are also coming off the bye. Kansas City is 9-2, and their only two losses came on the road. But the 9-2 Chiefs won’t lose in Oakland Sunday at 4:05. The Raiders are 2-9 and have made it very clear that the only thing they are playing for this season is the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. And if the season ended today, that’s exactly what Oakland would get. The Chiefs? They’re still trying to clinch the AFC West, and more importantly, the No. 1 seed in the AFC. As crazy as it sounds, neither of those two things are guaranteed, with five weeks remaining in the regular season. They still have the 8-3 Chargers on their tail in the West, and the 8-3 Patriots breathing down their neck in the AFC. So this is certainly not a game that Kansas City can afford to lose. The Chiefs are a 15-point favorite, and they should win by 20. But at the very least, I don’t see how they lose to the Raiders. Give me Kansas City all day.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS over Los Angeles Chargers
-This game was flexed into the Sunday Night Football game of the week of NBC, because it’s basically a playoff game for both teams. If the playoffs began today, the No. 4 seed Steelers at 7-3-1 would actually be hosting the No. 5 seed Chargers at 8-3 in the Wild Card round. This game on Sunday night is in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are a 3.5-point favorite after losing in Denver in Week 12. The Chargers are coming off a win over the lowly Arizona Cardinals in Week 12, but star running back Melvin Gordon suffered an MCL injury that will force him to miss a few games. I’d expect Pittsburgh to bounce back at home, regardless. But with Gordon out, it will make the Steelers’ job a little easier. I’m taking Pittsburgh to pick up their eighth win of the season on Sunday night.
LOCK OF THE WEEK: HOUSTON TEXANS over Cleveland Browns
-The 4-6-1 Browns are feeling pretty good about themselves after winning two straight, but I expect the 8-3 Texans to bring Baker Mayfield back down to Earth on Sunday at 1 in Houston. The Texans have won eight straight and are not going to be slowed down by a Cleveland team that has the 29th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Houston has a top-five defense that allows just 20 points per game, and I expect these Texans — a 6-point favorite — to punch the Browns right in the mouth. Make it nine straight for Houston.
Listen to the entire conversation at PodcastOne. Also available on iTunes, Spotify, and dannypicard.com. Subscribe to Danny’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/dannypicard.