Saturday, November 25, 2017

Week 12 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

Three games into Week 12 already, all three favorites covered on Thanksgiving and there are plenty of big spreads in the remaining games this week. In the 13 games remaining, eight of them have spreads of at least a touchdown including three that have spreads of 14-plus points.

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With that said, here are my Week 12 NFL picks against the spread:

New Orleans Saints +2 over Los Angeles Rams (3 units)

In what is projected to be the highest-scoring game of the week based on Vegas totals, this game should be one of the most entertaining. While Drew Brees remains an elite quarterback, the Saints have the league's most dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Over the past six weeks, Ingram has four 100-yard rushing games and eight rushing scores. Meanwhile, Kamara has 100-plus yards from scrimmage in four of his past five games with five scores over that span.

Jared Goff has taken a big step forward in his sophomore campaign by throwing 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions and both of New Orleans starting cornerbacks -- Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley -- will miss this week's game. That's a concern, but I think the Saints pull off the "upset" and win this game outright.

Buffalo Bills +9.5 over Kansas City Chiefs (2 units)

In what may have been the worst half of quarterback play ever, Nathan Peterman threw five interceptions in the first half last week before the team switched back to Tyrod Taylor. Not surprisingly, the Bills will start Taylor this week against the Chiefs. The Bills are expected to be without Kelvin Benjamin, but they should get Jordan Matthews back.

The Chiefs have really struggled as of late after starting the season 5-0. Since then, they have lost four of five and there has been some discussion (in the media) about whether the team should make a quarterback switch. I think the Chiefs get the win here, but I wouldn't be surprised if Taylor and the Bills keep this game close, much closer than the spread suggests.

Jaguars at Cardinals, Under 38.0 (2 units)

The Jaguars have been winning in spite of their quarterback. Meanwhile, they will face their former first-round quarterback on the other side. One of my concerns with the under in this matchup is the potential for defensive touchdowns, but I expect Jacksonville's elite defense to shut down Blaine Gabbert & Co. Larry Fitzgerald has been playing as well as nearly any wide receiver these days, but the Jaguars have allowed only one touchdown to a wide receiver all season and that was DeAndre Hopkins in Week 1. Barring the defense(s) from putting some points on the board, this should be a low-scoring affair that stays below the total.

Jacksonville Jaguars -5.5 over Arizona Cardinals (2 units)

Essentially the Jaguars have followed through on Doug Marrone's plan of taking the ball out of Blake Bortles' hands as no team has thrown the ball on a lower percentage of their plays than the Jaguars (48.90%). Meanwhile, the Cardinals rank second in the league in terms of pass-play percentage (64.42%). As noted above, however, it's difficult to pass on the Jaguars.

Not only do the Jaguars allow a league-low 160.0 passing yards per game, but no team has sacked the quarterback more (40). In fact, only four teams have 30 and two of those (Chargers and Vikings) have played one extra game. This could easily turn out to be a 20-10 type of game so I don't mind doubling down with the Jags-under stack.

- Note: All of our NFL picks against the spread will be centralized here.

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