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NFL Upset Picks for Week 12

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Updated Dec 4, 2020 · 3:49 PM PST

Ryan Tannehill hands off to Derrick Henry
Ryan Tannehill hands off to Derrick Henry. Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
  • Can the Tennessee Titans get swift revenge on the Indianapolis Colts?
  • Will the Taysom Hill experiment succeed for another week?
  • It’s a full-blown slump! An 0-3 Week 11 cost us 4 units, bringing our season profit down to just +6.32

What was more disappointing about last week’s picks? The team that blew a huge halftime lead and still fumbled away a chance to win it in the end? Or the two that were dead on arrival? Either way, these aren’t happy times for upset picks.

The good news is that Week 12 began with a minor upset on Thanksgiving, after Washington blew out Dallas. The bad news is, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of great underdogs on the weekend NFL betting slate. Should we keep stepping on that Falcons rake? Should we bank on the Jets finally getting that first win? Should we fade the most terrifying team to bet against in the hopes that the Buccaneers sort it out?

Ultimately, these are the options I’ll be backing instead.

NFL Week 12 Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
Tennessee Titans vs Indianapolis Colts IND – 3 +160 Titans 1
Los Angeles Chargers vs Buffalo Bills BUF -4 +195 Chargers 1
New Orleans Saints vs Denver Broncos NO – 6 +245 Broncos 1

Odds taken Nov. 27 from DraftKings and FanDuel

Titans Tighten Up Their Special Teams

There’s a lot to like about the spot the Titans this week heading into a must-win game against their division rival. But perhaps the most promising nugget is that punter Brett Kern should be returning to their lineup after a Week 8 injury.

The Colts routed Tennessee 34-17 on a Thursday night a few weeks ago, largely a result of the Titans punting unit gifting Indianapolis 14 points.

Minus the special teams miscues, it was an evenly matched game and this Sunday should be more of the same. The Titans’ offense continues to excel with their outside zone runs and play action shots, rallying back from an 11-point second half deficit in Baltimore with that very gameplan.

Indy dug themselves out of a 14-point hole and closed out the Packers thanks to some poor clock management by Aaron Rodgers. Now, the man who recovered a fumble in overtime to set up that Colts win, DeForest Buckner, won’t be available for this week’s game after going on the COVID-19 reserve list.

The dominant defensive tackle joins the team’s sack leader, Denico Autry, on the sidelines. For a team with one of the lowest blitz rates in the league, these losses along the Colts front four are especially troubling.

Tannehill is second in EPA among all quarterbacks, so we’re well past the point of doubting whether he can execute at a high level against a defense like the Colts. And the Titans are 7-5 straight up as an underdog since the start of 2019.

Chargers Shock Bills

The Buffalo Bills went into their bye week in just about the worst way possible, getting posterized by DeAndre Hopkins.

But while I usually would be worried about the Bills having a real pissed-off energy the following week, I think the bye gave them some time to cool off. Which is why we’re going to back the 4-point underdog Bolts in Ralph Wilson.

Buffalo’s defense is not the same unit as last season, ranking 17th in DVOA and allowing explosive runs at the second-highest rate in the league. While the Chargers do most of their damage through the air, they should have Austin Ekeler back in the lineup for this one.

It’s tough to win a shootout against Josh Allen and this high-powered offense, but typically the Bills will commit a few stupid turnovers to aid their opponent. Taking Justin Herbert to win a duel like this only seems farfetched because it would involve the Chargers winning a close game. It’s still a risk I’m willing to take.

Broncos Tame Taysom

Taysom Hill wasn’t a disaster in his first NFL start, rushing for two touchdowns as the Saints beat last week’s upset pick. But the gadget player still didn’t look confident as a pocket passer, and his deep ball left a lot to be desired.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Vic Fangio and this loaded Broncos defense will be able to slow down Hill now that they have some film to work with. The reason to be apprehensive about this bet is that Denver’s offense will need to hold up their end of the bargain against a New Orleans defense that has been playing excellent lately.

But after a promising showing from the Broncos ground game last week against a solid Dolphins’ defense, I’m willing to give Denver the benefit of the doubt. They can score the 20 points needed to win this week.

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