We take a look at all the games ahead of Week 12 and ask whether the Miami Dolphins can spring a surprise at Indianapolis, and if the New York Giants are now the ones to beat in the NFC East as they roll into Philadelphia? Check out the analysis, quick hits and top trends, with odds from our friends at GentingBet.
Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper have left the building, and with Jordy Nelson injured, you have to wonder what Jon Gruden is trying to do on the sidelines at Oakland. It is now not uncommon to see him have heated in-game discussions with QB Derek Carr, as was the case in Arizona last weekend.
You can’t help but feel for Carr, though. He is a Ferrari with a wheel or two missing.
Crabtree faces his old club, which is really the only talking point in a game that sees two teams going in opposite directions. The Ravens are firmly in contention for the highest draft pick and the Ravens are in the hunt for the AFC North.
Crabtree, who has only had 42 catches for 479 yards and two touchdowns, and snared 53.8 per cent of his targeted throws, might have a better outing in this one – providing Lamar Jackson, who is filling in for injured Joe Flacco – gets him in his sights and actually throws the ball.
Jackson is a dual-threat QB, who only showed off his running ability last week in a 23-20 win over Cincinnati to give the Ravens a 5-5 record. He will be out to prove a point against Oakland’s porous defense.
Raiders (2-8) have little to play for now and they have lost all but one of their six previous visits to Baltimore, suffering double-digit losses in their last three defeats there.
They have some confidence, having managed to get past Arizona 23-21 with a Daniel Carlson field goal as time expired last week. Carlson is one of the few decent signings the Raiders have made, picking him up when Minnesota prematurely waived him after drafting him in the fifth round out of Auburn in April.
Yet is seems likely the Raiders are going to need more than field goals to beat the Ravens, who are 1/6 favourites and can be supported at 7/10 to successfully concede 8.5 points on the handicap.
Jacksonville, who were in the AFC Championship game in January, have managed to win just three regular-season games this time round and are at the foot of the AFC South with a 3-7 record.
Buffalo hold both a similar record and position in the AFC East, but they were expected to struggle.
This game has little consequence other than to determine which team will pick higher in the draft next spring.
The Jaguars are desperate to snap a six-game losing streak and are 4/7 to do so, while the Bills are the 7/5 home underdogs aiming for back-to-back wins after thrashing the New York Jets two weeks ago. They are fresh after their bye week, but have lost three of four at home.
Matt Barkley stood in for QB Josh Allen, who has spent the last four weeks on the sidelines with an injured elbow, but he could return to lead the Bills.
The Jaguars gave up a 16-0 lead over Pittsburgh last week and while their attack has been sputtering, their defense is still their strength. In their last 29 games, they have allowed only two opponents to throw for 300 net yards and held 13 opponents to under 150 yards.
Jacksonville, who have lost their last two trips to Buffalo, are 4/7 favourites to regain the winning thread, while Buffalo are 7/5.
The underdog is 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings and Buffalo can be supported at 11/10 in receipt of 2.5 points on the handicap.
The forecast is for little wind and overcast conditions of around 40c, so the points total, which is set at 37.5 points, might prove to be a little on the conservative side.
This is another game where neither side has much to play for other than pride and a win bonus.
The 49ers are 4.5-point underdogs at 4/6, while Tampa can be backed in receipt of 1.5 points at odds of 4/7.
The Bucs have absolutely no balance on offense. They pass for fun but their running game is as putrid as their woeful defense and, as a result, they are bottom of the NFC South with a 3-7 record.
At 2-8, San Francisco is currently one loss ahead of the Buccaneers in the race for the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and comes into this game off a bye week. They are also 3-7 against the spread this season and have won one of their last eight games.
First-year QB Nick Mullens has his limitations and cannot be expected to carry the 49ers’ offense on his shoulders, but he faces a weak Buccaneers’ defense (allowing an average of 32.9 points per game), which has resulted in Tampa losing seven of their last eight. They have gone 1-6-1 against the spread in that span.
Tampa QB Jamies Winston is expected to return to the starting line-up, and while he has just eight TDs to 11 turnovers, it appears the right call to replace veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
It won’t matter if San Francisco can establish a running game as they did two weeks ago in a 34-3 win against Oakland and, despite having lost three of their last four trips, some will feel they can keep this close and perhaps pull off the win at odds of 7/5.
There is plenty on the line in Charlotte when two teams, both in the NFC wild card hunt, square off.
Seattle (5-5) rallied to win 27-24 over Green Bay last week, while Carolina (6-4) were involved in yet another close game, but came out on the wrong end of a 20-19 loss in Detroit.
Cam Newton threw for 357 yards and three touchdowns, but the Panthers’ running game was inconsistent and mistakes kept hurting them in the loss to the Lions. They effectively threw the game away by going for a two-point conversion – and failing – rather than kicking an extra point which would have sent the game into overtime.
This could boil down to which team has the better pass rush and can do a better job of containing two mobile quarterbacks. Carolina’s pass rush has been up and down, so keeping Russell Wilson in check is no given. Yet the Panthers have allowed only 20 sacks in 10 games.
Another factor is the Seahawks are travelling east and kicking off at 10am Pacific Time, which is never easy for them.
This is a close call for punters, with the Panthers at 8/15 and the Seahawks at 7/5 on the Moneyline.
The Panthers are on offer at 21/20 to successfully concede 4.5 points, while the Seahawks, who have won three of the last four trips to Charlotte, are available at 4/9 in receipt of 7.5 points.
The Bengals and Browns have two of the worst defences in the NFL, ranking 32nd and 31st respectively in yards conceded. While the Bengals have had the better of their skirmishes in recent times, they have declined as the Browns have improved.
Cleveland’s 5th-ranked rushing attack, led by rookie Nick Chubb, could cause problems for the worst run defense in the league, which is giving up an average of 153.8 yards per game. In fact, the Bengals are giving up a second worst 31.2 points per game, so it is easy to see why they have slipped to a 5-5 mark.
The Browns come into this after a solid and surprising 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons before their bye week, while the Bengals came up short in a 24-21 defeat at Baltimore.
Andy Dalton has to do a much better job than he has of late. The Bengals’ passer has failed to throw for more than 220 yards in three out of his last four games, but he is not getting much help from the running game, which managed just 48 yards against the Ravens. Worse still, No1 receiver AJ Green may again be ruled out for this contest.
The Bengals, who have won eight of the last 10 meetings at home against the Browns, are 8/13 favourites, while the visitors are 5/4.
It might be worth noting that the Bengals are 1-4 against the spread in their last five meetings, so there will be those who will think backing the Browns in receipt of 3.5 points on the handicap at odds of 8/11 is a viable ploy.
Yet a stronger stat involving the Bengals is this: in their last seven games against AFC North opponents, the total points has gone over the line six times, and it is 21/20 that there will be more than 47.5 points in the game.
The Giants have lost on seven of their last nine trips to New Jersey and they were dismantled by the Eagles the last time they met, with the reigning Super Bowl champions running out 34-13 winners.
That was their most complete game of an otherwise poor season in defence of their title, as they have since lost three of their last four and were comprehensively out-gunned by the Saints in a 48-7 rout on Sunday.
The Eagles now sit at 4-6 and are staring at playoff elimination.
The 3-7 Giants have played much better since that loss and while they lost their next two by one-score margins, they come into this clash on a two-game winning streak.
The Eagles’ secondary may have a few problems covering Odell Beckham Jr, since it has been depleted by injuries and has only three healthy, inexperienced cornerbacks.
Even one of their bright spots, the run defense, must face one of the best runners in the league in Saquon Barkley, who is in line for Rookie of the Year honours.
The Eagles have little to no rushing attack and that is putting way too much pressure on QB Carson Wentz, whose favourite target, Zach Ertz, was held to just two catches and 15 yards last week.
The Giants are considered 21/10 underdogs, with the Eagles at 4/11.
Layers are obviously expecting a bounce-back from the Eagles, as they are 17/20 to successfully concede 5.5 points on the handicap. Yet given their recent form and the injury problems with the secondary, some will feel that the suddenly surging Giants might be the value at 13/8 in receipt of 2.5 points on the handicap.
The rested New England Patriots face the Jets, who are still not sure whom their starting QB will be. Sam Darnold missed the 41-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills with a foot strain and he did not practice on Wednesday.
Even if he does play, the numbers say he is struggling. The rookie has completed 55 per cent of his passes for 214.9 yards per game with a league-leading 14 interceptions and 11 touchdowns. If he does not play, Josh McCown, 39, will resume in his place for the Jets (3-7), who have lost four straight games and have scored a total of 43 points since putting up 42 against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots have won the last four against the Jets and are in an angry mood after losing 34-10 to the Tennessee Titans before the bye week, although they sit atop of the AFC East with a 7-3 record.
The Patriots are tough at home but all three losses have come on the road this season. Despite this, they are 2/11 to win and can be backed at 19/20 to successfully concede 10.5 points to the Jets.
It appears as though Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will play and that should open up the running game for the visitors.
The Chargers have a firm grip on the first AFC wild card spot despite losing 23-22 to Denver in a mistake-riddled outing last week, which leaves them at 7-3, a game and a half behind Kansas City in the AFC West and two games ahead of a slew of others in the wild card race.
Arizona were always going to have growing pains with rookie QB Josh Rosen, who completed just nine of 20 passes last week in a 23-21 loss to Oakland – and three of them went for touchdowns. He also saw two passes picked off as the Cardinals slumped to a 2-8 record.
The Cardinals have won just one of their previous seven trips to face the Chargers (although they were all played in San Diego). Layers appear to feel that Chargers QB Philip Rivers will have a much better outing than he did last week and make them 2/15 favourites, with the Cardinals at 5/1.
While the Chargers are 1-7 against the spread in their last seven contests as a home favourite of 10.5 points or more, they are asked to concede 11.5 points at odds of 4/5.
Only one of Los Angeles’ five home games (including the one at Wembley) has been decided by 10 points or more in either direction, so some will feel that having beaten the 49ers and hung tough at Kansas City and Minnesota, the Cardinals are a potential play at 8/11 in receipt of 14.5 points.
While Miami QB Ryan Tannehill is back as starter, the Dolphins (5-5), who return off a bye week, still look in need of a bye year to get healthy, as they have been beset with injuries to key players all season.
The latest addition to the lengthy wounded list is receiver Jakeem Grant, who appears to be ruled out for the year with an Achilles injury. Receivers Danny Amendola and DeVante Parker are both doubts, and there are also concerns over guard Laremy Tunsil, centre Ted Larsen, Tackle Ja’Wuan James and safety TJ McDonald.
It is not what you need when facing an in-form Andrew Luck, but history says Miami will keep this close. They are considered 8.5 point handicap underdogs at 4/5, yet they have only ever been beaten by more than that in Indianapolis on two occasions in the last 28 visits. Indeed, they have won six of their last nine trips.
The Dolphins’ 5-5 record is better than the stats bear out, while the Colts, who have an identical record, are statistically better than their record shows. The pair are in a five-way tie for the second AFC wide card spot, but the Colts have momentum with four straight wins and they are 11-2-1 against the spread in their last 14 November games.
Miami has been poor on the road, though, especially on the handicap where they are 1-9 in the last 10, and while Colts’ centre Ryan Kelly is ruled out with a knee injury, it is easy to see why the Colts are heavy favourites.
Pittsburgh love playing on the road, it seems. They are 15-1-1 in their last 17 road games and came from 16-0 down to beat Jacksonville 20-16, recording their sixth win in a row.
The bad news is they have struggled in Colorado, losing nine of their last 12 there and have not beaten Denver on their home turf since 2009. They have never lost four consecutive visits though, and while backing favourites on the road is always fraught with danger, Pittsburgh have covered the handicap in six of their last seven as a road favourite.
There is a concern that the Steelers’ run defense has slipped a notch. They had trouble coping with Leonard Fournette last week and they now face a two-headed monster in Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, who is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
The Broncos, who can be backed at 7/5 to win, have covered the handicap on seven of their last 10 outings as a home underdog and they are in receipt of 3.5 points at odds of 4/5.
It may also be worth noting that in the past 27 Steelers’ road games, the points total has fallen under the line on 21 occasions. It is 4/5 that the total will not eclipse the 47.5-point mark.
Their Week 2 match-up ended in a 29-29 tie and with the Bears winning their Thanksgiving Day match against the Lions to take firm control of the NFC North division, these two are likely looking at a wild card shot at best.
Minnesota currently sits in the NFC sixth seed spot, but the Packers are only one game back and, while the Cowboys won on Thanksgiving Day, should the Packers win and Seahawks lose, they will be in a fight with Dallas for the sixth seeding.
The Packers are 4.5-point underdogs at odds of 4/5, while the Vikings are 8/15 Moneyline favourites.
Vikings’ defense has done a decent job of getting off the field on third down, allowing opposing offenses to convert 28 per cent of the time. They have also done a nice job of stopping the run, allowing opponents an average of 98.4 yards per game.
The Packers are one of three teams not to win a game on the road this season, but they have wins over the 8-3 Bears and the 5-5 Dolphins, and only lost by two points to the Rams. Minnesota have ridden a soft schedule thus far and some bettors will feel that an Aaron Rogers-led team cannot go winless on the road for much longer, so may believe the odds of 7/5 to win might prove a worthwhile wager.
Throw in the fact that Rogers has historically been brilliant against the Vikings, with 40 TDs and six INTs in 20 games against them, and is averaging 307.5 yards per game (which is better than Drew Brees in New Orleans) without throwing an interception, and the Packers look sure to have their followers.
Houston has won a bunch of close games this season – including a dramatic 32-21 win at Washington on Sunday) but their luck is holding and they enter Monday Night Football on the back of a seven-game winning streak.
They face a Tennessee Titans squad that gave New England a good hiding two weeks ago, but fell 38-10 to Indianapolis last week on the road. Starting quarterback Marcus Mariota left the game in the second quarter due to an elbow injury, and Blaine Gabbert passed for 118 yards and one touchdown in relief.
Tennessee has lost three of its last five road games and has dropped eight of their last 10 trips to Houston. However, they need a season sweep over the Texans (7-3) to pull within a game of them in the AFC South and also keep in the hunt for a wild card.
While the Texans boast a weak record against the spread in Monday night games (2-10 ATS in their last 12), the opposite is true of the Titans, who are 7-0 ATS in their last seven. That might be worth noting, as the Texans are being asked to concede 6.5 points on the handicap at odds of 17/20.
Those seeking educated picks against the handicap spread may wish to take a look at Lindyssports.com, America’s leading football authority.
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