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NFL picks against the spread, Week 13: It’s a good week to play the over/under

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Retired NFL lineman Geoff Schwartz is back with his best bets for Week 13.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, let’s get right into the picks for the weeks. Going to throw in some different plays this week to keep y’all on your toes.

Saints under 30.5 points

I know, you think I’m nuts. But here me out on this. The best defenses the Saints have played this season on the road were the Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens. The Saints scored 30 points with seven of those coming on defense in Minnesota. Their offense only gained 270 yards. In Baltimore, the Saints scored only 24 points in a close victory, with 17 of those points coming in the fourth quarter. They haven’t been quite the same on the road against good defenses. Not surprising.

Enter a Cowboys defense that’s legit. Super legit. I don’t think most understand that the Cowboys are led by their defense, not the offense. Their defense is third in scoring, fourth in the red zone, seventh in sacks per attempt and eighth in yards per play. Where they do struggle a bit is in the pass, 20th in passing defense DVOA, which of course doesn’t match up well against the Saints unless you limit their opportunities at the ball. The Cowboys are 25th in pace of play and even when trailing by 7+, and they are only 21st in pace of play.

So if you limit the touches for the Saints offense, get stops in the red zone and harass Drew Brees, the Saints will score under 30.5 points.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay +3.5

Home dogs were 2-0 this weekend, and both teams, the Bills and Broncos, won outright. I’m not sure Tampa can do that, but they will keep this close. I wrote about the Panthers on Monday and their red zone struggles, so I won’t rehash them. But they are real struggles. The Panthers are 1-4 on the road straight up and also 1-4 against the spread. The one victory was against the Eagles in a game where the Panthers were down 17-0 in the fourth quarter and came back for the win. Plain and simple, the Panthers haven’t been good on the road.

Tampa Bay has its issues, especially on defense, but their offense matches up well the Panthers. The Bucs are 13th in offensive DVOA. They are ninth in points per game and fourth in yards per play. The Bucs are first in passing yards, and they are up against a Panthers defense that is 22nd in passing yards a play and 27th in passing defense DVOA. So the Bucs are going to score points and that’s why I love them here.

San Francisco under 17.5 points

The Nick Mullens era started with a bang against the Raiders but not surprisingly has come down to earth. They scored 23 against the Giants, and then on the road this past weekend against only nine in Tampa. Now they head back on the road to Seattle against a Seahawk’s team that’s getting hot. Their defense is 11th in overall DVOA and eighth in points per game. The Niners aren’t scoring many points