NFL picks for Week 12 from Matt Youmans

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NFL best bets and predictions Week 12

STEELERS (-1.5) over Bengals

It’s too soon to draw conclusions on Kenny Pickett, who’s stumbling through his second season as the Steelers’ quarterback, but the next seven games will tell a lot about where he’s headed.

Time had run out on Matt Canada as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator, and that much was obvious long before Tuesday, when Canada was fired. The Steelers rank 28th in total offense (280 yards per game) and offensive scoring (15 ppg). Pickett has only six touchdown passes through 10 games. Somehow, the team is 6-4 despite its offensive futility.

The Bengals (5-5) have a bigger problem at quarterback in the wake of Joe Burrow’s season-ending wrist injury. Jake Browning has no experience as a starter, and Cincinnati is 2-5 in games Burrow has not started since 2020.

The Steelers have been outgained in all 10 games this season, something that should change Sunday at Cincinnati. The Bengals have allowed 284.3 passing yards in the past three games and their run defense ranks near the bottom of the league. The opponent and the switch to quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan as the play-caller should spark the Pittsburgh offense.

With a knack for winning ugly games, the Steelers resemble the NFL version of the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Bengals are 0-3 straight up and ATS in AFC North games and their season is about to become a lost cause without Burrow.

Pick: Steelers -1.5

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My five sides went 3-2 last week, putting the season record in this column at 26-26-3. Four more plays for Week 12 (home team in CAPS):

TEXANS (+2) over Jaguars

Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a 1-4 career record against Houston, with seven interceptions and four touchdown passes in those games. The Texans won the season’s first meeting 37-17 in Week 3 and can tie the Jaguars atop the AFC South with a win. Houston owns this rivalry, winning 10 of the past 11, and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has a hot hand.

COLTS (-2.5) over Buccaneers

This could be a breakout game for Indianapolis quarterback Gardner Minshew and running back Jonathan Taylor, who has failed to top 100 yards rushing in 10 straight games. The Colts, who totaled 456 yards and 38 points against the Cleveland defense in Week 7, are capable of putting up big numbers and their opponent is short-handed. Tampa Bay’s defense will be without linebacker Lavonte David, the team’s leading tackler, and cornerback Jamel Dean, and linebacker Devin White and corner Carlton Davis are listed as questionable.

Bills (+3) over EAGLES

Philadelphia continues to find ways to win close games, as it did Monday with a 21-17 comeback victory at Kansas City. Jalen Hurts took five sacks, threw a pick and the Eagles were outgained 336-238 by the Chiefs. The Eagles just beat the Chiefs and Cowboys — games they probably should have lost — and have the 49ers on deck, so this is a tough scheduling spot. Buffalo has lost five games by six points or fewer and is a desperate team in need of a big win. This role fits Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who’s 11-5-1 ATS as a road ‘dog.

Ravens (-3) over CHARGERS

The defenses will be the difference. Baltimore has an elite defense (16.1 ppg) and the Chargers rank near the bottom of the league in most key defensive categories. The coaches are another difference — the Ravens’ John Harbaugh is about as good as it gets and the Chargers’ Brandon Staley is simply bad. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Ravens (8-3) have trailed for only 32 minutes and 15 seconds of game time all season, the second-best number for any NFL team through 11 games since 1970.

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