Week 12 features an underwhelming slate of games on Sunday, with the Chiefs and Rams both on bye and three games on Thursday, with Redskins-Cowboys a key game in the NFC East. The Seahawks visit the Panthers in what could be Sunday’s most intriguing game with both teams looking to stay alive in the NFC Wild Card race with their respective divisions all but out of reach for them. And the Monday nighter features the AFC South-leading Texans looking to increase their two-game lead over the third-place Titans. I went 4-9 last week, giving me an overall record of 79-92 for the season. As always, I’m using the lines from ESPN’s Pigskin Pick ‘Em game. My picks are in bold and my survivor pool pick (straight up, not ATS) is in red
Byes: Chiefs, Rams
Bears at Lions (+4.5) – The Bears picked up a key victory over the Vikings on Sunday night, but it may not have been all good news for the NFC North leaders QB Mitch Trubisky suffered a right shoulder injury, leaving his availability for Thursday’s game in question given the team’s short week. If he can’t go, backup QB Chase Daniel will get the start. Trubisky is day-to-day, but I don’t think he’ll play, so I’m going to take the points although I think the Bears could still win a close game with Daniel under center.
Redskins at Cowboys (-7.5) – The Redskins’ lead in the NFC East shrunk to one game on Sunday with their loss to the Texans and the Cowboys’ winning at the Falcons. The Redskins suffered an even bigger loss, though, when QB Alex Smith suffered a broken tibia and fibula that ended his season. That leaves QB Colt McCoy as their starter, and they signed QB Mark Sanchez — who hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2016 — to back him up. With McCoy getting the start, and injuries to the offensive line, I don’t think the Redskins will be able to score many points this week. While I’m not confident in this pick, I’m going to give the points with the Cowboys at home.
Falcons at Saints (-13.5) – The Falcons are coming off back-to-back losses to the Browns and Cowboys, and now have to head to New Orleans to take on the hottest — and perhaps best — team in the NFL, as the Falcons look to get back on a winning track to remain in the playoff hunt in the NFC. All signs point to this being a blowout, but with a division rivalry and a desperate Falcons team, I can see them putting up a respectable point total, especially since QB Matt Ryan can be good. Saints win, but I expect it to be closer than people think.
Sunday 1PM games
Jaguars at Bills (+3.5) – Both of these teams made the playoffs last year but sit at 3-7 so far in 2018, with the Jaguars a big disappointment this season sitting in last place in the AFC South. The Jaguars obviously aren’t as good as anticipated this year, but they’re still better than the Bills. I’ll go with the road team here.
Browns at Bengals(-3.5) – The battle of Ohio sees the Bengals needing a win to stay alive in the AFC playoff hunt. The Browns are coming off their bye, while the Bengals lost to the Ravens last week. The Browns surprisingly beat the Falcons in their last game, but that was an aberration as they haven’t played well lately other than that game. I’ll give the points.
Raiders at Ravens (-10.5) – The Ravens picked up a win as rookie QB Lamar Jackson made his first start on Sunday with QB Joe Flacco out with a hip injury. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jackson get the start again this week. Regardless of which quarterback takes the first snap, the Ravens should be able to beat the disappointing Raiders. But I don’t think Baltimore’ s offense is good enough to pick up them giving 10.5 points, so I’ll go with the Raiders and take the points.
Patriots at Jets (+9.5) – This is another big spread, but I’m more confident in the Patriots to be able to cover it than I am for the Ravens in the previous game. It is unknown if the Patriots will have TE Rob Gronkowski this week, but they may see the return of RB Rex Burkhead, who has begun practicing this week as he looks to come back from his stint on IR. Even without Gronk, the Patriots have enough weapons in WRs Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon, RB Sony Michel, and of course QB Tom Brady to be able to beat the Jets. The only question is what the margin of victory will be. I think the Patriots can win by 10, so I’ll give the points — though it’ll likely be close.
Giants at Eagles (-6.5) – The Eagles got torched by the Saints last week and their hopes of making the playoffs are slipping away, while the Giants have won two in a row after starting the season 1-7. If the Giants win this game, the two teams will have identical 4-7 records — which nobody could have expected before the season began. The scuffling Eagles team knows that it that needs to win this game to have any chance at making the playoffs. So I expect QB Carson Wentz to lead them to victory, but I’m not confident that they’ll win by a touchdown so I will take the points with the Giants.
49ers at Buccaneers (-3.5) – The Buccaneers have been switching between QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston as their starter, and it appears that Winston is back to the top of the depth chart after he performed well on Sunday when he came into the game in relief of Fitzpatrick. Winston has, however, been prone to turn the ball over this season but I don’t see the Raiders being able to take advantage of that. I’ll go with the Bucs in Tampa.
Seahawks at Panthers (-3.5) – These teams are in similar situations in which they know they can’t win their respective divisions but still have a chance to make the playoffs as a wild card and thus need to win this game. The teams are pretty evenly matched, but the Panthers have more playmakers on offense, so I’ll go with them at home.
Sunday 4PM games
Cardinals at Chargers (-12.5) – The Cardinals aren’t a good team and probably don’t have much of a chance to win this game, but I’m not sure that the Chargers will win by 13 points so I’m going to take the Cardinals and the points.
Steelers at Broncos (+3.5) – Both teams are coming off of come-from-behind victories last week, but I don’t think the Broncos are in the same class as QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, WR Antonio Brown and the rest of the Steelers. I think this spread is kind of low, so I’ll go with the Steelers.
Dolphins at Colts (-9.5) – The Colts are on a four-game winning streak and in the thick of the playoff chase in the AFC, including in second place and just two games behind the Texans in the AFC South. They have an identical 5-5 record as the Dolphins, but the teams are going in opposite directions of late. Even so, I don’t think the Colts are good enough to win the game by double digits against a Dolphins team that is trying to stay in the AFC playoff picture. Colts win the game, but the Dolphins cover.
Sunday Night Football
Packers at Vikings (-3.5) – The Packers find themselves in third place in the NFC North and, at 4-5-1, on the fringe of the wild card race. The Vikings are looking to bounce back from a Sunday night loss to the Bears to maintain their hold on the NFC’s second wild card. It’s hard for me to go against Packers QB Aaron Rodgers when he knows he needs to win a game for his team. Even though they’re road dogs, I think the Packers will win the game outright so I’ll take the points.
Monday Night Football
Titans at Texans (-6.5) – The Texans are on a seven-game winning streak, which ties the franchise record, and could put some more distance between themselves and the Titans in the division with a win on Monday night. The Titans had a disappointing loss against the Colts on Sunday after convincingly beating the Patriots in their previous game. Titans QB Marcus Mariota left Sunday’s game with an elbow injury, and it is uncertain if he will be able to make the start this week. With it being the Monday night game, he has an extra day to rest and rehab, so i think he’ll be able to play. But if he’s not at 100%, he may not be able to do much against a good Texans defense that saw rookie S Justin Reid score on a 101-yard pick-six last week. I’ll give the points.