Oddsmakers aren't taking any chances with the NFL's Week 12 slate.
Eight games have opening lines of less than a touchdown heading into the holiday schedule after oddsmakers everywhere got burned on over/under lines and otherwise, thanks to the 54-51 affair in favor of the Los Angeles Rams over the Kansas City Chiefs.
So not only is the degree of difficulty for would-be bettors higher than normal thanks to three Thursday games, but houses are rallying to recoup losses because a couple of innovative head coaches just put on a fireworks show.
Week 12 NFL Odds
Chicago (-4.5) at Detroit | O/U 45
Washington at Dallas (-7.5) | O/U 40.5
Atlanta at New Orleans (-13) | O/U 59.5
Cleveland at Cincinnati (-3) | O/U 47.5
Jacksonville (-3) at Buffalo | O/U 37.5
New England (-10) at N.Y. Jets | O/U 46
N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia (-6) | O/U
Oakland at Baltimore (-11) | O/U 42.5
Seattle at Carolina (-3) | O/U 47.5
San Francisco at Tampa Bay (-3.5) | O/U 55
Arizona at L.A. Chargers (-12) | O/U 45
Miami at Indianapolis (-10) | O/U 50.5
Pittsburgh (-3) at Denver | O/U 46.5
Green Bay at Minnesota (-3) | O/U 48
Tennessee at Houston (-4.5) | O/U n/a
Chicago (-4.5) at Detroit
Thursday games usually favor home teams in a big way, but this one looks like the exception to the rule.
The Chicago Bears have won four games in a row and it would be five were it not for an encounter with New England. Now 7-3, the Bears are getting a nice leap from Mitchell Trubisky under center, who hasn't had many problems throwing 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and the elite Khalil Mack-led defense.
Don't let the above discredit Trubisky too much—he's pulling his weight:
But the bigger tell in how this game will play out is Detroit. The Lions are 4-6 and have lost three of four, with the losses not even being competitive margins of 28-14, 24-9 and 34-22. Matthew Stafford has thrown 17 touchdowns against eight interceptions, but the Lions' ground game is a liability again and their defense sits tied for 24th at 26.3 points allowed per game.
The Lions are just...there. They won last time out by a single point but have also shrugged off the season in recent weeks with the trade of Golden Tate. The 34-22 loss came against these Bears, when the better coaching staff of the two ripped a division foe by guiding Trubisky to a trio of touchdown passes. The score is a lie, too, considering Detroit put 12 on the board in garbage time in the fourth quarter.
On a short week, the team with the better coaching staff and defense should be able to overcome hostile surroundings to coast just as it did a few weeks prior, sans the playing on the road part.
Prediction: Bears 28, Lions 20
Washington at Dallas (-7.5)
Those in charge of the schedule had the right idea with this one.
Unfortunately for all, they could not have predicted a season-ending injury to Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith in Week 11, which shifts career backup Colt McCoy into a starting role.
Those Redskins had looked great and commanded the NFC East at 6-3 before Smith went down and they lost to Houston. Still winners of four of their last six and with an elite defense, the Redskins now have to hit the road on a short week while breaking in a new starting quarterback.
That simply won't work.
The Dallas Cowboys haven't been perfect either, by any means. But they are winners of two in a row and their offensive centerpiece keeps chugging right along:
Ezekiel Elliott is up to 953 yards and five touchdowns while averaging five yards per carry, and his job is only getting easier now that defenses have to worry about what Amari Cooper brings to the passing game.
These two met back in Week 7 in Washington, a 20-17 win for the hosts while Smith threw for a score and didn't turn the ball over. Elliott only rushed 15 times, and Michael Gallup served as the team's leading receiver (81 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown).
Now at home facing a Washington team with a new quarterback, a new-look offensive line after injuries and an offense getting nothing from its wide receivers as it is, a run-first approach for the Cowboys should have them cruising to a win and getting back into the NFC East conversation.
Prediction: Cowboys 23, Redskins 13
Atlanta at New Orleans (-13)
This one could get ugly in a hurry.
The Atlanta Falcons have lost two in a row after stringing together three consecutive wins against iffy competition. Now 4-6 and still missing a handful of key defensive starters, it continues to matter little that Matt Ryan is completing 71.1 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions when the defense ranks fourth-worst while allowing 27.6 points per game.
Now an up-and-down offense and one of the league's worst defenses have to tackle the Saints and a guy named Drew Brees:
Those Saints have won nine games and haven't lost since the opener. The most recent victim was the Philadelphia Eagles, when they made a mockery of the defending champs in 48-7 fashion, getting four touchdown passes from Brees and 173 yards and two scores on the ground.
Brees is completing 76.9 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns against one interception all season. This includes wins over stingy defenses like Baltimore, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Rams, not to mention the Falcons back in Week 3. That was an overtime affair in Atlanta when the Falcons were still somewhat healthy, but things have collapsed since then for Atlanta while New Orleans has only improved in all facets.
Bettors shouldn't shy away from such a large spread here, not with the Saints winning their last two games by a combined total of 99-21. This one is on a short week at home against an injured opponent they know well, so it should be another video game-like performance for Brees.
Prediction: Saints 38, Falcons 10
Odds via OddsShark