Last week was the first time I didn’t hit a Best Bet for a long time. Oakland missed a cover by 4 points, Arizona by 3 and Buffalo by just 1. It was a close weekend, but an inch is as good as a mile in spread betting. The rest of the weekend was a good showing though, highlighted by smashing all of the 4:25 ET/9:25 GMT games and a beautiful Tampa Bay pick that made our Editor-In-Chief very happy. In Week 12 we have no more bye weeks, which means 16 games to pick from as well as a trio on Thursday. One of the Thursday games, Carolina @ Dallas, was one of my Best Bets and you can read about it here. The Carolina game was a beautiful pick but the Eagles were hot trash, leading to a lot of speculation about Chip Kelly’s future. I suspect they won’t appear as a Best Bet any time soon. As for this week we have some very big match-ups: Peyton Manning’s injury/terribleness have robbed us of one last Brady-Manning Bowl game as instead it’s Brock Osweiler for the Broncos in the Sunday late game. Osweiler was fine in his first start last week, but he lacked any pizzazz which is risky against a Bill Belichick defense. Osweiler looked a little lost against the rush as well, which came fairly frequently as the Broncos O-Line is not good. We also have an interesting match-up of the Steelers going to Seattle. Sherman and Thomas are great players, but they’ve never faced a receiver the likes of Antonio Brown. That battle will be great to watch and difficult to pick a winner from. Then there’s a key NFC Wildcard battle between Minnesota and Atlanta. The winner will have a fast track to the playoffs, but we were robbed of a top running back duel by the injury to Devonta Freeman instead the only joy in that match will be Mike Zimmer trying to contain Julio Jones. As always the lines are from William Hill and the home teams are in capitals…
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (-4) over San Diego Chargers
That’s right folks, get your money on Jacksonville! The Jaguars have had a nice long break since getting a win over Tennessee last Thursday while San Diego got royally done over by Kansas on Sunday, exposing their poor offensive line and non-existent defense. That’s not to say that the Jags are brilliant, but they are certainly better. Their run defense in particular is spectacular thanks to Roy Miller’s play from DT and their second year linebacker Telvin Smith who has made great improvements. The Jags aren’t infallible though, their pass defense isn’t good and if there’s one thing San Diego can do it’s throw the football. But so can the Jags. Blake Bortles is much improved and they have a rather deadly duo of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns on the outside as legitimate receiving threats. This might not be a pretty game and I imagine it will be fairly close, but I’m backing Jacksonville to win three straight for the first time in a while.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-3) over New Orleans Saints
The Houston defense has come alive in recent weeks. No longer is it just JJ Watt trying to pull 10 other players to good results but Jadeveon Clowney is finally getting involved, Brian Cushing is once again flying around the field like a maniac and the coverage is coming on, particularly rookie first round pick Kevin Johnson. They’ve conceded just 29 points in the last 3 games, including shutting down the Bengals and handing them their first loss. The Saints offense is no pushover, but they’re by no means the powerhouse they used to be. It’s easier to get to Brees these days, and he’s less accurate downfield that he was. The battle between those two units will be entertaining, but I feel the game will be won with the Texans offense against the truly awful Saints defense. They might finally have fired Rob Ryan but the damage has been done. There are good players on the defense I recommend keeping an eye on, like defensive end Cameron Jordan, but overall the players aren’t at a good enough level and there’s only so many schematic changes you can make mid-season. They face a Houston offense that is by no means electric but features the fantastic DeAndre Hopkins and an able supporting cast. They’ve also been better at running the football recently and have enough about them to keep piling on a Saints defense that has allowed a staggering 43 points a game in their last 3.
Rest of the Picks:
Thanksgiving Picks: Philadelphia (+1), Carolina (PK), Chicago (+9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS Miami Dolphins (+4) over NEW YORK JETS Oakland Raiders (-1) over TENNESSEE TITANS Minnesota Vikings (+1.5) over ATLANTA FALCONS Buffalo Bills (+6) over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+3) over New York Giants St. Louis Rams (+8.5) over CINCINNATI BENGALS Arizona Cardinals (-10) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS PITTSBURGH STEELERS (+3.5) over Seattle Seahawks DENVER BRONCOS (+3) over New England Patriots CLEVELAND BROWNS (-3) over Baltimore Ravens Last Week: 7-6-1 (0-2-1) Overall: 75-76-7 (15-17-1)