Saturday, December 4th, 2021

NFL picks, predictions for Week 12: Ravens bury Browns; Bucs cool Colts; Steelers stay in AFC hunt

NFL picks, predictions for Week 12: Ravens bury Browns; Bucs cool Colts; Steelers stay in AFC hunt

Information about NFL picks, predictions for Week 12: Ravens bury Browns; Bucs cool Colts; Steelers stay in AFC hunt

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On paper, Week 12 of the NFL football season is one of the best of the season.

There are seven matchups involving teams with records of .500 or better, and those games will go a long way in clearing up the pecking order in the playoff races in both the AFC and NFC. 

Two AFC North matchups come into focus. It’s the only division where every team has a winning record. 

Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati, and Cleveland travels to Baltimore. Will the Bengals sweep the Steelers and take the next step toward a playoff berth with second-year quarterback Joe Burrow? Will Lamar Jackson be back and help the Ravens try to gain more distance from the rest of the division? 

There are other great matchups on the schedule, too. Tom Brady leads Tampa Bay into an all-too familiar big game at Indianapolis. The red-hot Patriots host the Titans. The Rams travel to face the Packers in a battle of NFC contenders, too. 

Each week, Sporting News picks the NFL games straight up. A look at our track record so far: 

  • Week 11: 8-7
  • Total: 102-62-1

NFL POWER RANKINGS:
Cardinals back to No. 1; Chiefs, Patriots rise as Cowboys, Bills fall for Week 12

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NFL picks, predictions for Week 12

  • Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Bengals have not swept the Steelers since 2009; a 10-win season in which Cincinnati lost in the AFC Wild Card round. Cincinnati dominated the first meeting 24-7, and the Steelers need to sort out who will return among T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzptrick and Joe Haden. The opportunity for the Bengals to win is there, but how many times have we been down this road? The Steelers pull a shocker at Paul Brown Stadium. 

Pick: Steelers 28, Bengals 24 

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) at Indianapolis Colts 

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

Tom Brady has a long history in big games at Indianapolis, but Peyton Manning isn’t the one to worry about this week. Instead, it’s Jonathan Taylor, who averages 157.7 yards rushing the last three weeks for the Colts. Tampa Bay does have the league’s best run defense, and it will be tested. The Buccaneers pull away in the fourth quarter behind Brady, who is 5-4 at Indianapolis (including postseason). He leaves with one more victory against the old rivals. 

Pick: Buccaneers 30, Colts 26

  • Carolina Panthers (-1) at Miami Dolphins 

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

Cam Newton vs. Tua Tagovailoa the day after the Iron Bowl? That’s a fortuitous break for the schedule makers. Newton’s return has made headlines, but Miami’s defense has allowed just 12 points per game through three straight victories. At home, that translates to a fourth straight win. 

Pick: Dolphins 22, Panthers 20 

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  • Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots (-5.5) 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

This line seems high given the Titans’ spot in the AFC ranks, but it’s a nod to the Patriots’ lights-out play with rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Mike Vrabel has led Tennessee to victories against the Patriots in the last two meetings, too. That said, we’re going to trust the Patriots’ defense at home, where they have allowed just 10 ppg. in their last two. 

Pick: Patriots 24, Titans 19 

  • Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) at New York Giants

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

The Eagles have built some momentum with back-to-back victories in which they have scored at least 30 points. New York is coming off a short week and still mixing and matching its offense. New York did beat Philadelphia at home last season, but that was a different regime. 

Pick: Eagles 25, Giants 20 

  • Atlanta Falcons (-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars 

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Falcons had some extra time to figure out what was an inept offense in losses to the Patriots and Cowboys. The Jaguars have had a few surprising wins, but they have yet to score more than 19 points in a home game. Georgia fans finally get to celebrate a victory against Urban Meyer. 

Pick: Falcons 21, Jaguars 17 

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  • New York Jets at Houston Texans (-3)  

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

Draft order will be a topic of conversation in this game, and the Texans are the ones coming off a victory. The Texans have forced five turnovers in each of their last two games, and New York has a -15 turnover ratio for the year.

Pick: Texans 23, Jets 17

  • Los Angeles Chargers (-2.5) at Denver Broncos 

Sunday, 4:05 p.m., CBS

The Broncos hold a 5-3 advantage in this AFC West rivalry since the Chargers relocated. Justin Herbert, however, is 3-1 with a 100.6 quarterback rating on the road this season. Los Angeles built momentum with the victory against the Steelers, and it carries over on the road. 

Pick: Chargers 31, Broncos 24

  • Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

The Rams are coming off a bye week. The Packers desperately need a bye week, and the offensive line suffered another blow with Elgton Jenkins’ injury. Aaron Rodgers (toe) also is hurting, and that’s not good news against a refreshed Rams’ team looking to jell around new stars Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. The Packers are undefeated at home, but Matthew Stafford gets back on track in this upset. 

Pick: Rams 28, Packers 24 

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  • Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (-3)  

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX

This is a fun battle between two fringe NFC playoff contenders. The Vikings have played in six games decided by four points or less, and they are 2-4 in those games. Their defense is getting healthy, too. San Francisco has won three of four, but they are just 1-4 at home this season. Minnesota steals one on the road. 

Pick: Vikings 27, 49ers 21

  • Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-4) 

Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC

Lamar Jackson missed Week 11, and Baker Mayfield is battling a series of nagging injuries. The Ravens are 3-1 at home this season, but there is the blowout loss to the Bengals earlier this year. Baltimore has won three of the last four in this series, and the league’s second-ranked run defense will be a difference maker. The Ravens take control of the division. 

Pick: Ravens 29, Browns 24 

  • Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team (-1) 

Monday, 8:15 p.m., ESPN 

The Seahawks’ offense has scored just 13 points in two games since Russell Wilson returned, and Washington has tightened up on defense the last two weeks by allowing 20 points per game. Washington is 4-1 when it has less than two turnovers in a game. Seattle plays clean, gets a few breaks and Wilson finally gets going. 

Pick: Seahawks 25, Washington 23 

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  • Chicago Bears (-3.5) at Detroit Lions 

Thursday, 12:30 p.m., FOX 

Who will the quarterbacks be? Jared Goff could return for Detroit, but if not then Tim Boyle will get a second straight start. Bears coach Matt Nagy said Andy Dalton will get the start for the Bears with Justin Fields likely inactive with a rib injury. Ugly football can yield unexpected results, but Chicago has the better rushing attack and defense. The under (41.5) could be in play. 

Pick: Bears 23, Lions 13 

  • Las Vegas Raiders at Dallas Cowboys (-7) 

Thursday, 4:30 p.m., CBS 

Dak Prescott might be without Amari Cooper (COVID-19) and CeeDee Lamb (concussion protocol), but the Cowboys remain a touchdown-favorite against the Raiders. Las Vegas is -4 in turnover ratio in their losing streak, so watch out for Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs and the big play on defense. The Cowboys break a two-game losing streak in Thanksgiving games. 

Pick: Cowboys 31, Raiders 22 

  • Buffalo Bills (-4) at New Orleans Saints 

Thursday, 8:20 p.m., NBC 

The Saints are on a three-game losing streak, and Trevor Siemian is completing 57.3% of his passes in that losing streak. The Bills have averaged three turnovers lost per game the last three weeks, and if they don’t clean that up this could be a close one, too. We’re going to trust Josh Allen to right the ship in a tough game on the road. Buffalo is 2-3 ATS when favored by single digits, so this could be real close.

Pick: Bills 27, Saints 24

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