Insiders predict: NFL week 12 winners
Week 11 contained some of the crazy moments of the 2019 season—many of them peripheral. There was the helmet swing heard round the world that left multiple players suspended, including Myles Garrett who will miss the rest of the season at a minimum. There was a Colin Kaepernick workout held Saturday, which elicited a wide array of opinions, both political and otherwise. The potential #1 overall selection in the 2020 draft, Tua Tagovailoa, had his season ended after suffering a dislocated hip. And then there was NFL-sanctioned football.
Lamar Jackson looks like the league MVP and the Ravens might be the team to beat in all of football. The Vikings, down by 20 at halftime to the Broncos, pulled off an improbable comeback to remain secure in the NFC’s sixth and final wild card slot. The Patriots, 49ers, and Chiefs were all a bounce or two away from defeat. With only six games remaining in the season and still over half of the teams in the league with a realistic shot at the postseason, we are getting down to the wire. The Panthers, Eagles, and Rams are all on the outside of the NFC playoff picture and all face 8-2 teams: the Saints, Seahawks, and Ravens, respectively. Week 12 offers what might be the best slate of games thus far—here are a few more to keep an eye on:
Colts @ Texans: First place in the AFC South and an inside track to the postseason is at stake in this Thursday night matchup. The Texans will try to avenge a 30-23 loss earlier in the season to the Colts while bouncing back from an embarrassing 41-7 Week 11 loss to the Ravens.
Cowboys @ Patriots: America’s team takes on America’s most consistent team and reigning Super Bowl champs. It’s only fitting this matchup is America’s Game of the Week. New England is poised for another division title while Dallas is fighting to keep Philly off its heels in the NFC East.
Packers @ 49ers: This is a game that will help dictate the top of the NFC playoff picture as well as division races in the NFC North and NFC West. A homecoming for Aaron Rodgers who grew up in Chico, Calif., adoring the likes of Joe Montana and Steve Young. It’s also about a chip on Rodgers’ shoulder after the Niners passed on him back in the 2005 draft. Power will be shifted in the NFC on Sunday night in one of the most important games of the season.
Insiders predicts are based on the team that is favored to win, which is based on consensus betting odds and spread on MSN.com as of Nov. 20, 2019. Team stats were gathered from NFL.com. Check out the live odds at MSN.com.
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Indianapolis Colts (6-4) @ Houston Texans (6-4)
- Gametime: Thursday, Nov. 21, 8:20 p.m. EST
Sole possession of first place in the AFC South is on the line as these two division rivals meet for the second time this season. The Colts won the first meeting 30-23 in Indianapolis in a game where quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw a career-high four touchdown passes, dismantling the Houston defense. Brissett had a much more modest game last Sunday, throwing just one touchdown and an interception, but the Colts rushing attack was potent and led the way to a 33-13 victory over the Jaguars in another pivotal AFC South battle.
For the Texans, Week 11 was much tougher. In a game advertised as a showdown between two quarterbacks putting together MVP-caliber campaigns, only Lamar Jackson found success while Deshaun Watson was stifled by the Ravens defense for the entirety of the afternoon. He faced relentless pressure and was sacked six times while throwing one interception and racking up just 169 passing yards. Houston was shut out as a team until the fourth quarter when Carlos Hyde ripped off a 41-yard touchdown run. That would hold as the Texans’ only score of the game, as they would go on by a shocking margin, 41-7.
Putting that loss behind them quickly is crucial. Home field advantage on a short week will do them well, but expecting anything other than a knockdown, drag-out fight from the Colts seems unrealistic.
Insiders predict: Houston Texans
- Favored to win: Houston Texans
- Spread: -3.5
- Odds: -196
- Indianapolis Colts team stats:
- Offense: 343.8 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 202.7 ypg (#28)
--- Rushing offense: 141.1 ypg (#4)
- Defense: 325.6 yards per game (#11 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 228.8 ypg (#11)
--- Rushing defense: 96.8 ypg (#9)
- Houston Texans team stats:
- Offense: 380.2 yards per game (#7 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 239.5 ypg (#14)
--- Rushing offense: 140.7 ypg (#5)
- Defense: 374.4 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 272.4 ypg (#29)
--- Rushing defense: 102.0 ypg (#13)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) @ Atlanta Falcons (3-7)
- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 24, 1 p.m. EST
Poor defense sunk the Falcons season from the onset. They lost seven of their first eight games and seemed completely unable to stop any respectable offenses. Now, with linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich assisting with play-calling duties on defense, the Falcons have won back-to-back division games against the Saints and Panthers by completely shutting down both offenses.
Following a 26-9 win over the Saints in Week 10, the Atlanta defense completely overwhelmed Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen last Sunday, intercepting him four times and sacking him five times en route to a 29-3 victory. Prior to those two wins, it seemed a foregone conclusion that coach Dan Quinn would be fired after this season. Continuing on a hot run for the remaining six games can go a long way in saving Quinn’s job, despite Quinn’s insistence that there have been no discussions of the sort with owner Arthur Blank.
The Buccaneers offense, which currently ranks as the sixth best in the league, presents another great opportunity for the Falcons to limit a more than capable NFC South opponent for the third straight week and continue to make the 2019 season look salvageable.
While the Bucs put up points and high yardage totals, mistakes from Jameis Winston are often the Achilles’ heel for the team and a reason why they share the same disappointing 3-7 record with Atlanta. Winston was intercepted four times on Sunday in a 34-17 home loss to the Saints. Drew Brees also threw three touchdowns against the Bucs 31st-ranked pass defense.
Given the Falcons offensive prowess, and recent ability to harass quarterbacks into turning the ball over, it’s hard to argue against them being favored by more than just the standard three points at home.
Insiders predict: Atlanta Falcons
- Favored to win: Atlanta Falcons
- Spread: -4.5
- Odds: -225
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers team stats:
- Offense: 380.4 yards per game (#6 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 285.6 ypg (#4)
--- Rushing offense: 94.8 ypg (#21)
- Defense: 371.8 yards per game (#23 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 290.9 ypg (#31)
--- Rushing defense: 80.9 ypg (#2)
- Atlanta Falcons team stats:
- Offense: 374.8 yards per game (#10 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 300.3 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing offense: 74.5 ypg (#30)
- Defense: 369.3 yards per game (#21 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 261.7 ypg (#26)
--- Rushing defense: 107.6 ypg (#19)
Denver Broncos (3-7) @ Buffalo Bills (7-3)
- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 24, 1 p.m. EST
The Broncos appeared to have the Vikings’ number on Sunday, as they put together a dominant first half, completely stifling the Minnesota offense and building a 20-0 lead heading into the locker room. The seven drives the Vikings had in the first half resulted in four straight punts, two straight fumbles, and then another punt before halftime. To say they flipped the script in the second half would be an understatement.
Minnesota had only four possessions in the second half, all of which resulted in touchdowns as they came roaring back to beat Denver 27-23. It was a big missed opportunity for the Broncos, who had a chance to complete the upset at the end despite allowing Minnesota to come back and take the lead, but three straight incompletions on the final three plays of the game in goal-to-go situations saw the Broncos fall to 3-7.
It won’t be easy to rebound from that this week, as they travel east to take on the 7-3 Bills who are fresh off a 37-20 win over the Dolphins. Josh Allen had a banner day, tying a career high with three touchdown passes and then adding 56 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Bills still boast one of the better defenses in the league, allowing just 304 yards per game, which ranks third behind the Patriots and 49ers. A home game against a Brandon Allen-led offense should mean more defensive greatness from Buffalo, a win and a cover.
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Insiders predict: Buffalo Bills
- Favored to win: Buffalo Bills
- Spread: -4
- Odds: -215
- Denver Broncos team stats:
- Offense: 319.7 yards per game (#25 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 206.6 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing offense: 113.1 ypg (#16)
- Defense: 310.8 yards per game (#4 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 210.3 ypg (#5)
--- Rushing defense: 100.5 ypg (#11)
- Buffalo Bills team stats:
- Offense: 345.6 yards per game (#19 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 216.9 ypg (#23)
--- Rushing offense: 128.7 ypg (#8)
- Defense: 304.1 yards per game (#3 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 197.8 ypg (#3)
--- Rushing defense: 106.3 ypg (#18)
New York Giants (2-8) @ Chicago Bears (4-6)
- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 24, 1 p.m. EST
After continued offensive struggles and a hip injury that plagued him late in the game, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finally gave way to backup Chase Daniel, who finished out the 17-7 loss to the Rams on Sunday. While some speculated that poor performance is the reason that Daniel replaced Trubisky in the fourth quarter, coach Matt Nagy insisted that his discussion with Trubisky and then his decision to pull him out of the game was based on his hip not feeling right.
Trubisky threw for 190 yards, a touchdown, and an interception before he was taken out. Facing Sean McVay’s sputtering Rams offense, the Bears' defense continued to keep them in the game despite offensive futility, holding Jared Goff to 173 yards without a touchdown and one interception. Los Angeles had a pair of rushing touchdowns and 110 yards as a team despite averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.
Perhaps this week can be a “get right game” for the Chicago offense, as they will face the Giants, who were last seen getting beaten by the Jets 34-27 in Week 10. Quarterback Daniel Jones was effective in the loss, keeping the Giants in a shootout by tossing four touchdowns, but they were shut out in the fourth quarter and squandered a 27-21 lead they held late in the third.
The fact that the Giants haven’t won since late September likely negates any type of favorable outlook they might have entering this game coming off of a bye week. The Chicago defense will likely dictate the game, making the Bears a strong favorite at home despite being toward the bottom of the league in almost every offensive category.
Insiders predict: Chicago Bears
- Favored to win: Chicago Bears
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -280
- New York Giants team stats:
- Offense: 322.2 yards per game (#24 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 228.0 ypg (#18)
--- Rushing offense: 94.2 ypg (#23)
- Defense: 381.7 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 259.0 ypg (#25)
--- Rushing defense: 122.7 ypg (#23)
- Chicago Bears team stats:
- Offense: 262.7 yards per game (#30 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 182.8 ypg (#30)
--- Rushing offense: 79.9 ypg (#29)
- Defense: 322.9 yards per game (#8 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 227.3 ypg (#10)
--- Rushing defense: 95.6 ypg (#8)
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-5) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-10)
- Gametime: Sunday, Nov. 24, 1 p.m. EST
The Cincinnati Bengals remain the only winless team in the NFL and the clear front-runner for the #1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. The Bengals rank 30th in points per game and dead last in total defense. Victories only hurt the Bengals moving forward, which is welcomed news for a Pittsburgh Steelers team desperate for a victory.
Pittsburgh had its four-game winning streak snapped after a 21-7 loss to the AFC North rival Cleveland Browns. The Steelers, who were very briefly inside the playoff picture, currently trail the Buffalo Bills, the Houston Texans, and the Oakland Raiders as all are vying for one of two wild-card spots. An AFC North title feels out of the question as the 8-2 Baltimore Ravens would need to suffer an improbable collapse, which means a wild card berth is the Steelers only path to the postseason.
An expected victory in Cincinnati will move them closer to that goal—the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans face off on Thursday, meaning one team will take control of the division while the other will fall to 6-5 and presumably tied with Pittsburgh. The Steelers obliterated the Bengals when the two matched up in Week 4, holding Cincy to 175 total yards. Pittsburgh will be without center Maurkice Pouncey who has been suspended for his role in the altercation in the Week 11 brawl with the Browns.
Insiders predict: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Favored to win: Pittsburgh Steelers
- Spread: -6.5
- Odds: -304
- Pittsburgh Steelers team stats:
- Offense: 283.5 yards per game (#28 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 202.8 ypg (#27)
--- Rushing offense: 80.7 ypg (#27)
- Defense: 328.3 yards per game (#12 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 223.1 ypg (#9)
--- Rushing defense: 105.2 ypg (#15)
- Cincinnati Bengals team stats:
- Offense: 309.1 yards per game (#27 in the league)
--- Passing offense: 228.5 ypg (#17)
--- Rushing offense: 80.6 ypg (#28)
- Defense: 425.1 yards per game (#32 in the league)
--- Passing defense: 258.1 ypg (#24)
--- Rushing defense: 167.0 ypg (#32)
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