As you guys may or may not have noticed, there was no Thursday game last night.
Since there was no game, I got to spend some bonus time with my seven-month old baby and let me just say, I didn’t realize how much we have in common: We both love to eat, we both love to sleep and we also both cry whenever we’re up past our bedtime. I think she also has her own newsletter, but it’s mostly all baby gossip, so I’m not going to push it on you.
Even though there was no football on Thursday night, it’s still been a crazy 24 hours in the NFL, which means we’ve got a lot of news to unpack here, so let’s get to the roundup. As always, if you want to share the newsletter with 15 of your closest friends and then tell them to share it with 15 of their closest friends, you just need to click here and grab the link so you can shoot it their way. If you have more than 15 friends, congratulations, you’re more popular than me, but also, feel free to subscribe them all to this newsletter.
1. Today’s Show: NFL Week 13 best bets
Normally, we spend our Friday show recapping the Thursday night game, but since there was no Thursday game, we decided to do something just as entertaining for today’s show: We unveiled our best bets for Week 13. And when I say “we,” I don’t actually mean me. I was hanging out with my seven-month old baby and although she is very talkative — she’s even mastered three syllables — she’s not quite podcast ready.
Even though I wasn’t on the show, Will Brinson did bring out the big guns to help him him pick games with Pete Prisco, R.J. White and Kenny White all jumping on the podcast. The guys spent nearly 60 minutes going over their best bets for every single game being played this week, so let’s check out a few of them.
To hear what the rest of the best bets are for Week 13 — and there are quite a few — be sure to click here so you can listen to the entire episode of the podcast.
2. Saints, Steelers and Chiefs can all clinch a playoff spot this week
As the NFL season gets ready to head into Week 13, we still haven’t seen a SINGLE TEAM clinch a playoff berth. There are a total of 14 spots in the postseason this year and as of right now, ALL 14 OF THEM are still up for grabs. However, that could change this week and that’s because there are three teams that could end up clinching a playoff spot: The Chiefs, Steelers and Saints could all stamp their ticket to the postseason before Week 13 is over.
Let’s take a quick look at a few of the clinching scenarios for each team. I’m not going to mention any of the scenarios that involve ties, but if you you’re interested in those scenarios, feel free to click here. If you do click over, be sure to bring a pencil and paper, because things get complicated when you include clinching scenarios that involve ties.
The Steelers don’t need all three of those teams to lose, just one of them. However, the more likely scenario is that all three of those teams win. If that happens, all the Steelers have to do to clinch a spot is win on Monday. The Steelers can also clinch the AFC North title with a win, a Browns loss and by clinching the strength of victory tiebreaker over Cleveland.
I’m just going to go ahead and say it, the only way the Chiefs are clinching this week is if they beat Denver, because unlike the Steelers, they need ALL THREE of the those teams to lose. The Chiefs can also clinch the AFC West title with a win PLUS a Raiders loss or tie.
Easiest way to clinch: Beat Atlanta AND Bears lose to Lions.
Although there are a few other scenarios where New Orleans could clinch a spot, they all involve ties, which means the only way the Saints will be earning a playoff berth his week is they beat the Falcons COMBINED with a Lions win over the Bears.
3. Ravens and Seahawks have easiest remaining strength of schedule
With just five weeks left in the season, you’d think the playoff picture would be clearing up, but somehow, it seems like things have just gotten murkier. As I just mentioned, there are 14 playoff spots and NONE of them have been claimed yet.
If you’re trying to figure out who’s going to make the playoffs, one way to make an educated guess is to look at the remaining schedule for each playoff contender. For instance, although the Ravens are currently on the outside of the AFC playoff race looking in, things are actually shaping up well for them down the stretch and that’s because they have the EASIEST remaining strength schedule of any team in the NFL.
Over the final five weeks, the Ravens will only face ONE team that currently has more than four wins and that team is the Browns, who they beat 38-6 earlier this season. If you’re trying to predict who’s going to win the NFC West, the Seahawks seem like the best bet right now and that’s because they have the second-easiest remaining schedule. A big reason for that is because their next three games are against the Giants, Jets and Washington.
If you’re looking for a dark horse team, it might not be crazy to pick the Cowboys to win the NFC East. They’re only one game out of first place AND they have the third-easiest remaining schedule of any team in the NFL. After Tuesday’s game against Baltimore (6-5), the Cowboys close with the 49ers (5-6), Bengals (2-8-1), Giants (4-7) and Eagles (3-7-1).
Here’s a look at the five teams with the easiest remaining schedules:
1. Ravens (Opponents have a .336 combined winning percentage)
2. Seahawks (.364)
T-3. Raiders (.382)
T-3. Cowboys (.382)
5. Buccaneers (.386)
For a look at where every team ranks, be sure to click here. And since you’re probably wondering, the Falcons (.632) have the most difficult remaining schedule.
4. Rams and Chargers could be forced to leave Los Angeles
After watching the 49ers get kicked out of the Bay Area, the NFL is now making contingency plans in case the Rams and Chargers are also forced to leave. This is like a football version of that Kurt Russell movie, “Escape from L.A.”
From Charles Robinson over at Yahoo Sports:
“[NFL] operations may not be able to continue [in California] soon and considering where we’re at in the schedule, dramatic changes like the 49ers’ relocation of operations could encompass the remainder of the season,” an unnamed source told Robinson. “That could be the case for all of the teams [in California]. The situation is being monitored and how it will impact the rest of the season is a little fluid right now. But the best thing everyone can do is just prepare for any eventuality.”
California governor Gavin Newsome introduced a new regional stay-at-home order for the state that will limit capacity at many public places to just 15%. Although this hasn’t impacted the Chargers or Rams yet, the NFL is planning ahead in case it does.
The 49ers had to head to Arizona after Santa Clara County told them that they couldn’t hold games at Levi’s Stadium for the next three weeks. As for the L.A. teams, the Rams will definitely be the most interesting one to watch. The Rams could potentially be hosting a home playoff game this year, which means if they have to move, the playoff game basically becomes a neutral site meeting.
If either team ends up moving, Dallas and Las Vegas would seem to be the most likely options.
5. NFL Week 13 picks
This is the final newsletter of the week, which means I feel morally obligated to cram as many picks as possible into this space. I crammed down 18 pancakes at breakfast this morning, so I know I’m good at cramming.
With that in mind, we’ve got more Week 13 picks coming your way and those will be coming from Will Brinson, Jonathan Jones and Tyler Sullivan. Here’s how things are going to work: I’m going to give you one pick from each guy and then direct you to the rest of their picks. That way, if you like their pick, you’ll be able to read the rest of them, but if they pick against your favorite team, you can ignore the rest of their picks and move on.
- Will Brinson: Lions (+3) at Bears. The Lions just fired their coach and as you may or may not have noticed, teams always seem to win after firing their coach, at least this year. The Falcons and Texans both won after dumping their coach and Brinson is expecting the Lions to do the same. PICK: Lions 24-17 over Bears (Money line: +140). For the rest of Brinson’s Week 13 picks, be sure to click here.
- Jonathan Jones: Browns at Titans (-5.5). The Browns have lost three games this season and those losses have come by a total score of 92-15. Basically, when the Browns lose, they lose big and Jones is expecting them to lose. PICK: Titans win (Money line: -255). For the rest of Jones’ Week 13 picks, be sure to click here.
- Tyler Sullivan: Eagles at Packers (-8.5). This game is being played on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field and you should never bet against Aaron Rodgers when he’s playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Since the start of the 2009 season, Aaron Rodgers is 18-2 in December home games and 16-4 ATS. Take Rodgers and don’t think twice about it. PICK: Packers 33-17 over Eagles. For the rest of Sullivan’s Week 13 picks, be sure to click here.
6. Steelers defense on track to pull off improbable triple crown
A big reason the Steelers are 11-0 heading into Week 13 is because their defense has quietly been putting together one of the best statistical seasons in NFL history.
Through 12 weeks, not only do the Steelers lead the NFL takeaways and sacks, but they’ve also given up the fewest points in the league. If you want to know how difficult it is to lead the league in all three of those categories, just consider this: No NFL team has ever done it before.
Over the course of their history, the Steelers have produced some of the best defenses in NFL history, but this one might be the best. If the Steelers can win the defensive triple crown, that would allow them to do something that not even the Steel Curtain teams of the 1970s were able to do.
That being said, even if the Steelers only lead the NFL in two of the three categories, that would be a good omen and that’s because every other team that has pulled that off went on to win the Super Bowl. Here’s the list of the teams that led the NFL in at least two of the aforementioned three categories.
1985 Bears: The Bears ended up beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl 46-10.
2000 Ravens: The Ravens ended up beating the Giants in the Super Bowl 34-7 and the only points from New York actually came on a kickoff return for a touchdown.
2013 Seahawks: The Seahawks would go on to destroy the Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.
For more on just how dominant the Steelers defense has been this season, be sure to click here.
I don’t usually get too excited about Pro Bowl voting, but I am this year, because votes are pouring in for kickers, and let me just say, I never thought I’d live to see that. In the AFC, Rodrigo Blankenship is the leading vote-getter at kicker with 80,890 votes so far. In the NFC, Younghoe Koo is on top at the kicker position with 115,348 votes.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the general public really cares about punters, because the leading vote-getter in the AFC (Matt Haack) only has 39,091 votes. I think the obvious answer here is for him to start a campaign called “Haack the vote” where he gets hackers to create a program that will vote for him thousands of times per second. That’s probably not legal, but I like the “Haack the vote” name so much that I’m hoping it happens.
Alright guys, I need to go rest because we’ve got a huge week coming up with games on Sunday, Monday AND Tuesday in Week 13. On a somewhat related note, every time I tell my wife there’s a Tuesday game, I think she thinks that I’m making it up. On that note, I’ll see you guys next week!