Week 12 of the very unique 2020 NFL season is here.
With COVID-19 concerns in several games, be sure to check injury reports as we get closer to kickoff. Our experts Drew Dinsick, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans combine to give their opinions on every game.
All odds as of Friday morning, from VSiN's NFL odds page.
Las Vegas Raiders (-3, 53) at Atlanta Falcons
Dinsick: After how poorly the Falcons fared in Week 11, it’s understandable why the market would downgrade Atlanta, but the adjustment from the lookahead line of pick-em to Falcons + 3 is too significant. Julio Jones looks unlikely to go but Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage form a difficult test for a Raiders pass defense that could not stop the Chiefs at home and ranks 22nd this season in EPA allowed per dropback.
The Raiders will score comfortably against a Falcons defense that has also struggled this season but the margin between these teams is approximately Raiders -1 by my numbers, so I’ll take the points with the home team here.
Pick: Falcons + 3
Arizona Cardinals (-2, 49.5) at New England Patriots
Dinsick: The season is effectively over for the Patriots following their loss to Houston in Week 11 and their undoing in 2020 has been uncharacteristically poor defense. New England is currently No. 25 in the NFL conceding 0.11 expected points per play and has been equally vulnerable to the pass and the run. Arizona comes to town in the thick of a tight divisional race in the NFC West with extra rest after a tough loss on Thursday Night Football. The Cardinals offense matches up well against the Patriots defense with Kyler Murray an example of the exact type of quarterback that Bill Belichick defenses have struggled with, even in good years. Similarly, with the Cardinals suffering from a cluster injury to their defensive line, the Patriots ground game behind the strength of their offensive line should also have a nice day moving the football.
The weather looks clear and the total is surprisingly low at 49 considering the match up so the over is in sight with a fair price of 53 by my numbers.
Pick: Over 49.5
Tuley: They’re certainly tempting us with the home ‘dogs this week (nine of the 16 games this week have road favorites). However, this number comes up too short based on how the two teams are playing, though I do trust Belichick enough to start here with my teaser portfolio recommendations for the week. The Hoodie doesn’t have the weapons to outgun the Cardinals’ high-flying offense, but he has enough tricks up his sleeves to keep the Pats within a touchdown. Other advantage teasers (that capture the key numbers of 3 and 7) are Titans teased up to + 9.5 at Colts, Dolphins teased down to -1 at Jets, Rams teased down to -1 vs. 49ers and Packers teased down to -2.5 vs. Bears (note: we gave these out in Point Spread Weekly earlier this week when the Packers were -8.5 vs. the Bears and a 6-point tease would bring it down to Packers -2.5; it’s nowhere near as beneficial with the line now up to -9.5). As I’ve written before, I usually stick to two- and three-team teasers. Mix and match depending on your own handicapping.
Pick: Pass, except starting teasers up with Patriots + 7.5 or better
New York Giants (-6, 44) at Cincinnati Bengals
Dinsick: Who would’ve guessed the Giants would be six-point road favorites this season? We’ve seen a massive swing in the lookahead line (which projected them as small dogs) and the current market numbers based on the loss of Joe Burrow for the Bengals. In Burrow’s place, Cincinnati has opted to give practice squad player Brandon Allen the keys over their backup Ryan Finley. In either case, the downgrade is substantial enough that the Bengals are (fairly) almost a touchdown underdog at home to a team that has only three wins this season.
The Giants are coming off their bye, and preceding the bye they completed their best game of the season by upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles and giving New York realistic hope to win the NFC East. At a shorter number, the Giants would be worth considering as they continue to improve on offense, but with the uncertainty surrounding the Bengals QB situation, this is a pass.
Cleveland Browns (-7, 49.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Tuley: The Jaguars covered two games in a row for us against the Texans and Packers before letting us down in their 27-3 loss to the Steelers. The Browns are in the playoff hunt and I was hoping this line would get to at least a full touchdown. I don’t expect the Jaguars’ offense to get shut down again like it did by the Steelers, so I think they’ll stay in this game, but I do want the + 7 for insurance.
Pick: Jaguars + 7
Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5, 51)
Tuley: These two teams have been among the most puzzling for me to figure out this year. The Panthers were the last team I tossed when making my picks on the VSiN NFL Best Bet page in Point Spread Weekly, so I still plan to bet them and will go ahead and take them here. Teddy Bridgewater is expected to return to face his former team. We’re also waiting to get more details on Minnesota WR Adam Thielen, the league’s TD reception leader with 11, going on the COVID-19 reserve list. I think that’s the only thing keeping up from getting another point or two here on the spread.
Pick: Panthers + 3.5 or better
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-3, 51)
Youmans: Philip Rivers played above his head, passing for 308 yards and one touchdown in the teams’ first meeting on Nov. 12. The Colts scored two touchdowns in less than a minute, including one on a blocked punt return, to turn the game around late in the third quarter. Rivers also was on the lucky end of Indianapolis’ comeback victory over Green Bay last week. It’s time for a reversal of fortune. I typically like underdogs in division revenge spots, especially when the teams are essentially equals and you can take a field goal or more.
Derrick Henry is another part of this handicap. Henry rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries in the first meeting, and Titans coach Mike Vrabel will feed the ball to Henry around 25 times in the rematch and try to ride him to a win. DeForest Buckner, the key member of the Colts’ interior defensive line, was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list this week and is unlikely to play. I bet this at + 3.5. It’s currently + 3 at most books, which I’ll still recommend.
Pick: Titans 3.5 (-120)
Tuley: This is for the AFC South lead. These teams just met in the Week 10 Thursday nighter with the Colts pulling away to a 34-17 victory as the Titans lost their third in four games. However, the Titans showed in Sunday’s 30-24 overtime win at Baltimore that they’re still a contender. The Colts have the league’s top-rated defense, but the Titans have a balanced attack with QB Ryan Tannehill and Henry, and we’re expecting coach Vrabel to have a better game plan and turn the tables in the rematch.
Pick: Titans + 3.5
Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills (-5.5, 53)
Dinsick: The Chargers finally got another win last week, bringing them to 3-7 on the season and making them one of the best 3-7 teams in NFL history; Los Angeles currently ranks 11th in passing offense and 11th on overall defense based on EPA per play and they are clearly better than league average. The Bills have also been very strong in 2020 with an offense that ranks sixth overall, however their defense has slipped considerably to No. 21 overall based on EPA per play.
Buffalo is coming off its bye, but reinforcements look unlikely as key wide receiver John Brown is out and the defense will still be shorthanded. There is only one point of separation between these teams based on my power numbers, so with home-field advantage the Bills should be a 3-point favorite in my opinion. This looks like an excellent opportunity to back the underdog getting 5.5 points as the Chargers are live in this contest.
Pick: Chargers + 5.5
Miami Dolphins (-7, 44.5) at New York Jets
Tuley: J-E-T-S, COVER, COVER, COVER! The Jets still stink and can’t find the way to the winner’s circle, but they’re not as hopeless as oddsmakers and the betting public continues to make them. They rallied to cover as 9.5-point road underdogs in a 34-28 loss at the L.A. Chargers on Sunday after covering as 9-point road ‘dogs in a 30-27 loss to the Patriots on Monday Night Football in Week 9. With the return of Sam Darnold, the Jets can stay within a TD of the overrated Dolphins, who were upset 20-13 as popular 4-point favorites at Denver on Sunday.
Pick: Jets + 7
New Orleans Saints (-6, 43) at Denver Broncos
Tuley: Here’s another home underdog where I feel we’re getting a fair price. The whole world is seeming to fall in love with backup QB Taysom Hill (especially fantasy players who were able to use him at TE on Sunday). The Saints are obviously still an elite team even without Drew Brees (as we also saw last year with Teddy Bridgewater), but I’ll still take the Broncos off their aforementioned upset of the Dolphins, who came into Denver with similar hype. The Broncos’ defense bottled up Tua Tagovailoa last week and I expect coach Vic Fangio to have his D prepared for Hill as well.
Pick: Broncos + 6
San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5, 45.5)
Tuley: The Rams are playing as well as anyone right now, with a strong balance between offense and defense (though the offense relied more on the passing game than I expected in their 27-24 upset of the Buccaneers on Monday night). Meanwhile, the 49ers are on a three-game losing streak and trying to keep in the playoff race despite battling more injuries than any other team. I’ll wait to see how they come out of their bye week before I’m willing to back them the rest of the season.
Pick: Pass, except for Rams in teasers
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5, 56) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Youmans: This is more than a simplistic play on Tom Brady to bounce back. Brady was brutal Monday in the Buccaneers’ loss to the Rams, and he looked old and slow. He made bad reads and worse throws. He’s done … no, he’s not done yet. The Rams have been playing elite defense on all three levels, but the Kansas City defense is not truly elite on any level. The Chiefs needed every bullet they had to beat the Raiders 35-31 on Sunday night in Las Vegas. Derek Carr completed 23 of 31 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns without taking a sack. Brady looks especially bad when he faces pressure, but the Chiefs are not getting enough pressure on quarterbacks, and the Kansas City linebackers, corners and safeties can be exploited by Brady, who has the receiving targets to stretch the defense and take advantage.
The Chiefs are in a negative spot by playing back-to-back road games, especially after needing all 60 minutes to win the first one. Brady and the Buccaneers will be more focused and hungry after hearing how bad they are all week. It’s never easy to bet against Patrick Mahomes, but it’s doable when you are getting this number with a motivated, quality home ‘dog.
Pick: Buccaneers + 3.5
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-9.5, 44.5)
Tuley: The NFL’s oldest rivalry would be a more appealing matchup if the Bears’ offense hadn’t come to a grinding halt before their bye as they went from a 5-1 start to 5-5. It also doesn’t help that Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky are both nursing injuries, but it could be telling that Trubisky practiced on Monday while Foles didn’t. I actually think this is the time for the Bears to go back to Trubisky, especially since he’s more of a threat when protection breaks down. Even during the losing streak, the defense keeps the Bears in games and I expect that to be the case Sunday night to at least keep this within a touchdown.
Pick: Bears + 9.5