Ultimate Week 12 NFL Betting Guide: Picks & Predictions For Every Game

Ultimate Week 12 NFL Betting Guide: Picks & Predictions For Every Game article feature image
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USA Today Sports. Pictured: Jon Gruden, Tom Brady, Tyler Lockett

  • See our staff's betting picks and predictions for every NFL Week 12 game.
  • We'll analyze the betting odds for Cowboys-Patriots, Seahawks-Eagles and more.

Are the New England Patriots being overvalued against the Dallas Cowboys? Could the Atlanta Falcons pull off another divisional upset?

Our experts are here to help you find the best betting angles for Week 12. Here are all the games they’ll hit on:

  • Dolphins at Browns: 1 p.m. ET
  • Lions at Redskins: 1 p.m. ET
  • Raiders at Jets: 1 p.m. ET
  • Giants at Bears: 1 p.m. ET
  • Panthers at Saints: 1 p.m. ET
  • Seahawks at Eagles: 1 p.m. ET
  • Buccaneers at Falcons: 1 p.m. ET
  • Broncos at Bills: 1 p.m. ET
  • Steelers at Bengals: 1 p.m. ET
  • Jaguars at Titans: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • Cowboys at Patriots: 4:25 p.m. ET

See how they’re betting all 11, complete with analysis of the biggest matchups and much more. (Including picks for every game.)


Go To: MIA-CLE | DET-WAS | OAK-NYJ | NYG-CHI | CAR-NO | SEA-PHI | TB-ATL | DEN-BUF | PIT-CIN | JAX-TEN | DAL-NE


Dolphins at Browns Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Browns -10.5
  • Over/Under: 45
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

If the Cleveland Browns close as double-digit favorites this Sunday, it would be only the second time over the past 25 seasons — the other instance came in 2007, when they won and covered against the 49ers. But is there any value on the Miami Dolphins in this spot.

Our experts analyze every angle of this matchup from a betting perspective, featuring staff picks and Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Dolphins-Browns Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Dolphins

Every player of note on the Dolphins’ injury report as been practicing in a limited fashion or in full, suggesting they’re trending toward playing. Ryan Fitzpatrick (shoulder/arm) has been a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday, but so far there’s nothing suggesting he’ll be out this week.

The Browns defense could struggle to generate a pass rush since they’ll be missing Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi due to suspension, and Olivier Vernon (knee) still isn’t practicing. Those three players have combined for 109 quarterback pressures and 17 sacks this season.

Also of note, Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) has been limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday, so he’s worth monitoring on Friday when final reports come out. Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Browns Running Backs vs. Dolphins Linebackers

I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to write about how bad the Dolphins linebackers are almost every week. Almost regardless of opponent, they’re outmatched, and it just so happens that the Browns have maybe the league’s best duo of running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

fantasy football-standard-rankings-rb-week 5-2019
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nick Chubb

Dating back to last season, Chubb has averaged 107.5 yards and 0.7 touchdowns from scrimmage in his 20 games as the team’s lead back. He trails only Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette with 1,177 scrimmage yards. For a lead back who plays on a 4-6 team and isn’t used heavily in the passing game, that’s pretty good.

And Hunt is probably the best No. 2 back in the NFL. In his 30 career games, he’s averaged 105.4 yards and 0.87 touchdowns (including playoffs). Blessed with elite pass-catching skills, Hunt has especially contributed to the Browns as a receiver since making his season debut two weeks ago: The sample is small, but he’s averaged 8.5 targets and 6.5 receptions to go along with five carries per game.

With that kind of usage, Hunt is more than just an ordinary change-of-pace back.

Over the past two weeks, Chubb has had a 77% snap rate and Hunt a 55% rate. They’re both seeing regular action, and they’re even playing a portion of their snaps together in two-running back sets, which is a great development. With two talented backs on the field at once, it’s hard for defenders to key in on either one of them.

And I expect that Dolphins defenders will be especially challenged against Chubb and Hunt, especially linebackers Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen.

The Dolphins are No. 29 in rush defense and No. 32 in pass defense against running backs (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). Lots of players contribute to the vastness of this ineptitude, but Baker and Eguavoen are especially to blame, as evidenced by their Pro Football Focus grades.

  • Baker: 657 snaps, 45.7 overall grade, 37.0 run defense, 58.5 coverage
  • Eguavoen: 437 snaps, 42.2 overall grade, 40.5 run defense, 53.0 coverage

Against such defenders, Chubb and Hunt could combine for 200 yards and multiple touchdowns. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Browns -12.5
  • Projected Total: 43.5

For the second straight game, I’m showing a couple points of value on Miami’s opponent while the public appears to be backing the Dolphins. I stand by my decision to avoid betting on either side of their matchups indefinitely as a  Fitzpatrick-led team that’s tanking is way too volatile to be confident about any perceived edge.

Brian Flores
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Brian Flores

The under, however, seems to be worth a look here.

The total has dropped from 45 to 44.5 at some books despite 89% of the money coming in on the over (see live public betting data here). I also have this being a full point lower, and the expected game flow should favor the under. If the Browns play with a sizable lead, it’s likely they lean on their running game and slow the pace down to help eat the clock and shorten the game. We saw this in their Week 11 win against the Steelers. In fact, when leading, the Browns’ pace of play drops from 18th to 29th (per Football Outsiders).

The Dolphins don’t necessarily play more up-tempo when losing, either. Their pace of play ranks 10th in the NFL, but slows down to 21st when trailing (a game script they are quite used to).

Give me the under here. Sean Koerner

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

PRO System Match

The Browns have won two in a row, but the offense still isn’t clicking — they’ve been held to 21 or fewer points in three straights games.

Baker Mayfield and Co. are expected to beat the Dolphins as double-digit favorites, but the public isn’t confident they can score enough to cover: More than 60% of spread tickets are on the Miami. While this may seem like a good time to fade the Browns’ inconsistent offense, history suggests otherwise.

Teams that haven’t been able to put up a lot of points recently can be undervalued as teams to regress to the mean throughout the season. This is especially true against opponents that may not know their tendencies or personnel as well as their divisional rivals.

This creates an excellent first-half betting opportunity. Gamblers following this Pro System have gone 163-114-59 (59%) against the spread since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,511 following this strategy. John Ewing


PRO Systems are data-driven betting strategies that turn winning long-term trends into easy-to-follow picks, all handpicked and monitored by our team of analysts. Try Action PRO now and instantly access real-time game matches for every PRO System.


Expert Picks

Stuckey: Browns -6.5 1H/-10.5

I just don’t get the love for the Dolphins in the market — I was shocked the Bills weren’t favored by a touchdown or more last week and am equally as shocked the Browns aren’t laying 14 here.

Fitzpatrick is putting up some quality yardage number, especially considering what he has to work with. But factoring in midseason injuries and departures, this is still one of the worst NFL rosters we’ve seen in a long time.

Let’s start with the offense, which features a historically bad running game. The Dolphins are averaging 3.0 yards per carry, which ranks dead last. But just how bad is that historically? The last team to average sub-3.0 yards for a season was the 1994 Patriots. That team had Marion Butts in the backfield and averaged 2.8 yards per carry. Oddly enough, that was the last team to lose to the Browns in the playoffs.

And those Miami rushing numbers are cumulative, meaning they include Kenyan Drake (since traded) and Mark Walton (recently cut). The Dolphins now feature Kalen Ballage, who is averaging fewer than 2.0 yards a carry.

dolphins-vs-bills-odds-picks-predictions-week 7-2019
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kalen Ballage

They just aren’t capable of taking advantage of a vulnerable Cleveland rush defense that’s allowing 4.8 yards per carry, which ranks 28th, and their personnel just isn’t capable of exploiting the Browns’ weakness at linebacker.

The strength of this Cleveland team lies in the secondary with now healthy corners Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward. Yes, the pass rush will suffer as a result of Garrett’s suspension, but the Browns can contain a Miami passing attack that’s still missing Preston Williams.

And on the other side of the ball, the Browns should have plenty of success on the ground and through the air against a bad Miami front seven and depleted secondary.

Mayfield should have received a much-needed confidence boost after two straight wins and the offense is even more dynamic with the addition of Hunt. The Dolphins struggle defending pretty much everywhere, but especially against backs.

(The Browns may also get tight end David Njoku back, which would help even more.)

Cleveland’s offensive line should control the line of scrimmage, creating lanes for Chubb to exploit while Mayfield should have all day to throw against a Miami defense that ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate. Mark this down as OBJ’s long-awaited go-off game against the 32nd-ranked pass defense DVOA.

I’ll be splitting the Browns between the first-half and full-game to reduce the risk of a potential backdoor cover on a meaningless TD from FitzMagic that cuts the lead from 17 to 10.

I never thought I’d be backing the Browns as double-digit favorites, but here we are.

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]


Lions at Redskins Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Lions -3.5
  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

It’s been tough sledding for Redskins rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who enters this Week 12 matchup as a home underdog to the visiting Detroit Lions. So far the public is heavily backing the road team with more than 80% of the betting tickets.

Should you follow the public in this game?

Our experts analyze every angle of this matchup, complete with a comparison of the current odds to Sean Koerner’s projections and more.

Lions-Redskins Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Redskins

The Lions are expected to be without Matthew Stafford (again), giving Jeff Driskel another start. They’re also banged up on the back end with safety Tracy Walker (knee) missing both practices. Walker boasts a top-10 pass-coverage grade among qualifying safeties (per Pro Football Focus).

The Redskins could get Chris Thompson (toe) back after he’s been limited in practice, but he likely isn’t that appealing from a fantasy standpoint with Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice also in the mix.

Peterson missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, but he followed a similar protocol last week then ended up playing. His practice status on Friday will be more telling. Paul Richardson (shoulder) should also be back after he practiced in full on Thursday. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Lions Pass Catchers vs. Redskins Pass Defense

Don’t be fooled by Driskel starting — the biggest mismatch in this games still centers around Detroit’s passing game.

Few teams boast the depth of talent the Lions have at receiver. The trio of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola provide the inexperienced Driskel with reliable targets all over the field.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Marvin Jones (11), Kenny Golladay (19), Danny Amendola (80)

Golladay ranks seventh among all wideouts with 18.7 yards per reception and first overall with 26 deep targets (per PlayerProfiler). Jones has excelled in the red zone, ranking 10th at the position with 14 red-zone receptions. And finally, Amendola has been highly efficient, ranking seventh with 17.5% of the targets per snap.

In addition, Detroit features the uber-athletic T.J. Hockenson at tight end, who has the second-highest yards per reception (13.4) among all tight ends. The Redskins rank 26th in pass defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders), and have allowed an average of five catches and 56 yards per game to opposing tight ends.

While Quinton Dunbar is currently PFF’s highest-rated cornerback, his Washington teammates Jimmy Moreland (93rd), Josh Norman (106th) and Fabian Moreau (110th) are all among the league’s worst. — Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Lions -2.5
  • Projected Total: 41

This matchup features two teams I backed against the spread last week and lost.

The Redskins were brutal, but a lot of that result had to do with Darnold and the Jets turning into the underrated team I pegged them as heading into 2019. Meanwhile, the Lions are likely without Stafford for at least one more game. I had him being worth 3-4.5 points to the spread, but I’m bumping that up to 4-5.5 points.

Driskel has put up solid fantasy numbers in garbage time, but it’s clear it’s a bit egregious to have him be a 3.5-point road favorite in this spot.

The Redskins are a below-average team that’s better equipped to pull off a win in what’s perceived to be a tight matchup. A close game would allow them to take the ball out of Haskins’ hands and lean on their running game. Their defense was showing signs of improvement heading into the bye, which makes me think they bounce back against an inexperienced QB like Driskel.

Still, no matter how you slice it, these are two below-average teams and I’m willing to bite on the home squad getting a key number in +3.5 here. Books have been getting an onslaught of action on the Lions (see live public betting data here), so we’ll see if exposing +3 will start to draw some sharp action on Washington to balance the action a bit. I’m betting it does. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

The Redskins offense has been bad. Over their past three games, they’ve been held to 17 or fewer points.

As a result, more than 80% of spread tickets are on the Lions as small road favorites as of Thursday. While this may seem like a good time to fade the Redskins’ inconsistent offense, history suggests otherwise.

Teams that haven’t been able to put up a lot of points recently can be undervalued as teams to regress to the mean throughout the season. This is especially true against opponents that may not know their tendencies or personnel as well as their divisional rivals.

This creates an excellent first-half betting opportunity. Gamblers following this Pro System have gone 163-114-59 (59%) against the spread since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $3,511 following this strategy. John Ewing

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Redskins +3.5

This is pretty simple: I’m fading Driskel on the road with no rushing attack whatsoever against a team that currently has the better overall defense.

The Redskins’ offense isn’t pretty — their second-half touchdown of last week’s blowout loss to the Jets was their first in more than a month — but I’ll still take three and the almighty hook here against Driskel and a banged up Lions squad.

I’m not sure Haskins is the answer — and in fairness, he doesn’t have the most elite arsenal to work with on the outside. However, he should at least improve with experience whereas we already know what to expect from Driskel.

Plus, Haskins should have plenty of time against a Lions defense that ranks 27th in adjusted sack rate. That’s even more important for Haskins who could get a little shaky when under immense pressure while at Ohio State.

The Redskins are now more of a power running team, which won’t work most weeks in today’s NFL. But this is also a matchup where that approach can work against a Lions defense line that ranks near the bottom of the NFL in almost every advanced power metric.

The Skins can keep the chains moving here on the ground and I think their offense can do just enough to pull out this cover in what should be an ugly one. Hold your nose!

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]


Raiders at Jets Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Jets -3
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Oakland Raiders are squarely in contention for the AFC West crown, but can they overcome some defensive inconsistencies to win on the road in New York? Sam Darnold is coming off of one of his best performances of the season, but is it wise to trust Adam Gase’s offense?

Our experts see a potential value play and breakdown all the key angles of this matchup.

Raiders-Jets Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Both are somewhat healthy

Last week the Jets had all eight guys who were listed as limited play in their Week 11 game. It’s been the same thing all season: A long injury list, but most end up playing. It’s safe to assume again all eight players who were at least limited will suit up, but linebacker CJ Mosley (groin) and cornerback Darryl Roberts (calf) both haven’t practiced yet, so I’d assume they’re out this week.

Josh Jacobs continues to be limited with his shoulder injury, but that’s been the norm for him since he hurt it against Green Bay. The Raiders’ biggest injury of note is offensive lineman David Sharpe (calf). He hasn’t practiced this week and is graded as the second-best run-blocker on their team (per Pro Football Focus). Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Derek Carr vs. Jets Pass Defense

The Jets’ second-ranked run defense forces the opposition to attack them through air, which has worked.

nfl-betting-picks-predictions-expert-bets-week-11-2019
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Hunter Renfrow (13), Darren Waller (83), Derek Carr (4)

New York has allowed big quarterback fantasy performances to Daniel Jones (QB2), Gardner Minshew (QB6) and even Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB6). Now the Jets face the ultra-consistent Derek Carr, who has 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions over the past six games.

New York will need to limit the big play ability of wide receiver Tyrell Williams, who ranks fifth among all receivers with 10.3 yards per target and fourth overall with 2.47 fantasy points per target (per PlayerProfiler). The Jets have struggled against outside receivers, with cornerback Arthur Maulet ranking 73rd in PFF’s conference rating. Rookie slot man Hunter Renfrow has also surged, compiling 15 catches on 18 targets in Oakland’s past three games.

Even against a Jets defense that limits opposing tight end production, Carr will also be able to rely on Darren Waller. Waller ranks second at the position in receptions (56) and receiving yards (666), and first with 324 yards after catch.

With the Jets strong pass-funnel defensive tendencies, Carr is potentially headed for his best fantasy performance of the season. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Raiders -2
  • Projected Total: 46.5

Heading into the season, I planned to buy low on the Jets as their roster construction and Darnold’s potential Year 2 growth was being overlooked by the market.

Sure enough, they were stuck with some bad luck when Darnold came down with mono heading into Week 2. Their stock plummeted, and with Darnold getting back on track since seeing “ghosts” in the pocket against the Patriots in Week 7, this is shaping up to be the team I was expecting to see this season. The Jets will only improve if/when C.J. Mosley is able to return.

It’s worth noting that the Jets have a +1.2 edge in Pythagorean win differential over the Raiders, meaning the public is likely overestimating the Raiders and underestimating the Jets.

Sharps quickly bet this game down from Raiders -4.5 through the key number of -3 to -2.5. Now that this line is back up to +3, it could be time to come in on the Jets.

There’s a real chance the Jets extend their two-win streak to five considering their next three games are vs. Raiders, at Bengals and vs. Dolphins. The window to buy low on the Jets may close after this week. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

Chad Millman: Jets +3

This is a good time to use the Pythagorean wins theory. If you’re not familiar, this is an old concept originally created by baseball analytics pioneer Bill James.

The theory was relatively simple: Using the number of runs a team scored and the number of runs it allowed, you could deduce how many wins a team should have. The delta between that number and their actual wins is an indicator of whether or not they exceeded expectations.

Get it?

Also lucky for me, our genius Bet Labs tool — which is a collection of millions of data points from the past 20 years distilled into betting systems (subscribe!), — has a Pythag wins data set. This is what it looks like when you fade teams with winning records but negative point differentials (in Millman terms, teams that the public perceives as being good but I know better).

When I spin the wheel, I get this as an answer for Week 12: The Raiders on the road as three-point favorites against the Jets. The math adds up in multiple ways. The Raiders have scored 225 points and allowed 250 (eee gad).

Do I worry that I’ll be betting on a bad team? I sure do. Am I worried that my hard-earned money will be in the hands of Sam Darnold? You betcha!

But am I going to do it? With confidence, not just because my instincts say so, but because the numbers do, too.

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]


Giants at Bears Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Bears -6
  • Over/Under: 40.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

After another dreadful performance in Week 11, Mitchell Trubisky didn’t play late in the fourth quarter during the Bears’ Week 11 loss to the Rams and may not start Week 12. The Giants, meanwhile, have been one of the worst teams this season and face one of the game’s best defenses in Chicago.

Can you trust either team? Our experts analyze every angle of this matchup from a betting perspective, complete with a comparison to Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Giants-Bears Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Bears

Trubisky (hip) exited last week’s game early, but has been practicing in full. Linebacker Danny Trevathan (elbow) has missed both practices and could be out this week. That’s good news for Daniel Jones since Trevathan has their third-best pass-rushing grade.

The Giants could be down both of their tight ends in Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion). Neither play has practiced, leaving Kaden Smith and Scott Simonson to mix in at tight end. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Bears LB Khalil Mack vs. Giants LTs Nate Solder/Eric Smith

The Giants are hoping Solder (concussion) is cleared in time to face the four-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro Mack. But if Solder doesn’t, then it will likely be 2017 undrafted free agent Eric Smith.

Solder has already allowed eight sacks, and his 94.7% mark in Pro Football Focus’ pass blocking efficiency metric ranks 65th of 78 qualified tackles (min. 20% snaps). Smith, meanwhile, gave up two sacks against the Jets in Week 10 in his first career game, giving him an 89.7% PBE rating that would rank dead last if he qualified.

Jones has been dropped for four-plus sacks in five of his eight starts, and the Giants are, unsurprisingly 1-4 against the spread in those games. When he’s gotten sacked three times or less, they’re 2-1 against the spread.

Coming off the bye and going up against a reeling Bears offense, the Giants should be able to stick around in this game. But if they don’t, Mack will likely have had something to do with it. Chris Raybon

chargers-vs-bears-odds-picks-betting-predictions-week 8-2019
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Khalil Mack

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Bears -6.5
  • Projected Total: 41.5

Whenever the books are willing to post a line despite a starting QB being a game-time decision, it’s usually because they view the drop-off between the starter and the backup to be negligible. That’s the case with the Bears, whether Trubisky or Chase Daniel get the start.

You could argue that Daniel would be an upgrade as going with a more conservative veteran QB at home in a matchup they should win. Trubisky is much more of a high-risk, high-reward raw QB who would be better served to use in a matchup they’re outmatched, assuming the added level of volatility can only help them if they’re fairly big underdogs. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

A lot happened for Chicago in Week 11. The Bears lost to the Rams, the offense scored seven points and Mitch Trubisky was benched. The public has had enough with last year’s NFC North champions.

Oddsmakers opened the Bears are 6.5-point favorites but less than 30% of spread tickets are on Chicago. It is easy to understand why casual bettors would fade the Bears but now is a bad time to jump off the bandwagon.

Historically, it has been profitable to bet teams getting little public support after a bad offensive game. Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 150-95-4 (61.2%) ATS since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $4,606 following this strategy.

A reverse line movement bet signal has been triggered on the Bears, an indication that sharps are backing Chicago. John Ewing

Expert Picks

Koerner: Lean Over 40.5

This is likely a spread to pass on, but I’m showing some slight value on the over.

The market has hammered the under here with 77% of the action as of writing (see live public betting data here), pushing the total down from 41 to 40.5. Given the Giants are set to have all their passing weapons on the field for the first time this season and the Bears run defense slipping a bit after Akiem Hicks went down, it can only favor a game flow trending to the over.

Over 40.5 is only a lean here as it’s a bit tough to take a strong stand given we don’t know which QB the Bears plan on starting as of writing.

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]


Panthers at Saints Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Saints -9.5
  • Over/Under: 47
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

After some early-season success, Kyle Allen has struggled over his past four starts. His worst start came last week against the Falcons, which ended with him throwing four interceptions in a 29-3 loss for the Panthers.

The Saints, meanwhile, are coasting toward another NFC South title. But could they be surprised at home against a division rival?

Our experts preview this matchup, complete with picks and our proprietary projections.

Panthers-Saints Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Panthers

Both teams are relatively healthy heading into this divisional matchup. Cornerback Ross Cockrell (quad) has yet to resume practicing, suggesting he won’t be ready to play this week. Everyone else on their report got in limited practice sessions, so they should be trending towards playing.

Cornerback Marshon Lattimore (hamstring) remained sidelined at practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He’ll need to have some sort of practice participation on Friday to have an outside shot at playing. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Saints Run Offense vs. Panthers Run Defense

As big home favorites, the Saints seem likely to run a lot against the Panthers, and I expect that they will have success.

The Panthers have an extreme funnel defense that ranks No. 7 against the pass but No. 32 against the run (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). The Panthers have been without run-stuffing Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short (shoulder, IR) since Week 3, and in his absence, their run defense has been a sieve.

The Panthers are No. 28 in running back rush success rate allowed (52%, per Sharp Football Stats). They’ve yielded a league-high 15 rushing touchdowns to opposing backfields.

That bodes well for the Saints, who have one of the league’s best backfields. New Orleans running backs are No. 1 with a 57% rush success rate, thanks in part to the team’s excellent offensive line, which ranks No. 1 with 5.17 adjusted line yards per attempt (per Football Outsiders).

In Alvin Kamara, the Saints have an explosive do-it-all back with 5.0 yards per carry for his career. And in Latavius Murray, they have a heavyweight between-the-tackles grinder capable of churning 20 carries into 100 yards.

As I note in this week’s RB breakdown, both Kamara and Murray are popping in our FantasyLabs Models. Against a vulnerable defense like Carolina’s, I could see them combining for 150 rushing yards and multiple touchdowns. Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Saints -9.5
  • Projected Total: 46.5

Allen took over for the injured Cam Newton in Week 3 and proceeded to go 4-0 over his first four starts in relief. Since then, he’s fallen apart to go 1-3 while posting a horrendous 3-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

You can either plug your nose and back the Panthers, or avoid this game altogether. Although the Panthers have a +1.3 edge in Pythagorean win differential over the Saints, the market seems fairly split on this line. I would’ve expected heavy action on the Saints, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

This is a pass for me. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 825-732-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 182-110-3 (62.3%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,298 following this strategy.

This total opened 48 and has been bet down to 47, an indication that sharps are on the under. John Ewing

Expert Picks

Sean Zerillo: Under 47

The Saints and Panthers have yet to play this season — their second meeting will occur in Week 17 in Carolina — but both teams have put 10 games worth of their offense on film, and they’re extremely familiar with one another thanks to their biannual meetings.

For trend bettors, this game represents another spot to play a late-season under in a matchup between divisional opponents:

After exploding onto the scene with four consecutive wins in September and October, Allen has recorded three touchdowns against nine interceptions in his past four games, while averaging just 6.3 yards per pass attempt.

The Panthers offense ranks fourth in offensive pace, but I would look for them to slow it down and keep the ball on the ground, this week, after Allen’s 93 inefficient passing attempts over two consecutive losses.

Coming into Week 10, the Panthers offense ranked fifth in rushing DVOA, but 25th in passing.

Furthermore, the Saints will look to control the game on the ground against the Panthers’ 32nd ranked rushing defense, with Kamara and Murray, and avoid Carolina’s strong passing defense (third in DVOA).

The Saints rank 29th in offensive pace, and Kamara now appears fully healthy, recording more than 20 touches on Sunday for the first time in six weeks.

[In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]


Seahawks at Eagles Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Eagles -1
  • Over/Under: 48
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

The Seattle Seahawks are the most popular underdogs of Week 12, attracting more than 75% of public betting tickets and 65% of the money as of Thursday evening, moving from -3 to -1. But is now the time to actually fade them against the Philadelphia Eagles?

Our experts analyze every angle of Sunday’s matchup from a betting perspective, featuring staff picks and Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Seahawks-Eagles Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Seahawks

Eagles’ pass-catchers remain the biggest question marks. Nelson Agholor (knee) hasn’t practiced, but he’s hoping to on Friday. Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) has been able to get in limited sessions and it sounds like he has a shot to play.

Jordan Howard (shoulder) has been limited all week, but he still hasn’t been cleared for contact. He could go either way. We’ll have a better idea on all of these players come Friday.

Tyler Lockett (leg) got banged up in their last game, but he’s been getting in limited practice and the Seahawks seem optimistic that he’ll be ready to play this week. However, they could potentially be down their best defender as Jadeveon Clowney (knee/hip) hasn’t been able to practice at all this week. Clowney leads the Seahawks in quarterback pressures, sacks, hurries and hits, so it would be good news for Carson Wentz if Clowney is unable to suit up. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox vs. Seahawks C Joey Hunt

The loss of starting center Justin Britt to a season-ending ACL tear will hurt in this matchup. Whereas Britt ranked a respectable 18th among centers in Pro Football Focus’ grades, his replacement, Hunt, is way down at 55th. Despite having played just the eighth-most snaps among Seattle offensive linemen this season, Hunt is already tied for second-most sacks allowed on the team with three.

Fletcher Cox
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Fletcher Cox

Cox, meanwhile, has been his usual superb self. The four-time Pro Bowler and 2018 first-team All-Pro currently ranks fifth among interior defenders in PFF’s grades, and his 42 total pressures are third among players at the position, behind only Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell.

The one positive in regard to the situation is that Russell Wilson is no stranger to pressure. He’s been the third-most pressured quarterback this season (41.8% of dropbacks) and delivered the most passing yards (1,035) and touchdowns (nine) while under duress.

Twenty five quarterbacks have thrown at least two interceptions while under pressure this season, and Wilson is not one of them.

Despite being the trendiest underdog of the week with an 80% ticket backing as of this writing (see live public betting data here), this cross-country trip shouldn’t be viewed as a gimme for Seattle. But Wilson’s uncanny ability to beat pressure is a big reason he’s 16-6-2 all time as a road underdog, per our Bet Labs data.

That said, when you couple the fact that the Eagles play stout run defense (seventh in Football Outsiders’ DVOA) and lack explosiveness on offense with their likely defensive domination on the interior, there’s a case to be made that the under is a better play than either side against the spread. Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Eagles -2
  • Projected Total: 48.5

I’ve mentioned how there’s value in getting ahead of public perception. The Falcons over the past two weeks are a great example; the Eagles are poised to be that team this week.

Philly sports a +2.6 edge over Seattle in Pythagorean win differential — a clear sign that the public is likely to overrate the Seahawks and underrate the Eagles. Betting behavior has aligned with this theory given 80% of the tickets have been printed for Seattle. It’s sent the line down from Eagles -3 all the way down to -1.

We have to wonder if at some point the Seahawks will become slight favorites, and it’s worth waiting to see if that does happen. I’m also waiting on the status of Jeffery: If he’s able to return, it would make the Eagles one of my favorite plays of the week. Sean Koerner

Expert Pick

Stuckey: Eagles -1

This is probably my favorite buy-low, sell-high spot of the weekend.

I’ve been itching to fade the Seahawks since their win at San Francisco, which was their first good win all season. Yes, Wilson has been brilliant. But the rest of the team? Not so much.

Let’s dig a little deeper into their 8-2 record.

They have two overtime wins. The rest of the NFL combined? 2!

Two of their other wins came against backup quarterbacks. And the rest came against the three AFC North teams outside of Baltimore — all of which they could’ve easily lost.

They also have only a net +12 point differential at the end of regulation. That means they’ve outscored their opponents by a total of 12 in regulation and nine in overtime!

And finally, while they did have a blowout win over Arizona, the other seven all came by one possession. A few different bounces of the oblong ball or a made field goal by Greg Zuerlein, and the Seahawks are potentially sitting with a record of 5-5 — the same as the Eagles.

The Seahawks have holes in the trenches and secondary. Even their special teams have been a disaster. Wilson can’t mask those deficiencies forever.

nfl betting picks-odds-week 10 early analysis
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Wilson

Look, the Eagles certainly have their flaws. But their secondary has started to figure it, which helps a ton. And while the offense is very limited in explosiveness, they should have some success on the ground against a Seattle defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry (22nd in the NFL). I think Wentz can also find his two tight ends down the seam for some big plays through the air against a defense that has also struggled to defend tight ends this season.

In a matchup of two teams that lean heavily on the run — both rank in the top-six in rush attempts per game with similar yards per carry marks — the Eagles’ run defense has a significant advantage. They’re allowing only 3.8 yards per carry, which ranks sixth in the league. And I expect the Eagles to own the trenches on both sides of the ball, which will ultimately be the difference.

Don’t completely write off the Eagles just yet. Remember they were 4-6 last season before eventually making the playoffs. I had to play the Birds when a -1 popped in the market and would play them at anything under 3.

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Buccaneers at Falcons Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Falcons -4
  • Over/Under: 51.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons meet in an NFC South showdown between two high-powered offenses. The public likes the matchup and the over — which is the highest of the week — as nearly 70% of tickets expect these teams to eclipse the total.

Our experts analyze all the angles of this matchup including a comparison of the current odds to Sean Koerner’s projections, a Pro System match and more.

Buccaneers-Falcons Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Bucs

The Bucs are in pretty good shape with just linebacker Anthony Nelson (hamstring) and cornerback M.J. Stewart (knee) missing practice this week. Linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and Carl Nassib (groin) are trending in the right direction with their limited practices.

Nelson’s potential absence is a big loss for their run defense as Pro Football Focus graded him as their best run defender. Defensive lineman William Gholston (ankle) is another injury to watch as he also brings a strong presence up front.

Julio Jones was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a foot injury, but there shouldn’t be anything to worry about after he practiced in full on Thursday. Considering Austin Hooper (knee) and Devonta Freeman (foot) still haven’t returned to practice, I wouldn’t expect them to play again. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Falcons Pass Offense vs. Buccaneers Pass Defense

This is a delicious matchup. The Falcons are No. 1 in the league with a 67.7% pass play rate, and the Bucs have allowed the second-most air yards and yards after the catch combined with 480.5 per game (per AirYards.com).

The Bucs have the league’s most extreme funnel defense. They rank No. 1 against the run but No. 30 against the pass in DVOA (per Football Outsiders). The Falcons should be motivated to pass, and they do it well.

Even though he missed Week 8, quarterback Matt Ryan is still well on his way to a ninth consecutive 4,000-yard passing campaign. Since his 2016 MVP campaign, Ryan leads the league with 16,626 yards passing.

fantasy football rankings-start-sit-ppr-standard-half-ppr-week 6-2019
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones

The Bucs, meanwhile, are a total mess at cornerback.

Last week they waived Vernon Hargreaves III and benched Jamel Dean and Ryan Smith. Perimeter corner Carlton Davis returned from injury last week, but they were without starter-turned-backup-turned-starter M.J. Stewart (knee), and he has yet to practice this week.

In Stewart’s absence, the Bucs have been forced to use rookie dime safety Mike Edwards at slot corner. The Bucs are in full-blown “let’s try anything” mode at cornerback, and whatever they try never seems to work.

As I highlight in my Week 12 WR/CB piece, all three of Ryan’s wide receivers — Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage — have advantageous matchups.

Jones in particular is well positioned. He’s likely to run most of his routes against rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, who has allowed four touchdowns in his four games as a full-time defender. Jones might get 150 yards and two touchdowns on his own.

Last season, Ryan had 355 yards and three touchdowns in Week 6 and 378 yards and two touchdowns in Week 17 against the Bucs, and they’re definitely not any better this season in pass defense.

Ryan and the Falcons have 400-yard, multi-touchdown passing upside against the Bucs.Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Falcons -5
  • Projected Total: 53

For the past two weeks I had highlighted the massive difference between the Falcons’ Pythagorean expected wins versus their actual record — it was clear that the public was likely underrating them until they started pulling off some wins.

We have to remember that this very Falcons team was 16-1 to win the Super Bowl over the summer, so it can be dangerous to completely write them off after just half a season. Sure enough, their defense has done a complete 180 after their Week 9 bye and held the Saints and Panthers to 12 total points to go 2-0 over the past two games.

A lot of speculation has been made that moving WR coach Raheem Morris to become DB coach could be the cause of the turn around. This could be true, but I think a lot of it stems from the simple explanation that this team is regressing toward what we expected from them heading into 2019.

It appears the market has correctly adjusted to where I have them now, so this is a no bet from me — though it’s important to at least understand why it’s key to get ahead of public perception, like we had done with the Falcons the past two weeks. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 825-732-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it’s been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 182-110-3 (62.3%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,298 following this strategy.

This total opened 54.5 and has been bet down to 51.5, an indication sharps are on the under. John Ewing

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Over 51

Yes, the Falcons defense has performed significantly better over the past two games, which you could argue coincides with Raheem Morris and Jeff Ulbricht taking over defensive play-calling. It may have had a slight positive impact, but I’m still not buying this Falcons defense as a whole.

I have always liked the defensive line, led by McKinley, Clayborn, Jarrett and Co. — although a number of their key contributors are dealing with injuries — but the secondary is still a major weakness and it’s something Jameis Winston can exploit.

The same can be said for the Bucs, who have a rock solid defensive line. Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense has excelled at defending the run thanks to the interior bodies such as Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea eating up blocks to free up the linebackers. As a result, the Bucs are only allowing 3.5 yards per rush, which ranks third in the NFL. Tampa also ranks No. 1 in rush defense DVOA.

However, in complete contrast, its secondary has been nothing short of a horror show, ranking 30th in pass defense DVOA. Simply put, their secondary is bad. And as I alluded to before, the Falcons have similar DVOA splits at 11th against the run and 27th against the pass.

We have two offenses that struggle to run the ball — they are two of the 11 teams that average fewer than four yards per carry — so don’t expect much on the ground. However, you can expect plenty of explosive plays through the air with two offenses that feature two of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the league.

I expect a good ol’ fashioned shootout in Atlanta between teams out of playoff contention. I wouldn’t be shocked if both almost completely abandon the run, which will also slow the clock down. And both of these teams play on the faster side, ranking in the top 10 in plays per second.

Plus, you can probably count on a few Winston gift points as well, which won’t hurt the over.

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Broncos at Bills Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Bills -4
  • Over/Under: 37.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Denver Broncos are drawing fewer than 50% of spread tickets as of Thursday evening but 65% of the money, moving from 5.5- to 4-point underdogs against the Buffalo Bills as a result — an indication that pro bettors could be backing Vic Fangio’s squad.

But can you really trust them to cover an increasingly smaller number after last week, when they blew a 20-point lead against the Vikings?

Our experts analyze every angle of this matchup from a betting perspective, featuring staff picks and Sean Koerner’s projected odds.

Broncos-Bills Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Bills

The Bills remain a fairly healthy team, but there’s one injury to note. Jerry Hughes (groin) hasn’t practiced this week, which is worrisome since he grades out as their third-best defensive lineman and second-best pass-rusher.

The Broncos’ offensive line could be in trouble as Connor McGovern (back) and Dalton Risner (ankle) haven’t practiced — they’re two of the best pass-blockers on the team, combining to allow just one sack this season. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Broncos Rush Defense vs. Bills Rush Offense

Not only are these two teams similarly rated, they’re mirrors of each other. It’s almost scary.

Both have quarterbacks with the last name Allen who are limited when it comes to throwing downfield (though have quality No. 1 receivers with John Brown in Buffalo and Courtland Sutton in Denver).

Both teams are also getting absolutely outstanding safety play and have a lockdown corners: Chris Harris Jr. for the Broncos and Tre’Davious White for the Bills.

However, the one glaring difference between these two teams is the quality of their run defense.

The Bills run defense has been extremely poor all season when you adjust for their opponents. They’re allowing 4.4 yards per carry, which ranks 19th in the league. But their schedule has been incredibly easy — they’ve benefited from two games against Miami’s historically bad rushing offense. When you adjust for opponent, the struggles are even more evident. Per Football Outsiders, Buffalo ranks 27th in rush defense DVOA.

Meanwhile, the Broncos defense — which has been one of the most underrated units this season — ranks sixth in that same measure. Denver is allowing only 3.9 yards per carry, which ranks seventh in the NFL.

In matchup of two offenses that rank 22nd and 23rd overall DVOA — including 10th and 11th in rush offense and 24th and 26th in pass offense — the difference is in the quality of the run defense, which favors Denver substantially. And I ultimately think that will help the Broncos have more success controlling the ball and clock.

phillip lindsay-fantasy-football
Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Phillip Lindsay

Look for a big day from Phillip Lindsay, specifically. Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Bills -4
  • Projected Total: 36.5

Brandon Allen looked on his way to becoming 2-0 in his first two career starts as the Broncos took a 20-0 lead into halftime. However, the Vikings mounted an incredible comeback to pull off the win.

It’s clear that the Broncos haven’t dropped much if at all by going from Joe Flacco to Allen. I had mentioned this likely being the case heading into Allen’s first start due to the Broncos being a run-heavy team with a solid defense. This is exactly why a matchup against the Bills is a great spot for Denver. The Bills are a run funnel defense that the Broncos should be able to exploit with Lindsay and Royce Freeman.

Getting four points in a game that’s expected to be low-scoring gives each point that much more value. The Broncos +4 is a lean here. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Broncos +4

The Broncos are 3-7 and out of playoff contention while Bills are 7-3 and currently sitting fifth in the AFC as of Thursday evening. But let’s not go crazy about this Buffalo team, which has benefited from one of the easiest schedules in the NFL.

Look no further than the Bills’ hysterically-low strength of victory of .214! That means the teams they’ve beat have a combined win percentage of 21.4%.

Two of their wins have come against the Dolphins and four of their other five came against the Jets, Giants, Bengals and Redskins. The Bills’ only good win came in Tennessee when Marcus Mariota was still under center for the Titans. The Bills also benefited from four missed field goals in that seven-point victory.

The Bills are just an average AFC team. So are the Broncos.

Despite the record discrepancy, these two teams are essentially even in my book. Not only have the Broncos played the much tougher schedule, they’ve lost three to four games they easily could’ve won. Don’t be fooled by the records here — take the four points with the road dog.

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Steelers at Bengals Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Steelers -6.5
  • Over/Under: 38.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Cincinnati Bengals are the only winless team in the NFL, and with all the of drama surrounding Pittsburgh, Week 12 presents a grand opportunity to get a win — or at the very least a cover. As of Thursday the Steelers have garnered only a little more than 50% of spread tickets in this game.

Could this finally be a winning week for the Bengals?

Our experts analyze all the angles of this matchup, including a comparison of the current odds to Sean Koerner’s projections and a pick.

Steelers-Bengals Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Bengals

Somehow, Diontae Johnson (concussion) is practicing in full this week after he was bleeding from the ears last Thursday. That’s good news for the Steelers since JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee/concussion) is expected to miss this game, as is James Conner (shoulder).

The Bengals will be shorthanded at receiver with A.J. Green (ankle) expected to be out (shocking), and Auden Tate (concussion) hasn’t yet cleared concussion protocol. Also of note, receiver Stanley Morgan hasn’t practiced all week due to an illness. The Bengals are incredibly thin at receiver at the moment. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Steelers Running Backs vs. Bengals Linebackers

The Bengals are 0-10. I can’t possibly say that they have an edge in any one facet of the game.

Against running backs, the Bengals are No. 30 in rush success rate allowed and No. 31 in pass success rate allowed (per Sharp Football Stats). They’ve yielded 162.5 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game to the position. Basically, they make opposing backfields look like Christian McCaffrey.

Most of the fault for their incompetence in backfield defense lies with their linebackers. In run defense, the Bengals are worst in the intermediate range of the field, where they rank No. 31 with 1.47 second-level yards allowed per run. To make matters worse, the Bengals are No. 31 in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA against running backs. Last year, they were also No. 31.

Last week, the Bengals cut the imminently subpar Preston Brown, replacing him in the lineup with rookie Germaine Pratt. As bad as Brown is, Pratt isn’t any better. And in Nick Vigil they have one of the league’s worst starting middle linebackers. All of this is reflected in their Pro Football Focus grades.

  • Vigil: 51.9 overall grade | 47.7 run defense | 58.9 coverage
  • Pratt: 35.0 overall grade | 56.0 run defense | 29.6 coverage

A former college H-back and tight end who pitched in as a strategic rusher, Jaylen Samuels isn’t a natural running back.

Jaylen-Samuels-Best-Ball
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jaylen Samuels

But he can still put up numbers. In his six games entirely (or mostly) without Conner over the past year, Samuels has averaged 82.7 yards and 0.33 touchdowns on 11.5 carries, 6.3 targets and 5.5 receptions.

One of the league’s best pass-catching backs, Samuels had eight receptions on eight targets against the Bengals in Week 4. And Samuels has a decent crew of supplementary backs to support him.

Rookie grinder Benny Snell (knee) is tentatively expected to return this week. In limited action, he has 4.2 yards per carry, and as an SEC back, he had more than 1,000 yards rushing in all three of his college campaigns.

Over the past three games, halfback-fullback tweener Trey Edmunds has had a 35% snap rate and averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 6.3 thunderous runs per game.

And last week the team signed rookie Kerrith Whyte, who has great speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash) and was one of the best change-of-pace backs in college football last year (1,026 scrimmage yards and 11 all-purpose touchdowns).

Against defenders as hapless as Vigil and Pratt, some combination of these running backs should be able to put up 120-plus yards and a touchdown. — Matthew Freedman

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Steelers -6.5
  • Projected Total: 39.5

The market for this game is right in line with my projections. Ryan Finley has been dreadful as the starter, but the Bengals are in clear tank mode and are gunning for the top pick in the 2020 draft.

There’s a very real chance they go 0-16 — their Week 16 matchup against the Dolphins will likely be the deciding game. I’ve speculated the Dolphins will be around 1.5- to 2-point favorites if Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting for the Dolphins.

The Steelers face a potential cluster injury situation to key skill positions here as WRs Smith-Schuster and Johnson along with Conner are questionable. If all three are ruled out I would expect this line to drop to -6 or even -5.5, so we’ll need to monitor the market.

Either way, I’m going to avoid betting on this game with so many other great matchups to try to cap. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Bengals +3.5 1H; Bengals +7

This is a prime Mike Tomlin spot — one of my favorite spots in the NFL, which pops up when the Steelers are road favorites — especially against bad teams.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many more times: Tomlin is as good of a coach as there is in the NFL when it comes to motivating teams for an emotional spot (see: rematch vs Browns coming up, which I circled as soon as the chaos ensued in Cleveland).

Ultimate Tomlin rah rah fire up the troops spot

— Stuckey (@Stuckey2) November 15, 2019

But on the other side of the coin, his teams perennially come out flat in spots just like this one against an 0-10 team in an half-empty stadium.

The Tomlin numbers don’t lie:

  • He’s 25-34-1 against the spread for a -15.3% ROI, worst among 101 coaches who have been a road favorite since 2003.
  • He’s 13-27-1 (32.5%) ATS vs. teams with a losing record, with the worst ROI (-32.8%) among 99 coaches (second-worst is Jon Gruden at 2-10).
  • He’s 5-13 ATS as a favorite of seven or more points.

Tomlin also has a propensity to lose these games outright:

  • He’s 23-18 as a road favorite against sub .500 teams — a $100 bettor would be down $935, which it the worst among 99 coaches.
  • He’s lost outright at least once in this scenario as a touchdown or better favorite in each of the past five seasons.

The Bengals are absolutely dreadful, but this is more of a fade of a Steelers team I was ready to fire against last week in Cleveland. Plus, I’ve been looking to sell Mason Rudolph who has arguably been even worse than Mitch Trubisky. And now Rudolph likely won’t have his starting center and his most important weapon on the outside in Smith-Schuster. That means an offense already lacking any explosiveness will get even worse.

Take the +7 — buy it on the cheap if you can’t get — and fade the Steelers here in a game the Bengals should be up for as they seek their first win against a division rival in a spot Pitt usually comes out flat.

I also split half my bet on Bengals first-half +3.5 since I don’t think their offense will be capable of coming back from a big deficit if the Steelers do somehow go ahead. I think this is a close throughout and +7 is a premium in what should be a low-scoring divisional matchup.

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Jaguars at Titans Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Titans -3.5
  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

Nick Foles returned from injury last week, but the Jaguars played one of their worst games of the season in a 33-13 loss to the Colts. With another divisional matchup coming up this Sunday at Tennessee, will Jacksonville rebound or suffer another bruising defeat?

Our experts think that this game will be fought in the trenches and that points will be at a premium in a matchup featuring Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry.

Jaguars-Titans Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Titans

The bye did the Titans wonders as Corey Davis (hip), defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (shoulder) and linebacker Jayon Brown (groin) all returned to full practice. Delanie Walker (ankle) could be working his way back also as he returned to limited practice.

The Jaguars are also in good shape, but it’s worth noting that Dede Westbrook missed Thursdays practice with an illness after not appearing on the injury report on Wednesday. Wide receiver Chris Conley and cornerback DJ Hayden were all upgraded to full practice on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Titans Rush Defense vs. Jags Rush Offense

After last week’s loss to the Colts, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he’d stick with the run more after Fournette carried the ball a season-low eight times.

The problem with that strategy is that the opposing Titans are the league’s fourth-most efficient run defense according to Football Outsiders’ rushing DVOA metric, which adjusts for strength of schedule.

On top of that, the Jags are just 24th in rushing DVOA and Jags rank dead last in early-down rushing success rate (38%), per Sharp Football Stats. Much of the blame can be placed on an offensive line that is ranked 25th in adjusted line yards (3.79) and 29th in stuff rate (23%), per Football Outsiders.

The only thing that has kept the Jags’ run game afloat at all are a few long gains by Fournette, as evidenced by the Jags’ second-place ranking in open field yards (1.50), which are 10 or more yards gained beyond the line of scrimmage. That does provide a glimmer of hope for Jacksonville, though, as Tennessee’s one weakness in run defense has been the big play: The Titans rank 26th in open field yards on defense (0.97).

The return of Foles, however, complicates matters. While rookie fill-in Gardner Minshew lined up under center a fair amount, Foles is predominantly a shotgun quarterback, and Fournette struggles as a shotgun runner. This season, Fournette is averaging 5.0 yards per carry on 150 under-center attempts but just 3.3 yards per carry on 32 totes from the ‘gun. And for his career, Fournette has posted 4.2 yards per carry under center but just 3.5 from the ‘gun.

Marrone could get his team in trouble if he sticks with the run for too long, as Tennessee’s Derrick Henry-led rushing attack is capable of exploiting a Jacksonville run defense that ranks 24th in DVOA and bleeding clock, which could limit the Jags’ offensive possessions and cash tickets for under bettors. Chris Raybon

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Titans -3.5
  • Projected Total: 39.5

Bookmakers opened this total at 42, and 58% of the tickets have come in on the over along with 80% of the cash as of writing (see live public betting data here). It’s created a reverse line move down to 41.5 and 41 at some books.

I have this matchup being just south of 40, meaning there’s still some value here. Sean Koerner

Expert Picks

Koerner: Under 41.5

The Titans are coming out of their Week 11 bye with a likely clock-killing game plan to feed Derrick Henry. It would make sense to attack the Jaguars on the ground as they’ve been a sieve to opposing backs ever since Marcell Dareus was placed on IR in Week 8. Carlos Hyde ran over them for 160 yards in Week 9, while Marlon Mack and Jonathan Williams ran for 100-plus yards each on them last week.

In terms of pace of play, the Jaguars rank 16th while the Titans are 23rd (per Football Outsiders). However, in close games (within one score), both teams slow down with the Jaguars ranking 30th and the Titans 27th.

This matchup sets up to be a close run-heavy battle, which means both teams are likely to give into a game flow that strongly favors the under. Forty-one is one of the top-three key numbers for totals, so locking in under 41.5 before it falls to 41 at all books is the play.

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Cowboys at Patriots Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds

  • Odds: Patriots -6.5
  • Over/Under: 45.5
  • Kickoff: 4:45 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: FOX

Sunday gifts us a late-afternoon showdown between the NFL’s two most popular franchises: The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots. But despite the excitement surrounding the matchup, Tom Brady and Co. are near touchdown favorites over America’s Team.

Our experts analyze whether the Patriots are being overvalued in the betting market, as well as offer their picks and projected odds.

Cowboy-Patriots Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Patriots

The Cowboys could be without two key players.

Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch reportedly isn’t going to play to avoid a flare up of a neck issue, while they could also be without RT La’el Collins, who sprained his MCL last week. He grades out as Pro Football Focus’ third-best tackle in terms of run blocking, which isn’t great news for the Dallas run game.

The Patriots are dealing with some injuries to their receivers. And although Phillip Dorsett (concussion) returned to limited practice on Thursday, he still needs to clear the concussion protocol. Mohamed Sanu (ankle) is expected to miss this game and could reportedly be out a couple weeks. Justin Bailey

Biggest Mismatch

Cowboys Defensive Line vs. Patriots Offensive line

New England’s offensive line is annually one of the best in football, but it’s been decimated by injuries this season. The front five rank a middling 14th in run blocking efficiency and 27th in stuffed rate (per Football Outsiders).

The Patriots should get a big boost by the return of offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, whose 77.4 pass-blocking rating on PFF is critical to improving their passing game. While the’ve allowed only 17 sacks, Brady has struggled under pressure — his 29.2% pressured completion percentage is 26th among all qualified quarterbacks.

Dallas’ defensive line, meanwhile, is led by a pair of fierce pass rushers.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jaylon Smith (54), Robert Quinn (58)

Defensive end Robert Quinn leads the Cowboys in sacks (8.5) and is third in total pressures (30) despite missing the first two games of the season due to a suspension. Fellow defensive lineman Demarcus Lawrence grades out 10th among all defensive ends, per PFF. The Cowboys will also bring a highly-motivated Michael Bennett, who will face his former employer for the first time this season.

The key ingredient to success against the Patriots is being able to create pressure with just four rushers. The Cowboys have the talent to provide that pressure, allowing their secondary to defend New England’s compromised receiving core. Mike Randle

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Patriots -7
  • Projected Total: 47

There’s been some bizarre line movement on this total.

Bookmakers opened the over/under in the 47-47.5 range, and while action has been fairly even thus far, the total has dipped all the way down to 45.5. It’s highly likely books recognized sharp action being fairly lopsided on the under and it required pulling the total down two whole points.

I’m not so sure I can pinpoint what sharps are seeing here that I’m not.

We have one of the top passing offenses facing the top pass defense, which makes this a fascinating matchup to cap. The Patriots have admittedly faced one of the easiest schedules to date — even last week they caught a short-handed Eagles with Alshon Jeffery ruled out and DeSean Jackson placed on IR.

But Bill Belichick loves to game plan in a way that shuts down the opposing team’s best player. The problem he faces with the Cowboys is that Amari Cooper is the Cowboys’ best receiver in the passing game, but the Patriots still have to worry Michael Gallup, Randal Cobb and Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott is more than willing to spread the ball around as seen with Gallup and Cobb posting 100-plus receiving yards just a week ago.

This sets up to be more of a shootout than people realize, meaning I’m willing to nibble on over 45 (which is still available at some books). I’m only a bit hesitant to make it a full play due to the fishy line movement so far. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

The Patriots have been one of the most profitable teams this season. New England has covered the spread in seven of 10 matchups and hasn’t made bettors sweat much with an average cover rate of 7.0 points per game.

A majority of spread tickets are on the Patriots as of writing (see live public betting data here), which is expected given their ability to cover.

However, against-the-spread records tend to regress to the mean over the course of a season as bookmakers adjust to team performance and public perception. As a result, it’s been profitable to bet against teams that have covered the spread by a big margin.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 312-242-17 (56.3%) ATS since 2005. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $4,949 following this strategy.

It’ll be difficult for casual bettors to fade the Pats, but history suggests bettors should take the points with the Cowboys. John Ewing

Expert Picks

Stuckey: Cowboys +6.5

Welp, it’s time to fade the Pats at home, where Brady is 73-44-5 (62.4%) ATS in his career, covering by almost four points per game. A 21.8% ROI is pretty damn good.

That said, this line is way too high per my numbers.

The Patriots offense still isn’t humming and they’ve had a number of key injuries along the offensive line (and at fullback), which have stymied the running game. Getting Wynn back should help some, but there will still be gaps that the Cowboys can exploit to get pressure on Brady, which you have do to slow him down.

The Patriots also obviously sorely miss Rob Gronkowski at tight end and have been dealing with a never-ending carousel at receiver due to injuries and cuts, so it’s obvious why the timing has been so off.

And while the Patriots defense is elite, it’s slightly overvalued due to its cakewalk of a schedule.

The Ravens are the only elite offense New England has faced, and they shredded the Patriots for 372 yards in a 37-20 blowout win. And, well, the Cowboys will be the second elite offense the Pats face — one of the three NFL offenses that rank in the top-five in Football Outsiders’ rush and pass offense DVOA (one of the other three being Baltimore).

Dallas has the No. 1 overall offense according to DVOA, which includes a rush and pass offense ranked in the top three. The Patriots’ struggling offense, meanwhile, ranks 14th in pass offense and 18th in rush offense.

It all starts up front with an elite offensive line, but it doesn’t hurt to have a back like Ezekiel Elliott, who should have success against a vulnerable Patriots run defense. And when the Cowboys aren’t running it, Prescott — who is playing as well as any quarterback — should have plenty of time to find his weapons.

fantasy defense rankings-week 6-2019
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty

The Patriots do have three lockdown corners who can match up with the Dallas wideouts in New England’s heavy man scheme, but I do expect Prescott to have some success through the air. Plus, the X-factor could be his legs. The Patriots have struggled with mobile quarterbacks in the past as they keep the chains moving and pick up yards once they get past the first level of the heavy man-to-man Pats defense.

Expect Prescott to keep the chains moving with his legs on a few critical third downs.

This Cowboys offense is playing too well to be catching almost a touchdown against a struggling Pats offense. I make this line 3.5, as I don’t see much separation between these teams.

Yes, the Patriots will have a huge coaching advantage, but I can’t pass up the touchdown. If it doesn’t come, I still like 6.5 (which I played) and also bought some to 7, which isn’t a bad idea.

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