NFL Week 12 Picks
By Zach Zaffos (Twitter: @zachzaffos)

Season To Date Against the Spread (ATS):
Best Bets: 7-4 (64%)
Units: 23.5-16.5 (59%)
All Bets: 16-13 (55%)

Week 11 Recap:

1.5 units (Best Bet): Minnesota (+3) OVER CHICAGO

For the second consecutive week, Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears defense dashed our Best Bet dreams. While the Vikes were actually one two-point conversion away from giving us a ‘push’ in this one, it’s safe to say with hindsight that we were on the wrong side here. Chicago’s defense controlled the game from the outset, and Bears coach Matt Nagy called a beautiful gameplan for his young QB. Let’s not overreact, but moving forward, it may be time to take the Bears a bit more seriously.

1 unit: Two-Team Six-Point Teaser
LA CHARGERS (-1) OVER Denver
Tennessee (+8) OVER INDIANAPOLIS

It’s never a good thing when both legs of a two-team teaser crash and burn, but that’s exactly what happened to us on Sunday.

Let’s start with the Chargers, a team that reverted back to its old ways by blowing a game it had complete control over. I haven’t seen late-game execution this bad in a while; L.A. simply took its foot off the gas and allowed a frisky Denver team to come back into a game it had no business being in.

As for Tennessee – we whiffed on this one badly. While we expected Marcus Mariota, who has looked like an above-average quarterback since regaining feeling in his hand two week ago, to continue trending upward, he did not look like the same quarterback in this one. This was a perplexing performance, to say the least.

Moving on to Week 12, it’s come to the point in which we have a very good idea of each team’s makeup. Remember: Vegas primarily relies upon season-long statistics to evaluate teams, but the most recent games are often heavily weighted.

Therefore, for our Week 12 picks, we will highlight some under-the-radar factors that lead us to believe three teams are undervalued in Week 12. Aligning with our theme of the post, each of these three teams has shown promise throughout the season, but has had injuries or unusual circumstances lead to faltering in recent weeks. However, if you’ve been reading all season, you know undervalued teams coincides with two of the best words you can hear in sports gambling: line value. Without further ado, let’s get to it! (HOME teams in all caps).

BEST BET

Miami (+9) OVER INDIANAPOLIS – 1.5 units

We need to get it out of the way first: Miami has been atrocious in the past few weeks, and while Brock Osweiler is the number one culprit, it hasn’t ALL been about him. In fact, the Dolphins have lost by double figures in three of four games, and in its only win during that span; it did not score an offensive touchdown against the New York Jets. So you may ask: Why is now the time to jump back on the bandwagon? Well, we have our reasons:

• The Return of Tannehill: Early in the season, we preached how Ryan Tannehill may be the most underrated quarterback in the NFL. I’m not saying he’s a Pro Bowler, but the man is 9-3 in his last 12 starts, and it’s not like those rosters have been littered with talent.
• More Healthy Dolphins: Since Tannehill has come to Miami, perhaps no NFL QB has been more impacted by the quality of his offensive line. We often talk about how cluster injuries can impact a team. Well, Miami had been missing each of its starting tackles – Ju’Wuan James and Leremy Tunsil – in its last game. Both stalwarts have been practicing all week, and I believe each will be in uniform Sunday.
• Finally, a Team Who Believes: Let’s be real. Miami didn’t think it could win in Green Bay in its most recent game. And can you blame them? How many times can a defense watch Brock Osweiler go three-and-out before it loses all hope. Coming off a bye week with its quarterback and best two offensive linemen back in the fold, expect Miami to have a motivational edge. And speaking of which…
• Adam Gase – Coaching for His Job: It’s no secret that Adam Gase is on the hot seat. It’s also no secret that Gase is a player’s coach. The Fins have been stewing for two weeks over an embarrassing loss for Green Bay, and know that winning this game is a must in order to stay in playoff contention.

While we’re concerned at how well Andrew Luck and the Colts have played lately, it’s clear that aspect is already accounted for in the line. Additionally, let’s remember that Indy’s 4-game winning streak came against Buffalo, Oakland, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. Give me the well-rested Dolphins in a max-motivation spot.

OTHER BETS I’LL DABBLE WITH

CINCINATTI (-3) OVER Cleveland – 1 unit

*Note: Subsequent to the original posting of this article, A.J. Green unexpectedly missed Thursday’s practice. It now looks as if he will not play Sunday. The line has shifted to Cincy -2.5, and we still like Cincy with that line; however, we have left our original bet of Bengals -3.

The old sports betting rule goes something like this: The best time to back a team is when it has hit rock bottom.

And shockingly, I’m not referring to the Browns here.

In the past two weeks, Andy Dalton averaged 182 passing yards, down 81 yards from his 263-yard average for the season. Not surprisingly, the Bengals have averaged 17.5 points per game in that span, over 10 points less than its season average.

A.J. Green has been out for two weeks.

Normally, one wide receiver wouldn’t make that big of a difference, but with Tyler Eifert done for the year, the cluster injuries mounted for Cincinnati, and the team simply did not have enough NFL-caliber pass catchers to remain competitive in Green’s absence.

With A.J. expected back in Week 12, expect the Bengals to regain its form on offense. However, in addition to Green’s return, there is one key factor on the Cleveland side that we have in our favor.

Turnovers.

We’ve discussed this before, but Cleveland is second in the NFL in turnover differential in 2018. In fact, the Browns have three fumbles lost, and 12 recovered.

Ask yourself: Is that sustainable?

And in spite of its positive fortune, Cleveland enters this game 3-6-1. Imagine how bad that record would look if the Browns had average turnover luck.

A three-point spread signals that Vegas believes these two teams are even. I think not. Give me the Bengals and I’ll swallow the three points.

CAROLINA -3 OVER Seattle – 1 unit

Like we talked about in the intro, one of the keys to sports betting is to avoid overreacting to a couple of bad weeks. Yes – we should downgrade Carolina for its Thursday Night beat down in Pittsburgh and its one-point loss in Detroit.

But think about it. What would the line be in this game if Carolina had beaten Detroit last week? I’d say at least 4.

So you’re telling me we get a hungry Carolina team coming off two straight losses, plus some extra spread value? Sign me up. We’ll take Carolina, which is 5-0 at Bank of America Stadium in 2018, over a Seahawks team that traditionally does not perform its best outside of Seattle.

With that, our Week 12 picks are in! While we didn’t include any Thanksgiving games this week, please refer to my twitter @zachzaffos for some thoughts on how to attack each game from a betting standpoint. Good luck to everyone, and may the picks be with us!

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