Beating the Spread: Week 12 Picks

Our Week 12 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

I watched with horror as my colleague Bryan suffered through an 0-5 Week 10 of the schedule. I was so happy it wasn’t me because I can imagine how frustrating that would be. You put in time to thoughtfully run through the schedule and pick out games you feel good enough about to put in virtual ink that yes, indeed, I think this team will cover or this game will score a lot of points, whatever the case may be, and then have them all turn out the other way.

Well, I now join the club of the golden sombrero with an 0-5 and honestly, it wasn’t particularly close. My only consolation is that I ended up backing away from a couple of those bets in real life and betting on some winners, but the record stands and it isn’t good. I don’t blame you if you use my picks as a foil right now and bet against the house.

Either way, we’re forging ahead and doing our best. Drop your best picks in the comments below.


The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

Week 12 Betting Lines
Staff Picks



Jeff Berckes:

I think the Raiders have the best offense of all the Wildcard contenders in the AFC. I’m done thinking that the Falcons can do anything of value on offense after their latest showing against the Saints. The Raiders are likely a little deflated after their divisional loss against the Chiefs at home, but they’re well-coached and should have a field day with that Falcons defense. LV -3

We had such high expectations for the Ravens coming into the season and while this game should mean everything to them against the division-leading Steelers, I’m not sure they’re going to be ready for it. The Steelers certainly don’t “need” this game but they’re playing as well as anyone in the league (obviously) and can take a giant step to clinching the AFC North with a win. I believe in this Steelers defense above all else. PIT -4.5

The Jaguars kept a couple games competitive in the first part of the month but otherwise have been an easy out since late September. I’ve believed from the beginning of the season that the Jags are a team that wants to lose and the Browns, while certainly flawed in their own way, are on a bit of a roll and will happily oblige them. I’ve also got the Browns as my survivor pick this week so I’m doubly invested. CLE -6.5

The Dolphins beat the Jets 24-0 in their first meeting. While the Jets have been more competitive as of late, the Dolphins are coming off a tough loss and I believe in their coaching staff to have a bounce-back week. Give me the fish again here. MIA -7

I don’t know if I’m jinxing the Chiefs on their lines lately or what, but I’ve been burned the last couple of times I’ve tried to take them to cover. On the other hand, I keep missing out on some of the blowouts. I think KC is the better team and TB has to face a short week. I’ll bet on Mahomes here. KC -3


Erik Smith:

I had to throw a Thanksgiving day pick in here, and the divisional matchups later in the day look like stay-aways to me. This Detroit Lions team is a mess right now, and while the potential return of D’Andre Swift would help, I don’t think it will be enough. Without Kenny Golladay to bail this team out with high-difficulty circus catches, there just isn’t much of a coherent plan on offense. With the Detroit defense a bottom-ten unit in nearly every statistical category, I expect Deshaun Watson to build off of his impressive Week 11 performance. The Watson, Will Fuller V, and Brandin Cooks combination is at least something to rely on, while the Lions only have a banged-up Matthew Stafford. HOU -2.5

This line is insane, I can’t believe the Giants are five and a half point favorites on the road. But I’m sticking to my guns here, I don’t care how high Vegas sets this line. This Bengals team was Joe Burrow propping up a bad offensive line, bad coaching staff, and bad defense. Take him out, and what do we have left? News is coming out about unhappiness in the Bengals’ locker room with the coaching staff, they’ve had several players request a trade this year even before the Burrow injury, and they just elevated Brandon Allen off of the practice squad to start over their backup quarterback Ryan Finley. This ship is sinking, and I’m betting on the Giants finding a way to cover this spread. NYG -5.5

The Panthers feel like they have been disrespected all year — they are well-coached, play hard, and keep games close. Their losses have come against tough teams (LV,@TB, CHI, NO, KC, TB) with the exception of a loss to the Falcons, and they have knocked off the Chargers and Cardinals for a couple of impressive wins. I liked what I saw from P.J. Walker last week, so I feel comfortable with him or Teddy Bridgewater under center, and I just witnessed this Vikings defense get lie up at home by Andy Dalton and the Dallas Cowboys last week. I don’t know if they will win it, but I expect Carolina to fight until the last snap. CAR +4.5

This is easy, I’m just always betting on Patrick Mahomes when the spread is less than a touchdown from now on. Tampa Bay has a tough defense, but primarily against the run, and the Chiefs will happily abandon the run in this one if they can. The Bucs have been tough against the pass as well, but the Rams exploited their pass defense last week, and Cooper Kupp was shedding tackles all night long, so I expect Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill to find room to operate. Mahomes is the best player in the league by a mile, bet on him whenever you can. KC -3

This feels like a trap, but the Raiders are a solid team desperately needing a win, and the Falcons will either be without Julio Jones or with a limited Julio most likely. More than any other player on this team, the offense tanks without Julio, so I expect the Raiders to run away with this one. If Julio gets full clearance it could be a little more interesting of a matchup, but I’m willing to gamble on that early in the week, especially since I still think the Raiders could cover if Julio plays. LV -3


Bryan Sweet:

One thing I learned this week is Sean Payton is smarter than the rest of us.  When Drew Brees was placed on I.R., the collective assumed Jameis Winston would inherit the starting job based on Taysom Hill’s demonstrated skillset.  When Payton announced Hill as the starter against Atlanta, Hill promptly went out and showed he could run the Saints offense effectively and also adds a rushing element to the QB position on every play that isn’t typically present.  The Saints are getting healthier and healthier and look to hold on to the #1 seed in the NFC.  Denver is near the bottom of the league in both points scored and points allowed and don’t have a good enough defense to slow down New Orleans enough to cover in this one.  The Saints by at least a TD.  NO -6

There are a lot of things working against the Los Angeles Chargers this week.  First, they are a West Coast team traveling to the East Coast for an early kickoff.  Second, they have been on the wrong side of one-score games this season going 2-7 in those games.  Finally, they had to survive a late drive against the winless Jets to avoid overtime last week, continuing their late-game struggles this season.  Buffalo is coming off a BYE and has shown they can score with anybody this season.  The weather shouldn’t be too bad, but it’s not sunny L.A.  Give me the Bills to cover at home.  BUF -5.5

Last week, once Teddy Bridgewater was ruled out, we saw the line move from a Carolina favorite to a Detroit favorite and we all know how that turned out.  Well, Bridgewater is seemingly trending towards playing this week and that bodes well for the entire Carolina offense.  In addition, the Panthers seemed to find a way to utilize their receiving weapons against Detroit and we’ll see if that trend continues into this week.  We’ve seen what top-tier RBs have done against this Carolina defense although the Panthers have been better in recent weeks.  Still, Dalvin Cook has the skills to find the end zone multiple times in this one and I think it’s going to be a high-scoring affair as Minnesota’s defense has struggled this season.  I think this might even be an overtime game, so I’ll take the over here.  MIN/CAR O48.5

One thing we know about the Bill Belichick-led Patriots is that they are a tough out as home underdogs.  New England is 32-17-1 as home underdogs over their last 50 games and come into this week’s game as a 2.5-point underdog to the Arizona Cardinals.  The Patriots were 6-point underdogs two weeks ago when the Ravens visited Foxborough and they not only covered the spread but walked away with an outright win.  Arizona has been a bit up and down this season but will have a long travel trip again this week.  This game will pit two teams who are in the top-five in rushing and have suspect defenses.  I can see a back-and-forth game and just can’t bet against New England as a home ‘dog.  NE +2.5

There is an intriguing matchup in Atlanta this week as the Raiders’ offensive strength will run head-on into Atlanta’s defensive strength (rushing) and Atlanta’s offensive strength is Vegas’s defensive weakness (passing).  The wildcard may be the health of Julio Jones as he was unable to finish last week’s game due to a hamstring injury and that is putting his status for this week in doubt.  I’m expecting Jones to miss which should tilt the advantage in this game slightly to the Raiders.  Las Vegas is 4-1 on the road this season while Atlanta has struggled to a 1-4 home record.  For those reasons, I’m on the Raiders this week.  LV -3


What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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