NFL Week 12 betting takeaways: The contender shuffle
We're running out of weeks where adjusting ratings is necessary. Eventually, teams are what they are. As we discuss each week, overreacting to one game is a fool's errand, but there are still a few teams who we have no clue what to make of, even after three months of football.
The Packers could be without every offensive lineman known to mankind, and it wouldn't matter. We talk about the tight range they play within when different pieces are missing, but when this team is at full strength, they can beat anyone on the strength of Aaron Rodgers' arm. That shouldn't be a secret. Their ATS record doesn't lie, even if there were some weird covers early on.
The Rams are all in, and I'm getting closer to being all out on them this season. There are reports that Matthew Stafford is dealing with significant injury issues, and missing Robert Woods is a bigger deal than most people realize. Maybe consistently acquiring big-name players that other teams don't mind losing isn't the best strategy for roster building?
Having borderline incompetent coaching isn't a great strategy either. The Cowboys drop because Mike McCarthy is a problem, even while acknowledging that they were missing Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. It's also notable that Dan Quinn's strategy played right into Derek Carr's hands. Jerry Jones admitted Ezekiel Elliott was compromised, and yet, Dallas kept running him out there, even after seeing Tony Pollard make the case that he's the fastest man alive with his 100-yard kickoff return touchdown.
The Patriots move up a little after beating up on the short-handed Titans, even though the number of rushing yards they gave up was a little concerning. But them being in the contender section is the biggest news ahead of their huge Monday Night Football showdown next week against the Bills.
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The Vikings, Browns, 49ers, and Colts all attempted to win with the run game Sunday, and each had varying degrees of success in games that came down to the final play. We could copy-and-paste that sentence every week, but each team has a chance to contend as the weather gets colder.
The Vikings drop a little with Dalvin Cook injured, and the Browns do as well because their offense is a mess right now. If the Cleveland attack was close to average, the team would have won in Baltimore. The 49ers won and the Colts lost, but I actually have them both moving up, as Indy showed it could compete with our No. 1.
If you've paid any attention to the AFC West in the last decade, you knew to bet on the Broncos at home against the Chargers on Sunday. That's just what happens to Los Angeles in that spot, so we won't crush them for a loss that we should have seen coming, but we will drop them a couple of points. Next week's road game against the Bengals provides them an opportunity for another "zig" that would be appropriate in this NFL season.
The Saints need to get healthy to get back above average. The Steelers got healthier but couldn't get a punt block - as they did in L.A. - to turn around this week's blowout. It's becoming clear that Pittsburgh can beat the Seahawks, Bears, Broncos, and (almost) Lions - but it takes more than a few bounces for them to keep pace with anyone better than that group.
We got a little high on the Eagles last week, didn't we? While we never liked them as 3.5-point road favorites, there was reason to back Philadelphia. We'll bring them back down to a more reasonable average expectation now.
The Panthers need a quarterback, but Cam Newton isn't it, and there are no more quarterbacks on the street that can come in to save the day. It was nice to fade the market overreaction to Newton taking the starting job, but we might not get a third chance after Carolina's bye week.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.
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