Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (8-3) at New England Patriots (6-5)

Throughout the 2021 season and through the first two games of this season, when the Bills won, they always won big, winning 14 straight games by 12 points or more, with an average margin of victory of 23.4 points per game, while 6 of their 7 losses over that time frame came by 7 points or fewer. However, since week 3, the Bills have played much closer games, with five of six wins coming by 10 points or fewer. They’ve also lost three games over that time frame, though all three came by three points or fewer and could have easily gone the other way.

The biggest reason why the Bills haven’t been blowing opponents as much lately is because they haven’t been at full strength. This week, they’ll have to play without top edge defender Von Miller for the first time this season, which a huge loss and an absence that is drawing a lot of attention in this game, but, other than that, the Bills are actually going to be a lot healthier this week than they’ve been in recent weeks, which should offset Miller’s absence. 

On defense, their other talented edge defender Greg Rousseau is set to return from a 3-game absence and stud linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will return from a 2-game absence, while their offense will welcome back center Mitch Morse from a 1-game absence. The Bills also got top cornerback Tre’Davious White back for the first time all season last week and should get much more of a contribution from him in his second game back this week and they will still have talented safety Jordan Poyer healthy, after he missed four games earlier this season. 

The Bills aren’t at full strength, missing Miller and continuing to be without their other talented safety Jordan Poyer and their talented starting left tackle Dion Dawkins, but, even with all of their injuries thus far this season, the Bills still rank first in the league in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 9.5 points above average and, in their current state, my roster rankings have the Bills about 9.5 points above average as well. 

The Patriots, meanwhile, are much more of a middling team, playing at a high level on defense, but struggling on offense, which is the more predictive side of the ball, and, because of that, we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Bills, even as favorites of more than a field goal on the road in New England. I would need this line to drop all the way down to a field goal for the Bills to be worth betting, as 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal and a Buffalo win by exactly a field goal is a strong possibility, but my calculated line is Buffalo -6, so they’re still the right side for pick ‘em purposes at -3.5.

Buffalo Bills 26 New England Patriots 20

Pick against the spread: Buffalo -3.5

Confidence: Low

2022 Week 12 NFL Picks

Pick of the Week

PHI -6.5 vs. GB

High Confidence Picks

CLE +3.5 vs. TB

BAL -3 @ JAX

Medium Confidence Picks

CIN -2.5 @ TEN

HOU +14 @ MIA

Low Confidence Picks

SEA -3.5 vs. LV

PIT +2.5 @ IND

ATL +4 @ WAS

NYJ -5.5 vs. CHI

MIN -2.5 vs. NE

CAR +1.5 vs. DEN

KC -15.5 vs. LAR

DAL -10 vs. NYG

BUF -9.5 @ DET

No Confidence Picks

SF -9.5 vs. NO

LAC -2.5 @ ARZ

Upset Picks

CLE +150 vs. TB

PIT +120 @ IND

CAR +105 vs. DEN

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-7) at Indianapolis Colts (4-6-1)

A week ago on the early line, the Steelers were 3-point underdogs, but this line has since shifted to 2.5, a pretty significant shift, given that about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Normally I like to go against significant week-to-week line movements like that because they tend to be an overreaction to a single week of play, but, in this case, I’m disappointed that we’ve lost line value with the Steelers, who would have been a good bet at +3.

The Steelers are just 3-7, but they’ve arguably faced the toughest schedule in the league, with eight of their ten games being against teams that are currently .500 or better, with the exceptions being the Browns and Saints, who are both better than their records would indicate. The Steelers’ -74 point differential is worst in the league and even worse than their record would suggest, but in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which takes into account their level of competition, the Steelers rank 18th, despite the fact that for most of the season they have been without their top defensive player TJ Watt, who has since returned.

It’s very possible that this matchup in Indianapolis against the Colts will be the Steelers’ easiest game of the season thus far. The Colts rank 24th and three points below average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency (significantly worse than both the Browns and the Saints) and they are unlikely to be any better than that going forward, missing a pair of key defenders, Kwity Pawe and Shaq Leonard, for an indefinite period of time. 

Despite that, this line suggests these two teams are about even, so we’re getting good line value with the Steelers, who I have calculated as 1-point favorites. I think I would need this line to go back up to three for the Steelers to be worth betting against the spread, but I might change my mind on that, the money line is a good value at +120 because the Steelers should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game, and the Steelers should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way.

Pittsburgh Steelers 19 Indianapolis Colts 17 Upset Pick +120

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh +2.5

Confidence: Low

Las Vegas Raiders at Seattle Seahawks: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (3-7) at Seattle Seahawks (6-4)

This game is tough to predict without knowing the status of a pair of key players on the Raiders who seem like legitimate gametime decisions, feature back Josh Jacobs and top cornerback Nate Hobbs. If both players are out, the Seahawks shouldn’t have too much trouble covering this 3.5-point spread. A spread of 3.5 is higher than you might think because about 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer and, largely as a result, 3.5-point underdogs cover more often than underdogs of any other number, covering the spread at a 52.9% rate, which is actually profitable. However, if Hobbs and Jacobs are out, my calculated line would be 8, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about this line being at 3.5. 

Overall, the Seahawks are about 3.5 points above average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency and about 2.5 points above average in my roster rankings. The Raiders, meanwhile, are 2 points below average in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency and, while they would be significantly better than that if Nate Hobbs returned this week from his 5-game absence, if Hobbs doesn’t play and Josh Jacobs misses his first game of the season, the Raiders would be even worse than 2 points below average. I’m leaving this as a low confidence pick on the Seahawks for now, but I might end up updating this pick depending on who is active for the Raiders and where this line ultimately ends up.

Seattle Seahawks 26 Las Vegas Raiders 20

Pick against the spread: Seattle -3.5

Confidence: Low

New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

New Orleans Saints (4-7) at San Francisco 49ers (6-4)

The 49ers are just 6-4, but there’s an argument to be made that they’re the best team in the NFC and they look like one of the top few Super Bowl contenders overall. They rank 5th in both point differential (+63) and schedule adjusted efficiency (about five points above average) and are arguably even better than that, as they are healthier and more talented than they were earlier in the season. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end George Kittle, and left tackle Trent Williams are all among their best offensive players and all missed time earlier this season, but all three have returned, a huge boost for an offense that also got a big boost from adding Christian McCaffrey in a trade a few weeks ago. The 49ers’ defense is also healthier now than a few weeks ago, with linebackers Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair and safety Jimmie Ward returning to action recently.

The 49ers showed this on Monday Night Football last week, demolishing the Cardinals by a final score of 38-10 in one of the most lopsided games of the season (+9.82% first down rate, +2.37 yards per play), and that tends to carry over into the next week, with teams covering the spread at a 60.0% rate the week after winning by 21 points or more on Monday Night Football. However, we’re not really getting line value with the 49ers as 9.5-point home favorites over the Saints, as the public and the oddsmakers seem to understand that the 49ers are significantly better than their record.

If anything, the Saints are the team that is being a little underrated here, as they are healthier than they’ve been in recent weeks, with key players like Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and Marshon Lattimore seeming likely to return on defense, and, even with all of their injuries, they have played better than their record, ranking 16th in schedule adjusted efficiency, with their biggest problem being their league worst -12 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. My calculated line actually gives us a little line value with the visitor, with the 49ers favored by 7.5 points. That’s not nearly enough line value to take the Saints with any confidence though and, with the 49ers being in a significantly better spot, I would still take them for pick ‘em purposes, albeit for one of my lowest confidence picks of the week.

San Francisco 49ers 27 New Orleans Saints 17

Pick against the spread: San Francisco -9.5

Confidence: None

Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-2)

Entering the season as defending Super Bowl Champions, few expected the Rams would be 15.5-point underdogs at any point this season, but that’s where we’re at right now, due to all of the injuries suffered by the Rams’ offense. Already missing a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team due to off-season departures, the Rams have lost the other three starting offensive linemen from last year’s team mid-season due to injuries, while starting quarterback Matt Stafford and his elite #1 receiver Cooper Kupp are also out, leaving the Rams with arguably the least talented offense in the NFL.

The Rams’ defense is still mostly intact, losing Von Miller this off-season, but adding another stud linebacker in Bobby Wagner, staying mostly healthy, and ranking 12th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency. However, even with an above average defense, I have the Rams nine points below average in my roster rankings and, with the Rams in Kansas City this week, it’s not hard to justify this line, even as high as it is. If anything, it might not be high enough.

At 8-2, the Chiefs have the best record in the AFC, which is the tougher of the two conferences, and they are arguably the best team in the league overall, ranking seven points above average in schedule adjusted efficiency and nine points above average in my roster rankings, suggesting this line should be closer to -20 than -15.5. This line is too big for the Chiefs to be worth betting, but I don’t see this game being particularly close, with the Rams fielding an offense that is made up of almost entirely backups at this point, so the Chiefs are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 28 Los Angeles Rams 10

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -15.5

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (3-7) at Carolina Panthers (3-8)

These two teams are pretty similar. Both have among the worst offenses in the league, with the Panthers ranking 31st in schedule adjusted offensive efficiency and the Broncos ranking 32nd. The Broncos’ offense is better in my roster rankings, as they have a quarterback in Russell Wilson who at least has a track record of success and could bounce back at some point, even if he’s struggling mightily this year, and the Broncos have also been better on defense this season, ranking 4th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, while the Panthers rank 14th, but the Broncos are not nearly as healthy on either side of the ball as they were earlier in the season and the Panthers have the significant edge on special teams (10th vs. 32nd), so, overall, these two teams are about even in both my roster rankings and in schedule adjusted efficiency, with both teams about 5-6 points below average in both aspects.

Despite the similarities between these two teams, the Broncos are actually favored by 1.5 points on the road here in Carolina, suggesting they’re the significantly better of these two teams. There isn’t enough here for the Panthers to be worth betting against the spread, but they should be the ones favored by a couple points and the money line is a good value at +105 as the Panthers are slightly better than 50/50 to win this game. The Panthers are also the pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Carolina Panthers 15 Denver Broncos 13 Upset Pick +105

Pick against the spread: Carolina +1.5

Confidence: Low

Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Baltimore Ravens (7-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-7)

The Ravens have three losses, but all came by four points or fewer and all came after blowing 4th quarter leads, with the Ravens leading the league in percentage of time leading per game. In terms of point differential, the Ravens rank 7th at +49 and in schedule adjusted efficiency they rank 3rd, about seven points above average. Also healthier now than they were earlier in the year, I consider the Ravens among the best teams in the league and a true Super Bowl contender, which isn’t the consensus opinion of them, so I think they’re a little underrated, even at 7-3.

The Jaguars have been competitive in most of their games this season, but all of their losses have come by more than four points, which would have covered this spread. They have a positive point differential at +11 and a positive schedule adjusted efficiency, about a point above average (13th in the NFL), but they are five points below average in my roster rankings, suggesting they’ve overachieved their talent level and could easily regress going forward. The Ravens should be able to win this game with relative ease and my calculated line has them favored by a full touchdown, so they’re worth a bet here at 3.5.

Update: This line has dropped to 3, so I am increasing the confidence of this bet.

Baltimore Ravens 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -3

Confidence: Medium

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) at Cleveland Browns (3-7)

Typically significant road favorites cover at a high rate after a bye week, covering the spread 63.0% of the time as favorites of more than a field goal. At first glance, that would seem to apply to this game, with the Buccaneers favored by 3.5 points, but I don’t think the Buccaneers deserve to be favored by this much. The Browns are just 3-7, but four of their seven losses have come by three points or fewer, which would cover this spread, meaning they would have covered this spread in seven of their ten games this season, including four of their five home games.

Given that, this line seems too high. The Buccaneers have been better in recent weeks and they’re better overall than their 5-5 record suggests, ranking 10th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about two points above average, but this isn’t the same Buccaneers team that we’ve seen in the past couple years, so they shouldn’t be favored by more than a field goal on the road against a competent team that is regularly competitive even in their losses.

If the Buccaneers weren’t coming off of a bye, the Browns would be my Pick of the Week, but, even with the Buccaneers being well-rested, we’re getting enough line value with the Browns for them to be worth a big bet, as my calculated line has this as a pick ‘em. The money line at +150 is also worth a bet, as the Browns should be considered no worse than 50/50 to win this game straight up. Even if they don’t pull the upset, about 1 in 4 games are decided by three points or fewer, so we have a good cushion.

Cleveland Browns 24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3.5

Confidence: High

Cincinnati Bengals at Tennessee Titans: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (6-4) at Tennessee Titans (7-3)

The Titans have won seven of their last eight games to go to 7-3 on the season, but their wins haven’t been that impressive, as their only win against a team that isn’t sub .500 came against the 6-5 Commanders and none of those wins have come by more than 10 points. Only two of their wins have come by more than a touchdown and neither win was as impressive as that suggests, as they needed a pick six to make the margin of victory bigger against the Colts, while last week’s 10-point win over the Packers came against a team in a terrible spot, playing on a short week after an overtime game, a spot in which teams are just 2-22 ATS all-time.

The Bengals, meanwhile, have one fewer win than the Titans, but four of them have come by more than 10 points and blowout wins are much more predictive of future winning than close wins. On the flip side, three of the Bengals’ four losses have come by three points or fewer, giving them a point differential of +50, significantly better than the Titans at +8. They’re also getting healthier, getting back stud interior defender DJ Reader last week and likely to get back top wide receiver JaMarr Chase this week.

The Bengals are favored on the road here, but they’re only favored by 2.5 points, which is pretty insignificant, with less than 1 in 10 games decided by 2 points or fewer, as opposed to 1 in 6 games decided by 3 points exactly. My calculated line has the Bengals favored by 4.5 points, so we’re getting significant line value with them. This isn’t a big bet, but in a game in which they basically just need to win to cover, the Bengals are worth at least a small bet this week.

Update: JaMarr Chase is surprisingly not playing. I already locked this bet in, so I can’t change it, but the line has dropped to 1 and I would take the Bengals even without Chase at that number.

Cincinnati Bengals 31 Tennessee Titans 26

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -2.5

Confidence: Medium