Week 12 of the NFL season is a bit light on Sunday, as there was a heavy Thanksgiving schedule on Thursday for fans to enjoy. With that said, there are a few big games to take a look at on Sunday that could paint a clearer playoff picture than before.
What a lot of people will realize is that the betting lines are a bit tricky in Week 12 overall. There are some toss-up games with few true blowout opportunities. Here’s a look at the best picks against the spread for Week 12.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers -1
Green Bay couldn’t close out the shootout against Minnesota last week, but it’s not a complete loss for them overall. The offense is doing just fine once again, but they need the defense to get back on track to show that they are serious playoff contenders. Aaron Rodgers carried the team to a certain extent, but now it’s time for everyone else to do their part.
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The Los Angeles Rams are coming off of a much-needed bye week, as they weren’t exactly the sharpest the last time they were on the field. Expect a lot of offense in this game overall, but the home team takes the win. It should be close, but it’s virtually a toss-up with a -1 point spread.
Pick: Green Bay Packers -1
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
New England Patriots -5.5
It seems like everything is coming together nicely for the New England Patriots this year. Their defense is strong, the special teams is getting the job done, the running game is solid, and rookie Mac Jones has looked like a veteran for most of the year. Hosting Tennessee should be no trouble for them, right?
Without Derrick Henry, the Titans just look like a lost cause. Their offense struggles constantly, and it leaks into other parts of their team as well. Tennessee won’t just lay down, but New England has no trouble winning this one by a touchdown or more.
Pick: New England Patriots -5.5
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals -3.5
The Cincinnati Bengals are looking to sweep the Pittsburgh Steelers on the year. If they’re going to do so, they’ll need to exploit the injuries on Pittsburgh’s defense that have held them back from playing as strong as they can. Joe Burrow will be looking for Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase early and often to put points up on the board in front of the home crowd, and then ride it out from there.
One of the scariest things about putting too much money on Cincinnati’s team is that their defense is just not consistent. If Ben Roethlisberger gets hot, he can score and keep things close as well. It’s not the surest thing of the week, but Cincinnati seems to be turning the corner as a trusted team in the NFL.
It goes against the last decade or so of play, but Pittsburgh doesn’t have enough answers to win on the road. Cincinnati gets a much-needed win to help their playoff opportunities once again.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3
Indianapolis’ defense is just not strong enough to completely stop Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay offense. That means a good amount of points should be put up on Sunday for the visitors, especially since they get to play indoors.
With that said, there is no one hotter than Jonathan Taylor at running back for the Indianapolis Colts, so they will get their points. It should be a close one, but the line isn’t as high as some people thought. At -3, Tampa Bay should still win and cover. If it gets a little higher, it might be worth putting some money on Indianapolis, but as it stands now, the Buccaneers are the play.
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3
Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers -1
After so many people were excited to see Cam Newton return home last week, he let many down with a poor performance. It wasn’t just his fault, as the entire Carolina Panthers team looked lost. They’ll be better now that Newton is starting to play well with Christian McCaffrey, and a game against Miami couldn’t come at a better time.
Miami looks decent at times, but Tua Tagovailoa has not shown that he is strong enough yet to be a franchise type of quarterback. It doesn’t help that he gets very little support from the rushing game, or his defense for that matter. Carolina relies on their two stars on offense to win and cover.
Pick: Carolina Panthers -1
Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles -3.5
Everything in this matchup points to a mild upset for the home team. Even though the New York Giants are not anything special this year, the Philadelphia Eagles have struggled to have any type of consistency all year long. They are currently riding a bit of a hot streak, and that has mostly been due to the run-heavy offenses led by Jalen Hurts.
At this point, Daniel Jones and the New York Giants are just playing spoilers for this part of the year. If they can get Saquan Barkley going, they can score enough points to put Philadelphia in a tough spot. Their offense isn’t built to make comebacks, so it could be a close one that goes in favor of the Giants. Take them to at least cover, but they might win outright.
Pick: New York Giants +3.5
Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars
Atlanta Falcons -1
Atlanta has shown that they are one of the toughest teams to get a read on in football this year. It seems like every time they have turned the corner, they lay an egg against an inferior team. With a bit of rest, they are as healthy as they have been in a while on offense. That’s great news when traveling to Jacksonville and taking on one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Matt Ryan is just too good of a quarterback to let this one slip away. Even though he’s trending downward on his career, he has enough weapons to get the job done against a Jacksonville team still trying to find themselves. People thought that Jacksonville would be better this year, but Trevor Lawrence has struggled to get in a groove himself. This might not be the most intriguing game of the day, but Atlanta is a pretty safe bet as the slight road favorite.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons -1
New York Jets at Houston Texans
Houston Texans -3
This is yet another game on Sunday’s slate that is tough to predict at this time of the year. Both teams seem like they are playing for nothing more than drafting positions, but there are plenty of players who still need to show that they are worthy of a spot on a roster or new contract next year.
The Jets will be without rookie running back Michael Carter, but that shouldn’t matter too much given their game plan against a team like Houston. The Jets will try to be somewhat conservative while controlling the ball, which is more than one can say about Houston’s approach. There won’t be a lot of offense, but the Jets still win by more than a field goal. Considering they are the underdog, it’s a no-brainer to go with the visitors against the spread.
Pick: New York Jets +3
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers -2.5
It was a big-time win for the Chargers in Week 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but now they need to avoid any letdown in this divisional matchup with Denver. They are the better team on paper, and they should win, but Denver isn’t going to simply lay down.
Denver is well-rested and at home, which plays in their favor and makes the line a little bit closer than it should be. However, the Chargers are just too good to pass up this opportunity for a win. The offense should be able to score a few touchdowns, and the defense will take care of everything else. As long as they can put a little bit of pressure on Denver’s quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, there should be a victory of a touchdown or more for Los Angeles. Take them to win and cover the spread.
Pick: Los Angeles Chargers -2.5
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers -3
There should be a decent amount of points scored in this matchup in the Bay Area Sunday afternoon. Both teams can put up points in a hurry, and the quarterbacks have been hot as well. Kirk Cousins just had a great outing against the Green Bay Packers, and Jimmy Garoppolo seems like he is coming into his own after a somewhat slow start.
Despite both offenses being great, Kyle Shanahan is the bigger offensive mind between the two coaches. Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer would love to be a little more defensive-oriented, but that’s just not the team he has at this time. San Francisco goes for 30 more points in another game this year, and that’s enough to get a victory at home to win and cover.
Pick: San Francisco 49ers -3
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens -4
Cleveland is really hoping that they will be much healthier this week than they have in the last couple. Kareem Hunt should be back, and Nick Chubb is healthy and ready to go as well. That will help out an offense struggling with consistency since a few weeks ago, and it couldn’t come at a better time.
Winning a marquee matchup like this inside the division would be a statement win for Cleveland. Baltimore is the better team on paper and a favorite coming in, but there is some uncertainty surrounding their team as well. Lamar Jackson is coming off of an illness last week, and might not be as sharp as he should be in this matchup.
Baltimore typically wins these games, but Cleveland is much better than they have been the last few years. Take them as a bit of a surprise to cover at the very least. They could win this outright if they get off to a good start.