NFL WEEK 12: Most of us have a lot to be thankful for, and I’m reminded of the wise man who said that gratitude is the emotion which cuts through all the dark clouds of negativity. On Thursday millions of Americans celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday in the same way that our forefathers did: with food, family, and football. Though none of the three games were nail-biters– Green Bay upset Detroit in a game that wasn’t as close as the 29-22 final score would indicate, while Dallas and San Francisco cruised to easy wins over division rivals Washington and Seattle– it was still nice to watch 12 hours of football on a Thursday while slipping in and out of a food coma. Holiday vibes, for sure.

For the first time we also had a game on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and that one wasn’t much of a contest, either, as the Dolphins totally overwhelmed the Jets in a 34-13 laugher. We’re due for some good games, and with 11 of this week’s 12 remaining contests featuring point spreads of 3.5 or less, I think we’re about to get them.

Let’s hope we can continue our winning ways with these three selections:


Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (JAX -1.5, 47)

Recommendation: Jacksonville -1.5 at 1.97

Houston went to Jacksonville back in Week 3 and physically dominated the Jags in a 37-17 victory that was a shocking result at the time, as Jacksonville was supposed to be among the best teams in the AFC while the Texans were supposedly in a rebuild phase. Well, now we know that the “rebuilding” Texans are not to be taken lightly and are firmly in the playoff race at 6-4. That said, it hasn’t always been pretty– in their last 6 games the Texans have four one-score wins, with ugly losses to Atlanta and Carolina mixed in. Only one of those six teams currently has a winning record, so it’s fair to wonder whether the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction and the once-underrated Texans are now a bit overvalued. The Jags, meanwhile, have won 6 of 7 since the letdown against Houston and are coming off what might’ve been their best performance of the season, a 34-14 blowout of division rival Tennessee. Trevor Lawrence accounted for 4 TDs in that game, and he should be able to exploit a Houston secondary that ranks 25th against the pass and is allowing 7.5 yards per attempt. Look for Jacksonville to get a little revenge here.


Kansas City Chiefs @ Las Vegas Raiders (KC -9.5, 43)

Recommendation: Kansas City -9.5 at 1.92

After scoring 21 points or fewer in 4 of their past 5 games, it’s clear that the Chiefs offense is going through a rough patch like we haven’t seen in the Reid/Mahomes era. Defenses are scheming to shut down Travis Kelce and none of the other Kansas City receivers, save rookie Rashee Rice, are able to get open with any consistency. Las Vegas has a tough defense that has held three consecutive opponents to 20 points or fewer, and edge rusher Maxx Crosby is one of the rare defenders who can control a game by totally disrupting what the opposing offense is trying to do. That said, Mahomes has absolutely torched the Raiders throughout his career, throwing for 2,464 yards, 21 TDs, and just two INTs across eight meetings. But it’s the other side of the ball that would have me really concerned here if I were a Vegas fan– the Kansas City defense has evolved into one of the top units in the NFL, ranking third in the league in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed. The Raiders offense, meanwhile, is a mistake-prone unit led by a rookie quarterback. Only four teams have scored fewer points than these Raiders and only three have gained fewer yards. It’s a mismatch on that side of the ball, so if Mahomes and the KC offense are able to find the end zone even a couple of times, this one could get ugly. A double-digit Chiefs victory feels like the most likely outcome here.


Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles (PHI -3, 48.5)

Recommendation: Buffalo +3 at 1.96

The Eagles have rattled off four straight wins since their stunning loss to the Jets and are now in the drivers’ seat in the race for the NFC’s 1-seed, which comes with a first-round postseason bye. That said, they’re averaging fewer yards per game than this week’s opponent, the Buffalo Bills, and the Bills also boast a plus-104 point differential compared to plus-61 for Philly. The difference between these two teams this season comes down to close games– the Eagles are 6-1 in games decided by 7 points or fewer, while all five of Buffalo’s losses have come by less than 7 points. The Bills are coming off a “get right” game against the Jets that saw their offense come alive to the tune of 400 yards and 32 points, and that Jets defense is allowing fewer yards per game than these Eagles. We can expect Josh Allen to have great success against a vulnerable Philly secondary that has surrendered more passing yards than all but four teams leaguewide. This feels like a game that will come right down to the end, and considering how many tight ones these teams have been involved in that’s probably a pretty safe prediction. Gimme the Bills and the points.


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