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WEEK 13 Record: 2-2
YEAR-TO-DATE Record: 30-23
Believe it or not, Joe Burrow has yet to win a game in the battle for Ohio. The Bengals are 0-5 straight up against the Browns since Burrow was drafted in 2020. Burrow is an Ohio native who started his college career at Ohio State and obviously was drafted to the team in Southwest Ohio. You don’t think not beating the Browns in his three-year career so far eats at him? Better yet, remember that clunker the Bengals threw in on Monday Night Football back on Halloween in Cleveland? Cincinnati’s 32-13 loss in Cleveland at the end of October ought to eat at everyone in its locker room. Guess what’s happened since then for the Bengals. How about 4-0 straight up and against the spread? Now Burrow and company get another crack at their in-state rivals and Deshaun Watson looked far from competent in his return to action for the Browns last week. We’re on Cincinnati -5.5.
Fraudulent Vikings Head to Detroit
We’ve hinted at it in the past, but there’s been some lines this year where the team with the vastly superior straight-up record is an underdog. That’s what we have in Detroit in Sunday’s matchup between the Vikings and Lions. For the entire season, Minnesota’s point differential has not been indicative of its straight up record. Right now the Vikings are 10-2 but have just a +10 point differential. They’ve won seemingly every close game they’ve been in and been blown out by Philadelphia and Dallas in their two losses. Minnesota is a short dog in this game on the road and that’s certainly a statement that oddsmakers believe it is a very phony team. The Lions have been good to us in this column of late and we’re going to keep riding them. Are the Vikings going to keep winning every close game? Probably not. The Lions are a confident group right now that still has an outside shot at the playoffs. We’re on Detroit -2.
Not So Happy Homecoming for TB12
I was salivating at the opportunity to fade Tampa Bay off Monday night’s come-from-behind win against New Orleans. Sure, Tom Brady turned back the clock and gave us some more late game heroics as the Bucs improved to 6-6 and appear to have grabbed a stranglehold on the lowly NFC South. Having said that, Tampa was still putrid for the first 56 minutes offensively on Monday night. Are you really expecting the Buccaneers offense to show some more consistency on a short week, traveling across the country, against one of the best defenses in the NFL in the 49ers? While everyone else talks about Tom Brady returning to the area he grew up in, I’ll focus on the abundance of mismatches for San Francisco in this game and the difficult travel spot for Tampa Bay and take the 49ers -3.5.
Now or Never for New England
We’ll wrap up on Monday Night Football where the New England Patriots travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Patriots have lost back-to-back games and are sitting on the outside looking in at 6-6 in the AFC playoff picture. A pair of wins against the New York Jets could prove pivotal for the Patriots down the stretch, but the Patriots are going to have to win more games for that kind of tiebreaker to even matter. Normally Arizona is the kind of team I’d want to back this late in the season, given that the Cardinals are returning from a bye week and late bye weeks especially can be shots in the arm for teams that might have been running on empty in November and December. However, New England has ample prep time as well having played on Thursday last week and now playing on Monday night. There’s a coaching edge for the Patriots in almost every game, but certainly in this one as Bill Belichick goes up against Kliff Kingsbury who may be a dead man walking in Arizona. I also think there’s a motivational edge for New England with the Patriots more or less playing for their playoff lives this week. With all the bad mouthing towards Kyler Murray that’s gone on the last couple weeks from former teammates, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see his current teammates tap out on the season given the Cardinals are 4-8 amidst all the leadership questions about both Murray and Kingsbury. We’re on Patriots -2 in primetime.
By Greg Frank
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