Things change as we go later into the season, with contenders separating themselves from the pretenders, but you never know what can happen in the NFL. Predicting football is always a risky proposition, but every week there seem to be a few matchups with odds you can take advantage of.
Week 12 is no different, so let's take a look at three matchups that you can bring to the bank.
|NFL Week 12 Picks Against the Spread|
|New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||NO (-8)||NO|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Detroit Lions||DET (-9)||DET|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Houston Texans||HOU (-10)||JAC|
|Minnesota Vikings||Green Bay Packers||GB (-5)||MIN|
|San Diego Chargers||Kansas City Chiefs||KC (-5)||KC|
|Carolina Panthers||Miami Dolphins||CAR (-4)||CAR|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cleveland Browns||CLE (-2)||PIT|
|Chicago Bears||St. Louis Rams||STL (-1)||CHI|
|New York Jets||Baltimore Ravens||BAL (-4)||BAL|
|Tennessee Titans||Oakland Raiders||OAK (-1)||OAK|
|Indianapolis Colts||Arizona Cardinals||ARI (-2.5)||IND|
|Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||NYG (-2.5)||DAL|
|Denver Broncos||New England Patriots||DEN (-2.5)||DEN|
|San Francisco 49ers||Washington Redskins||SF (-5)||SF|
|VegasInsider.com Consensus Odds|
New Orleans (-8 at ATL)
These two teams are headed in completely opposite directions and the game has all the makings of a blowout. The New Orleans Saints (8-2) have a prolific offense once again while the Falcons (2-8) are reeling, having lost their past four contests by an average margin of 18.5 points.
Things hit rock bottom for the Falcons in Week 11, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers claimed a 41-28 victory. In that win, the Bucs put up 14 more points than they had in any other game this year.
With the high-octane Saints offense coming to town, it could be another long day for Atlanta.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees trails only Peyton Manning in both passing yards (3,369) and touchdowns (26) so far this season and the Saints rank No. 2 behind the Broncos in points per game (28.8).
Granted, the Saints only won by six points in their 23-17 victory over the Falcons in Week 1, but these are two completely different teams now.
For Atlanta, the biggest difference will be the absence of Julio Jones, who was one of the NFL's top receivers before going down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 5. The entire offense has struggled without Jones and it doesn't help that Roddy White has been dealing with ankle issues all year long.
The Falcons figure to have a hard time putting up points against New Orleans, which has had a major defensive overhaul under new coordinator Rob Ryan. The Saints currently rank fifth in points allowed per game (18.3) and fourth in yards allowed per game (305.4).
Meanwhile, Atlanta's defense gives up an average of 29.2 points per game, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Look for Brees and Co. to have a field day in the Georgia Dome and surpass the spread easily.
Indianapolis Colts (+2.5 at ARI)
The Arizona Cardinals (6-4) have elbowed their way into the NFC playoff picture with three straight victories and are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers for second place in the NFC West.
But those three wins came against teams with a combined five victories (Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars), so this matchup with the 7-3 Colts should be a better indicator of the team's true capabilities.
Indianapolis has been plagued by inconsistency this year, but quarterback Andrew Luck always seems to press the right buttons when it matters most. He proved it again last week, when he engineered another fourth-quarter comeback after the Colts faced an early deficit, eventually leading his team to a 30-27 win against the Tennessee Titans.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer also put together a nice effort in Week 11, going 30-of-42 for a season-high 419 yards and two scores in a 27-14 win against the porous Jacksonville Jaguars defense.
Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com shared some perspective on Palmer, who has thrown for 2,573 yards this year:
But which Colts team will show up against the Cardinals? The one which beat the Denver Broncos 39-33 in Week 7 or the one which lost to the St. Louis Rams 38-8 in Week 10?
I think it's much likelier that the Colts find a way to beat this spread easily and should win the game outright.
While the Cardinals have an impressive 22-6 win over the Carolina Panthers on their resume, Arizona has also been served sound defeats by other playoff contenders like the Saints (31-7) 49ers (32-20) and Seattle Seahawks (34-22).
The Cardinals haven't shown the ability to compete well against the league's top competition and their favorite status in this game is more a result of a weak schedule in recent weeks.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+10 at HOU)
The Houston Texans (2-8) entered the year with promise, but have been slowly falling apart all year, with most of the drama surrounding the quarterback position.
Frustration reached a boiling point on Sunday when respected wideout Andre Johnson and quarterback Matt Schaub exchanged heated words on the sideline after the Texans were shut out of the end zone on fourth down with about a minute left in their 28-23 loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Schaub entered the game for Case Keenum trailing 28-17 in the third quarter. The Texans held a 17-14 halftime lead, but were quickly losing by double digits after the offense went three-and-out on three straight drives to start the second half.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, coach Gary Kubiak's handling of the quarterback situation may affect his job status:
Still, the Texans are in better shape than the Jaguars, the league's lone one-win team whose best player, wideout Justin Blackmon, has been suspended for the rest of the year. But with the disarray in Houston, it's a bit much to expect the Texans to claim a double-digit win over anyone at this point—even the lowly Jags.
Houston has lost eight straight, while the Jaguars (1-9) claimed a 29-27 win in Week 10 on the road against the Tennessee Titans.
Even though this game will take place in Houston, the Jaguars should make it a competitive battle that won't be decided by 10 points.