NFL Week 12 Picks: Favorites Who Won't Cover the Spread
There's only five weeks left of regular season football in the NFL and every game from here on out becomes more important as the playoff picture continues to take shape and we separate the pretenders from the contenders.
While a number of games on tap for Week 12 look like easy picks based on names and won-loss records, that's simply not the case, as injuries and positional advantages will dictate the outcome of much of the action.
Here's a look at three favorites who, while they might emerge victorious, aren't going to have as easy a time of things as the point spreads may lead you to believe.
Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) at Cleveland Browns (2-8)
Spread: Pittsburgh -1 (per Covers.com)
Charlie Batch will take over for Byron Leftwich, who was taking over for the injured Ben Roethlisberger under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Batch is an upgrade over Leftwich, neither one can scratch the surface of what Big Ben does under center for the Steelers, and they'll struggle to put points on the board.
Cleveland's offense isn't going to have a field day against the Steelers defense either, especially with the maddening Brandon Weeden under center. But the Browns have an excellent offensive line that matches up well with the Steelers front seven and a physical running back in Trent Richardson who will move the chains for Cleveland.
Pro Bowl corner Joe Haden will be back on the field for the Browns (h/t NBC's Pro Football Talk), who have an athletic secondary that is capable of holding its own against Pittsburgh's deep threats in Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders.
I like Cleveland to pull off the upset at home, beating the Steelers 14-10.
Oakland Raiders (3-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-5)
Spread: Cincinnati -8 (per Covers.com)
Cincinnati has the advantage with A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham catching passes as well as in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has played very well over the past three weeks, completing 64 percent of his passes for 738 yards, seven touchdowns and only one interception.
Former Bengals QB Carson Palmer has thrown for 1,094 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions over his past three games, and Oakland has become a very pass-heavy offense in the wake of Darren McFadden's absence in the backfield.
Cincinnati's going to win the game, but it'll be closer than most expect, as Palmer will take advantage of a shaky Bengals secondary to keep things close.
Bengals win, 35-31.
Green Bay Packers (7-3) at New York Giants (6-4)
Spread: New York -3 (per Covers.com)
Aaron Rodgers has plenty of weapons at his disposal in WRs Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones and TE Jermichael Finley to attack a terrible Giants secondary. Now, news comes that WR Greg Jennings could be returning to action as well, making Rodgers that much more dangerous (h/t Green Bay Packers)
The Giants have an equally dangerous passing attack under Eli Manning, with WRs Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and TE Martellus Bennett capable of shredding the Packers secondary as well. Not only that, but Green Bay's secondary will be without Charles Woodson, who will miss this week's game (h/t Green Bay Packers)
Neither team has performed up to par defensively, and this one is going to be a shootout.
But when the smoke clears, Green Bay will emerge with the hard-fought win, 38-35.
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