I worried about the Titans giving 5 in Chicago last week, and the Bears were a dropped last-minute pass from an outright win. Also thought Buffalo giving 7.5 to Jacksonville was too much, and it was. Here are three NFL spreads that I deem too risky in Week 13.
I consider this almost like an Alabama game the week before starting SEC play or the week before the Iron Bowl against Auburn. In both cases, the Tide play cupcakes and Nick Saban simply wants to get a big lead and his starters out of the game as soon as possible and healthy for the more important game the following week. Really, how motivated will the Patriots be here? The Rams are a terrible offensive team giving rookie QB Jared Goff his third career start and first in a potential outdoor cold-weather situation. Goff has exactly 200 fewer NFL wins than does Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who can set the NFL record with No. 201 (including playoffs) on Sunday. There's obviously no question that New England wins this game. But the team might be going through the motions a bit and looking ahead to a much tougher challenge next Monday night against Baltimore. In fact, every remaining game for the Patriots after this one is big one (Ravens, at Broncos, vs. Jets, at Dolphins). In addition, the Patriots could be without Rob Gronkowski this week after he left last Sunday's rather ugly win at the Jets with a back injury. If he's less than 100 percent, I presume Bill Belichick rests him against an inferior opponent. (UPDATE: Gronk out eight weeks for back surgery). So while on the surface I would take the points, I also don't trust the Rams to even reach double digits on NFL picks.
Denver Broncos At Jacksonville Jaguars (+4)
Trap game alert on NFL odds! The Broncos and Chiefs played an absolute classic deep into the night on Sunday in the Mile High City. It was a game that Denver had no right losing, allowing Alex Smith to complete a long TD drive and convert a 2-point try at the end of regulation to tie the game at 24-all. Both teams traded field goals on their first drives of overtime. Then Broncos coach Gary Kubiak made the puzzling decision late in OT to try a 62-yard field goal even though Brandon McManus' career-long was 57. McManus missed, the Chiefs got the ball in great field position and drove for the winning field goal. That's the definition of a gut-punch loss, and it's human nature to be a bit flat after that. Also consider this is an early start time on the East Coast for the Broncos. Denver's offense has struggled in the past two road games, both losses. Oh, and QB Trevor Siemian is dealing with a foot injury and might not practice all week, although he could still play without doing so. UPDATE: Siemian is out. So things are setting up nicely for the Jags. But can you trust that dysfunctional bunch? They have lost six straight games and are last in the NFL with a minus-15 turnover margin. In addition, Jacksonville has dropped its past five at home and its top two running backs, Chris Ivory and T.Y. Yeldon, are both in question due to injury.
Miami Dolphins At Baltimore Ravens (-3)
This one could be very important in the wild-card race -- if the Ravens don't win the AFC North Division. I'm doubting Miami can catch New England in the AFC East. The ESPN sister site FiveThirtyEight currently gives Baltimore a 34 percent chance of making the playoffs but 18 percent if it loses. Miami has a 35 percent shot as of now but 20 percent with a loss. What to make of either team? Five of Baltimore's six wins are by a touchdown or less. They have two victories over sorry Cleveland, one at almost as sorry Jacksonville and one against injury-ravaged Cincinnati. The Week 1 win over Buffalo is OK and the Week 10 victory over Pittsburgh was tainted a bit because Ben Roethlisberger was clearly not 100 percent in returning from a knee injury. Miami is on a six-game winning streak and Adam Gase is getting some NFL Coach of the Year buzz. But the Dolphins really only have two quality wins all season: Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Two key injuries to note here. Top Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is looking good to play after missing the past two. Miami receiver DeVante Parker is in question. Both these teams are fake contenders. I'm just not sure which is more so.