NFL Week 12 action leads to more uncertainty in the playoff race

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The NFL made it through 11 weeks of football with only minor problems from COVID-19. The Tennessee Titans suffered an outbreak earlier in the season that forced a few changes to the schedule, but everything was relatively smooth since then – until last week. The Baltimore Ravens have seen a major outbreak that led to their Thanksgiving game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to be postponed until tomorrow, but that is now in jeopardy, as well. While this important game will have to sit on the back burner, the rest of the Week 12 action found a few surprise outcomes that are making sports fans, and gamblers, question their predictions on who will land where in the newly-expanded playoffs. 

It looked like the New England Patriots were going to go down once again. They got off to a very slow start against the Arizona Cardinals, with quarterback Cam Newton held to less than 40 yards passing in the first half. He didn’t get much better in the second half and ended the day with no touchdowns and two interceptions, connecting with receivers for only 84 yards. The Cardinals had the better stats throughout the game, but the Pats still managed to pull off the win. It took a 50-yard field goal by Nick Folk with four seconds on the clock to break the 17-17 tie, but it was enough to keep the Pats alive for the postseason. Gamblers who backed the Pats scored, as well, as the +100 moneyline at BetRivers.com gave them some extra holiday spending money.

The Carolina Panthers were able to get QB Teddy Bridgewater back in the game following an injury that kept him out for a couple of weeks and he gave everything he had to try to beat the Minnesota Vikings. He had a lot of help, too, as safety Jeremy Chinn picked up two fumbles on two consecutive series, running them both back for touchdowns. It wasn’t enough, though, and the Panthers lost 28-27 after the Vikings came from behind with less than a minute on the clock to move ahead. For Vikings backers, they did well, with their team sitting on a moneyline of -157 ahead of the game.

Someone forgot to tell the Las Vegas Raiders they had a football game yesterday. That’s about the only explanation for the horrible performance they gave against what, by all accounts, is a massively inferior team. However, the Atlanta Falcons found their stride and dominated in almost every stat. The Raiders recorded four lost fumbles and one interception and allowed their QB to be sacked five times as the Falcons walked away with a 43-6 win. The Raiders were getting -175 ahead of the game and most of the money was put on them to win, but the few diehard Falcons fans who took their team at +150 picked up a nice payday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping a GM will help turn the team around. The Jags suffered their tenth straight loss yesterday, the latest against the Cleveland Browns, who improved to 8-3 with their 27-25 win. The only team with a worse losing streak this season is the New York Jets, and the run of bad performances had the Browns getting support from oddsmakers and gamblers. The moneyline was clearly in their corner at -335, but one particular prop bet is worth highlighting. Browns receiver Jarvis Landry had odds of +1200 to score the first TD of the game, which he did and which made a handful of gamblers very happy. 

There’s one “minor” detail about football that makes a big difference. It’s hard to play a decent game if you don’t have a QB. That was the position the Denver Broncos found themselves in yesterday, as their entire complement of passers was out due to COVID-19 issues. They had to call up a QB from their practice squad, rookie Kendall Hinton, and it did little good against the New Orleans Saints. The Broncos, who have now learned that the NFL is serious when it tells players to follow COVID-19 protocols, took a 31-3 beating and smarter gamblers probably didn’t even touch this game. New Orleans was getting -1450 ahead of the game, which wouldn’t make a lot of money.

The San Francisco 49ers kept their playoff hopes alive as they successfully defended their position in yesterday’s game against the LA Rams. It almost didn’t happen, though, and the Niners had to rely on a last-second field goal by Robbie Gould to secure the 23-20 win. San Francisco played sloppily and will have to do better if they want to avoid embarrassment in the postseason. The Rams had been the game’s favorites, at -240, but the +205 Niners squeaked by. 

The Tennessee Titans got the revenge they were seeking. They lost to the Indianapolis Colts a couple of weeks ago and had to face them again yesterday. The Colts were expected to deliver the Titans another defeat, but Tennessee wasn’t having it, and bettors weren’t buying it. The Titans were on fire, scoring four TDs in the first half on their way to a 45-26 win. Despite going into the game as +138 dogs, the Titans got most of the action – around 71% – at BetRivers.com. 

The Miami Dolphins and the Jets got together to play a pick-up game of football yesterday. The Jets haven’t won a game at all this season and, at this point, don’t want to. The Fins played sloppy throughout the game, and it was almost as if neither team was really into it. Miami, given -335 odds, easily walked away with the 20-3 victory.

The Kansas City Chiefs continue to look like the Super Bowl championship team they are. QB Patrick Mahomes threw for more than 400 yards, and added three TDs, against Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday. The Chiefs had control of the game at first, but Brady began to mount a comeback in the second half. However, he couldn’t complete it, and the Bucs took their third loss in four games with the 27-24 loss. This defeat gives the Saints a little more breathing room, as the two teams were vying for the top spot in the NFC South. 

There is one Week 12 game tonight, which will see the Seattle Seahawks taken on the Philadelphia Eagles. Football fans might be able to enjoy a Steelers/Ravens game tomorrow, but that decision is still unclear. For the games already played this week, the Over/Under continues to show a reversal from earlier in the season. The Over was the clear winner in the first half of the season, but has only won six games in Week 12. The Under has emerged as the stronger option, taking eight of the games already played this week.

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