We've got a lot of close lines and what looks like a lot of competitive games, at least based on the spreads, for Sunday's NFL action. There are only 11 games because of the Thanksgiving holiday and MNF, but several matchups that mean a lot for playoff probability.
Our VSiN experts -- Adam Burke, Dave Tuley, Will Hill, Wes Reynolds and Matt Youmans, along with Ben Brown of Pro Football Focus -- combine to give their opinions on every Sunday game in Week 12.
Note: Lines are from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Wednesday night.
Here are our Week 12 best bets:
Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-7, 44)
Brown: Taking the Titans at the bottom of their market while selling the Patriots at the top of theirs is good value. PFF power ranks these teams similarly on a neutral field, and while injuries are a big deal, I don’t think they are worth a full 3-4 points here. Ryan Tannehill has 13 interceptions on 15 turnover-worthy plays this season. His interception luck hasn’t been great and although the Patriots have been taking full advantage of their opportunities, both should regress toward the mean.
A.J. Brown's injury situation could be the key to this matchup, as Tannehill needs at least one able-bodied skill position player to make this offense function. Early reports indicate that he could be available, as his chest injury doesn't appear to be serious.
New England’s offense appears to be overvalued despite the fact that the Mac Jones-Josh McDaniels combination is off to a successful start. Jones currently sits ninth in PFF passing grade, yet his EPA per pass attempt tells a completely different story. In that metric, he ranks 25th, which could be explained by New England's lack of playmakers at the wide receiver position. Eventually, this could even out, but some correction for the Patriots' offense is inevitable. Selling the Patriots offense looks like the perfect betting opportunity for Week 12.
Pick: Tennessee + 7
Tuley: The Patriots (7-4) are the flavor of the week. They’ve won and covered five straight and will enter this game no worse than tied for first in the AFC East, depending on what the Bills do on Thanksgiving. Last week’s advance line was Patriots -3 before the Titans inexplicably lost 22-13 to the Texans as 10-point home favorites. If this game was played just a few weeks ago, the Titans would probably have been short road faves. So this is a classic case of buy low/sell high.
The Titans (8-3) still have the top record in the AFC and are getting nearly a TD against an overrated Patriots team in a game that should come down to a late field goal. We gave this out in Point Spread Weekly when the line was + 6.5 and suggested readers to wait for 7, and several books were there as of Wednesday night.
Pick: Titans + 7
New York Jets at Houston Texans (-2.5, 44.5)
Tuley: If you thought the Bears-Lions matchup on Thanksgiving was unappetizing, we have some Sunday games that are downright vomit-inducing. If not for betting, the draftniks would be the only ones interested in watching this game (well, maybe some fantasy owners, too, as I’ve been relegated to using Joe Flacco and Elijah Moore on one of my teams).
Anyway, as far as betting this, the only way would be to tease the Jets up over a touchdown and hope for a close one-score game. The number is too short for me to take just a field goal with the Jets, especially because the Texans are better with Tyrod Taylor running the offense. I’ve been asked to specify my top teaser play for grading purposes, so I’ll go with Jets + 8.5 (or + 9 if your book is dealing Texans -3/Jets + 3) with the Colts + 8.5 vs. the Buccaneers. The other advantage teasers I’d consider would be the Dolphins + 7.5 vs. the Panthers and Broncos + 8.5 vs. the Chargers.
Pick: 2-team, 6-point teaser with + 8.5/Colts + 8.5 or better
Reynolds: Taylor is back for the Texans and Houston has a + 17-point differential with him as the starter. Granted, the favorite role is a dangerous one for the Texans as they have not been a favorite all year.
Zach Wilson returns under center for the Jets, but we have seen in recent weeks that even veteran and high-end quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson have experienced rust in their first starts back from injury. So it is only natural to foresee a rookie experiencing a lack of rhythm and substantial rust after having not played for several weeks.
Even if Wilson and the offense comes out firing, the Jets defense has been a fire in its own right, a dumpster fire. Robert Saleh’s unit has given up 40 ppg in their last five games.
Pick: Texans -145 ML
Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5, 45.5) at New York Giants
Burke: The Eagles have a Charmin-soft schedule the rest of the way and you may want to start considering some of their futures and props, including Nick Sirianni for Coach of the Year or the Eagles to Make the Playoffs at the best price you can find.
This is the first of two games with the Giants. This one is on the road at MetLife Stadium, but the Eagles are still a clear road favorite, suggestive that they’ll likely be favored by a touchdown or more at home. There is one huge advantage for the Eagles in this game and it will be in the trenches.
Philadelphia’s offensive efficiency has been on the rise each week, due in large part to the running game. The Eagles are third in rush offense DVOA, trailing only the Browns and the Colts, which is some very lofty company. The Giants are 30th in rush defense DVOA. Per Pro-Football-Reference’s “Expected Points by Rush Defense” metric, the Giants are 24th at -6.74.
In “Expected Points by Rush Offense”, the Eagles actually lead the NFL with 43.67. For frame of reference, the Browns are second at 43.30 and the Colts are third at 40.27. The Giants rank 26th at -16.91. So, Philadelphia has a huge edge in the running game, but may also have the edge in the passing game by simply taking better care of the football.
Laying 3 and a hook in a division game with the road team is certainly scary, but the Eagles have advantages all over the field here and also face a Giants team coming in on a short week after firing the offensive coordinator.
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles -3.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3, 53) at Indianapolis Colts
Youmans: It can be argued the Colts have been the best team in the AFC since Week 4. After starting 0-3, Indianapolis is 6-2 with overtime losses to the Ravens and Titans. Behind an offensive line that looks elite again, Jonathan Taylor is the hottest running back in the league. Taylor just pounded the Bills for 185 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. My only hesitation with this team is the inconsistency of quarterback Carson Wentz, who tends to make costly mistakes.
If you listen to some of the TV talking heads, the Buccaneers are back. Tampa Bay’s only wins in the past month were against the Giants and Bears, a couple of hopeless teams. Tom Brady is 2-3 SU and 0-5 ATS on the road this season.
Pick: Colts + 3
Atlanta Falcons (-2, 46) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Burke: The Falcons have scored three points over the last two games and have allowed 68. It looked like Atlanta was turning a corner with wins in three of four games, but it turns out that it just had a lot to do with playing the Jets and Dolphins, along with the Saints in a bad spot off of a loss to the Buccaneers.
This line opened pick-em and hovered there until some bettors with influence sided with the Falcons. Jacksonville has all sorts of problems and Trevor Lawrence hasn't had more than 162 passing yards in each of the last three games. The play design and scheming for the Jags hasn't given the rookie much of a chance to this point and he's made some questionable decisions with the football.
That being said, the Falcons are much closer to Jacksonville's level than the Colts or 49ers, who are both playing good football right now. This game lined as a toss-up made sense. Atlanta does seem to have more upside, though, which is why the line moved in the road team's favor.
Cordarrelle Patterson practiced in a limited manner on Wednesday and he has become such an integral part of this offense that his presence actually might be enough to move a Falcons line. There isn't much to like in this game and a lot of player props were still off the board at time of publish, but Atlanta has more promise and potential than Jacksonville.
Pick: Falcons -2
Carolina Panthers (-2, 41.5) at Miami Dolphins
Seidenberg: Cam Newton being back sparked the Panthers offense last week. Too bad Cam doesn’t play defense also. The Panthers were up both 7-0 and 14-7, but could not hold Washington from tying each time and taking the lead. With another week of practice under his belt, I expect Cam to be more familiar with this offense and the coaching staff to be more familiar with his skillset. There were no downfield shots last week and I think that will change this week as the playbook opens up. I expect Christian McCaffrey to get more than the 10 carries he had last week and the Panthers should move the ball at ease against a defense ranked 29th in the league in yards allowed.
While the Dolphins are riding high with this three-game winning streak, two of those games were against the Jets and Texans. I expect Carolina to go into Miami, push around the Dolphins and Cam comes away with his first win since returning.
Pick: Panthers ML -130
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-5, 44.5)
Youmans: This play does not seem to make much sense, but this entire NFL season is strange, and sometimes you have to make contrarian plays. So while this is not easy, I’m betting against the young gun and betting on the old man. Joe Burrow led the Bengals to a blowout win in Las Vegas last weekend, right? Burrow actually passed for only 148 yards as Cincinnati’s offense totaled a modest 288 yards. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 273 yards and three touchdowns in a tight loss to the Chargers in L.A.
Trends are trash in many cases, yet I’ll lean on a couple here. Pittsburgh is 19-5 in the past 24 games between these AFC North rivals, and Big Ben is 14-5 ATS as a dog in division games. The Steelers seem to be staying afloat with smoke and mirrors, but they have not lost a game by more than four points since Oct. 3 at Green Bay.
Pick: Steelers + 5
Tuley: The Bengals beat the Steelers 24-10 in Pittsburgh earlier this season, and it looked like they might run away with the division. Since then, the Bengals have come down to earth while the Steelers won four straight (and tied the Lions when Ben Roethlisberger was out) to get back into the AFC North race. I expect the rematch to be much closer, even with Cincinnati having home-field advantage.
The Bengals have failed to cover their last three home games (non-covering 27-24 win vs. the Jaguars, 25-22 loss to the Packers and 41-16 blowout loss to the Browns). So, no, I don’t see a problem with the Steelers going on the road and at least getting the cover like they did Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Chargers.
Pick: Steelers + 5
Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5, 48.5) at Denver Broncos
Burke: The Broncos fall into a pretty standard Wong Teaser leg here and were the complementary piece with the Cowboys on Thursday night for me. Denver would be a nice piece with either the Dolphins + 8 or maybe even Pittsburgh up to + 10.5. While not a traditional Wong Teaser, getting a team up from 4.5 to 10.5 in a game with a low-scoring expectation makes sense.
We know that the strength of this Denver team is its defense, but the offense has performed better when Teddy Bridgewater has been out there. Historically, the Chargers don’t blow too many teams out and Denver rarely gets pummeled at home in the thin air.
Bringing Denver from + 2.5 to + 8.5 is the most optimal utilization of a teaser. Hopefully it will still be live with the Cowboys from Thursday, but if not, you can put Denver with teams like Jacksonville, Miami or Pittsburgh to take up the underdog in a low-totaled game.
Pick: Broncos + 8.5 with Cowboys -1.5 (or Dolphins + 8) in a 6-pt teaser
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-3, 49)
Tuley: Both teams are 5-5 and firmly in the NFC Wild Card chase, so this is a pretty important non-divisional game. Both teams have won two straight, including the 49ers snapping their year-long home losing streak to the Rams. The 49ers ran over the Jaguars 30-10 on Sunday.
The Vikings’ current run is more impressive, as they’ve beaten the Packers 34-31 and the Chargers 27-20 (on the road after a similar long trip out west) and should have beaten the Ravens in a 34-31 loss. The 49ers defense has certainly stepped up, especially against the Rams, but I still think Kirk Cousins (21 TD passes, 2 INTs), Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen will be too much for the 49ers to overcome. Some books have gone to 49ers -3 and added juice, so wait to see if we get the hook at + 3.5, though I’m counting on the outright upset.
Pick: Vikings + 3
Burke: Both the Vikings and the 49ers should be able to play to their offensive strengths in this one at Levi’s Stadium. We’ve seen a lot of love recently for San Francisco, with a lot of it stemming from how the advanced metrics look for this offense. The 49ers are a top-five unit in total DVOA going into this week, while being fifth in pass DVOA and eighth in rush DVOA.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are a bad rushing team, but a great passing team. Maybe the light is coming on for Minnesota and the offensive coaching staff, as Cousins is having a huge season and seems to be given the green light to throw more often. If the Vikings are smart, they’ll throw a lot in this game.
The 49ers rank in the bottom third of the league in pass DVOA defense. They’re a top-five rushing defense, but have had major issues with coverage in the secondary and the pass rush, despite a ton of talent on the defensive line, just has not gotten there. San Francisco only has four interceptions and ranks 23rd in completion percentage against.
San Francisco’s 81 pressures per Pro-Football-Reference are the seventh-fewest in the league, so Cousins should have time to operate. The 49ers offense should also be able to have success against a Minnesota defense that gives up a lot of early-down success.
This total is on the rise and I agree with the move.
Pick: Over 49
Brown: While the 49ers have only beaten one team at home since they played in the Super Bowl against the Chiefs (the Los Angeles Rams, twice), they have won three of their past four games. In addition, they have a better-than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs in PFF's simulation, which would suggest an edge here. Furthermore, there are some edge-case events this week — as they are three-point favorites against the Minnesota Vikings (-110 to make the NFC playoffs), which should give them more outs than even PFF's simulation should suggest.
Moreover, the Vikings defense is shorthanded — Dalvin Tomlinson is on the COVID-19 list, Michael Pierce and Everson Griffen’s statuses are in question, and Danielle Hunter is already out for the season. The 49ers rushed for 186 yards in their last game against the Vikings. I think we see a repeat of that on Sunday, and with a win, the 49ers' playoff odds would be priced around -185 going into Week 13. Grab yourself that value before it happens.
Pick: 49ers (+ 100) to Make the Playoffs
Los Angeles Rams (-1, 47) at Green Bay Packers
Reynolds: The Rams desperately needed the bye last week after two consecutive embarrassing losses on national television. This week, it is the Packers who could probably use an off week, but that will not occur until next weekend.
The Green Bay defense, which ranks in the league’s top 10 in nearly every category, has been more than holding up its end of the bargain. However, it showed some signs last week of injuries catching up. LB Whitney Mercilus is now out for the season. LB Rashan Gary missed last week, and DE Tyler Lancaster left the game at Minnesota with a thumb injury. The Packers also lost left tackle Elgton Jenkins, who plays multiple positions on the OL, with a torn ACL on Sunday. In addition, left tackle David Bakhtiari still has not returned to the lineup and with center Josh Myers on IR after knee surgery. The Packers could be without three starters on the offensive line against Aaron Donald, Von Miller and a Rams defense that ranks fourth in the NFL with 29 sacks. This, of course, buries the lead of Aaron Rodgers dealing with a toe injury, although he is expected to play.
Matthew Stafford is 7-13 in his career against the Packers from his time in Detroit. However, despite the last two losses, he has never led a team as talented as this current Rams group. Nevertheless, they are currently on a 0-4 ATS run.
The Rams lost 32-18 in the playoffs here last year and have had this game circled since January.
Pick: Rams -1
Hill: A fractured toe did not seem to hinder Rodgers last Sunday, as he led the Packers to 31 points on over eight yards per play, in a game where Mason Crosby missed a chip shot field goal to boot. However, Rodgers did not practice Wednesday and is not alone- running back Aaron Jones is unlikely to play, Davante Adams practiced on a limited basis and offensive tackle Bakhtiari is doubtful as well. Coupling these injuries with the ailments on the defensive side of the ball (Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith remain on IR) and this team is simply at nowhere near full strength.
On the other hand, the Rams are off of two straight losses, and have had the bye week to not only lick their wounds, but integrate some of their new players into their gameplan, as Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr have both been added in the past few weeks. Sean McVay is a top offensive mind, and will have two weeks to scheme for a depleted Packers defense. A defense that is not only injured, but a team, as a whole, that has not had a chance to catch their breath with the bye week. The Rams are rested and hungry, while the Packers limp into this matchup. This line opened at 3, I agree with the move towards LA. The Rams bounce back and hand the Packers their second consecutive loss.
Pick: Rams -1
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-4, 46)
Burke: Sunday Night Football is a massive game between the Browns and Ravens. This game has huge implications in the AFC North, as the Browns have the bye next week and face the Ravens again at home the week after. Furthermore, a win here for Cleveland gives them seven wins, as the crowded playoff picture continues to get more muddled.
On the flip side, a win for Baltimore pushes the Browns down some more notches and also pushes the Ravens closer to being in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed.
While the sharp money on the Browns early in the week has been very interesting, my focus for this game is actually on the total. We’re down to as low as 45 in some places and that seems to be too low. The Ravens scored 85 points in last season’s two meetings and Cleveland scored 42 points in the second game. Perhaps we can draw a line through the Week 1 matchup, as the Browns started anew with Kevin Stefanski after not having a preseason, but the second game was a 47-42 thriller in a similar spot, albeit on Monday night.
These are two strong rush offenses capable of moving the chains on the ground, as Cleveland ranks first or second in most offensive categories and the Ravens are sixth in rush offense DVOA. Baltimore’s pass defense is atrocious and the Browns do throw the football a lot more than you would expect with the potency of their running game. The Ravens don’t tackle well in space and neither do the Browns.
The Cleveland offense has not lit up the scoreboard lately, but two of the home games were played in windy conditions and the Patriots just suffocated Cleveland, as they have a lot of teams. Baltimore’s defense isn’t on that level. The weather looks good for Sunday and I think this game has a higher expectation of points than what the line move suggests.
Pick: Over 46
Tuley: Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson, who was out last week with supposedly a non-COVID-related illness, needs to see Aaron Rodgers’s homeopathic doctor to raise his antibody levels. Baker Mayfield is also less than 100 percent. Assuming both are able to start, this shapes up as a great Sunday nighter in the up-for-grabs AFC North, where all four teams are separated by 1.5 games.
Except for the occasional outlier, such as the Browns allowing 45 points to the Patriots and Ravens having a 34-31 shootout against the Vikings, both defenses are playing better than the offenses right now. Both teams want to run the ball and grind out wins, so I’ll take the “dawg” in what looks like another FG game. I also like the Under 46 as a bonus play.
Pick: Browns + 4, though still playable at + 3.5