The holidays serve as an interesting time for bettors who love to roll with the underdogs on NFL lines.
Week 12 gives fans three games to watch as opposed to one. The combination of the traditional short week plus the holiday itself always lends to some interesting results.
As does the rest of the schedule. Outside of the holiday and sheer cold, some organizations are beginning to shift their philosophy based on how the season has unfolded, but players still influence upsets while entering games as the spoiler.
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
Cleveland at Cincinnati (-3)
Bettors have been able to count against the Cincinnati Bengals for weeks and, no, playing against the Cleveland Browns doesn't change much.
The Bengals have lost four of five while trying to stay alive without A.J. Green. But the offensive line is struggling, and the defense coughed up more than 500 yards in three consecutive games—a Super Bowl-era record that encouraged head coach Marvin Lewis to take over as defensive coordinator after the team fired Teryl Austin.
It is the Browns entering this one in a steady situation. They took a 28-16 win over Atlanta before the bye, with Baker Mayfield throwing for three scores and Nick Chubb running for 176 yards and a score on an 8.8 per-carry average.
Mayfield has taken full advantage of a soft defensive schedule over the team's last two games:
The Bengals are just as soft, if not even worse. After allowing 500-plus yards in three straight, the defense coughed up another 403 to Baltimore while rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards and undrafted running back Gus Edwards ran for 115.
Even if the Bengals get A.J. Green back, this is a Cincinnati defense capable of single-handedly coughing up losses on its own while giving up yardage and points to rookies. Call it a showcase game for Mayfield, who, with the help of Chubb, can help the Browns exploit the Bengals defense late.
Prediction: Browns 24, Bengals 20
Seattle at Carolina (-3)
It's hard to register the Seattle Seahawks as underdogs right now.
Seattle has only gone 2-2 over its last four coming out of a bye, but the losses came to both Los Angeles teams by eight or fewer points, which isn't as bad as it sounds considering how strong those teams are right now.
The two wins came in Detroit and against Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers, the latter a Thursday win where Russell Wilson threw for 225 yards and a pair of scores while his ground game drummed up 173 yards and a score on a 4.9 yards-per-carry average.
Wilson outdueling Rodgers isn't too much of a shock given the coaching staffs at play and how well Seattle's quarterback has fit passes into tight windows:
Next Gen Stats @NextGenStats
No quarterback has been more effective than Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers when throwing into tight windows over the last three seasons: Wilson: 19 TD, 4 INT (84.1 passer rating) Rodgers: 13 TD, 2 INT (75.9 passer rating) #GBvsSEA #Seahawks #GoPackGo https://t.co/sTsvHoYMTV
Cam Newton continues to have a strong season in his own right, completing 68.4 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns against six interceptions. He's also unexpectedly getting a strong five yards per carry from the running game, but it often hasn't been enough to balance out a defense coughing up north of 25 points per game.
Case in point, Newton has tallied five touchdowns and two picks over his last two outings. But Carolina has gone down 51-21 and 20-19 to Pittsburgh and Detroit, respectively, in those games. Squinting quite hard at the schedule, it's worth pointing out the majority of Carolina's six wins have come against middling teams like the New York Giants, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
The Seahawks are better than those teams and should have plenty of composure for this one after extra time to prepare coming off a Thursday game. This has the feel of Wilson making second-half adjustments and exploiting a defense that has collapsed over the past few weeks.
Prediction: Seahawks 28, Panthers 21
Green Bay at Minnesota (-3)
Even after the aforementioned loss, it isn't wise to go against Rodgers.
The Packers might be 4-5-1 at this point and Rodgers might be limited by poor coaching, but he's still capable of taking command and winning games. They came up two points shy of the Los Angeles Rams a few weeks ago and played well in Foxborough against New England.
The fact the Packers don't have a winning record despite Rodgers sitting on 19 touchdowns and just one interception is why conversation points like this keep coming up:
But honestly, there isn't any sort of conversation surrounding the Vikings at all.
Formerly known as a defensive powerhouse, the Vikings have lost two of their last three, coughing up 25 or more points in both losses. Not only was there an odd 27-6 loss to Buffalo back near the start of the season, the record feels inflated with wins over Philadelphia, San Francisco, Arizona and the New York Jets.
The Kirk Cousins experiment isn't an outright failure, but it was always a possibility the huge investment would result in him playing timid, earning a 70.7 completion percentage but sitting on 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
As a reminder, these two played to a 29-all tie earlier in the season. But Green Bay's defense has improved since and Aaron Jones is now a staple of the offense, having rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns over his last two games alone.
With Jones paving the way and the defense able to squat on safe throws by Cousins, Rodgers should have enough wiggle room to steal one on the road.
Prediction: Packers 27, Vikings 20
Odds via OddsShark
Odds via OddsShark