NFL Week 13 preview and picks – In The Pocket

St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals were awful on Monday night against an average 49ers team who lost their 1st-string running back early. Their star defensive lineman Darnell Dockett can’t raise his arm above the horizontal, their QB cannot find the games’ best receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, and they’ll face a Rams team intent on winning the putrid NFC West. St. Louis has been a good team against the spread this season, and the combination of RB Steven Jackson and rookie QB Sam Bradford (currently on a hot streak) should see the Rams cover this one handily on the road. This line will drift out so grab the 3.5 while you can. Rams –3.5 @ 1.93 (Luxbet)

New Orleans Saints @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are now 3-8 against the spread this season, despite having a good garbage time QB in Carson Palmer. Fact is though, their touted offense has been misfiring all season, Palmer cannot find Terrell Owens (who is actually playing pretty well) and Chad Ochocinco should just change his last name to Cero, because that’s how poor he’s played this season. They are also a turnover prone team, and they’ll be up against a Saints team that thrives on taking the ball off the opposition. With safety Darren Sharper returning from injury, their secondary should improve markedly over last weeks’ performance versus Dallas. This is another line that may drift out; a 7-point spread is already up on some sites. Saints –6.5 @ 1.91 (Luxbet, Centrebet)

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
Local bookies are not taking bets at this point due to uncertainty about what QB Detroit will be playing. With Matt Stafford already out, 2nd-stringer QB Shaun Hill (a competent replacement) is in a lot of doubt with a broken finger and the marauding Bears D may face the far shakier Drew Stanton. Normally this would seem like a trap game with the Patriots coming to Chicago next week, but given how tight the race for the NFC North division is, games against division rivals remain of key importance and the Bears will be primed regardless of who they face. If Hill can play, this line will be at 3.5, but it will probably be around 6-7 if Stanton is selected. Either way, Chicago looks the goods for the win as they try to maintain their division lead over the hated Green Bay Packers. Bears to cover any spread below 7.5 @ (no odds available)

Buffalo Bills @ Minnesota Vikings
Buffalo have covered the spread in their last 6 games, and have settled their QB situation after a long couple of seasons of chopping and changing with Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick. They should have beaten the Steelers last weekend, can hang in there against all but the most explosive teams, and don’t panic if they go down by two TDs. They travel to Minnesota, who had the sacked coach bounce-back game last week but were still far from convincing. They face the prospect of being without star RB Adrian Peterson, and the guy who creates a lot of holes for him, LG Steve Hutchison. If either of those players cannot play, the Bills will like their chances of an upset – you can even consider taking them straight up as a road dog this week. Bills +6 @ 1.91 (Sportsbet).

Other games
Some big spreads this week, and one that looks a little high is the +13 on offer for the Raiders going into San Diego. The Chargers are on the way up, but In The Pocket needs a bit more convincing. Other against the spread favourite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting 3 at home to Atlanta. The Falcons have all but had the NFC 1-seed handed to them by the press this week and if they’ve started believing their own hype, the Bucs may be able to sneak in against them – not as strong a play as recent weeks though.

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