The NFL is entering the home straight of the regular season, with plenty teams in the play-off conversation, including, remarkably, the previously inept Cleveland Browns.
Recovering from a mid-season sacking of their head coach, Baker Mayfield has steered the Browns back in the AFC play-off picture.
It is set to be a thrilling weekend of NFL action, and our NFL expert has the best bets from week 13.
Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints
The Cowboys host the Saints in this week’s Thursday night matchup, and the New Orleans outfit have been nigh-on unstoppable this season. They have won 10 straight, and are demolishing genuine play-off calibre teams with ease.
The three-headed monster of Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara is a headache for any defensive co-ordinator, and the Saints are a comfortable 3/10 to win in Dallas.
The Cowboys, currently top of the NFC East by virtue of a better head-to-head with the Redskins, will need to generate some momentum if they are hopeful of a January run, and are 5/2 to pull off the upset at home.
However, the Cowboys are slowly generating some serious offensive momentum, and have the linebacking core to disrupt New Orleans’ efficient offense. I can see Sean Lee and co. stifling Brees and the Saints, and winning by 7-12 points, which can be backed at 8/1.
Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns
Who would have thought this would be a game with play-off implications when the season kicked off? Firing Hue Jackson was long overdue for the Cleveland franchise, and Baker Mayfield has flourished under new management.
The Houston Texans are on a run themselves, and the mean Houston D, anchored by JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, are a match for any line, and are 4/11 to claim the home victory.
But Baker is a born winner, as seen by his time in college at Oklahoma, and these Browns have some swagger back. The D is opportunistic, Baker isn’t afraid to take shots down the field, and Nick Chubb has emerged as a seriously talented NFL running back. Cleveland are 2/1 to pull off a surprise win, and keep those play-off hopes alive.
Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
This Pacific Northwest rivalry has seen fluctuating fortunes in recent years, with the 49ers rise to prominence as swift as their fall.
Injuries have seen Nick Mullins step in at QB for the niners, and it is always difficult to win in the NFL with a third string QB. Russell Wilson has seemingly willed his team over the line in recent weeks, but there are clearly cracks in this Seahawks team.
It probably won’t be a great watch for the neutral, but should be gritty, emotional, and gripping for fans of either team.
The Seahawks are comfortable favourites at 2/9, whereas San Francisco can be backed at 3/1. I think Seattle will pull away in the latter stages of the game, and are 6/4 with a -13.5 handicap.
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