Sunday Key NFL Previews
We're zoomin' into the final few weeks of this here-and-now 2019 NFL campaign and one thing's clear: The underdog sides have shined brightly. Heck, exiting the Thanksgiving Day / Night action where two-of-three pups covered the price tag (that's the Detroit Lions at + 5.5 against the Chicago Bears and the Buffalo Bills + 6.5 winning outright at the Dallas Cowboys), NFL Betting Favorites are a rotten 77-95-4 ATS (against the spread) with 3 Pick 'Em games tossed into the mix. If you're wondering, that means NFL Favs are covering at a crummy .448 rate or, conversely, NFL Underdogs are covering at a .552 rate. So there!
NFL WEEK 13
On Sunday, it's …
SAN FRANCISCO (10-1) at BALTIMORE (9-2) - 1 p.m.ET, Fox
Ladies and gents, here's the undisputed game of the day and here's three key things to keep in mind when the 49ers and red-hot Ravens slug it out:
First, can San Fran's energized defensive front (and linebackers) hem in MVP frontrunner QB Lamar Jackson (2,427 yards, 24 TDs and 5 INTs) more times than not?
Second, just how good will Niners' QB Jimmy Garappolo (2,731 yards passing with 20 TDs) hold up in the pocket while facing lots of "odd-man" blitzes?
And, finally, what head coach - SF's Kyle Shanahan or Baltimore's John Harbaugh - will be more of the "risk-taker" here with razzle-dazzle plays or double reverses?
Gotta believe it won't pay to go conservative in this clash though it's worth noting the Ravens spot the league's numero uno rushing offense (210.5 yards per game) while the 49ers own the NFL's #2 ground game (that's 145.6 ypg).
Spread Stat - Baltimore's covered its last five consecutive games while San Francisco's covered seven of its 11 games this season.
CLEVELAND (5-6) at PITTSBURGH (6-5) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
It figures! The Browns and Steelers are - pardon the pun - banging helmets here following that Week 10 bash and yet neither of those "participants" are in action here. Cleveland DE Myles Garrett - our lead contender for Sports Zero of the Year - has long been suspended while Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph has been pinned to the bench for now and given way to "Duck" Devlin. Hey, the Browns have the better roster / deeper team here but remember Freddie Kitchens is their head coach (stop laughing) and QB Baker Mayfield (a/k/a Mr. TV Commercial) has thrown 13 INTs.
Spread Stat - The Browns have covered five of the last six games in this series.
On Sunday Night, it's …
NEW ENGLAND (10-1) at HOUSTON (7-4)-8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
There was plenty of "what's wrong-with-the-New England Patriots' offense?" talk making the rounds this Thanksgiving Week and yet here's the defending Super Bowl champions currently sporting the #1 seed in the AFC and with a QB Tom Brady-led offense having scored 27-or-more points in seven different games this year.
And did 'ya know the Pats are a collective 6-1 against the odds this year whenever scoring 27+ points?
Okay, so Brady was limited in practice this week with arm / elbow issues but it's the "other" quarterback - Houston's Deshaun Watson (2,899 yards passing / 301 yards rushing) that could well hold the key here as Watson must make runs for first downs and has to get 12-to-15 catches from the wide-out combo of Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
Spread Stat - The Patriots are 31-14-2 ATS in non-divisional games the past three-plus seasons.