Betting on NFL Week 12

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by - 11/23/2008 4:11 AM Share

By: Staff Writer - StatFox

A super day of NFL wagering possibilities is available with a number of very good contests. New England and Miami is great revenge spot for the Patriots (Free Foxsheet), who will be trying to even the season series and hope the New York Jets lose at Tennessee, placing them back in first place tie in the AFC East. Carolina will look to put any critics to rest, navigating to Atlanta seeking the sweep. Physical, hard-nose football will be played in Baltimore, with the Ravens and Philadelphia each in must win spots. Arizona can show the country the Dallas win was no fluke by taking down the defending Super Bowl champs on there home turf. Bookmaker.com provides the Week 12 numbers.

New England at Miami (Dolphins -1, 42)

In a season chock full of upsets, Miami's 38-10 victory at New England in Week 3 was a really eye-opener at the time. The Dolphins limped into the game losers of 20 of their previous 21, while the Patriots were riding a league-record 21-game regular-season win streak. It was a classic example of why they play the games.

Ronnie Brown was in on all five Miami touchdowns that day, scoring four of his own and throwing for one as rookie head coach Tony Sparano unleashed the "Wildcat" offense that has spread throughout the league like a brushfire. The formation isn't new by any stretch of the imagination. It's basically a variation of Pop Warner's century-old single-wing offense. Brown, who has nine touchdowns on the year after a 17-15 win over Oakland, proved a direct-snap nightmare for the Patriots, who suffered their biggest setback in seven years at Gillette Stadium.

Fast forward two months later and the Dolphins (6-4, 5-5 ATS) and Patriots (6-4, 5-5 ATS) are not only in the AFC playoff picture but also batting with the Jets and Bills for the East division title. None of the four clubs has a losing record heading into this Sunday's action, and no doubt at least three have changed dramatically from 2007. At this time a year ago, Miami was 0-10, New England 10-0, New York 2-8 and Buffalo 5-5. The Patriots will arrive in south Florida 16-6 ATS in road games revenging a home loss.


The stage was set last Thursday night when the Patriots hosted the Jets with first place on the line. And despite the best game of Matt Cassel's career, which included a 16-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss with one second left in the fourth quarter to force overtime, New England came up short, 34-31. Cassel passed for 400 yards and three scores and also ran for 62 yards, but a defense without linebacker Adalius Thomas (forearm) couldn't make key stops. New York was 9 of 15 on third-down conversions. The Pats will try to rebound being 16-6 against the spread on the road.

After allowing only one sack in its previous two games, New England gave up three to the Jets and its total swelled to 33—already 12 more than last season. Miami's defense ranks 25th against the pass, allowing 226.5 yards per game, and faces a far more confident Cassel than it did last time, playing their third consecutive home game, where they are 6-15 ATS since 2006.

Keys to the Game-

This would seem the type of game right in Bill Belichick wheelhouse, since he was essentially out-coached (gasp) in earlier meeting. It goes without saying New England will see the Wildcat and possibly another variation, they must be prepared. Cassel is improving, thus Moss has to be force-fed the ball, which opens up Wes Welker and the running game. New England is 17-4-1 ATS off a SU loss. Miami best bet is to rattle Cassel and make him make poor decisions or throw passes up for grabs. Chad Pennington is still making good decisions, but the offense has scored just 38 total points against Seattle and Oakland at home. Pennington has to get the ball further downfield or the Dolphins fall to 1-5 ATS after totaling 250 or more yards.

StatFox Forecaster - New England covers
StatFox Power Line - New England by 9
StatFox OutPlay Factor - New England by 6

N.Y. Jets at Tennessee (Titans -5.5, 40.5)

What were the odds of the New York Jets and Tennessee both being in first place heading into Sunday's matchup at LP Field? And what were the odds of the Titans still being undefeated through 10 games? It kind of makes the Jets four-game winning streak pale in comparison.

Tennessee (10-0, 9-0-1 ATS), a 24-14 winner in Jacksonville, can clinch a tie for the AFC South title with a win this week and an Indianapolis loss in San Diego. A bevy of clutch plays in the second half helped the Titans overcome an 11-point deficit to complete a season sweep of the Jaguars. Quarterback Kerry Collins had his second straight multi-touchdown game as he completed two scoring passes to Justin Gage and one to Bobby Wade, and the defense didn't allow more than nine yards on 6 of 8 second-half possessions, as the Titans are 6-0 ATS after holding opponent to 14 or fewer points.

New York (7-3, 6-4 ATS) is the hottest team the Titans have faced all season, so they'll have to prove themselves yet again. The Jets come off a signature victory, 34-31 in overtime at New England last Thursday night. It was just their second win over the Patriots in 13 tries. Jay Feely capped a 14-play, 64-yard drive with a 34-yard field goal 7:10 into OT to vault Gang Green into sole possession of first place in the AFC East. The defense gave up 511 yards, including the last 16 with one second remaining in the fourth quarter on a Randy Moss touchdown grab that eventually forced Brett Favre (26 of 33, 258 yards, two touchdowns, no turnovers) back on the field for another series.

Favre showed why the Jets acquired him and delivered, driving the offense from its own 19 to the New England 17 to set up the winning kick. The win broke a tie for the division lead between the teams and put the Jets alone in first place for the first time since Nov. 19, 2001. The Flyboys are 14-5 ATS in the second half of the season over the last three seasons.

If they find a way to beat Tennessee, talk of an all-New York Super Bowl will be uncontrollable with the defending champion Giants at 9-1.

The Titans topped the Jets a year ago, 10-6, in a sloppy, defensive struggle. Each team had two turnovers and neither topped 300 yards of offense. Tennessee's franchise leads the all-time series by a 21-15-1 margin; however the road team is 4-1 ATS in last five meetings.

Keys to the Game-

The Jets 28th ranked pass defense could not shake Matt Cassel, suggesting a wily vet like Collins should be able to spot New York's secondary weak spots with no problem. Tennessee has shown great diversity in offense in recent games, do what it takes to set up the running game. Jeff Fisher is among the few coaches willing to have numerous three yard runs, understanding their value. On defense, collapse the pocket around Favre and ball-hawking DB's go to work for a team that is 11-3 ATS when they force two turnovers. The New York special teams could help again if they can set up a couple of scores with touchdown or great field position. In many ways the Jets are mirror image of Tennessee. The Titans are seventh in the league in rushing offense and 10th in rushing defense. The Jets are ninth and fourth, respectively in those categories, beat them as their own game. New York is 16-6 ATS on the road when they gain around the same number of yards as their opponent.

StatFox Forecaster - Jets cover
StatFox Power Line - Tennessee by 5
StatFox OutPlay Factor - Tennessee by 9


The Philadelphia Eagles (5-4-1, 6-4 ATS) can't afford any more missteps if they hope to make the playoffs for the second time in four years. Last week's 13-13 tie in Cincinnati—the first in the NFL since 2002—puts them 3.5 games behind the Giants in the NFC East and behind the 8-ball in the wild-card race.

Defense is clearly not a problem, as the Bengals found out. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked eight times and Cincinnati totaled just 56 yards rushing on 30 carries and punted 11 times after 14 possessions. Even the Bengals points came off of drives starting in Eagles territory—none of the three (two field goals, one touchdown) lasted more than 2:51 or had more than six plays.

To get back on the winning track, it's Donovan McNabb & Co. that must get their act together. McNabb threw three interceptions for the first time in 26 games, but the biggest problem on offense lies in the backfield with Brian Westbrook. Aside from a 167-yard effort against Atlanta in Week 8, Westbrook has looked nothing like the explosive dual-threat runner who's averaged 2,010 total yards over the last two seasons. In three games since demolishing the Falcons, Westbrook has run for 147 combined rushing yards on 47 carries and hasn't figured much in the passing game (12 catches). This has been the type of game the Eagles have bounced back, with 6-0 ATS record as a road underdog of seven points or less over the last three seasons.

A big turnaround on the ground would provide the balance the Eagles need, but don't expect a second consecutive meltdown by the Ravens (6-4, 7-3 ATS). The much-ballyhooed No. 1 run defense in the NFL was pushed around, beaten up and flat-out run over by the Giants. The three-headed attack of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward trampled Baltimore for 207 yards rushing on 33 carries in a 30-10 win. To put that number in perspective, the Ravens previous four opponents combined for 257 yards on 80 attempts. Chalk last week's effort to scheduling and superior opponent, as that was Baltimore third straight road game and fifth in six contests. The Ravens are 5-1 ATS after surrendering 150 yards or more in last outing.

Though head coach John Harbaugh has gradually taken the reins off rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, Philadelphia's defense is the type of aggressive unit that takes advantage of inexperience. To keep the Eagles from blitzing with reckless abandon, the Ravens must continue to ride their running game, which is averaging 146.8 yards or they will tumble to 4-13 ATS off a loss.

Keys to the Game-

In this battle of the Birds, the loser likely flies out of sight of the playoff picture. Coach Andy Reid needs to rely on offensive line to get Westbrook going, since McNabb has been pediculous the last two games. Both sides of the line need to play tougher and be more physical. Even with last week's spread loss, Philadelphia is 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games. With blitzing defense, make certain to give Flacco plenty of flak. Baltimore's going go have to dig a little deeper in Week 12, with offensive line and secondary looking like M.A.S.H units. The receivers have to do a better job of getting open to help the running game and the defensive front seven has to make McNabb feel unwelcome. The Ravens will look to attack these Eagles and are 19-8 ATS in home games off a non-conference game.

StatFox Forecaster - Philadelphia covers
StatFox Power Line - Baltimore by 2
StatFox OutPlay Factor - Baltimore by 1

Carolina at Atlanta (Falcons -1, 43)

If NFC South teams continue to play such phenomenal football at home, the Elias Sports Bureau will be put on notice because history could be in the making. Heading into Week 12, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans have a combined record of 19-2 (12-5-2 ATS) in home games, and the foursome is sure to threaten the best single-season home mark for a division since the NFL went to its current format in 2002. In '03, NFC West teams Seattle, St. Louis, San Francisco and Arizona went 26-6.

The Panthers are 6-0 at home following an 11-point victory over Detroit; the Falcons are 4-1 at the Georgia Dome after a loss to Denver and will seek to get back on winning track immediately since they are 11-27 ATS in home games after playing a game at home.

The Falcons and Panthers have been division rivals ever since Carolina joined the league as an expansion franchise in 1995, and of their last dozen meetings only a few were in doubt come the two-minute warning. Since 2002, when Atlanta swept the season series by a combined score of 71-0, only two of 13 games between these teams were close. The Falcons took both in overtime—20-14 in 2003 and 34-31 in '04. In Week 4 of this season it was all Panthers in the second half of a 24-9 decision at Bank of America Stadium. Quarterback Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad with long touchdown passes as Carolina took a 17-10 lead in the all-time series. Prior to that encounter, the road team was 8-3 ATS in last 11 confrontations.

Quarterback Matt Ryan (11 touchdowns, six interceptions) isn't playing like a rookie, wide receiver Roddy White (58 catches, 903 yards, six touchdowns) is playing like Pro Bowl receiver, and running back Michael Turner (971 yards, nine scores) is earning every dime of a hefty free-agent contract and the defense has pulled its weight as of late after a sluggish start.

Ryan didn't turn the ball over in the first meeting but was often hurried and went 21 of 41 for 158 yards. He's been sacked eight times in four losses compared to four times in six wins. Atlanta has covered five in a row off a spread loss. Watch the total when these two teams collide, 18-6 UNDER.

Keys to the Game-

Atlanta even being in contention in the NFC South is similar to Janet Napolitano being the leading candidate for secretary of homeland security. Delhomme is 17 for 46, for a 155 total yards the last two weeks, the Falcons defense needs to keep him in the funk. Those same 11 defense players will have to bull their necks to stop Carolina's power rushing game that is sixth in the NFL at 133.7 YPG. If this can't be accomplished, these Birds fall to 1-8 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record in the second half of the season. After playing Oakland and Detroit, the homecoming games are over, prepare to be tested with four of last six on the road, starting with Atlanta. See the player with "89" on his back with the name Smith, get him the ball frequently. If the Panthers do, they go to 6-0 ATS off a non-cover.

StatFox Forecaster - Carolina covers
StatFox Power Line - Atlanta by 1
StatFox OutPlay Factor - Carolina by 3

N.Y. Giants at Arizona (Cardinals +3, 48.5)

As the ultimate road warriors of the NFL, few teams of any generation can match the Giants 14-1 (12-3 ATS) mark away from home (including playoffs) over the last 15 games. They head west, returning to where they accomplished one of their greatest triumphs, winning the Super Bowl earlier in 2008 at University of Phoenix Stadium. They will face the Arizona Cardinals (7-3 SU & ATS) have won the last two meetings in the series and three of the last five on their home turf.

Former teammate Kurt Warner is turning in what might be the best year of his career, completing a staggering 70.87 percent of his passes, putting him a hair ahead of Ken Anderson's record of 70.55 set in 1982. The 11-year veteran holds the kryptonite to the Supermen of pressure—a quick release. The Giants have already racked up 31 sacks, but over-aggression against Warner can lead to big plays from his trio of top receivers all threatening to crack the 1,000-yard mark. In the win over Seattle, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald combined for 23 catches and 337 yards. The Cardinals are 8-1 ATS vs. teams outscoring opponents by six or more points per game on the season over the last three seasons.

On the flip side, the Giants speed rushers—Justin Tuck (8.5 sacks) and Mathias Kiwanuka (6.5)—present the toughest challenge yet for a Cardinals offensive line that has kept Warner upright all year (18 sacks). In the face of pressure, Warner's had struggles throughout his career, fumbling 87 times in 103 games, including seven (five lost) in 2008. The Giants are 11-2 ATS after playing a game at home.

It'll be a chess battle for sure, and one way the Cardinals can keep the defense off-balance is to work in screen passes to rookie Tim Hightower and the latest new-found wrinkle—handoffs to Anquan Boldin. He leads the NFL with 10 touchdowns, and has seven carries for 60 yards in the last four games. The Redbirds will try to overcome a lot of past negative vibe, including being 2-11 ATS in home games after two or more consecutive wins.

Depending on the matchup, Eli Manning has functioned well as a game manager or the focal point of the offense. In Arizona, look for him to again defer to Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward. The Cardinals secondary includes several top-notch defensive backs in Adrian Wilson (two interceptions) and Antrel Rolle, who are fully capable of shutting down the struggling Plaxico Burress (13 catches, 137 yards in the last five games) and Steve Smith. New York is 12-3 ATS after out-rushing opponent by 75 or more yards last game.

Keys to the Game-

This is the next step in the progression for Arizona to see if they really belong with the NFC top tier teams. To prove they are Wayne Campbell worthy, the Cardinals must tackle better than they have all season, reduce penalties that have been coming more frequently and score touchdowns against the champs when they are inside the 30. Arizona is 6-0 ATS versus teams that score 24 or more points. The Giants (9-1, 8-2 ATS) have unflappable all season, since they entered the year without tremendous fanfare. Everything starts to change now heading down the stretch as the hunted. The G-Men will want to control the ball with the run, to keep Cards offense off the field and give Warner flashback's when he was shell-shocked playing for their team.

StatFox Forecaster - Arizona covers
StatFox Power Line - Giants by 5
StatFox OutPlay Factor - Giants by 6


College & Pro Football Newsweekly was contributor to this article.


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