You might want to make your NFL weekly picks before the tryptophan and Black Friday sales start clouding your judgement. Here’s a break down of every NFL game in Week 12.
Please keep in mind that by the time you’re reading this, the line may have shifted depending on breaking news during the week, or money flowing through the market. Good luck in Week 12, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Thursday 12:30 PM EST
Chicago at Detroit, +4.5
The Lions will take on the Bears (oh my) in this Thanksgiving tradition at home off a sneaky win against the Panthers in Week 11. At 4-6, they sit in sole possession of last place in the NFC North, looking up at the first place Bears. The Bears come into this game with momentum, having just defeated the Vikings, and have covered four straight games against the spread. These teams played each other only two short weeks ago in a game in which the Bears won and covered easily: The final score was 34-22, and Mitch Trubisky threw for 355 yards and 3 touchdowns against a weak Lions pass rush. With Trubisky playing outstanding, and their defense shaping up to be the best in the league, I think the Bears win this game, but the Lions cover the spread as home underdogs.
Thursday 4:30 PM EST
Washington at Dallas, -7.5
The Redskins come into this game in first place in the NFC East but have just lost quarterback Alex Smith to a devastating leg injury. They will face off against the Cowboys in AT&T Stadium in hopes of keeping their playoff run alive. Backup quarterback Colt McCoy will be under center, and free agent Mark Sanchez will be his backup. This line feels like an overreaction to the Smith injury, but keep in mind that Smith hasn’t played all that well this year and McCoy has been the Redskins longtime backup, so he should know the system and playbook well. Washington’s offensive line woes do scare me, but they are 6-1 as underdogs against the spread this year and I think they manage to keep this game close. I am taking the Redskins to cover the spread.
Thursday 8:20 PM EST
Atlanta at New Orleans, -13.5
The last of the Thanksgiving games will be played in New Orleans against NFC South divisional rivals, the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints, who are 9-1 on the year straight up, and 8-2 against the spread, are favored by two touchdowns after serving up a record-breaking 48-7 beatdown to the defending Super Bowl champions. Their offense looks unstoppable, as they’ve scored more than 44 points in each of their last three games and have scored more than 40 in six games this year. Their opponents, on the other hand, disappointed last week, losing 22-19 to the Cowboys with dwindling hopes of a playoff run. These two teams have played each other this year in a contest in which the Falcons were able to keep it close and Saints came out on top 43-37. I think this is a bounce back game for the Falcons, especially for quarterback Matt Ryan who prefers dome conditions. Additionally, you are getting value with the Falcons coming off of a loss and the Saints coming off a big win. This is shaping up to be a shootout, but 13.5 points is too much for a divisional game. Give me the Saints to win, but the Falcons to cover the spread.
Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Seattle at Carolina, -3.5
After a 0-2 start to the season, the 5-5 Seahawks find themselves in a tight race for a wild card spot alongside the 6-4 Panthers. The Seahawks will have a couple extra days of rest coming off of a big Thursday night win against the Packers. They are, however, a palpably different team on the road without their “12th man.” On the other side of the ball, the Panthers will try to stop this two-game skid this week in what feels like a “must win” situation. They are 4-1 against the spread at home, and I think they make it 5-1 this week, especially with the advantage of this being a 1PM game and the Seahawks having to deal with the cross-country travel. I am taking the Panthers to win and cover the 3.5 points.
NY Giants at Philadelphia, -6.5
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The Giants have somehow managed to win two straight games for the first time in 700 days and will face NFC East division rivals, the Eagles, in Philadelphia. The Eagles were annihilated in Week 11 against the Saints and lost by a record-breaking point differential for any defending Super Bowl champion team. Their inability to slow down the passing game is due in large part to having lost four of their starting cornerbacks this season including most recently, Ronald Darby. I think the G-Men manage to keep this one close – Eagles win, but Giants cover the spread.
Oakland at Baltimore, -10.5
Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson started his first NFL game and came away with a big 24-21 win against AFC North divisional rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. He attempted only 19 passes for 13 completions, 150 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception, but was impressive on the ground and rushed for 119 yards on 26 carries. They did, however, play a banged-up Cincinnati defense, and relied heavily on the RPO. Meanwhile, the Raiders can’t even tank correctly and have leapfrogged into the 3rd position of the 2019 draft with their 23-21 win against the Cardinals. The Ravens have failed to cover four straight games and while I hate myself for doing this, I am going to take the Raiders with the points (and will probably want to stick my head in an oven one drive into this game).
New England at NY Jets, +9.5
Both teams come into this Week 12 divisional matchup off their bye: The Patriots have hopefully regrouped after an embarrassing 34-10 loss to the Titans, and the Jets, who showed some initial promise early in the season, have now lost four straight games in which they only managed to put up a total of 50 points. They were home last week and allowed the Bills of all teams to tack on 41 points. 9.5 points are a lot to lay on the road, but I do not anticipate this game to be even remotely close. The Patriots will blow out the Jets, win this game, and cover the spread easily.
Cleveland at Cincinnati, -3.5
The Browns most recently faced off against the Falcons and pulled of a surprising 28-16 victory. They’ll be well rested and off their Week 11 bye to face the Bengals, who are dealing with injuries galore and just lost to the Ravens 24-21. The Bengals have now fallen to third place in the division (technically tied with the 5-5 Ravens). I’m personally hoping that rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield wakes up “feeling real dangerous” again so Cleveland can eke out a win here – I am taking the Browns with the 3.5 points.
San Francisco at Tampa Bay, -3.5
Perennial disappointment Ryan Fitzpatrick has been benched again for Jameis Winston and one could say the quarterback situation in Tampa is not great. They lost a very winnable game to the Giants last week and will face off with the 49ers this week at home. The 49ers also had a Week 11 bye and will be starting undrafted free agent, Nick Mullens, under center. He did manage to keep their 27-23 loss against the Giants close, but I think Tampa ultimately has the edge, especially with the cross-country travel and this game being played at 1PM. Give me the Buccaneers to win and cover the 3.5 points.
Jacksonville at Buffalo, +3.5
The Jaguars forced three interceptions against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 11, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Blake Bortles experience. Bortles attempted only 18 passes for 10 completions, 104 yards, and zero touchdowns, and it’s clear that coach Doug Marrone does not want him throwing at all. They’ll travel to Buffalo to face a Bills team that pulled off a surprising 41-10 upset against the Jets and are somehow not the worst team in football anymore. Their defense has actually looked very respectable of late, and they have the advantage in the cold at home. I like the Bills as home underdogs to cover the spread.
Sunday 4:05 PM EST
Arizona at LA Chargers, -12.5
The Cardinals took a tough loss to a Raiders team that has no interest in winning and will travel to Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has ignited running back David Johnson, who had looked disappointing this year to say the least. On the other side of the ball, the Chargers also suffered a tough loss to the Broncos last week that was decided by one point. I think this was a hiccup and I personally love the Chargers as a playoff team, but this line seems too high. I will take the Cardinals with the 12.5 points.
Sunday 4:25 PM EST
Miami at Indianapolis, -9.5
The Dolphins began the season 3-0 but have fallen to 5-5 and are in the hunt for the second wild card spot. They took a somewhat expected loss against the Packers last week in a game that ended 31-12. Brock Osweiler had zero touchdowns and one interception in the effort, and the Dolphins have only managed to score 25 points in their last two games combined. The Colts are also 5-5 but appear to be trending in the complete opposite direction with Andrew Luck getting healthy and their offensive line looking like the best in the league. They’ve won their last four games in a row and have not lost against the spread this year as favorites (one push). This could be the Frank Gore revenge game (ha), but more likely than not, I think the Colts win easily and cover the 9.5 points.
Pittsburgh at Denver, +3.5
The Steelers will travel to Mile High stadium for their second road game in a row. They managed to eke out a win against the Jaguars last week 20-16, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and most of the yardage came late in the game. We’ll get another dose of road Ben in one of the toughest stadiums to play in, against a Broncos team that just pulled off a 23-22 upset win against the Chargers. The Broncos are probably out of the playoff race, but they’re no cupcake team to play either. I love the Broncos as home underdogs to cover in this spot and possibly even win straight up.
Sunday 8:20 PM EST
Green Bay at Minnesota, -3.5
The 4-5-1 Packers will travel to Minnesota to face the 5-4-1 Vikings this week for a fierce NFC North divisional showdown. Both teams are coming off Week 11 upset losses and hope to bounce back here. Aaron Rodgers threw for 21 completions off 30 attempts for 332 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the big story here is that they have been able to get running back Aaron Jones much more involved. On the other side of the ball, Kirk Cousins struggled against the Bears strong pass rush and threw three picks in their 25-20 loss. The Packers pass rush is much softer than the Bears’, but Cousins will have to play his second straight primetime game, which has proven to be difficult for him throughout his career. These two teams tied 29-29 when they first met in September in Lambo. That said, I really like Aaron Rodgers getting a field goal in prime time. I am taking the Packers with the points.
Monday 8:15 PM EST
Tennessee at Houston, -6.5
The Rams and Chiefs will be an impossible act to follow, but let’s try to find some excitement with the Texans and Titans! The Texans come into this game on a seven-game win streak after starting the season 0-3, and sit in first place in the AFC South. Their pass rush finally looks healthy, and quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to shine after returning from his ACL injury last season. Meanwhile, the Titans have a slew of problems, principally due to quarterback Marcus Mariota’s lingering injury status. As a result, most books have this game off the board until we have more clarity on the situation. I believe this line was set under the assumption that Mariota starts, but if he doesn’t, it’s the Blaine Gabbert show. Either way, I think the Texans win by more than a touchdown and cover the spread.