In the spirit of giving thanks, let’s all be thankful that 25 NFL teams still realistically have a shot at the playoffs. Seriously, check out where things stand in each division going into week 12:
- AFC East: 3 teams separated by 3 games for the division lead
- AFC North: 3 teams separated by 1.5 games for the division lead
- AFC South: 3 teams separated by 1.5 games for the division lead
- AFC West: 3 teams separated by 1 game for the division lead
- NFC East: 4 teams separated by 4 games for the division lead
- NFC North: 3 teams separated by 2 games for the division lead
- NFC South: 4 teams separated by 2 games for the division lead
- NFC West: 2 teams separated by 3 games for the division lead
And also be thankful that I’m giving you a lot of my week 12 picks in rapid fire mode. A little less reading for you during this busy week.
Here are the week 12 picks.
Minnesota at Detroit (-3) | over/under 43
The Pick: Minnesota
The Score: Detroit 21, Minnesota 20
The Bets: Under (53) in a 3-way tease
Welcome to the battle for 1st place in the NFC North.
Sure, you can be gun shy with the Vikings and the under after 54 points were scored in their matchup against Arizona last week. But I’d much rather rely on the nine previous weeks where the Vikings game would not have exceeded the teased over here. Minnesota’s defense is good enough to make this an ugly game, but I don’t think it’s smart to pick a side on the point spread here.
Washington at Dallas (-7) | over/under 51
The Pick: Washington
The Score: Dallas 27, Washington 21
The Bets: Under (61) in a 3-way tease
It’s amazing that with how good the Cowboys have been this year, a Redskins win on Thanksgiving would put them just 1.5 games out of first place in the East. But Washington going on the road on a short week against the best team in the NFC doesn’t feel like a win.
Washington goes into week 12 with the 4th worst run defense in the league…is that enough alone to pick Dallas and assume they will do whatever they please on offense?
Probably not because the Cowboys are still only OK on defense (they gave up 23 points to Philly in week 8, for example).
Both teams should be able to control the ball, convert lots of 3rd downs, and methodically move the ball down field. I think Dallas will do its normal thing on offense, and Washington won’t be able to make huge plays like they did against Green Bay on Sunday night. So I actually like the under here.
Pittsburgh (-9) at Indianapolis | over/under 47.5
The Pick: Pittsburgh
The Score: Pittsburgh 27, Indianapolis 16
The Bets: Pittsburgh (+1) in a 3-way tease
You might think I’m exaggerating, but Indy basically turns into the 0-11 Browns without Andrew Luck. They already have a worse defense than Cleveland, and it’s not an exaggeration to think their 15th ranked offense drops 10-12 spots as Scott Tolzien takes over.
I can’t believe I’m backing the Steelers on the road, but if they were ever going to blow out an opponent they absolutely should be blowing out, this would be the game.
Cincinnati at Baltimore (-4.5) | over/under 40.5
The Pick: Baltimore
The Score: Baltimore 21, Cincinnati 15
The Bets: Baltimore (+5.5) in a 3-way tease / Under (40.5) / Under (50.5) in a 3-way tease
SuperContest: Yes with Baltimore (-4.5)
How in the hell are the Bengals even expected to crack 18 points? I know they’re an NFL team and by default they should be able to put up about 20, but this offense already sucked enough, and now AJ Green & Gio Bernard are out. Oh, and the Ravens are still a top 5 defense even after losing by 10 in Dallas last week.
Cincy put up 12 at home against the Bills last week. They put up only 17 at New England in week 6, 14 at Dallas in week 5, 16 at Pittsburgh in week 2, and 23 at the Jets in week 1. All of those defenses absolutely suck compared to the Ravens.
The teased under and the Ravens (teased and straight up) feel like absolute locks this week.
Los Angeles at New Orleans (-7) | over/under 46
The Pick: New Orleans
The Score: New Orleans 27, Los Angeles 19
The Bets: New Orleans (+3) in a 3-way tease
Usually we grab the over in a Saints home game and don’t think twice, but Drew Brees’ offense put up only 23 points at home against the Broncos in week 10 as well as 25 points against Seattle in week 8. The Rams’ defense is a little worse than those two teams, so maybe New Orleans gets close to 30 points. That doesn’t help me come to terms with the fact that LA will probably need to put up 17+ points for this game to go over. I’m staying away from the point total and instead teasing the Saints to +3. Feels like a great move.
Arizona at Atlanta (-4.5) | over/under 50.5
The Pick: Atlanta
The Score: Atlanta 30, Arizona 24
The Bets: Atlanta (+5.5) in a 3-way tease / Over (40.5) in a 3-way tease
The Cardinals defense has split personalities this year, and it’s all based on whether they’re at home or on the road.
At home, they’ve looked like the #4 defense that FootballOutsiders.com currently has them ranked at. They’ve given up 12.7 points per game in the Cardinals’ Nest. (Is that what they call their stadium or did I make that up?)
But on the road, they’re allowing 28.5 points per game.
Night and day.
Not to mention they’re facing the #1 offense in all of football…an offense that’s coming off a bye week.
San Francisco at Miami (-7.5) | over/under 45.5
The Pick: Miami
The Score: Miami 31, San Francisco 17
The Bets: Miami (-1.5 or +2.5) in a 2-way or 3-way tease
All of my confidence on the Dolphins and them blowing out the Niners is based on Branden Albert and/or Laremy Tunsil coming back to make Miami’s offensive line good again. If they still have significant injuries on the line, I’m staying away entirely.
It feels like the perfect situation for San Francisco to not show up whatsoever.
Jacksonville at Buffalo (-7.5) | over/under 45
The Pick: Buffalo
The Score: Buffalo 28, Jacksonville 17
The Bets: Buffalo (+2.5) in a 3-way tease
Supercontest: Yes with Buffalo (-7.5)
Blake Bortles is #28 in passer rating, #26 in FootballOutsiders’ QB efficiency metric, 31st in yards per attempt and 27th in completion percentage. So he’s a rich man’s Brock Osweiler.
It feels really weird that the Dolphins and Bills are both still in playoff contention, are both giving more than a touchdown this week, and I’m strongly considering picking both of them.
Strange times indeed.
Tennessee (-5.5) at Chicago | over/under 42.5
The Pick: Tennessee
The Score: Tennessee 23, Chicago 17
The Bets: None
Vegas is saying that downgrading from Jay Cutler to Matt Barkley will cost the Bears 3.5 points.
Here’s what’s weird about the Titans: In road games this year, they’ve put up very few points against the worst defenses in the league—16 at Detroit (last in defensive DVOA), 17 at Indianapolis (2nd to last in defensive DVOA)—but they’ve had monster games against solid defenses like scoring 30 at 7th ranked Miami and 35 at 10th ranked San Diego.
So maybe their offense plays down to its competition? If that’s the case, it’ll be a mediocre offensive showing against the average Bears defense.
Considering the Bears have scored more than 20 points just once this season, you really can’t expect them to surprise us with a win on Sunday.
NY Giants (-7) at Cleveland | over/under 44
The Pick: NY Giants
The Score: NY Giants 26, Cleveland 12
The Bets: NY Giants (-7) / NY Giants (-1) in a 2-way tease / Under (54) in a 3-way tease
Supercontest: Yes with Giants (-7)
You know what? I was set to write, “If you actually bet this game, you’re a crazy person.” Because the feeling was that the Giant are due to blow a game, the Browns are due to win one surprising game, so why not this one?
Because the Bengals have inadvertently volunteered to be the team that Cleveland beats. Cincy hosts the Browns in week 14. The Bengals will be without Green & Bernard, and the Browns will be coming off a bye. And since this has become the season where everything goes wrong for Marvin Lewis’ team, they are absolutely losing that game.
So breathe easy, Giants fans. Someone else is gonna help Cleveland break their losing streak.
San Diego (-1) at Houston | over/under 46.5
The Pick: San Diego
The Score: San Diego 22, Houston 21
The Bets: None
On the one hand, Brock Osweiler looked like his typical horrible self on Monday night against Oakland. On the other hand, the awful refereeing cost the Texans 7-10 points in that game.
As reluctant as I am to go against the 5-0 home game magic the Texans have going on, I’m picking the Chargers because they’ve lost so many games they deserved to win this year while Houston has won several games they should have lost.
Seattle (-6) at Tampa Bay | over/under 45
The Pick: Tampa Bay
The Score: Seattle 26, Tampa Bay 23
The Bets: None
Even though I’m not betting it, I really think I nailed this game. The Bucs are good enough to make this competitive, but the Seahawks are doing their usual “round into form in the second half of the season.” My only concern is that Mike Evans is basically Tampa’s only viable receiver and the Seattle secondary could essentially eliminate him from the game.
New England (-9) at NY Jets | over/under 47.5
The Pick: New England
The Score: New England 38, NY Jets 20
The Bets: New England (+1) in a 3-way tease / Over (37.5) in a 3-way tease
Supercontest: Yes with New England (-9)
This matchup can’t get much worse for the Jets. You think New England’s #1 ranked passing offense is gonna enjoy the Jets 30th ranked pass defense? Obviously a healthy Rob Gronkowski is crucial for a long playoff run for the Patriots, but in this type of game his (possible) absence doesn’t change the probable outcome. New England has so many weapons on offense, with Dion Lewis’ return in week 11 alongside Malcolm Mitchell’s mini breakout game as further proof that they have the deepest offense in the league.
Carolina at Oakland (-3.5) | over/under 49.5
The Pick: Carolina
The Score: Oakland 30, Carolina 28
The Bets: Over (39.5) in a 3-way tease
I was ready to pick this as a sneaky crazy upset until I realized Luke Kuechly is obviously out for the Panthers. With the Raiders escaping Mexico City with a win on Monday night and Carolina being on extra rest and back in the mix for the NFC South title, I think they’ll play Oakland a lot tighter than you’re probably thinking.
Bank on the over and nothing else in this one.
Kansas City at Denver (-3) | over/under 39.5
The Pick: Denver
The Score: Denver 20, Kansas City 15
The Bets: Under (49.5) in a 3-way tease
Even though both teams have struggled running the ball this season, they each get to face defenses this week who struggle to stop the run. I think these division rivals will be terrified to throw the ball into the teeth of each other’s very good defenses so this will play out as a boring run-oriented game.
Green Bay at Philadelphia (-3.5) | over/under 47.5
The Pick: Philadelphia
The Score: Philadelphia 25, Green Bay 17
The Bets: Philadelphia (-3.5)
Supercontest: Yes with Philadelphia (-3.5)
So the Eagles are 4-0 at home this year and their smallest victory was by 9 points. That was against the Falcons. Their other home wins were against the Vikings, Steelers and Browns. Three of those four opponents are better than the Packers. It feels really easy to take Philly in this game.
Here are the season-long stats that I’m tracking:
- Favorites are 66-87-8 against the spread through 11 weeks (including 8-5-1 in week 11)
- The Point Total has landed on Over 81 times, Under 77 times, and Pushed 3 times
- I’m 84-72-5 against the spread
Enjoy Thanksgiving and week 12.