Look Between the Lines: Handicapping Week 13 in the NFL

James Hernandez has more than 15 years in the sports handicapping industry and contributes weekly for FOXSports.com as our betting expert. Have comments or questions? Make sure to email him at jameshernandez1981@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

Chicago Bears (+7) over Detroit Lions

After blowout losses at New England and Green Bay, Chicago is starting to show some signs of life. After last Sunday’s come-from-behind win versus Tampa Bay the Bears have crept back to within a game of .500. On the other hand the Lions return home for their traditional turkey-day game reeling a bit as they hope to avoid losing a third straight contest. Detroit’s offense has dried up the last two weeks and has now gone two full games without scoring a touchdown. After scoring just 15 points combined in their last two games the Lions now rank 28th in the NFL scoring (17.9 PPG) which is 6.8 points fewer than they were scoring this same time last year. Expect a tight divisional affair that comes down to the fourth quarter with a play or two deciding the game. Take the points as the Bears hang right in this pivotal NFC North showdown.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3) over Dallas Cowboys

First place is on the line Thursday afternoon in "Jerry’s World" as the Eagles fly into Arlington to take on the Cowboys. There is no love lost between these two bitter NFC East rivals and meeting twice during an 18-day span will do little to extinguish the hatred. According to Bruce Marshall of vegasinsider.com Dallas has won and covered three of their last four versus the Birds, but the Cowboys are 0-3 against the spread on Thanksgiving since 2010. Mark Sanchez is coming off his third straight 300-yard passing day and it seems as if he is finally mastering Chip Kelly’s offense. The real treat here will be the matchup between two of the league’s best backs, "Shady" McCoy and DeMarco Murray. Both backs have combined to rush for 2,213 yards this season and the back that can impose his will and win the day will be the one that carries his team to the winners circle.

Baltimore Ravens (-5) over San Diego Chargers


Both teams attempt to stay alive in the playoff hunt as the Bolts travel east for the morning game to face the Ravens. San Diego is trending the wrong way, failing to cover the spread in their last six games and have not fared well when playing in the Eastern Time Zone. Baltimore has gone 4-0 ATS and straight up at home while keeping pace in the most competitive division in football. Whether or not the rumor of Philip Rivers playing with injured ribs is true, Baltimore’s defensive front can cause issues for any signal caller, especially one with limited mobility. This game will be won or lost in the trenches and after Monday’s complete domination of both lines of scrimmage, the Ravens appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time. Lay the points with the home team here as San Diego continues to struggle playing the early game on the East Coast.

New England Patriots vs. Green Bay Packers (over 58)

The two highest-scoring teams in the NFL square off at Lambeau Field in a potential Super Bowl preview. New England leads the NFL in points scored (357) and PPG (32.5) while Green Bay is right behind them with 354 points scored and averaging 32.2 PPG. It’s hard to believe that Rodgers and Brady will be facing off for the first time in their careers, but better late than never. The two leading candidates for NFL MVP will attempt to pad their stats in front of a national audience as they continue their assault on opposing defensive backs. Brady and Rodgers have combined to pass for 5,955 yards and an eye-popping 56 touchdown passes against only nine interceptions. Even with the temperature expected to be in the 20s, these teams are built for the cold and some would argue play their best football when the temperature takes a turn for the worst. Don’t be surprised to see a final score in the 70s and stats that resemble a game of Madden as this shootout for the ages lives up to its pregame hype.

Miami Dolphins (-5) over New York Jets

Monday night features a prospective playoff team in Miami versus the dumpster fire known as the New York Jets. At this point Rex and his band of misfits are the running punch line of the NFL and it’s doubtful that they will see the winners circle again in 2014. Bruce Marshall of vegasinsider.com lets us know that the road team has covered five straight games in this series and the Jets are 1-5 ATS as hosts this season. On the other hand the Fins are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games and have covered two of their three divisional contests this season. Hey commish, after this Monday night snoozer you might want to keep the flex option open for more than just the Sunday night game. Lay the points with the Fins, it might be the only thing that can keep you awake during a game that is sure to set the entire NFL back at least a decade.