© Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Week 12 brings a Thanksgiving schedule of games at Detroit, Dallas, and Minnesota, with some key matchups to follow on Sunday night. After that, it's heading toward the business end of the season, with some teams looking to lockdown their playoff position as early as possible while others see their hopes dwindling to faint hope. As a result, this week's focus is on teams on the up against teams on the slide, with three games previewed below.
© Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills @ Detroit Lions
Spread: Bills -8.5, Lions +8.5,
Total: Over/Under 53.5
Money line: Bills -350, Lions +290,
It's Thanksgiving, and as tradition dictates, Detroit is home as they have been since 1934. So, whisper it quietly, but Detroit may not be the team we thought they were as recently as Week 7 against the Dolphins. They were 10 points up at halftime in that game, only to blow the lead as they had against Minnesota a few games earlier. Neither is it the team who failed to score a single touchdown in consecutive weeks against the Patriots or the Cowboys. So, does this team have enough to record their first Thanksgiving win since 2016?
Detroit was dominant against the Giants, scoring in every quarter. The Lions came into the season with high hopes for D'Andre Swift, and his loss has been acute at times as he struggles with shoulder and ankle issues. Performances from fellow running backs have stepped up in his absence, however. Justin Jackson notched a season-high 77 yards, and Jamaal Williams scored three touchdowns against New York. Williams now has 12 touchdowns on the season, leading the league, and he ties Barry Sanders' franchise record of 5 games in a single season with multiple scores.
Defensively, the Lions have struggled, conceding an average of almost 30 points per game. This is related to their inability to hold teams to less than 400 total yards per game. On a team stacked with offensive weapons, the secondary is nowhere near as accomplished, particularly in the red zone, where opposition teams score a Touchdown 66% of the time. They are securing turnovers, however, with the Chicago interception being a game-changing moment on Sunday.
Thursday's visiting Bills, before last week, had a tough couple of games, with back-to-back losses to the Jets and the Vikings, seeing them cede the AFC East top spot to Miami. Both defeats were characterized by a dominant performance from the opposition's lead running backs and uncharacteristic turnovers from Josh Allen. The Bills quarterback averages a turnover per game, and the broader offense averages almost two per tilt.
There is much to like about the Bills. After being the top offense in the league before their recent struggles, they still have the 3rd best scoring offense, averaging a little over 280 passing yards per game, and the impact of their rushing offense is increasing week by week. Singletary and James Cook each achieved 80+ yard performances against Cleveland, splitting the workload and reducing the current reliance on their quarterback to cover ground.
The key to success in recent games for both the Lions and Bills has been the impact of turnovers at critical moments. As a result, Detroit has a chance to keep the score respectable. Back the Lions with the Handicap, and pile on the Over here.
© Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons @ Washington Commanders
Spread: Falcons +4.5, Commanders -4.5
Total: Over/Under 42.5
Money line: Falcons +165, Commanders -200
Last Sunday saw the 2022 Falcons return to winning ways. Victory here, combined with a favorable result in Cleveland, could see them on top of the NFC South once more. The win over Chicago was an entertaining game that highlighted both the good and bad for Atlanta this season.
The good was epitomized again by the run game, as Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson split the workload and gained solid ground, giving a platform for Marcus Mariota to take advantage of to pull his team to victory. The flip side to that coin provides us with our bad. Chicago was able to exploit holes in the Atlanta secondary through Justin Fields and David Montgomery. It has been the story of the Falcons' season so far and the reason why their games have been, in general, close affairs aside from the blowout losses to Carolina and Cincinnati.
Washington has won 5 of their past six and will seek to take advantage of the Atlanta rush defense. Antonio Gibson has had a frustrating season but ran for a season-high 72 yards against the Texans. While Brian Robinson is still finding his feet, there is promise, as highlighted by his performances against Philadelphia and Green Bay. Through this period, the Commanders have demonstrated a solid defense; they've restricted their opposition to 6 yards per play and have performed particularly well on 3rd down, where they are giving up just a third of conversion attempts.
Washington's run of victories has seen quarterback Taylor Heinicke grow in stature, taking the opportunity offered by Carson Wentz's fractured finger. While he is not considered an elite player, Heinicke has impressed both in his ability to make plays and by taking care of the ball. The organization has indicated that Heinicke will remain the starter if his performance maintains its current standard. Having lost the job once, this should be motivation enough to drag the Commanders over the line here.
Take the Commanders on the Moneyline and back the Under.
© Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Cleveland Browns
Spread: Buccaneers -2.5, Browns +2.5
Total: Over/Under 43.5
Money line: Buccaneers -153, Browns +130
Week 12 offers AFC North's Cleveland the opportunity to arrest their recent slide at home in an intriguing matchup with Tampa Bay.
Perhaps the most significant talking point of this game is the impending return of quarterback Deshaun Watson in Week 13. In line with his suspension, Watson will not play in this game. In his absence, Jacoby Brissett will continue under center. Brissett put his body on the line in the Browns' recent loss to the Bills, in a game where he became the only quarterback to throw three passing touchdowns against them this season. There has been a healthy upward trajectory for the Browns receiving core over the recent weeks, with Amari Cooper exceeding 100 yards in 2 of the last three and finding the endzone regularly. Donovan-People Jones' recent performances have also shown improvement, while David Njoku returned on Sunday and will be keen to play a more prominent role here.
On the ground, Nick Chubb will want to put Sunday's game behind him after rushing 14 times for 19 yards. Across the first ten weeks, Chubb managed 5.7 yards per carry and 11 rushing touchdowns, peerless across the league. I expect a return to those numbers against a Tampa defense that has given up almost 120 yards per game.
Tampa comes into this game after a bye week preceded by a successful European trip to Germany. While the Browns are on a two-game slide, Tampa will feel itself on an upward trend. Brady is averaging a healthy 280 yards per game and put in a vintage performance against Seattle. However, the run offense has struggled, with Fournette yet to have a breakout game in the current year.
On defense, the Bucs have performed well, averaging six tackles for loss and three sacks per game, as they have restricted teams to 18 points per contest. One player they can rely on is linebacker Devin White who is having a good season with five sacks, 47 solo tackles, and a couple of forced fumbles, picking up multiple league awards in the process. The defense will face a Browns offensive line weakened through injuries to starting center Ethan Pocic (knee), which could be a deciding factor in this game.
I think this will be close; however, I'm banking on the Browns' run game to build a platform for a solid performance. Take the Browns at +2.5.
Related articles you might enjoy:
Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 11 Picks
Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 10 Picks
Billsfans Bets: NFL Week 9 Picks
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call the 24-hour confidential national helpline
(1-800-426-2537) or visit The National Council on Problem Gaming.
BillsFans is not a gambling website. All information on this website is intended for entertainment purposes only.
Rumbling Herd Media, LLC is not affiliated with any gaming outlets, professional sports teams, the NFL, and/or any association