This is the best time of the year for football! Thanksgiving is here, the playoff race is heating up, and we continue to be pleasantly surprised by multiple upsets every week. What else could ask for?
Today, let’s take a look at the Week 12 slate. Every week, I’ll be providing my projections on the outcome of each game, and then contextualizing what to do with that information: best bets, teasers, parlays, survivor picks, and much more!
These projections started with me using projected PFF grades to decipher the true talent of every team. From there, I utilized those projections to establish each team’s offense and defense rank, which allowed me to derive how talented each team is compared to the average team with a neutral field; as the season goes, I’ll be analyzing PFF data and other key metrics to continue to update each team’s offense and defense ranking. Adding in an adjustment for home field, and, what do you know, each game had a projection! The combination of the foundation of it starting objectively, and then the mixture of subjective analysis to make it less of a “blind” projection, will hopefully lead us to where we want to go. You can consider these, based on the subjective touch, predictions instead of pure projections, but, hey, it gets us in the same place!
Enough rambling; it’s time to get to the point of this article! Let’s completely preview Week 12 from a betting perspective!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus
Week 12 Personal Projections
TB (-3) at IND
After back-to-back losses to Trevor Siemian and Taylor Heinicke, it was nice to see the Bucs get back on track with a convincing 30-10 victory over the Giants on Monday Night Football. I expect more dominance from them this week.
How good are the Bucs? In my opinion, they’re still the most dangerous team in football. They rank in the top-five in both yards/play and yards/play allowed, while Tom Brady is Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded quarterback this season. Add in the fact that tight end Rob Gronkowski is back and Antonio Brown should be soon as well, and this is not a team I’d want to play down the stretch.
That especially goes for the Colts. Yes, they’ve been dominant as of late, winning six of their last eight games, including a 38-15 blowout victory in Buffalo this past week. Yet, they haven’t had this success due to the arm of Carson Wentz. His 69.5 PFF grade ranks just 25th among quarterbacks this season, while he’s only mustered a big-time throw at a 3.7% rate. Instead, Indianapolis has thrived thanks to their rushing attack, led by Jonathan Taylor, and turnovers, which isn’t a viable strategy against the Bucs. Tampa Bay is allowing just 3.8 yards/rush attempt, and now get nose tackle Vita Vea back into the lineup. Thus, this may be a game where more is asked from Wentz, and I’m not sure he can carry the load against a very difficult defense to play against.
To sum it up, the Bucs are simply the better team by a significant margin. Their offense is far more explosive, while their defense is set up to take away Indianapolis’ greatest strength. 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.
SEA (+1) at WSH
When will Russ cook?
That’s the million-dollar question surrounding the Seahawks right now. Since returning from his thumb injury, Russell Wilson hasn’t looked the same, averaging just 5.58 yards/pass attempt, while Seattle has combined for just 16 points in that two-game span. However, despite coming up short to the Cardinals this past Sunday, there are reasons to be optimistic. Wilson averaged eight yards/pass attempt and improved his peripheral numbers significantly, but suffered from a high 12.5% drop rate. That should regress positively here, which sets them up to take advantage of a poor Washington defense.
Without edge rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat, Washington isn’t the threat to stop Wilson and the Seahawks like they were expected to be. Their 44.1 PFF coverage grade ranks fifth-worst amongst defenses, while their 7.4 yards/pass attempts ranks sixth-worst. Meanwhile, they’ve had pass-rush grades of 58 or lower in back-to-back games, which aligns with the injuries to Sweat and Young. If Wilson isn’t under heavy pressure, then we can see him thrive from a clean pocket (91.1 PFF grade, 9.5 yards/pass attempt), in addition to getting his connection back with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. If so, they possess the big-play ability that a conservative, run-heavy Washington offense cannot match. 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”. Side with a bone-back performance for Wilson here.
DAL (-1.5) vs LV
NE (-0.5) vs TEN
BUF (PK) at NO
These are actually the three highest favorites in what looks to be a very competitive week. If you want a nice Thanksgiving teaser, siding with the Cowboys and Bills to take care of business coming off of losses makes sense against inferior teams, while the Titans offense has been one of the league’s worst as of late and has very little explosiveness currently. All three of these games present plenty of value in a teaser.
Parlay (Four Games and Eight Games)
TB (-3) at IND
SEA (+1) at WSH
LAR at GB (Over 47.5)
ATL at JAX (Under 46.5)
NYJ at HOU (Under 44.5)
CLE at BAL (Over 46)
CIN (-4.5) vs PIT
LV (+7.5) at DAL
I’m forcing myself to deliver an eight-game parlay, which is a worse option than the four-game parlay this week. There is a lot to leverage from the totals this week, as I believe the quarterback matchup between Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers is being misrepresented here due to concern about two strong defenses; a good offense beats a good defense any day of the week. Meanwhile, the Browns and Ravens are both above-average offenses in terms of yards/play, and 46 is a reasonable total to exceed assuming Lamar Jackson plays this week. From there, we’re fading subpar offenses by picking the “under”, believing in the quarterback advantage of Joe Burrow over Ben Roethlisberger, and taking advantage of a number crossing a key number (seven) by siding with the Raiders. Remember, the Cowboys are already without receiver Amari Cooper and could also be without CeeDee Lamb.
DAL vs LV
CIN vs PIT
There aren’t any double-digit favorites this week, so the Cowboys are actually the highest favorite of the week. If you want to get creative, though, why not the Bengals? They came into this game with the seventh-highest graded passer from Pro Football Focus, while Ben Roethlisberger ranks 35th. That’s a significant quarterback mismatch, and Cincinnati just has far too much explosiveness for the defense with the league’s fourth-worst coverage grade to handle. With a tough schedule to follow, this is your last time to potentially use the Bengals anyways, making them a creative play here.
Parting Bold Predictions
Jonathan Taylor Is Held To Under 3.5 Yards/Rush Attempt
Russell Wilson Throws Four Touchdown Passes
The Colts Don’t Score a Touchdown In The First Three Quarters
Remember, these are BOLD predictions! All of these align with my previous betting picks, but allow us to get a bit spicy here. Enjoy an exciting week of football, and please remember to bet responsibly!
Various Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Aaron Polcare (@bearydoesgfx on Twitter)