NFL Week 12 Preview: Best Games, Best Bets, Predictions

There was a time not that long ago when the football public ignored AFC South matchups.

With C.J. Strouds meteoric rookie rise, Texans vs. Jaguars could be the most intriguing matchup of the Week 12 NFL slate. Its a shame we wont get to see Stroud vs. Trevor Lawrence in prime time, but well keep close tabs on it, especially for betting purposes.

The NFC West clash between the 49ers and Seahawks will get the prime-time treatment as the best game on Thanksgiving. The Seahawks have struggled in recent weeks, including Sundays upset loss to the Rams, but theyre always tough to beat at home in front of The 12s. The 49ers have regained their stride with dominant back-to-back wins against the Jaguars and Buccaneers.

The NFC South has taken over as the least entertaining division in the NFL, but there might be playoff implications on the line when the Falcons host the Saints on Sunday.

Those are just three of five games that we highlighted for our best bets and predictions this week.

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1. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans

The matchup between Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Stroud is starting to look like it might be a long-lasting AFC South rivalry. 

Corey Perrine/USA TODAY Network

Game info: Sunday, Nov. 26 | 1 p.m. ET | CBS
Location: NRG Stadium | Houston, TX
Spread: Jaguars -1.5 (-110) | Texans +1.5 (-118)
Moneyline: JAX (-125) | HOU (+100)
Total: 48.5 Over (-110) | Under (-118)

C.J. Strouds first career win was a late September drubbing of the division rival Jaguars in Jacksonville. Two months later, the Texans are pushing the Jags for first place in the AFC South, something that seemed unimaginable even after Houstons 37–17 win in Week 3.

Jacksonville is 5–0 in games outside of Florida and is 6–1 since that game against the Texans. That one loss was two weeks ago to the 49ers, a 34–3 defeat that put an abrupt end to the Jaguars five-game winning streak. Jacksonville trounced the Titans 34–14 the very next week behind four Trevor Lawrence touchdowns to get back in the win column and hold off Houston in the standings.

The Texans have won three straight — the franchises longest winning streak since 2018 — thanks to Strouds prolific passing. He has thrown for over 1,100 yards over the last three weeks and led back-to-back game-winning drives to beat the Buccaneers and Bengals. Houston survived three Stroud interceptions on Sunday and hung on to beat the Cardinals to improve to 4–1 at home.

This game is tied for the highest over/under of the week as both defenses are suspect against the pass. The Jaguars are still favored to win the division but the power dynamic will shift if the Texans can pull off another upset and lock up the tiebreaker.

Verderames pick: Jaguars -1.5, Over 48.5 (Jacksonville 30, Houston 24)
Manzanos pick: Texans +1.5, Under 48.5 (Houston 24, Jacksonville 21)
Woods pick: Texans +1.5, Over 48.5 (Houston 27, Jacksonville 24)

2. San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

After losing the first three games of his young career, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy appears to have righted the ship.

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Game info: Thursday, Nov. 23 | 8:20 p.m. ET | NBC
Location: Lumen Field | Seattle, WA
Spread: 49ers -6.5 (-118) | Seahawks +6.5 (-110)
Moneyline: SF (-333) | SEA (+245)
Total: 43.5 Over (-110) | Under (-118)

Seattle is catching San Francisco at the worst possible time. Geno Smith is nursing an elbow injury and the Seahawks have a quick turnaround before Thanksgiving, when theyre set to host the same 49ers team that swept them in 2022 and sent them packing in the playoffs, 41–23.

There was a moment in October when San Francisco was in a free fall — after a 5–0 start, Brock Purdy finally lost a game. Then he lost another, and another. Seattle briefly occupied first place in the NFC West before the Niners figured things out during their Week 9 bye. San Francisco outscored the Jaguars and Buccaneers 61–17 in the two games since and Purdy put up a perfect passer rating last time out.

Seattle hasnt had the same success as of late. Last week it was a 17–16 home loss to the Rams after a fourth-quarter collapse; two weeks before that was a 38–3 defeat in Baltimore. Wedged in between those results was a 29–26 win over the floundering Commanders that required a last-second field goal. The Seahawks are already one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL and theyll be without Kenneth Walker III (oblique) on Thursday against perhaps the NFLs best front. The Niners arent at full strength, either, as they just lost All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga (ACL) for the year.

This is Seattles first time as a home underdog all year and its a hefty line at that. The Seahawks have won four in a row at Lumen Field since the season opener and the closest they came to beating the 49ers was in front of the 12s last year.

Verderames pick: Seahawks +6.5, Over 43.5 (San Francisco 24, Seattle 20)
Manzanos pick: Seahawks +6.5, Over 43.5 (San Francisco 30, Seattle 24)
Woods pick: 49ers -6.5, Under 43.5 (San Francisco 24, Seattle 16)

3. Buffalo Bills vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Fletcher Cox and the Eagles defense shut down Kansas City in the second half of a Monday night victory.

Eric Hartline/USA Today network

Game info: Sunday, Nov. 26 | 4:25 p.m. ET | CBS
Location: Lincoln Financial Field | Philadelphia, PA
Spread: Bills +3.5 (-118) | Eagles -3.5 (-110)
Moneyline: BUF (+145) | PHI (-175)
Total: 48.5 Over (-110) | Under (-110)

Buffalo picked up a much-needed win over the Jets on Sunday before beginning its toughest stretch of the year. The Bills are on the outside looking in of the crowded AFC playoff picture and face Philadelphia, Kansas City and Dallas in its next three games as injuries continue to pile up in the secondary.

The Eagles are also in the midst of the hardest part of their schedule and they kept on winning in Mondays Super Bowl rematch against the Chiefs. That 21–17 triumph in Kansas City was Philadelphias fourth in a row and now the NFCs No. 1 seed returns to Lincoln Financial Field, where it has not lost this season. Jalen Hurts threw for a season-low 150 yards last time out and he only hit A.J. Brown once for eight yards. But the Eagles defense blanked the Chiefs in the second half and came back behind two rushing touchdowns from the MVP frontrunner.

Buffalos top target was also limited last week as Stefon Diggs finished with a season-low 27 yards. The Bills offense did get a spark from Khalil Shakir and Josh Allen added to his NFL-leading touchdown tally with three scores in a 32–6 win over New York, overcoming his past struggles against the Jets. Sunday was Buffalos best offensive outing since Week 4 and best defensive showing since Week 3. Now comes the tough task of repeating that level of play on the road, where the Bills are just 1–3.

Philadelphias 6–2–2 record against the spread is the best in the NFL; Buffalos 4–7 mark is one of the worst. The Bills did cover against the Jets last week for the first time in seven weeks and theyll be an underdog Sunday for just the second time this season.

Verderames pick: Eagles -3.5, Over 48.5 (Philadelphia 30, Buffalo 24)
Manzanos pick: Bills +3.5, Under 48.5 (Philadelphia 23, Buffalo 21)
Woods pick: Eagles -3.5, Over 48.5 (Philadelphia 27, Buffalo 23)

4. Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos

Courtland Sutton has seven TD receptions on the season for Denver.

Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports

Game info: Sunday, Nov. 26 | 4:05 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: Empower Field at Mile High | Denver CO
Spread: Browns +2.5 (-110) | Broncos -2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: CLE (+115) | DEN (-137)
Total: 34.5 Over (-118) | Under (-110)

A four-game winning streak has Denver at .500 for the first time in over a year and back in the playoff hunt after a 1–5 start. Cleveland is undefeated so far in November ahead of its trip to the Mile High City, where rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson will make his first career road start.

The Browns eked out a 13–10 win Sunday against the Steelers, their third in a row and fourth win this season by three points or fewer. Clevelands defense gave up a big day on the ground but was stout as usual against the pass — Jim Schwartzs unit allows an NFL-low 143.7 passing yards per game. With DTR under center, it was an inefficient outing for the offense overall but still better than his debut against the Ravens.

The Broncos have lived off turnovers during this recent run with a plus-11 differential in that department. Rusell Wilson has seven passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last four games and hes found Courtland Sutton for a score in all but two games this season. Denver is taking care of the ball, running it effectively and most importantly, playing better defense than they did earlier this year — thats made all the difference. The Broncos have also found themselves on the right side of several close games, most recently a 21–20 win over the Vikings on Sunday.

Denvers defense is susceptible against the run and the Browns have one of the leagues best rushing offenses, though the Broncos have forced turnovers at an alarming rate as of late, which could come into play with a first-year quarterback on the road.

Verderames pick: Browns +2.5, Under 34.5 (Cleveland 16, Denver 13)
Manzanos pick: Browns +2.5, Over 34.5 (Denver 20, Cleveland 18)
Woods pick: Broncos -2.5, Under 34.5 (Denver 19, Cleveland 13)

5. New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

Whether or not Derek Carr is cleared to play Sunday, all-prupose threat Taysom Hill could take more snaps at quarterback vs. the Falcons.

Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports

Game info: Sunday, Nov. 26 | 1 p.m. ET | FOX
Location: Mercedes Benz Stadium | Atlanta, GA
Spread: Saints +1.5 (-125) | Falcons -1.5 (+100)
Moneyline: NO (-110) | ATL (-110)
Total: 42.5 Over (-118) | Under (-110)

The quarterback situation is in flux for both teams in Sundays NFC South showdown in Atlanta. Derek Carr is still in concussion protocol for the Saints after a Week 11 bye, which means Jameis Winston could make his first start of the year. As for the Falcons, theyre going back to Desmond Ridder, who was benched in Week 8 in favor of Taylor Heinicke.

New Orleans is just one game ahead of Atlanta and Tampa Bay in the NFC South and the way this season is shaping up it seems unlikely that any team from this division earns a wild card spot.

The Saints lost to the Vikings 27–19 in Joshua Dobbss first game as the starter after Carr exited in the third quarter. Winston threw the teams only two touchdowns in relief, but also tossed two interceptions. Taysom Hills snaps were down against Minnesota and the offense struggled to get anything going on the ground. The 27 points New Orleans allowed also tied a season high. Head coach Dennis Allens defense has struggled to get sacks but has had no issue forcing turnovers, something the Falcons have struggled with on offense.

Perhaps the move back to Ridder can inject some life into one of the leagues lowest-scoring teams. Atlanta lost both games Heinicke started, albeit by a combined five points, and the defense didnt do him any favors. Head coach Arthur Smith did finally unleash Bijan Robinson against the Cardinals before the bye. The rookie running back saw a season-high 22 carries, which he turned into 95 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons have one of the NFLs highest rushing rates (47%) and the Saints have been gashed on the ground this season.

Atlanta and New Orleans have been two of the worst teams in the league to bet on with 2–8 and 2–7–1 records against the spread, respectively. Something has to give when they meet Sunday at Mercedes Benz Stadium, where the Saints have won the last five in the series.

Verderames pick: Saints +1.5, Under 42.5 (New Orleans 23, Atlanta 14)
Manzanos pick: Saints +1.5, Under 42.5 (New Orleans 23, Atlanta 17)
Woods pick: Saints +1.5, Over 42.5 (Atlanta 24, New Orleans 23)

Final Thoughts

Verderame: The Eagles are a significantly better team than anybody the Bills have faced over the past six weeks, save for the Bengals. And when they played Cincinnati, Joe Burrow and Co. went for 397 yards on 5.9 yards per play. The Eagles should put up similar numbers, but that offense is married to a far superior defense compared to the Bengals unit. Look for Philadelphia to jump out in front and stay there.

Manzano: This might be the first time all season I take plus points for all five games. The Seahawks wont beat the mighty 49ers, but they play better at home and should keep it close for their NFC West clash. The Bills will also keep it close with an improved offense under interim play-caller Joe Brady, and might even upset the Eagles, who are coming off a short week. Broncos vs. Browns was a tough decision, but Denver is at home and has a defense that has forced 12 takeaways the past three games.

Wood: Im going pretty much chalk this week, except for the Texans, who I think have what it takes to sweep the Jaguars and move into the drivers seat in the AFC South. The Seahawks and Bills are both in need of wins given the difficulty of their upcoming schedules, but I couldnt bring myself to pick either against the 49ers and Eagles, respectively, the cream of the crop in the NFC. The Browns-Broncos game is especially interesting because afterward either Cleveland will be 8–3 and in position to push the Ravens for the No. 1 seed or Denver will be 6–5 with a shot at a playoff spot looking more and more realistic in Year 1 under Sean Payton.

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