Expert NFL Best Bets: Picks and predictions for Week 12

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Week 12 NFL best bets and predictions

Each week, I’ll be looking through Sunday’s NFL games to try and feed my readers three winners. That continues with the three best bets I have for the Week 12 slate. Keep reading to find out what I have and make sure you also check out what my talented VSiN colleagues are playing. Those plays, along with all of our NFL content for the week, are available at our Week 12 NFL Bet Hub. You can also get all of our picks for the week on the Pro Picks page

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Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

The Texans are on a three-game winning streak and have a great opportunity to make a statement this weekend. They can move into a tie with the Jaguars atop the AFC South standings by winning this game, and I’d actually be pretty surprised if they didn’t. I thought about taking the moneyline in this game, but the price just wasn’t there. You’re better off taking +1.5 in case anything crazy happens. But I do believe Houston will win this game.

The Texans are currently 12th in the league in Defensive DVOA against the run, so I think the team will be able to limit the damage that Travis Etienne does here. And Etienne has averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in each of the last five weeks. So, it’s not like this Jacksonville running game has been dangerous lately. And if the Jaguars aren’t picking up big yardage on the ground, I just don’t love Trevor Lawrence’s chances of delivering for Jacksonville on the road. Lawrence is coming off a huge game against the Tennessee Titans, but that was a home game against a bad team. Prior to that, Lawrence had really been struggling to consistently get the passing game going. So, I have serious doubts about whether he can keep up with C.J. Stroud and the Texans offense.

Houston is up to ninth in the league in Offensive DVOA this season, and it’s a fourth-ranked passing game that has done the heavy lifting. Stroud has thrown for at least 336 yards in each of the last three games, and this passing game has just been extremely explosive lately — with a lot of that having to do with the emergence of Tank Dell. The Jaguars defense is good, but the team does have a beatable secondary. So, I think we’ll see Stroud play well in this matchup.

Bet: Texans +1.5 (-110)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts

The Buccaneers looked better than expected in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week, and they have covered in each of their last four games. However, Tampa Bay hasn’t been able to actually win games, losing five of its last six straight-up. With a line as tight as this one, it’s likely the Bucs will have to go out and win this one. And with Indianapolis fresh off a bye week and looking to win its third game in a row, I don’t see that happening. In fact, I love the Colts in this spot.

It’s just a little hard to ignore that Indianapolis is currently 13th in the league in Defensive DVOA, and the team is 11th when it comes to defending the pass. That makes it hard to envision a scenario in which Baker Mayfield gets the Buccaneers passing game going, and Tampa Bay isn’t really capable of running either. So, this could be a tough game for the Bucs offense, especially with the Colts having had extra time to prepare for it.

Tampa Bay does have a good rushing defense, so Jonathan Taylor might struggle to regularly pick up chunks of yards on the ground. But I still think there will be some opportunities for him here, as the Colts will have had some time to address their mediocre line play this year. I also just think this is a game in which Gardner Minshew will get himself going. He had struggled heading into the bye, but the matchup doesn’t get much better than this.

Indianapolis also happens to be 2-0 both SU and against the spread as a favorite this season, so the Colts are winning the games they’re supposed to. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are just 1-7 SU and 3-5 ATS versus AFC opponents under Todd Bowles.

Bet: Colts -2.5 (-110) 

Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos

The Broncos barely escaped with a win in their meeting with the Minnesota Vikings last week, but this team is now 5-5 and has a real shot at making a push for the postseason. However, that push needs to begin with a win over a Browns team that is down to rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. Cleveland also picked up a win last week, outlasting the Pittsburgh Steelers, 13-10. But the Browns were miserable offensively in that one, and Thompson-Robinson never looked comfortable. Considering Denver has turned things up a notch defensively, I think there’s a good chance Cleveland struggles to score points here.

The question in this game is whether the Broncos can score enough to beat the Browns, who are first in the league in Defensive DVOA by a wide margin. But Denver has one of the brightest offensive minds in the game on the sidelines, and I trust Sean Payton to figure something out here. Russell Wilson is also still capable of dialing it back and making big plays with both his arm and his legs, as we saw when he found Courtland Sutton for a game-winning touchdown last week. And if you’re asking me which quarterback I’m more comfortable betting on in this game, it’s easily Wilson. Thompson-Robinson has never been in a spot like this, and he could get rattled in this difficult road environment.

The Broncos are also 3-2 under Payton in games with lines of +3 to -3. The Browns have a losing record in that situation under Kevin Stefanski.

Bet: Broncos -1.5 (-109)

Best Bets Record: 26-16 (+8.74 units)

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Zach has been writing about betting since he was a student at the University of Wisconsin, which is when he started working with StatFox — and contributing to the weekly Platinum Sheet. His work has since been featured for brands like Covers, Sports Illustrated and Tennis Channel. Zach is extremely passionate about the NBA, but he does a bit of everything and has found a niche as a tennis handicapper. Outside of work, Zach likes nothing more than shooting around in an empty gym or watching bad comedies.