We’re all set to get going with the Week 12 odds for NFL this week at Bang the Book, as there are a plethora of games that we are going to be focusing in on that are going to have some huge impacts on the entire season.
As the weeks go by, the playoff chase in the AFC seems to get more and more crowded, and as that turns out to be the case, the games get more and more important.
The AFC Wild Card race is clearly the most intriguing race, knowing that the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins are only leading the chase at 5-5 at this point. Both teams are in some trouble this week as well, and there is a good chance that someone is going to be in the playoffs right now at 5-6 in the AFC by the time this week is over with. The Jets are on the road for the second straight week against the Baltimore Ravens, where they are +4, while the Dolphins host the scorching Carolina Panthers, who have won six games in a row, the longest such streak in the NFL. Carolina is favored by 3.5 to continue that streak this week, and there is a good chance against the hapless Dolphins that that will turn out to be the case.
The Ravens are amongst the many teams sitting at 4-6 trying to make some headway at this point. Six teams in fact, sit at 4-6 in the AFC right now, and all of them are very much so in the chase if they can post a 4-2 record or better in the last six games of the campaign.
The San Diego Chargers are amongst them, but they have a tough test this week on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs only just lost for the first time last week against the Broncos, and they looked like a team destined to finish second best in the AFC West. Will they be able to get the job done in this game? They’re only -5, and the oddsmakers are insinuating that these two teams are on relatively level terms in spite of the fact that they are separated by five games in the standings.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns are both a game back in the AFC Wild Card hunt as well. They’re facing off with one another at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday in what might be the biggest game of the year at the Dawg Pound. The Browns are laying two in this one, and that’s a tremendous switch from what we have become accustomed to in what has been a very one-sided series historically. The losing team is going to be in a world of hurt and will likely be in last place in the division going into unlucky Week 13.
The 4-6 Tennessee Titans are taking on the other team that is shocking 4-6 right now, the Oakland Raiders. It sure seems as though QB Matt McGloin has won the starting quarterback job after he clinically took apart the Texans last week at Reliant Stadium, throwing for three TDs in his first NFL start. He will be leading the Raiders at -1 against the Titans, who are still trying to piece together their season with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way.
Even the Houston Texans on their eight-game losing streak aren’t totally out of it yet. They have the Jacksonville Jaguars twice in the next three weeks, and both of those games should end up being victories. Then again, Houston has been in lots of positions this year to win games that it hasn’t been able to figure out, and this one, even against the lowly Jags, isn’t a given. Houston is laying 10, making it the first team that we can think of to ever be on an eight-game losing streak and still be giving double digits in a game. Yes, Jacksonville is that bad.
The Texans are the biggest favorites of the week, but they aren’t the only team favored by more than a TD. On Thursday night, the New Orleans Saints are -9 against the Atlanta Falcons, while the Detroit Lions are -9.5 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their first of two games to be played at Ford Field in the next five days. The team that Detroit will be playing against on Thanksgiving Day, the Green Bay Packers, are off the board right now against the Minnesota Vikings due to the fact that the status of QB Aaron Rodgers is still very much so up in the air early in the week.
The two bottom teams in the NFC West might not be good enough to win their division, but they are good enough to be playing in big time games on Sunday. The St. Louis Rams are a pick ’em against the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome in a game that absolutely must be won by the hosts if they have any Wild Card aspirations this year. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals, who are tied with the Bears and the 49ers for the last Wild Card slot in the NFC, are a 2.5-point favorite at home against the AFC South leading Indianapolis Colts.
The showcase game in the 4:00 ET hour pits the New York Giants against the Dallas Cowboys. New York has quietly won four straight games, and a win in this one will put it just a game back of the idle Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East in spite of its 0-6 start to the season. The Cowboys did win when these two teams met in Week 1, but this is a much different situation at MetLife Stadium, the home of the Super Bowl this year. Dallas is getting a field goal off of its bye week, but it feels as if this is a game that the Giants should be winning.
Sunday Night Football is the best game of the week for sure. The Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots will have at it at Gillette Stadium, where the Pats know they have to have this game. They were beaten controversially by the Panthers on Monday, and they have a short week to prepare for the best team in the NFL. For Denver, winning this game would essentially sew up home field advantage throughout the playoffs in the event that it can win the AFC West. New England knows that it needs this one, not just to stay up with the Broncos, but to stay in front of the idle Cincinnati Bengals (who beat it earlier this year) and the Colts. Denver is a three-point road favorite in a game which also features the highest ‘total’ of the day at 56. That’s what happens when you have a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks going against each other, and it isn’t all that often that we get to see two legends of the game square off. QB Tom Brady and QB Peyton Manning definitely make this game worth the price of admission.
Finally on Monday Night Football, the Washington Redskins will try to salvage their season against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners are out of the NFC West race, and they aren’t a lock to get into the playoffs either. It’s going to take at least 10 wins to get into the postseason, and 11 might be the only safe way in. Losing this game would be catastrophic. The 49ers are -5, but Washington has been playing quite close in games of late and won’t go down without a fight.
Once again, there are no ‘totals’ in the 30s this week, though the game between the Vikings and the Packers which is off the board should be in the 30s if Rodgers doesn’t play. The lowest ‘total’ on the board as of Tuesday morning is the 40 between the Jets and the Ravens.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.