Even after three months of football, there are a few betting lines on the Week 13 schedule that are somewhat puzzling. Some teams are still not getting the respect that they deserve, while others are overrated.
While there is plenty of mediocrity around the league, a few teams have separated themselves from the rest. The Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers are all but guaranteed to make the playoffs. About one-third of the league is virtually eliminated from postseason competition.
There’s no such thing as a “sure thing” when it comes to betting, but here are the three best bets for Week 13 of the 2015 NFL season.
Baltimore Ravens (+4)
No team has suffered more key injuries than the Ravens in 2015, but the team continues to compete. After winning three of their last four games, Baltimore has a good chance to upset the Miami Dolphins on the road and get their fifth win of the season.
Despite being three games under .500, the Ravens have somehow managed to be competitive in every single game. They still haven’t lost by more than one score, and four of their seven defeats have come by four points or fewer. Two of their losses by more than four points came against the Broncos and Cardinals, who are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The Dolphins aren't even a playoff team, so it’s hard to imagine the Ravens not having a chance to win in the fourth quarter, making it an easy decision to grab the four points.
Miami had a good two-game stretch after head coach Joe Philbin was fired, but they simply aren’t a good team. They’ve suffered five losses by 13 points or more, and four of their defeats have come against teams with losing records.
Minnesota Vikings (PK)
The Seattle Seahawks’ visit to Minnesota might be the best game on the Week 13 schedule, as the division-leading Vikings host the two-time defending NFC champions. It won’t be an easy game for Minnesota to win, but there’s a lot of value in the Vikings, who should be favored on Sunday.
Seattle has had much more success in recent seasons than Minnesota, but the Vikings have easily been the better team through 11 games. Going 8-3, Minnesota has a number of solid victories, proving that they are among the NFC’s best. The Vikings defeated the Chiefs at home, went on the road to beat the Raiders and Bears, and they nearly stole a win in Denver. With the NFL’s best running back and the No.2 scoring defense, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Vikings are 4-1 at home.
After winning four of their last five games, the Seahawks are looking more and more like the team that went to two consecutive Super Bowls. But it’s clear that this is Seattle’s worst team in the last three years. "The Legion of Boom" is no longer a dominant secondary, and the Seahawks have allowed at least 27 points six times.
Arizona Cardinals (-5.5)
Following four straight losses, it’s clear that the St. Louis Rams won’t compete for a playoff spot. The Cardinals are probably the Panthers’ biggest competition in the NFC, and Sunday’s game between Arizona and St. Louis could turn ugly.
The Cardinals have the NFL’s No.1 offense, and only the 49ers have scored fewer points than the Rams. That’s a recipe for a blowout in St. Louis, where the Rams lost by 24 points in their last home game. Arizona has been on the right side of a few blowouts in 2015, winning three games by at least 25 points, and St. Louis is coming off a 24-point defeat.
During their losing streak, the Rams are averaging less than 13 points per game, and they haven’t scored more than 18 points since Week 8. Carson Palmer has the NFL’s second-highest passer rating, and the Rams have allowed passer ratings of 121.4 and 151.0 in two of their last three games.
Season Record: 19-14