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Is anyone actually left in their survivor pool?
There have been some severely damaging upsets throughout the season, but nothing holds a candle to the chaos of Week 13.
The Carolina Panthers lost at home for the first time under Ron Rivera when favored by at least a touchdown. Previously 14-0 in such games, the Panthers were 10-point favorites and held a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But the Washington Redskins scored the game's next 29 points, even as Dwayne Haskins barely completed 50% of his passes and managing just 147 yards. Disastrous.
Then there were the Philadelphia Eagles, who blew a 28-14 third-quarter lead to the Miami Dolphins to lose 37-31 as 10-point favorites in a perfect microcosm of their disastrous season. We're starting to run out of excuses for Carson Wentz, who had his full complement of weapons back for this game, as well as tackle Lane Johnson. Wentz's numbers looked good, but the offense ran dry when needed most.
Adding insult to injury, the Dolphins scored possibly the most preposterous touchdown in NFL history when kicker Jason Sanders caught a pass in the end zone from punter Matt Haack. It's only fitting that the play, called "Mountaineer Shot," came against the team whose fans have been shouting "Philly Special" at anyone who'd listen for the past two years.
If it wasn't the Panthers or Eagles, maybe it was the Dallas Cowboys, whom I warned you not to pick - not that it mattered, given the fate of the others. Maybe it was the New York Jets, the Los Angeles Chargers, or perhaps even the New England Patriots.
Favorite after favorite fell in Week 13, and I'm not so sure there's a survivor pool still active across this continent. But in case there is, here's your guide to picking Week 14:
1. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Detroit Lions)
The title says "safest picks," but is there really such a thing this season? If I wasn't jaded enough before last week, I certainly am now.
That said, this is about as confident as I've been about a pick all season. David Blough will make his second career start - and first on the road - against a Vikings team that has the edge over the Lions at just about every position, as well as head coach. Detroit is a defensive mess, and the offense isn't much better with Blough under center - regardless of the adrenaline wave he rode to a half-decent Thanksgiving showing against Chicago.
This is a spot where Minnesota absolutely unloads its frustrations on a Detroit team counting the days until the end of the season. The Vikings are 12-1 straight up as home favorites coming off losses under Mike Zimmer. They're 30-5 overall under Zimmer as home favorites and 9-1 overall when laying at least a touchdown. The Vikings are 3-0 against the Lions with Kirk Cousins under center, winning by an average margin of 15 points. Don't think twice about this one.
2. Green Bay Packers (vs. Washington Redskins)
Let's try not to overthink this contest either. Aaron Rodgers versus Dwayne Haskins. A Packers team gunning for a division title and first-round bye hosting a Redskins club playing a second straight road game and aiming for a high draft pick. Washington upset the Panthers last week largely because of a costly Kyle Allen turnover and Carolina's inability to keep the quarterback clean in the pocket. The Redskins sacked Allen seven times. Rodgers has been sacked seven times total in six home games this season. He also hasn't thrown an interception since Week 6.
The only concern might be Green Bay's rushing defense, which is getting gashed on a weekly basis. The Packers are allowing 4.7 yards per rush (28th in the NFL) and 123 ground yards per game (25th). This Redskins team just totaled 248 yards on the ground in Carolina, with Derrius Guice enjoying a breakout game. But even if its running game gets going again here, it's hard to imagine Washington keeping pace with Green Bay's offense, which should have its way with a below-average Redskins defense.
The Packers are 51-9 SU when favored by at least six points at home with Rodgers under center, and 13-1 when favored by at least 12 points. This should be close to straightforward for the Cheeseheads.
3. Houston Texans (vs. Denver Broncos)
Drew Lock's first NFL start was a mixed bag. He made some nice throws, he made some awful throws. He was bailed out by a terrific Courtland Sutton catch on the game's first score and an egregious pass interference call on the game's final drive. He also threw a bad interception at a terrible time. It was one week, and nothing he did against the Chargers will define him or his future. Neither will anything that happens this week.
The Broncos rookie will make his first road start this week against a Texans team that's been playing some excellent football lately. Rookie quarterbacks are 0-9 this season on the road against teams .500 or better, a figure that includes Gardner Minshew and his Week 2 loss in Houston. The Texans are 5-1 at home this season and should be able to navigate this game unscathed to keep their march to the AFC South crown on schedule.
Confidence rankings (CR) are out of 10 based on the author's picks
|AWAY||HOME (SPREAD)||WINNER (CR)|
|Detroit||Minnesota (-14)||MIN (9)|
|Washington||Green Bay (-13.5)||GB (8)|
|Denver||Houston (-9.5)||HOU (7)|
|Cincinnati||Cleveland (-9)||CLE (6)|
|Miami||NY Jets (-5.5)||NYJ (6)|
|NY Giants||Philadelphia (-8.5)||PHI (5)|
|Baltimore||Buffalo (+5)||BAL (3)|
|San Francisco||New Orleans (-3)||SF (2)|
|Kansas City||New England (-3)||NE (2)|
|Seattle||LA Rams||SEA (2)|
|Carolina||Atlanta (-2)||ATL (1)|
|Indianapolis||Tampa Bay (-3)||TB (1)|
|Dallas||Chicago (+3)||DAL (1)|
|LA Chargers||Jacksonville (+2.5)||JAX (1)|
|Pittsburgh||Arizona (+2.5)||PIT (1)|
|Tennessee||Oakland (+3)||OAK (1)|
Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.