The trick of picking NFL games each week is finding the upsets in a weekend slate of games. In Week 11, upsets were the order of the day. That means Nostrathomas has work to do with his NFL Week 12 picks.
Last week we saw the Los Angeles Chargers lose to a Denver Broncos team whose playoff dreams are turning into nightmares. The Carolina Panthers saw their grip on the second NFC Wild Card slip with a loss to the Detroit Lions. One more upset saw the Dallas Cowboys beat the heavily favored Atlanta Falcons, starting them on what appears to be their death spiral.
Nostrathomas Predicts NFL Week 12
Other favorites struggled just to win, let alone cover. The Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final seconds and the Houston Texans were forced to come back in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins.
To start the NFL Week 12 action, Thanksgiving Day saw the favored Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and New Orleans Saints win and cover. However, we’ve seen that riding the favorites hasn’t been a friendly trend for the remainder of the week’s schedule.
One of the struggles that Nostrathomas and other handicappers have had this season is that underdogs are 83-68-1 against the spread this season heading into Week 12. That’s the best winning percentage for underdogs in five years.
After the Week 11 action, Nostrathomas is now 14-19-2 with his top picks, 64-72-2 overall against the point spread and 86-46-1 straight up.
All point spreads taken on Saturday morning from Vegasinsider.com.
NFL Week 12 Game of the Week
Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings -3.5 (Sunday Night Football; U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
If the Minnesota Vikings lose they’ll fall two-and-a-half games behind the Bears in the NFC North. They will also drop out of the second Wild Card slot and into a 5-5-1 tie with the Green Bay Packers in the postseason chase. If the Packers lose they won’t be mathematically eliminated but it would force them to win out in their final five games, and their second 2018 battle with the Bears in Chicago is still looming.
The Vikings are seventh in the league in Nostrathomas’ statistical power rankings. Green Bay has scored six more points than the Vikings this season but Minnesota dominates in points per yards of offense. The Vikings average a point for every 15.1 yards of offense. Green Bay averages a point for every 16.2 yards gained. That’s a big difference when talking how many yards of offense each team averages to put a touchdown on the board, Minnesota 105.7 yards, the Packers 113.4 yards.
The Vikings are second in the league in yards per attempt allowed but Chicago get consistent push up the middle against that line last Sunday night. Green Bay will need to do the same if Aaron Jones is going to keep his current yards per attempt average close to 6.4.
Heading into Week 12, Aaron Rodgers is ninth in the league but Kirk Cousins is right behind him in tenth. On defense though, the Vikings are sixth on defense in passer rating allowed, Green Bay is 19th. Minnesota also has a defensive line that’s second only to the Bears this season.
Who Holds the Edge?
Statistically, it appears Minnesota has the edge going into this game but the Vikings have already lost three prime-time games this season, to the Rams, Saints, and Bears, and Cousins has a 4-12 career record under the lights. On the other side of the ball, the Packers are 0-5 on the road this season.
The total in this game is 47.5. The over might be a better play for any bettors that have had a rough afternoon and need to catch up. No matter the final score, these two offenses can still put points on the board. As for the game, it’s tough for Nostrathomas to pick Green Bay in this spot. He’s going to take the Vikings to win and cover.
Minnesota Vikings 31 Green Bay Packers 24
NFL Week 12 Best Bets
New England Patriots -10 vs New York Jets (1 PM ET; MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ)
Do you want to be the team that has to face the New England Patriots after they’ve had two weeks to stew over an embarrassing loss? I didn’t think so.
Were the Patriots looking forward to their bye week when they let Tennessee stop all over them in Nashville two weeks ago? It certainly looked like it. New England has also won three of their last four in games after their bye week and won big.
The New York Jets have lost five straight, including a 41-10 embarrassment to the Buffalo Bills two weeks ago. They’re currently in the running for another top-five draft pick in 2019. The Patriots are still fighting for a first-round bye in the AFC.
It’s a double-digit spread but New England has never been a team to take their foot off the gas when they get an opponent choking on their fumes. New York is 7-2-1 against the spread in their last 10 in this series but after looking at the statistical match-up, that’s not a good enough reason to take them here.
New England Patriots 35 New York Jets 17
Miami Dolphins vs Indianapolis Colts -8 (4:25 PM ET; Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
The Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts have traveled different roads to their matching 5-5 records. Miami opened by winning their first three games of the season but have gone 2-7 since then. The Colts started 1-5 but have won four straight to come charging back into the playoff race.
For Indianapolis, Andrew Luck is coming off an Offensive Player of the Week performance against the Tennessee Titans. He’s also climbed into second place in the NFL with 29 touchdown passes. One other key stat to look at, the Colts average margin of victory over their four-game win streak is by 21 points per game.
Normally Nostrathomas would hesitate at giving up the eight points but Indianapolis is at home and they’re surging. The Dolphins are also 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 games on the road.
Indianapolis Colts 32 Miami Dolphins 20
Tennessee Titans vs Houston Texans -6 (Monday Night Football, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX)
Tennessee gets a chance to tighten up the race in the AFC South on Monday night. The drawback to picking them here though is that they got spanked last week by the Colts. Was that game a case of the team being too high on themselves after crushing the Patriots at home? It could be but the Titans aren’t good enough to allow themselves to let down against anybody.
Houston lost to Tennessee 20-17 in Week Two but are currently riding a seven-game winning streak. Granted, their average margin of victory over that span hasn’t been impressive, but their last two games were also on the road.
The Texans are the better and more complete team at this stage of the season. Marcus Mariota suffered a stinger last week to his throwing elbow, just as that elbow was getting healthy. He is questionable for Monday night. If he can’t go, or can’t be effective, then the Titans have to turn to the legendary Blaine Gabbert (legendary because he’s Nostrathomas’ long time baseline for measuring starting quarterback suckage).
The Texans continue to hold their two-game lead over Indianapolis when this weekend is in the books.
Houston Texans 29 Tennessee Titans 20
Best of the Rest
Jacksonville Jaguars -3 vs Buffalo Bills (1 PM ET; New Era Field, Buffalo, NY)
Can anyone remember that these two teams faced each other in one of last season’s AFC Wild Card games? Both teams own identical 3-7 records in 2018.
Nostrathomas was tempted to put this game into his top picks but decided it was too much to trust Jacksonville, a team that has lost six straight games. Josh Allen returns to the Bills lineup, but the Jaguars should be good enough to win this game. If they don’t, they have some major decisions to make in the offseason.
Jacksonville Jaguars 23 Buffalo Bills 18
Cleveland Browns +2.5 vs Cincinnati Bengals (1 PM ET; Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH)
The Cincinnati Bengals are tangled within the pack of five AFC teams sitting with 5-5 records. They can do themselves a big favor this week with a win over the Cleveland Browns at home, except Nostrathomas doesn’t think they will get it.
A.J. Green is now doubtful for this game. Andy Dalton only has a 55 percent completion percentage without Green on the field. That is damaging against a Cleveland team that is third in the league in defensive passer rating.
Cleveland Browns 26 Cincinnati Bengals 22
New York Giants +5.5 vs Philadelphia Eagles (1 PM ET; Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA)
The defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are in danger of missing the playoffs if they don’t get rolling soon. Trouble is, safety Malcolm Jenkins hinted that Philadelphia may have thrown in the towel during their beat-down by the New Orleans Saints last week.
“I didn’t feel like as a team that we had a lot of fight. I think that when a team jumps on you like the Saints did, and things get rolling, you find out a lot about yourself. You’re going to get blown out regardless. You either get blown out swinging or blown out laying down. And I think you had a little bit of both.”
That’s a damning statement by Jenkins about a team that was supposed to be in the thick of another playoff race this season.
There was also some news out of Philadelphia that the Eagles secondary is so beat up that they were running receivers as defensive backs during practice.
The Eagles are a mess. The Giants are feeling good about themselves.
New York Giants 30 Philadelphia Eagles 23
Seattle Seahawks vs Carolina Panthers -3 (1 PM ET; Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC)
This is going to be a tough game between two evenly matched teams. The Carolina Panthers have lost two straight but those were both on the road. They are 5-0 at home this season.
The Seattle Seahawks need this game to stay in the middle of the NFC playoff hunt. If they were in Seattle Nostrathomas thinks they would get it. Not in Charlotte.
Carolina Panthers 30 Seattle Seahawks 26
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 vs Denver Broncos (4:25 PM ET; Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO)
If the Steelers feel they are worthy of an AFC first-round bye this is the week to prove it. Denver had lost six of their last seven before squeezing out a win against the Chargers last week.
Pittsburgh is 4-0-1 away from home this season. The Broncos are falling fast. Take road favorite Steelers.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Denver Broncos 19
Oakland Raiders vs Baltimore Ravens -10.5 (1 PM ET; M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD)
Baltimore Ravens 22 Oakland Raiders 10
Arizona Cardinals vs Los Angeles Chargers -13 (4:05 ET PM; StubHub Center, Carson, CA)
The Los Angeles Chargers could have been breathing down the necks of the Kansas City Chiefs this week if they had taken care of business in Week 11. They’ll still only be one game back if they get back on track this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
It’s a big spread but Arizona is going to have a tough time scoring.
Los Angeles Chargers 29 Arizona Cardinals 13