NFL Week 12 Lookahead Picks: Bets for Ravens vs Jaguars, Buccaneers vs Browns
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Welcome back to The Lookahead.
While everyone else is busy betting on this weekend's games, we continue to get out ahead of things with a pair of picks for next Sunday. It's all about locking in that sweet closing line value (CLV) and gobbling up easy line value before this week's results move next week's lines.
We continue to lock in important CLV ahead of the games every week, often crossing key numbers. Last week, we played a total with success, already adding a full field goal of value to our over, and that could rise further by kickoff. Today, we'll go back to the well with another total, plus one spread pick.
We've already got your Sunday picks covered, so let's look ahead and get some more CLV for those Week 12 games.
This line feels so far off I genuinely thought it was a typo. Truly, I just checked it one more time before writing this section, just to be sure.
The Ravens, one of the teams seen as a potential Super Bowl threat, are little more than a field goal favorite against the terrible 3-7 Jaguars? In this economy?!
Look, many advanced metrics say the Jaguars are much more average than bad, and on the balance of the season, they're right. Jacksonville was genuinely good in September, and I backed them early. But since the calendar turned to October, Jacksonville has been dreadful. The Jaguars are 1-6 since the start of October and rank 27th in DVOA and second to last in defense.
The Ravens, on the other hand, are really good and getting even better. Baltimore ranks third in DVOA for the season — third on offense and first on special teams. The defense ranks "only" 12th, but is rapidly getting better following the acquisition of Roquan Smith and the return of edge rushers Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo, who may make his return this weekend. Safety Marcus Williams could be back, too, while Mark Andrews makes his return as the linchpin of the passing attack.
Baltimore is coming off its bye week, set to blow the poor Panthers out of the water. The Ravens are two touchdown favorites over Baker Mayfield, and no one would bat an eye if they doubled that spread and cruised to victory.
The only plausible explanation I can make for this line being low is that the Jaguars are on a bye for Week 11 and will be the more rested team. But is that really enough to keep the line this close? I don't see it, especially since playing Carolina could practically be considered a second straight bye week for Baltimore.
Besides, Doug Pederson is just 1-4 ATS after the bye, while John Harbaugh is 10-4-2 ATS (71%) facing opponents with that extra week of prep. If anything, Jacksonville's bye — and their faux "home-field advantage" — are buying us value on the number.
But road favorites of a TD or less facing an opponent coming out of a bye week are 44-29-1 ATS, covering 60% of the time. When the road team is favored even with a rest disadvantage, the books are telling us to take the hint.
I'll happily take it, and I'm grabbing Baltimore now at -3.5 before this line rises to where it should be — closer to a touchdown. After the Ravens blow the Panthers out on Sunday, I expect this line to rise quickly.
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We're grabbing a second straight road favorite during The Year of the Underdog, but the key is grabbing these low lines before they rise past key numbers and kill off the value.
The Bucs are the team coming out of the bye week here, and that makes all the difference. Tampa Bay has routinely peaked late in the season in the Tom Brady era.
This team got a huge win heading into the bye and looked itself more than any point of the season — that should give the team an extra zest and focus going forward. Tampa's offense typically hits its stride after the bye late in the season, and a bad Cleveland defense after the break is the sort of get-right spot it's looking for.
But wait, haven't the Browns been kind of good? What about that huge Bengals beat down on Halloween?
Would you believe that was Cleveland's only win since September? The Browns rank 27th in DVOA in that stretch (excluding the Bengals game), including below average on offense and dead last defensively. Cleveland's run defense has been putrid, and the secondary hasn't done its part when the pass rush doesn't get home. As quickly as Brady gets the ball out, that should be a problem, too.
This is a pretty bad spot for the Browns. They're coming off back-to-back road games against elite offenses (Dolphins, Bills), and it's also Jacoby Brissett's last game as a starter before turning over the reins to Deshaun Watson, who's already back practicing with the team. This is the lamest of lame-duck spots.
Brady is 8-3 ATS (73%) on the road after a bye week and 7-2-1 ATS (78%) out of the bye as a TD favorite or less. Road favorites out of the bye week cover 61% of the time, and short favorites with 14 days of rest cover 64% of their games.
Tampa Bay hasn't been what was expected of them thus far, but this could be the first step toward the rest of the season. Even the run game could get going against a terrible run D if the Bucs finally start to unleash Rachaad White after his breakout game in Germany.
No one's thinking about the Bucs right now on their off-week, but the Browns could get rolled by a talented Bills offense still stinging after back-to-back losses. There's no snow to hide in for that one anymore, so Cleveland will just have to face Josh Allen and all that talent in a dome now. Advantage Buffalo.
I like the Bucs — this line only moves in one direction so I'm grabbing it before we lose the key number. If Cleveland's defense gets blown out a second straight week and the offense looks listless under Brissett, this line could skyrocket.
THE PICK: Bet Bucs -3