Last week was another frustrating time for me picking NFL games as I went 1-2 in the “sides I’ll likely use” portion of my article. The frustrating part was going 4-0 in the “picks I’m considering” category, but not using any of those sides in the contest I’m in.
Instead, I made picks based on Sunday morning line moves and other information to land on the Eagles, Falcons, Lions and Colts, going 1-3 with those selections. So I went 2-5 in the contest and am now seven games under .500 for the season. I’ll need to string together multiple winning weeks to break even, which is difficult to do because at this point in the NFL season the lines are very sharp.
With three games on Thursday, I wanted to get this article out a day early. I’ll share my thoughts on all 16 games using the current point spread and will tweet out the contest lines for this week on Wednesday night.
Note: My picks could change based on information and any news that is not factored into the contest line. I will discuss and finalize these picks on a Periscope show I host called Weekend Warriors. The show will be live for an hour on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET and can be seen on Stadium’s Periscope channel or Stadium’s Twitter. After the show, I will tweet my seven picks for the contest from my Twitter.
Here are my thoughts for Week 12.
Texans (-3) at Lions: The Texans opened as a 2.5-point favorite, and it’s out to Texans -3 right now. Houston won outright last week as home underdogs and now they find themselves in the road favorite role against a Detroit team that was shut out by Carolina last week. If I had to bet this game, I would take the Lions in the first half since they tend to give up leads. I’ll likely stay away since the Lions’ Tuesday injury report looks bleak.
Washington at Cowboys (-3): The line for this game has bounced between Cowboys -2.5 and -3. Both teams are coming off wins and whichever team wins on Thursday will have at least a three-day lead in the putrid NFC East. I don’t want to bet on the Cowboys now that this line is at a field goal, but I also don’t want to back an Alex Smith-led Washington Football Team. They were outplayed by the Bengals last week until Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending injury.
Ravens at Steelers (-5): Two teams going in different directions on the field, as the Steelers are 10-0 and the Ravens have lost three of their last four games. Baltimore’s COVID-19 issues have pushed this line up after it was sitting at Steelers -3 on Monday morning. This is a rematch from a Week 8 meeting where the Steelers won 28-24 as four-point road underdogs. The Ravens outgained the Steelers 457-221 in that game, but were doomed by four turnovers. This is quite an adjustment in the point spread we saw a month ago and if this was a normal Sunday game, I would likely be on Baltimore. But with a short week and the COVID-19 situation, I will pass.
Raiders (-3) at Falcons: Right now, my favorite bet of the week is Falcons +3. The look-ahead line for this game was a pick’em, and while the Raiders looked good offensively against the Chiefs, I think they are getting too much credit in the point spread for that performance. It’s also a letdown spot for the Raiders after playing a Sunday night game at home against a premier division opponent. The situation and math lines up for a play on Atlanta in this game.
Cardinals (-2.5) at Patriots: If the Patriots got to +3, I would include them as a bet this week. There’s a little bit of concern that they don’t have much to play for now at 4-6 on the season, but I’ll have to consider Bill Belichick as a home underdog against Kliff Kingsbury and a Cardinals team that I’m not fully sold on. If I can’t get +3 on the Patriots, then they look to be a good teaser leg up to +8.5.
Giants (-6) at Bengals: When the look-ahead lines were released last week, the Bengals were a three-point favorite in this game. Now the spread has flipped to the Giants as a significant favorite because of the injury to QB Joe Burrow. The drop-off from Burrow to Ryan Finley is probably somewhere between 5-7 points, which is a bigger difference from starter to backup than most NFL teams would have. The line may have adjusted too much, but I don’t want any part of the Bengals following a horrific injury to their franchise cornerstone. The Giants are coming off a bye and have a decent shot at winning the NFC East, so I expect them to play well, but I don’t trust them to cover a big number.
Browns (-6.5) at Jaguars: I would look to bet the over in this game. The Browns’ offensive stats have been suppressed the last three games because they were playing in the rain and/or heavy wind. That has also led to Cleveland’s defensive metrics looking better than they should. The total climbed from 46.5 to 49 on Monday morning, so some value might be extracted, but it’s the way I would look toward in this game.
Panthers at Vikings (-4): There’s a lot of question marks surrounding this game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this spread was different by Sunday. I’m not sure who will start at quarterback for the Panthers after P.J. Walker’s impressive first NFL start. Teddy Bridgewater was ruled out 90 minutes before Sunday’s game, so I guess there’s a chance he could suit up here against his former team. The Vikings are coming off a tough loss to the Cowboys and star wide receiver Adam Thielen was placed on the COVID list on Monday.
Titans at Colts (-3.5): A quick division rematch here between two 7-3 teams. The Colts closed a one-point favorite two weeks ago in Nashville, and Indianapolis won the game 34-17, so I understand why the Colts are currently over a field goal favorite at home. I’m interested to see where this line could go before kickoff. For now, I think the line is correct and I’m excited to see how this game plays out.
Chargers at Bills (-5.5): I mentioned that the Falcons are my favorite bet, but my second favorite would be the Chargers. If this line got up to Chargers +6, then it would be right there with Atlanta as my favorite side of the week. I really like betting the Chargers as an underdog when they don’t have high expectations, and I love fading them as a favorite. I’m banking that the Chargers realized they are better when they let rookie QB Justin Herbert show off his arm. Los Angeles should be able to put up points and the Bills are not a team that I am buying.
Dolphins (-7) at Jets: I believe this line assumes that Sam Darnold is back as the Jets’ starting quarterback after Joe Flacco started the last two games with Darnold sidelined due to an injury. Tua Tagovailoa is expected to start for Miami after he was benched at Denver last week. I need a little more information about this game — especially at the key quarterback position.
Saints (-6) at Broncos: I picked against the Saints last week because I doubted Taysom Hill as a starting quarterback, and he proved me wrong. Hill and the Saints now have a tricky road test against the Broncos. Getting Denver +6 is tempting and I will strongly consider them in the contest, and hope Hill shows negative regression.
49ers at Rams (-7): Situationally, this game sets up well for San Francisco. They are coming off a bye week, and I respect Kyle Shanahan, who will have his offense prepared for this game. The Rams just had a huge Monday night road win against the Buccaneers, and I usually like fading teams off big primetime wins. However, those factors are built into the number at Rams -7. I would lean toward the 49ers at the current price and be on the lookout for the 49ers at +7.5 or better throughout the week.
Chiefs (-3.5) at Buccaneers: Before the Buccaneers lost to the Rams on Monday night, the Chiefs were favored by three in this game. One reason I was rooting for Tampa Bay to lose was so we could get a better number on them against Kansas City. I’m a little concerned with how they performed against the Rams, but the Chiefs’ defense really struggled in a primetime game of their own. I believe the Buccaneers’ offense can get back on track and go into a much-needed Week 13 bye with at least a cover.
Bears at Packers (-7.5): The number I currently have listed is on the low side of what this number is at some books. You can find Packers -8.5 — and even -9.5 — as of Wednesday morning. The likely reason is health questions surrounding the quarterback position for the Bears, who are coming off a bye week. This is another game I will wait on in an attempt to gain more information.
Seahawks (-5.5) at Eagles: I’m officially done with the Eagles. I thought last week set up very well for them playing the Browns, but it’s clear that Carson Wentz is a quarterback I can’t trust to bet on. I would probably need +7 to consider the Eagles, and I don’t think the line will get there.