NFL best bets for Week 12 from Steve Makinen


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NFL Week 12 Best Bets

Off another solid week for my NFL Best Bets, we push into the Thanksgiving Weekend games with a 46-28-1 ATS record, good for 62.2% on the season. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback since the Monday night game when I went with Philly on the point spread and moneyline. I’m sure most of you watching that game came to the realization that NFL games and wagers can sometimes be decided on a single play, as that game did with the late Chiefs’ dropped pass in the end zone.

NFL betting can be quite tough in that way, and so far in 2023, I’ve gotten more breaks like that than not. I have been a victim too. In any case, after pouring through another edition of the NFL Analytics Report, I have come up with eight plays for Week 12, including two totals.

Washington at Dallas

The middle game on the Turkey Day slate pits Washington and Dallas in an NFC East clash. The last few times the Cowboys have played at home, I have been effusive in my praise for their ability to score points in Arlington. In fact, the Cowboys have put up 40 PPG in their four home games this season after scoring 35.5 PPG in their final seven home contests last season.

Two weeks ago, oddsmakers had the gall to put a sub-40 total on the game versus the Giants and Dallas put up 49 by itself. Now, with a significantly higher total of 40, I think there’s still no play here to make but Over. Not only is head coach Mike McCarthy’s team capable of putting up a big number here but Washington is as well. In their last four outings, the Commanders are scoring 24 PPG on 415.8 YPG of offense. If that weren’t enough, the last eight games of the WAS-DAL series in Dallas are 7-1 Over with Dallas scoring about 33 PPG. I’m not sure why most of the betting action has come in on the Under here, doesn’t make much sense.

Let’s go OVER 48.5 in Washington-Dallas (+/-1)

New England at NY Giants

The Giants shocked everyone this past Sunday by winning at Washington as 7.5-point underdogs, their second win over the Commanders this season. Much of the credit for the win comes from turnovers as New York benefitted from a 6-0 advantage there. Because of that, we are gifted a nice betting system for this week’s game versus the Patriots: NFL teams coming off a game with a +6 turnover differential or better have naturally been bad betting options the next week, going 4-8 SU and 2-9-1 ATS (18.2%) in their last 12 tries.

New England also has an extreme system backing it after losing 10-6 to Indy before the bye week: NFL teams that lose while allowing fewer than 12 points have also fared well in their follow-up game, going 15-5 SU and 18-2 ATS (90%) since 2015. Add to that the betting angle showing road favorites coming out of their bye week vs. non-conference foes owning a 33-14-2 ATS record since ’00, and it gives me enough reason to back the Patriots here. I assume they got something out of their bye week, right?

Let’s lay the 3 points with New England (+/-1)

Carolina and Tennessee

Man has the Carolina offense been bad this season, scoring just 16.3 PPG. I could never fathom laying points with an offense that bad. Oh wait, the Panthers aren’t laying points this week. They are catching 3.5 points against an offense that is nearly as bad! Tennessee’s ineptitude in that regard has not gotten enough publicity, probably because they’ve managed to win three games.

However, could you honestly ever trust an NFL favorite who has lost its last three and scored just 12 PPG in the process, regardless of who they are playing? This system says you shouldn’t: NFL teams that have lost at least their last three games outright have gone 47-31 SU but 28-47-3 ATS (37.3%) when favored by 3 points or more since 2013. With such a low total, I believe oddsmakers are telling us neither team will score well here. Just take the points then.

Let’s go with Carolina +3.5 (+/- 0.5) at Tennessee

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

With Joe Burrow having been lost to injury for the season, any hope for the Bengals has to be washed, right? Well, I don’t think anyone has told them that, and I can assure you that they are not taking kindly being put as a home underdog to the mediocre Steelers this week. Public bettors have jumped all over it too, with over 70% of the bets in on Pittsburgh. I don’t have the exact stats on me, but I can’t believe that road favorites scoring less than 17 PPG do very well.

With Burrow out, I have taken 5.5 points off the power rating of Cincinnati, and even still, my Power Rating Line calls for Bengals -0.2. In other words, I believe oddsmakers have taken this one too far. Head coach Mike Tomlin’s team has averaged only about 16.5 PPG in its last four at Cincy, right around its current season average. If the hosts hold them to fewer than 17 points, I like their chances to still get a win here, extending a 4-1 SU and ATS record in the last five head-to-head games.

Let’s go Cincinnati (+1) as the home dog here with pick ’em or -1 ok too


LA Rams at Arizona

Oddsmakers have really changed their opinion on Arizona since Kyler Murray came back in the fold, as according to my Bettor’s Ratings, they have been boosted about 5.5 points since his return. Is it valid? Is Arizona prepared to make some noise for the rest of the season? I’m not quite there yet, as after the respectable win against Atlanta two weeks ago, the Cardinals put up just a modest 16 points last week in losing at Houston. I’m not sure they’ve shown anywhere near enough to be getting the line respect they are this week against the Rams, who find themselves lingering on the edge of the playoff picture.

This is the second time these teams will be playing in 2023, and that could prove important as the rematch records for both teams vary greatly. In fact, on the list of worst NFL rematch teams lately, you’ll find Arizona: 3-12 SU and 4-11 ATS skid in the last 15, as well as 3-9 SU and 1-11 ATS in the last 14 such games at home. Meanwhile, the Rams are on the list of best NFL road rematch teams lately: 7-3 SU and 9-1 ATS in the last 10 on the road. Not only that but in the head-to-head series, the Rams have won their last eight ATS at Arizona. The wrong team is favored here, and even if it changes late and the Rams end up favored, I don’t think it matters.

Let’s go LA Rams (+1) as the road dog here with pick ’em or -1 ok too

Cleveland at Denver

We didn’t get the cover with Denver on Sunday night, but the Broncos still got the win and are still riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak. It hasn’t been dominant play by any means, as they are just +20 in point differential during that stretch, but it is the winning of close games that often galvanize teams.

Take a look at this system: NFL teams that have won their last four games outright while outscoring opponents by fewer than 30 total points in that span have gone 55-13 SU and 45-21-2 ATS (68.2%) in the next game when favored. We’ve seen teams win like this a lot recently. Think back to the Giants or Vikings last year. Here, head coach Sean Payton’s team takes on a Cleveland team that is down its quarterback but still managing to win games.

Of concern, however, is the way the Browns offense played last week, mustering just 13 points and 259 yards behind backup QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. I think Denver has a good chance to extend its winning streak as well as its 9-2-2 ATS mark in head-to-head play versus Cleveland.

Let’s go Denver -1.5 at home over Cleveland and up to -2.5

Kansas City at Las Vegas

Sometimes the environment and culture of a team can be improved by simply changing coaches. It seems that is exactly what has happened with the Raiders in going from McDaniels to Pierce. Since the move three weeks ago, Las Vegas has won two games and nearly a third by almost upsetting heavily favored Miami last week. Pierce’s defense held Miami 10.5 points below their average. If they do the same this week, they will be in very good shape, as this Kansas City offense may be relatively new, but it is certainly not improved.

I’m sure you’ve read the bits this week about the Chiefs averaging a league-low 5.9 points in the second half of games. This week head coach Andy Reid’s team will have to deal with Maxx Crosby, who has been making life very difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Of course, there are also a pair of nice pre-bye week systems indicating that the Raiders will carry on the momentum: Play on any team heading into their bye week when facing a divisional opponent. (Record: 53-20-1 ATS since 2013) and play on home underdogs heading into their bye week. (Record: 35-17-2 ATS since 2015). I’ll keep riding this team till it seems we shouldn’t.

Let’s go Las Vegas +9.5 (+/- 1.5) as the home dog vs. KC

Chicago at Minnesota

Looking to win a sixth straight MNF game here, I thought long and hard about backing Chicago as the underdog here, as the VSiN Analytics Report shows that MNF hosts have struggled ATS in divisional games but I didn’t want to risk the streak by relying on the Bears. Instead, after seeing the lift that the return of QB Justin Fields gave the Bears offense last week, combined with what seems to be a productive Vikings offensive attack behind QB Josh Dobbs, I think a rare MNF Over could be in order.

Yes, yes, I know that Unders on Monday nights, and any night for that matter have been all the rage, but sometimes when the media tries to make plays too obvious, it goes completely the other way. In this case, as of this writing, we had 76% of the handle at DraftKings on the Under 43. That is a very heavy distribution for an NFL game and makes this a very public play. Chicago went for 26 points and 334 yards in Fields’ return last week while the Vikings have produced 26 PPG and 378.7 YPG in the last three games with Dobbs. These are not two struggling offenses. Also, the Vikings have gone Over the total in 10 of their last 11 same-season rematch games, and the last four games of the CHI-MIN series at Minnesota went Over the total.

Let’s take OVER 43 (+/- 1) in the Chicago-Minnesota MNF tilt

For more system matches and key trends, check out the Week 12 NFL Analytics Report.

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As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.