NFL Week 12 Picks: Eleven of 13 games carrying a spread of 3.5 or less

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LINE: Miami by 9.5

CHEWABLE: The Dolphins’ defence has been trending up for a few weeks and now it’s about to get another big bump against the Jets, who have scored two touchdowns since their Week 7 bye and are now they’re replacing Zach Wilson with Tim Boyle, a 29-year-old who has an 0-3-0 record as a starter and three TD passes along with nine interceptions in 18 games overall.  Boyle is nothing if not consistent, as he also was brutal in college. If you didn’t know better you would think the Jets have suddenly decided to tank … Assuming the Jets won’t score a passing touchdown, they may be able to move the ball along the ground with the talented Breece Hall. But then Miami’s run defence is ranked 10th, allowing an average of 99.2 yards per game, and the Dolphins will be lined up waiting for Hall knowing he’s their only prayer … The Jets are strong against the pass (No. 5) but are among the dregs when it comes to stopping the run (No. 30), so watch for Raheem Mostert to break a few. The Dolphins still have the top offence in the NFL and in last week’s 20-13 win over the Raiders, Tua Tagovailoa threw for 325 yards, while Tyreek Hill had 10 snags for 146 yards.  It was only the third time the Dolphins have been held to fewer than 21 points, and the second time in two weeks. They will re-establish their prowess with a double-digit victory against a team they have defeated in 11 of the last 14 meetings.

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SCORE (O/U 41): Dolphins 27, Jets 6


LINE: Pittsburgh by 2

CHEWABLE: This one’s a gimme. The Steelers will be playing their first game without the boneheaded play-calling of Matt Canada since 2021. How incompetent was Canada? In 45 games as their offensive coordinator, the Steelers failed to produce 400 yards of offence even once. During the span, all other teams combined for 333 games of 400-plus yards. The players are sure to respond with an immediate boost in production against the Bengals’ 30th-ranked defence, especially with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren going against a defence that is 31st against the run … The Bengals are toast without Joe Burrow, who is done for the season with a wrist injury. His replacement, Jake Browning, watched Burrow for 2 1/2 seasons but never stepped on the field until he entered the Bengals’ 34-20 loss to Baltimore last week to complete eight of 14 pass attempts for 68 yards and a TD. The Bengals offensive line doesn’t do a very good job protecting QBs, but while Burrow’s quick release would have a chance against the Steelers strong pass rush, Browning does not have the same attribute. He also likely won’t have Tee Higgins (hamstring) as a fine complement to Ja’Marr Chase, while the Steelers’ run defence — which is ranked 23rd but has improved since the return from injury of Cameron Heyward — should be able to bottle up Joe Mixon without having to worry about long bombs from Browning. The Bengals have won four of the last five meetings, with the lone Pittsburgh victory coming in overtime last season in Cincinnati, but Steelers enjoy some payback here.

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SCORE (O/U 35.5): Steelers 27, Bengals 13


LINE: Philadelphia -3.5

CHEWABLE: The Eagles made a strong statement by rolling into Kansas City and beating the Chiefs 21-17 on Monday night, right? Well yes, but with an asterisk. The outcome would have been different if Patrick Mahomes didn’t have such a terrible group of receivers. He threw for 177 yards but it would have been over 300 (and a Chiefs victory) if not for dropped passes by Justin Watson (twice), Marquez Valdes-Scantling (a sure touchdown) and even Travis Kelce on what should have been easy catches. The Eagles’ pass defence is still a weak 28th, with the secondary being burned for 687 yards and five TD passes in two games against Sam Howell. Josh Allen has had his ups and downs this season — it just so happens he and Howell are co-leaders in interceptions with 12 — but he was back to his old self in a 32-6 win over a good Jets defence last week, and he has a better group of pass catchers than Howell and Mahomes … The Eagles are 23-2 in Jalen Hurts’ last 25 regular-season starts, and Buffalo’s injury-ravaged defence suffered more bumps and bruises against the Jets. But while the Eagles are coming off a short week, the Bills should be more desperate for the win. If they don’t get it, they’ll come close.

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SCORE (O/U 48.5): Bills 28, Eagles 27



LINE: Jacksonville by 1.5

CHEWABLE: Remarkable rookie C.J. Stroud has thrown eight touchdown tosses while averaging 387.3 passing yards in his last three games, all victories by the streaking Texans but by a combined 10 points. He did not have a good second half last Sunday in his team’s 21-16 win over the Cardinals, when he wound up throwing three picks to bring his total number of interceptions to five. Stroud and his merry band of pass catchers let by Nico Collins and Tank Dell should be able to do plenty of damage against a Jags defence that ranks 29th against aerial attacks … Only three teams have allowed fewer rushing yards than the Jags, so don’t expect Devin Singletary to have his third 100-yard game in a row … Trevor Lawrence was outstanding last week in a 34-14 win over the Titans, and he should be able to team with Christian Kirk for success against a Texans team that has trouble with slots. Houston has a commanding 29-14 lead in the all-time series after winning 10 of the last 11 meetings, including Week 3’s 37-17 win in northern Florida … Coach Doug Pederson will ensure Jags get some revenge in this week’s battle for top spot in the AFC South.

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SCORE (O/U 47.5): Jaguars 30, Texans 27


LINE: Indianapolis by 2.5 

CHEWABLE: Believe it or not, both these teams still have a shot at a playoff spot. Playing their second road game in a row, the Bucs were dismissed 27-14 by the Niners last week while the rested Colts are coming off a bye and have won their last two games. Those two victories were against such weakling opponents as the Patriots (10-6) and Panthers (27-13), however, and in both cases they could have just as easily lost … Tampa Bay has such a terrible pass defence (ranked 31st) that even Gardner Minshew should have some success against, while Indy is so bad against the run (25th) even Rachaad White can churn up some real estate … The Bucs are banged up and have lost five of their last six, but shockingly they are tied for the second-best ATS record (7-3) in the NFL. 

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SCORE (O/U 44): Colts 24, Bucs 23


LINE: New England by 3.5

CHEWABLE: Players and coaches always want to succeed, but neither organization can want to win this game. Both need a quarterback. Mock drafts show USC’s Caleb Williams and NC’s Drake Maye as two of the two three picks and if the season ended today the Patriots would have the third choice and the Giants the fifth. The undrafted Tommy DeVito is coming off a surprising performances, throwing three TD passes and for 246 yards in his second career start, a 31-19 victory over the Commanders that saw the G-Men commit six turnovers. The Patriots are coming off a bye they entered with a 10-6 loss to the Colts, a game in which Bill Belichick was so fed up he replaced Mac Jones with Bailey Zappe for the last series, needing to travel almost the entire length of the field for the win. Belichick hasn’t named his starting QB yet this week and yet the Patriots are still a road favourite of more than a field goal? … Belichick used to own rookie QBs but that can no longer be said since Sam Howell torched the Patriots for 325 yards and a TD in the Commanders’ 20-17 victory in New England. The Patriots defence is banged up. The Giants have the game’s best offensive player in Saquon Barkley. This pick is dictated by the line. It’s a gift, which means you don’t ask questions, just accept it and say thanks.

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SCORE (O/U 33.5): Giants 17, Patriots 14


LINE: Tennessee by 3.5

CHEWABLE: Not only am I travelling in the U.S. on Thanksgiving weekend but I will be at this game, and right now neither seems like a particularly good idea. At least I’ll be able to say I watched Bryce Young in his rookie season, which will be remembered either as a painful growing experience or the first step in him becoming a bust. I think Young will wind up being okay, just no C.J. Stroud, but he is presently directing the Panthers to the 28th-best pass defence and 31st in total offensive yards … Allow me to pat myself on the back, which hasn’t happened a lot this season, which you’ll notice by looking at my record. I am one of 10 remaining people in a Survivor Pool that started with 139, and I’m taking the Titans this weekend because A) of the teams that I haven’t used they’re the best option and B) Derrick Henry, the NFL’s two-time rushing king (2019, 2020) who is currently sixth in the 2023 race. Henry has only two 100-plus yard games this season but this week he faces a Panthers run defence that ranks 24th with an average of 129.4 yards against per game. which means Henry should resemble his old self and therefore buy some room to operate for QB Will Levis, who will all the help he can get against a strong Carolina pass defence that has allowed the sixth-fewest yards. When I close my eyes I see Levis hooking up with DeAndre Hopkins for the kind of success they had four games ago, which was D-Hop’s first three TD day of his career. I’m also banking on Mike Vrabel out-coaching Frank Reich, who took back play-calling duties from O.C. Thomas Brown last week and pushed the buttons that led to a dismal 187 yards of offence against the Cowboys. I also know this could backfire on me because neither team is very good, but Titans are better.

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SCORE (O/U 36.5): Titans 23, Panthers 17


LINE: Atlanta by 1

CHEWABLE: Not sure if the math or the schedule supports this, but the NFC South is so bad that the 1-9 Panthers might be able to win it by running the table. The Saints, which are the only team in the division with a positive (+16) point differential, are in top spot with a .500 record, but the Falcons could push them aside with a home victory here. That’s unlikely to happen. New Orleans will be missing WR Michael Thomas and likely CB Marshon Lattimore, but Derek Carr (concussion protocol) was a full participant in practice this week, which means he’ll play barring a setback. Mired in a three-game losing slump, the Falcons are going back to Desmond Ridder as their starting QB, but their success hinges on the running game with Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, and they should have problems finding daylight through the Saints front seven. Saints have won nine of the last 11 meetings, and I’m siding with them with only mild confidence as a first-place underdog.

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SCORE (O/U 42): Saints 24, Falcons 21


LINE: L.A. Rams by 1.5

CHEWABLE: Kyren Williams returns to the Rams backfield from an ankle injury, and he should be a difference-maker. In his last game, a 26-9 victory over these very same Cardinals, Williams exploited the now 26th-ranked run defence with 20 carries for 158 yards and a TD  … Another positive for the Rams is that Cooper Kupp could play after injuring his ankle. In the previous meeting between the Rams and Cards, Kupp caught seven passes for 148 yards and a touchdown … Kyler Murray has been decent in his two games since returning from ACL surgery, and James Conner has averaged 4.5 rushing yards on 30 carries since he returned from his own knee injury. But even if Matthew Stafford’s thumb injury hinders him — which was clearly the case last week but didn’t stop him from leading the Rams to a 17-16 come-from-behind win over the Seahawks — I’m leaning toward the better team and one that still has hope of making the playoffs.

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SCORE (O/U 44.5): Rams 23, Cardinals 21


LINE: Denver by 2.5

CHEWABLE: The Broncos have won four in a row, with a worthy list of victims that includes the Chiefs, Bills and Vikings. Now comes a different type of test in the Browns, who not only have the best defence in the NFL but also has the best average total yards allowed per game (243.3) than any defence has had in the last 10 years … The Browns are also averaging three sacks per game and will pressure Russell Wilson, who is the fourth most sacked QB in the league … The Broncos have been a plus-11 in the turnover department since Week 7. No other team has been better than plus-6 during that time … Expect Jerome Ford, Kareem Hunt and anybody else the Browns might want to hand the ball to will have success against a Denver run defence that ranks dead last … I don’t trust Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who in the thin mountain air will be making his first road start.  He’s also going up against a defence that has played significantly better since getting embarrassed by Miami. Despite doing enough to the the Browns in position for a game-winning field goal against Pittsburgh last week, DTR has completed just 55 percent of his 80 NFL passes while throwing four interceptions and no touchdown passes.

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SCORE (O/U 36): Broncos 16, Browns 13


LINE: Kansas City by 8.5

CHEWABLE: The Super Bowl champs made a lot of mistakes in last week’s loss to the Eagles, and with a eye on the top seed in the AFC, Andy Reid will make sure they’re ultra-focused this week. If Patrick Mahomes’ receivers can actually catch his passes, the Chiefs should remain true to form as the NFL’s second highest scoring first half team and build a comfortable lead. The Chiefs and Raiders are among the three lowest-scoring second-half teams, so that doesn’t bode well for the Raiders, especially with Aidan O’Connell at the controls. He threw three interceptions last week in his team’s 20-13 loss to the Dolphins …  Both teams should be able to run the ball with their stud backs, Isiah Pacheco and Josh Jacobs, as the Raiders, who are just outside the Top 10 in pass defence, are a miserable 27th against the run, while the Chiefs’ Top 5 defence is in the middle of the pack when it comes to stopping the ground game … The Chiefs have historically dominated the Raiders, winning the last five meetings, 10 of the last 11 and 14 of the last 17.

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SCORE (O/U 42.5): Chiefs 24, Raiders 14


LINE: Baltimore by 3.5

CHEWABLE: If there’s one thing I like as much as a home dog with the hook, it’s a coach that yells at reporters for doing their jobs. The former I usually bet on, while the latter I find amusing. So after Brandon Staley’s outburst following a 23-20 loss to the Packers, the Chargers have both. They also have an already horrid defence that will be hurt further by Joey Bosa’s foot injury. Minus the bookend to Khalil Mack, their pass defence, which already has allowed a league-high average of 291.6 yards, will be even more susceptible any time Lamar Jackson drops back. Jackson will be missing a weapon of his own with the ankle injury to Mark Andrews, but it does look like Odell Beckham Jr. (shoulder) will be good to go, and OBJ is just rounding into form … The Ravens have more interceptions (10) than their league-low seven passing touchdowns allowed this year. They’re also among the best teams at shutting down slots, which will limit the effectiveness of the great Keenan Allen … Seven of the Ravens’ eight victories have been by a converted touchdown or more. Five of the Chargers’ six losses have been by three points or fewer … Justin Herbert is an exceptional talent, but there’s just too much for him to overcome this week.

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SCORE (O/U 48): Ravens 30, Chargers 23


LINE: Minnesota by 3 

CHEWABLE: When these teams met in Week 6, Justin Fields dislocated his thumb and was replaced by Tyson Bagent. The two quarterbacks combined for a paltry 113 passing yards and each tossed an interception. Yet the Bears lost by only six points, a 19-13 victory that represented the closest they have kept the score in dropping their last five meetings with the Vikings. Fields made his first start since returning from the injury last week, when the Bears blew a 26-14 loss with three minutes left in a 31-26 loss to the Lions. Chicago became the first team this season to lose a game in which it had four takeaways. Fields carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards, and with his future in Chicago in doubt, he’ll be doing more of the same against a Vikings team that has allowed the 10th-most rushing yards to quarterbacks … The Vikings had a five-game winning streak stopped last week in a 21-20 road loss to the Broncos. They also blew a late lead and Joshua Dobbs was only average … Working against the Vikings this week is that it appears Justin Jefferson will miss another game because of his hamstring injury, and they will have little to no rushing attack against a Bears run defence that ranks second.


SCORE: (O/U 43): Vikings 26, Bears 24

NFL Week 12 picks

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