Top 5 Betting Takeaways From NFL Week 13

Week 13 of the NFL season has come and gone, and what a week it was! We saw the return of Gardner Minshew, the Bills lost again, and the Detroit Lions are tied for the best record in the month of December! Without further ado, we will jump right into the week 13 edition of my top-5 betting takeaways from the NFL. Let’s get started!

Minshew Mania Is Back!

The NFL is better when Gardner Minshew gets to play football. Period, end of story. I saw a meme yesterday that said Gardner Minshew is the guy that Baker Mayfield pretends to be, and if that isn’t the most accurate thing I have ever heard, I don’t know what is. It has been a long and winding road for Minshew, but the guy is undeniably talented and has more moxie in his pinky finger than most starting QBs in the league.

The Philadelphia Eagles turned to Minshew this week as incumbent starter Jalen Hurts got hurt (see what I did there?), and the former Jacksonville Jaguars signal caller took full advantage of the opportunity, torching the New York Jets to the tune of a near-perfect passer rating. At halftime, Minshew was 8-8 for 125 yards and 2 scores. He ended his day by completing 20-25 passes for 242 yards and 2 TDs, without throwing an interception.

The win was a huge one for Philly, as they are now just a half of a game back of the final wild card spot in the NFC. If you listen to Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, there isn’t a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia, as he has already named Hurts the starter when he is healthy, but after watching Minshew play better than Hurts has in any start this season, I’m not so sure that I believe him.

Yeah, maybe Hurts gets the starting job back after the Eagle’s week 14 bye, but you know that if he struggles that the fans are going to be clamoring for Garnder at the first signs of distress, and like it or not, Sirianni has a QB controversy on his hands. Only time will tell if Minshew ends up getting another shot to run this Eagles offense or if he will be permanently relegated to the bench, but I, for one, am rooting for him to get another shot in the driver’s seat.

With Ryan Fitzmagic Fitzpatrick looking like his career is over, maybe Minshew copies his career as a hired gun that comes in, has a lot of fun, wins some games, and entertains the fans before bolting for the next opportunity. Minshew isn’t your prototypical franchise QB, but the kid has all of the heart in the world and has nerves of steel. Her’s to hoping that he gets another shot to start, sooner rather than later.

The Lions Are Undefeated In December

For those of you out there that read my weekly betting takeaways article, you will know that I am being sarcastic with this headline. The Lions stink, but hey, they won a game this week, their first of the season, and at least for the next couple of days, they deserve to be praised.

The sharp bettor in me knows that the Lion’s win said more about the God-awful Minnesota Vikings than it did about the Lions, but in the NFL, wins are wins, and the Lions finally broke through to avoid being the first team ever to go winless in a 17-game regular season.

So, how did the Lion’s breakthrough with a victory? Well, to be honest, the Vikings just gave the game away, as they have done several other times this season, but give Jared Goff and company some credit too, as they drove down the field in the game’s final moments to score the go-ahead touchdown with just seconds left on the clock.

It was looking like yet another heartbreak for Lion’s fans after they watched their team blown a 20-6 halftime lead and found themselves with a 4th and goal from the 11-yard line with the game at stake. But as fate would have it, Goff connected with Amon-Ra St Brown for the score to give the Lions the win. In a game where one of these teams had to win, the Lions came out on top.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking that Detroit is going to get hot and string together some wins after this victory, as this is still the same terrible team that is was heading into last week. One area that the Lions have excelled at, though, is covering spreads. The Lions are an elite 8-4 on the year against the number, which is 5th best in the league. In fact, Detroit has a winning streak going, as they have covered in 4 straight games.

Looking ahead on the schedule for the Lions, I see road games at Denver, Seattle, and Atlanta, all teams that are flawed at best and bad at worst, and the Lions are likely to be getting lots of points in each of those games. Throw in home games against the Cardinals and Packers, where Detroit is going to get double digit points, and the Lions are going to be a sneaky good team to back, at least with the points. I don’t see many outright wins coming for the Lions, but as a wise man once said, good teams win, great teams cover, and at least by that standard, the Lions are officially a great team!

Bill Belichick Is The GOAT

This statement shouldn’t at all be controversial, as Belichick has been the best coach in the game for decades now, but what he pulled off on Monday Night Football this week was amongst the greatest coaching performances of all time. Belichick and his Patriots went into Buffalo on a freezing cold and windy night and knocked off the Bills with one of the more genius game plans I have ever seen.

Unlike Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who used a fairly standard game plan, Belichick knew that throwing the ball was too risky and instead decided to run the ball every play. Rookie of the year favorite Mac Jones finished his day with one of the more peculiar stat lines in modern NFL history, completing just 2 of his 3 pass attempts for 19 yards on the night. The Pats ran the ball an absolutely absurd 46 times for 222 yards.

The Bills knew the Patriots were going to run the ball every play, and they just couldn’t stop it. New England saw rushes from tight end Jonnu Smith, receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and QB Mac Jones ran the ball 5 times as well, as the Patriots did a remarkable job of mixing up the play calling despite only running the football.

It is hard to overstate just how huge of a win this was for New England, as they are now the number 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Had the Bills won the game, they would have been in 1st place and looking like the top team in the AFC, instead, they are now the 7th seed and are at real risk of missing the playoffs altogether after coming into this season as one of the Super Bowl favorites. We will talk more about the Bills a little bit later, but first, I want to make sure that we give Belichick the proper amount of love for pulling off a masterclass performance on Monday night.

When Tom Brady left the New England Patriots and promptly lead the worst franchise in NFL history, the Tampa Bay Bucs, to a Super Bowl title, many quickly looked at Brady as the sole reason for the Patriots dynasty. The public acted as if Belichick was just along for the ride as he and Brady won 6 Super Bowl titles together. But that myth is being quickly dispelled now, as Belichick is riding a rookie QB to the top seed in the AFC, and they are in the middle of an NFL-best 7-game winning streak.

If you go back several weeks ago, you will know that I called this run coming for New England, and as the playoff picture is starting to come into more focus with each passing week, nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to want to play the Patriots in the postseason. A Super Bowl between Brady’s Bucs and Belichick’s Patriots would almost certainly be the most-watched NFL game ever, and with both teams looking like legit Super Bowl-caliber squads, we just might get that dream matchup. For those of you out there that were sleeping on Belichick and his Patriots, you need to wake up as this team is the real deal!

Jonathan Taylor To Win NFL MVP Shows Outrageous Value

The NFL MVP award has morphed into the best quarterback award over the course of the last 20 or so years. It is exceedingly rare that a non-quarterback even gets real consideration for the league’s top honors, let alone actually wins the damn thing. Since LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander won the award in back-to-back years in 2005-06, a quarterback has won the award every year, with the exception of 2012, when Adrian Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards and was selected.

It takes an all-time type of season for a non-QB to win the award, and this year, I think we have a real shot at seeing another running back be honored, as Colts budding superstar Jonathan Taylor is having one of those all-time type of years. Taylor leads all rushers in attempts (241), yards (1,348), and TDs (16), and he has a shot at taking down some NFL records, as he will get 17 games to do it instead of the 16 games everyone else had.

Taylor has 4 games left of the season and will need to average 163 yards per game to break the 2,000-yard mark. While that is going to be a tall task, he has averaged just under 140 yards per game in his last 5 games, so his current production is going to put him right there, and a couple of big games will put him over the top.

And while Taylor won’t catch LaDanian Tomlinson for the single-season rushing TD record, his 16 scores already puts this season near the top of the all-time best seasons, and if he can continue on his pace of scoring 2 TDs per game, which he has done over the last 5 weeks, he will end up somewhere in the mid-20s, which would be in the top-5 in NFL history for a single season.

For Taylor to win the award, the Colts are going to have to make the playoffs, and right now, Indy is a half of a game back of the final wild card spot in the AFC, and they are trending towards a postseason birth with 6 wins in their last 8 games. The Colts are on bye this week, and while their week 15 game against the Patriots likely won’t be a great game for Taylor, the final 3 games of the year come against the Cardinals, Raiders, and Jaguars, all teams that struggle against the run.

The other reason why I like Taylor’s chances to win is because it just happens to be a down year at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers got caught lying about his vaccination status, and that put him in the bad graces of the media. Tom Brady is having a great year, but he has already won the award 5 times, and the voters may be suffering Brady fatigue. While Taylor is by no means a lock to win the award, you can get him at 16-1, and that shows outrageous value, as, in my estimation, there is no player in the league more important to their team than Jonathan Taylor.

What’s Wrong In Buffalo?

I have been firmly on the Buffalo Bills bandwagon since the preseason. I love how this team was built, and with Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs looking like one of the best QB/wideout duos in the league, and a stingy defense, the sky is the limit for Buffalo. But a quick glance at the standings tells me that not only are the Bills not an elite team, they might miss the playoffs altogether!

Entering play this weekend, the Bills are just a half of a game up on the Indianapolis Colts for the 7 seed in the AFC, with a whopping 5 teams within shouting distance. Buffalo flat out got outcoached and outplayed by the New England Patriots, and if Bills fans weren’t pushing the panic button before, they are now!

To make matters worse for the Bills, their next game comes on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winning on the road is never easy and beating the defending champs with the GOAT at quarterback is probably going to be too much for Buffalo to handle. If you think playing the Pats and Bucs in back-to-back weeks was tough enough, oh wait, there is more, as the Bills still have to travel to Foxboro to play the Patriots again in week 16. Ouch.

There are some soft games left on the schedule for Buffalo, as besides the road games against New England and Tampa Bay, they have home games against the Panthers, Falcons, and Jets. It would be very surprising to see Buffalo lose any of those 3 home games, but this team has surprised us before, as they have unexplainable losses to the Jaguars and Steelers on their resume.

My gut tells me that the Bills will make the playoffs, and they are going to be a threat to beat any team once they get there, but having to sneak into the postseason as a low seed and being forced to play a road game at Kansas City or New England could spell disaster for Buffalo. This team absolutely still has Super Bowl title upside, but if they don’t take care of business, this once promising season is going to end in heartbreak.

Wrap Up

There you have it, folks, my top-5 betting takeaways from week 13 of NFL action. Things move quickly in the NFL, and you have to make sure that you are staying on top of all of the latest news each week. Thanks for reading, and make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s NFL picks page, where our team of expert handicappers bring you free NFL picks for each and every game this season!

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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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