It's Week 12 and you know the deal.
My picks, against the spread, with odds presented by DraftKings Sportsbook.
Let's get to it!
Tampa Bay at Indianapolis
Spread: Tampa -3
We get a playoff caliber matchup to open up the 1 pm slate. Indianapolis is arguably the hottest team in football, and get to host the Super Bowl Champions.
With this being a close game we are going to go with the under here. Both of these teams will do a good job negating the other team's strengths.
Indianapolis has done a great job riding the coattails of Jonathon Taylor. The problem in this matchup, Tampa Bay is the best rushing defense in football. On the other side Indianapolis ranks ninth overall in DVOA and they have improved by negating deep passes as well.
Expect both coaches to start the game out more conservatively than usual. This game will be lower scoring than most expect. Take the under.
The pick: Under 53
Carolina at Miami
Spread: Carolina (-2)
Both of these teams have losing records and sit on the fringe of the playoff race, so this is probably a "Loser Goes Home" type of matchup. Carolina inserted Cam Newton into the starting lineup last week and because of it, seem to be a popular play on the road. Miami’s defense ranks 13th in DVOA against the run, and they are vulnerable to get beaten in the deep passing game. Carolina doesn’t really possess that threat.
Meanwhile, Tua Tagovailoa is playing for his job, and he knows it. Yet despite it, Miami is on a three game winning streak and the offense has been decent during that stretch.
Still, I don’t see how they move the ball here against a Carolina D-Line that ranks second in the NFL in pressure rate. Miami struggles running the ball and I don’t see them moving the ball through the air. Both coaches like to play conservative. This game will be a mess, and another under cash. Let’s go under in the first half.
The pick: First half under 20.5
Minnesota at San Francisco
Spread: San Francisco (-3)
Probably my favorite play of the day. Minnesota may be one of the most underrated teams in pro footbal, and they proved it by beating Green Bay at home. Somehow they find themselves as underdogs on the road again.
Minnesota has had trouble defending the run, which would typically be worrisome against Kyle Shanahan’s offense. However San Francisco ranks just 16th in yards per rush this season. And when Minnesota has the ball, Kirk Cousins should be able to exploit San Francisco’s secondary that ranks 22nd in pass DVOA. Justin Jefferson has emerged as one of the best receivers in football. San Francisco won’t have an answer for them. If Minnesota can get San Francisco in passing situations, the pass rush should feast.
Oh, and one other thing: San Francisco really has not had a home field advantage all year and Minnesota fans are abundant on the West Coast during the winter time.
There is value in Minnesota on the road.
The pick: Minnesota +3
Los Angeles at Green Bay
Spread: Los Angeles (-2)
This a line where my power ratings and Vegas power ratings simply disagree. In Green Bay’s current state I have them aligned pretty close to Los Angeles and I just don’t see how you can give Aaron Rodgers points at home. Being an underdog is just going to ignite Rodger’s petty flames.
Beyond that, this is a huge matchup in the NFC playoff picture. The loser likely falls out of the 1-seed race and ends up much more likely to be a 4- or 5-seed.
LA has yet to win since Halloween and they haven’t covered four straight. Green Bay is 4-0 ATS at home this season. And while I'm concerned with the health of Green Bay’s O-Line, their defense has been very improved.
This may be square, but going to roll with Green Bay with the points.
The pick: Green Bay +2
Los Angeles at Denver
Spread: Los Angeles (-2.5)
The Los Angeles offense has figured it out, including a 40 point output last week. The adjustment, as simple as it sounds, has been willing to pass in on early downs. Previously, LA was a bottom five team in early down success rate. Now they rank in the middle of the pack just breaking the top 15. Now the LA offense ranks 3rd overall in DVOA.
Denver on the other hand, is a team that is a sinking ship. They played a soft schedule early, and their 3-0 record to start the year was especially fraudulent.
On the other side of that coin, LA is a game back of the division despite playing the 4th toughest schedule in the league so far. Denver left tackle Garrett Bolles is in Covid protocol, and the offense has looked completely lost in the games without him. Look for the explosive LA offense to put up a huge number, and Denver simply won’t be able to keep up.
The pick: Los Angeles (-2.5)
Cleveland at Baltimore (Sunday Night)
Spread: Baltimore -3.5
Am I insane for picking Cleveland again? Yes, probably. In a press conference with the media, head coach Kevin Stefanski said Baker Mayfield looked better than ever on Friday. We will have Lamar Jackson coming off Covid protocol. I’m betting a lack of a rhythm early affects Lamar here. F
or Cleveland they get right tackle Jack Conklin back. Cleveland has the edge in EPA and Net yards per play. However, Baltimore has a higher DVOA. I don’t think there is much separating these two teams.
This feels like a must win for Cleveland. The public is on Baltimore but there was a lot of sharp action early on Cleveland. So we are following the movement. Cleveland does a better job defending the run than the pass, they have the edge rushers to keep Lamar in the pocket. I may regret this, but taking Cleveland has a short underdog on Sunday night.
The pick: Cleveland +3.5
Make sure to follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive
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