Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to November 23 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
The NFL sure knows how to put on a show. Take last Sunday’s game between the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. The lead changed hands seven times in the second half, and twice in the last two minutes. San Diego eventually won the game of musical chairs, 41-38 as a 3.5-point road dog. That breaks a frustrating three-game losing streak for the Chargers (5-6 SU, 6-4-1 ATS).
Next up; the Cincinnati Bengals (7-4 SU, 6-4-1 ATS), who were idle in Week 12 after beating the Cleveland Browns (+4.5 away) 41-20 in Week 11. That win snapped a mini two-game slump for the Bengals, who, like the Chargers, had been crushing the NFL odds during the first half of the regular season. Which team will prevail this Sunday in San Diego? The Week 13 football lines opened this matchup as a pick ‘em; the Chargers have since moved to –1 with a small majority on the consensus reports.
I Am a D.J.
Right off the top, this looks like a good situation for Cincy supporters. The Bengals are easily the better team on paper, going into their bye week at No. 7 (No. 21 offense, No. 3 defense, No. 8 special teams) on the efficiency charts at Football Outsiders. The Chargers were in the middle of the pack at No. 16 (No. 2 offense, No. 32 defense, No. 18 special teams). San Diego will likely move up after beating the No. 9 Chiefs, but there’s still a big statistical gap between these two clubs.
That victory over Kansas City came at a price. RT D.J. Fluker, already filling in on the left side (and struggling) in place of the injured King Dunlap, hurt his right knee late in the fourth quarter and needed help off the field. It could be a minor problem, though; further updates on Fluker’s status were pending at press time, as they were for RB Ryan Mathews, WR Eddie Royal, DE Corey Liuget and safety/special teams captain Darrell Stuckey.
Better Red than Dead
Whether these injuries are minor or major, they play directly into the hands of the rested Bengals, who expect to have LB Rey Maualuga and DT Devon Still back in the lineup on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). Too bad they don’t play offense. For some reason, everyone started jumping on the Andy Dalton bandwagon after the Bengals started the year 6-2 SU and 5-2-1 ATS. Then they jumped right back off when Cincinnati lost the next two games. Fair or unfair?
Somewhat fair. The two losses in question were in overtime on the road, to the Miami Dolphins (+3) and the Baltimore Ravens (–1). However, those were Dalton’s two worst games of the season, dropping him into that soft middle of replacement-level quarterbacks at plus-92 passing DYAR (No. 21 overall) through Week 11. And he wasn’t all that hot in Week 12 against the Browns: 13-of-27 for 93 yards, three TDs and two INTs. The Bengals also got touchdowns on defense (fumble return by LB Vontaze Burfict) and special teams (blocked punt return by safety Tony Dye) to put the game out of reach.
Hey, those touchdowns count, too. Cincinnati has a ridiculous edge over San Diego in defense, and a significant edge in special teams. The Chargers have the better offense when healthy, but that health has been compromised. I see no reason not to bet on the Bengals if you’re betting on the NFL picks this week.
NFL Pick: Take the Bengals +1 (+103) at Pinnacle