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!

Well, another less-than-stellar week has come and gone and Brennan led the team with a 4-1 week.  Erik scraped together two correct picks while Justin and I managed a single correct choice in Week 11.  There were some discussions about giving a pass for the picks of Baltimore -6 and the over in that game last week with the Sunday announcement of Lamar Jackson being out, but I decided that was a known possibility when the picks were made and it’s an unfortunate reality of sports gambling.

This week, we have an abnormally large number of totals in the picks with the shortage of games because of the trio of Thanksgiving Day games.  I’m on the opposite side of Erik and Justin on the Atlanta/Jacksonville game while there is some consensus of a low-scoring affair between the Jets and Texans.  Plenty of favorites in the picks this week too, so we’ll see how that plays out for our record.

Gamblers know that 60% is the magic number to come out ahead, so that’s the goal again this season.  We didn’t make it last year, which just motivates us, even more, this season.  Every week the four of us will pick five games against the spread or on the over/under.  We’ll track the picks every week and see where we end up.  Feel free to play along in the comments or find us on Twitter!

Let’s get to the lines and picks for Week 12!

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
Away Home Line O/U
Jets Texans Texans -2.5 44
Buccaneers Colts Buccaneers -2.5 52
Eagles Giants Eagles -3 46.5
Panthers Dolphins Panthers -1 42
Titans Patriots Patriots -6.5 44.5
Steelers Bengals Bengals -4.5 45.5
Falcons Jaguars Falcons -1 46.5
Chargers Broncos Chargers -3 47
Vikings 49ers 49ers -3 48.5
Rams Packers Packers -1 47.5
Browns Ravens Ravens -3.5 46
Seahawks Football Team Football Team -1 46
Staff Picks

 

Analysis

 

Justin Dunbar: Justin puts together an article analyzing some of his picks in more detail.  Check out his Week 12 Betting Preview for more! Here are some snippets from his first two picks for this week.

The quarterback mismatch here is going to rear its ugly head in a major way, and Tampa Bay should be able to win by more than a field goal here. You always want to sell a stock at its highest point, and that’s what we’re doing with the Colts here. TB -2.5

I understand the Seahawks have fallen from being a true contender, but should they really be an underdog against the subpar Washington Football Team? In my opinion, the answer is an emphatic “no”. SEA +1

Whenever I can side with two elite offenses over two elite defenses, I’m going to do so. Right now, the Rams are the #1 offense in yards/play, while both Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers rank in the top ten in yards/pass attempt. Los Angeles’ offense has struggled over the past two games, but a lot of that has to do with poor game scripts due to poor turnover luck and a lack of success on third downs, which is bound to regress positively over time. The same goes for the Packers’ struggles in the red zone, especially since they were the top red-zone offense in recent seasons under head coach Matt LeFleur. I’m a little concerned about the slow pace of Green Bay’s offense, but 47.5 is too low of a total for two very productive quarterbacks. LAR/GB Over 47.5

This season, the Jaguars rank 31st in the NFL with 15.9 points per game, while the Falcons don’t fare much better with 17.8 points per game (27th). I get that there is a narrative that these are two subpar defenses, yet Atlanta and Jacksonville rank 20th and 22nd in yards/play allowed; their defenses have performed better than their offenses. Right now, neither team has enough weapons to support their quarterbacks, especially Jacksonville; they have the league’s worst PFF receiving grade and have eclipsed 20 points in just three games this season. I’ll gladly fade these offenses. ATL/JAX Under 46.5

Speaking of fading poor offenses, the Jets and Texans follow a similar story. Houston ranks dead-last in the NFL with 15 points per game, while the Jets rank 27th with 17.8. Plus, are we sure the return of second overall pick Zach Wilson actually boosts the Jets’ chances of scoring points? His 57.6 PFF passing grade and 5% turnover-worthy play rate (per PFF) were amongst the league’s worst quarterbacks, as is his 6.5 yards/pass attempt. In fact, the Jets averaged just 13.4 points/game in the five games he started and finished! I see this as a slow-paced, close game where both teams play a conservative brand of football; most of their points have come from playing in garbage time. That doesn’t void well for points being scored, which is why I’ll take the under here, even if 44 isn’t a substantially large number.  NYJ/HOU Under 44

 

Brennan Rampe: The Texans had one of the most shocking upsets of the season with their road win over the Titans despite not doing a whole lot on offense. Tyrod Taylor passed for about 100 yards and one of their touchdowns was set up by a muffed punt. The Jets struggled to score in their loss against the Dolphins, as Joe Flacco and the offense only put up 17 points. It’s unclear who will be the quarterback for the Jets this week, but whoever it is will probably struggle. I think the Texans will also have a hard time moving the ball. These are two of the worst offenses in the league, so that’s why I think they’ll combine to score under 44 points. Inside the Numbers: Houston averages 15 points per game while the Jets score 17.8. HOU/NYJ U44

The Eagles got their first home win of the season by dominating the Saints. The Giants have struggled all season long on offense and defense, which was made clear in their 30-10 loss to the Buccaneers. They fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after the loss, and I feel like that’s just the beginning. There are questions about Joe Judge’s future, and both Dave Gettleman and Daniel Jones have very uncertain futures. I’ve watched Jones play for three years, and he doesn’t look like a franchise quarterback. I’d give up on him and start looking at draft-eligible quarterbacks. Meanwhile, the Eagles, who didn’t start the season off so well, are starting to improve. Division games are weird, and they’re on the road, but I like the Eagles to win by more than a field goal. Inside the Numbers: The Eagles have won 8 of the previous 9 meetings. PHI -3

The Steelers lost a thriller to the Chargers, but Ben Roethlisberger suited up and played well after missing the previous game against the Lions. The defense gave up 41 points, but they were without T.J. Watt, Joe Haden, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Bengals are coming off of a blowout win over the Raiders where they started slow, but then proceeded to pick up the pace. These two teams met at Heinz Field in Week 3, where the Bengals won 24-10. That was a long time ago, and the Steelers know that division games like this are critical if they want to go on one last run with Roethlisberger. I feel like it’ll be a close game, and I think the Steelers can cover, and maybe even win outright. Inside the Numbers: Pittsburgh is 31-18-1 against the spread as road underdogs under Mike Tomlin. PIT +4.5

The Rams were on their bye last week, which was good because they really needed it. They were embarrassed in primetime in two consecutive weeks, getting blown out by the Titans and 49ers. They sadly lost Robert Woods to a torn ACL in practice, and I hate it when that happens. The wide receiver room is really struggling to stay healthy, and the defense is starting to give up points. I’m getting a little concerned about them. The Packers, meanwhile, lost a thriller to the Vikings. Despite what he describes as an extremely painful toe injury, Aaron Rodgers played an almost-perfect game, throwing for nearly 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. His mobility did not seem to be affected. The defense, which is still missing big names like Za’Darius Smith and Jaire Alexander, gave up 34 points. The good news is that they’re going back to Lambeau Field, where the Packers have dominated in the Matt LaFleur era. They’ve only lost three games there with him as the coach, including the playoffs. I still think the Packers are a top team in the league, and I think they’ll win by more than one point. Inside the Numbers: Green Bay is 16-7 against the spread as home favorites under Matt LaFleur. GB -1

The Ravens had an improbable win, beating the Bears with backup quarterback Tyler Huntley. Being able to win without Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown showed how tough and resilient this team is. The Browns beat the Lions, but just barely, despite the Lions’ starting backup quarterback Tim Boyle. Baker Mayfield is clearly playing hurt, and I don’t know if he’s got what it takes to beat a great team like the Ravens with all his injuries. The Ravens defense has struggled this year, but they should be able to shut down a Browns offense that has scored under 20 points in consecutive games. Jackson and Brown should return to give a spark to the offense, and Jackson is also 4-1 against the Browns in his career. I like the Ravens to win and cover in this crucial AFC North showdown. Inside the Numbers: Baltimore is 23-19 against the spread after a win since 2018, Lamar Jackson’s first year. BAL -3.5 

 

Erik Smith: The Vikings have been the bane of my existence this year, but I’ve tended to pick against them, so let’s try the other side of this. I’m still not sold on this 49ers team, who beat up on the pathetic Jaguars last week after bludgeoning the Rams with their running game the week before. Other than the Rams game, San Francisco’s only real quality win was a 17-11 victory over the Eagles back in Week 2. I don’t think the 49ers will be able to dominate the Vikings with the running game, so they will need more out of Jimmy G this week, and I still have my reservations about this passing game. The Vikings have been in every game they’ve played this year, so I’ll take the three points in a game that I believe they can win outright.  MIN +3

The Rams are going through a real transition on offense, as Robert Woods is a super underrated part of this team, functioning as a tight end-caliber blocker in the running game, and keeping defenses honest on end-arounds with the ball in his hands. While I do think that they will figure this out, and Odell Beckham may be a fantasy force by the season’s end, they are currently going through some growing pains. Meanwhile, the Packers just keep chugging along, and I love the versatility of their offense with Aaron Rodgers and their quality running game. Green Bay at home in what amounts to a pick ’em feels like the right play here. GB -1

The Giants have moved on from Jason Garrett, which is the right move in the long run, but I don’t expect it to be the magic fix for this offense right out of the gate, as the issues are too deep to fix in one week. Philadelphia has its game plan and is beginning to form an identity, and they have playmakers on offense that can make this run-heavy style work. It’s a divisional game, which I tend to stay away from, but I do think Philadelphia could blow out this reeling Giants team. PHI -3

We should probably grab any Tom Brady-led team when favored by less than three points until the end of eternity, so I’m not going to overthink things here. Jonathan Taylor is red hot, so going against him at home is scary. But Tampa Bay should be able to slow him just enough, which puts the ball in Carson Wentz’s hands, and while he certainly looks better this year, I’m still backing Brady in this matchup. We’ve seen how schizophrenic NFL teams are this year, so the Colts laying an egg at home coming off of a dominating performance against the Bills feels right. TB -2.5

I rarely pick point totals, so be warned, but after watching way too much of these putrid Falcons and Jaguars offenses, I’m taking the under on the total here. Both teams appear willing to just run out the clock on the season on offense, and the Jaguars defense has been surprisingly mediocre this year (I mean that as a compliment). I have absolutely no idea who will win this game, but I’m fairly certain that it will be an ugly game. ATL/JAX Under 46.5

 

Bryan Sweet: After carrying a questionable tag all week heading into the Week 11 game, Lamar Jackson was unable to suit up for Baltimore’s scintillating 16-13 victory over the Bears.  Jackson is back this week and should be able to get the offense back on track against a Cleveland team that is limping toward the finish line.  Baker Mayfield is not healthy and squeaked by a bad Detroit team last week starting a backup QB.  I simply don’t think the Browns can hang with Baltimore right now and this line is simply too low for a game in Baltimore.  BAL -3.5

A few weeks ago I would have picked Detroit to beat Houston as the Texans simply looked like the worst team in the NFL for most of the season.  A healthy Tyrod Taylor makes Houston’s offense respectable at least and should be able to defend their home turf against another bad team in the Jets.  Zach Wilson looks like he’ll be making his return this week, but I don’t think he can provide enough of a spark to keep this game within a field goal.  HOU -2.5

We’ve all heard about the matchup of the “irresistible force against the immovable object” but this game is quite the opposite as neither offense can score points but neither defense can stop the opposition either.  The game between Atlanta and Jacksonville might be a case of the first to 21 wins but we could see an offensive explosion given the struggles of each team’s defense.  I’m going to side with the offenses in this one and expect a higher-scoring game than many are anticipating.  ATL/JAX Over 46.5

Say what you will about Jalen Hurts and his skills as a QB, but the fact is he’s provided the Eagles with a weapon at QB who simply scores points.  A division matchup against the Giants after back-to-back wins over Denver and New Orleans in which Philadelphia scored a combined 70 points looks like the recipe for a three-game winning streak.  I like the Eagles to eventually pull away from the Giants and cover a small spread.  PHI -3

Arguably the game of the week, the Packers travel back to Aaron Rodgers’ home state to face off against the suddenly waning Los Angeles Rams.  Losers of two straight, Los Angeles comes out of their BYE with eyes on closing to within one game of the division-leading Cardinals.  Green Bay, on the other hand, is looking to continue its dominance in the NFC North.  I expect plenty of fireworks in a game that looks to feature two playoff-bound teams.  GB/LAR Over 47.5

 


 

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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