Stuckey: My 7 Favorite Week 12 NFL Picks, Bets & Predictions
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz
- Stuckey reveals his favorite Week 12 NFL picks, featuring spread and over/under picks.
Stuckey highlights his five favorite NFL picks for Week 12 below.
Let’s run through how he’s betting Browns-Dolphins, Lions-Redskins, Seahawks-Eagles, Buccaneers-Falcons, Broncos-Bills, Steelers-Bengals and Cowboys-Patriots.
Browns -6.5 1H; -10.5 vs. Dolphins
I never thought I’d be backing the Browns as double-digit favorites, but here we are.
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.
Ryan 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.
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 Myles 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.
Baker 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 Odell Beckham Jr.’s long-awaited go-off game against the 32nd-ranked pass defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders).
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 touchdown from FitzMagic that cuts the lead from 17 to 10.
Redskins +3.5 vs. Lions
This is pretty simple: I’m fading Jeff 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 Dwayne 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!
Eagles -1 vs. Seahawks
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, Russell 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.
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 Carson 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.
Buccaneers-Falcons 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 Takkarist McKinley, Adrian Clayborn, Grady 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.
Broncos +4 at Bills
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.
Bengals +3.5 1H; +7 vs. Steelers
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.
Cowboys +6.5 at Patriots
Welp, it’s time to fade the Pats at home, where Tom 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 Isaiah 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.
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 Dak 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.