During the NFL season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will break down every single point spread. With three games on Thursday for Thanksgiving, here are his early thoughts on the Week 12 slate using lines as of Tuesday morning.
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Week 12 Preview
Bears (-3) at Lions: There is a lot of quarterback uncertainty in this game. The Lions started Tim Boyle this past Sunday against the Browns in place of the injured Jared Goff. Boyle, who threw 12 touchdowns and 26 career interceptions in his college career at UConn and Eastern Kentucky, threw for 77 yards and had two interceptions in his first NFL start.
Bears starting QB Justin Fields left Sunday’s game with a rib injury and Andy Dalton is expected to start for this early Thursday matchup on Thanksgiving. The line seems right, so it’ll be very unlikely that I have a bet in this one.
Raiders at Cowboys (-7): The Raiders are on a three-game slide since their bye week, while the Cowboys return home after a disappointing result of their own against the Chiefs in Week 11. Wide receiver Amari Cooper will not be available after testing positive for COVID-19, and fellow WR CeeDee Lamb’s status is in doubt due to the concussion protocol. The Cowboys are the only way I would look in this game, so maybe I’ll tease them down where they just need to win the game.
Bills (-4) at Saints: Just like the other two Thanksgiving matchups, it features two teams that lost in Week 11. Both Buffalo and New Orleans were dominated from the start, so I’m not sure how each team will bounce back on a short week.
The Bills have been disappointing since their bye week, while the Saints have lost all three of Trevor Siemian’s starts after beginning the season with a 5-2 record. If I was forced to bet this game against the spread, I would lean toward the home underdog, but I’ll be rooting for the Bills to win because of some anti-Saints bets I made before the season.
Titans at Patriots (-5.5): There has been a big move in this number compared to the look-ahead lines that were released before the Patriots shut out Atlanta and the Titans fell at home to the Texans. The adjustment to the current spread is absolutely justified, but I don’t think it should go any higher. If it does, I would have to at least consider the Titans back in the underdog role in which they have thrived. The result against Houston was ugly, but Tennessee had the total yardage edge by 230. It was five turnovers, including four interceptions by Ryan Tannehill, that doomed the Titans.
The reason I’m not in a rush to bet the banged-up Titans is because WR A.J. Brown is dealing with a chest injury. For an offense already missing RB Derrick Henry and WR Julio Jones, he needs to play. This line could also continue to go up with the positive public perception surrounding the Patriots, who have won their last five games.
Jets at Texans (-2.5): The Texans are a better team with Tyrod Taylor now that he’s healthy and they don’t have to play Davis Mills. I would just be cautious backing them as a favorite after a big win off their bye against the Titans. I would consider betting the Jets if the line got to +3 — depending on who starts under center for New York.
Eagles (-3.5) at Giants: The Eagles have quietly put themselves in playoff position at 5-6 and have a very favorable end-of-season schedule in terms of opponents, travel and a Week 14 bye. They are a team that has been bet almost every week closer to the day of the game, so I’m not surprised to see them as over a field goal road favorite coming off a statement win over the Saints. My number makes the Eagles a field goal favorite on a neutral field, so there’s line value for me on the Giants at the current price. The Giants just played on Monday night, so I need more time to figure out if I want to bet on New York.
Buccaneers (-2.5) at Colts: The Colts are coming off an impressive 26-point win over the Bills in Week 11 and have a realistic chance to make the postseason with a 6-5 record. Jonathan Taylor ran all over a Bills’ rush defense that has had success stopping the run this season. Now Taylor and Indianapolis’ offensive line faces a tougher test in the Buccaneers, whose rush defense has been stout dating back to last season. I believe the number is perfect at this point because of some potential matchup advantages that Tampa Bay has over Indianapolis.
Falcons (-1) at Jaguars: Two weeks ago, the Falcons were right in the middle of the NFC playoff race after an upset win against the Saints. But in their last two games, they’ve scored three total points and now they are barely a favorite against the lowly Jaguars. I’ve downgraded the Falcons enough where my number is aligned with the current spread. I’d bet the Falcons if I had to, but I’ll likely pass.
Panthers (-2) at Dolphins: My favorite bet of Week 11 was fading Cam Newton and the Panthers in his first start of the season. There was a lot of hype for his return to the franchise, but his play has dropped off since his best days in Charlotte and he needed to learn a new offense in a short amount of time. As for Panthers-Dolphins, I made this line as a pick’em, so I would lean to the underdog in this game. I’ll also look to tease the Dolphins in a game with a low total of 42.5.
Steelers at Bengals (-3.5): My initial reaction to this line was to bet the Steelers as underdogs. They are a better team when playing with lower expectations but struggle to cover as the favorite.
On Sunday night, the Chargers recorded 7.7 yards per play and took advantage of the Steelers’ uncharacteristically bad defense, which was missing key players like T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. I’m going to keep track of the Steelers’ injury report for this game and if there’s positive news, I’ll consider betting on them getting more than a field goal.
Chargers (-3) at Broncos: The Chargers are a tough team for me to gauge. They started the season well before running into some offensive struggles. They closed as a 6.5-point favorite against the Steelers, and while their offense showed out, they squandered a big lead in the fourth quarter before coming back to win.
The Broncos just had their bye week and had mixed results in their previous two games. They convincingly beat the Cowboys in Dallas before coming back to earth and falling at home to the Eagles. If the Chargers stay as three-point road favorites, I would consider betting the Broncos in this game. But like with every Denver game, I want to learn more about the Broncos’ injury situation.
Vikings at 49ers (-3): This is a game between two teams that I had high expectations for going into the season, and they’re finally playing better after extremely underwhelming starts. Now both teams are 5-5 and right in the thick of the NFC playoff race. These teams are evenly matched and the home-field advantage in Santa Clara is minimal, so I would have to consider backing Minnesota at a field goal or better.
Rams at Packers (-1): This line indicates that the Rams are slightly better than the Packers with this game being played in Green Bay in the late afternoon. You can make the argument that the number is fair since Los Angeles is coming off a bye week, allowing the team to get healthier and gameplan for some of their new players.
As for Green Bay, they’re dealing with injury issues, most notably a toe injury for Aaron Rodgers. With what we know at this point in the week, I would stay away from betting the game at the current point spread.
Browns at Ravens (-4): I want to back the Browns in this game at more than a field goal against a Ravens team that is overvalued. With everything that has gone wrong in Cleveland this season, they’re still right in the mix to win the division if they secure a road win against first-place Baltimore.
The issue with taking a position on the Browns is the play of QB Baker Mayfield. He is clearly playing through an injury and it’s negatively impacting their offense. Cleveland has a capable backup in Case Keenum, whom I would prefer betting on more than this version of Mayfield.
Seahawks at Washington (-1): This is another big adjustment from the look-ahead line where the Seahawks were 3.5-point favorites. Seattle has lost two games in a row since Russell Wilson returned from a finger injury, and their most recent loss was against an Arizona team starting Colt McCoy at QB.
I have to question the motivation of the Seahawks now that their record is 3-7 and their playoff chances dropped after losing a must-win game. Washington has won two in a row, so it makes sense why the line has shifted to this point.