Week 12 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Woodhull)
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Here are my Week 12 NFL picks against the spread:
New York Jets +3.5 (over Baltimore Ravens)
I can’t be trusted! By that I mean I’m always quick to disclose whenever I pick a Jets game that they are my team, but this matchup against the Ravens seems to favor New York.
The Ravens running game with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce has been abysmal this year. Their only good weekend was their last game against the 31st-ranked rush defense in the Chicago Bears. It was only the second time all season that the Ravens were able to rush for over a 100 yards as a team. Furthermore, the Ravens offense has been stagnated by the early-season injury to Dennis Pitta, a potential breakout candidate, and his backup, Ed Dickson, has been virtually invisible. Dallas Clark, the other TE option, is something close to 200 years old (or so it seems). This leaves their legit deep threat, Torrey Smith, blanketed and the offense struggling.
I’d expect more of the same challenges against the Jets, the NFL’s best rush defense, and top eight in total defense. For all their woes, the Jets could have problems scoring also in this contest, but may catch a break with Haloti Ngata questionable to play. The Jets will be able to run if he’s out of the lineup. As my esteemed colleague Sean notes, more punts than points is a distinct possibility in this game. I’ll take the Jets getting an extra 3.5.
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Cleveland Browns -1 (over Pittsburgh Steelers)
When will the sports media come up with a clever nickname for Joe Haden on par with Revis Island? In my mind, Haden has firmly entrenched himself as the best cover corner in the NFL and he’s doing it by quietly anchoring one the NFL’s best defenses. For all the talk of Carolina'a D, Cleveland is nipping at their heels in total defense, only allowing a mere eight yards more per game than those Panthers.
Losing by over 20 points last week while giving up 40-plus points looks bad from the mountain top for the Browns, but under the hood, you’d see there were special teams and defensive scores by the Bengals that led to all the points. The four giveaways last week by the Browns is a little discouraging. The offense needs to protect the ball, but just cleaning that up will keep the game competitive.
The Steelers offense won’t find the success they had last week lighting up the Lions, as the Browns will shut down the Pittsburgh offense. I expect to see more Todd Haley-Ben Roethlisberger sideline fights than Steeler touchdowns. The Browns win and inch closer to being the wild card-round team no division winner wants to face.
St. Louis Rams -1 (over Chicago Bears)
The Bears offensive line held up last week against Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil of the Ravens, but this week they have to face off against Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Quinn is currently second in the NFL with 12 sacks this season and is carving out his name as one of the best rushers in the NFL. However improved the Chicago O-Line is, they will struggle to protect backup Josh McCown, limiting his ability to throw the ball downfield to Brandon Marshall.
Bears running back Matt Forte may find success early and often running between the tackles, otherwise the offense will stagnate. Further, on defense, the Bears are going to miss Stephen Paea, who is out with a turf-toe injury. This should allow the Rams to rush the ball with Zac Stacy, and minimize the exposure of Kellen Clemens at QB. The Bears are next-to-last in rush defense this year and missing their starting nose tackle will only exacerbate this weakness.
Look for the Rams to run the ball and control the game.
Five of our contributors make three weekly picks ATS every week and they will be posted here.