Disappointing 1-2 record -- first losing mark in weeks -- on the three biggest spreads of Week 12 as I hit on Colts covering vs. Jaguars but missed on Titans +11 vs. Eagles and 49ers -9 vs. Redskins. The Pinnacle top NFL spread odds for Week 13:
Washington Redskins at Indianapolis Colts (-10 on NFL odds)
I previewed this game on Monday when it looked like an interesting matchup with 2012 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck of the Colts facing off against No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III of the Redskins for the first time in their careers. It's really all that was interesting about this game. On Monday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said RGIII remained his quarterback despite a second straight lousy outing. However, later in the week Gruden shocked everyone by benching Griffin for Colt McCoy, the former third-stringer. That moved the line from an opening of 9 at sportsbooks to 10 at Pinnacle and it's 10.5 at others like 5Dimes. It's hard to imagine RGIII ever takes another snap in a Redskins uniform. Either that or Gruden is fired after just one year. You can't blame the coach as Washington hasn't won a game since midway through last season that RGIII started and finished. The Skins are 2-0 in games McCoy played this year. He played really well in relief of Kirk Cousins in Week 7 vs. Tennessee and then decent in Week 8 at Dallas. Scarily, McCoy gives Washington a better chance to win right now. The Skins totaled 20 points the past two weeks. Indy has generally beaten up the bad teams this season, crushing the Jaguars, Titans, Giants and Jaguars again by at least 16 points each.
NFL free pick: Buy this down to 9.5 points to be safe. Then go Indy. The Colts have covered the NFL odds in seven of their past eight against teams with a losing road record.
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans (-7.5 at sportsbooks)
The Ryan Mallett Era was a very short one in Houston as Mallett has been ruled out for the season due to injury after making just two starts following a trade from New England. He played well in an upset vs. Cleveland on Nov. 16 but not so well last week at home in a loss to Cincinnati, so keep this in mind before placing your NFL pick. So veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, a former Titan, is back in as the starter. At least for now. He started the first nine games with Houston and was 4-5. Fitzpatrick completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,960 yards, 11 touchdowns and 11 turnovers (eight interceptions and three fumbles). That always has been Fitzpatrick's problem: turnovers. He's a very good backup, but that's it. Fitzpatrick, who played 11 games for the Titans last season, beat Tennessee in Nashville 30-16 in Week 8. He was 19-for-35 for 227 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers. Running back Arian Foster was the star, rushing 20 times for 151 yards and two scores. There's a good chance he returns Sunday after missing the past two games with an injury. Titans rookie QB Zach Mettenberger was 27 of 41 for 299 yards, two TDs and a pick in the first meeting. He has yet to win as a starter.
NFL free pick: If Foster plays, give the points. If not, take them. Tennessee has covered only one of the past seven meetings at sportsbooks. Houston is 5-1 ATS in its past six following an ATS loss on NFL odds.
Miami Dolphins at New York Jets (+7 on Pinnacle NFL lines)
Are you noticing a trend here? The three biggest underdogs of Week 13 all will have new starting quarterbacks this week. For the Jets on Monday night it's back to Geno Smith, which should tell you how sad things are with that franchise right now. Coach Rex Ryan benched a struggling Michael Vick in last Monday night's 38-3 loss to Buffalo in Detroit. Smith was OK in Vick's place, but Smith also was 1-7 as a starter with 13 turnovers and had lost the locker room earlier this year. Supposedly the decision to revert to Smith wasn't Ryan's, who is clearly a lame-duck coach, but that of GM John Idzik, who already knows he is firing Ryan. At 6-5, the Dolphins simply have to have this game for any wild-card hopes. The Dolphins have won four of six, and those two losses were very tight games in Detroit and Denver. QB Ryan Tannehill has an excellent rating of 104.0 in those six. He apparently won't have to worry about probably the best Jets defender. End Muhammad Wilkerson (49 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10 TFL) is expected to sit with an injury. The Dolphins and Jets have split the past two years with the road team winning each time.
NFL free pick: Miami. Get it before it rises to 7.5, which it has at some sportsbooks. Miami has covered five of its past seven at the Jets. New York is 1-5 ATS in its past six at home.