The stars have aligned for NFL schedule makers with Week 12 fast approaching, thanks to four games that feature top tier teams jockeying for postseason position.
To start the upcoming football frenzy off in style, Thursday night action pits the Indianapolis Colts (6-4) against the Houston Texans in a “winner takes the AFC South lead” rivalry game.
Houston Hosts Indianapolis with Division Lead on the Line
Forced to start third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer, the Colts suffered a shocking home loss at the hands of the dreadful Miami Dolphins (2-8) in Week 10. But with starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett back in the fold last Sunday, the team rebounded nicely on the strength of their defense in a stifling 33-13 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-5).
That performance set the Colts up to take the division lead this week, but they’ll need to beat the Houston Texans (6-4) on the road with both teams on short rest. Indy already has a victory over Houston this season, so a win here would clinch the pivotal head-to-head tiebreaker, but the Colts are catching a Texans team still smarting from their worst performance of the year.
Per the latest lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada, the Texans get the nod as slim (-4) favorites. Historical trends usually don’t matter all that much, but considering favorites have gone 101-68-5 (59.8%) against the spread (ATS) since 2003, backing Houston to rebound just like Indianapolis did in their most recent divisional matchup could be a great way for bettors to kick off Week 12 in the black.
And if NFL daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests are more up your alley, the Colts could have dynamic wideout T.Y. Hilton back on the field for the first time in nearly a month. T.Y. Hilton, who posts big numbers when not injured, missed the past several games with a calf injury. For Week 12, Hilton was given his “game time decision” designation from head coach Frank Reich.
Defending Champs & Potential Super Bowl Usurpers Take Center Stage
If Thursday Night Football is the perfect appetizer, and Sunday’s early slate of games offers a meaty main course, dessert arrives later in the afternoon when the New England Patriots (9-1) host the Dallas Cowboys (6-4).
The defending Super Bowl champions are enjoying yet another stellar season, thanks in large part to an elite defense that has feasted all year on bad offenses. But when New England finally faced an electric offense guided by an MVP contending quarterback two weeks ago, the Baltimore Ravens routed them to the tune of 37-20.
Dallas Cowboys (+7) @ New England Patriots
Well, don’t look now, but Dallas and its own MVP-caliber signal-caller Dak Prescott are coming to Foxboro boasting the league’s most prolific offense. Prescott, bolstered by the acrobatics of wide receiver Amari Cooper in a career year, has the Cowboys putting up 444.6 yards per game with the ball in their hands – second only to the Ravens (428.6).
Faced with not one but two public betting darlings, the bookmakers at Bovada have the Cowboys as (+7) road dogs in this one.
San Francisco 49ers (-3) vs. Green Bay Packers
After the country wraps up watching “America’s Team” in what amounts to a standalone afternoon tilt, all eyes will move to Sunday Night Football. That’s when two of the NFC’s top contenders face off, as the San Francisco 49ers (9-1) host the Green Bay Packers (8-2).
Fresh off its bye week, Green Bay will hold the edge in terms of the fatigue factor. That’s especially true given San Francisco’s frantic finish last Sunday, when the Niners stormed back from a 16-0 first-half deficit to defeat the Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1) in an absolute barnburner.
Both teams sport suffocating defenses and a host of offensive talent, but the Packers are short (+3) underdogs against a 49ers team hoping to get tight end George Kittle back from injury.
Monday Night Madness as Rams Host the Streaking Ravens
To wrap up Week 11, it’s the limping Los Angeles Rams (6-4) hosting a Ravens team looking to secure its seventh straight win.
The honeymoon phase has officially ended for offensive guru Sean McVay and his Rams, who just might be suffering the fabled “Super Bowl hangover.” Los Angeles averaged 32.9 points per game in the 2018 regular season en route to the ultimate game, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick solved the Rams’ stretch running scheme in a masterful performance on football’s biggest stage.
Since then, defensive coordinators around the league have taken Belichick’s cue and McVay’s offense has languished as QB Jared Goff and RB Todd Gurley have regressed. The Rams circa 2019 have only topped 30 points on three occasions, and in their last two games, the offense has scored just 20 points in total.
That doesn’t bode well with the Ravens coming to La La Land, not with second-year stud QB Lamar Jackson guiding Baltimore to an NFL-best 34.1 points per game.
Accordingly, the defending NFC champions find themselves in a rare spot as (+3.5) home dogs here.