Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

Miami Dolphins (5-5) at Indianapolis Colts (5-5)

The Dolphins are 5-5, but they’ve been much worse than their record. While all 5 of their wins have come by 8 points or fewer, their 5 losses have all come by double digits, giving them a -57 point differential in the season, 5th worst in the NFL. In terms of first down rate differential, they are even worse, ranking 30th at -5.47%, only ahead of the Cardinals and Bills. They get quarterback Ryan Tannehill back healthy this week, but backup Brock Osweiler was not much a downgrade from him and there’s no guarantee he’s 100% after missing over a month with a shoulder injury.

The Colts are also 5-5, but they’ve been much better. They rank 8th in point differential at +49 and 8th in first down rate differential at +3.09%. They’ve also been much better over the past few weeks, after an injury plagued start to the season, winning 4 straight games by a combined 77 points and playing at a legitimately high level. Four of their five wins have come by more than a touchdown and they should be able to hand the Dolphins their 6th multiscore loss. I think we lost some line value when the Colts blew out the Titans last week (I can’t tell for sure because this line was off last week because of Tannehill’s uncertainty) and I wish we were getting a better line like -7, but I have this line calculated at Indianapolis -12, so we’re still getting line value with the Colts, who remain underrated despite their recent strong play.

Indianapolis Colts 31 Miami Dolphins 20

Pick against the spread: Indianapolis -7.5

Confidence: Medium

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

New York Giants (3-7) at Philadelphia Eagles (4-6)

The Eagles had a week from hell last week. Not only did they get blown out in New Orleans, losing 48-7, but they also suffered numerous mid-game injuries. Center Jason Kelce is not listed on the injury report this week after leaving with an elbow injury early in the game last week, but the Eagles also lost every down linebacker Jordan Hicks and numerous cornerbacks. Already without top cornerback Ronald Darby and starting safety Rodney McLeod, the Eagles are now starting a trio of bottom of the roster talents at cornerback and have just one week 1 starter left in their secondary, safety Malcolm Jenkins.

As a result of last week, this line adjusted in a significant way, as the Eagles went from being favored by 9.5 points on the early line to being favored by 5.5 points this week, the kind of week-to-week swing that’s usually reserved for a quarterback injury. While about 50% of games are decided by 9 points or fewer, just 30% of games are decided by 5 points or fewer, so it’s a very significant swing, crossing key numbers of 6 and 7.

Typically I love going against these kind of significant week-to-week line movements and this game is no exception. Obviously the Eagles looked terrible last week, but they’ve been competitive in all their other losses and Saints are playing at another level right now, especially at home. Teams also typically bounce back from a blowout loss, going 57-35 ATS since 2002 off of a loss by 35 points or more, as teams tend to be overlooked, embarrassed, and undervalued in that spot. Most recently, we saw the Bengals cover in a close loss as 6-point underdogs in Baltimore last week, after the Saints blew them out the previous week.

I can’t say for sure that the Eagles will be overlooked or embarrassed, but they are definitely undervalued, as this line suggests they’re just a few points better than the Giants. Despite being 4-6 and coming off of a blowout loss, the Eagles still rank 10th in first down rate at +2.32%, while the Giants rank 26th at -4.08%. The Eagles could easily be 6-4 or so right now, in which case they’d likely be favored by at least a touchdown in this game, even coming off of a blowout loss with all of the injuries they have.

The injuries in the Eagles’ back 7 are definitely concerning, but they still have a strong defensive line and should dominate this game in the trenches, much like they did in the first matchup, when they blew out the Giants 34-13 in New York as 3-point road favorites. Their offense should also be a lot better this week with Kelce back in the lineup, at home against an underwhelming Giants defense. They should win this game by multiple scores and cover with relative ease.

Philadelphia Eagles 27 New York Giants 17

Pick against the spread: Philadelphia -5.5

Confidence: High

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

Chicago Bears (7-3) at Detroit Lions (4-6)

The rule of thumb with the Lions in the Matt Stafford era is to bet against them when facing good teams. They are 20-38-2 ATS and 20-40 straight up against teams with winning records since Matt Stafford’s first full season as starter in 2011. Most recently, they went 1-11 against eventual playoff teams between 2016 and 2017. I know the Lions have wins against the Patriots, Packers, and Panthers this season, but the Packers and Panthers would have both won if not for several missed kicks and the Patriots have also lost on the road in Tennessee and Jacksonville this season.

That win against the Panthers came last week, but the Lions had a -5.98% first down rate differential in that game, pushing them down to 25th at -3.78% on the season. Their defense has gotten better in recent weeks with top edge rusher Ezekiel Ansah returning from injury, but their offense has taken major hits, trading away slot receiver Golden Tate, and losing wide receiver Marvin Jones, running back Kerryon Johnson, and right guard TJ Lang with injury. The Bears, on the other hand, rank 1st in first down rate differential at 7.00%, as they’ve been even better than their 7-3 record suggests, losing those 3 games by a combined 11 points and winning the first down rate battle in two of them.

Under ordinary circumstances, I would bet on the Bears in this one, but these are not ordinary circumstances. Not only are the Bears in a bad spot playing in an early game on Thursday Night Football against a last place team that they already beat two weeks ago after getting their biggest win of the season on Sunday Night Football last week against the Vikings, but they’re also missing quarterback Mitch Trubisky with injury.

Trubisky is not the primary reason why the Bears are winning games and the line compensated for his absence, shifting from Chicago -4.5 to Chicago -3, but Chase Daniel is a bit of a mystery as an injury replacement. Despite pocketing over 28 million over a 10-year NFL career, Daniel has thrown just 78 passes in his career and has made just 2 starts. Obviously he’s doing something right behind the scenes to keep getting jobs, but I don’t know how much I trust him on a short week on the road favored by a field goal, especially if the rest of the team is flat on a short week after last week’s big win. The Bears are my choice, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Chicago Bears 20 Detroit Lions 16

Pick against the spread: Chicago -3

Confidence: Low

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

Atlanta Falcons (4-6) at New Orleans Saints (9-1)

The Saints have had an incredible 3-week stretch. They started as home underdogs week 9 against the Rams, but ended up winning that game by 10, handing the Rams their first loss and putting themselves in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed in the NFC. They then had a pair of potential letdown spots, going on the road to Cincinnati week 10 after that big win over the Rams and then playing a sub-.500 Eagles team at home week 11 with this divisional clash looming just 4 days later, but they won both games by a combined 78 points, becoming the third team in the past 30 years to win back-to-back games by 35+ points.

There are reasons to like the Falcons in this one as 13-point underdogs. Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing as well as he ever has and should be perfectly capable of getting a backdoor cover late against a Saints defense that has been inconsistent this season. They also almost beat the Saints in Atlanta earlier this year and are in a good spot in a same season divisional rematch. Divisional road underdogs are 68-40 ATS since 2002 in the regular season against a team that previously beat them as underdogs.

Despite that, I’m taking the Saints, who are playing well enough right now to be favored by two touchdowns in this one. The Falcons gave up 43 points in the first matchup and their defense remains one of the worst in the league with linebacker Deion Jones still sidelined. This could be a blowout that gets out of hand early, like the Saints’ past two games. Matt Ryan and this Falcons offense could keep it somewhat competitive, but I’d feel comfortable having the Saints in this one for pick ‘em purposes.

New Orleans Saints 38 Atlanta Falcons 24

Pick against the spread: New Orleans -13

Confidence: None

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys: 2018 Week 12 NFL Pick

Washington Redskins (6-4) at Dallas Cowboys (5-5)

A week ago, the Redskins were 5-point underdogs in Dallas on the early line, but the line has since shifted to a full touchdown. The obvious reason for that is the Redskins losing quarterback Alex Smith for the season with a broken leg, but backup Colt McCoy might not be much of a downgrade. Smith was not exactly lighting it up, ranking 22nd among quarterbacks on Pro Football Focus, and backup Colt McCoy is a veteran with years of experience in the system. He also has similar skill set to Smith, as an accurate underneath thrower with mobility to escape the pass rush, but limited deep throwing ability.

The bigger concern for the Redskins’ offense is their lack of talent on the offensive line in the receiving corps. Even with Smith healthy up until the second half of last week’s loss at home to the Texans, the Redskins have only gotten a first down or touchdown on 34.06% of offensive snaps this season, good for 24th in the NFL. On top of that, the supporting cast has recently gotten worse with season ending injuries suffered by de facto #1 receiver Paul Richardson and stud right guard Brandon Scherff.

The Redskins do get talented left tackle Trent Williams back from a 3-game absence this week though and an already solid defense is expected to get starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar back from a 2-game absence as well, so it’s not all bad news on the injury front for the Redskins, even with Smith going down. Given that, this line has shifted a little bit too much, giving us a little bit of line value with the Redskins. The Cowboys are the better team and should win this game at home, but they’re also offensively changed and have just one win by more than a touchdown on the season. There’s not enough here to confidently take the Redskins, but I like their chances of keeping this close.

Dallas Cowboys 23 Washington Redskins 17

Pick against the spread: Washington +7

Confidence: Low

2018 Week 11 NFL Pick Results

Week 11

Total Against the Spread: 7-3-3

Pick of the Week: 0-1

High Confidence Picks: 2-0-1

Medium Confidence Picks: 1-2-1

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 3-3-2

Low Confidence Picks: 2-0

No Confidence Picks: 2-0-1

Upset Picks: 1-1

2018

Total Against the Spread: 96-59-6 (61.49%)

Pick of the Week: 5-5-1

High Confidence Picks: 11-7-1

Medium Confidence Picks: 27-17-1

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 43-29-3 (59.33%)

Low Confidence Picks: 21-14

No Confidence Picks: 32-16-3

Upset Picks: 13-11-1

All-Time (Since 2013)

Total Against the Spread: 787-667-42 (54.01%)

Pick of the Week: 56-39-3 (58.67%)

Money Picks (Medium Confidence and higher): 373-275-17 (57.37%)

Upset Picks: 120-147-1 (44.96%)