NFL Pick 6: Week 12 Edition
Week 12 starts the NFL playoff hunt for many teams on the bubble for that last wild card spot. This is when every game, quarter, and snap matters for teams like the Eagles (5-5), Raiders (6-4), Panthers (5-5), Steelers (5-5), and the Cowboys (6-4). Why does this matter for us? Simply put, this is just another variable we can set to encourage taking a favourite, or an underdog, based on what the game means for either team and therefore whether we can expect that team to have an extra little push in their game come Sunday.
Against The Spread
PICK: Buccaneers +5.5 @ Falcons, Confidence 3 / 5.
This is a slightly off-topic pick in the sense of what I was just talking about with playoff contending teams. That said, divisional games are always an interesting twist on a usual matchup. In the last 5 games these teams have squared off, Tampa Bay is 0-5 in those games. However, the Falcons have always been the better team in recent memory and this will be their first matchup this year, where the Falcons have struggled, despite recent success. In the last 2 matchups, both have gone over 60 total points (if you’re interested in the over at 50.5 currently) and the last 3 matchups have been settled by 5 points or less every time. I don’t normally like to take any influence from previous years matchups when it comes to most teams, but it’s a different scenario with divisional teams that see each other frequently, suggesting that play calling or scheme carry-over may be more evident. As for this year, both teams sit at 3-7 with Atlanta’s success being recent at 2-0 in their last 2, while Tampa Bay sits at 1-5 in their last 6. The problem here isn’t the team, as I think the Falcons will probably end up winning, but 5.5 points is too much to give in a divisional matchup where the Falcons will likely end up having to be a one-dimensional offense when it comes down to it. Atlanta has topped 100 rushing yards in just 2 games all year, while the Bucs have allowed just 3 teams to top 100 rushing yards all year. Ultimately, this game will be a shootout through the air as both teams have brutal secondaries where I see Atlanta nudging the game by a field goal.
PICK: Seahawks +2 @ Eagles, Confidence 3 / 5.
When you see a line like this, usually the reason the home team is a favourite by such a small margin is because they are simply the home team. While this is normally a fair difference-maker, the Eagles aren’t some dominant home team in which that home-field advantage should be feared in a 1:00 EST game. Since 2018, the Eagles are a decent 8-5 at home, this year being 3-2. The Seahawks sit at 8-2 and while that record might suggest that they’re not all that fearful of losing a playoff spot, they’re currently in a race for the division lead with the 49ers and maybe even the Rams for the wildcard. The Eagles have been good against the run as they are all the time, but they have allowed teams that run well to have a decent day running the ball (Vikings with 122 rushing yards and the Cowboys with 189). Seattle averages the 6th most rushing yards per game so relying on making teams one dimensional is not going to work for the Eagles in this matchup like it didn’t when they played the Vikings and the Cowboys, both games they ended up losing. This game could actually end up being an unexpected shootout with both teams having fairly weak secondaries while also being able to pass the ball somewhat effectively. I think this game is close, but in a close matchup, I’m going to take the Seahawks as I trust Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to make the right plays and clutch the game in the 4th if it came to that.
PICK: Lions -2.5 @ Redskins, Confidence - 3 / 5.
I somewhat expected this line to be a little heavier on the Lions, and maybe it is in some places, but I’m not really sure how you don’t take the Lions only having to give up a field goal. Washington hasn’t looked like a real NFL team since Week 1 when they played the Eagles in a close game and put up 27 points. The Redskins haven’t scored, or even come close to scoring 27 points since week 2 where they got 21. The Redskins can’t score, and they can’t stop people from scoring having given up 30 or more points every other game so far this year. While the Lions have lost both their games with Driskel at QB, they have both been 1 score games and were both against relatively good defenses in the Bears and Cowboys. Driskel has thrown for over 200 yards in both games and has a TD-INT ratio of 3-1 in those 2 games, not spectacular, but enough to beat the team mentioned above. Despite their lack of a run game, the Lions have managed to keep the time of possession battle in their last 2 games at an even, or near even, 30 minutes. This means they’ll be able to move the ball against a much weaker Redskins defense and win the game by more than a field goal.
PICK: Titans -3 vs. Jaguars, Confidence - 3 / 5.
While normally I hate picking with or against the Titans due to how inconsistent they’ve been, I’m starting to believe that was largely on Mariota than the rest of the team. This is a must-win game for the Titans sitting at 5-5 in one of the more competitive divisions in the NFL. Three out of the next four Titans games are divisional matchups and coming off a bye, I think this topic has been discussed at how huge these games are in swinging their division in aid of their playoff hopes. Historically, the Titans have been successful when they’re able to run the ball as Derrick Henry is a monster that can wear down opposing defenses as the game progresses, as we saw in the Titans vs. Chiefs upset. With that in mind, the Jaguars have allowed over 200 rushing yards in their last 2 games, as well as nearly 500 rushing yards, total among those 2 games. These games were against the Texans and Colts, two teams that don’t have a similar tier running back as Derrick Henry. I think the Titans are able to control the game through their rushing attack and force the Jaguars to come from behind where I think they will fall short and the Titans will win a close one by around 5-8 points.
PICK: Ravens -3 @ Rams, Confidence - 4 / 5.
As I said in my weekly review a few days ago, the Rams win last week was nothing to be impressed by, but in fact, you probably should’ve been worried for them. On the other hand, you have the Ravens who have won their last two games in a combined score of 90-20. The Ravens offense has been the most dominant in the league thus far and in large part due to how versatile they are allowing for variation in game-planning and making opposing defenses a lot more unaware than usual. The Rams have been much better on defense since getting blown out by the Bucs of all teams, 55-40 in week 4. In their last 4, they’ve allowed: 10, 10, 17, and 7 points. The problem with this is that those points have been given up to bottom tier offenses in the NFL, a significant difference in comparison to what they’ll see this week. The Rams are pretty good against the run, but as we saw last week, it doesn’t matter how good a team is against the run, the Ravens can still beat it with RPO’s, read-option, or misdirection, again, due to versatility. The Rams have been a trainwreck offensively, and in large part due to Jared Goff’s quarterback play. While the Rams will likely get both Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods back from injury this week, that doesn’t change who’s delivering the ball. Only having to surrender 3 points is the cherry on top for this pick.
PICK: Saints -9.5 vs. Panthers, Confidence - 3 / 5.
The Panthers have been the team to pick on lately as since their bye week they’ve been a completely different team than before the bye. In their last 4 games since the bye, the Panthers are 1-3 while turning the ball over 10 times on offense in those 4 games. In their previous 6 games, they had turned the ball over just 9 times in 6 games. In the last two games the Saints had 2 or more turnovers defensively, they won by more than 10 both times. You can’t turn the ball over against the Saints, allowing their offense to have more than usual opportunities to score. The Panthers will also get a Saints defense that ranks 3rd in rushing yards allowed per game, 13th in passing yards allowed per game, and 4th in turnover differential. All of these factors on top of the game being played in the Superdome will be too much for the Panthers to overcome. The Saints are still in a tight race with the Packers, Vikings, and 49ers for a first-round bye, so this game is far from meaningless for them. I see the Saints being able to do whatever they want on offense assisted by a team that has allowed 124 points in their last 4 games, as well as turning the ball over 10 times in those same 4.