After a few weeks floating around .500, I finished 8-5-1 last week. I hit both Sunday Night and Monday Night Football games for only the third time this season. I was hoping to hit the Thursday night game too, but it ended in a push.
I’ve historically done very well on Thanksgiving and this year’s games have pretty favorable lines.
Injuries are mounting up and it’s extremely important to study injury reports at this point in the season.
We pick ever NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 12 of the 2016 NFL season.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-2.5) – My pick is Detroit Lions
The Lions defeated the Vikings 22-16 in overtime three weeks ago. The teams were unable to run the ball and I expect the same drizzle of yards to come on the ground from both teams. The Vikings were lucky enough to come out with a win last week against Arizona. They needed a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 100+ yard kickoff return. The offense is stagnant and without a running game, it’s hard for Sam Bradford to win games by himself. The Lions have their own issues on offense, but their passing game is still working well. I’m taking the Lions to cover on Turkey Day.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-7) – My pick is Washington Redskins
I pointed this out last week, but Vegas is getting killed by the Dallas Cowboys this season. They are 9-1 on the season and 9-1 ATS the spread as well. Dallas QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott have been huge for the Cowboys this season. The offensive linemen are the real MVPs on the team, but both rookies have really played beyond expectations. The Redskins are also on a run of their own. They are 7-3 ATS on the year and have covered their last three games. The Cowboys may very well win this game, but I think a touchdown is a few too many points to give, so I’m taking the points.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts (+3) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
Indy QB Andrew Luck is currently in concussion protocol, but all signs point to him not playing on Thursday. It’s hard for something like that to occur on a short week, so if Luck doesn’t suit up, Scott Tolzien will lead the Colts. I just have a hard time believing someone at Tolzien’s level could lead the Colts to a win. They can’t really run the ball well and Luck makes so many plays by himself, I just don’t see it. The Steelers have their own issues, but I think they are lucky to face a Luck-less Colts. I’m taking the Steelers to cover.
San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans (+2) – My pick is Houston Texans
San Diego has been incredibly unlucky this season when it comes to injuries. They have won in spite of them in the middle of the season, but the injuries are starting to mount up. They have lost two of their last three games. Chargers RB Melvin Gordon has shown flashes of having the ability to be a starting running back in this league after being pretty forgettable in the NFL up to this point. The Texans have also had their share of injuries, but were starting to get their running game going. They fell in Mexico City to Oakland, but still ran the ball well. I see Houston relying on their ground game and squeaking out a cover and/or an outright win.
San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins (-8) – My pick is Miami Dolphins
The Niners have been spotted more than a touchdown five times against the spread and they are 1-4 ATS in those games. San Francisco have been horrible against the run this season and Miami RB Jay Ajayi is licking his lips at the thought of facing the Niners. San Francisco has lost by double-digits in three of their four road games. I don’t like San Francisco’s prospects, so I’m taking Miami to cover.
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (+7) – My pick is New York Giants
The Browns are winless on the season and are 0-4 ATS at home. Cleveland QB Cody Kessler sustained another concussion last week, so Josh McCown appears to once again be the man. There’s also an outside chance Robert Griffin III could play, since he was medically-cleared to practice. The Browns appear to have given up on defense, especially against the run. I don’t like their chances, so I’m taking the Giants to cover.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints (-7) – My pick is Los Angeles Rams
I’m going out on a limb with this pick. The Saints offense is pretty good and have scored against some good defenses this season. The Rams defense is one of the best in the NFL, but their offense hasn’t been as good. Rams QB Jared Goff made his first NFL start last week, but still only managed to score 10 points against the Dolphins. I believe in the Rams defense enough to take the points, even though a lot of stats prove me wrong.
Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears (+3.5) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
The Titans have been chugging along winning games they wouldn’t have won the last few years during their rebuilding years. Titans QB Marcus Mariota has taken a leap forward in his second year in the league. It helps to have a very good running game. They lost to the Colts last week, but did manage to make the game close after Indy got an early 21-0 lead. The Bears will be without QB Jay Cutler, WR Alshon Jeffery & LB Jerrell Freeman. Cutler is out due to injury and Jeffery and Freeman due to suspensions. Those are huge pieces to lose and keep competitive. I have to take the TItans to cover on the road.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills (-7.5) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
Jags QB Blake Bortles has been very unlucky the last two weeks. He has given up interceptions after the ball that bounced off a receiver’s foot in back-to-back weeks. They have kept the last few games close, but they really need to basically win the rest of their games to save their head coach’s job. The Bills went on a nice stretch of wins after firing their offensive coordinator, but then fell to Miami, New England and Seattle. They beat Cincinnati 16-12 in a pretty boring game. I have to take the points here since neither teams offenses have been great.
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons (-4) – My pick is Atlanta Falcons
Arizona hasn’t looked right since they tied Seattle a month ago. I want to blame QB Carson Palmer, but their defense has fell short as well. They should focus on getting RB David Johnson the ball as much as possible, but it hasn’t worked out as well as expected. Atlanta has some firepower on offense, but could not stop Philly’s run game two weeks ago. I don’t think Arizona can score enough points to keep this one close enough, so I’m taking Atlanta to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-4.5) – My pick is Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati is another team that hasn’t looked like themselves in well over a month, hell, Cincy hasn’t looked right all season. It doesn’t help that they may lose star WR A.J. Green for the year. I’ve shit on the Ravens for most of the year, but this is a pretty winnable game for Baltimore, but I think A.J. Green’s injury could work in Cincinnati’s favor. They can focus on getting RB Jeremy Hill the ball more and get TE Tyler Eifert more involved. The Ravens may win, but I am taking the points.
Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5) – My pick is Seattle Seahawks
This game should probably be +7, but since the Bucs have won their last two games, they are getting a ‘little’ respect from Vegas. I don’t like the prospects of Bucs QB Jameis Winston facing the Seattle secondary. Tampa Bay isn’t getting another production from their backfield to help him out. RB Doug Martin only got 63 yards on 24 carries last week against Kansas City. I just have to go with a Seattle cover here, even though this is a pretty far trip for them.
New England Patriots at New York Jets (+8) – My pick is New England Patriots
I know the Jets have played the Patriots tough year after year, even during a down year. The Jets named QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as a starter, but I don’t expect him to contribute much, even though he didn’t throw an interception against the Pats last season. The Pats haven’t beaten the Jets against the spread since 2012. I would love this spread a lot if it were +7, but that extra point scares me a little. I still have to go with the Pats to cover on the road.
Carolina Panthers at Oakland Raiders (-3) – My pick is Carolina Panthers
Oakland’s secondary was garbage the first quarter of the season, but they have gotten better. They still aren’t great, but their offense has bailed them out late in games to cover and win outright. Carolina haven’t been able to move the ball well through the air since their loss to New Orleans. This could be the game the Panthers make strides to get things going. Oakland is not a good home team and let’s hope they aren’t having Montezuma’s revenge coming back from Mexico City. I have to take the points.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos (-3) – My pick is Denver Broncos
Denver needs more production from QB Trevor Siemian, but they have won in spite of him. Their defense has make plays late in games to seal games. Kansas City was bitten by the injury bug and they haven’t recovered. They are giving up a ton of yards on the ground. Denver RB Devontae Booker should have a good game to help Siemian. I do fear KC QB Alex Smith will nickel and dime them with short passes, but I think Denver will make it hard for him. I’m taking Denver to cover.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) – My pick is Green Bay Packers
The Packers look like a team in turmoil. QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been throwing crisp passes and their running game is hot garbage. Their defense is also a work in progress and haven’t been able to stop the ground game. Eagles will needs RB Wendell Smallwood and Ryan Matthews to step up. The Packers have historically shown up on Monday Night Football. The Packers are a good team on paper and it will eventually work out on the field for them. I’m going out on a limb again and taking the points.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob