2019 NFL SEASON
P R O F O O T B A L L M E D I A
Week 12: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis)
2019 NFL SEASON WEEK 11:
11-3 .786 (WINS); 9-4-1 .692 (ATS); 9-5 .642 (O/U)
2019 NFL SEASON TOTALS:
107-53-1 .670 (WINS); 84-73-4 .535 (ATS); 90-68-3 .570 (O/U)
WEEK 11 TOP 5 GAMES:
TOP 5 GAMES SEASON TOTAL:
Note/Key (when applicable): Statistical analysis based on the following metrics (abbreviations): Points scored (PF); points against (PA); Point differential (PD) Yards gained (YG); Yards allowed (YA); Red Zone TD efficiency (RZ); 3rd-down efficiency (3rd); Turnover ratio (TO); Time of possession (TOP); Yards per play (YPP); Sacks (S); Interceptions (INT); Penalty yards (PEN); Against the spread (ATS). *All images from Google with permission to reuse without license* Statistical sources include, but not limited to: Pro Football Reference; Pro Football Focus; ESPN.com; NFL.com; TeamRankings.com. Point spreads and over/under figures are taken from the opening lines via Vegas Insider
NEW TO PRO FOOTBALL MEDIA FOR THE 2019 SEASON
< Drake voice >
"TOP 5 TOP 5 TOP 5"
Pro Football Media will choose the Top 5 Betting Games of the Week for either the spread OR O/U denoted by an asterisk (*). Roll with our Top 5 and watch the money pile up all season!
Deshaun Watson has been light out during prime time games in his entire career and Thursday Night Football qualifies, believe it or not. (Image credit: Twitter)
Indianapolis Colts 6-4 (+4) @ Houston Texans 6-4 (45.5): Texans 27-24
Thursday, 8:20 PM, NRG Stadium, Houston, TX (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The winner of this game will lead the AFC South, but the Colts already won the first head-to-head match up, so if the Texans lose Thursday night they’ll be one game back with only five games to go without any tiebreaker leverage. It should also be noted the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-6) face the Tennessee Titans (5-5) Sunday, meaning at worst the losing team will still only be three games back; the winner will be tied with the loser of this game. Houston and Indianapolis don’t just have the same record, they match up well statistically and personal-wise. According to Pro Football Reference the two teams rank 11th and 13th, respectively, in SRS, meaning if they played on a neutral field it would be a pick game. Well, the game is in Houston, where the Texans are 3-1, and they literally can’t afford to lose. The Colts will be without Marlon Mack, but Jonathan Williams rushed for 116 yards in his absence Week 11. The Texans also excel at run defense, ranking in the top-10 in attempts (10th), yards allowed (5th), TDs (9th) and ypa (3rd). The Colts come in with the better defense to face the Texans superior offense, but neither teams is dominant in one phase over the other team’s. Speaking of defenses, both are banged up at key spots, so I would strongly consider the over on the short week as the Texans get the close divisional win at home.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: The Falcons win a couple games in a row and suddenly they’re spread darlings. Well, not really, because the Buccaneers can only go as far as Jameis Winston can see without glasses, which isn’t very far. Winston leads the NFL in INTs and is on pace to turn the ball over more than any player in their first five years. All that means is you can’t trust him, and therefore, you can’t trust Tampa Bay. The Falcons throw the ball more than any team in the league, and pretty well, but they’re one-dimensional; Atlanta is also one of the four worst running teams in the NFL. The Falcons defense is abysmal and doesn’t take the ball away at all (31st). So even if you account for the home field advantage, how are the Falcons favored? Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are almost mirror images of the Falcons, except for the quarterback-leading-the-league-in-INTs thing, and because of that, turn the ball over more than any team in the league.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, New Era Stadium, Buffalo, NY (Weather: Cloudy; low 40s)
Keys: This should be about as boring as any game so far this season as both possess two of the best defenses in the NFL. I suppose whether that means the game will be boring or not is subjective. The Broncos can run the ball behind Phillip Lindsay (4.9 ypa) and Royce Freeman (4.0 ypa), but the Bills excel at the run, ranking in the top-10 in attempts (9th), yards (8th), TDs (9th) and ypa (8th). The funny thing is both teams play the run well, but play the pass great. So look for both teams to become one-dimensional and watch the time fly off the clock as the Bills narrowly keep pace with the New England Patriots in the AFC East. Maybe the key to the game is kicking, so those typical Buffalo late November winds should play well.
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Soldier Field, Chicago, IL (Weather: Cloudy; low 40s)
Keys: The Giants throw the ball the 5th most in the NFL and they have Saquon Barkley. Let that sink in. The Giants will also be without TE Evan Engram. The Bears rank 8th in rush yards allowed and 4th in ypa, which will probably force the Giants to showcase their new toy, but the Bears rank in the top-10 in passing yards allowed (10th), TDs (3rd) and ypa (9th). The Bears offensive ineptitude is only matched, or maybe even surpassed, by the Giants defensive ineptitude, so the keys to the game is the Bears shutting down rookie Daniel Jones, which if they can’t do, they might as well pack it in now.
The moment you realize Tua got hurt and even if he recovers fully he might be injury prone and you just watched your team suck for 11 weeks on purpose for no reason.
Pittsburgh Steelers 5-5 (-6.5) v. Cincinnati Bengals 0-10 (39): Steelers 17-13
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH (Weather: Partly Sunny; low 50s)
Keys: Mason Rudolph had to fend off apparent false accusations of racism as the reason why Myles Garrett tried to kill last week, so how focused on the lowly Bengals can he be? Much like the Arizona Cardinals, I’ve been on the Bengals several times this year; they’re 2-4 ATS this season in games where their opponents are favored by 10 or fewer points. That’s significant considering they’re win-less this season, yet have managed to cover 33% of the games that weren’t expected to be tv-turning blowouts. Well, not only is the Steelers QB distracted, center Maurice Pouncey is suspended via the Garrett incident, and RB James Connor and WR Ju Ju Smith-Schuster didn’t practice all week. That’s not a great sign, but keep in mind, the Bengals are all-time bad. Look for the Bengals to cover at home in a low-scoring game.
Miami Dolphins 2-8 (+10.5) @ Cleveland Browns 4-6 (44): Browns 24-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, OH (Weather: Partly cloudy; low 70s)
Keys: It figures the following game review is the other team involved in the Garrett incident. The Browns will be without Garrett for the year and possibly beyond now after he lost his appeal based on the unsubstantiated claim Rudolph used a racial slur. Without him the Browns defense is bad, because they won’t get to the QB anymore, which exposes everything. Luckily for Cleveland the Browns face the Dolphins, who were brought back to Earth last week after two wins in a row. Now that Tua is hurt the Dolphins don’t look like idiots for squandering the 2019 season, and therefore, the top pick in the draft, but Brain Flores isn’t built like that anyway. The Browns are banged up like they like to bang people up, so in addition to the multiple suspensions, guys like OBJ and Jarvis Landry were limited all week. Look for the Dolphins to cover this ridiculous spread on the road against a team that will claim they’re rallying, but they’re really just rattled.
Carolina Panthers 5-5 (+9.5) @ New Orleans Saints 8-2 (47): Saints 27-21
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA (Weather: Indoors)
Keys: It’s hard to believe these two teams have statistically-equivalent offenses; one just throws the ball (NO) and one runs it (CAR). The big difference here are the defenses and that’s even harder to believe. The Saints have the superior defense, and by a long shot, especially against the run. Go figure. The Panthers do excel in takeaways, ranking 5th in the NFL; the Saints rank 1st in TOs. Oh well. There’s a reason the Saints are favored by more than 10 points, and it’s not just because Kyle Allen has been awful, but the last time the Saints lost it was because the Atlanta Falcons sacked Drew Brees six times; the Panthers enter Sunday leading the NFL in sacks (39). If New Orleans fixed the protection problem it’s a route, but if they didn’t the Panthers could win this game outright, let alone cover.
*Oakland Raiders 6-4 (-3) @ New York Jets 3-7 (46.5): Raiders 27-20
Sunday, 1:00 PM, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ (Weather: 80% rain; high 40s)
Keys: The Jets are the top rushing defense in the NFL. That’s the only thing you could say about the Jets in a positive light other than the defense doesn’t bend, but it breaks. Huh? The Jets rank 13th in yards allowed, but 24th in points allowed (25.5 ppg). The offense isn’t worth talking about other than to say the acquisition of Le'Veon Bell has done nothing for the Jets besides help the defense become the top rush defense. New York ranks 26th in attempts, 31st in yards, 24th in TDs and 31st in ypa after signing one of the league’s most dynamic free agent RB. The Raiders are better than the Jets in nearly every facet of the game, which means the Jets only advantage is the transcontinental flight for the 1 PM game, but for all I know the Raiders spent the week practicing in northern Pennsylvania somewhere. The Raiders getting 3.5 points is one of my Top-5 bets of the week, because even if it pours Oakland has Josh Jacobs. * = OAK COVER
Wait a minute...is John Gruden a genius?
*Seattle Seahawks 8-2 (+1.5) @ Philadelphia Eagles 5-5 (48): Seahawks 27-24
Sunday, 1:00 PM, Lincoln Financial Stadium, Philadelphia, PA (Weather: 60% rain; high 40s)
Keys: This game was reportedly flexed from the night game (!) to the 1 PM slate. What disrespect! That must mean the BALvsLAR game was flexed into that spot, which would be strange considering it’s the lesser of two games, with identical implications. Why is the JAXvsTEN in the late afternoon slate of games? That’s more watchable that this game? I digress. The Eagles are coming off a tough loss at home to the New England Patriots after another Nelson Agholor drop in the end zone. The Seahawks, on the other hand, are still riding the magic carpet known as Russell Wilson, while the defense, although mediocre, is 4th in the league in takeaways. Sometimes analytics wins the argument and sometimes it’s just a gut feeling. I wouldn’t bet anything on the Eagles right now and I wouldn’t dare bet against Wilson, so that about sums it up. * = SEA OUTRIGHT
Sunday, 1:00 PM, FedEx Field, Landover, MD (Weather: 20% rain; low 50s)
Keys: The Pigskins were crushed by the lowly NY Jets last week 34-17, while the Lions took the Dallas Cowboys to the brink with some dude named Jeff Driskel. Suffice it to say the Lions are favored by 3.5 on the road for a reason. The Lions are no world-beaters, but they were a top-10 passing offense under Matthew Stafford and they clearly didn’t fall off a cliff last week (Driskel accounted for 3 TDs). The Pigskins are so bad their opponents are setting weekly attendance records.
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-6 (+3) @ Tennessee Titans 5-5 (41.5): Titans 24-17
Sunday, 4:05 PM, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN (Weather: Sunny; low 50s)
Keys: The closest division in football found its leader Thursday night, but every team in the division is still relevant, which means I have to review this game. It’s Derrick Henry time. Not just in the context of the time of year, but this mediocre Jaguars defense is pretty good against the pass (8th yards allowed), but really bad against the run (29th yards allowed). The opposite can be said for the Jaguars and Leonard Fournette, who face a Titans defense that ranks 9th in ypa. The Jaguars also rank last in the league in rushing TDs; the Titans happen to rank 2nd in rushing TDs allowed. Considering neither team does well in the air, although there have been drastic improvements in Tennessee since Ryan Tannehill took over, the game should become one-dimensional rather quickly and the Titans and Henry should win out in a close, low-scoring divisional game that will ultimately decide 3rd place in the AFC South.
*Dallas Cowboys 6-4 (+6.5) @ New England Patriots 9-1 (46): Patriots 24-20
Keys: Most analysts want to point to the Patriots one weakness on defense, their run defense (24th ypa), but those bad numbers have only produced two rushing TDs. Granted, the porous run defense leads to scoring regardless, but only to the tune of 10.3 ppg (1st). No, I’m concentrating on the weather, which besides Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the AFC East, has been New England’s greatest weapon. Oh, so you play in a dome half the season, Peyton Manning? Come to Foxborough in January in a Nor’easter and let’s see how many passing yaahds you get. The point is, some of the best teams in the NFL struggle in ideal weather conditions in New England, let alone dome teams in terrible winter weather who have been underachieving all season to say the least. If Ezekiel Elliot could get going in the bad weather, the Patriots could be in trouble, because every time they get another “weapon” they lose them to injury (Mohamed Sanu) or worse (Antonio Brown). That likely won’t happen, because Elliot hasn’t been himself lately, which is largely a function of attrition along the offensive line, and if you think we’re aware of the Patriots run-stopping woes you can rest assured Bill Belichick has already devised a scheme. I always sound like a homer picking the Patriots, but are you betting against the Patriots at home in winter weather against a dome team? I didn’t think so, but 6.5 points is way too much for these Patriots against these Cowboys, unless that weather really shuts Dallas down. * = DAL COVER
We could be seeing a lot of this come Sunday night because the 49ers lead the NFL with 39 sacks, which is nearly four per game.
*Green Bay Packers 8-2 (+3) @ San Francisco 49ers 9-1 (46.5): Packers 24-23
Sunday, 8:20 PM, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA (Weather: Clear; mid-40s)
Keys: I don’t necessarily like the Packers to win, but I do like Aaron Rodgers getting three points against a 49ers offense that could be without George Kittle and Matt Breida again, not to mention tackle Joe Staley. The defensive side is a lot healthier, however, save for Dee Ford, and that could be a problem for Rodgers considering the 49ers lead the NFL in sacks (39), and tackle Bryan Bulaga was limited all week while Cole Madison is out. The only thing the 49ers don’t do well is stop the run, so there’s hope if Aaron Jones can get going early and set up play-action for Green Bay’s hobbled WR/TE corps the Packers could win. The 49ers will fall at some point in the mighty NFC before the playoffs shape out, and it could very well be against these Packers at home with key guys out. * = GB OUTRIGHT
Monday, 8:15 PM, Los Angeles Memorial Stadium, Los Angeles, CA (Weather: Clear; mid-50s)
Keys: This has been a weird week for spreads, but this one takes the cake. How in the world are the Ravens not 3-4-point favorites minimum? I suppose the Rams are better than we think. The defense is top-10 in points (10th) and yards allowed (10th), rushing yards (5th), rushing TDs (10th), rush ypa (2nd), pass ypa (5th) and takeaways (8th). The offense is hovering around the top-10 in points scored (11th) and yards (13th), but it’s deceiving; the only thing the Rams do well is gain empty passing yards in bunches and score rushing TDs. The 6-4 record and questionable wins among the six are all the evidence one needs. The Ravens are balling, now 5/1 odds to win the Super Bowl, which of course is a public overreaction to their recent success, but is it? The masses aren’t always asses, and people are in love with Lamar Jackson, and for good reason. The Ravens might become the first team in NFL history to average 200 yards passing and rushing per game for an entire season, and Jackson will likely lead the team in both unless Mark Ingram (667 rushing yards) surpasses him. The Ravens are just plain good, leading the NFL in scoring and in every rushing metric while not turning the ball over (4th) to compliment a 6th-ranked scoring defense that takes the ball away (6th). Put your house on the Ravens and your kid’s college fund on the over. * = BAL OUTRIGHT
Week 12 Byes: Arizona Cardinals; Kansas City Chiefs; Los Angeles Chargers; Minnesota Vikings
Stay tuned for the remaining Week 12: #NFL Game Predictions (w/ spreads & analysis) coming Saturday!