NFL picks, predictions for Week 12: Packers outplay 49ers; Ravens run over Rams; Browns make it 3 in a row

Sporting News

Based on the point spreads attached to each game, Week 12 doesn't present many particularly difficult picks. Of course, based on the laws of weekly NFL predictions, that probably means we're in for a rough week of game picks.

This isn't to say Week 12 is void of its share of toss-up games. The Texans, Titans and 49ers opened as three-point home favorites over the Colts, Jaguars and Packers, respectively, making them toss-ups in the eyes of Vegas. The Eagles also opened as two-point home favorites over the Seahawks.

To balance out those close spreads, the Browns and Saints opened as double-digit favorites over the Dolphins and Panthers, respectively. We also feel pretty good about the Steelers and Ravens as road favorites.

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Here are our Week 12 NFL picks straight up, all the way through the Monday night game in Los Angeles.

MORE NFL WEEK 12: Updated playoff picture | Power rankings

NFL picks, predictions for Week 12

  • Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-3)

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video

When an NFL team as good as the Texans gets embarrassed, that team typically bounces back with an inspired performance. So what Baltimore did to Houston last week could be bad news for Indianapolis this week. The return of Jacoby Brissett to the Colts' lineup and the ensuing win over the Jaguars was spoiled by the loss of Marlon Mack to a broken hand. The running back likely would have given Houston some trouble. Instead, with the Texans now being the better rushing team, it's up to Brissett to outplay Deshaun Watson. And the Colts QB ain't Lamar Jackson.

Pick: Texans 27, Colts 21

  • Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns (-10)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

Game 1 of Cleveland's Myles Garrett suspension era should be no trouble. Still at home off the mini-bye that followed the fiasco against the Steelers, the Browns are in position to draw closer to .500 and beat up on a team — figuratively this time, not literally — they should beat. Now aided by an enhanced running game with Kareem Hunt, Baker Mayfield will build his chemistry with Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry against the NFL's second-worst scoring defense.

Pick: Browns 30, Dolphins 17

  • Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills (-4 1/2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Statistically, these teams are mirror images of each other. The Bills have an iffy offense (358.9 yards per game) and a good defense (323 yards allowed per game); the Broncos also have an iffy offense (342.4 yards per game) and a good defense (323.7 yards allowed per game). Yet Buffalo is 7-3 and Denver is 3-7, illustrating the key differences between these teams. Yes, the Bills have played a much easier schedule, but they also have better coaching and the better quarterback. The carrot in front of them that is the AFC playoffs doesn't hurt.

Pick: Bills 17, Broncos 13

  • Pittsburgh Steelers (-7) at Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

This could be labeled a trap game of sorts for the Steelers — a divisional matchup against a feisty Bengals team scheduled a week before what will be an emotional rematch against the Browns. The good news for Pittsburgh is Mike Tomlin will make sure his team is focused in Cincinnati. Plus, the Bengals giving the Raiders a fight last week doesn't change their status as the worst team in the NFL.

Pick: Steelers 21, Bengals 14

  • New York Giants at Chicago Bears (-6 1/2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The likely harmless noise around Bears coach Matt Nagy's job security would rise to a crescendo should Chicago lose this home game to New York. And it's entirely possible. The Giants, despite having lost six straight games, are coming off their bye week, and their defensive weakness won't be as big of an issue against the NFL's third worst offense in terms of yards per game. Of course, on the other side of the ball, the Bears still boast a top-five scoring defense. That unit will cause rookie Daniel Jones and Co. enough trouble, and Nagy's offense will manage just enough points.

Pick: Bears 20, Giants 17

  • Oakland Raiders (-3) at New York Jets

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

Yes, the Jets' offense has come alive over the last two weeks against the struggling defenses of the Giants and Redskins. But the Raiders' defense isn't exactly daunting. Oakland's three consecutive wins over the last three weeks came in one-score games, all at home. Back on the road and playing in the eastern time zone early Sunday afternoon, the Raiders won't be as fortunate. Sam Darnold will continue his hot streak.

Pick: Jets 27, Raiders 24

  • Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints (-10)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS

This feels like the Panthers' last chance to stay alive in the NFC playoff picture, and in that regard, it's a massive opportunity for Carolina to shake off its bad loss to Atlanta with what would be a huge upset in New Orleans. The problem for the Panthers in this matchup isn't Kyle Allen vs. the noisy Superdome and/or the Saints defense; it's that struggling run defense vs. Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. New Orleans, meanwhile, has a defense that's quick enough to contain Christian McCaffrey.

Pick: Saints 26, Panthers 21

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-4)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

A few coaching changes during their bye a few weeks ago, and the Falcons suddenly are blowing out divisional opponents left and right. Kudos to Dan Quinn's team for responding to adversity and fighting to save the coach's job. Yet the defensive issues that plagued this team in the first half of the season could resurface against the Bucs' diverse attack. Tampa Bay will have its moments, but its league-worst scoring defense will allow too many points yet again.

Pick: Falcons 35, Buccaneers 31

  • Detroit Lions (-3 1/2) at Washington Redskins

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

This one's relatively simple. The Lions are bad, and the Redskins are even worse. Matthew Stafford may or may not return from his back injury for this game, but the QB's availability might not matter for the Lions. Even for Detroit's terrible defense, Washington and its league-worst scoring offense poses no threat.

Pick: Lions 24, Redskins 14

  • Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (-2)

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox

The Seahawks are healthy and coming off a bye. The Eagles are neither healthy nor coming off a bye. The Seahawks have an MVP candidate at quarterback. The Eagles, though Carson Wentz remains legit, do not. Despite Seattle's advantages, this feels like a game it will lose. Part of the reason is the long road trip and an early Sunday afternoon kickoff time on the east coast. Also, Philadelphia still has a top-10 defense. The Eagles opened as two-point home favorites, so this is an upset that technically isn't an upset.

Pick: Eagles 28, Seahawks 20

  • Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans (-3)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET p.m. ET, CBS

Here is the AFC South toss-up game of the week, barely edging Colts vs. Texans for the honor. Good luck guessing what you'll get from either Jacksonville or Tennessee. We feel a little better about the Titans since they're the better team statistically and the Jags are transitioning back to Nick Foles at QB. Yet the Titans are the most frustrating team in the NFL to pick, so we'll avoid the stress.

Pick: Jaguars 24, Titans 21

  • Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots (-5 1/2)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox

America's most popular team against the defending champs? Yes, please. Fox's game of the week is as good as it gets even though the Patriots are relatively heavy home favorites. New England's defense deserves the praise it's getting, but Dallas has the most diverse offense it will have seen all season. (Yes, that includes Baltimore.) The Cowboys don't have a singular offensive strength for the Pats to take away; rather, they have a handful of weapons ready to take advantage when presented favorable matchups.

Pick: Cowboys 27, Patriots 23

  • Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-3)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC

This is a big one for the NFC playoff picture. Should the 49ers lose to the Packers and give up the inside track to the No. 1 seed, they would be in trouble given their tough schedule over the next few weeks. San Francisco, which up to this point has taken advantage of a relatively light schedule, looks better than Green Bay statistically, but Aaron Rodgers and Co. are coming off a bye completely healthy. The 49ers' pass rush will make it challenging, but Rodgers will outplay Jimmy Garoppolo on the national stage.

Pick: Packers 24, 49ers 20

  • Baltimore Ravens (-3 1/2) at Los Angeles Rams

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Rams have put together four consecutive strong defensive performances, but it's hard to imagine their slowing down the rushing and scoring freight train that is Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. On the road but in a favorable, prime-time slot, expect the NFL's hottest team to keep rolling.

Pick: Ravens 28, Rams 23

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