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NFL Week 12 Preview and Picks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 11 is already ten hours old.  Let’s look ahead to week 12 in the NFL!

Week 12 brings a host of games that will change the playoff landscape in both conferences. One week after facing Arizona (the top team in the NFC), Detroit meets New England (the top team in the AFC) likely needing a win to stay on top of the NFC North.

Meanwhile, Arizona’s win-streak will face a stiff challenge in Seattle, and Denver will try to bounce back at home against Miami.

Here’s are the odds and a brief preview for the full slate of week 12 games, plus our straight-up picks.

Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Oakland Raiders, Thursday. SU Pick: Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) are rolling right now.  They have won five straight  since coming off the bye week, unlike last year when they couldn’t buy a win after their week off. Most recently, the Chiefs topped the Super Bowl Champions, Seattle, in a heavyweight battle.  The tandem of Jamal Charles and Knile Davis looked almost unstoppable, even against Seattle’s tough run defense.

Kansas City has the best passing defense in the entire NFL and will face the winless Oakland Raiders (0-10) on a short week.  Oakland put up a fight last weekend on the road against the Chargers, but came up short once again.  Trend-wise, Oakland is 2-9 SU and ATS in its last 11 home games against Kansas City.

Cleveland Browns at Atlanta Falcons (-3). SU Pick: Falcons

The NFC South continues to be abysmal. After a road win over division rival Carolina last weekend, the Atlanta Falcons are now leading the lackluster conference with a 4-6 record. Atlanta is 2-2 at home. Cleveland (6-4) is 4-21 SU in its last 25 games on the road; but, in their last road game, the Browns demolished both the Bengals and the spread in Cincinnati.  With the win, Cleveland took over top spot in the AFC North, though they promptly gave it right back in week 11 with a 23-7 home loss to the Texans.

The Browns beat the Falcons in 2002 and 2006, but lost in the last game in 2010.

Green Bay Packers (-9.5) at Minnesota Vikings. SU Pick: Packers

The Minnesota Vikings (4-6) will have the difficult task of stopping Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (7-3) in week 12. In his last two outings, the Packers pivot has put the game away before halftime, leading Green Bay to 85 points before the break during routs of the Bears and Eagles. The Packers crushed the spread in both games.

Rodgers has won nine of 13 career games against the Minnesota Vikings, throwing 29 TDs and four INTs.  Last weekend, the Vikings lost on the road to Chicago, putting another dagger in their playoff hopes.

Minnesota is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games against Green Bay; the total has gone OVER in six of the Packers’ last seven games in Minnesota.

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-2.5). SU Pick: Bengals

Two playoff hopefuls will meeting when the Bengals (6-3-1) face the Texans (5-5).  Both teams are coming off impressive wins in week 11.  Cincinnati beat the Saints convincingly in New Orleans while Houston did the same in Cleveland to the Browns.  Ryan Mallet is now at under center for Houston and is 1-0 as a starter. Meanwhile, Bengals QB Andy Dalton bounced back from his worst career game against Cleveland in week 10 with a stellar performance in week 11.  The weather may be a factor for Dalton, as it was brutally windy during the Cleveland game.

The Texans have feasted on the Bengals throughout their tenure as an NFL franchise. Cincinnati is 0-5 SU and ATS in its last five against Houston, including postseason games in 2011 and 2012.

Detroit Lions at New England Patriots (-7.5). SU Pick: Patriots

The Lions (7-3) have the best defense in the NFL, but they are about to face the hottest team in the league.

The Patriots (8-2) have won six straight, averaging 40.5 points per game. Most recently, they went into Indianapolis and handed the Colts their second home loss of the season (42-20), annihilating the spread for the second week in a row.

NY Jets at Buffalo Bills (-4.5). SU Pick: Jets

A few weeks ago, the Bills (5-5) smashed the Jets in New Jersey, 43-23. They will need another win against New York in week 12 in order to keep their fading playoff hopes alight.  Last Thursday, the Bills lost their most important game of the season to division rival Miami (22-9), failing to cover as five-point road dogs. They now sit 12th in the conference and need to leapfrog six teams in order to make the post-season.

The Jets (2-8) have long been out of the playoff picture, but were able to play spoiler in their last game against Pittsburgh, taking a 20-13 victory. After resting in week 11, they will look for their first division win of the year against Buffalo.

Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles (-11.5). SU Pick: Eagles

One week after blowing a fourth quarter lead at home to the Steelers (27-24), the Titans (2-8) have to travel to Philadelphia to face the NFC East-leading Eagles. Against Pittsburgh, the Titans showed that they can compete and cover the spread; but it doesn’t look like they have enough weapons – on either side of the football – to beat the top teams in the league. The Eagles (7-3) are coming off of a dismantling at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. While Mark Sanchez looked good under center in his first game as a starter, it’s clear that the USC-product still has some kinks to work out, as does the Philly defense, if the Eagles are going to be a true contender in the playoffs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears (-6). SU Pick: Buccaneers

The Bears (4-6) finally won at home last week and are now 1-3 at Soldier Field on the year. They will have to be careful with the Bucs (2-8). Both of Tampa’s wins this year have come on the road and, though they are six games under .500, the Bucs are still alive in the NFC South.

Chicago’s number one task is to stop rookie WR Mike Evans, who has been a stud over the last few weeks. In the week 11 win over Washington, Evans had over 200 yards receiving and 2 TDs. History is not on Tampa’s side, though, as the Bucs are 7-14 ATS in their last 21 road games against Chicago.

St. Louis Rams at San Diego Chargers (-5.5). SU Pick: Chargers

The Chargers (6-4) snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Oakland Raiders (13-6) at home in week 11, but they didn’t look good doing it, posting just 13 points against a defense that had been giving up 28 per game.

The Rams, on the other hand, surprised the Denver Broncos last weekend at home, holding one of the top-five scoring offenses in the league to just seven points.  The Rams D-line can be given a lot of credit for the win, as they held Denver to 28 rushing yards while sacking Manning twice (and pressuring him into two picks). Rams QB Sean Hill – who had been benched for several weeks – will have people questioning why he was ever demoted after an efficient 20/29 for 200 yards and one TD performance.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-15). SU Pick: Colts

In week 11, the Colts (6-4) were demolished by the AFC-leading Patriots at home. They have a good chance to bounce back at Lucas Oil against the Jaguars (1-9). These teams already met in week 3, with the Colts cruising to a 44-17 victory. The Jaguars looked competitive for the better part of their week 9 game at Cincinnati, but, right after Blake Bortles brought his team back to within one score, the defense gave up a devastating 60-yard TD run to Jeremy Hill, putting the game out of reach. The Jags couldn’t build on any momentum they had from that game in week 10, as they went down 31-7 to the Cowboys in London before scoring ten late points to make the score more respectable. The Jags had a bye in week 11 to recover from their trip overseas, but their defense will have a difficult time against Indy’s top-ranked offense once again.

Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos (-7). SU Pick: Broncos

The bad news for the Miami Dolphins is that they have to face the Broncos in Denver, and that Manning and company will be angry after a bad loss to the Rams in week 12.  The good news is that the Fins won their biggest game of the year last weekend (22-9 against Buffalo, covering as five-point home favorites) and are currently in the second Wild Card spot in the AFC.

Though one hesitates to say that injuries are ever “good news”, Miami may also be facing a depleted Broncos squad this week, as Julius Thomas, Monte Ball, and Emmanuel Sanders all left Denver’s last game with injuries.

Washington Redskins at San Francisco 49ers (-8). SU Pick: 49ers

The 49ers (6-4) have saved their season, for the time being, with two huge road wins in the last two weeks.  In week 10, they beat the Saints in New Orleans and, in week 11, they topped the Giants in East Rutherford.  They are now seventh in the NFC and in full control of their own destiny.  With a slew of difficult games coming up, including the Cardinals, Chargers, and Seahawks (twice), the Niners can scarcely afford to lose to the lowly Redskins (3-7).

Those lowly Redskins had been hoping that the return of QB Robert Griffin III would give the team a boost. However, the oft-injured Baylor product is 0-2 since coming back from injury and, last weekend, threw for just 207 yards and added two interceptions in a home loss to the one-win Bucs.  Griffin remains a dynamic playmaker with the talent to take over a game, but don’t look for this week’s tilt against the Niners to be his return to form.  Jim Harbaugh’s defense picked off Eli Manning five times last weekend and is as close to full-strength as it has been all year.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (-6.5). SU Pick: Seahawks

The Cardinals (9-1) and Seahawks (6-4) will meet on Sunday afternoon in a heavyweight tilt. Despite having the best record in the league, not many people are taking the Cardinals seriously as Super Bowl contenders. That was true before starting QB Carson Palmer was lost for the year, and is even more so now that Drew Stanton is at the helm.  Perhaps beating the defending champs in their own back yard would garner some respect.

After last week’s loss to the Chiefs, the Seahawks are now on the outside of the NFC playoff picture. They can ill afford another loss, especially at home, at this stage of the season if they want to remain in the conversation.

Last year, the Cardinals became the first team to beat Seattle QB Russell Wilson at home, and the third-year pivot will be eager to avenge that loss on Sunday.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) at NY Giants, Sunday Night. SU Pick: Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys (7-3) are coming off of a week 11 bye (which followed a week 10 meeting with the Jaguars in London).  After the Eagles lost to the Packers last weekend, Dallas is now tied with Philly atop the NFC East.  Dallas beat the Giants at home in week 7, 31-21, rushing for 156 yards in the process.

The NY Giants (3-7) have lost five straight. Last week against the 49ers, the defense did its part, holding the Niners to just 16 points; but QB Eli Manning threw five interceptions, single-handedly killing any chance at a Giants win, and angering some bettors in the process as the Giants failed to cover as 3.5-point home ‘dogs.  The Giants are 1-4 SU and ATS in their last five games against Dallas.

Baltimore Ravens at New Orleans Saints (-4), Monday. SU Pick: Saints

Prior to their week 10 game against the 49ers, the Saints (4-6) had won 11 straight home games.  But they lost to the Niners in OT and then, in week 11, were demolished at home by a resurgent Bengals. Now they face the very real possibility of losing three in a row at the Superdome, as the Ravens (6-4) come to town. Those losses have proved costly, as the Saints have now surrendered the AFC South lead to the Falcons (4-6) due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Ravens, meanwhile, had a bye in week 11, giving them ample time to figure out how the Bengals were able to dismantle the Saints and how to recreate that performance.

Trend-wise, be aware that Drew Brees has won 11 of his 16 career Monday Night Football games, with 34 TDs and 15 INTs.

(Photo credit: Bigcats lair at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)

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