Whenever the biggest moneyline favorite loses outright in a week, that is sure to send survivor pools into tailspins, which is precisely what happened last week. It was a bitter Thanksgiving for anyone who picked the Dallas Cowboys in survivor pools, as their defense let them down in a 36-33 overtime loss to the Raiders. As a whole, favorites went 9-6 SU last week, with the five losses coming from Dallas (-330), Philadelphia (-174), Houston (-146), Los Angeles Chargers (-144), Carolina (-116), and Seattle (-116).
A glance at the Week 13 slate suggests another tough week for survivor pool contests, as seven of the 14 games are divisional games, and the favorites are the road teams in eight of the week’s matchups.
Like last week, my selections for this week will be broken down into the following categories: safest picks, riskier plays that will be popular, and contrarian plays to beat a large pool. Even though survivor pool rules say you cannot pick the same team twice, I will outline multiple scenarios if bettors wish to navigate their own path.
Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their matchups in Week 13 (odds courtesy of FanDuel).
Los Angeles Rams (-670), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-560)
Many are down on the Los Angeles Rams, who are clearly in “win now” mode after the acquisitions of Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr., but who also have not won a game since those pickups. Their current three-game losing streak is tied for their longest under head coach Sean McVay. And still, the Jaguars do not pose a serious threat to beat them in their own building. Trevor Lawrence has thrown just one touchdown pass in the last four games while completing at most 64% of his passes in each of the previous six. This is the week the Rams defense gets right.
Though the Buccaneers-Falcons matchup is a game where a division rival is favored on the road, it is also a rematch of a Week 2 matchup in which Tampa Bay won 48-25. That game was much closer than the final score indicated, as it was a 28-25 game heading into the fourth quarter, but two late pick-sixes provided the big margin of victory. Despite that, Tampa Bay’s offense built momentum with their first 30-point effort in a road game last week, and an Atlanta offense that has scored just 24 combined points over the previous three weeks will not have enough firepower to keep up.
Riskier Plays That Will Be Popular
Kansas City Chiefs (-450), Indianapolis Colts (-390), Arizona Cardinals (-330), Philadelphia Eagles (-290)
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is 19-3 SU off bye weeks, suggesting that a loss at home to Denver is not a serious possibility. However, the Broncos are a dangerous team because of their potent running attack, as they are 4-0 this season when rushing for at least 120 yards. They have the formula that can keep Kansas City’s high-powered offense off the field, and their solid defense can keep this game close.
The Houston Texans have just two wins this year, but both have come against division rival Tennessee and Jacksonville. They are more than capable of beating the Colts at home, especially if Indianapolis is still feeling sorry for themselves after blowing their third double-digit lead of the season in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay.
Arizona makes our “risky play” section as it is still uncertain if Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins will be active coming off their bye week. Even still, backup quarterback Colt McCoy has proven capable of guiding them to wins, as Arizona has beaten Seattle and San Francisco on the road in his time as the starter. The Cardinals have won six consecutive road games, but this play is still riskier if Murray and/or Hopkins are not healthy.
Philadelphia is looking to avoid getting swept by the two New York teams after last week’s loss to the Giants. However, Jalen Hurts reportedly tweaked his ankle last week, which could lead to limited mobility this week. In addition, the Jets have proven capable of beating better teams than Philadelphia at home this year (Tennessee, Cincinnati), and they could potentially build momentum off their first road win against Houston last week.
Contrarian Play To Beat a Large Pool
Minnesota Vikings (-320)
The Detroit Lions are off to their fourth winless start through 11 games in franchise history. Are they destined to go 0-15-1? Picking Minnesota on the road would have been a much stronger play had running back Dalvin Cook not been carted off the field last week with a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, Minnesota is much better than their 5-6 record, considering their six losses are by a combined 26 points. In addition, Kirk Cousins has played well this year with a 23:3 TD:INT ratio. He can overcome the loss of Cook if their star running back is ruled out this week.
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