Week 12 NFL picks against the spread recap with Jason McIntyre | WHAT DID YOU LEARN?
If you asked yourself before Week 12, “How are the Raiders favored by three on the road, with the Chiefs game on deck next week?” Then you had a good Sunday. Oakland was destroyed by the Jets … their offense was so inept, they didn’t even get to the red zone once.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Every week, I’m trying to get you think a little bit differently than the average NFL fan. I often talk about backing underdogs … they went 7-4-1 against the closing line Sunday, and the following quarterbacks registered outright victories: Jameis Winston, Mitchell Trubisky, Devlin Hodges, Ryan Tannehill and Dwayne Haskins. I know it’s tough to go into the NFL weekend putting your hard-earned money on unproven quarterbacks, but they all cashed Sunday.
It was my best week yet – 10-3 overall and 4-1 in my top picks. Let’s see what we can learn from a successful Week 12:
With Tannehill at quarterback the Titans are a bet-on team
The goal is – weekly – to have one no-sweat gambling victory. The Titans were only up 7-3 at the half, but signs pointed toward a Tennessee take over … and they blew it open in third quarter. The Titans scored 28 straight points and cruised to victory.
Ryan Tannehill has done wonders for Tennessee since they transitioned from Marcus Mariota – Tannehill is now 4-1 as the starter. The Titans averaged 9.1 yards per play with a time of possession at a mere 23 minutes. They did fail once in the red zone … Tannehill was stripped before he could deliver a pass, but hey, going 3-for-4 now has them 13-for-14 with him as the starter.
After the victories over the winless Bengals and the then-struggling Jets, the Jaguars defense has gotten trucked by Houston (26 points), Indianapolis (33) and now the Titans. Makes you think: Jalen Ramsey kind of matters, doesn’t he?
Beware of betting on those sneaky trap games
The Browns jumped out to a 28-3 halftime lead and the cover seemed locked. But … there were some tense moments in the fourth quarter – they are, after all, Cleveland – then Miami ran out of offense. When Ryan Fitzpatrick is your leading rusher (45 yards), and the Browns averaged 7.0 yards per pass and closed it out with 467 yards of total offense, you simply can’t keep up.
Cleveland has won three straight … but I’m going to give you advance warning here: Next week’s game in Pittsburgh is a trap – Mike Tomlin and the Steelers will be out for revenge. I’m almost certainly going to make Pittsburgh one of my top five preferred plays.
Hear me out: The Eagles are looking like a bet-on team
The media’s going to hammer Carson Wentz for a four-turnover effort against the Seahawks in another tough loss … but the gambling reality is that this sets up nicely to back the Eagles going forward. The injuries to Philly’s offensive line and skill positions were clearly too devastating to overcome, and as a result, the Eagles offense has been pitiful in 26 possessions against the Patriots and Seahawks: a mere two touchdowns and two field goals with a lofty four fumbles and two interceptions … not to a mention, a whopping 12 punts.
Can’t win – even at home – if you can’t move the football. I don’t know what to make of Seattle, which won with a) one reception from leading receiver Tyler Lockett, b) 26 yards rushing and a fumble by leading rusher Chris Carson and c) defense – despite not having Jadeveon Clowney. I’m letting you know in advance: The world is going to be all over the Seahawks next Monday night at home against Kirk Cousins.
Never underestimate a coaches ability to stand in your way of a cover
A strange – also boring – game with a somehow fascinating ending that swung a lot of gambling money because of coaching decisions in the final minutes. I took a brutal loss on the offensively-challenged Patriots who were favored by 6.5. I know you can’t question Bill Belichick … but after watching Dalvin Cook destroy the Cowboys out of the backfield two weeks ago – and with Dallas down star linebacker Leighton VanderEsch – I’m puzzled that Rex Burkhead only had two catches for 14 yards, and James White had one for -6 yards.
At any rate, down 13-6 with six minutes left, Jason Garrett elected to kick a field goal from the Patriots 11-yard line. On second down he targeted Jason Witten, on third down it was Blake Jarwin … then, they kicked. The cowboys did – indeed – get the ball back, there was the phantom tripping penalty and finally a failed fourth down.
Back with possession, New England had a chance to kick a field goal … but Bill Belichick – I can only assume – found that too risky and tried to run out the clock with a quick, high pass into the end zone. If Garrett doesn’t kick the field goal to go down four – which does nothing, because you still need a touchdown against the best pass defense in the league – the Patriots cover. If Belichick decides to kick the field goal – I get it, a lot can go wrong on a field goal attempt – New England covers. Yeah, that one hit me where it hurts.
You need a reliable quarterback to be a bet-on team
The Giants won the turnover battle, were perfect in the red zone, and were able to cover on the road … mostly thanks to the Bears being penalized on a successful two-point conversion and then missing the long extra point (shocker there). Chicago can’t run (26 carries, 65 yards) and Trubisky is still erratic (two interceptions – including one in the end zone), but Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones really struggled on third down … you just can’t go 1-for-12 on third down and expect to win on the road – especially when your kicker misses two field goals.